Let’s face it, more often than not, you can look at the obscure compilation of words in a band’s name and wonder how and why it decided to call itself that. Cymbals Eat Guitars, Deadboy and the Elephant, or the ever-parodied Panic! At the Disco or Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, anyone? Yet if there is one band whose name makes perfect sense, it’s The Hives. Consider them in terms of mild discomfort and bouts of hot flashes, and you’re pretty spot-on.
Nearly a decade into their career, the Hives became one of the trendiest bands of the 2000s. Since releasing their sophomore LP, Veni Vidi Vicious, the Swedish garage rock revivalists have gained international acclaim for their scrappy sound and super-charged live sets. Known for their arty black and white attire and outrageous energy, the quintet is still hailed as one of the best live acts in rock ‘n’ roll more than 20 years after their birth.
Their name pretty much says it all. Frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist leads a riotous performance, easily paralleled by the high-octane energy of his bandmates: guitarists Nicholaus Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem, bassist Dr. Matt Desctruction, and percussionist Chris Dangerous. Pelle is known for his brash idiocy—and scissorkicks—often pre-empted by his notoriously rather self-righteous declarations. Still, the guy’s got the charm and stamina to back up his arrogance, providing for nothing short of an electrifying performance.
Jerod “Rody” Lewis of the Black Eagles Mardi Gras Indian tribe passed away on Monday, November 25, 2013. He was 49 years old.
Big Chief Rody led the fabled uptown gang since the passing of his father, Percy “Big Chief Pete” Lewis in 1981 (shown below in a photo from 1977 by Michael P. Smith). The Black Eagles, along with the White Eagles and the Golden Eagles, are among the oldest uptown tribes. The Creole Wild West are recognized as the oldest tribe in the city of New Orleans.
Rody had one of the most distinctive and powerful voices in the entire Mardi Gras Indian community.He was the current generation’s vocal equivalent of Bo Dollis, the legendary Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias. A strong, charismatic singer with a rich baritone, he could be heard chanting at Mardi Gras Indian practices, shouting the ancient songs behind various second line parades, and fronting his gang at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Much like his Detroit counterpart Danny Brown, Curtis Cross, aka Black Milk, is a rapper and producer proving that age does not matter. Now 30, the man has been rapping and producing since 2002, collaborating with the likes of the late J. Dilla, Elzhi, Royce da 5’9”, and Pharoahe Monch. Raised on the “golden age” vibes of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, his production work has led many to compare him to Dilla and producer/MC Madlib.
Black Milk’s career took flight when he was invited by fellow Detroit hip-hop outfit Slum Village to produce a track for both their 2002 mixtape Dirty District and full-length Trinity (Past, Present and Future). Not long after, he teamed up with Young RJ (RJ Rice Jr.) under the name B.R. Gunna to handle production 11 of 13 tracks on Slum Village’s 2004 Detroit Deli (A Taste of Detroit).
2005 saw a solo self-release from Black Milk, titled Sound of the City. Catching the ear of hip-hop label Fat Beats, he was promptly signed in 2006, and had his official debut record Popular Demand released the following year. His latest effort, No Poison No Paradise, has already turned heads within the world of hip-hop music, with Consequence of Sound calling it a “well-produced” effort, while AllMusic.com believed it to be “deeper, and artistically more filling” when compared to his other releases.
On the 25th of November, the great jazz bandleader and drummer Chico Hamilton died at the age of 92. In addition to his various groups, he was also a composer, teacher, abettor of numerous up-and-coming players, and an all-around class-act. He left a large body of work behind to remember him by, but his greatest achievements on record were made with his Quintet of the 1950s.
It’s been a few years since I’ve watched it, but I can still vividly recall one of my favorite scenes from Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Bert Stern’s indispensible documentary covering the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. It occurs early in the film but seems to be happening around dusk, though the timeframe is ambiguous in large part due to the moment taking place not on the festival’s stage or in the audience but in the attic of a nearby house.
