Originally published in The Declaration September 2016
Magnolia House sits on the corner of 10th Street and Grady Avenue, cloaked in concrete and foliage, hidden in plain sight. Here, those in the know—and this time, those willing to brave the heat, not to mention a few particularly aggressive cicadas on the porch—are treated to musical performances by locals as well as out of town acts. This Friday night featured Night Idea, a Richmond band, as well as local groups New Boss and Second Date.
New Boss started the night off strong with an upbeat, energetic set that broke the ice, and then some. I was hot and sweaty when I got to Magnolia House, but even more so once the music started—if i thought i wasn’t going to jump up and down at this show, that went out the window at record speed. Their music is fast, fun, danceable, melodic, and chock full of classically crisp and catchy guitar licks. Playing a style self-described as twee boogie, a label which rings true with their infectious grooves and guitar-plus-keys pop sensibility, New Boss is truly a blast. Member-specific shout-outs would be in order, but the band’s Facebook lists its lineup as T.D., NUT, RUBES, SCRITCH, J BEAR, and DEV, with no instrument credits. The band is currently promoting the vinyl release of their album “Home Problems.”
Next was Second Date, a group of UVA students who are making a name for themselves with their brand of dense, dreamy shoegaze (Title Fight comes to mind, in looking for comparison). Their mid-tempo tunes start off mellow enough, but the dual guitars of Brian Cameron and Paul Sanders go right to work slow-building walls of reverb and delay, often leading up to an explosive conclusion, while bassist Lona Manik and drummer Maria Dehart hold down the beat. Not only is it atmospheric, but the band knows how to pull off a hook; I may have the riff from “Bored” in my head all week. Shout out to Sanders for truly making the most of the small space he occupied in the room, leaping up and all but beating his guitar in moments of well-earned catharsis.
Night Idea closed the show, with easily the most pleasantly surprising set of the evening. The group plays some form of post-rock—pardon my genre-ignorance on the specific type—powered by the complex and fluid rhythms of drummer Ethan Johnstone. Each of the band’s members—bassist Joey Anderson, singer-guitarist Carter Burton, and guitarist-keyboard player Reid LaPierre—brings a level of virtuosity to the project which makes the whole thing seem effortless. The guitar work is angular and clinical at times, but always interesting as it shape-shifts along with the beat. Burton’s minimalist vocals, meanwhile, give the music an extra touch of humanity that makes for enjoyable listening. From song to song, the group is fresh and unpredictable. It’s harder to dance to, for sure—but it’s also well worth the extra thought.