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Bad Moves – In Review

Bad Moves is a Washington, D.C. based band that formed in 2015. This power pop band is made up of four members: bassist Emma Cleveland, guitarist David Combs, guitarist Katie Park and drummer Daoud Tyler-Ameen. They decided to split up duties such as music composition, lyricism and singing so they do not solely focus on one member. Their upbeat instrumentals and thought-provoking lyrics will either leave a listener skanking to the beat or raging against the machine. 

Bad Moves began by performing at local venues, such as Black Cat, Comet Ping Pong and their own garage. They released their debut EP titled Bad Moves in 2016. In 2017 they went on a partial UK tour with The Spook School. In early 2018 they joined Jeff Rosenstock on his tour along with Martha. 

In 2018, the show “Craig of the Creek” aired on Cartoon Network and featured music by Jeff Rosenstock about kids playing and learning together. As the show continued, it became clear that they wanted to feature more inspiring storylines for their audience. The 18 episode of season one released on July 9, 2018, they decided to feature a garage band of friends that encourages “The Stump Kids” to express themselves through music. Of course, the band that was featured is Bad Moves. They played themselves in the episode, providing personal accounts about what inspired them to join this band. Combs had volunteered at Queer Rock Camp, a music camp for LGBTQ+ youth, and Park volunteered at Girls Rock! DC, so to be able to work on this episode felt comforting. The episode even referenced their local scene, such as the, now closed, venue The Silent Barn. 

After their appearance in Cartoon Network’s “Craig of the Creek” in 2018, their fan base grew exponentially. This tied to their first album, Tell No One, which was released on Sept. 21, 2018, and the corresponding tour. They continued having local gigs and working on music. In 2020, they released their second album, Untenable. Because of the pandemic, they could not go on tour, but they did still release music videos and even had a virtual concert over Instagram Live. During this virtual concert, they revealed the extended version of “Wishing” from Tell No One, which to be honest brought me to tears.  

After the pandemic, they slowly but surely started up their in-person concerts again, even traveling across the DMV to bring music to a larger audience. In June, they performed at the Out and About Music Festival in Vienna, Virginia. This festival celebrated pride by featuring LGBTQ+ artists and musicians. 

Throughout the summer of 2023, the DC Punk Archive and MLK Library Friends organized free rooftop shows at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library. Bad Moves performed as the closer on July 5 along with Glitterer and Outerloop. Despite the extreme heat, the rooftop was packed with all kinds of people, so I had to push my way to the front. An older woman with a Bad Moves shirt told me that it is so nice to see younger fans showing up to appreciate the music and culture. It was clear most of the young audience were fans of their Craig of the Creek appearance with merch to match. When they began, the audience was ecstatic, many people recording, head banging, or singing along. The audience was most hype for the two songs featured in the 2018 episode, “Give It a Shot” and their finale “The Verge.” After the show, Katie handed me their set list and they set off for their merch booth. I got to meet them, and they were so kind. Fun fact: Daoud cannot drive! 

This show was the first time they performed their then unreleased single “New Year’s Reprieve.” This single is the first new song they have had since 2018, releasing on Dec. 19, 2023. They had a New Year’s concert to celebrate. 

Bad Moves has songs about queer pining, the shittiness of minimum wage jobs, and the dread of wasting time networking. Hopelessness is put in a positive and upbeat light. Combs, who also performs as “Dim Wizard,” is touring the east coast in the latter half of February and will be in Richmond on Feb. 21. Bad Moves’ next concert is currently unannounced but will be March 6 with Protex at Comet Ping Pong.  

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