Question:Which DC rock and roll band currently still active played the old 9:30 Club on F Street, the original Black Cat, rocked the Capitol Ballroom (Nation) for New Year's Eve, the Bayou and was the first band to play the Hawk and Dove's newly christened Obama Room?

Answer:If you guessed Outer Body Llama you know your DC music scene history!


Outer Body Llama (sometimes known as "OBL" or "The Llama") is Washington DC's longest running rock band and a fixture on the DC concert scene having played everywhere from the old 9:30 Club to the Mt. Pleasant Festival. The band is the original conception of the Llanes brothers who grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. As with any band that's stayed together this long there has been a bit of rotation on the drummer's chair and the band expanded from a three piece to a four piece by incorporating a fulltime bassist around the turn of the millennium but one thing that has never changed is Outer Body Llama's superior musicianship and knack for coming up with great pop hooks and slightly oft kilter lyrics.

The band's history charts a wide course from opening for the Violent Femmes at a New Year's Eve concert at the now defunct Capitol Ballroom to multiple nights at Staccatto. If there's a club or bar that's hosted live music in Washington DC Outer Body Llama has more than likely played it a few times and if the club has moved Outer Body Llama has come along! 

Outer Body Llama played Asylum repeatedly during the first half of the 1990s when it was located in a far grimier locale on the then slightly less friendly confines of historic U Street and hosted some now legendary local shows such as pyschobilly cowpunkers Blue Balls Deluxe. At Asylum a music critic happened to catch one of OBL's shows and subsequently wrote up a positive review for the Washington Post but overall this band has had to grind it out the hard way with little support from a local music establishment consumed and dominated by the remnants of DC hard core, and the Ian MacKaye Dischord scene.  Outer Body Llama has continued plying its trade playing Asylum more than 10 years later but this time in Adams Morgan. In that interim Blue Balls Deluxe lead singer Gene Lee Wilcox was dead and Fugazi pretty much disappeared.

Stylistically the band's sound has evolved and some generalizations can be made: Outer Body Llama Mach I had a louder, harsher and more guitar wank/wah wah oriented sound (think Hendrix) with a strong dose of the psychedelic. Mach II absorbed more of a Byrds/Beatles influence both on the music (softer brushes on the drums) and the harmonies while current vehicle Mach III is still finding its identity although it has far more keyboard coloring, some of the best harmonies this side of the Crosby Stills and Nash River, a more propulsive backbeat and leaner/crisper lead guitar.

With respect to studio recordings the band has put out a couple of releases on their own local imprint while at the same time satisfying its loyal following with limited issue CDr's and bootlegs. Band members have also intermittently played with local bands at times (Nayas, Sugarland) or participated in local jam sessions (Jamasaurus) and devoted time to other collaborations such as Fronting and Lemon Rock Pie. In a town where clubs open and close on a weekly basis, and people move in and out a little too easily its refreshing that Outer Body Llama continues to provide some needed grounding with its particular brand of solid meat and potatoes rock and roll. 

03-Good Old Days.mp3

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