The Psychedelic Furs @ Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center – October 24, 2018

Robert E Parilla Performing Arts Center (Rockville, MD) – Seats 509 in total. The lobby space is comfortable and quaint. Many benches are inside as you wait (tables outside too). It’s a nice campus area with many places to walk around before a show. The theatre has a very homey atmosphere like you get from many art centered venues. It’s in a great location with ample parking and is easy to get to, unlike some more clustered venue areas closer to DC. The more vintage architecture and lighting only add to the experience of seeing a band full of nostalgia. I had an amazing overall experience and would definitely recommend seeing a show here.

Two small setups of refreshments include a number of tasty choices including a decent selection of beers and some small snacks. When it’s described as intimate, they mean it. Any seat in the house is ridiculously close (think small high school auditorium – and seats happen to be surprisingly comfortable. Someone before the show said, “It feels like we’re at a talent show”.

The Psychedelic Furs seemed to have a small merch setup for a band of their stature, I feel they could make even more money if they introduced pins, sweatshirts or other items, but the table did have some exclusives like a signed drum head. The t-shirt selection was surprisingly limited.

Liz Brasher (Memphis, Tennesee) – Soulful singing on top of bluesy jams that also lay down a funk groove. An exact example of following genres of days old and putting a new spin on them that helps the trio fit into a more indie based music world.

The vintage country influence is evident in slower tunes as the depth of each individual vocal note is full of emotional power.

I can envision Liz Brasher becoming a name in the realm of artists like Margo Price or Alabama Shakes if she can continue to embrace the nostalgic voice she has while also creating a sound that breaks down certain barriers.

She’s reminiscent of many 1960’s singers and clearly out of our time. Gifted as a multi-instrumentalist, she has great chops on guitar and piano (playing the Fender Rhodes beautifully and delivering that classic sound that’s on so many famous recordings).

A great pick as opener for The Psychedelic Furs as too often you see an act that too closely resembles the headliner.

Psychedelic Furs – Lately, I have cut out a lot of suspense before I see bands as I obsess over setlists on, but this time I restrained and decided to allow myself the surprise. Some may think that ruins the experience but for me, it created an allure to the experience.

When The Psychedelic Furs come to the area, it’s typically a place like The State Theatre, a standing room general admission venue with 850 capacity and a few balcony seats. A seated theater of 509 capacity is quite an up close opportunity to see them without getting sore feet from waiting at the rail. You’ll pay double the price but the smaller, seated venue makes for a more relaxed, intimate show.

Before the show, one could hear many conversations of past encounters with the band, including someone trying to describe their sound to another. “It’s like post-punk mixed with new wave but it’s really just alternative rock”. That didn’t seem to clear things up much for that guy, but it shows how diverse and truly skilled The Psychedelic Furs are at their craft.

Dimmed hazy lights cover the stage as the legends appear. Opening with the energetic hit “Heartbeat” it gets the crowd going and their hearts pumping as most seem to remember when they first heard the song on the radio in the 80s. (OK, I’m pretty much the youngest person in attendance but I’m used to it by now).

The current lineup of the band, Richard Butler (Vocals), Tim Butler (Bass), Paul Garisto (Drums), Mars Williams (Saxophone), Amanda Kramer (Keyboards) and Rich Good (Guitar) is tight and together, really giving the songs life now more than ever.

A clear highlight over many other of their contemporaries is saxophonist Mars Williams who adds another dimension to the mystical songs like “Sister Europe”.

Richard Butler’s unique low and crackly baritone voice has held up and still sounds clear as it cuts through the mix.

It’s hard to believe you are seeing a band of this importance when it’s at a venue that makes you feel like it’s an up and coming mid-level act.

“The Ghost In You” is as enchanting of a crowd pleaser as ever. The magic in the room for that song can’t be overstated. The energy in the room was electric.

“Into You Like A Train” is the ultimate dance number and Richard, Rich, and Mars entice the crowd as they often close in on the edge of the stage to interact with fan and bring the experience closer.

The older crowd dies down and sits in their seats by the fifth or six song before rising for the anthem “Heartbreak Beat” which contains the first audible crowd singalong. This is my favorite Psychedelic Furs song and the 45 sleeve graced my Mom’s bedroom door in her teens, making it a very sentimental song for both of us.

“Love My Way” stuns as Amanda Kramer hammers out the classic marimba notes (played by Todd Rundgren on the original track) on keyboard. Richard Butler still hits the signature high ahh-oos in the bridge.

Riveting bass lines and punchy drums drive many of the songs as the rhythm section of Tim Butler and Paul Garisto is truly a dynamic duo.

The stage was consistently illuminated with very fitting dark colors to set the tone of the songs and not much light was needed in such a small area.

Giving a slight giggle and seeming very humble every song was Richard Butler. Not much other crowd interaction nonsense was required, just pure rock.

“Heaven” delivered a euphoric chorus that had a few hugging their lovers and feeling really sentimental toward a band that may have shaped their youth in more ways than one. The gaze in they eyes of many of the crowd were fixated on the alternative rock legends.

The Psychedelic Furs ripped through all of their hits in a set of classic songs that please all the first time concertgoers and longtime fans. One song led right into another with a very straightforward direction and no time-killing banter.

“Pretty In Pink” is played as the first encore song but doesn’t end their performance. Instead they end on “India” which seemed to throw some of the crowd for a loop, some just exited the theatre and headed home after hearing the gigantic 80s film theme song.

This was a very special concert for me as The Psychedelic Furs shape much of the music I listen to that my peers have never heard of. My mom shaped much of my musical taste and truly set me on the path for music that I’m now so dedicated and grateful for. A performance like this is truly inspiring and one I’ll never forget… despite how jealous my mom was. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take you to see The Psychedelic Furs next time they’re around. 🙂


Author: whatisfrederick

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