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Written by Grace Ibrahim

The 9:30 club is a landmark concert venue in Washington,DC. I and many others have been frequenting it the better part of our teenage and adult lives. However this was the first time I was there to cover a show as a writer, never mind the challenge of photographing bands in motion on stage! I have always had a lot of respect for my photographer friends like our own Mandy McGee but this experience brought my respect of them to a whole new level!

The bands that played were Exitmusic, A Place to Bury Strangers, and The Joy Formidable. I must confess my exposure to these bands was limited at best before the show so I was unsure of what to expect. However I can say now, with confidence, that all three bands have earned not only a loyal new fan but also an active promoter in me.

Photo by Grace Ibrahim

Exitmusic was the opening band and they did not disappoint! Aleksa Palladino the haunting voice behind Exitmusic is both beautiful and talented. Hailing from New York the lyrics she writes strike a chord in your very core giving you goose bumps not only on your skin but in your soul as well. Their sound is melodic and moves from soaring heights to the deep reaches of a cold abyss.

However one thing that remains constant throughout their show is how in touch with the band, yourself, and the world around you their music makes you feel. Exitmusic has mastered the art of pulling people in to the space their music creates and that space and message is colored in different hues for each person who hears it. If you have the chance to see this band don’t hesitate! It will be well worth it!

Photo by Grace Ibrahim

The second band of the evening was A Place to Bury Strangers, they were definitely the band with the most raw energy Monday! APTBS consists of Oliver Ackermann, Dion Lunadon and (newest member) Robi Gonzalez. Oliver who is the only remaining founding member of APTBS plays guitar and takes care of vocals for the band, he originates from Virginia but later migrated to New York. The band is rounded out very nicely by bass player Dion Lunadon who comes from New Zealand. Robi Gonzalez (former member of Jubilee) recently joined APTBS and is from Alaska just like former drummer J Space.

Their sounds is reminiscent of old New York Punk meets old Seattle Grunge. However their sound is completely their own the closest sound to them is perhaps Killradio. All of APTBS songs have high energy, and sound, they are loud but none of their sound is wasted nor does it drown out their lyrics. Together the band pours forth a powerful range of emotion and meaning in every song. This band is absolutely a band you experience rather than just listen to. Their music moved through everyone at the venue and even those who might otherwise stand idly by were compelled to rock out with this awesome band. The only things I would have changed about this show was more lighting and a longer set! I strongly suggest every one puts A Place To Bury Strangers on there list of bands you must see live, and don’t let it wait see them as soon as possible!

Photo by Grace Ibrahim

The third and headlining band of the night was The Joy Formidable their sound was fresh and lively. Each members unique and quirky personality lends it’s self to the signature sound of The Joy Formidable. All three members of TJF come from North wales and that adds a warm and familiar layer to there sound that has undertones of folk music to it. On stage they were full of energy and warmth, engaging the audience every step of the way, guiding us all on a journey of music and story telling. The lead Ritzy was a delight to watch as she sang, played guitar and told stories she lit up the whole venue with laughter,together with Rhydian playing bass and Matt on drums The Joy Formidable Lifted spirits and truly brought joy and light to ever member of the audience.

Looking over the audience one saw people dancing and singing completely caught up in the moment that was expertly weaved by TJF. The almost two hours we were treated to their music seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and left you feeling like making an all night a drive to catch there next show was a perfectly reasonable idea. Even as the show ended and people filled out there was much talking and laughter that bubbled out in to the streets fading in the distance like stars at dawn. I look forward to next time I can see this band and will follow their journey closely eager to see what tales they weave for us in the future. I hope all of you will give these bands a serious listen and take time to see them live each one brought some thing new and unique. All of them were amazing and I look forward to seeing how this twisted road of life leads and shapes them.

Go to these sites to check out the bands.
A Place to Bury Strangers
The Joy Formidable