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The walk to DC9 from my apartment takes me down the length of Washington’s U Street corridor, the epicenter of D.C.’s jazz scene. The street is home to the famous Bohemian Caverns and many of the old stomping grounds of the likes of Duke Ellington, Shirley Horn and Frank Wess. The fact that so many greats were discovered here makes U Street a fitting location for DC9, a small venue that tends to bring in acts that are on the cusp of broad notoriety.

I arrived just as Youth Lagoon was taking the stage, whose live act consists of Trevor Powers behind a double-tiered array of electronic equipment and a guitarist. Powers is a diminutive character whose appearance stands in stark contrast with the enormous sound of his debut album. They began with “Posters,” the first cut from The Year of Hibernation. Halfway through “Posters,” gradually building reverb gives way to the sudden and dramatic introduction of percussion. Thus, Powers revealed the addition of heavily boosted, rib-cage rattling bass as the most significant difference between his album and live sound.

Bedroom producers of Youth Lagoon’s sort often don’t have the vocal chops to register their singing at the volume or intensity required for live music. Powers, on the other hand, can truly belt his lyrics at the crux of his cathartic mantras. At the height of cuts like “July” and “Cannons,” Powers rocked emphatically back and forth with his eyes closed as he sung through pursed lips. Between the addition of booming bass and Powers’ concert hall-worthy vocals, Youth Lagoon sounded big enough to knock down the walls of DC9’s cramped second floor concert space.

The most charming aspect of Youth Lagoon’s set was their unbounded excitement and enthusiasm for all the new experiences that have come with their first tour. In between songs, Powers repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming and expressed how thrilled he was to be in DC for the first time. “I haven’t really been anywhere before,” he mused, “but I guess music is the way to go places.” At one point as he was talking to the crowd, a member of the audience shouted, “Best New Music on Pitchfork, wooo!!” Powers voice cracked as he responded, “I know! I’m so excited!”

After their set, Powers milled around and talked with people in the crowd for the remainder of the show. He seemed genuinely just as eager to meet his fans as they were to meet him. I had the opportunity to speak with him before Gardens & Villa took the stage. I asked him about his distant aesthetic in his music, to which he complained, “People keep writing that it’s a sign of me being young or an amateur or whatever, but I did that shit on purpose!” We then talked about his travels and what was next for Youth Lagoon. So far, the only thing on Powers’ radar after the tour is his intention to “take my lady to Disneyland.”

Chris Lynch of Gardens & Villa had a bizarre appearance including a Native American quiver slung across his back, the contents and purpose of which were not immediately clear. As the show progressed, it was revealed that the quiver was full of wooden flutes of varying length. On cuts like “Black Hills,” “Sunday Morning” and “Carizzo Plain,” he would reach behind his back, select a flute to play and returned it to its quiver before resuming singing.

Gardens & Villa’s set was split between laid back and groovier cuts. The band dedicated the funky track “Orange Blossom” to the girls in the front row, who acknowledged the shout out with some enthusiastic dancing. Both the danceable and more chilled out songs sounded fantastic. The band played impeccably throughout their eclectic set. Lynch’s falsetto never cracked and the entire band contributed density and complexity through their background vocals.

Both sets were short and Gardens &Villa ended somewhat abruptly after playing a single song encore without even leaving the stage beforehand. I was left wanting more, so I decided to walk back home the way I’d come, through DC’s jazz scene. Just as many jazz greats slowly built their fame on U Street, both Gardens & Villa and Youth Lagoon maybe acquired quite a few more fans from their visit to tiny DC9.

(Photos: Beat of Travel)

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