Five Four
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Five Four

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Aug
08
Five Four @ Rock and Roll Hotel

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Jun
27
Five Four @ The Annex

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Apr
25
Five Four @ Lit Lounge

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Jamie, Katie, Karen, and Kiki of Five Four have some advice for all the girls in DC: Don’t date dumb boys, don’t date boys who tell you they have girlfriends, and especially don’t date that boy named Tim with the shitty hair cut. Instead, Date robots.

1. “My Love Song”

Jamie: I think it was one of our first songs- it’s about becoming jaded.

Katie: We’ve had older recordings of this but Karen’s guitar part is really amazing and we thought we should have it recorded professionally to really do the song justice. I think this is the song that really blends all of our instruments and styles together to create something darkly beautiful. Jamie’s vocals are always extremely breathy but if you pay attention to the lyrics it haunts you!

Karen: Yeah, we’ve been playing this song forever, but I still love playing it live because all the different instruments blend together for that big wall of sound you hear on the recording.

Kiki: This song makes me nostalgic and i think about how happiness can come out of any bad situation, karen’s guitar makes me feel that everything is going to be okay no matter what happens.

2. “Creepy Cool Ways (Robot Love Song)”

Jamie: It is about the perfect boyfriend, a robot!

Karen: Robots are pretty fabulous

Katie: Yeah, boys may talk back but robots do whatever you say. I remember Jamie saying that once when we were writing the song. This song came about because I was playing the opening keyboard sound and decided it sounded like a robot. That’s a little silly but we had just finished Alien Love Song and didn’t want to discriminate. We love aliens and robots and you may see a ninja song too at some point. This whole song is sort of a dialogue between Jamie and the robot. Right before the keyboard/guitar solo we all yell “talk” and the song switches to a minor key so the robot can sing its ballad back to Jamie. Maybe you should just listen to it….

Kiki: I love how this song is about a robot, it’s very refreshing! and it makes me happy to have robot friends.

3. “Don’t Leave Me”

Jamie: The lesson is don’t date dumb boys! Date good ones!

Katie: This is personally, my favorite song of ours. Silver Sonya had a grand piano when we were last there and I decided I wanted to use it so wrote an elaborate piano part. When we went back to record the piano was gone! I had to settle for the upright but I appreciated the opportunity to put my classical training to use. I love this song because I think it’s a subject anyone can relate to, the stage in a relationship where you can feel it crumbling but you just can’t let go. Did I mention yet how much I love Jamie’s lyrics?

Karen: Ok, I might be confusing this with another song because most of my brain is being used to crank out papers so i can graduate in a couple weeks (and all my band-mates can testify that I’ve already had a brain fart today), but I think there was a time were we all wanted to shoot a music video using this song me where we all drove around in Kiki’s awesome old school VW bug. Or maybe we just wanted to sell it for a car commercial so we could make loads of money. Or maybe I’m just delirious. Who knows.

Kiki: I love this song, Katie’s keyboard part feels like a ray of hope in the middle of a sad yet hopeful song.

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4. “I Told You”

Jamie: Don’t date boys that tell you they have a girlfriend.

Katie: Um, I think Jamie would know best but it’s catchy and we clap on the recording. SOMEONE had issues clapping on time but I won’t reveal who that was. My Dad says this is our “That Thing You Do” song.

Kiki: This song is upbeat and I have no idea what the lyrics are but it’s fun to play

5. “Let’s Go”

Jamie: That song is about Karen and Tim (the male slut of DC) and how she told him he had a terrible haircut! Gosh all the songs are about boys.

Karen: Haha. that’s awesome. i knew the song was about me, but i didn’t know the details. Anyways, iIm a better person now. I swear. but yeah, “Let’s Go” was fun to write, because we all wrote it together at one of our practices. I came up with a guitar riff, and we just all started playing around until we came up with something we liked. But yeah, I didn’t find out what Jamie’s lyrics were until months later at a party. I was pretty wasted at the time when she told me, so it’s nice to finally know.

