Your parents might not know what a Skrillex is or what twerking entails, but there’s not as much musical distance between you and your folks as you might think. Here are three concerts across the city during Colonials Weekend that you shouldn’t feel awkward dragging your parents to. But not all dad-friendly shows are created equal.
Smith Center | Oct. 19 | $35-$95
Across The Fray’s anthology, apathy and absence prevail: Our narrator (frontman Isaac Slade) “lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness,” is “losing you and it’s effortless” and finally concludes, “everyone ends up alone, losing her.” Shit.
It’s this unwavering commitment to lyrical melodrama that complements emotional television like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill.” (I haven’t even seen “One Tree Hill” and still feel confident “You Found Me” has scored at least one of its tragic break-up scenes.) The band’s 2012 album “Scars and Stories” offers little respite from the melancholy and sap – songs about cryptic family curses, carefree road trips and a fighter’s internal dilemmas all invariably revert to themes of loneliness and longing.
I shouldn’t judge. They’re a successful band that has monopolized the break-up anthem market and likely wrapped the wounds of fans enduring heartbreak. But I’ll skip a night of blaring, mopey piano and seven-year-old hit singles that the airwaves should’ve forgotten.
Score: If you’ve ever experienced failed relationships, unrequited love or that nebulous, persistent feeling of being lost, The Fray likely has some empathetic lyrics for you.
Bore: Prepare to be reminded of every sad thing that’s ever transpired in your personal life.
The Dismemberment Plan
9:30 Club | Oct. 18 & 19 | $25
If your parents express concern over the potential ferocity of a show by a group named after disconnected limbs, tell them to relax: It’s a nod to an innocuous line from “Groundhog Day.”
And there are more ways to reassure them, like the fact that despite occasional (gentle) screamo vocals or pangs of high-pitched, staccato guitar lines, The Dismemberment Plan’s breed of rock is arguably light, absent of eardrum-shattering volumes and aggressive punk themes.
Basic rock guitar riffs anchor their mild grunge sound, with tracks like “Life of Possibilities” showcasing the D.C. band’s indie roots. In the 10 years that The Dismemberment Plan has been inactive – its fall tour marks the release of its new album “Uncanney Valley” – D.C. has welcomed a burgeoning electronic dance music and DJ scene. But the group’s return is a nod to an era of District rock worth revisiting.
Score: It’s a rock concert that won’t involve off-putting stage antics and does include a welcome back for a local group.
Bore: It might take some effort to persuade mom and dad to endure the mosh-happy 9:30 Club crowd.
Ken Wenzel Duo
The Hamilton | Oct. 19 | Free
Rhythmically tight renditions of classic albums, like Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” are staples of area musician Ken Wenzel’s live sets. He rarely strays from original song instrumentation but adds little flourish to already-revered tracks. It’s this straightforward, non-bombastic approach to live shows that complements the casual and intimate Hamilton setting.
When Wenzel steps back from a repertoire of American rock, his self-penned acoustic singles are musically reminiscent of the Goo Goo Dolls, but with the rustic grit of John Mellencamp. Is this the most profound set of narrative, poetic modern folk-rock you’ll ever hear? Not even close. But over the light din of a meal, Wenzel’s husky vocals and soothing guitar make for a relaxing soundtrack.
Score: Double up on dinner and a show for the price of one and take in a subdued live set.
Bore: If Wenzel ditches his cover songs, it might be hard to feel invested in a performance of unfamiliar music.