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In their brief and bright tenure, Lightmare proved to the D.C. scene that, at its best, a band’s energy can fill in community gaps and spread further than expected. At their shows, the lights came down low and the audience’s heartbeats filled the space. The six dynamic musicians packed the stage. And soon enough, the room of disparate individuals, young and old, congealed into a community that somehow took up twice the amount of space it did before the first sounds hit.
So what happens when the music stops? As one of the local scene’s fiercest groups prepare to play their last show on Oct. 29 at the Pocket, fans of the band may wonder, how will this space be filled? If we are lucky, the band members will keep playing, in some new form. If Lightmare have taught us anything in their journey of growth as a band and in their scorching music, it’s that their energy will never die.
The electricity, which imbued life to Lightmare’s live performances, felt like a limitless force. They charged the room with their protest anthems (D.C. will sorely miss “Good Night White Pride”) and energized audiences with their uniting soul-punk sound. Their reach and ability to communicate this energy expanded after their inception at 2017’s Hat Band. Notably, Lightmare grew in numbers: The original lineup was vocalist Shady Rose, keyboardist Vitamin Dee, saxophonist Matt Kirkland, and guitarist Mike “Beck” Beckage. When Yousef Karim and Frankie Goodbye joined in 2019 on drums and bass respectively, the band pushed further with their sound.
Their 2018 debut, Dream Glitch, crackled forth with the inception of their soul-punk sound. Even the limits of that genre grew outward, with the mix of tastes and preferences in the group colliding and interweaving like roots on their final album, 2021’s Dirt. The album’s improvisational chops and its homage to the city’s punk legacy drove the band deeper into fans’ hearts.
But all that energy may have been too much to contain. Like an overflowing electrical grid, the band hit a capacity of sorts that went beyond their current limitations. Members of the group tell City Paper they felt they had done all they could within the genre and scope of Lightmare.
Luckily for fans, their energy isn’t dying down so much as dispersing into the scene. The members all have new musical projects in the works and say there’s no bad blood between them. Individually, they’re diving deeper into preferred genres they’ve often teased out, like metal, pop-punk, electronic, and even ska. In new projects, we will see familiar faces popping up in unexpected places and could even see semblances of Lightmare in new configurations.
As they wind down this incarnation, the members of the band will continue to share their gifts and love of music with the city they call home. At the farewell show, the band will be supported by local post-punk band Time Is Fire and Philadelphia favorites The Roaring Shell. Lightmare teases the final show as an “explosion.” Those in attendance will likely find the end of the band bittersweet and as furiously exhilarating as everything they’ve done before. It will be one last charge up, before Lightmare go out.
Lightmare’s farewell show starts at 8 p.m. on Oct. 29 at the Pocket. Time Is Fire and The Roaring Shell open. thepocketdc.com. $12–$15.