Katie: The moral of the story is don’t make Five Four mad. We will write songs about you and tell BYT all about it!

Kiki: I like the feel of this song, it makes me feel powerful like Five Four could conquer and destroy, just kidding. I do like how this song totally wakes the audience up.

So ladies, erase that Tim-the-slut’s number from your phone (since you all have it) and go get yourselves a robot! Maybe this stud is still on the market

- www.brightestyoungthings.com


On Five Four's website, by way of introduction, each member of the band is given a cartoon alter-ego. It's a great rock 'n' roll tradition, the taking on of alternate identities within the band, from the identical surnames of the Ramones to the revolutionary identities assigned the locals in Nation of Ulysses. OK, so they're not exactly the Gorillaz, and the cartoon identities don't really extend past the little one off joke on the webpage, but it's still an entertaining move, and more than that, reflects a band that isn't content to just be another in a long line of similar bands, with a standard-issue MySpace page indiscernible from those of their peers.

The band's sound is just as refreshing amid a large collection of often similar indie rock boys' bands in town these days. Five Four's sound, which can range from dreamy and ethereal to jagged pop to shoegazer wash, may not be without precedent, but there's no one in the current local lineup that sounds remotely like them. Which may be why they often get lazily lumped in with other "girl bands" when they're booked for shows. We were happy to find out that the band is headed into Silver Sonia studios next month with Chad Clark and T.J. Lipple behind the boards to record the follow-up to their excellent self-produced debut EP. But if you don't want to take our word for it, you can always head out to DC9 tomorrow, if only to find out if the band really does, as they claim, have the cutest shoes around.

Photos by Eddie Diego

Visit Five Four online (and download all the tracks from their first CD, Space Age Love at: fivefourmusic.com or on Myspace at myspace.com/fivefour.

See them next at: DC9 tomorrow, December 27, with The Thrushes and The Bloody French.

Questions for Five Four:

2007_12_26_fivefour2.jpgTell us how you all got together.

Kiki: I was bored with my life working in a basement in a parking garage and bossing around blue collar men so I wanted to start an all girl band. I put an ad on Craigslist and Jamie, Karen and the original keyboardist [Sera] answered! It was a sign from god!

Karen: I was just going insane at the time cause I was playing music with a bunch of different people, but nothing was really happening. Joining Five Four was a life saver.

Katie: I played bass in a band with Karen called Drums vs. Jules that broke up after recording. When their keyboardist quit they asked me to join and I jumped at the chance to play with Five Four. It's rare to be in a band with good friends and Five Four is always fun. It's the first band where I've played keys!

If the original intention was to put together an all female band, was there any hesitation initially about going with a male drummer?

Jamie: No not after we heard Sera play the drums…

Karen: Ha, yeah, she had just started playing drums like a month before we met. Luckily, we met Aaron and Sera turned out to be an amazing keyboardist.

Kiki: Not really, it was kind of cool to have one guy, it balanced things out a bit. Plus he's sitting down so you can't tell he doesn't have high heels on.

Katie: Unfortunately, our drummer, Aaron, moved to Pittsburgh so he's playing our last show with us on the 27th and David Smith will be playing with us from now on. I think the general rule is if more than 50% of your band is female, you're officially a chick band. Sorry Dave.

Do you get tired of press constantly asking about what your experience is like as a (mostly) female band? Or do you accept that that's par for the course since that's not the "norm"?

Kiki: I don't get tired of the press asking it but I get tired of only being booked with other females. Once we were booked with this butch band and it was like, "Hello, that's not what we're about!" But since we're female we naturally want to be in a band with other girls because we have more in common! so the question is legit.

Jamie: I don’t really care about being asked about it; what bothers me is when our genre of music is female. It’s crazy: we will be grouped with folk singers just because they are a female and we are female.

