Small Brown Bike / Bridge and Tunnel - live in Washington, D.C. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Small Brown Bike / Bridge and Tunnel

live in Washington, D.C. (2010)

live show

I only go to two actual "clubs" in D.C.: the Black Cat and, on the rare occasion, the 9:30 Club. Smaller venues like the Velvet Lounge and the DC9 have either a lack of good bands or aggravating age restrictions. When Title Fight and Ruiner were scheduled to play the Velvet Lounge, for example, Title Fight graciously tried to put as many minors on their guest list as possible--including me--to no avail. We got in on time to see Daylight with six people at most before the show eventually made its way to a local basement. It's those kinds of altercations that keep me away from those places, but when Small Brown Bike announced their D.C. date at the DC9, I figured I'd ignore punk ethics, embrace my newfound "adulthood" and go to a real 18+ club. The employees were immediately helpful, offering me soda, food and overall were very welcoming and friendly.

I had mutual friends with the opening band Solar Powered Sun Destroyer, so going in, I was met with the hype machine. Honestly, they were probably the best-sounding band that night. They share a lot of the spacey qualities to Cave In and had an incredibly dynamic and powerful drummer. The plethora of soaring guitar effects were a foresight to what would become of the rest of the show.

Your Skull My Closet took the stage. I didn't really enjoy their music, but they played together very well. They had a real rock and roll swagger with a drummer equally as impressive as Solar Powered's. Apparently, he spent some time with Small Brown Bike in their later years.

Bridge and Tunnel sucked out all of the professionalism out of the club that night, but not in a bad way, mind you. They EQ'd poorly, but continued with a very modest and intimate set. After a short intro speach, they opened with a new song. I couldn't hear the vocals, but instrumentally, it sounded like an extension of their reverberating, post-hardcore sound. They played crowd favorites like "Wartime Souvenirs" and closed with "Call to the Comptroller's Office," but frankly, no one was really singing along. They seemed were very grateful to be sharing a tour with Small Brown Bike and told how they basically just emailed them saying they were huge fans and if they were interested in playing shows together. Evidently, they were interested.

I've been a Small Brown Bike fan since I was 15 years old, so I had quite a bit of anticipation growing in the pit of my stomach. I befriended a heavier-set gentlemen during the setup. He was a die-hard fan and told me about how the last time he saw them was six years ago at their "last show." After the lead guitarist had a Jameson-induced battle with his amplifier, they stormed into "The Cannons and Tanks" off of my favorite, Our Own Wars. Unfortunately, a lot of the newer and slower songs didn't get much reaction from the crowd. "A Declaration of Sorts," "The Cold" (my favorite!) and "See You in Hell" were among the highlights. What surprised me was that they weren't particularly tight, but they had a real reckless and sloppy punk attitude--well, at least the antics of their drunken guitarist.

It was a solid a show, but it didn't exactly pan out to be my "dream" show; each band delivered enough to make it worth the 14 bucks. I sure hope I never convince myself to spend that much for a show again, though.