Braids: Less Show, More Experience

Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to see Baths and Braids’ sold-out performance at DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel. Both myself and DJ Drew Bandos (aka Banda Bear) both agreed that it was one of the more phenomenal concert experiences we’ve had in a while.

Having never been to DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel, I was surprised at first. The room was about as large as the grungy basements where our bands in high school were first born, except with a full bar to the left and a stage about a foot off of the ground. The purple and pink pastel lights oozed nostalgia, faint and hazy, as though the room were a lucid dream. But all it took was the jolting, melodic cry of Braids’ vocalist, Raphaelle, to bring me back to reality.

Taking a wide glance at the crowd, she immediately breathed a raspy, pained apology into the microphone: “Sorry guys- I have a sore throat, so I won’t be the best singer for you tonight.” After she said this, the crowd buzzed with a certain degree of uncertainty- she should have been taking lozenges and drinking copious amounts of green tea with how bad her voice sounded. But immediately after the apology, myself and the rest of the crowd jumped, gasping in surprise. Even with her voice down to a primal growl, she closed her eyes, and let out a bloodcurdling scream, pained and spurred and spontaneous at the same time, a raspy moan that swooned and seduced. Simultaneously, the guitars and the drums chimed in, beginning to build a steady beat. Louder and louder, they seemed to transcend soundwaves, becoming a hypnotic, sonorous hum engrained in the air. My eardrums were pounding from the volume, but there was an elegance to the noise, a grace that reverberated outward.

Raw and real, their performance made my entire body go completely cold. All I could do was be very, very still, and let it sink in. I stayed like this for the entire show, and it was only after their set ended that I realized my heart had been beating incredibly, unconsciously fast during the entirety of it. Only a handful of bands that I’ve had the opportunity to see live have had this sort of an impact on me during a show, and I was completely blown away by their seemingly effortless, genuine, emotionally-charged performance. Keep an eye on this band for more things to come- their immense potential is going to explode soon.

– Paula

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