Katie: No, I'm not tired of the question. Guys have offered to "teach me scales," and in case you were wondering, that's the sort of question gets you the icy Katie glare of death, or Karen will spit water at you. Still, please come talk to us after shows, we really are friendly!
Karen: Oh, that is not why I spit water at people. Offering to teach me scales is more of an eye roll.

Are you still using the Logan Circle townhouse top floor from the video on DC Compass as your practice space? Do you have to control the volume pretty rigidly there, not being in a basement? If so, how do you find that impacts playing live at full volume?

Kiki: Yes we are, I live there! Although in the winter it's cold in that glassed in porch! Our neighbors actually don't care at all, we get compliments all the time. Although we had the cops called on us once but we were practicing past 10pm that time. My other band before Five Four sucked and my neighbor was like, "Wow you guys are so much better now, your other band sucked!" We don't hold back in the house, so it's not a problem. We are not insanely loud either so it works out.

Katie: We also do things like make fondue at practice. Karen and Jamie live in NYC now so it's a lot more quiet in the space these days. There's more room to dance. You should at the least see our improved dance moves on the 27th.

Karen: Oh man, when did you guys start having fondue at practices? Bum, I moved away too soon.

How long have you been operating with Karen and Jamie living in another city? Has that made getting together for shows and writing songs together more difficult?

Kiki: Oh, Karen moved to NYC a year and a half ago for grad school, Jamie moved to NYC in July for a job. At least they're in the same place! It's made us play a little less but now we can play NYC more!

Your first EP was self-recorded and released. What do you enjoy about the DIY process?

Jamie: Whispering in the hallway while we each recorded our parts and hearing Kiki cuss secretly on songs!

Kiki: Taking our time! When we go into the studio in January it's going to be a huge time crunch!

Karen: Yeah, it’s definitely more laid back, which is nice.

Katie: At the same time, Silver Sonya does such a fantastic job. I've recorded with Chad and T.J. in the past and I was extremely impressed by their dedication and the quality of their work. I think they'll be able to catch our live sound a lot better than what we did ourselves.

On the other side of the coin, what's a pain in the ass about that process?

Jamie: Oh, no one critiques you or makes suggestions — we are all so agreeable it would be nice to have an outside party make suggestions.

Kiki: The quality of the recording is not that great; we are very excited about a high quality recording. Our DIY doesn't capture our full sound.
Katie: Agreed. We're also excited about recording near Weenie Beenie. We have our priorities after all....

Karen: Hmm, no Weenie Beenie for me. But the Thai place is really yummy.

What does it mean to you to be a "D.C. band"? How is that incorporated into your identity/how you think of yourselves, if at all?

Kiki: Well, Karen and I are from the area, so we grew up listening to Dischord bands and going to shows here. Sometimes I think it's nice to be a D.C. band and sometimes not; sometimes I think a lot of undeserving bands in D.C. get too much attention. But all in all it's nice to be a D.C. band because we kind of have that "do it yourself" thing going on. And we're not a bunch of big egos like bands in other major cities.

Katie: I enjoy listening to a lot of bands in the area. But not to offend anyone, I think our shoes are much cuter.

Karen: And our dresses aren’t that shabby either.

Jamie: Well, I definitely think it makes us more patriotic then bands from other cities.

What else do you like/dislike about the music community here?

Kiki: I like how D.C. is getting more and more venues these days and that you can walk almost to every one from our practice house. I don't like how it seems to be controlled by a select few and to get any press you almost have to know someone even if you suck. But we don't suck so it's been harder to us :)

Katie: It's very small for sure, but I think there is a lot of growth potential. Also, I think it's safe to say that everyone is friends in the scene: if you don't know a band directly, you know someone who does. That can have its drawbacks, but it makes for a much friendlier atmosphere when putting together bills and promoting.

Karen: Aw, now that I don’t live in D.C. anymore, I miss the D.C. music scene and all the drunks I was proud to call my friends.


Describe Five Four's songwriting process.

