Live Review: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears with Those Darlins’ at the Black Cat, 3-24-11

My brother made the common family mistake of overbooking himself last night, so while he was off with Pops at the 9:30 Club enjoying Jeff Beck and the Imelda May Band’s Rock ‘n Roll Party, i was getting blown

away at the Black Cat. 

Last night was at least the fourth or fifth time i’ve seen Those Darlins, and by the end of their opening set, i don’t think a person in the sold-out room could say they were disappointed with their performance.  Admittedly, this was the first time i had seen the band as an opener, and it seemed obvious they weren’t used to the positioning.  It took a few songs into an all-too-short, hour-long set for the ladies to truly get rocking, but once they did, they did not let up.  Playing predominately tracks from the new LP, they closed with a fuzzed out version of “Fun Stix” that might have been the most psychedelic i’ve heard the ladies get.  The second half of the set grew a bit darker, with heavier bass lines and a 70s-psycho-movie soundtrack vibe, which quite frankly suits the band extremely well.  While they didn’t appear to relish giving up the stage as quickly or as early as they did, you can’t say the didn’t make the most out of at least the second half of their time.

Conversely, it was my first time seeing Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears.  To be honest, i had been under the impression until the last moment that he was opening for Those Darlins’, not the other way around, so i was a bit surprised at the sell-out status of the room.  It took all of about five minutes into him opening with “Big Booty Woman,” however, before i became a convert for life.  Early in the show, Lewis said, “A lot of people say we’re a shitty version of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  We’re here tonight to prove we’re just shitty.”  And with that casting off of expectations, the band proceeded to own the room for the duration of their nearly hour and a half set.  Surround by a three-piece horn section, strong lead guitar, shaggy bassist and octopus-armed drummer, Joe Lewis might have a throwback sound reminiscent of the best of Stax, but they make that sound their own.  Between the call and response with the crowd, Lewis playing his axe with his teeth and the lead hanging from the water pipes at the end of the show, this was a band that came to entertain.  The fact that they were excellent musicians only made things that much better.  For those of you keeping score, i’d easily put this into one of the top 20 shows i’ve ever seen at the Cat, and that total number has to be in triple digits these days.  With that being said, i honestly can say i’ve never seen so many grown assed white men dancing at a DC show in my life, many of whom were in suits, no less.  If you can move a crowd like that, you’ve won, son.

mp3: Night Jogger (Those Darlins from Night Jogger/Funstix Party 7″)

mp3: Screws Get Loose (Those Darlins from Screws Get Loose)

mp3Big Booty Woman (Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears from Daytrotter Session 1/8/09)

mp3: Sugarfoot (Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears from WOXY.com Lounge Acts: SXSW 2009)

And now for some more marginally shot pix (though i really love that acid-drenched shot up top, i must admit).  Once i figure out how to use this camera in concert-light settings, look out, jack!

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