Review: Sweet Crude at U Street Music Hall

Before the doors even opened Monday evening at U Street Music Hall, there was already a line steadily growing. Tank and The Bangas, who beat out 6,000 other contestants to win NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Contest were the main event and fellow Louisiana natives, Sweet Crude were set to open the show. Tank and The Bangas’ infectiously energetic Tiny Desk Contest video went “viral” and was unavoidable on social media almost immediately after being posted. As I walked by, I overheard conversations of people discussing how Tank and The Bangas was their new favorite band. To open for a band with as much buzz as Tank and The Bangas and whose live performance packs so much joy and energy, you’d have to be able to match that energy in order to win over the crowd and Sweet Crude was the perfect band for the job.

Hailing from southern Louisiana, Sweet Crude seeks "to show the world that [they] can make progressive music that also embraces this region's French-speaking tradition." The band accomplishes this through layered harmonies, four-on-the-floor percussion, and grandiose pop hooks. As a whole, the band doesn't have the slightest bit of pretension, these are people you'd want to hang out with and people you feel like you actually could hang out with. They have a warm, friendly stage presence and infectiously positive energy that radiates.  

These elements combined with the infectious chemistry between Alexis Mareceaux and Sam Craft created a joyful, high-energy live performance that had everyone in the crowd moving. The jazz fueled drum and violin solos infused attendees with more life and were a reminder of the emotional power packed in organic instruments. Marceaux and Craft had a unique style of harmonizing that often made it hard to distinguish who was singing as their voices blended and complimented each other so perfectly. Towards the end of the band's set, Craft announced to the crowd that it was "audience solo time" and had everyone in the crowd engaging in a call and response. In the end, this is a band that sounds great in recordings but must be experienced live in order to truly understand and feel the essence of each of their songs. At the end of their set, Sam Craft said to the audience it "feels so good to have fun" and he's right, it does. Do yourself a favor and see this band live when they're in your city, you'll come out of their show rejuvinated and a happier person.

Follow along with Sweet Crude at the links below.

All photos by Jordan Wilhelmi for Capitol Sound DC.