This Friday at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington City Paper presents a bill of two local solo artists with vastly different, equally compelling approaches to songwriting.
The latest in our series of concerts co-produced with the museum’s Luce Foundation Center (a gorgeous, three-story, skylighted space filled with American art) will feature performances from Olivia Neutron-John and Be Steadwell, plus free beer tastings from Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company.
Neutron-John (top), the alias of Chain & the Gang‘s Anna Nasty, makes glitchy, groovy electro noise-pop that’s as befuddling as it is mesmerizing. “Who says bedroom pop can’t be punk?” asked Dean Essner in our Best of D.C. issue this April, naming the saxophone-skronking artist D.C.’s Best Synth Weirdo. “A song from Olivia Neutron-John… may be built around cheap synths, distorted 808 beats, and near-indecipherable lo-fi vocals (think Casiotone for the Painfully Alone fronted by a Bad Moon Rising-era Kim Gordon), but there’s a palpable grandness to it all.”
Steadwell (below) is a practiced vocal looper whose confessional lyrics weave through tight R&B harmonies and acoustic ballads. In warm, sensual tones, Steadwell sings of love and loss, sometimes with a sharper rhythmic edge: “Why won’t she let me go?/Casting hexes and shit and/Witches be trippin’,” she spits on “Witch.” (Listen to tracks from both artists after the jump.)
See Steadwell and Neutron-John this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Luce Foundation Center, on the third floor of the American Art Museum at 8th and F streets NW. There will be snacks and a cash bar, too, so come hungry.
Olivia Neutron-John photo by Matt Dunn