Kiki: Usually Jamie will come up with the lyrics and chords then all of us will write our individual arrangements, it comes together very nicely. Sometimes Karen or myself will write a song but not as much as Jamie, she's very prolific. Basically everyone does their part and it turns out nicely with a lot of different talents coming together.

Karen: Yeah, we’ve been playing together long enough that we all intuitively know how to write our parts around each other. It’s been a bit of a learning process though, cause when we first started, both Sera and I would write crazy leads all over the place, and it would be a big mess. Haha.

Katie: I take credit for the robot sounds for "Robot Love Song".

Do you find it more difficult to come to a consensus with five members than you might with a smaller group?

Kiki: Yes, but Five Four has been a democracy from the start, that was my original intention. I was in too many bands before where there was one tyrant so if we don't all agree we won't do it, usually. Five is a good number; it allows us to get together even when people are out of town so we can practice pretty much in any combination.

Katie: To reference Bring it On, it's a cheerocracy. You get the idea.

What's your favorite place to play in D.C.?

Jamie: Fort Reno — its fun to have kids in the audience!

Kiki: I don't know if I have a favorite but Fort Reno and Rock & Roll Hotel are pretty cool. DC9 is good because we can play longer and don't get cut off with a time-constraint though.

Karen: Aw, yeah I love Fort Reno, cause it’s always great to play outside.

Katie: 9:30 Club...oh wait, we haven't played there yet. This is no hint. There were all these dancing high school kids at Fort Reno this year. I've never seen anything like it and it was absolutely fantastic. I hope they know how much we appreciate that.

What was on your Christmas list this year?

Kiki: A tuning pedal and my two front teeth.

Jamie: A Les Paul Jr.

Karen: Oh, Christmas came a little early for me and I just got Little Big Muff (thanks Nik!!). To ask for anything else would be greedy, but I am greedy; Santa, please bring me puppies and new chorus pedal.

Katie: To play with The Thrushes because they're fantastic.

Does the band plan on making any New Year's resolutions?

Kiki: To record a good EP in January and promote it and have a big CD release party! Yeah!
Katie: Plan a CD release party, write more songs about boys and/or ninjas. Uh-oh, do you think we need one?

Give DCist readers three reasons they should come to your Dec. 27 show.

Kiki: Non-stop action, fun, excitement, cute girls and fashion advice!

Katie: I'm baking cookies. Also, I love The Thrushes, their CD is fantastic and I can't wait to play with them. It will honestly be a show well worth leaving your house for.

Jamie: You are sick of your family, dance away Christmas dinner, and because we haven’t seen you in a long time. Or ever. - DCist


On Five Four's website, by way of introduction, each member of the band is given a cartoon alter-ego. It's a great rock 'n' roll tradition, the taking on of alternate identities within the band, from the identical surnames of the Ramones to the revolutionary identities assigned the locals in Nation of Ulysses. OK, so they're not exactly the Gorillaz, and the cartoon identities don't really extend past the little one off joke on the webpage, but it's still an entertaining move, and more than that, reflects a band that isn't content to just be another in a long line of similar bands, with a standard-issue MySpace page indiscernible from those of their peers.

The band's sound is just as refreshing amid a large collection of often similar indie rock boys' bands in town these days. Five Four's sound, which can range from dreamy and ethereal to jagged pop to shoegazer wash, may not be without precedent, but there's no one in the current local lineup that sounds remotely like them. Which may be why they often get lazily lumped in with other "girl bands" when they're booked for shows. We were happy to find out that the band is headed into Silver Sonia studios next month with Chad Clark and T.J. Lipple behind the boards to record the follow-up to their excellent self-produced debut EP. But if you don't want to take our word for it, you can always head out to DC9 tomorrow, if only to find out if the band really does, as they claim, have the cutest shoes around.

Photos by Eddie Diego

Visit Five Four online (and download all the tracks from their first CD, Space Age Love at: fivefourmusic.com or on Myspace at myspace.com/fivefour.

See them next at: DC9 tomorrow, December 27, with The Thrushes and The Bloody French.

