There seems to be a trend taking place amongst music recently. More and more bands that would have usually just been a blip below the radar are now coming out thanks to the desire for a variety of music, and not just what is thrown at us by way of radio. This was the case of last night’s surprisingly sold out Tilly and the Wall show at The Black Cat in Washington D.C. The line to get in the venue stretched down the block and signs were posted on the adjacent windows reading, “SOLD OUT”. This was a surprise to more than just me as I watched people get turned away who had not reserved a ticket in advance. It’s nice to see when smaller yet quality bands get noticed and recognized, especially one as unique as the Omaha natives.
The night started out with two openers, Exit Clov and The Ruby Suns. My night, however, started off in the downstairs bar keeping a friend company who was unable to get a ticket at the door as we had planned. Fortunately, I did catch the end of The Ruby Suns, just as the duo finished up a well received set of indietronica to an already packed house. After providing the audience with balloons to blow up and bounce around, the set ran on time, and at around 11:30, Tilly and the Wall came on to a roaring crowd, opening with a track (“Too Excited”) from their latest release, O. This was a great way to bring in the band because of the song’s minute and a half tap dance solo introduction and punk rock attitude feeding off the energy of the crowd.
Tilly and the Wall is headed by three very talented sirens, Jamie Lynn Pressnall on full time tap, and Neely Jo Jenkins singing with the occasional stomp on her own miced up floor box. Kianna Marie Alarid provided lead vocals and bass guitar throughout the night, as Derek Scott Pressnall (married to Jamie Lynn) provided guitars with Nick White on the keys. A tour drummer was provided, but only used for select songs since Pressnall’s dancing did the percussionist’s job quite effectively live.
The band felt the excitement of their fans and delivered back, running through a set of songs mostly from their latest record. Enhanced by an impressive light display and confetti guns added to the retro club vibe already set by their animal print spandex (Jamie Lynn) and Jetson like dresses (Kianna and Neely). Derek constantly thanked the crowd for coming out, and never lost his smile for the duration of the set. Their trademark infectious harmonies and bubbly personas kept the evening light and care free.
“Falling”, the fourth song of the night, gave the tap-dancing a break as they broke out the new wave inspired track. I can only imagine the work out that a full time rock tap-dancer gets on tour, and for that a few songs were chosen throughout the night to provide Jamie Lynn a break, but that didn’t stop her from twirling around the stage as with the disco fever of “Beat Control”, number six for the evening. As the night rolled well past the D.C. curfew (or at least for some), the rebellious nature of the music kept those youngsters from running to their minivans. The indie act closed the night with the heavy fist pumping “Pot Kettle Black” and the hippy love inspired “Sing Songs Along”. I am not sure if an encore was scheduled for the night, but the band was cheered and applauded back on for a four song, request only, encore that included “Night of the Living Dead” and “Fell Down The Stairs”. The latter was picked, interestingly enough, due to a fan’s tattoo of the lyrics on her chest.
At the end of the night, Derek came back out to meet the devoted fan and take a picture of the art. The evening was wildly entertaining, justifying the high attendance. Every song was flawlessly reconstructed for the live show, even when taking requests. As I looked around, almost everyone was moving, it was hard not to, and the band felt that giving us their musical best meant closing out the night around 1 am.
Well done Tilly, well done.
Very, very special thanks to photographer, Shantel Mitchell!
Rainbows In The Dark
Falling Without Knowing
Dust Me Off
Pot Kettle Black
Sing Songs Along
Night of the Living Dead
Fell Down The Stairs