Author Archives: Richie Downs

TVD Live Shots: Savages and Angus Tarnawsky at the 9:30 Club, 3/27

Living up to their name and reputation, London’s Savages took the 9:30 Club by storm Sunday night, leveling the District audience. With what seemed like nonstop barrage of melodic indie-post punk, the band played hard and steady. Most of all, they played extremely fucking loud, I’m talking sonic levels here—probably the loudest show I’ve attended this year.

Standing tough and firm, vocalist Jehnny Beth delivered a flawless and often poetic performance. Accompanied by her fellow bandmates—Gemma Thompson on guitar, Ayse Hassan on bass, and Fay Milton on drums, the foursome seemed more like a gang ready for battle.

The show was outstanding and Savages have certainly mastered their live sound. They stayed right in the pocket throughout their entire set and come across as relentless and seemingly unstoppable. Savages are touring to promote their new album, Adore Life, released on Matador Records in January of this year—which is available on vinyl.

Angus Tarnawsky got the evening started with his progressive beats and aggressive use of percussion.

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TVD Live Shots: Ra Ra Riot and Sun Club at the 9:30 Club, 3/07

Delivering a solid and exciting performance, Ra Ra Riot played the 9:30 Club Sunday night, sharing the stage with two great acts.

Touring to promote their 2016 release Need Your Light, the indie rockers from Syracuse had a bigger stage set-up than I’ve seen them use in the past—and judging by their tightness and chemistry, I’d say this band is easily on top of their game and working at full steam.

Their set list included: “Every Time I’m Ready to Hug,” “Oh La,” “Ghost Under Rocks,” “Bad Times,” “Dance With Me,” and “I Need Your Light.” The band is playing extensively throughout the US and Canada through June of this year.

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TVD Live Shots: Breakin’ Even Fest, Day One at Songbyrd Music House
and Record Cafe, 3/4

This past weekend Songbyrd Music House in Adams Morgan served as the home for the two-day music festival, Breakin’ Even Fest, featuring hometown sounds from a variety of DC acts including Loud Boyz, The Mauls, Lilac Daze, Collider, and Curse Words.

Sponsors including Furnace Record Pressing and Mobius Records of Fairfax, VA insured that the vinyl community had a solid presence at the venue. Present as well, TVD’s Richie Downs who captured day one of Breakin’ Even for us in photos. —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: Coheed and Cambria, Glassjaw,
I the Mighty, and Silver Snakes, Echostage, 3/02

DC’s premier EDM venue, Echostage in the NE neighborhood of the District, opened its doors last Wednesday for an evening of progressive metal sounds, old and new, from a lineup composed of bands from both US coasts. 

Excitement in the venue was building all evening and the crowd seemed to get closer and tighter as the night progressed. As headliner Coheed and Cambria took the stage, you could literally feel the release of tension as an embrace for the band.

For the first selection of the evening, Coheed displayed its softer side performing a flawless version of “Ghost” from their 2015 release, The Color Before The Sun. A thrilling set from start to finish, musicianship is first and foremost for the band, the setlist including “Ghost,” “Blood Red Summer,” “Eraser,” “The Hard Sell,” “Peace to the Mountain,” and “You Got Spirit, Kid.”

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TVD Live Shots:
The Lone Bellow and Escondido at the 9:30 Club, 3/1

Although the 9:30 Club was packed for Tuesday night’s sold out performance by indie-folk trio The Lone Bellow, the club felt more relaxed and focused than usual. 

Perhaps it was the soulful pipes of lead vocalist Zach Williams or the perfect harmonies from bandmates Kanena Pipkin and Brian Elmquist that kept the crowd perfectly attentive. Perhaps it’s the nature of The Lone Bellow’s songwriting and delivery of their material. Whatever the case, when the Brooklyn based trio took the stage, anticipation was high and DC fans knew they were in for a special night of music.

The Lone Bellow performs at 930 Club in Washington, DC on 03/01/2016 (Photos Copyright © Richie Downs).

Although explosive at times, The Lone Bellow’s songs are written with perfect intricacies that showcase their talents as songwriters, and their well rehearsed musicianship is overwhelmingly revealed in a live setting. Their music is colorful, dramatic, and well crafted. Most of all, their songs are a hymn for the soul.

The Lone Bellow is touring to promote their most recent studio effort, Then Came The Morning, released in January 2015 on Descendent Records. The album is available on vinyl here.

