Great folk rock bands are remembered for their gorgeous harmonies, haunting melodies, and stirring lyrics. While listening to River Whyless, the percussion is just as likely to leave an impression. Drummer Alex McWalters elevates the songs of the Asheville, N.C., quartet, as he experiments with rhythms to make simple song structures sound intricate. His combinations of drums, shakers, and a multitude of metallic tones keep the group sounding fresh and modern. With McWalters opening up the listener’s ears, it’s easier to appreciate how the rest of the band weaves together distinct styles. The twang of Appalachia guitar and the lilt of Celtic fiddle mesh with the occasional drone or classically inspired solo for a sound that’s familiar but unattached to any particular place or time. The band’s new eponymous EP released earlier this year—its first since 2012—blends these styles more seamlessly and confidently than ever before. River Whyless performs with Crow Moses at 9 p.m. at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $12. (202) 483-5000. dcnine.com.