Strand of Oaks Gets Up-Close and Personal at DC9

The red walls of DC9 Nightclub throbbed with the energy Indiana-born Tim Showalter and his bandmates brought to the stage Sunday evening.

Strand of Oaks, Showalter’s growing folk-rock project, broke open a set around 10:30 p.m. that hooked attendees into “HEAL,” the band’s latest album.

The album, which Showalter describes on his website as “crying and laughing and sticking both middle fingers in the air all at the same time,” resonated with concertgoers, who sipped beers and jumped along with the band’s consistent head banging throughout their one-and-a-half hour set.

Showalter’s performance at the D.C. venue marked one of the last stops in the North American leg of his “HEAL tour,” an endeavour to promote the musician’s most recent album.

During a European tour last year, Showalter said he felt the weight of a personal crisis that inspired him to write the album, according to the Strand of Oaks’ website. Upon returning home he wrote 30 songs in three weeks.

“Manic depression is great for productivity,” Showalter wrote in an email interview with The Writer’s Bloc. “If I’m in an upswing I can write forever.”

Greg Pugliese, of Greenbelt, Md., said Showalter’s newest piece depicts a happier tone.

“This album has a little more hope imbedded in it than his other records,”  Pugliese, a fan and follower of Strand of Oaks for several years, said.

Chris Finkernagel, a senior finance major at Georgetown University, said the album conveys an uncategorized type of genre.

“There’s a sort of deeper emotionalism to this album that I can connect with,” Finkernagel said. “It’s not exactly happy music, and I’ve been accused many times of listening to very depressing music, but I don’t want to categorize it that narrowly. It’s just really good.”

Showalter (left) and his band mates bring a lively performance at the intimate DC9 Nightclub Sunday. (Daphne Pellegrino/Bloc Reporter)
Strand of Oaks continues to tour until December, performing at venues in locations including D.C., Austria and France. (Daphne Pellegrino/Bloc Reporter)

Folk-singer Christopher Denny took the stage first, supported by nothing but his tenor vocals and a guitar. He sang songs from his latest album, If The Roses Don’t Kill Us, like “Happy Sad” and “God’s Height.”

The show amplified when Showalter took the stage.

Dressed in black from head to toe, with a tattoo reading “SURVIVE” exposed on his bare arm, he performed hits like “Goshen ’97”, “Heal” and concluding with “Wait For Love” and “Mirage Year.”

Throughout the evening, Showalter could be seen sitting in a corner booth with friends while Denny performed, and exited directly into the audience as the show concluded.

“This is why you travel across the country to do this stuff,” Showalter said. “Because it feels so f—ing good.”

writersblocheadshots11Daphne Pellegrino is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at 

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