The Black Cat, the unassuming rock venue on DC’s 14th Street, Northwest, is not a place anyone would ever mistake for an arena. The space fits just a few hundred concertgoers; hipsters mill about drinking beer, and the low, dark ceiling gives the room a distinctly cave-like feel.
But when Scottish rockers Glasvegas took the stage at for a sold-out show Thursday night, the Black Cat may as well have been an arena, for all anybody could tell—or care.
Bringing with them a wall of pounding, slow-building guitar rock as well as a pretty snazzy light show and a smoke machine, Glasvegas put on a 45-minute set worthy of a much larger venue.
Take the fact that Glasvegas frontman James Allan clearly thinks he is, as a friend of ours noted, the “Scottish version of Bono” (and as his theatrics and semi-self-important stage presence attested), combined with the band’s larger-than-life sound and devoted fans who sang along with every word (a few even brought Scottish flags to wave), and you have a band that might have more in common with U2 than it’s willing to admit.
Not that that’s a bad thing. Despite the band’s seriousness (you’re playing a rock show, guys, not solving world hunger—lighten up a bit onstage), Glasvegas has the musical chops and big-sounding, powerful, and moving songs necessary to be playing big arena shows soon. If you were at the Black Cat last night, count yourself lucky you saw the band when you did: Next time it plays DC, it’ll be at a much more impersonal venue.