Author Archives: Rachel Lange

TVD Live Shots: Babymetal and Avatar
at The Anthem, 9/8

It was a theatric night with two contrasting bands at Washington DC’s Anthem, on Sunday, 9/08, as Babymetal, with Avatar, stormed the Wharf.

In Babymetal you have the perfect gateway act to the wider world of metal, and I’m glad they’re getting booked on some of the bigger American rock festivals. Judging by the crowd, their fans are more than just people who think they’re hot. To me, it seems like the obvious thing is less gatekeeping and more embracing. Besides, when was the last time your favorite burly dude band played Revention and tried to summon a dark god? Exactly.

From the moment the lights go dark and the band’s logo is projected onto the nearly bare stage, the room belongs to Babymetal. For the uninitiated, the sound is classic kawaii, a genre that features a mix of pop-ish vocals combined with thrash guitar. Leading on vocals, Su-metal is joined by Moametal and a temporary new member in impossibly intricate and impressive choreography.

Indeed, the choreography is what one notices first as the trio kicks off their set with “Megitsune” and what makes the performance so engaging to watch. The three young women barely appear to break a sweat during their hour and change set, which included “Karate,” “PA YA YA,” and “Gimme Chocolate.” This, on top of Su-metal’s impressive vocals and the skill of their backing band, all masked dressed in Grim Reaper-ish garb. Hanging back in the shadows, the musicians were not intended to be the main attraction here. Nevertheless, they killed.

While it may be easy to write off a band like Babymetal as gimmicky, the skill, talent, and hard work involved here is evident and deserving of serious consideration, as the fans present at the Anthem already knew.

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TVD Live Shots: dodie and Adam Melchor at the 9:30 Club, 9/6

YouTube superstar dodie, with support from newcomer Adam Melchor, thrilled a house filled with emotional young fans at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC on Friday, September 6.

England’s Dorothy “dodie” Clark, 24, began her career performing covers on piano and ukulele before moving on to write original material. Using YouTube as her platform, she’s amassed literally millions of subscribers since creating her first solo YouTube channel in 2011. Previous EPs, “Intertwined” and “You” were released in 2016 and 2017, respectively; dodie’s latest, “Human,” was released in January of this year.

It’s easy to see the appeal for the mostly (very) young, mostly female fans at the 9:30 Club. She has an accessible but somewhat ethereal stage presence, her entrance onto the stage punctuated by white lights that made her appear as if she were an otherworldly figure plopped down from the sky, yet she dressed casually and wore no shoes. Her soft voice, often drowned out by the sound of the crowd singing along with her, carries songs with relatable themes.

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TVD Live Shots: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Stonefield, and ORB at the 9:30 Club, 8/31

On Saturday, August 31, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, with support from fellow Australians Stonefield and ORB, made a stop at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club, playing for an absolutely stoked, sold out crowd.

The Melbourne, Australia septet is known widely for their incredible live shows. Indeed, at the 9:30 Club, they gave a focused, mature, and skilled performance, with a setlist spanning over twenty songs. The crowd, in contrast, lost its collective mind. In the photo pit, the photographers weaved around each other while also dodging club security as crowd surfers—including one dude in a Teletubby costume, the purple one—made their way over the barrier. From the balcony, the tightly packed crowd could be seen transforming most of the club’s floor into a giant mosh pit. It was barely controlled, joyful chaos.

King Gizzard are out making the rounds in support of its fifteenth studio album, Infest The Rats’ Nest, a thrash metal entry into the band’s genre-bending catalog. This just months after the release of the blues-rock Fishing for Fishies. It’s worth noting that, in 2017, the band released a total of five albums, demonstrating a productivity that warms the cockles of my Buckethead-loving heart.

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TVD Live Shots: WHY? and Barrie at U Street Music Hall, 8/25

On Sunday, August 25, WHY?, with support from Barrie, brought their headlining tour to Washington, DC’s U Street Music Hall, playing for the crowd gathered in the underground club’s intimate venue in support of the band’s new visual album AOKOHIO. The youthful audience was subdued but engaged and enthusiastic during the set, which was delivered with a dose of good humor.

WHY? is led by Yoni Wolf and was founded in 2004 by the Cincinnati, Ohio- based rapper and singer, who had been using WHY? as his stage name since 1997. AOKHIO is the band’s sixth album, presented as six movements constructed of two to four songs each. Struggling with the notion of releasing an album in the usual sense, one made up of a dozen songs and released at once, Wolf approached AOKOHIO with a different mindset. He completed one movement before moving on to the next, releasing the individual movements digitally for his fans. Wolf has described the whole process as taking five years. The concept is underscored with the release of an accompanying visual album, which features, in part, home movies from Wolf’s Ohio childhood.

At U Hall, the set list featured some of these new songs, but also some that were clearly old favorites, with fans rapping along right with Wolf. WHY? appeared to transfer the movement approach to their performance, playing three or so songs, some very short, before breaking to chat and joke with the audience, even answering questions from the crowd. With this unique approach and songs that examine one’s sense of self and place, WHY? gave an interesting and introspective performance.

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TVD Live Shots: Reignwolf and
JJ Wilde at U Street Music Hall, 8/10

On Saturday, August 10, Reignwolf, with support from JJ Wilde, brought their headlining tour to an intimate crowd at Washington DC’s U Street Music Hall in support of the band’s new album Hear Me Out. Stirring up fans with their charisma and blistering fuzzy blues rock, they tore through the roughly hour-long set of new songs and old favorites, leaving fans and themselves worn out and sweaty.

Reignwolf (songwriter/singer/guitarist Jordan Cook, bassist S.J. Kardash, and drummer Joseph Braley) released Hear Me Out, the band’s first LP, in March. Prior to this, Reignwolf had only released a handful of singles over seven years, developing an enthusiastic following while maintaining an air of mystery among fans.

This mysterious air was underscored in the darkened, underground room at U Street Music Hall. The band played shrouded in smoke and back-lit by bright white lights, allowing those in attendance to see Cook and Karsdash in silhouette, and Braley not at all. No matter, as songs like the ferocious “Wanna Don’t Wanna” and Gary Clark Jr-ish “Black and Red” were loud and energetic as the blazing fires of Hell. During those moments when Cook emerged from the smoke and could be seen, he revealed a look that calls to mind 1970s Bruce Springsteen or even a black leather-clad Cat Stevens, while the band’s sound could be compared to Jack White, the aforementioned Gary Clark Jr, or the barely contained insanity of Black Pistol Fire.

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