Author Archives: Richie Downs

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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TVD Live Shots:
Ride and DIIV at the
9:30 Club, 9/17

Kicking off their current reunion tour in DC’s venerable 9:30 Club, legendary shoe-gazers, Ride from Oxford, England have returned to form, both stylistically and sonically. With a simple yet prominent banner hanging behind the stage with the band’s bold logo, the scene was set and the crowd was primed to hear what would be a fantastic night of music.

Ride is currently touring to celebrate the 25 anniversary of their debut album, Nowhere which landed in record shops in October of 1990. Then as now, every detail about their sound on stage is absolutely perfect. It’s not just the clear, bright (often British) guitar tone, but the mix of each member’s unique tones coming together to create one superb presence.

Ride has certainly left a major mark on music and culture in their wake. In fact, the band has become almost a thing of legend particularly among musicians—a musicians band, if you will. Most notable is Mark Gardener with his intensely bright guitar tone and signature laid back vocals, complimented by Alan Bell’s shimmering guitar. Behind them is bass player Steve Queralt and one of the best drummers in the genre, Laurence Colbert. Ride’s performance in DC was stellar.

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TVD Live Shots:
Death Cab for Cutie and Explosions in the Sky at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 9/13

The first real sign of the coming autumn weather reared its head at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday night for a stellar performance by Death Cab for Cutie and Explosions in the Sky.

While audience members sported hoodies and bundled up in blankets on the lawn, post-rock band and Austinites, Explosions in the Sky warmed them up with what would be a great start to an incredible evening of songs.

When Death Cab took the stage around 9PM , the crowd’s anticipation level was at an all time high. The band opened their set with “No Room in Frame,” a track from their new album, Kintsugi, released in March of this year. Performing in perfect form, Death Cab sounded as razor sharp as I’ve ever heard them live—the band’s signature sound and the crisp vocal tone of Ben Gibbard spot on, minus any degree of variance from their recordings.

Their setlist included: “Photo Booth,” “The Ghost of Beverly Drive,” “Picture in an Exhibition,” “You Are a Tourist,” and “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life.” For their encore they performed “I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” “A Movie Script Ending” and “Trasatlanticism.” Death Cab’s current US tour will feature stops throughout the States before the band heads to Europe in November.

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TVD Live Shots: Social Distortion, Nikki Lane, and Drag the River at the Fillmore, 8/25

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their self titled release, Social Distortion made their way to The Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD and with them a dose of much-needed punk rock in a manner and style that only Social Distortion can deliver.

Performing to a sold out crowd, Mike Ness and his band nailed a spot on, rock solid performance of the most beloved and celebrated album in their catalog. The album marked the band’s third full length studio release and represents a pivotal moment in their career—commercial success and eventually gold status.

Playing the album in order (mostly) from front to back, the performance felt more like a ride down memory lane than it did a mere Social Distortion show. With his characteristic voice, heavy snarls, and his perfect guitar tone, Mike Ness breezed through his set flawlessly hitting all the right vocal accents and performing every lead guitar part with style and precision.

Stage volume almost hit ear-bleeding levels as Ness still seems to be a living example of the sentiment, “the louder it is, the better it sounds,” however watching Ness, Wickersham, and the boys play this album live was indeed a pleasure.

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TVD Live Shots: The
6th Annual Gwar BQ at Hadad’s Lake, 8/15

It’s not every day that we run 2 features back to back on the very same event—but every event simply isn’t the annual Gwar BQ, now is it? You can catch a full recap below this feature—and highlights of the live sets right after the jump. —Ed.

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TVD Live Shots: Faith
No More and Refused
at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/2

Delivering an (ahem) epic show, Faith No More, the legendary band from San Francisco, performed Sunday night for an enthusiastic crowd at the DC area’s premier outdoor venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Wrapping up the east coast leg of their tour with supporting act Refused, their stage was adorned with white linen draping the amplifiers and speaker cabinets and what one might consider an obscene abundance of floral arrangements bloomed among their stage setup. The band members themselves took the stage in white linen looking far more spiritual then I had remembered them.

Whatever peaceful vibe the crowd took from the serene stage backdrop was contrasted by the crisp and super-tight melodic metal tones that would pierce the night. FNM today sounds far better live then most bands might ever aspire to—and a totally different animal from their recorded material.

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TVD Live Shots: Deftones and Highly Suspect at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 7/31

Friday night the Deftones along with their support act Highly Suspect performed for a sold out Fillmore Silver Spring and hammered the Maryland fans with their unique brand of high energy, no frills metal.

It’s amazing to witness the energy that the crowd feeds upon from the instant the Deftones leap into their set—the entire venue comes to life. It’s refreshing to know this kind of power still lives in their music. Fans of all types of metal music everywhere will be glad to know that there was no shortage of stage diving, crowd surfing, and general chaos with the Deftones in town.

Their set list included: “Diamond Eyes,” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Lhabia,” “When Girls Telephone Boys,” “Sextape,” “Swerve City,” “Knife Party,” “Bored,” “Royal,” and many more.

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