[Originally for DC Music Download on 26 November 2012]
Written By: Stephanie Williams
Photos By: John-Paul Zajackowski
With this year’s Submerge charging through over a week’s span of time in November, I had no excuse for missing the event (not to mention the fact that it was free). Finding my way to H street, it was easy to spot the space through the darkness-with a bold “Submerge” logo painted on the side of a former clothing store. Understanding this event was going to intertwine the components of both fashion and music, I was curious to see what the set-up would entail-would it be too ‘girly’ as to send the more alpha male attendees running out the door? Not really, as I came to find out the minute I walked in-with a few local pop-up shops scattered about, but not completely taking over the venue to the point where it got to be suffocating. Instead, the layout was precise and practical. The downstairs portion of the venue hosted the artwork, while the music was tucked away neatly in the corner upstairs-encompassing both aspects in a way that intertwined well, but not distracting one from the other.
Music wise, Listen Local First had an eclectic line-up to boast for the evening-which gave enough flavor to satisfy spectators. Margot Macdonald oozed of vivacity as she switched between her more soulful numbers to classical ones, though I wished there was more of an audience for her set-as it was still early into the event. Her performance was thorough and sharp-with nothing seemingly feeling out of place throughout.
Following after was dream-pop duo GEMS, whose set was cut short by some sound-glitches-so I’ll have to give them a pass on a review. I was a big fan of the group during their time as Birdlips-and while they’ve cultivated some solid material under the GEMS name, it’s still at this point a bit difficult to decipher what their new identity exactly embodies. But, the project is still relatively fresh, and going into the New Year, the hope is they’ll be a bit more solidified.
With everything back on track after fixing some technicalities with the sound-Pree took forth to a zesty crowd that seemed eager to hear them. While listening to their recorded material, and seeing them live previously when they opened for Deleted Scenes at Red Palace this summer, I didn’t necessarily envision a full-on dance-off to their otherwise buttoned-up performance. Never say never. Before the band cleared their first song into the set, the crowd was steadily moving along to their experimental folk grooves. Similar to their performance at the Red Palace, the band’s precision musically remains to be untainted-with a charming cover of “Rich Girl” intertwined with their bounty of unconventional folk offerings that translated well across the multifarious crowd.
After Pree was finished, I joined most of the crowd as they made their way towards the door. “Wait! We have one more performance” was shouted back where the stage was. An Adam Levine-look-alike called Adam E made his way with a few other bandmates to do a special set, whose sound was somewhere between hip-hop, funk and jazz. The crowd (including myself) was a bit confused over the impromptu performance, which also ran a little too long. By the end of the night, I had to remind myself that this was a free show-and this was truly a case where one did get a bang for their buck (or lack of buck). Four performances, art and a host of other pleasures are a rarity to enjoy in one place-much less in a place like D.C.
Check out our photos from the show below: