Edie Sedgwick – Washington – Rock and Roll Hotel, DC – 2007-08-01

Edie Sedgwick
Where: Washington – Rock and Roll Hotel, DC.

When: 2007-08-01

It was a mid-summer Wednesday and DC had trouble marshaling a decent-sized audience for what promised to be a great show. But DC is a town of transients, and summer sees residents leave for vacations while the tourists pour in. But in the end, having a smaller audience turned out to be a good thing.

DC’s Edie Sedgwick – the band – played its set of celebrity-obsessed, tongue-in-cheek rock for a receptive crowd. Many in the audience seemed to know the songs. Some laughed knowingly at the inside jokes and were delighted when the Angelina Jolie songs was announced. For those who haven’t heard of the band, it’s worth giving a little background. The band’s frontman/frontwoman is Justin Moyer, member of Antelope and ex- of Supersystem and El Guapo. He performs in a dress and wig, which is all the more visually dissonant when he sports a beard as well. The music was fairly minimal, with drummer Amy Farina playing spare but inventive beats upon which the bassist and keyboardist built their parts. The musicians had a casual, detached but engaging air about them, but really the star of the show was Justin himself.

Headliner XBXRX came on a little later. Before playing, the singer invited the audience to move up closer to the stage. Some did, most didn’t – and the ones who did were quickly fleeing for their lives as the guitarist jumped down and cleared them out once the band started playing. His wild swings might easily have put a guitar neck through a sternum but thankfully this didn’t happen. The band played with complete abandon, racing through its recorded output with the kind of energy you almost never see these days. And the collectively felt danger in the air – the fear of getting speared? All part of the show.

And this is the reason we go to shows.

Playing as a three-piece, XBXRX had the intensity of an Antioch Arrow. The guitarist’s strap broke by the second song, and after a duct-tape repair job (“Anyone wanna bet how long this duct tape will last? One song? Two songs?” he offered) he played even more fiercely. There were other breaks in the set as well, as when his cable came out of his guitar during another wild pitch through the audience; by this time the crowd had assembled on the periphery of a wide, empty circle whose diameter had been the length of the guitar cable. The band tried to resume where it had left off mid-song when the cable popped out, but after a few beats and a band member’s exclamation of “what the fuck?!” the band started the song over. It was that kind of reckless night, where anything could happen and the band played like it was performing for a bunch of friends.

The singer, too, visited the cleared area in front of the stage – somersaulting, jumping, rolling around. Meanwhile, the drummer kept everything moving expertly, playing complicated start-stop beats at a pace that would’ve worn out other drummers in a few minutes. The band’s songs all kind of bled into one another. All were tight but shambolic at the same time, as were the members themselves. Their matching purple-and-orange outfits, each with strategically placed segments of duct tape, reflected the unity of the band and its philosophy of “the band” over the images (or names, even) of its individual players.

I hope more musicians take a lesson from XBXRX. Their live show is really something to experience.