Author Archives: Shantel Mitchell

TVD Live Shots: Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, Bouncing Souls, and Jake Burns at Festival Pier, 8/3

On Thursday evening at Festival Pier in Philadelphia, a perfect storm materialized when the “From Boston to Berkeley” tour rolled into town, bringing with it 4 solid acts to remind Philly concertgoers that “Punk’s not dead.” The package tour which includes Stiff Little Fingers frontman Jake Burns, Bouncing Souls, Rancid, and the Dropkick Murphys, brought with it intense circle pits, as well as frenetic pogo-ing and sing-a-longs galore.

Jake Burns, frontman of the legendary Belfast, Ireland punk band Stiff Little Fingers played a short set of acoustic selections from the band’s catalog which stretches thirty-nine years, but stuck to early-era Fingers hits. Burns talked and joked in between songs which included takes on “Gotta Getaway,” “Nobody’s Hero,” before closing with their first single, “Alternative Ulster.” Burns ran out of time to tell his story about the band’s most well-known song, but promised fans that he would tell them all about it in a few months when the full band would be returning for a fall tour.

After a very brief pause, the Bouncing Souls tore into a fast paced set which included fan favorites like “Hopeless Romantic,” “Sing Along Forever,” and “East Coast F*** You.” Souls’ frontman Greg Attonito told the crowd that they always have great shows in Philly, but they wanted this show to be the best one yet.

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TVD Live Shots: Third Eye Blind, Silversun Pickups, and Ocean Park Standoff at Pier Six Pavilion, 6/18

As part of their “Summer Gods Tour,” Third Eye Blind played to a sold out crowd on June 18th at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album. The show included opening performances by Ocean Park Standoff who got the evening going with a 30 minute set, followed by Silversun Pickups who effectively set the tone in preparation for the headliners.

According to Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins, the tour was given the name “Summer Gods” because it was intended to support an EP to be released this summer. However Jenkins joked, “…but this is Third Eye Blind, so we _____ it up!” Clearly the crowd was not disappointed as they sang in unison to hits from the band’s first album “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Graduate,” and “How’s It Going to Be.”

The band ended their main set with the second to last song from their debut, “Motorcycle Driveby.” Returning to the stage, Jenkins was wearing a “Summer Gods” tee and the band roared into their hit “Never Let You Go” from the band’s second album, Blue. This left the fans, including myself, wondering if they were going to play the final song from their first album.

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TVD Live Shots: Helium and Noveller at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 6/6

Veteran indie rocker Mary Timony played the first of 9 dates of a short tour being billed as “Mary Timony plays Helium,” to an almost sold-out crowd at the Rock & Roll Hotel last Tuesday. The string of dates coincides with the reissue of the band’s two full length LPs, 1995’s debut The Dirt of Luck and 1997’s follow-up The Magic City.

The reissue campaign also includes a new compilation of rarities titled Ends With And, and though the band didn’t include many of the rare tracks in their set this night, we were treated to a 13 song set, consisting of 7 songs from their debut record, 5 songs from their follow-up, and 1 song from their “Pirate Prude” EP. Unfortunately, I missed out on Helium during the ’90s; a casualty to the long list of bands whose music I knew of but just never made it to one of their shows, and I’m sure that I wasn’t alone in feeling like these shows are some small amount of redemption for not catching the band in its heyday.

Though Timony’s original bandmates aren’t accompanying her on this short run of shows, the backing band she has assembled, consisting of two members of the band Hospitality—Brian Betancourt on bass and David Christian on drums—and rounded out by multi-instrumentalist Nicole Lawrence on rhythm guitar and keyboards, I couldn’t help but feel like they had conjured up the ghost of the original band and allowed it to course through their bodies and exit through their fingertips. It felt very much like we were back in 1993, if only for one night.

Noveller, the Brooklyn-based project of Sarah Lipstate, opened the show. I wasn’t familiar with Lipstate’s music prior to this show, but gauging interest by the number of people who made their way through the crowd to catch a quick glimpse of her two effects pedal boards, it was clear that I was in the minority. I overheard several people remark that many of her shows are sold-out affairs—not surprising for a guitarist who has collaborated with Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth and was a member of Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Army.

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TVD Live: Grace Potter
at the 9:30 Club, 6/23

REVIEW: NATHAN PAYNE | Six months after her stellar performance prior to the massive snow storm of 2016, Grace Potter touched down at the 9:30 Club once again to deliver another galactic jam session. For two nights in a row, she blasted crowds with her undeniable energy and mind-bending riffs before returning to the road.

The night kicked off with Con Brio, a badass, funk factory bursting with rhythm and soul. Brass stacked on bass laid the framework for Grace Potter to melt the stage. A flash of lights and intercom static shot the crowd around the sun with “Hot to the Touch.” From that point on, Grace fueled the audience with a blend of solo and Nocturnals tunes, each more dynamic than the last.

As the night moved on, the depth of the music expanded providing more than the anticipated sounds from previous and recent albums. What had the potential to be standard live renditions morphed into extended mishmashes of unexpected delight. “Loneliest Soul” turned into “Walking On Sunshine” which led into “Maneater,” then “Somebody To Love,” and ultimately returning back to “Loneliest Soul” after a gauntlet of chords and sequins.

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TVD Live Shots: The
Cure at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 6/22

The Cure embarked on a US tour in early May playing sold out shows at every stop. Merriweather Post Pavilion hosted the band last Wednesday who played to a venue filled with enthusiastic fans. As I waited for the show to begin, I overheard conversations such as “Do you think he’ll play ‘Love Cats’?” “What do you think he’ll open with at this show?” “Do you think he’ll play something new?”

