Review: Weeknight at the Rock and Roll Hotel

Weeknight's Holly MacGibbon and Andy Simmons.
Weeknight's Holly MacGibbon and Andy Simmons. (Courtesy Weeknight)

WASHINGTON, November 4, 2014 – The title of Brooklyn-based Weeknight’s first full-length album is Post-Everything. It couldn’t be a more apt description for both this ensemble’s style and their live performance. Case in point: their recent appearance here at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Weeknight’s very presence in all its forms flies in the face of most indie rock trends over the last decade or so. Weeknight is not exactly mocking the idea of the overarching genre, largely because they’re indebted to it and very much a part of it. But at the same time, they paradoxically flaunt their general indifference to it all the same.

The duo that is Weeknight is a combination of sometimes awkward, jerky movements mixed with a rather eloquent modern synth-pop sound. The darkly rich mix they’ve crafted has something of an exhausted appeal to it like performers who are sick of “post-” being the choice prefix for every new and relevant musical movement that shows up.

Weeknight also seems to be exhausted at the lack of creativity that appears to surround so much of independent music between cycles, as if everyone is hanging around waiting for something interesting to burst out again.

Bursting out is exactly what Weeknight is trying to do, though their approach doesn’t necessarily suggest this is what they’re up to.

Andy Simmons and Holly MacGibbon deal strictly and almost exclusively in musical juxtapositions. Their sound comes off as thematically exhausted, but that doesn’t stop them from providing a peculiar energy in the form of a throbbing, almost hypnotic monotone.

This element is primarily supplied by Simmons’ vocals, although perfectly harmonized at various points by MacGibbon. But that doesn’t stop MacGibbon from freaking out on her synths as a number of their songs hit their peak.

By the end of the night at Rock and Roll Hotel, after having performed about a half hour’s worth of music, the duo was deeply entrenched in an enchanting wormhole of synth-pop harmonies.

Their stripped down but complex style owes a lot to the recent push of almost defiantly synth-pop bands that avoid traditional line-ups to make sure they get their unique sound out there among the multitudes.

It’s rather simple to create a diverse soundscape with a minimal amount of fuss, making a band’s primary vision that much clearer. This is something Weeknight does. They’re kind of musicians who subscribe to DIY aesthetics without necessarily drawing attention to it, because there’s very little to suggest any direct outside influence on the way Simmons and MacGibbon perform in Weeknight. Their stage show is the purest form of their vision.

Because it’s just the two of them up on stage doing their thing, they’ve broken down the components of evolutionary synth-pop and converted them into what the audience is hearing. At this point, they twist it into a distinctly dark sound that shows to advantage in a venue like the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Nothing about Weeknight’s show is aggressive. Still, with each song, they are defiant about their direction while keeping the rounded curves of their sound intact. The presence they displayed to the crowd at the Rock and Roll Hotel is out front even as they encase everyone in sound. That’s the reason it’s impossible to miss how uniquely individualistic Weeknight is when they appear on stage.

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