We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Drummer Isaac Appelbaum was nervous the night his band Home Remedies headlined a show for the first time last October at DC9. When they last performed at the 9th Street NW venue in September, around 45 people came to see them play. Now there were more than 200 people in the audience cheering the band on. The bright lights onstage prevented Appelbaum from seeing everyone in the crowd, but he could still feel their presence.
“I had never really done anything like that before,” Appelbaum tells City Paper. “Performing in front of people has always been something that’s given me pause and made me uncertain of myself.”
But as the band began to play, those nervous feelings melted away. Standing on stage with his bandmates helped to calm Appelbaum down.
“Our confidence just shot through the roof,” he says. “We were a group of friends playing together. That’s one of the things that eased my worries.”
October’s show was just the beginning. Since then the indie-rock band has seen immense growth, including the release of their debut album, Live from Before, in November and another headlining performance at DC9 in December. Eager to reach an even bigger audience, Home Remedies are gearing up to headline a show at Union Stage on Feb. 10 with local band Makeup Girl and Richmond-based Lobby Boy as the openers.
Home Remedies are known as an indie-rock group, but that hardly captures the broad spectrum of their music. They also dabble in a handful of other genres, such as folk, power pop, and classic rock. Green Day, Elliott Smith, and the Beatles are among their many influences.
“It depends on how we’re feeling on the day,” says guitarist Zach Basile.
Basile cites two particular songs from the band’s album as representative of their range: “Sick” and “Bed Head.” While “Sick” is aggressive, loud, and distorted, the lyrics in “Bed Head” are lonesome and full of longing. One is meant to feel like a run, and the other is meant to be a stroll.
“‘Bed Head’ is vulnerable,” Max Cohen, the band’s other guitarist, says. “And ‘Sick’ just burns out and fades and explodes.”
“They’re two totally different sounds more or less … but united,” Basile adds.
There are two reasons, according to the band, why their songs can still feel as though they belong together despite each one taking inspiration from different genres. The first is that Home Remedies have a very particular way of performing these various sounds. The second reason is their friendship.
“We have a tight bond outside of music and that translates to when we play,” bassist Andrew Gibson says. “It’s like puzzle pieces coming together to form a picture.”
“The four of us being together is something I hope to never take for granted,” Appelbaum adds.
The band got their start less than a year ago. The four members met each other at George Washington University through events and organizations such as the Student Musicians Coalition. They first performed together in April 2022 at Fossil Free Fest, an event encouraging the university administration to refuse fossil fuel funding. It was during that concert they decided to form what would become Home Remedies.
“The music community and our shared admiration for each other brought us together,” Appelbaum says.
Their first real concert together was the DC9 performance in September with a group called Jive Talk, which attracted a small crowd. After the show, the venue staff suggested that the band should come back to play again, and they jumped at the chance to host an event in October that showcased other artists from GWU, including singer-songwriter Nica Albertson, pop rapper Adam Pastel, and post-rock band Dundrum. That concert pulled in a crowd of about 200, encouraging Home Remedies to release a live album in November and headline yet another DC9 show in December that showcased college bands from other local universities.
Being a college band is an integral part of Home Remedies. According to Cohen, it’s belonging in that space between adolescence and adulthood that offers them a level of freedom to give their project the energy it deserves. And, because the pandemic caused basement venues and other independent stages to disappear, they have felt a need to invite other college acts to their shows to bring greater attention to the talent coming out of local universities.
“The way we practice, write, and hang out is incredibly college,” Cohen says. “We would not exist without the community around us.”
Yet, Home Remedies don’t plan to be a college band forever (which is good because most people can’t stay in college forever), and their upcoming show at Union Stage shows that the band are already spreading its wings. Basile notes that they’ll be performing alongside more established acts from the area. Makeup Girl, in particular, are a group Basile remembers seeing perform back in 2019.
“Makeup Girl is one of those foundational parts of my D.C. experience,” he says. “I remember seeing them open and being like, ‘Holy shit, these guys are tight as fuck.’”
The band already have big goals following their upcoming show. Not only are they working on another album, but they’re also considering making a bowling-themed emo record. And they intend to play at every venue in D.C.
“We’re big into biting off more than we can chew,” Basile says.
“If we keep moving up, we can keep shattering our own expectations,” Gibson adds. “I want us to keep stepping up the ladder and creating new fantasies.”
Home Remedies, with openers Lobby Boy and Makeup Girl, perform at 8 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Union Stage. unionstage.com. $15.
This story has been updated to more accurately describe the goal of Fossil Free Fest.