27 Years in the Making
It is funny how time works, bestowing age and decay on some, while others become better defined and more mature. For DC music favorites Unrest, time has smiled generously upon the band and brought them a more refined and rich sound that has enhanced their music. Last Saturday, the band reunited on stage at the Black Cat to pay homage to its once DC-based record label Teenbeat. The rare appearance was the band’s second performance in 16 years and it was worth the wait. Offering their fans songs from past albums laden with sugary pop flourishes and punk-spirited indulgences, the band proved that their songs are just as relevant now as they were when they were when they were first released more than a decade ago.
With a collection filled with numerous albums, seven-inch singles and one-off improvisational songs it was difficult to predict what the band would choose to perform that evening. The audience waited patiently for Unrest—in all its different incarnations—to take the stage. First, Phil Krauth and Mark Robinson along with early band members Tim Moran and Dave Park performed several songs, including a comedic interlude and 12-string guitar ballad. Next Phil, Mark, and Bridget Cross, the members of Unrest from 1991-1994, appeared on stage much to the delight of the audience. This trio released the critically acclaimed “Imperial f.f.r.r.” album, and later the “Perfect Teeth” album co-released with 4AD. What happened to this band you might ask? Like many great bands before them they broke up in 1994 and each went on to pursue other musical projects.
For this night at least the band was back together and the audience was there to relish each song. The band played a number of pieces from its “Imperial f.f.r.r.” album including one of the band’s most memorable songs, “Isabel.” The piece offers a sad lament built upon a deceptive foundation of optimism from within the melody. Soon you are overcome by Bridgette’s dark and ethereal sounding vocals about a “lovely child” who was “all alone from life’s beginning” and ended up drowning in a river. It doesn’t get much better than this.
After the song “June,” the band graced the stage with its fan-favorite “Suki.” Made purely of pop dreams and unicorns, the song evokes all the levity and light heartedness that goes hand-in-hand with love only to border on obsession in true Unrest fashion. Listening to the song evokes an involuntary response from your toes, fingers and head. Before long your body is bopping along to the rhythm and there’s nothing to do but succumb. Don’t be worried or embarrassed; one scan of the room and you’ll see that everyone is overcome by the same affliction. As long-time fan Gina explains it, her appreciation for Unrest is based on the band’s “super bouncy bass line that is fun” and lyrics that “have a nice tight quality to them that makes for a great mix.”
By the end of the evening the band managed to thank the audience with a set that resonated deeply with all the fans, both old and new. Take them along with you on your next drive downtown or run around the city and fall in love with them all over again of for the first time.