Concert Review: The Districts @ 9:30 Club (3/10/20)

The Districts
The Districts (Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez)

So many bonus songs!

The Districts came through DC on March 10th, giving the 9:30 Club’s robust crowd a great, yet seemingly never-ending rock set!

The four indie rockers from Philadelphia played fast and furious, much to the delight of the audience, where front-man Rob Grote dabbled with the harmonica, a few rounds of truly inspiring manic dance moves (aka crazy), and frenetic lyrics, delivered with full force, yet barely audible over the din of the driving guitars and drums. The rest of the band is Connor Jacobus (bass), Pat Cassidy (guitar) and Braden Lawrence (drums), with a fifth member for this show on keyboards.

They kicked off with “Funeral Beds”, with whistling and said harmonica, providing a quiet mood that Mumford & Sons might flourish in, before picking up the tempo and highlighting Rob’s understated lyrics.

They are touring for their fourth album, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere (via Fat Possum), on sale as of March 13th. Many of the songs from Anywhere are earnest, with more of a pop feel than rock, and when performed live, often soared to heights of the rafters. The live versions are anything but subdued, at times a different beast all together compared to listening to the album at home.

Later came “Hey Jo”, from the new album, which speaks to how our relationships change, and is an emo music lover’s delight, with a cool intro and spare, yet bright hook. One of the best songs they performed that night. They gave us 20 songs overall, including at least nine (of 11) from the new album.

Maybe they wanted to set a homey vibe, because the drum kit rested on a powder blue, frilly rug and the stage was adorned with Christmas lights. The backdrop was a mural, something out of an episode of the Twilight Zone, weird and nostalgic. There were two boys in it (one kissing an old, obsolete camera), an American flag, a drum kit, a snail (my guess is as good as yours??) and more. Additional libations were needed to fully grasp the meaning.

Their musical acumen and on stage antics caused a mosh pit to break out a few times, to the surprise of some on the fringes, but to the joy of many.

Midway through came “Nighttime Girls”, about dealing with loneliness and trying in vain to fill the hole of losing someone. It featured an extended jam, absolutely fulfilling our music needs, we left with no holes.

“4th of July’ featured warbling whistling, and remained subdued, almost heart-breaking, as it could be about death, or just a metaphor for losing someone.

They ended the main set with “Cheap Regrets”, a song that bounces and brims with dance-worthy beats (the revelers on the floor and Rob complied to this sentiment), delving into the theme of self-reflection. I can guarantee no one had time for self-reflection during this song, which sounded grand in scope. (Pro Tip: See the music video for a few of Rob’s moves.)

The encore came, and one might have expected (based on previous setlists) we’d get probably two songs. But no. Five songs, and the dancing crowd never wanted it to end. The first was “If Before I Wake”, from their 2017 album Popular Manipulations, a song everyone knew and wanted to sing along with at the top of their voices. They ended with “Young Blood”, with another long, lingering jam, and they even got down on their knees to manipulate the floor monitors, fading out the music and closing a satisfying evening.

A great show. I can’t say go see them live at the moment, but definitely get yourself a copy of You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere.

Funeral Beds
My Only Ghost
Hey Jo
4th And Roebling
Velour and Velcro
Silver Couplets
Nighttime Girls
Ordinary Day
And The Horses All Go Swimming
4th of July
Long Distance
Cheap Regrets

If Before I Wake
Changing (I think)
Young Blood

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

3 thoughts on “Concert Review: The Districts @ 9:30 Club (3/10/20)”

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