Democracy Dies in Darkness


Team Familiar knows go-go inside and out

September 7, 2017 at 4:33 PM

Donnell Floyd of the go-go group Team Familiar. (Team Familiar/Team Familiar)

Last week, Donnell Floyd took to Instagram to hype a show that his go-go group, Team Familiar, was booked to play at Aqua, a bricks-and-mortar nightspot in Northeast Washington. "It reminds me of [legendary go-go venue] the Black Hole," Floyd said into the camera lens of his phone. "The sound is bouncing off the walls, the people bouncing off the walls!" He was peddling the power of go-go in close quarters, reminding us that walls and ceilings can intensify how we perceive rhythm.

Go-go works a different kind of magic when it's being performed under the stars, but it's magic nonetheless — and Floyd will have the chance to prove it when Team Familiar graces the Strathmore lawn Saturday night. Indoors, the rhythmic rush of go-go music can make you feel as if you're dancing inside a bag of microwave popcorn. Outdoors, it gives you the opportunity to two-step through a stampede without getting hurt.

Floyd has been in the game long enough to know the difference. He made his name as a member of Rare Essence but left that beloved band in 2001 to front his own group. "For fans of go-go," wrote The Washington Post's Alona Wartofsky at the time, the break was "a cultural cataclysm on par with the dissolution of the Beatles."

Fortunately, the borders among go-go bands have since grown increasingly porous, with Floyd rejoining Rare Essence for gigs here and there, while the membership of Team Familiar — originally named 911, then Familiar Faces — continues to reshuffle year after year. Like go-go itself, Team Familiar's fundamental strength is its flexibility. The players may come and go, but the beat goes on.

Show: Saturday at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Show starts at 7 p.m. 301-581-5100. Free.

Chris Richards has been The Washington Post's pop music critic since 2009. Before joining The Post, he freelanced for various music publications.

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