The most impressive element of this particular tour is that The Cure are keeping their fans in anticipation by playing a slightly different set list at each show and throwing in some unusual surprises. The fans never know what they are going to get. Of course, the band has been playing the classic crowdpleasers such as “Lovesong” and “In Between Days,” however there is that moment before each song where you listen and think…what IS the next song going to be?

Highlights of this 32 song set included rare live performances of “Kyoto Song” and “Bananfishbones” as well as a high energy Encore #4 that had everyone dancing on their feet to songs such as “Hot Hot Hot!!!” and “Close to Me.” Having had the opportunity to see this band perform live over 20 times in my life, I can honestly say that this band does not disappoint. They will be playing in Miami tonight before heading to Hawaii for their last two performances in the US.

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TVD Live: Grace Potter at the 9:30 Club, 1/21

REVIEW: NATHAN PAYNE | Following the release of her new album Midnight, Grace Potter fans have been a bit apprehensive of her separation from the Nocturnals. The new album is a departure from her conventional style of suggestively mischievous rock and roll. Midnight brings an electronic element to Grace Potter’s sound, featuring waves of ’80s synthesizer and nods to a more “pop” style of music. The collection is consistent with her slow, sure-footed exodus from southern-style rock, pushing the boundaries of her diverse repertoire.

As a longtime Grace Potter fan, I was relatively disappointed with Midnight. The bouncy, almost bubbly nature of the album lacked the familiar edge of what I had come to expect. Hints of her old sound still remained, but the full on grittiness of her notorious Flying-V guitar sound was lacking. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit I made the mistake of approaching the Midnight Tour with a certain amount of residual disappointment. Little did I know, I was about to embark on a rhythmic journey of light and sound that would make me thankful to still have a face that hadn’t been melted off by wildly amazing rock and roll.

After filing into a sold-out 9:30 Club, the crowd was primed. It wasn’t long before a flash of light and a blast of feedback vaulted the entire room into orbit. Energy was instant as she played “Hot to the Touch” followed by “Ah Mary.” I immediately realized I had underestimated Grace. The edge was there, it appeared in all of her music, and it was better than ever. New and old sounds had successfully merged in front of my eyes. Fresh band members and instrumental elements had evolved her music into something so much more—and by the time I had my revelation, we were all somewhere beyond the Milky Way.

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TVD Live Shots:
The National at Merriweather Post Pavillion, 6/6

The National played to a very impressive crowd considering the rainfall that began just before they were to take the stage.

They treated fans to a setlist comprised heavily of material from their new album Trouble Will Find Me. In all they played 11 songs from the record including the first single “Don’t Swallow The Cap,” “Heavenfaced,” “Graceless,” and “Fireproof.” New on this tour is the addition of a digital projection screen which enhanced the lighting to make for an interesting visual component.

The band left the stage after 19 songs, only for vocalist Matt Berninger to return and explain to the crowd the true need for show encores, “piss breaks.” They played a 5 song encore which ended with two songs from their previous record High Violet, album opener “Terrible Love” and an acoustic version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” the last track off of that release.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Joy Formidable
at the 9:30 Club, 4/21

It became abundantly clear from the large number of 16-somethings in the crowd at the sold out 9:30 Club Sunday night who knew every word to every song, that The Joy Formidable is at the pinnacle of their slow but steady climb to top-tier touring act.

I wasn’t quite sure if kids were ready for a serious band like The Joy Formidable in a landscape that’s littered with cookie cutter pop, so it was refreshing to see so many young faces in the crowd. I don’t feel so guilty about buying tickets for my own 3 teens for Tuesday night’s Baltimore show.

The band has crossed over from opening act to headliner with ease. They are absolutely one of, if not the single greatest live band touring today. It would not be a stretch to think that the next time they come through DC, they will be headlining a far larger stage, such as the one they shared with Foo Fighters at the Verizon Center in November of 2011.

They played an 11 song set that was a good mix of old favorites like “Austere” and “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” and new stunners “This Ladder Is Ours,” “Cholla,” and the “Maw Maw Song.” The band rarely slows down but did so only once for the new acoustic track, “Silent Treatment.” Their 3 song encore included album namesake and hidden track “Wolf”s Law.”

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TVD Live Shots:
The Joy Formidable
at St. Stephen, 11/10

The Joy Formidable played a benefit for Positive Force to benefit St. Stephen’s Church on Saturday night. Although they didn’t play a lot of new songs, their energy was as explosive as ever.

I had assumed that once this band moved on to bigger stages, I’d never see them play a small stage again. I was wrong. I also assumed that playing so ferociously all of the time they would lose some of that fire after a while. They haven’t. In fact, I think they get better each time I see them.

Rumor is we will get two more chances in March. If you missed this 3 piece so far be ready for those tickets to go on sale, you won’t be disappointed.

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TVD Live: The Jesus
and Mary Chain at the
9:30 Club, 9/9

The Jesus And Mary Chain brought a sonic punch—lacking in any visual vitality—to the 9:30 Club Sunday night. All these years on however, they still sound fantastic.

The band ran through a 17-song set, playing a range of material from their 29 year career, including material as early as 1985’s “Never Understand,” their second single, and as late as 1998’s “Cracking Up” off their lone Sub Pop release, Munki. The only period not accounted for was 1994’s Stoned and Dethroned.

Jim Reid’s voice sounded as strong as it ever has during their more active years, and brother William’s distortion and feedback laden guitar work was just as vital.

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