Even the most avid New Orleans area concert-goer could be excused if he or she has never stepped foot inside Ampersand, the former Whitney Bank turned plush downtown discotheque. Sure, we’ve all heard of the place – home to the infamous Electronic Takeover pool parties, NeonGlow raves and many an all-night rager featuring the likes of Diplo or Paul Oakenfold reveling in the unbridled enthusiasm of this city’s young beatnuts and techno fans – but it’s not exactly the kind of venue frequented by those without an inclination towards the house and dubstep DJs who keep the place packed every weekend.
Which is a shame really, considering Ampersand, like any establishment that caters to the discriminating and devoted fans of electronica, is equipped with one of the most high end sound, light and stage setups you will find in the entire city. The renovated industrial space is a multi-level funhouse of bars, booths, secret balconies and spacious courtyards, every inch of the place unapologetically over the top and about as far away from anything you will find at more traditional rock haunts as is physically possible.
But just as equally swagged out dance club Eiffel Society did last fall, Ampersand is testing the indie rock waters by letting a few local bands open up their weekly “Vice Club” parties before a DJ hops in the booth. This Friday night’s double feature brings heat-seeking young bands Habitat and Donovan Wolfington out of the basement and backyard and on to the most tricked out stage they’ve played to date, which is sure to add an extra layer of intensity to each’s lush songs and dazzling performances. Rising from the ashes of (New Grass) Country Club, Habitat is singer and guitarist Jack Donovan’s latest configuration of the mountains of talent floating around the Chinquapin Records Universe. With Andrew Landry and Evan Ctanovtich of High In One Eye behind him, Donovan continues Country Club’s tradition of ferociously mashing up every genre from Americana to post-rock but injects the new tunes with a math-focused progressive streak that makes for some of the most dynamic music currently being locally produced. And with a unique and encouraging amalgamation of unrefined indie pop and noisy proto-emo, Donovan Wolfington (no relation to Donovan, Jack) have quickly risen to the top of the exciting new class of Tulane/Loyola bands on the strength of a slew of basement performances in and around the campus area since late 2011.
03.24: The Dieners + DJ Brice Nice – Circle Bar
Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks