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Local indie rock artist Cole Larravide is on the rise. Smashing into the scene in the middle of last year, he’s yet to release any music, save YouTube recordings of a November 2021 performance he did at the Frances and Armand Hammer Auditorium at George Washington University. Instead, he and his band have been treating the D.C. area to a series of concerts in an effort to build his audience. He even traveled to New York in November 2022 where he had both a performance at Rockwood Music Hall and a direct-to-vinyl live session at Leesta Vall Sound Recordings on the same day. Now he’s gearing up for a concert at the Pocket on Jan. 28, which will be his third ever performance at the venue in his young career.
Larravide is no ordinary indie rock artist. Though he likes to brand himself with the label “indie rock,” his music takes sharp turns into genres such as folk, funk, and classic rock. The jam band sound, inspired by groups such as the Grateful Dead, plays a big part in Larravide’s performances, as he likes to do a lot of improvisation. Many of his songs are written with the intention of allowing the band to have a moment when “all the musicians on stage just click,” allowing them to make up the composition on the spot.
“It’s different every night,” Larravide tells City Paper. “The coolest thing about jam music is that you’re never going to see it the same way twice. When you’re at a show, that’s the only time we’re going to be hitting those exact notes.”
One of Larravide’s goals with his music is to make his songs stand out from one another. In doing so, he has managed to write tracks that capture different moods and require different performance styles. Whether it’s folk, hard rock, or funky jam, Larravide has incorporated the genres into his music.
“When people go to see us, I don’t want it to just be like they’re sitting through one never-ending song,” he says. “It’s the genre blending that sets us apart.”
If there’s one thing consistent about Larravide, it’s that he’ll always try to engage with the crowd. At almost every show time is reserved for him to step off the stage and walk through the cheering audience as he continues to strum his electric guitar. Yet, even this tradition can play out differently each time; at a Dec. 28 show at Vienna’s Jammin Java, Larravide walked so far from the stage that he ended up in the pizza place in front of the venue and performed in front of a big family eating there.
“Cole’s a natural showman in that way,” Larravide’s drummer and bassist Gray Yachup says. “It’s always fun to see him work the crowd and end the show on a high note.”
That element of improvisation and surprise has been a part of Larravide’s identity since the beginning, when he picked up the guitar in 2009 and performed in high school theater. Larravide brought that instinct to improvise at his very first show at the Pocket in June of 2022, when one of his opening acts couldn’t make it due to a flight cancellation. After a brief freakout about the situation, it was decided that Larravide’s band would improvise a tune and have the second opener, Coexist Music Group, freestyle rap over it. You never know what will happen at Larravide’s concerts.
“You’re getting a truly unique show out of all our shows,” the band’s guitarist and bassist Jake Simpson says.
There are a lot of goals Larravide is hoping to achieve this year. First and foremost, he’s planning to release his songs to streaming platforms. He also hopes to organize some music festival gigs, perform at more venues around D.C., and play in other cities, especially New York. But for now, Larravide and his band are looking forward to their upcoming concert at the Pocket. Not only can people look forward to unpredictable performances of Larravide’s crowd-pleasing songs like “Lights On My Way,” but also newly written, not yet released songs as well as an instrument the band is keeping a mystery for now. “You can expect a fun night,” Larravide promises.
“Cole’s a great showman,” Yachup adds. “He’ll shred on his guitar, he’ll solo your eyeballs out, and he’ll go into the audience to have a good time. We always try to make it fun.”
Cole Larravide performs at 8 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Pocket. thepocketdc.com. $12–$15.