We went to the Hillbenders show at Amp on Thursday. The Hillbenders are a bluegrass/newgrass band out of Missouri, and they’re touring an acoustic recreation of the Who’s Tommy. It was an interesting show, the music was good and creatively orchestrated, but it really didn’t grab me. We sat there wanting them to break into a straight up bluegrass tune. Even for the encore they stuck with the Who for “I Can See For Miles”. The show itself wasn’t even an hour and a half long. The crowd reaction seemed to be suburban polite throughout, so I was a bit surprised by the enthusiastic response at the end. The performance clearly grabbed some of them.
Anyway, AMP, its a little club spinoff from Strathmore. It’s up in the new Pike & Rose complex roughly at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Georgetown Pike in Rockville… oh, pardon me… North Bethesda. Careful, Google seems to think it’s co-resident with Strathmore. Parking can apparently be an issue, there is a parking garage, but it can fill up and you’ll be paying a buck an hour after your first two; pretty much unheard of for suburbia. The White Flint metro is nearby at any rate.
The venue itself is on the 4th floor above the garage, though the box office is on the ground floor. There’s a long bar at the entrance and the venue is beyond. It’s a plain rectangular room with a stage at one end, one side and the back wall are floor-to-cieling windows. It’s got a lovely view of ongoing construction. They had 14 long tables with chairs set out, but they look to be setup custom for any show. The chairs were about as comfortable as you could expect from plastic lawn chairs. The floor is a dark wood throughout. We didn’t dance, but it seemed rather sticky. I understand from Carl they have no problem with folks dancing.
The AC was working overtime throughout, many folks were cold, and one lady even went as far as opening one of the sliding glass doors.
The biggest issue for me was the sound. Owing to all that glass and a metal roof that seemed to have no sound insolation there is an ugly boom at the frequency range of the bottom three strings of an upright bass. It didn’t look like they cheaped out on the sound system. but I think as a matter of appearance they let the acoustics suffer.
They’ve only been open a couple months, perhaps it’ll get turned around.