Questions for Five Four:

2007_12_26_fivefour2.jpgTell us how you all got together.

Kiki: I was bored with my life working in a basement in a parking garage and bossing around blue collar men so I wanted to start an all girl band. I put an ad on Craigslist and Jamie, Karen and the original keyboardist [Sera] answered! It was a sign from god!

Karen: I was just going insane at the time cause I was playing music with a bunch of different people, but nothing was really happening. Joining Five Four was a life saver.

Katie: I played bass in a band with Karen called Drums vs. Jules that broke up after recording. When their keyboardist quit they asked me to join and I jumped at the chance to play with Five Four. It's rare to be in a band with good friends and Five Four is always fun. It's the first band where I've played keys!

If the original intention was to put together an all female band, was there any hesitation initially about going with a male drummer?

Jamie: No not after we heard Sera play the drums…

Karen: Ha, yeah, she had just started playing drums like a month before we met. Luckily, we met Aaron and Sera turned out to be an amazing keyboardist.

Kiki: Not really, it was kind of cool to have one guy, it balanced things out a bit. Plus he's sitting down so you can't tell he doesn't have high heels on.

Katie: Unfortunately, our drummer, Aaron, moved to Pittsburgh so he's playing our last show with us on the 27th and David Smith will be playing with us from now on. I think the general rule is if more than 50% of your band is female, you're officially a chick band. Sorry Dave.

Do you get tired of press constantly asking about what your experience is like as a (mostly) female band? Or do you accept that that's par for the course since that's not the "norm"?

Kiki: I don't get tired of the press asking it but I get tired of only being booked with other females. Once we were booked with this butch band and it was like, "Hello, that's not what we're about!" But since we're female we naturally want to be in a band with other girls because we have more in common! so the question is legit.

Jamie: I don’t really care about being asked about it; what bothers me is when our genre of music is female. It’s crazy: we will be grouped with folk singers just because they are a female and we are female.

Katie: No, I'm not tired of the question. Guys have offered to "teach me scales," and in case you were wondering, that's the sort of question gets you the icy Katie glare of death, or Karen will spit water at you. Still, please come talk to us after shows, we really are friendly!
Karen: Oh, that is not why I spit water at people. Offering to teach me scales is more of an eye roll.

Are you still using the Logan Circle townhouse top floor from the video on DC Compass as your practice space? Do you have to control the volume pretty rigidly there, not being in a basement? If so, how do you find that impacts playing live at full volume?

Kiki: Yes we are, I live there! Although in the winter it's cold in that glassed in porch! Our neighbors actually don't care at all, we get compliments all the time. Although we had the cops called on us once but we were practicing past 10pm that time. My other band before Five Four sucked and my neighbor was like, "Wow you guys are so much better now, your other band sucked!" We don't hold back in the house, so it's not a problem. We are not insanely loud either so it works out.

Katie: We also do things like make fondue at practice. Karen and Jamie live in NYC now so it's a lot more quiet in the space these days. There's more room to dance. You should at the least see our improved dance moves on the 27th.

Karen: Oh man, when did you guys start having fondue at practices? Bum, I moved away too soon.

How long have you been operating with Karen and Jamie living in another city? Has that made getting together for shows and writing songs together more difficult?

Kiki: Oh, Karen moved to NYC a year and a half ago for grad school, Jamie moved to NYC in July for a job. At least they're in the same place! It's made us play a little less but now we can play NYC more!

Your first EP was self-recorded and released. What do you enjoy about the DIY process?

Jamie: Whispering in the hallway while we each recorded our parts and hearing Kiki cuss secretly on songs!

Kiki: Taking our time! When we go into the studio in January it's going to be a huge time crunch!

Karen: Yeah, it’s definitely more laid back, which is nice.

Katie: At the same time, Silver Sonya does such a fantastic job. I've recorded with Chad and T.J. in the past and I was extremely impressed by their dedication and the quality of their work. I think they'll be able to catch our live sound a lot better than what we did ourselves.

