Scanner Freaks Make Themselves At Home At Adam West’s Velvet Lounge

Man, having only seen Scanner Freaks at the rock and roll black hole that is The Red & The Black (keep trying, guys!) it was great to see ’em come back to my hood and play The Velvet Lounge Saturday. The Red & The Black is a cool little bar, but it’s got a ways to go as a live venue, while The Velvet is established. It is what it is, a little Baltimore-style rock club that bleeds grit from the walls. Perfect for the Freaks’ post-hardcore sound. For punk and hard rock fans, this is maybe the most exciting young bands in the city.

The quintet took advantage of the bigger stage, bumping into each other even more, and they fed off the energy of the larger crowd, getting stronger and stronger as the set progressed. At their September show, “The Ground” and “Consensus” stood out. On this night, they sounded even better. Louder, weightier and more powerful. I’m smitten with the latter. If you love this band, you love ’em for songs that are short bursts of power and energy. “Consensus” cuts against that. It’s an extended hardcore jam, and though it’s much longer than most of the material and at times seems to have a little ADHD running through it, it never gets boring. Instead it shows Scanner Freaks can be unusually dynamic for a hardcore band when they want to be. The fact that they choose to hit-and-run most of the time makes a song like “Consensus” that much more exciting.

And as the set wound down through the last few songs, the band winded up, adding more adrenaline as they again built up to their closer, a cover of Tanners’ “Computers That Breathe,” their signature cover in their young career. It’s a smart choice, sharing a great song by a somewhat obscure San Diego punk band.

And on another note regarding the change in venue, Scanner Freaks seemed much happier and more comfortable at The Velvet, clowning around more between songs and interacting more with the crowd, making the band that much more likable. Check ’em out next time I tell you, too, and look for their debut LP, which is in the works.

Rare is it to see Adam West opening for anybody at The Velvet. That is their bar, their venue. They’ve been holding court there for years, having and creating the most fun of any hard rock band in D.C. It’d been a while since I’d seen ’em, so having them on a bill with Scanner Freaks was a bonus. They, too, are working on a new record, and they played a handful of old songs along with a bunch of old favorites like “God’s Gift to Women,” “Hot Chocolate,” “Bulletproof” and “We’ve Got Cake.” Mostly playing irreverent songs about sex, Adam West was all bawdy, macho cock rock with old school punk energy and loads of humor. Witness another song about sex — “Cantaloupes and Antelopes.” As you can imagine, it conjures old dirty stories about watermelons and sheep.

And many thanks to the first band, Gaslight Society, for setting the show up. I look forward to hearing more of their punky, bluesy garage rock and seeing more of that soulful, jiggly hottie Janet fronting the band. She’s a CBGBs-style frontwoman, carrying on the tradition of vocalists like Debbie Harry — minus the sweetness — and Chrissie Hynde — with added punk angst.


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