Photos by Josh Brick
They don’t make bands like this anymore. Futurebirds have it all. On Saturday night, their own breed of psychedelic country engulfed the Black Cat in DC as the group jumped up and down on-stage with a stage presence that has defined real Rock N’ Roll bands for decades.
The new album, Hotel Parties, explores tales of life on the road and coming back to the “real” world, if that’s even what you want to call it. Sunday night I was at dinner and clearly had some thoughts on my mind. The person next to me asked, “What are you thinking about?” Well I was thinking about how Futurebirds just crushed this new album, played one of the best concerts I’ve seen this year, and how they plan on taking that rock ‘n’ roll freight train all over the country for the next two months.
Lyrical passages on the new record explore the contemplative facets of life on the road; “God damn I miss my friends, chasin’ empty dreams left me helpless.” While most think it is all glit and glamour and hotel parties for bands on tour, it is also much more. Any touring artist would tell you that. Putting in the hours on the road in various cities, playing new markets, sometimes to huge crowds and sometimes to smaller ones. They just got signed to Easy Sound Recording and they’ve got Kevin from Redlight Management on the road with them. This is a pivotal point in the band’s career. The sophomore release in the industry is often a great gauge for a band and their future. Well these Futurebirds have really set themselves up for success.
There’s a scene in Almost Famous where 15 year old young journalist, William Miller, asks the lead guitarist Russell Hammond of Stillwater: “Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you? Like “Love Thing,” where did you write that and who was it about?” The answer is you that you can “write” any song. Sometimes it is just loose and really open for interpretation, totally depends on the lyricist and delivery, but nothing beats a song about a real story. Those are the lyrics that move people because they are in fact all too real sometimes. For the Futurebirds, Hotel Parties is a lyrical and musical escapade into life on the road for a hardworking band and the result is nothing shy of a genuine piece of art for the human ear.
Good music makes you FEEL something. Futurebirds have found some magical way of disseminating a lot of emotions into each of their songs. The reverb rings clearly as the vocal harmonies transcend mountains, valleys, and the plains and take you to a dream-like place. Close your eyes at a Futurebirds concert and they’ll transport you to memories of great times, horrible breakups, good looking women, late-nights with friends, simple easy days as a child, your awkward phases of life, a positive outlook on what the future holds, and everything in-between. This is song-writing ladies and gentlemen. This is a band that has it. They’ve got the magic that pulls your heartstrings while simultaneously warming the heart and soul.
The band did an exceptional job of mixing new and old material in their set. Sometimes there are certain songs people really want to hear, but variety is the spice of life. Bands craft pieces of art to further explore the potential of their OWN signature sound. Creating albums that push band and genre barriers, those are the albums that strive to change history. Futurebirds have one hell of a catalog in their repertoire. They did a great job of selecting a mix of sounds from their discography. They came charging out the gates Saturday night with “Xmas Drags”. One track off the new album that is sure to garner some momentum is “Rodeo”. The song writing in this is just too good for it to get overlooked and furthermore it is pretty clear the band knows this is a great song. The group then revisited “Serial Bowls” off Baby Yaga, which was released in April 2013. The fast tempo and hard driving guitars float in an ocean of reverbed bliss as a blend of vocals wash over the audience. The energy is real and it is felt.
Aside from other cuts like “For You” off the new album, they went to some older material to close out the night.. They performed a strong rendition of “Tan Lines” before a rip-roaring take of “MJB”. Daniel Womack does great vocal work on that one always and the chorus is just a classic embodiment of the Futurebirds sound. “Slow Talkerz”, the lengthiest track on the new album, closed out the night of music. The song takes listeners through several different moods and is sure to have some incredible potential moving forward this tour. Then the band returned for a two song encore, “Unknown Legend” and “Yur Not Dead”. The “Yur Not Dead” was a perfect send off as the band yells, “Just because you walk, doesn’t mean that you’re not dead, Just because you talk, doesn’t mean something’s been said.” These lyrics Carter wrote during a storm on a boat in Jacksonville rung throughout the Black Cat as the crowd sang along in unison to close out an exceptional night of live music in the district. The Black Cat hosted a real rock n roll band in the truest sense on Saturday night. Can’t wait for the guys to come back through the nation’s capital.
The Futurebirds connect with their audience. Some bands have it, others do not. They have it.