Tilly & the Wall and Exit Clov at the Black Cat

Being generally familiar with Tilly & the Wall but not being what one would consider a fan, I wandered into their sold out show at the Black Cat wondering what I was in for. As an added bonus, local band Exit Clov was the first of two opening acts.

Exit Clov, their name a nod to Samuel Beckett's one act play Endgame, are a DC-area quintet led by twins Emily and Susan Hsu. They are often compared to the Canadian duo Tegan & Sara; I would find that comparison valid if Tegan & Sara had Chris Walla as a producer. Although their sound is undoubtedly similar by virtue of the twin lead vocalists, Exit Clov displays strong 80s New Wave and post-punk influences, with songs like MK Ultra demonstrating a Blondie-esque rhythm. Moving Gaza blends influences like the Talking Heads and Scritti Politti with a taut disco feel. Adding a Matt Pond, chamber pop element to their songs is the band's liberal use of violins.

I caught exactly one song of the Auckland duo the Ruby Suns before retiring to the bar downstairs. Their "emotronic", easy listening sound may be for some, but it wasn't really my cup of tea.

I'm not even sure where to begin with Tilly & the Wall. If you aren't familiar with them, you should be. Their sound draws equally from 80s bands like Bananarama, the Go-Go's and the B-52s. Aside from their sonic influences, their songs are reminiscent of Britpop bands like Pulp and Blur. Throw those ingredients in a blender, strain heavily through the rich Nebraska rock scene of the past decade from which the band emerged, and you have Tilly & the Wall. And yes, they really do utilize tap dancer Jamie Presnall (née Williams) as their primary source of percussion. Their stage presence is manic, like a harder and more chaotic Rilo Kiley (which shouldn't come as a surprise, since uber-producer and Conor Oberst collaborator Mike Mogis produced their last record). Smart, danceable, and unapologetically profane, their set was the most fun I've had listening to music since Stars at Sonar. Book your ticket now, or risk being left behind by the Tilly & the Wall express.


Anonymous said…
"They are often compared to the Canadian duo Tegan & Sara; I would find that comparison valid if Tegan & Sara had Chris Walla as a producer."

Did you mean "...if Tilly & the Wall had Chris Walla as a producer."? Because Chris Walla produced T&S' latest album.
Brian G Flores said…
Shows you how closely I follow Tegan & Sara's career! I'm more familiar with Tegan & Sara's older material, and I find little in the way of similarities between them and Exit Clov other than the fact that both groups feature twins.