El Ten Eleven played to a packed crowd at Union Stage in DC on Saturday night. The venue itself has an upstairs area as well as the downstairs room with bars, a few barstool table combos and the stage for bands. The sound was excellent and there was enough breathing room even with the large amount of people who showed up. I’ve become such a fan of The Wharf area and The Anthem (music venue) as well.
So before the show I managed to lock my girlfriend’s keys in her car. These unexpected twists in life have only just begun hitting me as I become more adventurous and spontaneous. Life is all about how you react to it. Be grateful for these amazing experiences even if they end up being a slightly painful memory (standing in the cold waiting on a locksmith, etc.)
A two piece version of Joan of Arc started the night off with a variety of interesting and drastically diverse tunes. Tim Kinsella (frontman and member of emo act Cap’n Jazz) was as eccentric as ever along with his female counterpart, who I didn’t catch the name of. This was one of the cases where I was I had become more familiar with the opening act before the show came along. So if anyone can point me in the direction of more knowledge of Tim Kinsella, please let me know!
After the opener was finished tearing down the gear, the lights went down and El Ten Eleven was greeted with thunderous applause as they entered the stage. The mid-size room’s mass of fans was louder than expected, and would be that way throughout the night.
Now for those of you who don’t know, El Ten Eleven is an instrum
ental band composed of Tim Fogarty (drums) and Kristian Dunn (guitar/bass). They’re often classified as post-rock, ambient and experimental. These generalizations don’t do the band justice… For me I was instantly hooked because of the goosebumps and feelings listening to their music often gave me. All this WITHOUT LYRICS OR SINGING. Of course, what I find most interesting is the inspiration behind songs which is where so much passion comes from. Take for instance maybe the band’s most popular track “My Only Swerving”, which was influenced by the poem “Traveling Through The Dark” by William Stafford.
Tim Fogarty’s drumming was much more intense and booming in person and Kristian Dunn’s tones, whether they were chimey or bass heavy all meshed together as he seamlessly looped each part, a staple of their live act. The only exceptions were when Dunn switched to another guitar/bass that happened to be out of tune and the seldom picking mistake which is understandable considering everything he has to balance.
The setlist started off with a variety of songs (“Phenomenal Problems”, Three and a Half Feet High and Rising”, “You Are Enough”) from their new album, “Banker’s Hill” which has truly become a favorite of mine. Later they delved into a few other fan favorites and songs they like to play for themselves to stay sane while touring. The rest of the set was dominated by songs from their self-titled album which is their defining work and truly an emotional collection of tracks. I absolutely fell in love with the band listening to that album while taking long walks and listening on headphones. It was surreal to see them.
El Ten Eleven is an exciting and impressive live act with so many surprises. Check them out!