REVIEW: Tim Darcy @Black Cat
Onstage, Tim Darcy is beanpole tall, larger than life, and wise. A sage glint that keeps the audience and listeners afloat as the band maneuvers from urgent post-punk chords to ballad after velveteen ballad. However, backstage, Tim Darcy is slouched comfortably between folded chairs and laughing with bandmates and close friends over nachos con queso y liquor. He is both gawky boyishness and charm, yet confident when necessary and incredibly self-aware.
Wednesday night at the Black Cat, located in Washington D.C.’s U Street neighborhood, Tim Darcy played tracks of his debut solo album Saturday Night to a small intimate backroom packed with attendees starting from the music bloggers, to the college freshmen “discovering” music for the first time, giddy and swaying longingly to Mr. Darcy’s crooning, to the salt and peppered “old heads” jamming to a sound that has been repeatedly compared to Velvet Underground. If at any moment the crowd was perceived as quiet, it was probably due to holding in their very being during the show. One small utterance could ruin the magic. And magic was truly in abundance that night; from opener Molly Burch’s 60s girl group meets Billie Holiday vibe, to the flower wreaths placed carefully around the drumkit, to the closeness of the space.
Intimacy seems to be the theme of the night but not so much between band and crowd but amongst band members. Mr. Darcy’s band – consisting of Tim Darcy as well as two female members that are of immeasurable talent - picks up their instruments without much ado and begin with “Tall Glass of Water”, the opener and single from their debut. They are in the thick of their tour, tired, and still figuring out the gaps and places where they can fit better but they play on stage as if it’s just them. At times there were moments where the trio would all tend to face away to lean in to one another as if one of them had a secret. Watching each other play, learning new things, and vibing off of one another. It’s exciting to see that from bands like this. Often, it seems most groups are either competing internally for sound but here there is a high level of respect amongst each member. Even being a few shows into their tour and finding their footing they’re all comfortable with one another. They never falter, even as the usual after-hours bro drunkenly tries to take the spotlight with a “well-meaning” chant. He tried it alright. Close, but no cigar.
They’re as much friends as they are architects of sound. I could see this when I got the chance to chat with them backstage prior to the show where they glossed over the “comforts” of touring in a bus (#TallPeopleProbz) to telling me about all the places they wanted to travel. Perhaps, to lose themselves in the vastness of both the journey and destination. A longing to get away from it all and recharge so they can return to create, maybe in their friend’s makeshift studio back in Wherever Town or in the cramped rented spaces that musicians often find themselves in. The quiet discomfort that artists often find themselves in, whether such feelings are brought on by internal or external factors.
Forgive me. I am not here to write an album review but it’s fascinating to hear elements of some of Ought’s work but in a more self-aware and deconstructed state. But wait, there’s more. Having only listened (albeit, more on the periphery) to his previous work I find this album to be a more experimental sound. Tim Darcy is searching for something in the darkness of tracks “Joan Pt. 1, 2”. Yes, even onstage he is very much the confident swaggering “tall glass of water” that we’ve seen before in his previous work outside of his solo debut but he is on a journey now for a particular sound or idea that is so close but seemingly out of reach; however, it will be exciting to see where these future journeys take him. After all, it’s not about the destination.
I thought about this as I made my two hour journey from Baltimore to DC with the album on repeat. Watching the sun go down on MD-295 S to the bowings of a violin in distress calling to mind a feeling of being pulled along some kind of path without knowing the destination. Or, like I have been pushed out to sea in a small boat, the vastness of the world laid out before and around me but I am compelled ahead. In Saturday Night there is the infinite longing that is curled deep in our chests, its origins and goal unknown. Unfurling outward during those moments of quiet introspection, whether it be in a dark room full of concert-goers or on a solitary drive.
Written by Liz Dunlap