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TVD Live Shots: St. Lucia at the 9:30 Club, 2/20

Last Saturday night St. Lucia took to the stage at Washington, DC’s premier venue, the 9:30 Club in full modern indie pop form for a heavily anticipated show to a sold-out crowd.

Jean-Philip Grobler, the South African native and now Brooklyn based singer/musician, better known by his stage name St. Lucia, brought his genuine and invigorating brand of indie synth-pop to a DC audience with a heartfelt and energetic performance. His deeply layered and percussive based sounds are perfectly crafted and mixed with solid vocal hooks. On stage St. Lucia’s songs come to life, exhibiting his passion for his music with an almost soulful delivery complete with punctuated highs and lows.

St. Lucia is touring to support his new album, Matter which was released in late January of 2016 on Columbia Records. The evening’s setlist included: “Rescue Me,” “Closer Than This,” “Dancing on Glass,” “Love Somebody,” “Physical,” “Too Close,” and “Elevate.”

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The Winter 2016 DC Record Fair in Photos

Going on 9 years ago when we told friends we’re developing a website devoted to vinyl records, we received a lot of raised eyebrows and a whole bunch of good-luck-with-thats. Eyerolls too. Lots of eyerolls.

It’s gratifying and humbling to have had such a turnout on Sunday at Washington, DC’s Penn Social for the winter 2016 edition of the DC Record Fair, now in its seventh year. The return of the flat black shiny medium once thought of as a relic shows no sign of decline, and well over 2,000 of you seemed to agree.

Watch this space for news of our Summer event, and in the interim, ace photographer Richie Downs has a look back at Sunday.

The DC Record Fair is brought you by Som Records, DC Soul Recordings, and TVD. —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: The Struts and The Karma Killers at the Rock &
Roll Hotel, 12/15

Making up for a postponed show from October of this year, British rockers The Struts returned with their talents and showmanship as promised to the Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Having recently played a stadium show in nearby Northern Virginia, The Struts, on the road promoting their latest EP, “Have You Heard,” brought the glitz and charm to a far more up-close and personal setting, and the sold-out venue’s eager audience couldn’t seem to get enough of the UK retro-rock revivalists.

Highlights included front man Luke Spiller entering the crowd and coaxing the audience to the floor for a fun little sing along game, then later showering those in the crowd with champagne for a one wet encore. The band also used the venue to film footage for an upcoming video release.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Arcs at the 9:30
Club, 12/14

Monday night marked night one of The Arcs two night stay at Washington, DC’s premier venue, the 9:30 Club.

When Dan Auerbach decides to form a side project, he really goes all in. The Arcs are not only a sophisticated blues infused outfit, they are a band that boasts a fresh and creative approach to their songwriting and sound. Their live set up includes Auerbach on guitar and vocal duties, Nick Movshon on bass guitar, dueling drummers, keyboards—and an all female Mariachi band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache.

The Arcs’ sound really digs down and scratches that itch for anyone craving progressive, well-rounded blues. The guitars are tone driven, the songs are well structured, and the choruses linger—just what you would expect from top-notch musicians. Their vibe is as sophisticated as it is fun.

Touring to support their September 2015 release Yours, Dreamily, The Arcs will wrap up their tour in Nashville on December 20th.

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TVD Live Shots: Vanessa Carlton at the Howard Theatre, 12/11

Vanessa Carlton brought her intimate and alluring songcraft to Washington, DC’s Howard Theatre last Friday night for an up-front and extremely personal performance.

Touring to promote her 2015 release, Liberman, Carlton’s stage set-up might have been minimal, but her sound couldn’t have been more encompassing. While Carlton focused on her vocals and keys, she’s enlisted a multi-instrumental touring companion who plays violin, keyboards, and guitars. The duo conjured a colorful array of sounds to complement Carlson’s warm vocals.

Taking the audience on a journey, Carlson focused on compositions that spanned her career and catalog, while adding personal anecdotes to introduce a number of songs which spoke to her inspirations, her beginnings as a ballet dancer, and becoming a new mom.

Carlson’s current east coast tour dates conclude in Asheville, NC on December 19, and then she’s back on the road in mid-January for a west coast run. The new album, Liberman is available on CD, cassetteand vinyl.

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TVD Live Shots: Styx at the Strathmore, 11/10

Styx, the band whose lyrics, “Give me the lights, precious lights / Give me lights / Give me my hope, give me my energy…” added just this for a worthwhile cause last Tuesday evening at the Strathmore in Bethesda.

