PEACH PIT

Pop group Peach Pit thrived in an intimate performance at DC9 Nightclub on Oct. 10, displaying a new energetic sound that thrilled the crowd.

As the clock struck 10 p.m., anticipation climbed minute by minute for Peach Pit, a group of bluesy lo-fi rockers hailing from Montreal.

Peach Pit’s melodic and methodical tunes were a perfect fit for the intimate venue. DC9 Nightclub hosts lesser-known artists on the second floor of a tiny three-story U Street restaurant and bar, with some of the most reasonable ticket prices Washington, D.C., has to offer.

In such a setting, the artist-audience distinction was almost nonexistent. Crowd members helped the opening band transport their gear to and from the stage. Artists from all three bands that would be performing that night milled about the bar area and merchandise table without a posse of paparazzi tailing them. By the time the second opener stepped onstage, there was still ample space in the sparse crowd.

The Vernes, an energetic but altogether forgettable medley of garage rockers, opened the night. In comparison, the second opener Sun Seeker was much more cohesive and distinct. Operating out of Nashville, Tenn., the quartet added a country twang to laidback indie surf-rock by mixing a southern accent with whimsical vocal harmonies. The lead singer, despite sporting a bright red hunting coat and a 1920s paperboy cap, humanized the band with his chuckle-worthy deadpan interjections throughout the set. After a set’s worth of repetitive lyrics, however, the audience was ready for the main act.

There were no pyrotechnics, no suspenseful buildup and no guitar shredding to announce Peach Pit’s arrival. Rather, band members Chris Vanderkooy, Mikey Pascuzzi, Peter Wilton and Neil Smith shuffled their way through the dense crowd just like any other concert attendee. The band exuded the same humble confidence throughout the intimate spectacle that ensued, acting as guys with a penchant for, as they put it, “chewed bubblegum pop.”

Cutting through the audience, Peach Pit finally climbed onstage, amid triumphant cheers, wearing their signature outfits: lead guitarist Vanderkooy in his orange turtleneck, pink overalls for bassist “Peachy Pete” Wilton, a button down and baseball cap for the drummer Pascuzzi and a purple crewneck sweater over a yellow collared shirt for lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Smith.

Peach Pit opened with “Techno Show,” a clever and energetic tune belittling the EDM scene. “It’s not like me to watch some guy spin a bass drop,” crooned lead singer Smith while catchy licks from Chris’ Fender Telecaster filled the empty space. Though the song isn’t their most popular — or anything close to it — the crowd was all for the track by the end of the jam session.

“Techno Show” was released on Peach Pit’s first full studio album, “Being So Normal,” released in September 2017. The album title is a pointed jab at judges of a local Battle of the Bands, who critiqued the band’s performance as “being so normal.” The album witnesses the band’s evolution, but not its transformation: The band experiments with tempo, style and lyricism without abandoning the wistful blues so deeply ingrained in Peach Pit’s identity.

Following this evolutionary vein, the band played “Alrighty Aphrodite,” a track whose enticing drum-guitar interplay makes up for its lack of rhythm guitar, and “Private Presley,” a mournful tune with an army-style drumroll interspersed between verses. Both songs culminated in passionate, soaring guitar solos accentuated by the shriek of the wah pedal, an effects tool, by guitarist Vanderkooy.

Their performance of “Drop the Guillotine,” a rework of an identically named track on their first EP “Sweet FA,” further displays the new Peach Pit. Once a lackadaisical, slow composition, the new version features double the tempo and double the firepower, as was demonstrated by the band’s synchronized headbanging.

As the set went on, Peach Pit warmed up to the engaged audience. Smith, usually quiet and reserved, shared a story from the band’s night in a cramped New York City hotel several days before. He even felt it fitting to bless the crowd with two unreleased tracks: one a disco ball-heavy downbeat ballad about past love, and the other a laid-back, drug-induced ditty conceptualized during a camping trip called “Live from the Swamp.”

After ending the set, Peach Pit left the stage through the crowd, only to return the same way to play the inevitable encore. Acknowledging the awkwardness of that moment, Peach Pit launched right into their encore. They began by taking song suggestions, a sign of respect for and camaraderie with the audience. After playing “Not Me” off of their 2017 album “Being So Normal” per request, they threw the audience a curveball by covering Pixies’ iconic track “Here Comes Your Man.”

As the encore drew to a close, the band concluded with its self-titled track “Peach Pit.” Not only their most popular song, but also the inspiration for the band’s name, they performed the delicious sunny-day chorus with vigor and finality. In the night’s climactic pinnacle, Vanderkooy crowd-surfed without missing a note of the carefree guitar solo.

After its impassioned rock star finale, Peach Pit stepped off its foot-tall pedestal and humbly headed to the merchandise table for conversation and signatures. Friendly, respectful and rocking Canadian superstars for a moment, the band was once more four average Joes in a throng of locals.

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One Comment

  1. Great coverage of a great event! I can’t belive there were no pyrotechnics to announce their arrival!

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