Photos & Review by: Tommy Dingus
This shredfest of a night in DC began with the hometown sound of Caustic Casanova. This group with revolving members hit the stage with what they call ‘Mark II,’ the trio consisting of Stefanie Zaenker, Francis Beringer, and Andrew Yonki. Zaenker’s drumming provided the relentless lead for the boys to squelch and wail over without hardly a breath in between. With the exception of a quick intro and shout out, CC basically weaved their set together seamlessly, beginning to end. Even the song they dubbed “slower” wasn’t much of a break for them, or the audience. Caustic Casanova is an intense way to start your night, that’s for sure.
Atlanta’s Lazer/Wulf took over the stage for some drum first, ask questions later, minimal lyrics, maximum aural assault rock. The drum kit sat front and center so you could see and feel every double kick that percussionist Brad Rice offered during his workout. Rice’s take no prisoners attack on his own instrument sets a high bar, but his musical work ethic seems to carry over into the guitars on either side of him. Guitarist Bryan Aiken was truly entertaining when spitting his rare yet lost in the noise lyrics and playing high up the neck of his guitar. Bassist Sean Peiffer turned it up when the other two dropped for him to spotlight. His nonchalant nature and impressive wandering ability on the 6-string made it look easy.
Keeping with the theme of unadulterated rock, Athens, Georgia’s Manray set up with four musicians, the most of the night. However, there remained only three shirts. It was excusable only because we were in the smaller, warmer backstage of the Black Cat, and it was drummer Derek Olivera, who was also doing cardio throughout the headlining set. Derek is one of three Olivera brothers that make up Manray, with Bryant Williamson. Manray had even fewer lyrics to interrupt the fistfight that is their sound. They did have a pair of microphones for bassist Ryan and guitarist Jordan Olivera to growl into sporadically but they were mostly for Jordan to amuse the audience in between songs. Usually just long enough for Derek to catch his breath, then Jordan would mention that the next number was also a song, and then they were off head banging.