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Communion Residency Tour at the Black Cat: The Weeks, Team Spirit, Avers

Written By | Mar 19, 2014
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2014 – When people showed up at the Black Cat backstage for the Communion Residency Tour, it’s unlikely they were there for some idealistic reason like supporting the tour. Many may not even have been aware this has been a monthly affair at the Black Cat as well as at several other venues along the East Coast.

The mission statement that stands behind the Communion Residency Tour clearly notes that the tour’s primary objective is to give exposure to select emerging bands and musicians across a few of the larger markets on the East Coast.

For the last several months – starting back in October – and for the succeeding months, fans of up and coming music—usually encompassing various aspects of the indie genre—can expect to be treated to three to four different, emerging bands at the beginning of each month as part of the Communion Residency Tour.

There isn’t really one defining characteristic among the three bands performing during a given tour show. Nor is the term “residency” meant to imply anything long-term beyond each group tour, unlike its usual meaning in the worlds of classical music and jazz. Instead the tour embraces more a residency of music ideals over a single band or genre.

Not all of the bands on this tour are necessarily small bands, but that’s also part of the idea. These bands, large or small, aren’t generally ones that attract a wide amount of attention just yet. But it’s this kind of exposure that will help them further advance their public profile. In short, bands supported and promoted by this tour are the kinds of bands the organizers want to spread the word on as much as possible.

The bands operating under the Communion label during a recent tour stop—The Weeks, Team Spirit, and Avers—encourage the overall idea of community, enhancing the notion that these bands are supporting each other even though they may not have very much in common from a musical or genre standpoint. All three fall under the indie rock, illustrating that this genre is basically rock ‘n’ roll that’s high in emotion and integrity but played as loosely and off-the-cuff as possible.

A peculiar aspect of Communion Residency Tour thus far, is how hard it is to tell which band is exactly placed in the musical firmament on a given tour date. This is likely intentional. After all, implying that a given band opens while another headlines might defeat the whole idea behind the tour, which implies taking an unbiased look at new or nearly new talent.

During this recent tour date, Avers was nominally the opening band, though it’s important to reiterate how unimportant that designation is within the context of the whole show. This five piece group from Richmond wasn’t so much supporting the two bands appearing as they were taking their place expressing the communal ideal of the concert series. This was amply demonstrated in their confident and somewhat sprawling set.

The band, with its twisting psychedelic sound and airy atmospherics was actually an interesting choice to start off the show with their half-hour set. It’s surprising how concise Avers actually is when they play because it’s easy for them devolve into jam aspects while keeping everything under control with a definite, mellow vibe that stays consistent the entire time they’re on stage. The keys, guitar, and vocals all contributed to a relaxing soundscape that’s at the heart of Avers playing.

Of course, during this eclectic evening, that calm, relaxing atmosphere created by Avers was almost immediately crushed by the Brooklyn band Team Spirit. Next on the bill, they stepped right up to immediately overwhelm the audience with their punk stained version of indie rock. Despite sharing the stage with two relatively laid back bands, Team Spirit seemed very much about unleashing every bit of pent of energy they might been holding in as they waited for their moment to perform.

When people think about think garage rock, Team Spirit is the exact kind of band they think of.  Melodicism is definitely a top priority with this crew. But it’s played with an amazing amount of loose energy. Much of this is embodied perfectly in the performance of their front man Ayad Al Adhamy. He resembles and performs like a hipster version of Groucho Marx, and never stops moving during their entire 30 minute set.  Team Spirit is unconfined, fun, and energetic rock ‘n’ roll come to pulsating life on stage.

The Weeks finished off the night, which functionally made them the evening’s virtual headliners. While they couldn’t match the energetic output of Team Spirit preceding them and weren’t as atmospheric as Avers, they represented a much different indie mood that neither of the other two bands were able to touch.

The Weeks’ musical soul lies specifically within Southern rock tradition. The band perpetuates this laid back sense of nonchalance as they intricately move through their songs. The riffing the Weeks perform on stage is strong and on point, and nothing about the Weeks’ performance extraneous. The band is a pitch perfect example of modern Southern rock, where the sound is methodical, melodic, and full of interesting twists and turns that keep the audience engaged.

By the end of the night it became quite obvious that Avers, Team Spirit, and the Weeks never occupied the same sonic real estate despite the fact that all are considered rock bands to varying degrees. While that’s not really the point of the Communion Residency Tour, it is, paradoxically, the tour’s exact purpose.

These were three distinctly different, relatively unknown or underappreciated bands sharing the same stage. The tour is giving exposure not just to bands like these, but also to the promise that the audience is going to be experience an eclectic mix of music every time the Communion Residency Tour comes to DC and the Black Cat.

Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer. He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years. Currently he lives in Vienna, VA. He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.