We Love Music: Cold Showers, Veronica Falls @ Black Cat — 3/6/13

So last week, I ventured to the Black Cat to catch Veronica Falls, a band that a lot of my indie-minded friends have praised at one point or another. They have released their second album, Waiting for Something to Happen, which offers up more of the bright speedy pop found on their debut album.

Songs like “Broken Toy,” “Waiting for Something to Happen” and “If You Still Want Me” — which were played to good effect in the middle to latter half of the set — all come urgently while showcasing sweet harmonies between Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare, who share vocal duties while playing their guitars. Those guitars got louder as the show progressed, as the band seemed to arrange their set list to build up the sound and the layers as the show progressed.

While it’s a given that Veronica Falls are labeled shoegaze by many critics, they don’t exactly play like shoegazers. The guitar players notably keep their heads up and their instruments are rather quite free of the fuzzy guitar feedback that serves as a hallmark of the classic shoegaze sound. Their playing is muscular yet jangly, however, defying easy classification.

The sunny sound and the high vocals from Clifford and Hoare leave an unmistakably twee pop sound and that’s inevitably where I place them. Marion Herbain on bass and Patrick Doyle on drums may seem to fit the shoegaze mold a bit more as they almost hid behind the vocalists on the Black Cat’s backstage.

The nearly sold-out room was packed last Wednesday, suggesting a growing audience for Veronica Falls as they tour from London across the United States and Canada. Everyone enjoyed the new songs but the crowd really bopped along in unison to the familiar songs of the first album, including the catchy hooks of “Beachy Head” and the crazy energy of “Found Love in a Graveyard.”

While Veronica Falls put on a very competent and enjoyable show, I personally was really quite happy with the opener, Cold Showers, a Los Angeles dark wave quartet. They were not exactly what I was expecting to see opening for the groovier, happier Veronica Falls.

Bassist Jonathan Weinberg, synth-meister Brian Davila, guitarist Chris King and drummer Renee Adams sound like a good, forgotten band from the early days of Factory Records, except produced by Mike Hedges and Robert Smith instead of Martin Hannett. They played some rather exciting songs from their only album so far, Love and Regret, as well as at least two new songs, all of which were sure to please any fan of The Cure or Joy Division.

The band brings resplendent guitars, gilded synths and steady drums to “BC,” a song about trying to escape your troubles. “Alight” opens with a very Joy Division drone that expands into full flight with an ascending guitar scales and vibrant synth apreggios. With other song titles like “Seminary” and “New Dawn,” you could be excused for searching their album cover for a hidden FAC number.

It’s said that members of Veronica Falls met at a Comet Gain concert. Well, I once saw Comet Gain at the Black Cat in 2009, and I was much more taken with the opener — Cold Cave. In much the same way, the music of the opening band spoke to me personally a lot more. I look forward to catching Cold Showers when they come back around, hopefully to headline their own show.

Mickey reviews music shows. For recent reviews, visit Parklife DC.


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