Author Archives: Richie Downs

TVD Live Shots: Warpaint and Liam Finn at the Fillmore, 10/17

“Dream Pop” is not a term that you get to use everyday. For me, the term began to take shape in the form of a beautiful stage setting, complete with subtle strands of lights laid across the stage floor at The Fillmore Silver Spring when the well loved band, Warpaint took the stage. 

Beforehand however, the LA based Warpaint played host to New Zealand’s Liam Finn, the second opener of the night. Liam performed his experimental psych-rock for an enthusiastic crowd and led his band with tight rhythms, wild guitar fills, and sudden bursts of energy with his unexpected solos. The vocal harmonies were the big surprise of the night and could not have worked better with any other arrangements.

If you are not familiar with Liam Finn, he is the former frontman of the New Zealand band Betchadupa as well as the son of famed recording artist Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowed House. Despite the completely different approaches to writing and performing music, both Liam and Neil Finn are both geniuses.

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TVD Live: J Mascis at
the Black Cat, 10/16

Sometimes it truly is an honor to see a great act in a very intimate, and personal setting. Thursday night at the Black Cat’s backstage proved to be one of those nights as indie-rock legend, J Mascis performed to a small audience lucky enough to have a ticket to his sold out appearance.

J Mascis needs no introduction. He could easily be labeled an indie-rock guitar god and the master-musician and guitar virtuoso behind indie pioneers, Dinosaur Jr., not discounting the incredible talents of Mr. Lou Barlow. Mascis has also been associated with acts like The Fog, Witch, and Deep Wound, and over the past 25 years Mascis has displayed his talents was a writer, performer, studio musician, and producer, and has even scored and has been featured on multiple soundtracks, notably 1992’s Gas Food Lodging.

Besides his work on his own material, Mascis has been involved with the countless projects of other musicians including Sonic Youth, the late, but intrepid GG Allin, The Hold Steady, Mike Watt, and Firehose.

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TVD Live: The Nearly Deads at the Treehouse Lounge, 10/15

Somewhere in the world there lies a perfect balance between pop and punk music. The Nearly Deads seem to have found this perfect mix and are taking it on the road to share it with the world, along with a splash of their own personalized zombie culture.

Two weeks into their current tour to support their recent album, Invisible Tonight, Nashville’s The Nearly Deads had a surprise stop in Washington, DC for a show at The Treehouse Lounge. It’s a real treat for me to get to see a band like The Nearly Deads at a smaller place like this one—it doesn’t get more intimate than watching a band perform their set five feet in front of you. You get to take in all the little nuances that you normally don’t get to experience on larger stages. Stuff like their whispers to each other in between songs as well as the breaths they take in-between vocal runs…really cool stuff, I love it.

With her bright, smooth voice and good looks, Theresa Jeane fronts this band with style and with ease. She certainly has all the necessary charisma and her amazing vocal range cut right to the top of the mix during Wednesday night’s performance. She has somewhat of this grungy-grit to her obviously trained voice that is really mesmerizing. As a band, The Nearly Deads fall comparatively somewhere in the realm of acts like The Distillers and Paramore, but with a fresh twist—a perfect mix of progressive pop and zombie-punk.

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TVD Live Shots: Placebo at the Fillmore, 10/9

Placebo played a triumphant show to a packed house at the Fillmore Silver Spring last Thursday evening and the band proved once more that they have the staying power to span multiple generations—and musical climates.

Formed in 1994 in London, Placebo were particularly well received all throughout Europe and eventually bled their way to the airwaves in the States, offering some relief from our musical crisis of creativity at the time—and they sound fresh even now.

Placebo uniquely utilizes elements of electronic music combined with explosive guitar parts and harmonic vocals which has garnered the band an almost cult-like following. At their show on Thursday the band was on top of their game and even sounded invigorated.

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TVD Live Shots: The Kooks at Rams Head Live, 10/8

Touring to promote their September 2014 release Listen, The Kooks rounded out their current US tour with a stop at Rams Head Live in downtown Baltimore last Wednesday evening.

Playing for a packed in crowd of loyal fans, The Kooks happily stumbled through their somewhat nostalgic setlist with their classic favorites and added some new tunes to to their set as well. The ecstatic fans in Baltimore seemed to revel in the night’s set as guys and gals alike danced and sang along. Here’s a look at the evening’s performance.

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TVD Live: Charli XCX at the 9:30 Club, 10/2

The stunning Charli XCX visited the 9:30 Club last Thursday night for a late-late show and performed an amazing set in full-blown pop icon fashion. Playing to a sold out and very enthusiastic audience, the 22 year old English songstress provided ample reason for her DC area fans to believe that she is indeed “so fancy.”

Accompanied by her band, the aptly named Charli’s Angels, Miss XCX hit the stage like an explosion wearing a white and blue cheerleader’s outfit with the title of her forthcoming new album, Sucker printed across the front of her chest. Her band, a classic three-piece—guitar, bass, and drums, and dressed as her backup cheerleading squad—lent her sound a raw, punky-rock edge to it. I loved it right from the first chord.

