Earlier this year Pennsylvania indie rockers the Districts released their third full-length album Popular Manipulations on Fat Possum Records. Popular Manipulations is a significant evolution in sound, style, and songwriting from their previous album, 2015’s label debut A Flourish and a Spoil. The band was once again aided by the production skills of John Congleton (Angel Olsen, St. Vincent), who produced A Flourish and a Spoil. Only this time Congleton worked on 4 songs, as the band self-produced the bulk of the album with engineer Keith Abrams. Popular Manipulations takes the soaring anthemic sound of the Districts and roots it in a more brooding introspection without losing the solid guitar hooks, foot stomping beats, and even the occasional soaring chorus. The band have hit the road on an extensive North American and European tour, integrating the new songs into their formidable live performance. We caught the show at Motorco Music Hall in Durham NC.
Starting off the evening was Nashville-based psychedelic rock four-piece, Sun Seeker. The band consisting of Alex Benick on guitar and vocals, Asher Horton on bass, Ben Parks on drums, and Rodrigo Avendano on keyboard and guitar played a well-received set of melodic, laidback, psychedelic tunes with a folk-influenced underpinning. They kicked off with “Might Be Time” and the title track from Biddeford, their debut EP released earlier this past summer on Jack White’s Third Man Records. Without a large catalog to pull from, Sun Seeker’s set was a condensed breath of fresh air. The relatively young band played with confidence and an aloof swagger that connected with the crowd. Before their set, some of the people around me were asking each other “Who are these guys?” By the end of the set, they were asking the same thing, but this time there was interest and an excited curiosity behind the question. Sun Seeker have a sound and spirit that’s both retro and fresh, and utterly captivating.
After a short break that left the crowd slightly restless and bristling with energy, The Districts stormed the stage and launched into “Salt” from the new album followed by “4th and Roebling” from A Flourish and a Spoil. From the first notes, frontman Rob Grote was a wild blur of motion as spun around the stage slowing only to belt out his vocals. With bassist Connor Jacobus, and drummer Braden Lawrence driving the pounding beat and guitarist Pat Cassidy filling out the sonic assault, they played a solid mix of songs culled from their three albums and various EPs including “Rocking Chair,” “Fat Kiddo,” “Violet,” and “Chlorine.” Each new song highlighted a sonic understanding between the band members as they produced an enticing mix of ragged guitar riffs and a droning wall of sound. The tight playing should come as no surprise, as the core of the band have been playing together since forming in high-school back in 2009. By the time the Districts closed out their set with Popular Manipulations’ lead single, “Ordinary Day,” the crowd was positively euphoric as they danced, moshed, and sang along in a sweaty mass of adoration. The band would return for a single encore, and what an encore it was! The monolithic epic “Young Blood,” with its rollercoaster pacing absolutely brought down the house, ending the show with the audience howling for more.
The Districts + Sun Seeker @ Motorco Music Hall – November 30th 2017