Brooklyn Band Swear and Shake Rock The Hamilton


By Punch Preview Correspondent Lindsey Clark 

I always bristle when I hear people complain that there is no decent music scene in DC. True, it’s not New York and it’s not LA, but I for one happen to think that the District can hold its own when it comes to getting your fill of whatever kind of music turns you on. In fact, in the last week alone, I caught shows ranging from industrial rock to “steamboat soul” bluegrass to the Mexican Elvis (that’s El Vez to you), thanks to all the options that DC’s many music venues have made totally accessible. The Hamilton is certainly no exception with the variety of acts they bring in, and I recently caught a great show there by Brooklyn band Swear and Shake.

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NOVA-based folk-rockers Norman Rockwell gets things going at the Hamilton (photos by Lindsey Clark)

Opening act Norman Rockwell warmed the crowd up with songs from their debut album, Fare Thee Well – the band, assembled of NOVA-based members Joshua Johnston, Ben Hirsch, Sean Meyers and Nathan Read, has the folk-rock thing down, and I have to say I was a little sad to see them leave the stage (rest assured, however, they are playing Iota on May 23, and you will be seeing me there).  They have fun doing what they do, and they do it well – their sound is as comfortably familiar as it is sharply unique.  And who doesn’t love a folk-based band that jokingly compares themselves to Iron Maiden?

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Even Brooklyn band Swear and Shake’s equipment can’t wait for them to take the stage (photo by Lindsey Clark)

As soon as I saw the banjo on stage for Swear and Shake’s set, I knew I was in for a good time (what can I say, I am a sucker for the banjo).  The fact that the drummer came out in a suit and saddle oxfords really only sealed the deal for me, and they pretty much had me from the first chord they played.  Fronted by singers Adam McHeffey and Kari Spieler, Swear and Shake’s music tells a story with an infectious rhythm backing it, and I noticed I was not the only one tapping my feet.  Spieler’s voice is soothing and sultry and as the only girl in a band full of boys (stealing the show in a rocking red dress, I must add), it’s hard to take your eyes off of her.  But when you do, the band (rounded out by Ben Goldstein on drums and Shaun Savage on electric bass) lives up to their name, and together the quartet brings an energetic vibe to the stage that you can’t help but catch.  Touring in support of their new album, Maple Ridge (check out the track “Wrecking Ball” and thank me later), SAS has been up and down the east coast in recent weeks – and if you happen to be heading up to NY for the Governors Ball Music Festival in June, be sure to check them out there on June 7th.

Swear and Shake rocks the Hamilton (photo by Lindsey Clark)

The Hamilton’s full schedule of upcoming shows is available here and includes acts like Joshua Radin (May 18th) and The Pro Letarians (May 27th) – and of course, let’s not forget about the infamous Gospel Brunch every Sunday.  In a city not necessarily known for its music scene (HMPH!), venues like the Hamilton are poised to make sure that is nothing more than just a rumor.

Swear and Shake on the Hamilton Live stage (photos by Lindsey Clark)

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