With her stunning good looks and the flawless delivery of her semi-choreographed dance moves, Charli owned the stage in a way that she never has before. If the audience is any indication, they hung onto every moment of the night’s performance and screamed louder and louder as the evening went on, singing along with every word of every song.

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TVD Live: Afghan Whigs at the 9:30 Club, 10/1

Touring to support their seventh studio album, Do to the Beast, the Afghan Whigs performed at the 9:30 Club last Wednesday to a sold out and eager crowd.

In usual style, the Whigs performed nearly every minute of the show in almost complete darkness. Without the occasional prom style laser and twirling blue lights, I don’t think you could have seen the band at all. Thanks to the infrequent blue or yellow spotlight thrown from behind the stage, I did manage to grab a couple of photos of the band. I suppose these images serve as photographic proof that the Afghan Whigs were indeed present at the 9:30 Club and in fact did not send stunt doubles into the darkness to play for Washington, DC.

Despite the extreme mood lighting, the Whigs delivered a rock solid performance and played a mix of classic favorites along with newer material. I have long been a believer that Afghan Whigs are a great live band and Wednesday’s show confirmed it once again—in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them sound so damn good. The heavy, gritty guitar sound the Whigs’ produce live is an entirely different animal from their recorded material. Sailing right into the new track “Parked Outside” as they took the stage, the Whigs’ showed they were at the club to rock. It was the perfect introduction to a great night of music.

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TVD Live: Kasabian at the 9:30 Club, 9/28

I don’t know exactly what sonic, ear-killing effect Serge Pizzorno uses on his guitar rig, but I can definitely tell you that when Kasabian played the 9:30 Club back in 2012, that show in particular did more to effect my hearing, or lack thereof, then any other show to date. For last Sunday’s appearance, history repeated itself as the English electro rockers took the stage once more for an unbelievably loud, yet scaled down, setup.

I’ve seen some really loud shows in my days and I have stood in front of Marshall Amps for years as a player. I’ve heard sounds that could potentially tear down buildings and peel paint right off the walls. A short list of the loudest bands I’ve experienced would have to include Swervedriver, Sonic Youth, and of course Dinosaur Jr. Going way back, even DC’s own Kerosene 454 played Mesa Boogie amps that were always cranked all the way up at every show. Those guys were great players and loud as hell!

Kasabian was in fact the band that did it—I’m convinced that they put the occasional ringing in my ears. It’s something about their low to high frequencies, the swells in the mid range, and the repetitive low signals through the mix. That show in 2012 scared me, and here I was going back for more.

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TVD Live: The Shindig Festival at Carroll Park, Baltimore, 9/27

Once again the great folks at 24/7 Entertainment set up camp in Baltimore’s Carroll Park for the second annual Shindig Music Festival. This time music legends Jane’s Addiction held the reins as headlining act and captivated Baltimore music fans with an ample dose of their brand of eccentric west coast Rock and Roll.

While I didn’t think that the Shindig Festival could ever outdo the experience they provided in their inaugural 2013 season, this year’s festival featured a wonderful and diverse group of musicians who played throughout the day—not to mention some of my personal favorite bands to see live—Clutch and Jane’s in particular.

Shindig also welcomed Lucero, Fishbone, and Gogol Bodello into the mix for 2014. The ever-mighty Clutch served as the mainstay act and is one of the few bands to return from last year’s festival. (I can only hope that Clutch should return again in 2015 and show everyone how things are done around here.) Overall, the lineup was slightly stronger this year, largely based upon Jane’s as the headliner. I mean, lets face it, as hard as it is to follow last year’s line-up where Dropkick Murphys, Joan Jett, and Clutch brought down the house, Jane’s Addiction had no problem stepping in and blowing away the crowd at the night’s end.

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TVD Live: The Black Keys and Cage the Elephant at Verizon Center, 9/25

Touring to promote their eighth studio effort, Turn Blue released in March of this year, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formally known as The Black Keys played to a packed crowd at DC’s Verizon center last Thursday evening. 

While the sheer size of the Verizon Center never fails to amaze me, what’s interesting at shows like this is just how intimate a performance a band like The Black Keys can deliver to their audience. While I’ve always preferred the smaller stages for music in general, it’s nice every once in a while to be reminded that even a now iconic national act like The Keys can still drive things home in a venue that seats 18,000.

Backed by just a bass player and a keyboardist for this tour, The Black Keys sounded fantastic live as any hardcore fan might expect. The Keys are clearly still able to deliver a live performance that exceeds what they do in the studio.

Let’s remember that this is a two piece band after all, and the task of bringing a sound as full as they pull off live takes hard work and precise playing. They’re still at the top of their game and their set list ranged from older to newer material which spanned the gamut of their career to date.

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