Metro Weekly

Bad Moves brings its punk-fueled power-pop to the Black Cat

The queer-inclusive four-piece performs its first live show in almost two years

Bad Moves

“We wouldn’t call ourselves a queercore band or anything because it is not the thing that’s always at the forefront,” says David Combs of Bad Moves. “But it is a theme that we have spent a good deal exploring in our lyrics.”

Formed roughly five years ago, the local punk-fueled, power-pop four-piece counts, according to Combs, “three band members who identify as queer, two of us as non-binary.” The queer theme has factored into both full-length albums released by Bad Moves, including their 2018 debut.

“On Tell No One, we wrote a lot about experiences growing up,” says Combs, the band’s queer, nonbinary guitarist, noting that “a couple of songs on there are about being a closeted youth and trying to come to terms with your queer identity as it’s emerging.”

Last year’s Untenable, meanwhile, features the single “Cape Henlopen,” which Combs wrote with fellow guitarist Katie Park. Named after the Delaware state park just north of Rehoboth, the song “is about the experience of being perceived through a gender’s gaze, and imagining what life would be like with that stripped away.” It juxtaposes the experience of “being on a remote beach where there isn’t anybody around [to that of being] around a lot of people who are projecting their ideas about you based on seeing your body.”

Next week, Combs and Parks will be joined by fellow bandmates Emma Cleveland and Daoud Tyler-Ameen for a performance before a live, in-person crowd. The headlining show, at the Black Cat, featuring opening sets from Oceanator and Bacchae, will be the band’s first live performance in D.C. in nearly two years, after the pandemic forced them to cancel the three tours that had been planned last year. Until last month, the band hadn’t even rehearsed together since before the pandemic. “This first show back is the only thing we have planned,” says Combs. “We just said, ‘Let’s try to get back into it with an achievable goal of playing one show and then take it from there.'”

The good news is that the first rehearsal went better than Combs expected. “We all had kind of a worry that we’d pick up our instruments and be like, ‘What are these things?’ But luckily, the muscle memory kicked back in.”

While that has helped reassure the band, the resurgence of COVID-19 has had the opposite effect. “We are very pro-vaccination and we are hoping that everyone who decides to come to our show will be vaccinated,” Combs says. “That is our humble request: that people try to be as safe as possible.”

Bad Moves performs Friday, Aug. 13 at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. Doors at 8 p.m. Call 202-667-4490 or visit

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