Author Archives: Richie Downs

TVD Live Shots: Bad Religion and Against Me! at the Fillmore, 10/4

Last Thursday night The Fillmore Silver Spring played host to the DMV stop of “The Vox Populi 2016 Tour.” From the Latin “Voice of the People,” the tour features one of punk rock’s most iconic names, Bad Religion. In tow, one of the genre’s most critically acclaimed acts in recent years, Against Me!.

LA based Bad Religion have been touring and pounding out quintessential material since their inception in 1980, and Thursday frontman Greg Graffin, bassist Jay Bentley, guitarist Mike Dimkich, drummer Jamie Miller, and DC’s own Brian Baker on guitar treated the District’s audience’s to their unique and distinctive brand of punk.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing Bad Religion play live, their super charged guitar chords speeding just above the tight and steady bass and drum section, while Baker’s harmonizing guitar work seems to command the direction and flow of the music as a whole. Graffin’s lyrics, though melodic and poetic, have always been the driving force addressing serious social, theological, and political issues.

The band’s last official release, 2013’s True North was their sixteenth studio album and they have been steadily touring through Europe and the US. The current “Vox Populi” tour kicked off after this year’s stop at Riot Fest and will run through November 3rd, reaching most major US markets.

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The Fall 2016 DC Record Fair in Photos

“When the nation was deeply divided by segregation, The Howard Theatre provided a place where color barriers blurred and music unified. Dubbed the “Theatre for The People” by The Washington Bee, it was the place where dignitaries like President Franklin D. Roosevelt gathered with everyday folks to see both superstars and rising stars – many of whom debuted at The Howard Theatre.

Along with Duke Ellington, greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway and Nat King Cole graced the Howard stage and made way for talents like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gilespie, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Lena Horne and James Brown.”

Hundreds of you filled the Howard Theatre on Sunday for the Fall edition of the DC Record Fair, and it was quite the honor indeed to be on stage (literally) at the historic venue. TVD’s Richie Downs was on hand to capture the day for us in photos.

And while we’re at it—mark your calendars! The DC Record Fair returns on January 29, 2017 to Penn Social.  —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: Built To Spill, Hop Along, Alex G at the 9:30 Club, 9/18

Sunday night the 9:30 Club played host to the Boise based, indie-rock outfit, Built to Spill whose pioneering sounds and style attracted DC fans who packed venue. 

For the performance, Built to Spill took a minimalist approach to their stage setup making colossal use of just two small guitar stations for both singer/guitarist Doug Martsch and bassist Jason Albertini while drummer Steve Gere was set up far stage left. Simply spare lighting and no frills—just the music.

As pared down as their production was for Sunday night’s performance, the band has a large presence. Known for their catchy guitar rhythms and clever songwriting, it was incredibly satisfying to see an act just deliver their material to an eager audience. Touring to promote their eighth studio album, Untethered Moon (Warner Brothers) which was released on Record Store Day in 2015, Built to Spill will be touring the US extensively through November.

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TVD Live Shots: AC/DC and Tyler Bryant &
the Shakedown at the Verizon Center, 9/17

For the DC stop on their current “Rock or Bust” tour, legendary rockers AC/DC made the Verizon Center their home Saturday night with a fast paced set for a packed arena.

When AC/DC comes to town, they really go all the way. For DC’s largest indoor music venue, the band brought an ungodly amount of stage production that included a literal wall of Marshall amp cabinets, an enormous catwalk that split the floor of the stadium in half, enough lights and fog for ten more arena tours, and a giant set of Angus Young’s trademark devil horns that towered over the stage in a half circle of steel.

The most noticeable component to AC/DC’s current tour configuration is that vocal duties have been handed to Axl Rose of the infamous, hard-rocking Los Angeles outfit, Guns N’ Roses. Rose has essentially replaced the band’s long-time singer, Brian Johnson, for their current tour. Johnson, who is AC/DC’s third singer, took over vocal duties in 1980 and is not participating in this tour due to issues with his hearing.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS
and The Dead Daisies at Richmond Coliseum, 9/9

They wanted the best, and they got the best… The good people of Richmond, Virginia came in droves to get their KISS fix last Friday at Richmond Coliseum for the band’s “Freedom To Rock” Tour. KISS, the Gods of Thunder, did exactly what they do best—rocked everyone’s faces off.

While some folks have said that rock and roll is dead, they’ve obviously never been to a KISS concert to witness the madness first hand. In true rock and roll form, KISS bought their magnificent stage show to Richmond, yet it’s actually a combination of things that make a KISS show so special. It’s not just the make-up, the lights, the costumes, and the killer stage theatrics. Nor is it the on-stage antics like Gene spitting blood or breathing fire during “War Machine.” What makes KISS such a special band is their attitude, their graciousness, and their legions of uniquely die-hard fans who span generations.

