Live Last Night Weekend Report, Part 1: Double Dagger Delivers


Baltimore's Double Dagger: Three dudes, two instruments, one great band.

Friday night I saw Steve Buckhantz's favorite art-punk trio, Double Dagger. The band is on my "don't miss" list, and since they are from Baltimore, well, it means I see a lot of Double Dagger. According to my trusty spreadsheet, Friday's show at the Rock and Roll Hotel was the seventh time in the past 13 months - and every one of the performances has been a winner. There's not much to the Double Dagger equation, but that's what makes it so great. Bass, drums, vocals, that's it. Put some overdrive on the bass, bash away mercilessly on the drums, scream a lot and voila, you've got something louder than most bands with three times as many members.

Much of their appeal is aesthetic, but Double Dagger doesn't lack for memorable songs. By my count they have a bunch of good ones, a handful of excellent ones and one jaw-droppingly awesome song, "Luxury Condos for the Poor." The Baltimore City Paper correctly identified it as Best Song in last year's roundup of Baltimore's best. (In other Best Of news, the band got a mention in the most recent Rolling Stone which named Baltimore Best Scene.) The soft/loud dynamic that leads into the chorus is throttling in all the right ways. It was the second song of their set on Friday night and it turned a lot of half-interested patrons into 7/8-interested patrons.

Singer Nolen Strals is like a kinder, gentler version of Ami Shalev of Monotonix. Oh, he'll leave the stage and come into the crowd and get in your face, for sure. But instead of stealing your beer and pouring it down his pants the worst Strals will do to you is wrap you up in the mic cord and maybe pat you on the head. While he freaks out on people in the audience bassist Bruce Willen and drummer Denny Bowen create the pummeling soundtrack, which finds a nice common ground between Unwound and Fugazi. The band's utter lack of pretense also works in its favor. There's nothing "cool" about Double Dagger -- you see that picture above. Greeted with a sorta-heckle of "Art school!" Strals responded with this gem: "We don't go to art school any more ... we teach there."

What made this show especially pleasing was the presence of four young kids who stood right at the front of the stage. They were all 14 (I talked to them before the band came on), big time Double Dagger fans, and since the dad of one had to be in town that day ... road trip to see Double Dagger! Watching those kids slamdance with each other right when the band started - totally awesome. But it got even better when later in the set some of-age dudes started banging into each other ... and one of the 14-year-olds leapt right into the fracas. The kids are alright.

Stay tuned for part two...

By David Malitz |  April 22, 2008; 12:24 PM ET Live Last Night
Previous: Virgin Festival Rumor of the Day -- Bob Dylan? | Next: Live Last Night Weekend Report, Part 2: Child Ballads Bomb

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Nothing on Imperial China?

They're playing May 10 at Velvet Lounge at a fundraiser for Homes for Our Troops.

2 pm. All ages. $8

Len Bias (closing)
The Prisoner's Dilemma
Imperial China
Appomattox
Moscow Telephone

Posted by: Beau | May 2, 2008 10:08 AM

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