Folk-rock has made a comeback recently, thanks largely to ad placements and the increasing popularity of country music. While the two genres are different, they do share similarities. As country is becoming more like pop, folk is becoming more like rock. And Bronze Radio Return is benefiting from this resurgence.
As the dance floor filled in, with mainly young women, and the lights went down at The Hamilton, old scratchy audio began to play. You could recognize familiar voices like Louis Armstrong. A few audience members put two and two together, realizing that it was old radio recordings, "radio, get it, Bronze. Radio. Return." With a fitting intro, the band hit the stage loud and full of energy. Starting with "Soon As I Fall," a song off of their latest release Up, On, & Over, was a great way to kick off the sold out show. The uptempo indie rock song set the mood that they wanted the crowd to get moving.
While the opening act, The Falls, seemed to lack dynamic personality, lead singer Chris Henderson was overflowing with it. His goofy open mouthed expressions added a bit of humor to the night, without distracting from the music. He would be the dad that embarrasses his kids by doing his Adam Sandler impressions at the sleepover. Or Paul Rudd's character in I Love You Man; a bit awkward but funny.
Perhaps his sure to be signature expression was especially noticeable because he was happy to be playing in D.C. "D.C. is one of our favorite places to come through, sometimes I say that but I really do mean that," he stated before launching into apparent fan favorite "Wonder No More." A fan or two were skeptical of his sincerity, but were happy to sing along with the mid-tempo songs catchy "oh, oh, oh" chorus.
The crowd was fairly responsive during the first half of the set, but as Henderson stepped away from the front of the stage something wonderful happened. Lead guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz and harmonica/banjoist Craig Stuble moved front and center for a few minutes of showing off. Their duet/solo/harmonica vs. guitar battle was an impressive display of their talents individually and as a team. And got the crowd pumped for the next half.
You could see that they were having fun. Maybe because they were celebrating a first. Henderson was met with cheers when he said that it was "a special night, it's the first time we've sold out a club in D.C." Throughout the night he asked the audience who had been at their first shows in D.C, at the Iota Club and DC9. A few people raised their hands and cheered. The band has clearly come a long way.
The second half saw a slight drop in energy from the audience after the harmonica-guitar battle. "Rather Never Know" and "All In," both off the new album, brought the mood down. But "Melting In My Icebox," off of Shake!Shake!Shake!, helped bring the mood back up. Then Henderson brought up D.C.'s rumored reputation that "D.C. crowds are hard to play for." As they launched into "Blurry-Eyed Worries," he said he didn't believe the rumor. Whether it was the song or his somewhat prove me wrong statement, it got the crowd moving again.
After that Henderson declared his mission to get those seating at the dining tables standing up, "ten minutes tops and you'll be standing." By the time they got through fan favorites "Everything Moves" and "Further On," which featured another crowd pleasing harmonica solo, there were in fact a few people standing in the dining section. As Henderson announced that "Down There," his personal favorite, was the band's last song of the night, the crowd reacted with the expected boos. But of course the band came back almost immediately after leaving the stage, Henderson saying "I was hoping you wanted one more song." And of course that one more song was their most popular song, "Shake, Shake, Shake."