On the other side of the coin, what's a pain in the ass about that process?

Jamie: Oh, no one critiques you or makes suggestions — we are all so agreeable it would be nice to have an outside party make suggestions.

Kiki: The quality of the recording is not that great; we are very excited about a high quality recording. Our DIY doesn't capture our full sound.
Katie: Agreed. We're also excited about recording near Weenie Beenie. We have our priorities after all....

Karen: Hmm, no Weenie Beenie for me. But the Thai place is really yummy.

What does it mean to you to be a "D.C. band"? How is that incorporated into your identity/how you think of yourselves, if at all?

Kiki: Well, Karen and I are from the area, so we grew up listening to Dischord bands and going to shows here. Sometimes I think it's nice to be a D.C. band and sometimes not; sometimes I think a lot of undeserving bands in D.C. get too much attention. But all in all it's nice to be a D.C. band because we kind of have that "do it yourself" thing going on. And we're not a bunch of big egos like bands in other major cities.

Katie: I enjoy listening to a lot of bands in the area. But not to offend anyone, I think our shoes are much cuter.

Karen: And our dresses aren’t that shabby either.

Jamie: Well, I definitely think it makes us more patriotic then bands from other cities.

What else do you like/dislike about the music community here?

Kiki: I like how D.C. is getting more and more venues these days and that you can walk almost to every one from our practice house. I don't like how it seems to be controlled by a select few and to get any press you almost have to know someone even if you suck. But we don't suck so it's been harder to us :)

Katie: It's very small for sure, but I think there is a lot of growth potential. Also, I think it's safe to say that everyone is friends in the scene: if you don't know a band directly, you know someone who does. That can have its drawbacks, but it makes for a much friendlier atmosphere when putting together bills and promoting.

Karen: Aw, now that I don’t live in D.C. anymore, I miss the D.C. music scene and all the drunks I was proud to call my friends.


Describe Five Four's songwriting process.

Kiki: Usually Jamie will come up with the lyrics and chords then all of us will write our individual arrangements, it comes together very nicely. Sometimes Karen or myself will write a song but not as much as Jamie, she's very prolific. Basically everyone does their part and it turns out nicely with a lot of different talents coming together.

Karen: Yeah, we’ve been playing together long enough that we all intuitively know how to write our parts around each other. It’s been a bit of a learning process though, cause when we first started, both Sera and I would write crazy leads all over the place, and it would be a big mess. Haha.

Katie: I take credit for the robot sounds for "Robot Love Song".

Do you find it more difficult to come to a consensus with five members than you might with a smaller group?

Kiki: Yes, but Five Four has been a democracy from the start, that was my original intention. I was in too many bands before where there was one tyrant so if we don't all agree we won't do it, usually. Five is a good number; it allows us to get together even when people are out of town so we can practice pretty much in any combination.

Katie: To reference Bring it On, it's a cheerocracy. You get the idea.

What's your favorite place to play in D.C.?

Jamie: Fort Reno — its fun to have kids in the audience!

Kiki: I don't know if I have a favorite but Fort Reno and Rock & Roll Hotel are pretty cool. DC9 is good because we can play longer and don't get cut off with a time-constraint though.

Karen: Aw, yeah I love Fort Reno, cause it’s always great to play outside.

Katie: 9:30 Club...oh wait, we haven't played there yet. This is no hint. There were all these dancing high school kids at Fort Reno this year. I've never seen anything like it and it was absolutely fantastic. I hope they know how much we appreciate that.

What was on your Christmas list this year?

Kiki: A tuning pedal and my two front teeth.

Jamie: A Les Paul Jr.

Karen: Oh, Christmas came a little early for me and I just got Little Big Muff (thanks Nik!!). To ask for anything else would be greedy, but I am greedy; Santa, please bring me puppies and new chorus pedal.

Katie: To play with The Thrushes because they're fantastic.

Does the band plan on making any New Year's resolutions?