Their sound happens to be as tight as ever and the sheer volume of opener “Detroit Rock City” was certainly enough to blow your hair back. While KISS is as solid as ever musically, the stage show is the life of the party and still full of energy after 40 years on the road. Truly exciting in every sense, for a photographer the band spoils with image ops. It’s a master class in showmanship. (See for yourself…)

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TVD Live Shots: Train and Andy Grammer at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/20

San Francisco rock outfit, Train brought their crisp, progressive tones to Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday night along with an energetic performance from opening act Andy Grammer.

Train’s commercial success dates back to the ’90s with the hit single “Meet Virginia” from their 1998 debut album. The band’s second release scored two Grammy Award wins for the single “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” in 2002, and Train’s third studio album, My Private Nation was certified platinum with the release of the hit “Calling All Angels” in 2003. Judging by the droves of fans that lined the grounds at Merriweather on Saturday, it’s clear that this band still touches the hearts of many who flock to see them.

While the band’s lineup has changed over the years, their core remains intact with band mates Jimmy Stafford and lead singer Patrick Monahan conducting this train. The current lineup includes Jerry Becker, Luis Maldonaldo, Hector Maldonado, Drew Shoals, and Nikita Houston and Sakai Smith on backing vocals. Live, Train’s sound is clean and refreshing and they are completely in their element on stage.

When Andy Grammer walked into the spotlight to get the night started he brought an overdose of charisma and charm that was matched by the sheer talent of his backing band. Grammer, a multi-instrumentalist, played the piano, trumpet, guitar, showcased his dancing abilities, and set the evening off with proverbial panache.

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TVD Live Shots: Shinedown, Halestorm, and Black Stone Cherry at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/10

Wednesday evening Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD played host to an onslaught of hard rock from some of the best bands in the business—of rock. Carnival of Madness, the annual hard rock tour that launched in 2010, brought their 2016 lineup to shake things up in Merriweather’s Symphony Woods.

Jacksonville, Florida based hard-rock ensemble Shinedown was the festival’s main attraction. Touring to promote their 2015 release Threat to Survival, the band served up a super energetic and dramatic performance whose setlist included “Fly From The Inside,” “Unity,” “Asking For It,” “I’ll Follow You,” “45,” “Sound of Madness,” “Creep” (Radiohead cover) and their famous rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.”

Prior to Shinedown was Halestorm, the Pennsylvania based outfit featuring brother and sister Lzzy and Arejay Hale. Lzzy—known for her amazing guitar leads and her huge vocal range—together with the band delivered a non stop barrage. Halestorm’s latest release, 2015’s Into the Wild Life is the band’s third studio album and was been acclaimed by rock critics upon its release. Since hearing “I Am The Fire,” “I Like It Heavy,” “Mayhem,” and “Amen” performed live, I can see why this album has been called earthshaking. Halestorm blew me away.

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TVD Live Shots: The
Go Go’s and Best Coast at the Warner Theatre, 8/5

For the third stop on their current “Farewell” tour, The Go Go’s choose the lovely Warner Theatre for a landmark moment—the band’s last Washington, DC appearance. In tow was LA’s Best Coast

38 years since their debut album Beauty and the Beat arrived, the LA based new wave outfit has had more than their share of success and are among a small club of musicians who can claim legendary status. The fact is, The Go Go’s have pioneered the way for countless all-female bands.

Their ’81 release sold more than 3 million copies and achieved triple platinum awards, as well as retaining the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 for 6 consecutive weeks in a decade full of great music. Their follow up album, 1982’s Vacation, was certified gold in the US and the album’s title track was another top 10 Billboard success. A year later Vacation was even nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Packaging for the LP’s iconic cover.

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TVD Live Shots: Oh Wonder and LANY at
the 9:30 Club, 6/21

Oh Wonder, the London-based alt-pop duo made the 9:30 Club the DC stop on their current tour, bringing with them the brilliant dream-pop sounds of Los Angeles’s own LANY in tow. 

Oh Wonder consists of bandmates Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West who since 2014 have been touring extensively to promote their debut self titled release which was delivered one song at a time for one year. In tandem with their fluid electronic beats and rhythms, the unique vocals are the center point of this band and it’s easy to get swept away in the band’s sound and music.

LANY, a three piece unit was surprisingly energetic and seemed to have an instant rapport with the audience. Paul Jason Klein, lead vocalist in the band, humbly admitted his love for DC and that it was an honor to play the 9:30 Club. It was a pleasure to hear the combination of natural instruments with the electronic keys and waves of generated sounds. Touring to promote their newest single “Yea, Babe, No Way,” the band has finished their fourteen day stint on the road with Oh Wonder. They have two EPs available on vinyl here.

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TVD Live Shots: InfieldFest at Pimlico Raceway, 5/21

Last Saturday, the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Raceway in Baltimore brought with it Budweiser InfieldFest—a smorgasbord of musical offerings from country to rock, from electronic-dance to hip hop.

Headlining the day’s performances were The Chainsmokers from New York City, Willie Maxwell II—also known as Fetty Wap, and Canadian DJ Frank Walker on the main stage. The Jägermeister Stage located at the opposite end of the infield hosted Baltimore locals All Time Low, and for country music fans, openers Chris Janson and Corey Smith.