In that setting, Chico Hamilton, mallets in hand, rehearses on his drums in preparation for his Quintet’s appearance later that evening. I’m fairly certain a cigarette is clasped between his lips, though I wouldn’t wager anything substantial on that recollection. Without a shadow of a doubt though, Hamilton is practicing shirtless.
Finally out of our turkey hangovers, we’re catching up on our live-concert coverage after the holiday.—Ed.
On her second trip to DC this year, Pink, the reining queen of pop-rock, played to a completely sold-out crowd at the Verizon Center. On tour to promote her sixth full-length studio album The Truth About Love, her tour is a fun-filled, wild ride of sorts, and is truly entertaining from beginning to end. Pink’s relentless high-energy attitude and on-stage theatrics radiate positivity and seemed to feed the crowd this happiness that really can’t be described in words. Her fans are simply elated to see her.
From the show’s first downbeat, Pink is launched from stage level high into the air, suspended by wires as she performs a series of trapeze-like in-air acrobatics, all while she delivers the evening’s first song, “Raise your Glass.” Fans really broke the needle off the scream-o-meter, happily singing along as Pink flew around the place and blasted real pyrotechnics between her and the gigantic video board behind her, which displayed stylish images from old ads to vampires throughout her performance. This tour really gives new meaning to the term “elaborate stage productions.” Every aspect of of it was very well-thought-out and superbly entertaining.
If Professor Longhair had recorded nothing but ‘59’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” he would still be a national treasure. But fortunately he recorded a whole lot more. And it’s a likely story that record store shelves have been undernourished over the years by the potency of Fess’ musical elixir, but his final album Crawfish Fiesta was a grand attempt to reverse this trend. Alas, it too fell out of print. Alligator Records has done the world a tremendous solid by reissuing this fantastic slab of New Orleans gusto, and if a party where people dress up and cavort is in your future, this record will serve as an ideal soundtrack.
In the development of the vast and diverse musical legacy of New Orleans there is nobody more crucial than Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd, better known to the world as pianist Professor Longhair. Born in 1918, he was old enough to have soaked up formative musical nourishment from the raw energy that radiated like spirit fuel throughout jazz music’s thriving early years (of which New Orleans was the birthplace, of course), but he was also young enough to fall right into the forefront of the formulation of a fresh musical sphere, specifically rhythm and blues, that exploded during the economic and cultural boom period directly after WWII.
The crib notes on the Professor’s widely influential but stridently individualist achievement is that he combined a Caribbean left hand with a boogie-woogie right hand and in so doing became a prime example of 20th Century American Music’s strongest thread, that being Creative Synthesis, a fiber reflective of his country’s status as Melting Pot.
The end of yet another year is here! December is the time for holiday greetings and gay happy meetings, at least according to that overplayed Christmas song. It’s also the time for giving and spending time with friends and family, and what’s better than spending quality family time at a concert? Or giving that extra free ticket to a friend?
To help you get in that giving mood, here’s the December preview of shows coming to the 9:30 Club all month long and an extra chance to win tickets to the show of your choice from the list below.
The Hives, Tues 12/10
Swedish rock and rollers The Hives have been blowing minds with their ground shaking, glam-punk style since 2007. The five-piece successfully continue their legacy of reinventing rock and roll by following a rather simple cycle: “release new Hives record, conquer world by touring, repeat.”
If that cycle is correct, the next step after their 2012 release of Lex Hives would be to tour. And tour, they have. Just yesterday, the Hives announced their upcoming gig with Australia’s Big Day Out event. Before the band rocks the down under, you can catch them at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, December 10.
My Morning Jacket has teamed with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Flaming Lips and other bands for a 4-night concert adventure in Mexico from January 26-30, 2014.
The event, dubbed My Morning Jacket’s One Big Holiday features three totally unique shows plus an off-the-hook dance party hosted by the band that promises plenty of surprises.
This unique experience will include daily activities, a variety of off-site excursions, and all the magic that comes from being on vacation in an intimate setting with just 2,500 fans.