Double Dagger + friends, Floristree, Baltimore MD

When we arrived at Floristree I was bowled over by its sheer size. Occupant Sean told me that it used to be two spaces, but they knocked down the walls and combined them into one super-space for art, theater, music, etc. Someone was kind enough to cook up a big pot of curry for everyone and the smell, along with numerous comfy couches, cases of beer, frolicking kittens and friendly, obese cats created quite the homespun environment.

First up were Floristree residents Ecstatic Sunshine with their twinkly, somewhat improvised experimental droning. Each band member bobbed his luxurious head of hair with abandon at their shining tableau of sampled and manipulated sounds. I’m always impressed with performers who can show their physical commitment to the music without fucking up, and it’s especially impressive when the instruments they play are knobs, pedals, and buttons. Though they have some louder sections, this band is more concerned with creating atmosphere than any sort of pop structure, and it felt odd to be standing up, rock show style, to hear it. I really wished I had a couch to sit on and a hookah full of hash, and maybe some people to talk to about the Universe.

Parts and Labor delivered another solid set of noise pop, remaining unfazed by several equipment malfunctions. If anything, BJ’s frustration made for a more intense vocal performance, something they seen to be committing more fully to lately. New guitarist Sarah Lipstate was again spot on, freeing up Dan Friel to focus on making those bagpipe-esque sounds on his electronic doodads, though I kept expecting her to deviate from the song structures to provide some of her own signature weird noises. The fact that she didn’t was understandable, considering she’d only practiced with the full band twice so far, three times if you count the Philly show. Impressive turnaround, considering P+L’s music has a bit more going on than your average pop song.

Double Dagger brought a lot more of the punk rock than one would expect from a band named after a punctuation mark. They had a minimal set-up: a fast/loud drummer; a bassist that coaxed so many sounds out of his bass that I had to do a double take to realize it had only four strings; and that increasing rarity in rock bands today, a singer who only sings. Free from the burden of an instrument, he thrashed around and got crazy, at one point falling and knocking over much of the drum kit. The bassist noodled until the kit was righted, and the singer, dusting himself off, remarked on the stage’s inadequacy at containing his rock and roll joie de vivre (I’m paraphrasing).

Though he pulled no punches in performing his fast, shouty songs, he also had a softer side evinced by his keenly bitchy fashion sense; at one point he held up a stray shoe from the audience and asked, “is anyone missing a tacky, all-black, neo-New Wave shoe?” Nobody said they were.

After the show, the couches became our beds for the night and we were able to snuggle up with some feisty kittens for a snooze. I selected an afghan from Sean’s giant pile of blankets and promptly passed out. In the morning, there was cereal and soymilk to speed us on our way. Floristree is the venue that keeps on giving.