Show Spotlight: Temples @ U Street Music Hall, 1/20/20
Today, Ben spotlights tonight's Temples show at the U Street Music Hall.
Party like it’s 1969: British psych throwback Temples kick off 2020 tour in DC tonight.
Rock ‘n’ roll will never die, they say, and there’s a case to be made that our friends in Britain are the ones keeping blood pumping through the body.
From the pop favorite singer-songwriters (George Ezra, Lewis Capaldi) to the icons (Rod Stewart, Queen, Robbie Williams, Elton John) to the old standbys (Liam Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker, Noel Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft) to the new and the wild (Sports Team, Fur, black midi and Nilüfer Yanya, among others), audiences on that blessed plot are still listening to all variations of rock ‘n’ roll music while actually, you know, buying stuff.
Temples, a band the great Noel Gallagher once hailed as purveyors of “cosmic space music” and “the best new band in Britain” back in 2013, carries the torch for far-out English guitar music that stretches back to the Yardbirds’ rave-up days and George Harrison’s first, tentative sitar plucks.
The quartet closed 2019 with the September release of Hot Motion, its first album for American rock label ATO Records, and an October tour across the west coast and southern United States. Now, Temples is back after a short breather, opening the second leg of its US road journey on Monday, Jan. 20 (tonight!) with an all-ages, 7 PM show at U Street Music Hall (1115 U St., NW) in Washington, DC. Canadian glam enigma Art d’Ecco is also on the bill.
Temples — vocalist/guitarist James Bagshaw, bassist Tom Walmsley, guitar/keyboardist Adam Smith, and drummer Rens Ottink — sound a bit like Tame Impala and Wolfmother run through a rock tumbler to create something a bit shinier and easier to handle.
On the new record, Walmsley notes, Temples doubles down on their hard-rock roots and embraces the darkness (as opposed to The Darkness, although they sound like those guys, sometimes, too), getting back to something more akin to the guitar sound of their 2014 album, Sun Structures.
“It felt like there was a darker edge to what we were coming up with and we wanted to make sure that carried through the whole record,” the bass player and band co-founder said in an ATO release. “It’s not a ten track, relentless rock record from start to finish, it’s got a lot of light and shade and more tender moments, but that heavier, darker sound is something we wanted to explore further.”
“I’m excited for people to experience these songs for the first time,” Bagshaw adds. “They are constructed in such a way that the album should feel relatively instantaneous, but we did not water down our creative ideas. Getting that balance can be hard, perhaps on the last record (2017’s Volcano) on some songs we used too many layers to create depth, but making this album we discovered that depth doesn’t simply come by layering things, it can come from the intensity of an idea.”
DC, being a cannabis-friendly city, is the right environment for Temples’ new tracks (“...there was really a concise, water-pipe atmosphere on this record,” Walmsley told Debra Kate Schafer of The Aquarian Weekly) and — echoing what St. Noel alluded to all those years ago — the band believes these are songs best consumed via personal experience.
“I think they are more suited to playing live and I think that was sort of a natural thing we did, where we stripped away a lot of layers, which you can get tied up in when songwriting,” Walmsley explained to Schafer. “You just orchestrate and put so many different sounds on top of each other. We wanted it to be stripped down to the guide points of what we liked and made them sound as big and grand as possible — while still creating that imagery and atmosphere.”
Party like it’s 1969, DC. Tickets are $25 and available online.