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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Districts return to Washington where “Great American Painting” was inspired

The Districts, who opened for Modest Mouse at the Knitting Factory last year, will co-headline the Lucky You Lounge on Friday night.  (Ebru Yildiz)

Tiny Lititz is a Central Pennsylvania town famous for its amplifiers and rehearsal space used by such iconic recording artists as U2, Metallica and Beyonce before kicking off mega-tours.

The Districts’ home base is Lititz but vocalist-guitarist Rob Grote wrote the songs for his band’s latest album,”Great American Painting,” in a rural Washington cabin.

The tracks from the fifth album by the quirky alt-rock trio were inspired by Grote’s month-long stay in Ashford during autumn 2020.

“The cabin is just in this idyllic place outside of Mt. Rainier,” Grote said while calling from Boulder. “It was unreal. I was so moved by being so far from everything. It gave me time to reflect.”

Isolation, fueled by the pandemic and Grote’s location, is the theme of such songs as “I Want to Feel it All,” “Long End” and “On Our Parting, My Beloved.” The atmospheric synth-driven songs are dramatic, gritty and provocative.

“I thought a lot about the state of the world and life when I was in Washington,” Grote said. “The area had a huge effect on me.” The sound of the ‘80s also has had an impact on Grote. His older sister schooled him on such seminal bands as The Cure, Joy Division and New Order while he was coming of age during the aughts.

“All of those bands were so influential,” Grote said. “I was into all of those groups by the time I was in the fifth grade. They’re part of the reason I became a musician and why our songs sound like they do.”

Expect the Districts, which also include guitarist Pat Cassidy and drummer Braden Lawrence, to deliver cuts from each of their albums but much of the set will feature “Great American Painting”

“I see this album as these beautiful vignettes,” Grote said. “It’s inspired by this beautiful country. If anyone were to get in the car and drive through it, they can see how amazing America is.”

The Districts, which will perform Friday at Lucky You Lounge, enjoyed opening for Modest Mouse at the Knitting Factory last year. “It was surreal being out with Modest Mouse since they’re one of our heroes,” Brock said. “It was wild being able to talk to (Modest Mouse vocalist-guitarist) Isaac Brock since we idolize him. But we had as much fun being on a bill with Modest Mouse as we did after the show.”

The post-concert hang for the Districts was the Baby Bar. “That place is awesome,” Grote said. “That is an incredibly cool bar that I hope we can go to again when we come back to Spokane.”