Finding little reprieve from the rain and the muddy grounds of the infield at Pimlico, attendees didn’t seem to mind sticking it out through every performance. Despite the wet conditions, the crowd in the infield remained enthusiastic and undaunted, and when the Chainsmokers played the final set of the day, it gave the venue a renewed energy and life of its own.

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TVD Live Shots: Adia Victoria and The Grey A at DC9, 5/17

Adia Victoria, the soulful, electric-blues siren from Nashville, Tennessee made DC9 the DC stop on her current “Me & the Devil” east coast tour.

Delivering a mesmerizing performance, there’s something truly indescribable about Adia’s music that can’t be labeled or confined. It’s like a whole otherworldly presence is along for the ride and Adia’s in control of it all. Her music has dissonance and an ethereal quality to it. Its feel is magnified further within a live setting, and her band’s performance is like no other in the game right now. There’s a lot of raw guitar tones among the strings and they churn from silence to a bomb dropping in no time.

Adia’s vocals are gritty, yet refined. She manages to howl, whisper, chant, scream, and demand all eyes upon her with just a gesture. Her vocals soar from high to low and take listeners on a ghostly journey in tandem with her band that’s both tight and impeccable—from the straight-forward thumping drums, the relentless tonality of the guitars, right down to the last organ swipe.

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TVD Live Shots: Filter with Orgy at the Howard Theatre, 5/4

Filter, the hard hitting ’90s industrial rock outfit, made the Howard Theatre their DC stop on the band’s current “Make America Hate Again” tour. 

Nailing a thrilling performance to an enthusiastic crowd, frontman Richard Patrick is no stranger to delivering a pummeling round of songs to his diehard fans. Patrick, after leaving Nine Inch Nails as their tour guitarist, co-founded Filter with Brian Liesegang in 1993 and has racked up multi-platinum records since.

For Wednesday night’s performance the band was in excellent form. Patrick’s vocals sounded incredible and had just enough pop to soar above a relentless rhythm section. On bass guitar was Ashley Dzerigian who delivered an outstanding performance among the beautiful electronic madness. Through the entire set was a large, rapid moving eye on two screens above the stage that was both hypnotic and startling.

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TVD Live Shots: Megadeth at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 5/5

Thursday night the Fillmore Silver Spring hosted veteran heavy metal rockers, Megadeth who played for a packed house and proved their sound and skill is as timeless now as the day they started it all. 

It’s always a privilege to get to cover great music. Sometimes however, it is particularly incredible to be tasked to cover a band who defines a genre. Undoubtedly one of the founding fathers of thrash metal, Megadeth has pioneered a sound all their own. Live, the band exceeded every expectation that you might have—30+ years on.

Thursday night’s performance was one of the best sounding shows I’ve heard so far this year. The band’s music is known for its complex guitar arrangements and its technical prowess—and they’re still hammering the audience tight, fast, and loud.

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TVD Live Shots: Bob Mould and Ted Leo at
the 9:30 Club, 4/27

Veteran alt-rocker Bob Mould brought his myriad of talents to an adoring 9:30 Club last week for a set that included songs spanning the performer’s rather vast career. 

With his unmistakable vocals and his steady saw-like guitar patterns, Bob Mould’s delivery on stage is flawless. His guitar tone would best be described as legendary and is as unique today as it’s ever been. (And for fans of his guitar tone, Mould has been working with Australia’s Tym Guitars on a signature effects pedal called the “Sky Patch,” which will be available soon.)

The previous time Mould appeared on the 9:30 Club stage, the singer was celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his masterpiece Workbook, played in its entirety. For his current tour in support of the 2016 release, Patch The Sky (which is fabulous), Mould has a much looser approach to the songs that make it into his setlist, performing a variety of tracks that date back to his Sugar and Hüsker Dü days.

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TVD Live, Before and After: Kitten at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 3/25

For a touring musician, the often cliched “life on the road”—shuttling from venue to venue, city to city—can become insufferably grueling. For Chloe Chaidez, Kitten’s unique force of nature, it’s simply the method by which she’s garnering fans on a steady climb to the stratosphere—venue to venue, city to city. It also doesn’t hurt that she possesses a bewilderingly strong catalog of material and a crack band behind her.

In Washington, DC last week, Kitten’s stop was the venerable Rock and Roll Hotel to which we dispatched our own force of nature, photographer Richie Downs to chronicle the stuff the enthusiastic crowd that evening didn’t catch—the minutia, preparation, and the dedication to putting the music together night after night. And the live show too, of course.

Back at TVD HQ, Richie told us, “When Kitten hit the stage around 11PM, Chloe came out at full force and showed no signs of slowing down throughout her entire set. I’ve seen Kitten perform several times and the truth is this band keeps getting better each time they’re in town. Their delivery was flawless.”

Kitten is touring in support of the new EP “Heaven or Somewhere in Between” released this month. —Ed.

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