Tender and punk aren’t words you’d think to pair together, but listening through an Illuminati Hotties track list might make you feel differently.
The term tender punk, which originated with band creator and frontwoman, Sarah Tudzin, describes a style spanning beyond the genre’s traditionally angst-fueled rifts to include a broader range of emotions. Tuesday night’s crowd at Black Cat was certainly in for the ride.
Pressing play on Illuminati Hotties’ most recent album, “Let Me Do One More,” will automatically throw you into the deep end of the emotions felt during impending breakups, nervous breakdowns and struggling through a profit-driven world — see “Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism.” The intro track alone brings listeners along a pool hopping, window shopping journey as the LA-based Tudzin playfully narrates some wild romps amidst an “are we or aren’t we?” relationship status.
The band’s 2021 production kicked off the first stretch of the concert following opening acts Fenne Lily and Katy Kirby. Tudzin’s vocals enthralled an initially mellow, yet focused crowd during performances of LMDOM’s tracks “Knead” and “The Sway.” The mood amped up a notch with the beginning of “Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth,” a tongue-in-cheek ode to the “it” girl scenesters of the world. Tudzin’s masterful command of vocals and guitar throughout the song did, in fact, make you wish you were like her.
The latter half of the performance featured a string of songs from Illuminati Hotties’ 2020 mixtape, “Free I.H. This is Not the One You’ve Been Waiting For.” Energetic renditions of “content//bedtime” and the punchy “superiority complex (big noise)” further livened a crowd that was ready to move for the remainder of the night. Tudzin herself took notice, exclaiming in between songs, “DC is tight. DC knows punk rock for sure!”
A couple of mosh pits and sing-alongs later, the end of the night was near, but not before a throwback jam.
To close, Illuminati Hotties played “Pressed 2 Death” from their 2018 debut, “Kiss Yr Frenemies.” The audience crooned along with Tudzin as she eased into the song’s crowning lyrics, “You only want me when I’m feeling bad, you only like me when I’m sad.” This final buildup of the night concluded with the band and audience alike jumping their way through the very last beat.
“Let Me Do One More” is the band’s third major body of work, and the first under Tudzin’s new imprint label, Snack Shack Tracks. Following a turbulent break with her previous label, she partnered with Hopeless Records to create the imprint and move Illuminati Hotties forward. The resulting album, aptly named after the singer-songwriter’s desire to press ahead after a major setback, is one D.C.’s tender punk lovers would gladly stay for one (or many) more.
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