Last Wednesday night, Hurray for the Riff Raff played in front of a packed house at the beautiful Sixth & I historic synagogue in DC. Their performance exhibited their remarkable talents as both stage performers and songwriters.
Touring to promote their new album Small Town Heroes, the Riff Raff’s stop in our fair city made for one lovely night of music at one of DC’s most unique venues. When Alynda Segarra took the stage, she looked up from her fixed guitar stance and said, “Wow, this is a beautiful place” just before she went into her set.
There is a simple yet unstated beauty that lies within folk songs, especially when they are performed in the correct manner. Hurray for the Riff Raff’s performance in DC was one that I will always remember fondly. Segarra’s vocals were as mesmerizing as they were enchanting.
Rocket from the Crypt, the legendary rockers from San Diego, California invaded the Black Cat last Saturday night to play to a sold out crowd of their most loyal and intrepid DC fans. The Black Cat’s show has been sold out for months and was the last show on the east coast leg of the band’s reunion tour that started in 2013. The boys from sunny California have a just a few more dates scheduled for their current tour and both performances are set at festivals in Canada early this summer.
When Rocket from the Crypt formed in 1989, the punk inspired indie-rockers quickly developed an almost cult-like following that spread like wildfire from California, quickly moving eastwards. John Reis (AKA Speedo), who is one of my personal favorite guitar players to this day, is at the helm of this band and takes on duties as guitar player and lead vocalist for the band.
Reis has been associated with arguably some of the best and most unique bands to come out of the ’90s and 2000s. He has played with acts such as Pitchfork, Hot Snakes, The Night Marchers, The Sultans, and Drive Like Jehu, which Reis actually formed around the same time as Rocket from the Crypt. Joining Reis in RFTC is drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Clickatat Ikatowi), saxophone player Apollo 9, trumpet player JC 2000, guitarist Andy “ND” Stamets (The Sultans), and Petey X on Bass guitar.
Selling out a three-night stint at DC’s 9:30 Club is no easy task, but the LA-based indie band Grouplove came and conquered box office sales with no problems at all. In fact, judging by the audience’s excitement level, the lady and gentlemen in the band could quite possibly go a few more nights here in our lovely city.
This hard-working and constantly touring band brought their high-energy performance, soaring vocals, and searing dance skills to a gracious yet enthusiastic audience at DC’s premier venue for a block of performances on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights.
Grouplove members include Hannah Hooper, Christian Zucconi, Sean Gadd, Andrew Wessen, and Ryan Rabin. Rabin, who is the band’s drummer, also served as producer on 2011′s release Never Trust a Happy Song. For a band that formed not that long ago in 2009, Grouplove has earned some major career milestones. The band has already seen major success with their most well-known single “Tongue Tied” going all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2012. That same year, they earned platinum status for album sales exceeding one million.
Twenty five years ago an album was released that defined a new chapter in the musical career of the already legendary performer. When Bob Mould released Workbook in 1989, it marked the first solo endeavor for the musician since he left his previous project as guitarist/vocalist for the Minnesota based band, Husker Du.
With its mostly acoustic sound, Workbook leaned heavily toward the more mellow side of Mould’s musical repertoire, and it also revealed a side of the musician that had not taken shape prior. The album was deeply embraced by Mould’s hardcore fan base and even generated some mainstream and critical acclaim when the album’s best known single, “See a Little Light” placed high on the Billboard charts.
Workbook is arguably one of Bob Mould’s best and most beloved projects and judging by the packed crowd at the 9:30 Club for last Wednesday’s performance, Mould is welcome in DC anytime, no matter what he plays.
When he took the stage it was obvious that Mould’s relationship was his audience is one of respect and admiration. The crowd was a little more polite than usual as all stood with eyes wide and eager ears. The throng clapped solidly and steadily and shouted out things like “Way to go, Bob.” In between songs, Mould told jokes and short narratives in a very intimate way, almost as if he were talking to close friends. As far as live shows go, you’ll not get a more intimate experience than you will Bob Mould.
When St. Vincent took the stage at the 9:30 Club on Saturday for part one of her two-night stay in DC, something magical happened. It wasn’t just the anticipation of the night’s performance that was about to happen before our eyes, and it wasn’t even the overly striking appearance of the evening’s supremely talented and toned siren. It was the culmination of both.
