Ugly Purple Sweater, have been charming the D.C. music scene with their swirling guitars and equally massive voices. They make melody-driven rock and roll that’s a few degrees of quirkiness away from being Muse or a Snow Patrol sounds like it’s shooting for the stars. They joined us for our 5GB series before their show at the Black Cat.
What’s the first gig you ever attended?
I went to a lot of classical recitals and concerts when I was quite little, mostly ones in which I or my mom was performing, but the first rock concert I ever attended was HFStival, the annual summer festival put on by WHFS, the Baltimore alternative station. (One day in 2004, with no advance notice, HFS signed off and was replaced by El Sol, a Spanish-language station with a latin pop format, and so ended one of the primary pop-music institutions of my youth.) HFS that year featured such storied Eddie Vedder impersonators as Live, Silverchair, and the Offspring. In retrospect, the whole thing seems terrifying: I was a scrawny 13 year old amidst 20,000 drunk antagonistic people on the field of the Baltimore Raven’s stadium. It was like the wildebeest stampede scene from the Lion King, except less friendly, and louder.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed?
For me, the best shows to play are sometimes the strange ones. The strangest one UPS ever played was at a house party in new york. There was a band playing with us called Fables that totally mindfucked me. They demanded attention — literally demanded it — by confronting people in the audience that weren’t paying enough attention. They told one guy, “If you listen, you might learn something.” It was awesome how uncomfortable it was.
What is the best gig you have ever seen?
I saw Deerhoof play in a loft in Chicago in 2004. It was a show that propelled me into what I expect will be lifelong Deerhoof fandom, but my most vivid memory of it was that I was visiting my then-girlfriend in Chicago, and she absolutely hated their set. She had worked all day and the show started late, and she spent Deerhoof’s set swaying back and forth, trying to stay awake, and occasionally saying how much she wanted to leave.
Anyway, Deerhoof is incredible. Their drummer, Greg Saunier is extraordinarily dynamic. In whole sections of their set, he plays the bare minimum necessary to suggest the idea of a groove without playing a proper backbeat. And then he enters with these dramatic, nearly arhythmic drum fills. It’s breathtaking. And also, their guitarists have discovered what may very well be the world’s greatest guitar tone: it’s noisy and clanky and full of overtones, and yet also somehow perfectly clear, which allows them to play genuinely dissonant stuff without it disintegrating into an opaque, staticky haze.
Gig you would most like to play?
I’d love to play Austin City Limits; having a beautifully crafted document of the performance is a big draw.
What would be the lineup for your dream gig?
The P-Funk All Stars would open, followed by Rhythm of the Saints-era Paul Simon, and then we’d play, and Paul Simon’s army of percussionists would join us for our 35 minute encore. (No harm in dreaming big, I figure.)
Catch Ugly Purple Sweater , Jan. 12th at Black Cat, Washington D.C.