District musicians shine at 2018 DC Music Rocks Festival

Kid Brother warms the crowd at the 2018 DC Music Rocks Festival. Photo courtesy of Ville Iso-Ahola.

By: Ville Iso-Ahola

Once again, the 9:30 Club hosted the DC Music Rocks’ annual music festival on Saturday night. Music fans enjoyed five local bands, two guest singer-songwriters, and a featured Girls Rock DC DJ between sets.

The festival, now in its second year, is an extension of the DC Rocks’ syndicated FM Radio show and podcast, which highlights the very best bands and musicians in DC. The festival also raised money for Girls Rock DC. Indeed, the performances proved that the local music scene is alive and well.

The night began with a performance by Northern Virginia’s Kid Brother, who played to a relatively small, enthusiastic crowd. Kid Brother’s lively folk and indie-rock set aroused more than a few cheers, bobbing heads, and swerving bodies.

Meanwhile, Pebble to Pearl, the evening’s second act, changed the tone a bit. Dari J, the lead vocalist, showcased her brilliant soulful vocals, and her strong voice echoed throughout the venue. The crowd loved the band’s upbeat, soulful R&B melodies. During the set, guitarist Genny Jam’s wah-wah heavy guitar riffs kept things funky, while the group’s strong and solid rhythm section supported the uplifting vibe and aura.

Pebble to Pearl also paid tribute to Aretha Franklin, who passed away last Thursday, by performing a cover of “You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman.” The band also covered Prince’s “Purple Rain,” which delighted the audience. The festival-goers loved every minute of Pebble to Pearl’s spirited and lively performance.  

After Pebble to Pearl’s set, Fellowcraft, DC blues-grunge trio, performed on stage. They played songs from their new album entitled “Three”, which debuted for the first time at the event. The audience embraced Fellowcraft’s hard-hitting blues grunge. They had a spirited, fierce, and fiery performance while maintaining tight and melodic grooves.

DC Music Rocks provided an eclectic mix of bands and musical styles, while raising money for Girls Rock DC. After a heavy dose of grunge and blues by Fellowcraft, the audience was treated to the lighter stylings of All the Best Kids. This band has a unique style, performing a blend of hip-hop, funk, jazz, and indie.

Brandon Williams, Fellowcraft’s Bassist, performing at the festival. Photo courtesy of Ville Iso-Ahola.

Their one-of-a-kind, hip-hop-psych-rock sound resonated well with the audience. Fans bounced huge balloons and tossed them in the air during the performance. At this point, the party was in full gear. All The Best Kids played a vibrant and exuberant set, which evoked lots of cheers.

Furthermore, Black Dog Prowl performed last. Their sweaty, diesel-fueled grunge grooves echoed loudly throughout the venue. Loyal fans and a few of late-stayers danced on open areas at the club. Singer Josh Finver’s gut-wrenching vocals oozed from the venue’s sound system.

Guitarist Pablo Anton’s thick and heavy riffs over the rhythm section delivered an array of hypnotic, hard-hitting, in-your-face tracks. While Black Dog Prowl’s blues-grunge guitar rock is evocative of Seattle bands like Soundgarden, the group’s melodies and songwriting reflect an originality many grunge mainstream acts lack today.

Pablo Anton gets down and dirty. Photo courtesy of Ville Iso-Ahola.

Overall, DC Music Rocks 2018 was a success. The audience and bands were engaged in a fun-loving atmosphere. They loved the free photo booth. There were many smiling faces and gyrating bodies, too. In fact, even the club’s security personnel enjoyed the festival.  

If you would like to learn more about DC Music Rocks and other events happening around town, you can visit their website. You can also listen and subscribe to DC Music Rocks’ podcast, too.