There was in fact this precise moment at the show’s beginning, when the spotlights first snapped on to reveal her captivating yet sullen profile, when you could feel every motion and sound in the venue slow down for just a few seconds—a lull in time if you will. The venue’s sold-out crowd went into a continuous roar to welcome the beloved singer back to DC to play her flawless set.
For St. Vincent (Annie Clark), her stunning stage presence and electrifying performance sits just atop the mere surface of her ever-evolving career. This multi-instrumentalist and now somewhat prolific vocalist/lyricist has planted some very deep roots along her musical journey. She has collaborated and recorded with indie-rock and new-wave music royalty, the likes of Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, Michael Gira of Swans, The National, and David Bryne of the Talking Heads, with whom she released the collaborative album Love This Giant in 2012.
After a productive afternoon of record shopping and conversation with The Casket Girls at Som Records, we meet up with the eerie-pop act from Savannah Georgia at DC9 to catch their live show and capture a few photos of the ladies in action.
What seemed like a revolving cast of interchangeable band-mates through the night’s four-band line-up was in actuality a roving tour of musicians that play together on each other’s sets seamlessly. The guitarist from the third band was the bassist for the first, the guitar player from the first group played keyboard in the fourth band’s set, and so on. I even think the drummer played on three out of four sets that night. It was obvious that this tour was a tight-knit operation, and all the musicians played extremely well together.
Coined as the “Graveface Roadshow 2014,” the evening’s line-up included The Casket Girls, The Stargazer Lillies, Dreamend, and special guests Creepoid.
Valentines Day: as old lovers and new young couples lined the streets of our lovely city holding hands and walking closely to one another, a large crowd gathered in the foyer of George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium.
The smiling faces and soft whispers in the crowd were a definite sign of everyone’s anticipation for the night’s upcoming show. Love was in the air, and the wide-eyed show-goers were all there to see the talented and lovely Rosanne Cash, whom we also interviewed a few weeks ago.
Her presence on stage was warm and inviting as she confidently walked out to greet the packed auditorium.
As she strummed the first chord on her guitar, you could just see by the look in her eyes that she brings the same love to greet her fans that she puts into her music.
The name Murder City Devils alone could be enough to raise your curiosity enough to get you to come out and see this band play live. However, the band played to a modest, but in all fairness, very enthusiastic, crowd at The Fillmore Silver Spring this past Sunday night. I personally thought that all the psychopaths and punkers left in our lovely city would be killing each other to get into this show, but I guess the light snow flurries scared them away.
The riff-heavy Seattle-based Murder City Devils formed in 1996 and has put out four full-length albums, one live album, a box set, and has released more than a handful of singles, not to mention about a bazillion cool t-shirts and old-school show fliers.
Murder City Devils had been on my radar for a number of years now, but I have never had the opportunity to see them play live. I have to say, the band was everything I thought they would be: solid, loud, and energetic. The Devils certainly didn’t disappoint, and in fact, I thought they played their guts out.
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.
Finally out of our turkey hangovers, we’re catching up on our live-concert coverage after the holiday.—Ed.
When Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells took the stage at the 9:30 Club, they were not alone. Along with the tightly packed, sold-out crowd of DC music-goers they drew in off the unseasonably cold streets that night, this Brooklyn, New York-based powerhouse duo came to the club ready to rock, complete with drummer Chris Maggio and guitar player Ryan Primack.
The addition of having a full live band on the road with them not only brought a fuller and more rich sound to their set, it brought the energy level of the club to extraordinary heights. I had never seen Sleigh Bells play with a full band before, and I have to say, their set was quite amazing and a completely different animal from their recordings.
Krauss has enough stage presence and exuberance on her own on to project her vocals right through anyone standing within a few city blocks of her. Sleigh Bells puts on a great live show even with electronic drums and queued computer tracks. Krauss is certainly enough of a performer to get through to her audience no matter what the stage situation is, but somehow seeing her play with a full live band magnifies all of her efforts and takes her to this quasi-Mick-Jagger/Robert-Plant-like state, at least in my mind.