Sometimes, you hear about bands that can’t seem to stand each other, that create music through their own frustration and friction. The CooLots isn’t one of those bands. This five-person Washington, D.C–based band clings together on and off stage, and their personal mesh feeds the electricity of their performances. Some people speak with their hands; this group speaks with their whole bodies and, of course, through their music.
The group includes vocalists AwesomeRita, Crys, Dappho, and Huggie; Boomclak on on the drums, Dappho and AwesomeRita on bass; and Huggie additionally on electric. All of the musicians were born and/or raised in the D.C. metropolitan area, and they’re all also artists in more ways than just one. AwesomeRita, for example, works in the visual arts, and Dappho is a poet and radio host.
Almost ten years ago over a period of a few months these friends found each other through a series of coincidences and they’ve been creating their original sound — which they describe as “Rock & Soul” — ever since. Their music is a melting pot of influences including rock, soul, funk, and go-go. It’s raw, and passionate, and they use it as a tool to talk about social injustices, including in the lesbian and African-American communities.
Dappho, bass player and vocalist, said, “We all come together in our different styles of creating,… [and] that’s why I believe folks feel it the way they do because it’s five energies coming together and feelings coming out.”
The band first performed publicly in 2010 and they’re open about the evolution of their sound.
“I think it’s gotten a little more technical,” said vocalist Huggie.
The CooLots is a local band, but they don’t want to be pigeonholed to being just a D.C. band.
AwesomeRita, vocalist and bass player, said, “We love the sound that D.C. produces. We all feel like D.C. has its own original live music style. However, we don’t want to be confined. We’ve worked very, very hard to get away from being classified as a go-go band [just] because we are the birthplace of go-go.”
Dappho added, “We’re not a go-go-band, but we do pay homage, and it’s in us.”
In “Amerikka,” the politically-charged lyrics interrogate and accuse at the same time. “Capitalism is for real. America will make you wanna kill,” yowls the vocalist. In singles like “Chemical,” the lyrics are more romantic, contemplating a relationship not meant to be, with lyrics like, “We were just like moths to open flames … How could we let them win?” There is inevitability to the end of the relationship. In “Doors,” the moody lyrics and vocals echo wailing, making it one of the few songs that encourages you to just sit and listen, rather than get up and dance.
Co-lyricist and vocalist Crys said, “I’m just very inspired by my own life experience. When I write, I try not to just box myself in. I try to also write things that could be perceived or be applicable to other things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic relationship. It could be a work relationship. It could be a friendship.”
The CooLots have performed all along the East Coast, from Baltimore to Pittsburgh to New York, and here in Washington, D.C., you may have seen them at the Rock and Roll Hotel, the Howard Theater, or any number of other venues along the U Street corridor.
That band will be helping to kick off Capital Pride week Sunday, June 5 with a performance at Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“We love the opportunity to play in our community,” said Crys, who added, “I love how all people are represented during Capital Pride. It’s not exclusive to one particular identity or one particular race.”
Expect The CooLots’ next album to release between the late summer and early fall, produced by local House Studio. As of yet, there is no title to the album, but around nine to twelve new songs are expected to appear.
“It will definitely be one to add to your collection,” said Crys.
For more information on the band’s show this Sunday check out the listing here.
Michelle Goldchain is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and photographer who covers local news. She is currently one of the DC Arts Writing fellows with Day Eight. She is also Editor of Curbed DC, a real estate and development blog owned by Vox Media. Her works have been seen in Street Sense, Quill Magazine, Whurk Magazine, and Prince William Living Magazine. She lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Tweet at her at @goldchainam. This article was produced through the DC Arts Writing Fellowship, a project of the non-profit Day Eight, through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities DC, Brink Media, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and DCRE Residential. To read additional articles produced through the fellowship visit Artapedia.com (launching June 21, 2016.)