Colony House: Live at the U Street Music Hall

I first saw Colony House in the summer of 2015, Playing with Needtobreathe, and Switchfoot on their “Tour de Compadres”.  I didn’t really know anything about their music, or its quality, and I was fully prepared to endure twenty minutes of mediocrity before the main event.

Out of nowhere, the band began playing; as people began turning their attention to the stage, singer Caleb Chapman let out a feral but joyful scream.  I was captivated; the band did not stand on ceremony, nor did they show any sign of timidity whatsoever.  They proceed to play a show of about five songs that, while lacking in quantity, was as full of energy as any stage show could be, especially considering the fact that it was about six O’clock, and plenty of daylight was still present.

It was with this in mind, that I went to see Colony House at Washington D.C.’s U Street Music Hall.  A small room in the basement, with barely ten square meters of space was the perfect environment for Chapman and company.  The energy that succeeded in a rather huge amphitheater, was only more powerful when concentrated in this smaller venue.  After opening band Deep Sea Diver played, Colony House took the set shortly after.

The crowd knew they were coming when Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” began playing.  About halfway through the song, it began skipping, like a broken record, gradually fading into unrecognizable noise.  At this point the band walked out and jumped right in, with the opener to end all openers, “Cannot do this alone”.

The concert was an exhilarating experience.  Colony House knows how to put on a show, and they seem to thrive in a small club environment, feeding off of the energy of the crowd, and repurposing it to drive their own indefatigable playing.  When the band played “1234”, they capitalize on a chorus practically built for playing in concert, coaxing the crowd to join in the numeric chant:

One Two — I told you that I love you

Three Four — Love me just a little bit more

Throughout the concert, a screen on the wall behind the band played a variety of images — both exciting and bizarre — in sync with the songs, the most impressive being a countdown from three minutes and twenty seconds, till the completion of the song “3:20”.  Other strange offerings include, among other things, a scene from the movie Hook, played on loop, footage of a mustang driving through a desert, and a picture of a benal tiger.  Uniquely, these images are not the show, nor are they allowed to dominate.  The  music is still king, but it sounds a lot cooler when there are some pictures to drive it along.

At the show’s end, Caleb Chapman announced “We’re not gonna do the whole walking out thing, this is our encore right now”.  They played their riff heavy song 2:20 — they have a thing for songs named after times — and the crowd jumped, screamed, and danced feverishly one last time.  Afterwards, the band members exited the stage, drenched in sweat.  This was an adrenaline filled experience, that would be difficult to duplicate by even the deftest of musicians.  Anyone can be skilled –albeit via varying levels of difficulty — but it is rare to find a band that has as much fun playing as the crowd does listening.

If you aren’t sure about who Colony house is, this video ought to tell you just about everything you need to know.

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