Three Local D.C. Bands Dominate Rock & Roll Hotel
Aztec Sun, Staycation, & Shining Blade Theory
By: Freddy Detchou • Photos by Dennis Myers
The search for good music never ends. That’s what led people to form a line nearly a block long in North East D.C. on a cold and windy winter night. Three talented bands came together on that Friday, March 4 with one goal: to funk up the Rock and Roll Hotel – and funk it up they did. Shining Blade Theory, Staycation and headliners Aztec Sun gave the sold-out crowd a show to remember.
From the moment you passed the coat check and entered the main room, you knew that it would be a Friday well spent. The dark room and colorful lights coming from the stage set the mood perfectly, putting the already excited crowd in a party mood. Due to the loud music coming from the DJ and, later, the bands, interactions were kept to a minimum, which was fine – with the high quality show that people were treated to, the only things that needed to be communicated were nods of approval and vigorous dancing and cheering.
Shining Blade Theory kicked off the show with their unique style, mixing hip-hop, funk, and what they call “a dash of umph”. The band lays down solid beats, weaving from rock to funk and even reproducing those old school New York hip-hop sounds, while the MC, Parabellum, raps and sings, drawing the audience in with high energy, skillful bars and hooks that are catchy, without being too simple. They were a good start to the show, kicking it off with a nice, but still energetic opening.
For Staycation, formerly known as B-Side Shuffle, this was their first show since their name change, but if they hadn’t said anything, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. Their brand of funk came laced with a rock n roll edge to it, complete with heavy guitar riffs, solos and powerful vocals. They even mixed some covers into their set, making sure to add their own flavor. One of the most impressive things about them, aside from their music, was how much they were enjoying themselves on stage.
Their keyboardist / saxophonist Will Sautter, for example, made sure to fit in a little dance break when he wasn’t playing. The lights seemed to dance with him, and warm colors descended on the stage and crowd, that became more energetic as the Rock and Roll Hotel became more and more packed. The night began to feel less like a show and increasingly like a great party, and Staycation kept us dancing.
Last, but not least, came Aztec Sun to take the night to a new level. Although the 8-piece band seemed a bit cramped on stage, they made sure to break free with their music. They performed a very diverse set list, starting with a “warm-up” consisting of funk, blues, love ballads and even some pop-tinged tracks. During the set, lead singer Stephane moonlighted as a hype man, making sure the crowd was feeling the funk and stayed involved. They put their various talents on display, with saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and keyboard solos accentuating the performance every couple of songs. They progressed from this warm-up to some of their more known songs that are impossible not to dance to, and made sure the crowd was with them the whole time. When the lead singer said, “Jump around!” people jumped. When they said, “Take it down”, people crouched and kneeled, all while still dancing. Even the people who refused to jump or kneel didn’t stop dancing. Apparently they went over their allotted time, but no one seemed to notice – Aztec Sun built on the excellent momentum started by the Shining Blade Theory and Staycation, using their grandiose sound to bring the night to an end in a funky crescendo.
To say this was a good night would be an understatement. Shining Blade Theory, Staycation, and Aztec Sun came together at the Rock and Roll Hotel and created a night of fun and amazing D.C. music. If you have the chance to see any of these bands live, I would highly recommend it.