New Madrid/Go Cozy/Witch Coast at DC9

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, February 22, 2015

Athens, GA based indie/psych rock band New Madrid has been very active the past few years, releasing two full length albums and touring around the country on a regular basis. 2015 looks to be no different, as they set out on another lengthy run across the U.S. at the end of January. Last week New Madrid made a stop in Washington D.C. at DC9, and despite the fact that the city was experiencing one of its coldest nights of the year so far a decent amount of people came out to check out what the group had to offer.

There were two local openers, the first of which was D.C. lo-fi band Witch Coast. Unfortunately I missed a couple songs of their set due to some unexpected delays, but was immediately drawn in by what I was able to see. Their overall sound falls somewhere between spaced out shoegaze and energetic garage rock wrapped in a lo-fi aesthetic. What this means is that no matter where the instrumental work goes, Witch Coast keeps the noise level as high as possible and makes the audience wade through layers of distortion to pick out the nuances of what is happening on each song. I was reminded of earlier Ty Segall crossed with a healthy dose of shoegaze, and that made the performance hook me from the moment that I made my way into the venue. It was clear that this is a group that already has a significant local following, as the crowd was fairly sizeable even this early on in the evening and quite a few people were moving along to the music and seemed to be feeling Witch Coast’s noisier grooves and drearier tones. I found myself paying equal attention to the band’s singer with his pitch that came in at a pitch closer to a wail that sometimes sounded like it was about to spiral out of control, and the drummer who played standing up the entire time which is something I haven’t seen that often. Witch Coast left a strong impression on me, and I’ll have to see if I can catch a whole set from them next time around as they are another D.C. band that has exactly the type of sound that appeals to me.

Silver Spring’s Go Cozy took the stage shortly after, and they were another area act that I hadn’t had the chance to see perform yet. Compared to Witch Coast their music took the noise level down a notch but was no less entrancing, as they use keyboards and guitar to create shimmering shoegaze and dream pop. Since there were only three bands on the bill Go Cozy was able to perform what seemed like a lengthier set for a support act, and they were able to make the most of their time. The instrumental work built up layers of dreamlike melodies that washed over the entire room, and it had that hypnotizing effect that draws me to this genre on a regular basis. I realize that description could probably describe the majority of the shoegaze and dream pop bands out there, but what made Go Cozy grab me was the variation in their songwriting. While mellower hooks and layered arrangements seems to be at the core of what they do, there was a noticeable shift from one song to the next and just when they had lulled me into a trancelike state the band would jump into a more upbeat indie rock style piece that was not quite what I had initially expected. Lead singer Homero Salazar Andrujovich has a great voice that is able to start off at a much softer pitch and then build until it completely soars over the instrumentals. My only complaint was that during the songs that featured Maria Sage singing her voice seemed to get swallowed up by the guitars, but that’s certainly not a deal breaker. Go Cozy had a great level of interaction with the audience and you could tell they really enjoyed performing, and I could easily see them gaining a decent following touring around the country.

I hadn’t come across New Madrid before their label invited me out to check out the performance, but in preparation for the show I had spent the earlier part of the week listening to their sophomore effort Sunswimmer quite a bit. What I discovered was a group with a very appealing sound that seemed to fall right at the intersection of psych rock and indie rock. Many of their songs skewed towards the longer side and had the type of sprawling, spaced out riffs that are common in psych rock but there were also some more immediate indie rock style hooks with just a hint of the band’s southern roots seeping into everything. I was curious how all of these different elements would translate over in a live performance, and as soon as New Madrid took the stage it was clear that their material comes through with even more energy and atmosphere live. That’s not to say that the recordings aren’t able to capture the warm and inviting feeling of their music, but when you’re watching the band play live and every single texture washes over you it has an even greater impact. After the first song or so a fog machine was turned on and the band utilized various stage lights to drench the stage in a hazier aesthetic, and it suited their performance perfectly. Watching each of the members play this type of sprawling rock music while coming in and out of focus through the haze was downright mesmerizing, and while I tend to find that a band’s stage setup isn’t as important as how good they sound the combination of the two elements made this one of the more memorable performance I’ve seen recently. The energy level was at a high the entire time, and it was clear that the audience was feeling the vibe of every single song. Lead singer Phil McGill has great stage presence, as he moved about the stage frequently and even ended up almost in the middle of the crowd at one point. Two of the other members provide backing vocals on many of the songs, and the harmonies really filled the room and helped make New Madrid feel just a bit more distinguishable from some of the others in the genre. You can really tell that after touring so much over the past few years these guys have perfected their live performance both from an aural and visual standpoint, and it was exciting to see them in an intimate setting like DC9 because I could easily see the band filling bigger venues in the coming years. If you’re a fan of psych rock or indie rock that skews towards the warmer side and lulls you into a state of calm while you watch and listen, do yourself a favor and check out New Madrid when they come through your town.

 

Music:

 

Links:

New Madrid- http://www.newmadridband.com/
Go Cozy- https://www.facebook.com/gocozy
Witch Coast- https://www.facebook.com/witchcoast
Normaltown Records- http://www.normaltownrecords.com/
Chimes Records- http://www.chimesrecords.com/

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