The Punk Vault

Soul Side and J. Robbins – 3/15/23 at Sleeping Village

Last night at Sleeping Village was a special “Dischord night” for music fans as Soul Side and J. Robbins teamed up for a double bill. Both of these acts have a very long history of being affiliated with the Dischord Records label and being a part of the beloved Washington D.C. independent/punk music scene.

First up was J. Robbins. For those who may be shockingly unfamiliar, J. Robbins was once a member of the last (and best) lineup of Government Issue, then was a founding member of the legendary Jawbox, and more recently has released a solo album, and has been in various other projects. For this tour, Robbins was joined by a full touring band consisting of a bass player, a cello player, a drummer (Pete Moffit!), and of course J. played guitar and sang. The band played songs mostly from the Robbins solo album, Un-Becoming, which was released by Dischord in 2019 and is an excellent album. Much like his work in Jawbox that he’s most famous for, Robbin’s songs feature loud guitars, a usually mid-tempo pace, and great hooks. The songs have a lot of energy and the band really sounded great. The Un-Becoming material really sounds great in a live setting with a full band and anyone who is a fan of that excellent album simply must catch him on this tour. After all these years, it is really great to see Robbins on a stage again and still producing such excellent music.

Next up was Soul Side. The band has a history dating back to the late 1980s and has a flawless discography. After disbanding around 1990, the band has reunited in recent years and put out a really great single and just this year an even better new album. They hit the road to promote it and it was really great to see them back at it. Soul Side were really pioneers in their sound with interesting guitar sounds and song structures, continuing to pave the way from punk rock branching out into more diverse and unique sounds. Great guitar work, a killer rhythm section, and Bobby Sullivan’s trademark soulful, raspy vocals is a combination that is a thing of beauty, and over three decades later, the band still has the magic.

The band opened with “Times Like These” which is the opening track from their new album, A Brief Moment in the Sun. It sounded even better live than on the already great record. From there they played a nicely balanced set of old favorites and new material. Every song sounded great, the crowd was way into it, and the band seemed to really be enjoying themselves and quite appreciative of the warm response. After close to an hour of playing, they left the stage for a few moments and then came back for a three song encore that included a tribute song to Fred “Freak” Smith of Beefeater, who tragically passed away in 2017. The band ended the night with “Clifton Wall” and really went out on a high note. It was great to have them back, and hopefully they stick around for awhile as the new material is every bit as good as their early works and it is clear these guys still have a lot left in the tank. It was a great Dischord themed night that was something really special.


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