The band in its current incarnation, Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums), and Ricky Phillips (bass)—along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo—lent its own tremendous light for a very worthwhile cause—CSAAC, or Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children.

The proceeds of the show were contributed to “five funding initiatives which can be found on the CSAAC website. The initiatives range from assistive technology, to recreation, to best buddy programs, to teaching families how best to provide early intervention for their newly diagnosed toddlers.”

We were delighted to be present behind the lens of Mr. Richie Downs who, let’s face it, can paint a picture in pixels that often words can’t conjure. —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: Marina and the Diamonds at the Lincoln Theatre, 11/6

Last Friday night the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC played host to the luscious indie-pop sounds of Marina and the Diamonds. Performing for a sold out and enthusiastic crowd, the UK-based performer made sure her electronic artistry left its mark on the District’s audience.

Fans filled every available seat in the house and even lined the walls in the downstairs section of the theater, which is somewhat unusual for shows at the Lincoln. Everyone in the venue clearly wanted to get that much closer to the action and when Marina took the stage, the shrieks of the younger audience members seemed to exceed even the music.

Marina and the Diamonds’ sound is a hard one to describe. While pop based overtones can clearly be found throughout the band’s catalog, their sound is something much more complex. Marina combines clever writing, unexpected vocal runs, and nontraditional bridges that meld her groovy hooks together.

Touring to promote her third studio album Froot released last March, Marina and the Diamonds’ performance could be described as nothing short of stunning—the glamorous and perfectly poised combo offering up their heavenly variation on modern pop.

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TVD Live Shots: Garbage at the 9:30 Club, 10/28

Last Wednesday night marked evening one of Garbage’s two consecutive sold out shows at DC’s premier venue, the 9:30 Club.

Touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band’s self titled release, Garbage set out on their “20 Years Queer” tour in early in October, making DC their last two US dates before traveling to Northern Europe for November dates.

While Garbage may have been performing 20 year old material, it was apparent that that their songs, or rather their live performance, has more than withstood all the tests of time. The band’s heavy, thick presence blended with a stunning mix of their signature grunge-rock sound and perfectly orchestrated electronics. Shirley Manson’s performance in particular was impeccable and she certainly owned the stage for the evening.

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TVD Live Shots: Kurt Vile and Waxahatchee
at the 9:30 Club, 10/8

Last Thursday evening the 9:30 Club hosted two of Philadelphia’s finest acts—Kurt Vile and Waxahatchee—in performance for a sold out and eager DC crowd.

Touring to promote his sixth album released in September on Matador, B’lieve I’m Goin Down… features twelve tracks and has already received its fair share of critical acclaim. It’s been said that the album was recorded in ten different recording studios, and the deluxe edition, B’lieve I’m Goin (Deep) Down… will feature six additional tracks.

Live, Kurt Vile’s sound is just what any fan of his music might expect—chock full of dynamics with an extremely resonant guitar tone—and a top-notch performance from Vile and backing band, The Violators, which quite frankly, almost mimics his recordings with only slight variations.

Kurt Vile and the Violators have several tour dates scheduled across the US through October before the band heads to Europe for the rest of the year, then to Australia by January.

Waxahatchee, the indie music project from fellow Philadelphian Katie Crutchfield, is touring to promote the band’s latest release, Ivy Tripp, which arrived in stores in April of 2015 on Merge Records. The band was phenomenal, particularly the vocals from Crutchfield. I’ve listened to all their recordings countless times and although they are wonderfully done, there’s something about her voice in a live setting that really pulls you in.

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TVD Live Shots: Wolf Alice and Drenge at U Street Music Hall, 10/1

Last Thursday night, DC’s sold out U Street Music Hall played to host Wolf Alice and their supporting act, Drenge—both indie rockers from across the pond.

There seems to be something good, in fact something rather brilliant, coming out of the British music scene these days, and Wolf Alice is certainly a part of it. This occurrence could be described as a “scene,” but even more specifically, it could be described far better as a sound.

There’s something to be said about steady, concentrated guitar parts—fuzzy and thick as any guitar tone can get—mixed with intricacy and punctuated with leads to form a dense, wonderful, and yes, catchy sound that has heads bobbing. Notable mentions are some of my favorite new bands over the last few years—Blood Red Shoes and Royal Blood.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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