Premiere: Listen to Scorpio's debut EP, afterthought

In late 2018 Alli Vega played a few rough versions of in-progress songs solo at Dwell, the beloved house venue in Northeast DC. She didn’t think it went well, but someone did - she earned an invitation to bring her solo act to the 9:30 club to open for garage rock icon Ty Segall. After months of refining that group of four songs, she’s following the same trajectory to a release show for her new EP “afterthought” at Dwell, full circle.

A few things have changed since those first two shows. She’s performing live with a small band now, and her solo project has a name, Scorpio, for starters. But while Vega is an experienced songwriter, serving as guitarist and songwriter for DC dream-pop band Lavender, she’s still adjusting to center stage.

“It's definitely weird being in the spotlight,” says Vega. “I usually shied away from being the front person of a band, but it's a good change-of-pace, and it's kind of nice to only rely on myself.”

While there are some sonic threads connecting Vega’s work as Scorpio with the big, polished, pop songs she has written with Lavender, there are more divergences. A good starting point for describing “afterthought” is the copy on the Facebook event for the show on Saturday - “bedroom surf pop played with the sensibility of an adidas-lesbian.”

That feels right. Inspired by stripped-down, squeeze-it-all-in-a-van indie band structures and by do-it-all frontwomen like Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, "afterthought" is a bare-bones, guitar-forward DIY artifact that feels familiar and stylish in the best way.

If that description doesn’t quite get you there, the EP’s lead track “arcade sunshine co” will. Inspired by parallels between the crumbling facade of the 20s-era dry cleaning facility (since reborn as an apartment) and a recently-ended relationship, “arcade sunshine co” hits a sweet balance between uneasy vulnerability and enveloping, sunlit soundscapes.

It is vulnerability, along with a sprinkling of summer melancholy, that makes all of “afterthought” so mesmerizing. From the intro track to the richly layered closer “places”, the EP explores how love and memory changes the further we move from the origin point. As evidenced by the Arcade Sunshine building, even strong facades crumble with time.

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While the storytelling is great material on record, it’s a new challenge for Vega on stage.

“I'm now very aware that everyone knows these are things coming out of my own brain. There's no one else really to pass the buck off to. It’s all me, all the time," Vega laughs.

"I'm like, okay, everyone’s getting like a really personal insight of the things that are going on in my brain."

It’s been a long time since that first show at Dwell, but regardless of the accuracy of Vega’s memory, it’s appropriate that she’ll be debuting the fine-tuned songs there on Saturday. Because while “afterthought” is an intimate solo project, its carefully dubbed instrumentation was made for a band.

“It feels full circle because it feels like I have a chance to redeem myself. My first show was a little rough, and now I have a full band,” Vega says.

“Things are a little more ready than they were.”

Jake Ramirez