When I accepted an invite to attend Handsomebeast’s concert here in Washington, D.C., I honestly had no idea what to expect. I knew they had developed quite the following in their hometown of Houston because of their live shows, but there aren’t that many clips of them on the Internet so it was hard to get a sense of who they were. However, I ended up having the time of my life at their show.
If you’re not familiar with the band, Handsomebeast is made up of five members: Nick Serena, Jacob Rodriguez, Peewee Ruiz, Carlos Ortiz, and Tony Ortiz. Having once dubbed their type of music as “space-rock-bump-n-grind”, they now consider it to be more along the lines of “astro soul” or “psychedelic g-funk.”
Their 12 song set featured a mix of their new songs, like “Playboi,” and older material, like “Doodoo Bird.” It even featured a cover of “Sexyback” by Justin Timberlake. I wasn’t familiar with a lot of their older material, but regardless of whether I knew a song or not, I still enjoyed the entire setlist. Hands down, my favorite performance of the night was their live version of “Sweet James ’76.” Since it’s an older song, I wasn’t familiar with it prior to the concert. As soon as the song started, however, I was hooked. It’s a soulful song that is hard not to get stuck in your head. For days after, I found myself humming the chorus to myself.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the concert was the camaraderie between the five members. Four of the five members met each other in college in 2009, so they’ve been close for a very long time. It was clear throughout the entire show that they are a tight-knit unit who enjoys making music together. As an attendee, whenever I see a band having that much fun on stage, it makes me enjoy the show that much more.
The crowd’s energy was one of the best I had ever seen at Gypsy Sally’s. While it probably didn’t hurt that it was a Saturday night and people were ready to let loose, it was also a bit of a homecoming for Nick, as he hails from the DMV area originally. There was so much love in the room that night and it made for a fun atmosphere.
Overall, Handsomebeast puts on one hell of a show. I walked away with an appreciation for their funky songs and their skillful musicianship. I highly recommend checking them out if they make their way to your city.