Kiki: To record a good EP in January and promote it and have a big CD release party! Yeah!
Katie: Plan a CD release party, write more songs about boys and/or ninjas. Uh-oh, do you think we need one?

Give DCist readers three reasons they should come to your Dec. 27 show.

Kiki: Non-stop action, fun, excitement, cute girls and fashion advice!

Katie: I'm baking cookies. Also, I love The Thrushes, their CD is fantastic and I can't wait to play with them. It will honestly be a show well worth leaving your house for.

Jamie: You are sick of your family, dance away Christmas dinner, and because we haven’t seen you in a long time. Or ever. - Washington City Paper


Inquiring listeners want to know. What it's like for local female groups in a rock scene dominated by men?

Carmen Vasquez used to be the only woman in her old band. Practice meant a dingy basement and cans of Budweiser. Now in Federal City Five, the guitarist says, "We boil peanuts. We eat strawberries."

Going on the road highlights other differences. In Del Cielo, one band mate always stays sober and the group often sacrifices the tour tradition of sleeping in strangers' houses, shares drummer Katy Otto. Other realities she mentions: "Sound guys not being that cool to us, and people not expecting us to play our instruments."

Federal City Five played the Clash's "London's Burning" in a cover band show at the Black Cat. Surprised audience members approached Vasquez and complimented her for pulling off the guitar solo. It reeked of condescension, she confides, and she wondered if they would've said anything to a male guitarist. Vasquez sums up the expectation, "We're supposed to look good onstage, but not be so technically proficient."

Speaking of looking good. the Caution Curves took their name from a road sign spotted in Pennsylvania, but some fans assume the experimental, female trio is referring to its silhouettes. "If you're all women, people are going to comment on it no matter what, says Laptop and sampler player Rebecca Mills, "even if you're called Sausage Fest."

Sometimes venues will try to book a night of all-women bands like it's a genre, or even a gimmick. The music industry often echoes this idea making girl groups in or out of style, says singer Allison Wolfe from the classic Bratmobile, now providing vocals for the internationally acclaimed D.C. band Partyline. Wolfe adds, "We are also treated as if there's not enough room for all of us, but only for a few tokens, like Le Tigre or Sleater-Kinney, or rather Britney."

All the bands we talked to expressed exhaustion with comparisons to other big-name female bands, despite significant differences. "The Sleater-Kinney comparison gets old after a while," says Otto, "especially because they don't have a bass and we do, and they have two guitars, and we don't."

"I think they expect us to sound like Sleater-Kinney or the Donnas," says bassist Kiki Schneider from FiveFour. "And we specifically don't want to sound like that."

Do women experience things men wouldn't when they play a show?

"I don't think so," Vasquez says. "Absolutely," vocalist Tina Plottel answers simultaneously. FiveFour's Schneider breaks Federal City Five's split opinion, saying the difference is girl groups get stalkers.

In Wolfe's extensive tour history she remembers a smattering of sexist catcalls and disrespect when showing up at a club. "The people who work there never guess that I'm in the band; but rather treat me like a groupie sneaking in, or someone who doesn't belong there somehow."

Although the climate hasn't always been an accepting one, most of our interviewed bands label Washington as a pretty supportive place for female musicians. (In the early '90s, the hardcore, masculine punk era caused a feminist backlash genre called riot grrl. Bands threw all-female shows and scrawled the words "slut" and "rape" in permanent marker on exposed body parts.)

Now, the District's female bands inspire and reach out to girls starting out. Schneider's advice: "Just play the way you want, not how you think you should."

"There are people who are going to expect you to look better than you play," says Vasquez, "and you just have to ignore that. Don't let anyone else shove that down your throat."

The sum of their advice: Focus on playing music, not playing into stereotypes. - Washington Post


Fort Reno Concert Series
See DC's Up and Coming Bands, Before They Make it Big
By: Elizabeth Barth

In the summer heat, every Monday and Thursday, a variety of people gather around a wooden stage set in the middle of a large grassy field. Families with children, young professionals hanging out after work, pre-teen punks, teen punks, and neighbors are all there for the Fort Reno summer concert series.

