Washington Social Club | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Washington Social Club 

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Lots of indie-pop acts can come up with good hooks, so the reasons for preferring one band over another are often matters of stuff like presentation, delivery, sensibility, and style. It's a game of fine lines, and all I can tell you is that the Washington Social Club's songs repeatedly land on my side of the fence. Between Martin Royle's enthusiastic vocal gulps and Olivia Mancini's friendly bass melodies, the sound of the band's debut, Catching Looks (Badman), is a tribute to K Records' vision of punk as a playground for energetic naifs. The D.C. quartet generates beats that are bouncy but not spasmodic, boy-girl vocals that are cute but not cutesy, and guitar chimes that are unadorned but not amateurish. They're neither opposed to nor dependent on feedback squalls, and they can slip into an easygoing skank and candy-coated freak-out within the same song. Lyrically, they're downwardly mobile and proud of it ("When you're flat broke it's hysterical / Your friends have good jobs but they're miserable"), hope to escape workaday lives of quiet desperation they call the "modern trance," and spend more time building friendships than trying to get laid. Perhaps their popcraft verges on the ordinary, but as Royle asks, "What's a simple sound?" Hot as Hell headlines. The band also spins with DJs Haulin' Oats and MR upstairs after the show. Thu 10/27, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8.

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