SUNDAY

No band made standing in front of a stage feel more like a chore than Quix*o*tic. You could buy a beer or pay your phone bill and not worry about missing anything—except at the end of the set, when Mira Billotte would step up to sing and harmonize with her sister. Then you couldn’t look away. Mira would sing obscure old soul and gospel covers, sounding as deep, powerful, and sad as any white chick had reason to. With her new band, White Magic, and the group’s six-song EP Through the Sun Door, now we know for sure. Out on her own, Mira channels late-period Nina Simone, late-period Fontella Bass, and late-period Billie Holiday—voices from when soul music got spooky. With the piano-driven “One-Note,” Billotte repeats simple phrases as if invoking some long-lost prayer, at least as mystical and old-sounding as anything the Arkestra called out to Ra. She goes for a more full-throated wail on the equally mesmerizing and expansive “The Gypsies Came Marching After.” If the record suffers at times, it’s only because the band fails to play up to her vocals: “Don’t Need,” a spare acoustic-plucked ballad, wouldn’t feel out of place on a Cat Power album, but Billotte’s voice deserves better. On “Plain Gold Ring,” a song Simone had in her repertoire, Billotte begins singing the first few lines unaccompanied, and there it is: her voice rising slow as smoke and just as seductive. White Magic plays with !!! at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, June 20, on the Black Cat’s Mainstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-7960. (Jason Cherkis)