Young Summer at U Street Music Hall, Feb. 20th

Credit: Rachel Couch
Credit: Rachel Couch

On the day a century-old record was smashed for coldest day at 5F in Washington, D.C., I thought everyone would be bundled up and avoiding social interactions that could risk any heat loss. So imagine my surprise when I finally made it to U Street Music Hall, saw the nonexistent line outside, and then went downstairs to, hello, a well-filled room, which set the precedent for the hometown show of all three groups.

Pleasure Curses: The first of two openers for Young Summer, the DC/VA duo first came to my attention after being featured as a BYT “Come Early For… Openers You Must See” artist, and I agree! Jahn Alexander Teetsov and Evan Maxwell Grice produce a sound that’s infectious and addicting, figuratively heating up U Street. Check them out on Facebook HERE.

Ploy: Hailing from Maryland, Gil Wojcik and Justin Victoria kept the crowd engaged and swaying throughout their set. What began as a trickle of people entering the crowd during Pleasure Curses now became a steady flow of visibly excited people who were happy to be at the mercy of U Street’s notorious(ly good) sound system. Gil’s vocals ranged from a soaring chorus to growled verses that set the crowd grooving to my personal favorite, “Sunset Love.” Justin worked the beats flawlessly, with an exotic mix of chimes, keys, and bass intoxicating the crowd like a well-mixed drink.

During the final song, Gil went into a falsetto and dancing in place, which the crowd reciprocated with even funkier dance moves and cheers. Ploy kept the vibes light and primed the listeners with its peace-love-and-sunshine music for Young Summer’s bittersweet, end of summer-y music. Find out more on their Facebook HERE.

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Can you get more summertime than a new song every Monday in July?

The crowd teasingly cheered as they waited for Young Summer and her band to come on stage. In the lull, people turned to each other and gushed about the two previous sets under the disco balls and red lanterns adorning U Street Music Hall. The people closer to the stage seemed to all know each other and enthusiastically chatted about how they knew the performing artists, not to name drop but for sincere support (to me at least). It was surreal to be surrounded by so many of the bands’ closest supporters and to see the energy of a home crowd.

Young Summer: Bobbie Allen and her band came on stage, and the crowd really began to pack it in! People jostled to get a good view of the stage and as I looked back, I realized the venue was the most packed I’ve seen U Street for a non-DJ act. She opens with a few crowd favorites, like “Fever Dreams” and “Taken,” that focused the attention on her singing range as both tracks were vocal-heavy.

Her spirited dancing helped guide the listener, and in this case, the viewer as well, to experience how she wanted her music to be interpreted. I was especially impressed by her stage presence and crowd engagement because she has shared her past issues with stage fright early on in her career, but her perseverance and dedication to her art are admirable.

She joked with the crowd about ‘That Bad Relationship’ we have all had, and someone shouted back ‘It’s happening right now!’ much to the surprise of everyone. Young Summer takes it in stride and dedicates “Severing Ties” to the breakup going down a few rows from her. The crowd loved it, cheering and clapping encouragement and appreciation as it was definitely one of the more elegiac songs in her repertoire. By now, the set list had taken the crowd on an emotional roller coaster and she ends with a haunting echo. However, the band launches into the opening notes of “Leave Your Love,” which restarts the upswing in mood.

Now well into her set, the rest of her songs focused on her new album, Sirens, with “Waves That Roiled You Under,” “Careless Kids,” and “Striking Distance” providing a mellow yet passionate ending to an incredible show. She loosened up and increasingly interacted with the crowd as her set progressed. She rhythmically swayed to the beat, often tossing her head back and stretching out her arms, as if she was performing with reckless abandon despite the sea of eyes on her. Rounds of energetic cheering and applause rounded out the set and then morphed into chants of ‘Young Summer!’ egging her on to return for an encore. And she does to the great delight of the man in front of me who screeched his love for the encore as the opening notes started.

All in all, an impressively large crowd made the trek on a blustery night to U Street in support of a homegrown show featuring Pleasure Curses, Ploy, and Young Summer. One wouldn’t even know it was a record-setting cold night based on the warm vibes of the performers and attendees.

Credit: Rachel Couch
Credit: Rachel Couch

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