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Last summer’s inaugural In It Together Fest, the four-day long celebration of indie artists held at 17 DIY venues around the city, proved the well of talented, local, up-and-coming bands runs deep.
In anticipation of this year’s event, DZ Tapes—-run by In Fest coordinator and prominent concert booker Brett Isaacoff—-is releasing a mixtape of live cuts from 22 artists recorded at a smattering of DIY shows in the District.
“I’d always wanted to work on an audio archive of the D.C. DIY scene,” said Isaacoff in an email. “We’ve got something really special here with the DIY show scene in D.C., and my goal was to capture even just a tiny sliver of it.”
The mixtape features out-of-town indie mainstays like Radiator Hospital and Mannequin Pussy alongside local bands like Two Inch Astronaut, Hemlines, and Laughing Man.
Everything was recorded using a portable audio recorder, said Isaacoff, so the tracks are grainy and lo-fi at times. But the DIY ethos isn’t about perfection. “The audio quality is not top notch, obviously. But I think it accurately captures the essence of the shows themselves.”
You can buy a tape here, and stream the best moments on the compilation below.
There’s a playfulness to this live version of “8.3” from local punk upstarts Hemlines that’s missing from the studio version, buoyed by Katie Park’s talk-sing vocals that gleefully ping-pong between screechy and chatty.
Witch Coast, “Dopesick”
The thick layer of feedback from the original take of “Dopesick” by shoegaze band Witch Coast gets toned down here (which may just be a product of its lo-fi taping), revealing an underlying jangle-pop sweetness that sounds more like early Lower Dens than Teen Suicide.
Two Inch Astronaut, “Submission”
“Submission” captures the punk energy of Two Inch Astronaut’s live performance so well, you’ll feel like you’re in a sweaty basement with the band while listening to this cut.
Sitcom, “Green Soda”
“Green Soda” by Baltimore’s Jake Lazovick—-who creates soft, self-aware indie pop as Sitcom—-is the most intimate, tender track on a mixtape largely made up of punk songs. The jury is out, though, on whether we find his short, mid-song tribute to “Waiting Room” cheeky or tired.