The Suffers Deliver Much-Needed Soul to D.C. Crowd

By Hannah Shulman, Editor-at-Large

Australian-based Jakubi opened the show on at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 29. Generally staying within their self-professed “unique flavor,” their set ranged from reggae to a just a hair below metal. While disorienting, it was light, well-performed and got the audience perfectly warmed up. The most notable part of their set was a tie between the bass player, who spent the set running back and forth across the stage with phenomenal energy, or the band’s chemistry. The group grew up together, and it shows. It’s likely that never seen an opening act never get the amount of applause that Jakubi did at Rock and Roll Hotel. 

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Photo by Hannah Shulman

When — yes, when — you go to your first Suffers concert, you’ll need to know two things: they’re called The Suffers, and they’re from Houston. After that, you’re on your own. At full capacity, the 10-piece band produces a wave of “Gulf Coast soul” that will have even the whitest of people dancing. Their powerful songs are only interrupted by interludes of stories and conversation with the crowd, inviting everyone to involve themselves with the experience.

The set began with “Gwan,” a driving, up-tempo song complete with a bongo solo. By the middle of the set, if you ever doubted frontwoman Kam Franklin’s vocal talents, that night’s performance revealed just how deep her vocals can go. The band then delivered a powerful rendition of “Giver,” and although they were down two members on Thursday, they were easily replaced by the energy of the crowd. In fact, the only time the absence was noticeable was during “Giver,” which mildly suffered from one less horn player. Immediately after, the band covered Selena’s classic “Baila Esta Cumbia” which seamless transitioned into “Dutch.” The rest of the time, Franklin’s energy and vocals were the perfect glaze over well-timed percussion and walking bass lines.

If anything, be prepared to be inspired at your first Suffers concert. When the group performed earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan, Franklin gave a speech about how the whole band had quit their day jobs to pursue music and how the audience should do the same (follow your dreams, not quit your day job). Months later, the D.C. crowd got a much-needed break from the stress that usually accompanies political talk with Franklin saying “Have a little compassion for the people you don’t know.”

That’s what’s so beautiful about The Suffers. You get more than music; you get preaching and dancing and an energy that comes from a pure place that creates more dancing and the joy you can only get from music.

The Suffers are performing at Brooklyn Bowl at 61 Wythe Ave. on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Email Hannah Shulman at hshulman@nyunews.com.

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