The diversity of the audience might or might not be related to the diversity of the bands, but certainly musical styles and influences spanned the music spectrum. On a recent Monday, Five Four, who describe themselves as an indie-rock band, Lemonface, comprised of three 15 year-olds, who play progressive punk, and Partyline, a girl-rock, feminist-inspired group in the vein of Le Tigre, took the stage.

The National Park Service started The Fort Reno Summer Concert Series 38 years ago. Amanda MacKaye, who organized the event this year, used to come to the concerts when she was younger. When it first started, "[it was] a little bit more like bands that [the Park Service] thought people should see", she said. Since then, it's evolved from a family event to an alternative music hot bed. The yearly event, spanning the months from June to August, has gained a reputation for booking local music talent in their early stages. Bands like the now popular Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Fugazi and Q and not U (now defunct) have all played there. Amanda said that this year her aim was to try and break down the barrier that now exists in the music business between making music and enjoying music. "[Younger generations] don't know
the connection that they can pick up an instrument, write a song, and play it", she said.

Fort Reno has long been known among music fiends as a good place for exposure. It is one of the few, but growing, alternative music venuesin the city. Events like Fort Reno are also fueling a new influx of bands in the DC area. The band Five Four felt that DC was "better than a lot of scenes in general but the fans aren't as supportive of
the scene as in other areas". That, they agree, is why it is so great to have Fort Reno. It is free, it reaches a diverse audience, and you aren't obliged to sit down and be quiet. Picnics, frisbee and conversation are all socially acceptable. Drummer Crystal Bradley
notes the part that Fort Reno plays, saying, "I'm glad that our kind of music is not only confined to clubs, houses and bars. I like that we are respected enough to be given an outdoor, free to the public venue that is willing to showcase other kinds of music that cannot be heard on any of the corporate radio stations that people can listen to for free everyday".

This summer will be a good time to catch up on more obscure local bands and catch this trend in its early stages. The concerts take place every Monday and Thursday at 7:15p.m. promptly and are always over by 9:30p.m. due to the restrictions on the outdoor venue. Generally, three bands are lined up to play per day and future shows include,The Chance July 11th, Q and Not U July 18th, Paul Michel August 1st, and The Plums August 18th. For more information on the schedule and location visit the Fort Reno website at www.fortreno.com. - DC Style Magazine


Discography

Let's Go
Creepy Cool Ways
Don't Leave Me
My Love Song
I Told You
Alien Love Song
Dream of You Dead
EuroTrash
Crazy

Photos

Bio

Once upon a time, in the year two thousand four, in a land far removed from normalcy called the District of Columbia, there was a girl named Kiki, who knew a girl named Karen, who knew a girl named Katie, who knew a girl named Jamie who knew a boy named Aaron. Bored with government, gangs, and guns, they thought it would be fun to form a gang of their own. They played with instruments and called themselves Five Four. Soon Five Four played all over the east coast at music venues, radio stations and music festivals. Playing for crowds and governments servants alike fans screamed out "It's a dynamite sound!� Five Four has a sound that is minimal, slightly twangy guitar hooks, early O.M.D.-ish style synths, punchy basslines, and the vocals that ooze dark innocence. Very danceable, yet not in that godawful Neo-New Wave/Electroclash way.

In 2005 the band released its first EP, Dream of you Dead, containing songs that leave you with hope, despair and a smile. In late 2006, Five Four released a full length album, Space Age Love. In April 2008, Five Four released another full length album, Bang Bang Robot. The new album is blissed-out pure pop and rock with ethereal vocals, dreamy guitars interplaying with keyboards on top of a tight rhythm section. Sometimes dancey, sometimes spacey, always catchy. In times where happily ever afters rarely exist, Five Four takes you to a place where fairytales do come true.