Review: Faye Webster at DC9
Walking in to DC9’s intimate show room is always a treat. From the multi-colored lighting to the seemingly-perpetually buzzing bar, the venue on 9th Street NW feels special and has, at this point, for 15 years. Somehow, during her sold-out show at the club on June 27, Faye Webster managed to amplify this already-special energy to create a truly unique, endearing, and beautiful experience for everyone present.
As these things go, many attendees were chatty before Webster’s set began, nursing their drinks and ensuring they were properly positioned to enjoy the show. Then, out of nowhere, the Atlanta Braves’ fight song started blaring out of the club’s PA and, gradually, Webster and her band wove through the crowd and took the stage to enthusiastic cheers and applause. Following the major league antics, Webster wasted no time running through a number of songs, including the grooving and aqueous “Right Side of My Neck,” a standout cut from her recently-released Atlanta Millionaires Club.
Aside from the absence of some horn parts on songs like “Kingston,” each song sounded impressively true to its recorded counterpart. Between Webster’s nearly flawless vocal delivery, each band member’s clear acumen with their respective instruments, and the venue’s excellent sound system, the show sounded great throughout. The inclusion of live pedal steel, played by Pistol, helped the set adhere even closer to the recorded songs. Furthermore, Webster’s music is perfect for live performance. Her songs achieve an enticing balance between genuine, universally-felt melancholy offset by a slightly swinging rhythm section and poppy melodies, making each track danceable even if its lyrical content is sad.
Webster exudes a stage presence and personality that is hard to come by. Tuning breaks that can prove awkward for some bands were handled masterfully through extracurricular activities, including a Q&A session with pedal steel player Pistol, a period where the audience passed up scratch-off lottery tickets they bought for her and Webster exhibiting her insane yo-yo skills.
Through these things, Webster and her band seemingly abolished any sense of hierarchy in the room.
Webster’s antics bring into question the relationship between performer and audience, making both feel closer together than they often do and fostering an environment that felt more like a house show with really great sound than a concert with clear distinctions between the performers and the crowd. Webster’s tangible charisma and charm makes her seem like a friend -- like someone you have known for a while who happened to be playing a gig in town. If she continues on her current trajectory, all of these friends will undoubtedly propel her career to lofty heights. But, let’s be honest, she does not need much help.
Review by Matthew Hirsch. Photos by Meredith Wohl.