Last night may have signaled the turn, a more meaningful sign than that groundhog in Pennsylvania giving the thumbs up, letting those of us who’ve suffered through the invasion of our city by Trump’s clown posse know the end of our misery is nigh. We are of course talking about two of the coolest bands in the land hitting DC9, both of ’em playing sets that left us smiling, maybe even exultant. Cosmonauts and The Molochs on a double bill signals the end of winter, a reason to quit moping about what’s happened to our country, our city. It was, in a word, sublime.
You can tell we are as out of touch as the Republicans in Congress because when the rumor first circulated through the Tulip Frenzy office complex that the Cosmonauts and Molochs were coming to DC — and playing together — we went to the Verizon Center ticket counter, only to learn they weren’t playing there. So we figured it had to be a chilly outdoor show at FedEx Field, or Nats Park, or maybe RFK Stadium? We were shocked they were playing a small club like DC9, our single favorite upstairs rumpus room. But we gave the Tulip Frenzy staff the night off and encouraged everyone to go. After an argument broke out about whether the Cosmonauts had pulled a crowd bigger than Beyonce, a former Park Service employee threatened to do a comparison of photos, like Obama’s inauguration crowd vs. Trump’s. But then our official statistician settled matters by simply declaring the crowd size at “less than 1000.” So there you have it.
We ranked A-Ok, the fourth Cosmonauts album, as #6 on Tulip Frenzy’s 2016 Best Recs list, and it really was an incredible album, both in its own right and as a London Calling vs. Give ‘Em Enough Rope step up from 2013’s wonderful Persona Non Grata. So we were really happy when they began their set with “Short Wave Communication” and all but three of the songs they played were from A-Ok. Just as good, the two songs they played from Persona Non Grata were a medley of “Shaker” and “What Me Worry,” and the lone offering from If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die was the coolest T. Rex homage this side of fellow O.C. bro Ty Segall, “Super Reverb.”
When Cosmonauts started out, they rode the slipstream behind John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees, a band whose name gave away its Orange County roots. But since their move to L.A. and with the extraordinary A-OK under their belt, Cosmonauts have done something remarkable: they have broken new ground, transcended their influences, and now they are a band that younger bands will be compared to. In their own way, they have become peerless. Last night live, their psych roots were showing, and for a band that used to describe themselves as “drug punk” — a near perfect description — the sound of a 12-string Fender posted against a lone Strat, with a throbbing, sinuous, groove-oriented rhythm section, all added up to sonic nirvana, even as maybe they were as loud as Nirvana playing an arena. Um, though they were in DC9… All in, a fantastic band, and their arrival in D.C. — at long last — was an epochal event, even if the crowd was “less than 1000.”
Before the great Cosmonaut’s set, The Molochs brought their blend of Brian-Jones-era-Stones-play-the-Whiskey-A-Go-Go to an adoring crowd. We loved America’s Velvet Glory, as readers of Tulip Frenzy know from our January ravings. Live, The Molochs are as interesting as any band playing Shindig circa 1967, though we miss the girls in the fishnet stockings dancing in suspended cages. There is a period-perfect jangle to their version of garage rock that skips right over LA progenitors from the Paisley Underground and goes straight to the ’60s sources. Less than two months after the release of their album, The Molochs have just released a new E.P., which we didn’t know about ’til they told us afterwards when we asked where we could find that final song of their set — the one that blends “Sympathy For The Devil” with the Velvets’ “What Goes On”… yeah, think about that… — and they told us AVG Sessions EP was out now on iTunes. Go, at once, and download their whole catalogue.
So on a morning when we woke up to the first Jesus and Mary Chain album since the Clinton Administration… and as word further circulates that Trumpcare and its authors are royally screwed… it may still be cold out, but things are looking up.