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[Originally for DC Music Download on 14 December 2012]
Reviewed By: Clay Conger
Photos By: Khamp Sykhammountry
A small crowd had amassed around the Comet Ping Pong tables as draft beers were being poured last Saturday. At around 10 o’clock, the backroom was shut off and soon a much larger crowd of hopeful listeners stood outside of it, anxiously peeking their heads through the curtains.
Up first was Baltimore-based The Cedar Fires, who were a charming indie group, complete with a strong voice from the guitar-strumming frontman, with music sonically punched with soulful, often trippy synth-effects. D.C. stalwarts Diamond’s Ahead (who were celebrating their CD release) racked up the energy as an enjoyably loud and raucous three-piece rock band, with drinks flowing freely with some impressive melodies, especially from the bassist.
However the crowd was at full surge when Olivia & The Mates took the stage. On the first note, the atmosphere was set. The bassist intensely strummed fast, almost punk-bass lines while the drummer rattled on the cymbals and snares, sounding much like a pumped up version of the B-52s. Meanwhile, Olivia Mancini stood valiantly in the center with her guitar. Vocals can often sound a tad weak or distorted on stage, but Olivia showcased her strength as a vocalist, with a great ability to sustain long-winded notes.
The group as a whole interacted well with the audience and asked them candidly about the sound quality and levels. The three musicians played consistently well throughout the night, and as the night grew darker, the energy in the room continued to swell until the very end. With a mixture of folk, indie, punk and no-nonsense rock, Olivia & The Mates delivered a wildly solid performance and genuinely rocked the Comet Ping Pong.
The Cedar Fires
Olivia & the Mates