On perhaps the coldest night thus far in D.C., Quinn and I walked into DC9, a dimly lit dive bar. With an upstairs show space that fits approximately 60 people, not only are you sure to have an intimate concert experience, but you also have a very high chance of encountering members of the band going up and down the narrow stairway. That’s exactly what happened as we waited in line next to a starry-eyed 14 year old who froze in awe when her idol, Raphaelle Standell-Preston of BRAIDS, walked past us in line.
The first opener was Kodak to Graph, a producer whose set ran for 45 mesmerizing minutes. Using various mix boards, synthesizers and his own voice, Kodak to Graph seamlessly blended more sounds than I could ever attempt to count into one continuous track. Throughout his entire set, he stayed incredibly focused on his boards, barely moving with the exception of the constant, smooth bobs of his head—it was as if his neck were made of rubber. Kodak was so far in the zonethat nothing could have distracted him–not even our young friend, who stood a mere yard away from his set-up. A mix between hip-hop, R&B, electronic and ambient music, he was the perfect introduction for the performances to come.
By the time Hundred Waters took the stage, the room had comfortably filled up. Quinn and I had interviewed the band a week before via phone and spent our days since falling in love with their high fidelity sound. Like no band I’ve ever seen before, the four members set-up side by side across the stage, surrounded by an array of instruments. I counted a guitar, bass, drum kit, keyboard, flute and multiple synthesizers and mix boards. Front-woman Nicole Miglis distributed her talents between vocals, the flute, and the keyboard.
From the moment they began to play, I was in awe. With such a delicate yet invigorating sound, Hundred Waters’ music is the kind that instantly makes me put my hands to my heart and sway side to side with a smile on my face. They opened with “Boreal”, an elegant and melodious anthem off of their self-titled debut LP. The track, which starts off slow and ambient, culminates in a fast collaboration of resonating sound from every instrument. Each and every song is carefully crafted with an incredible attention to detail that lusts after perfection and achieves ecstasy.
With their numerous instruments and contagious energy, Hundred Waters was the perfect band to grace the stage at DC9. Standing about 10 feet away from them, I could see Nicole’s fingers dancing swiftly across the keyboard and the carefully measured impact of Zach Tetraults drumsticks to his kit. About 15 minutes in, Hundred Waters spoke to the audience for the first time, announcing their next song, “Caverns”, the twinkling breakout hit from their LP. Although before they started playing, our young 14 year-old friend had asked me if it was their hit song, to which I replied no. Yet when I saw it live, I realized my mistake and immediately changed my mind. There is something special that happens when a band pours their heart and soul into their music, and with Hundred Waters, that was especially felt through this performance. I was in a room full of people and yet I felt as if I were in a private show, captivated by the delicacy and passion with which Hundred Waters played.
After about an hour set, Hundred Waters humbly announced their last song and retired from the stage. I could have spent the rest of the night watching them play and I know the audience felt the same. There were plenty of people asking for encores and several comments centered around the audience’s astonishment at the performance of this new band who happened to be playing before BRAIDS. Although this was already their fourth time playing in Washington D.C., I think there is a bright future ahead of Hundred Waters, and I would recommend their music to anyone.
As Hundred Waters took down their equipment and the members of BRAIDS started to set up, the crowd inched closer to the stage, eagerly awaiting new tunes from their most recent release, Flourish // Perish. The album is a lush, experimental ambient follow up to their debut, Native Son. The female vocals, as well as the percussion, define BRAIDS in the studio and in their live performance. Their setup took quite a while and some audience members speculated that perhaps (due to a double mic-ing of their snare drum), they were doing live recording. Regardless, BRAIDS delivers on a visceral level, allowing their audience to close their eyes, chill out, and have a great concert experience.
–Maddy Wolpow-Gindi and Quinn Myers