On one of the walls in the music department of G.W. a couple of years ago, there was a plastic bag full of CDs stapled to it, as if it were some alien seedpod. And, in a way, it was. It was sent from the land of Exit Clov to bring joy and happiness to the musical world.
The sweet voice of Emily Hsu, along with her sister Susan Hsu, makes up the vocals of the D.C. native band Exit Clov. The rest of the band, which includes John Thayer (drums) and GW alumni Aaron Leeder (guitar) and Brett Niederman (bass), helps blend gritty rock guitar, punky drum grooves and unique violin runs with the two airy, yet intense female vocalists. Their music is heavily influenced by Arcade Fire, Blonde Redhead and, most recently, Viva Voce. Despite the surprising complexity of the music, the melodies are undeniably catchy.
Exit Clov has come far since its humble beginning as a local DC indie-pop-rock band. Recently, they released their first music video for their single, “Violent Berries,” and they were featured on MTV Chi, though they assert that their rigorous self-promotion is more effective at gaining fans. Saturday they will headline a show at the Black Cat ($10, 9 p.m.).
“Lately, we’ve been able to expect more people to come to shows, having heard about us through the grapevine, and be excited to see us,” Emily Hsu said. It’s been awhile since they last performed in D.C., but when asked if they had anything special planned for their return, Brett replied, “Ritual sacrifice of someone or something.”
Being from D.C., political motivations behind music and lyrics are to be expected from any local band. Exit Clov, however, has maintained music that has virtually “no agenda,” Hsu said, and only aims to “reflect their personalities” through a crafted mixture of funny and serious messages. But for at least the upcoming show at the Black Cat, Exit Clov is a band with a cause.
They’ll be holding a drive for used (but playable) instruments outside the venue. The collected instruments will be donated to underprivileged children in the D.C. area. The band has a personal and longstanding relationship with Community Help in Musical Education (www.chimedc.org), the organization that is running the instrument drive.
From the grungy guitar riffs of “DIY” to the breathtaking vocals of “Working Class Hero,” Exit Clov’s upcoming performance at the Black Cat promises to be a good one. With both ritual sacrifice and an instrument donation drive, this is a show that shouldn’t be missed. n
Exit Clov will play Black Cat (1811 14th St. N.W.) on Saturday. Tickets are $10.