Outpost: Live last night

outpost

Live Last Night

By Mark Jenkins

U Street NW ain't the East Village, but the neighborhood's Velvet Lounge proved a compatible site for Outpost to perform stately electro-rock inspired (says the band's MySpace page) by "Manhattan after dark." The grungy venue and late hour - after midnight as Saturday leaked into Sunday - suited such brooding yet booming songs as "Nightning." Layering guitar, bass and occasional live percussion over laptop loops and electronic clamor, the New York trio painted soundscapes that were part sci-fi, part film noir.

(Futuristic and steeped in tradition, after the jump.)

Outpost vocalist-keyboardist Stuart Argabright is a Northern Virginia native, and played local clubs with the punky Rudements before moving to New York three decades ago. His many accomplishments include founding Ike Yard, the first American band to sign to Britain's revered Factory Records, and co-creating "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight," a 1984 dance-club novelty hit. His new group, with guitarist-keyboardist Mark C (formerly of Live Skull) and bassist Kent Heine, folds flailing guitar and floor-shaking pulses into surprisingly poised songs.

There were moments during such numbers as "Ice Planet" when Outpost sounded something like the Urban Verbs, the leading D.C. art-punk band at the time Argabright left town. The similarity was probably just a coincidence, but it showed that the trio upholds a tradition that dates as far back as Roxy Music: declaimed vocals, synthesized coloration and rhythms that are more cabaret than punk. Outpost's technology - and it had loads of it - was new. But the band's futuristic music was a form of classic rock.

By David Malitz |  December 7, 2009; 10:43 AM ET Live Last Night
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