Author Archives: Richie Downs

TVD Live Shots:
The Silopanna Festival
at the Anne Arundel Fairgrounds, 8/16

Last Saturday gave way to a solid festival of music and fun at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.

Nestled in a cozy little patch of woods in the Annapolis countryside which is also known for hosting the Maryland Renaissance Festival every October, the Silopanna Music Festival took shape and filled the wooded fairgrounds, bringing local and national artists together and serving up a mix of genres on its stages—with a little something for everybody.

The festival featured three stages with no down time between sets, games, plenty of good food, and enough beer and mixed drinks to go around. The festival also delivered something more than just a schedule of outdoor musical performances, from apparel to custom craft brews, there was something to suit any fancy at Silopanna.

Hosted by the good folks at Rams Head Live, the scheduling went smoothly the way any well-managed festival should. Headlining act, The Flaming Lips were preceded on the main stage by popular acts Matt and Kim, Dashboard Confessional, Sleeper Agent, and Hellogoodbye.

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TVD Live Shots: Phish
at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 7/26

We have a long history of naming bands after animals. To name a few, we have The Monkees, The Arctic Monkeys, The Turtles, Whitesnake, The Eagles, Grizzly Bear, and Flock of Seagulls. There’s Dr. Dog, Temple of the Dog, Snoop Dog, Three Dog Night, and Blue Oyster Cult. We adore acts like The Stray Cats, Kitten, Ratt, The Eagles of Death Metal, Counting Crows, The Black Crowes, and Animal Collective. There’s even Mastadon, and the Unicorns—extinct and/or fantasy creatures. And then there’s Phish.

No one saw it coming when Phish hit the scene in the mid 1980s cleverly morphing the spelling of Fish to Phish, and in doing so, ingraining their brand permanently into musical culture. The band is actually named after their drummer Jon Fishman, but that’s a whole other story.

If you don’t already know about Phish, they are one of the most prolific and celebrated jam bands in today’s music scene and Saturday night marked night one of their two-day stay at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. Phish is known for playing to a very lively, very large and enthusiastic crowds on every stop of their tours. Saturday evening in Maryland? No different.

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Broods: The TVD Q&A

Auckland, New Zealand’s Broods—siblings Georgia Nott (lead vocals) and Caleb Nott (multi instrumentalist and production) released their freshman EP, the self titled “Broods,” in February of this year on Capitol Records. 

For their single “Bridges,” Broods enlisted producer Joel Little, who is noted for his work with another New Zealand native, the ubiquitous Lorde and her monster hit single “Royals.” “Bridges” was released to some critical acclaim and even reached number eight on the popular music charts in New Zealand. The vocals are powerful and charming and the instrumental arrangements are haunting and carry enough ambiance to engage even the biggest of venues. 

Prior to a tour stop in Washington, DC this month, we chatted with Georgia and Caleb about music in general and their thoughts on vinyl records in particular.

Since this interview is for TVD, do you guys enjoy vinyl records?

Oh yeah, we have vinyl on the merch stand tonight. We pressed these really cool, transparent vinyl records in this blue-green see-through color.

Do you guys yourselves have a long history with vinyl records?

Our friend has a vinyl player and he plays Cat Stevens on it. I grew up listening to Cat Stevens, so that’s always good.

Do you guys have a major collection going on?

We really don’t get to play vinyl right now, cause we don’t have a vinyl player. It’s been on our to-do list to get one and the kind we want is sort of expensive, for a nice one you know. We want to get a super good player. The funny thing is that I’ve got some really strange vinyl from this huge garage sale in Holland.

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TVD Live: Band of Skulls at the 9:30 Club, 4/28

Promoting their 2014 release Himalayan, Band of Skulls brought their stunning live show to the stage of DC’s premier music venue, the 9:30 Club for a tremendous performance and an unforgettable night.

What can be said about Band of Skulls that hasn’t been said before? They are known for their heavy-blues style, their retro guitar tone, and their solid musical hooks. One could also note their catchy, memorable lyrics and melodies, all accompanied by a drummer who plays the kit like he’s driving it into the ground. Since their formation in 2004 this pulse pounding, electrifying blues rock trio from Southhampton, England has been churning out their own hard-hitting, groove induced brand of garage rock for the masses and have been doing so to much critical acclaim.

With three full length albums, a 2010 EP, and a few live releases under their belt, the band has been steadily embraced by fans as well as mainstream audiences. Band of Skulls, whose music is unmistakably recognizable, have worked their material into commercials, movies, television soundtracks, and video games. It was 2009’s Baby Darling Doll Face Honey that initially caught that public’s attention with hits like “I Know What I Am” and “Death by Diamonds and Pearls.”

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TVD Live: Timber Timbre at the Rock
and Roll Hotel, 4/27

“Not a bad crowd for a Sunday night,” were the words of Timber Timbre’s vocalist Taylor Kirk that echoed through the Rock and Roll Hotel for their weekend performance in the H Street neighborhood. Playing to a modest but very enthusiastic crowd, the band’s stop in DC marked their second in a series of twelve US tour dates. 

Timber Timbre is the project of Taylor Kirk, Simon Trottier, Mike Posen, Mathieu Charbonneau, and Oliver Fairfield. The band’s “ragged blues” is a powerful mix of ever so charismatic vocals and haunting, yet airy guitar work. There’s a complex hint of a ghostly rock-a-billy thing haunting the band’s live performance and it comes off with a brilliant warm sound. The exquisite vocal work is punctuated by an ever so subtle organ fill and driven by this thump-and-go drum style that dynamically controls volume.

It’s as if Lou Reed’s ghost teamed up with a deeply dark and disturbed zombie version of Dick Dale—and you’d have Timber Timbre—and I mean this in the best possible way. In fact, the band takes the dark, moody ambience a step further with their dimly lit stage consisting of several mechanic’s drop lights that burn with hot red bulbs. Hanging at the back of the stage is a homemade neon sign buzzing the title of their latest album adding to their sense of the cinematic.

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TVD Live: Boy George
at the 9:30 Club, 4/21

The one and only Boy George took to the stage at the 9:30 Club on Monday to a sold-out and exhilarated crowd. The legendary performer transformed the venue into one of the most delightful and most steadily grooving show experiences that I have attended in quite some time.

It has been quite a while since the English superstar has performed his new wave, reggae-inspired sounds here in the US, and to say he was well-received by his audience would be a dramatic understatement.

It might have been the fact that Boy George pulled some of his most anticipated Culture Club classics from the vault, playing mega-hits such as “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” along with “Karma Chameleon” and “Church of the Poison Mind.”

It also could have been that he threw some pretty iconic cover songs into the mix from artists like Bob Dylan and T. Rex. But, over all, I think the amazing show experience can be attributed to George himself. Not only is he dearly loved by his fans, but the man brought all the talent of a true world-class performer to his live show. Boy George delivers all of himself and truly sings with the voice of an angel. He could have performed anything on that stage, and it would have touched the nerves of the entire crowd.

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TVD Live: Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Sixth & I Synagogue, 4/9

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.

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TVD Live: Rocket From The Crypt at the Black Cat, 4/05

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.

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TVD Live: Grouplove with MS MR at the 9:30 Club, 3/31


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.

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TVD Live Shots:
Bob Mould’s 25 Years
of Workbook at the
9:30 Club, 3/5

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.

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