Posted by: Jeff | October 18, 2009

Live Review: The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes @ 9:30 Club (10/16/09)

Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo

Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo

The Beach Boys meet My Bloody Valentine.  A modern update on the Velvet Underground.  Buddy Holly with fuzz guitars.  However you describe this band, it’s hard to think of a time that retro doo-wop pop sensibilities sounded so subversive.

Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo are the Danish duo behind The Raveonettes, and while their vocal harmonizations sound like they were lifted straight out of the malt shop of the 50’s, the guitar distortion is borrowed from vintage 80’s Jesus and Mary Chain.  Though their influences are obvious, their music is all Raveonettes, and their rave was on full display Friday night.

The show was not a sellout, so the 9:30 stage was pulled all the way out.  We arrived three songs from the end of the opening set and were able to walk right up near the left side of the stage.  The Black Angels are a psychedelic rock outfit from Austin, Texas, and their blend of bluesy shoegazer was a perfect lead in to the main act.

The Raveonettes drew primarily from their recent releases, and played the new LP, “In and Out of Control” nearly in its entirety.  They sounded loud and sharp, and filled the whole room with a wall of sound early and often. 

The Raveonettes at the 930 Club

Tracks like “Blush” and “Hallucinations” sounded more rich and full than on record, and Wagner and Foo seemed genuinely happy to be playing to an appreciative crowd, something of a rarity in DC.  Their stage banter was inadvertently hilarious, with Wagner sincerely thanking the audience for dancing, and declaring that he, too, likes to dance at concerts.  This produced a wry grin from Foo, who looked like a positively stunning homage to Pris from Bladerunner.

An early technical problem created a lapse in the set, but while Wagner fiddled with an amp at the back of the stage, Sharin Foo stepped up to coo a beautiful rendition of “Oh, I Buried You Today”, little more than an interlude on the new album, and a song that feels inexplicably tender despite such lines as “it’s so hard for me to say/sweet words about you”.  And that more or less sums up how I feel about The Raveonettes – their melodies are bubbly and warm even if layered over cold droning distortion and reverb.  And the vocals, comforting and calm even when covering such topics as suicide, overdose, and yes, rape.  It’s an odd mix that works well for The Raveonettes who capitalize on their wholesome image to shock listeners with both content and noise.  The tracklisting for their new album is like a litany of deadly sins – “Suicide”, “Breaking Into Cars”, “D.R.U.G.S.”, “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)”, on top of songs about teenage overdoses and burying first loves.  Yet it’s all just so darn appealing to the ear.  Their show isn’t all subsersive though – they prove again that they can create some very catchy sing-along pop hooks on new single, “Last Dance”:

It should also be said that the sound mix at 9:30 was superb for this show.  The guitars were loud and reverbery, but the vocals always sounded crisp and clear.  9:30 is known for superior sound, but this show may have been the best sound I’ve heard.  It was also probably the loudest – there was a 45-second period (at the 3:30 mark in that video) during set-closer “Aly Walks With Me” where there were facial expressions of agony on several fellow concert-goers.  The pitch just kept going up and up until finally, at the last possible moment, the reverb was killed and the sinister baseline reemerged from the distortion.  It was a very cool moment and a real testament to how awesome live music (and The Raveonettes) can sound at a great venue.


  1. […] Wagner harmonize well as usual, and the shoegazer guitars are loud and fuzzy as ever, making it infectious even when […]

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