In concert: Office of Future Plans
By Mark Jenkins
Washington's 1980s post-punk rock, the source from which Office of Future Plans's music flows, has been faulted for being overly ascetic. But the austerity of this style, as the Baltwash quartet demonstrated Saturday night at the Black Cat, puts its musical payoffs in higher relief. The band's 35-minute set was stark, but it wasn't dry or cold.
(Rockin' the cello, after the jump.)
The group, inevitably known as OOFP, is the latest to be fronted by singer-guitarist J. Robbins, whose previous ventures include Jawbox, Government Issue and Burning Airlines. OOFP doesn't sound exactly like any of those predecessors, and even boasts something no previous Robbins band has had: a cellist. Yet the quartet does employ familiar elements: shouted vocals, dub-like sonic drop-outs and pulsing guitar riffs, including one that was sampled live, then looped for the remainder of the song.
Robbins runs a recording studio in Baltimore, and is easing back into performing after a family health crisis. OOFP has yet to release any material, although a noisy version of Saturday's set opener, "Harden Your Heart," can be heard on a YouTube live video. With its fidgety attack and raw call-and-response vocals, featuring Robbins and bassist Brooks Harlan, the song is characteristic.
The band's music scrapes and storms, which suits Robbins's protest lyrics. (He introduced one tune as being anti-Internet, and another included the phrase "empire in decline.'') The clashing elements resolved into melodic accord only occasionally. But when they did, OOFP's astringent style became sheer pleasure.
February 22, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Office of Future Plans
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