Saturday, July 12, 2008

Night At the Hotel

Finally, I made it out to the wondrously-named Rock 'n Roll Hotel in DC's newly up-and-coming NE Atlas neighborhood. The hotel makes good use of the faded elegance of the funeral home that occupied the space previously. It was the site earlier in the week for the unlikely double bill of Tim Fite, a NY punk, hip-hop prankster (who obviously studied at Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse), and the Watson Twins, a friendly Kentucky, by-way-of LA folk-country alternative duo. The Twins were kicking off a North American tour to plug their new CD, Fire Songs, and Tom Fite just seemed to be in the neighborhood. For once, the W Post’s reviewer hit the target with his review—it was dead on. The review is at:

The awkward match kept the evening interesting, but each act was not enough to make it alone.

Fite seems slightly out of touch, like a neighborhood clown in for a kids party, with his orange pants and pink suspenders, and wayward act. But he makes it work for him, as a fun-loving, ready-to-do just about anything performer. He effectively teams up with his elementary background drawings and a trio of backing Fites flashed up on a screen behind him, and an energetic DJ carnival-barker partner-in-mirth, Dr. Leisure. The energetic duo (or group of five depending on how you are counting) captured the crowd more than the headliner, the Watson Twins.

Chandra and Leigh Watson's farmland alternapop, backed by a competent rock trio, started strong, playing a few of their new songs, and a fine cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Their fine voices worked for the rock ‘n roll songs, but when they changed the mood and went slower and mellower, they lost their audience, and the crowd noise impolitely overtook their competent vocals. They never gained back the crowd, and the night ended on a downbeat.

The Watsons have the potential to harmonize their way to a large, attentive following, but on this night, they were less than a full match for the mysterious energy and humor of Tim Fite.

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