Concert Review: The Crystal Casino Band @ 9:30 Club (2/9/23)

The Crystal Casino Band (Photo courtesy of Press Here Publicity)
The Crystal Casino Band (Photo courtesy of Press Here Publicity)

When local bands can headline at the 9:30 Club, it’s a fun treat and highlights the power of the fans elevating bands to new heights. Add the fact that the 9:30 Club was almost sold out (some were also there for the opener, Jeff Draco) speaks volumes to how far The Crystal Casino Band has come in their eight years of existence.

The Crystal Casino Band just released their sixth album, Maryland House (produced by Kyle Downes, and Jay Nemeyer of Color Palette), named after the band’s favorite rest stop along 1-95. The 9:30 Club show was their official album release show, and what better way to celebrate than to perform the entire Maryland House album from beginning to end! As if that wasn’t enough, they played a second set of older music, giving the exuberant crowd 22 songs in total, or just shy of two hours of music.

If would be fair to say, the audience members were not the only exuberant people, clearly the band was having an absolute blast, maybe even the time of their lives. They kicked off this legendary rock show with Maryland House’s first track and new single, “Curfew”. The song was written from the perspective of someone living in DC telling about the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Aside from the inauspicious topic, according to the band, the video they also released tries to ‘to showcase the city’s beauty which adds tension and contrast to the lyrics describing the events of that infamous day’.

Midway through the first set they played “Talking Stage”, with old timey music vibes, crafted in collaboration with Divine Sweater from Boston. They brought on a couple friends to the stage (one might assume they were part of Divine Sweater, but I missed that detail), a man from New York City on trumpet, and a women to join vocal duties.

The theme of the show seemed to be crafts from school, as over the back of the stage hung a huge homemade flag, and bright streaks of masking tape added color to some of the guitars. The theme of the album seems to center around topical or historical events of living in DC.

The band started during their time at George Washington University and is comprised of Pete Stevens (guitar and vocals), Jarrod Hendricks (guitar), Joey Mamlin (drums), and Jordan Mullaney (bass). An additional guitarist joined them on stage for this show. Pete and Joey started the band at George Washington University in 2015 under the moniker The Colonies, but they later changed to the current name.

Occasionally Pete would hand over vocal duties to someone else, like for “Half Staff” where Jordan brought life to a song about ‘the injustices of the two Johnson Presidents and inwardly questioning how much has changed with our nation’s discontents’. Formidable stuff! Whenever someone else besides Pete sang, they had to switch around to where the vocalist was always stage right. The last song of the album is “Getting Closer”, where Joey did a classic switcharoo from the drums to belt the lyrics and play the harmonica. 

Once the final note of Maryland House headed towards our ears, the band members exited to get ready for a second set. An MC named Matt bounded onstage to sing praises, give details, and tell jokes and make light of the band, like ‘do we really need one more generic white guy on stage?’ 

After changing into more comfortable attire (presumably), they returned with the exclamation ‘You ready for the hits? Because that’s what we’re playing, baby!!’ The crowd was indeed ready and eager for the first song, “Not About You”, from their 2021 album of the same name. The song is a heads up to all ex-girlfriends that not all songs they write are about them. They didn’t play all their hits, since of the nine remaining songs, at least six of them came from Not About You.

An older song, “Potomac”, from their album Someone When You Want It, was energetic, especially the great opening. The song speaks to the ending of a relationship with someone on the other side of the Potomac River (for those not familiar with the DMV, one lives in Virginia, the other in DC; something most people in the DMV wouldn’t even consider doing).

The lone song in the encore was “Complicated”, the very first single they released after they changed the band’s name, and also from Not About You.

It was fun to share in the experience of The Crystal Casino Band performing as the headliner at the 9:30 Club. This is a worthy culmination of all the hard work it took to get there, and hopefully a continuation towards something bigger. Get a copy of Maryland House. Support DC bands.


1st Set (Maryland House in its entirety)

  1. Curfew
  2. Twenty-something Socialist
  3. Jamie
  4. Sorry Not Worried
  5. Boys & Girls
  6. Until the Sun Comes Up
  7. Talking Stage
  8. City That Sleeps
  9. Wealth and Riches
  10. Half Staff
  11. Antlers
  12. Quarter-Life
  13. Getting Closer

2nd Set

  1. Not About You
  2. 100 Degrees
  3. (unknown)
  4. Bad Luck
  5. Slow Dance
  6. Potomac
  7. Waste My Time
  8. Bound to Be Something Good


  1. Complicated

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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