Tour packages can be a funny thing. Sometimes the bands are all similar, and sometimes the combination of styles may leave you scratching your head. Now and then, you get a tour that is just different enough, yet has sufficient common ground to make that perfect peanut butter and jelly combination. Such was the case last Saturday night at the 9:30 Club when Lucero and Ryan Bingham brought their gritty Southern sounds to the District.
The night was off to an odd start as a sign on the front door stated that opener Twin Forks would not be playing this evening. Word quickly spread that the band relayed through a Facebook post mere hours earlier that their van had been broken into and all of their gear had been stolen—an awful occurrence that happens all too often in recent times.
Just after 9pm, Lucero took the stage. Being a co-headlining tour and alternating the closing spot, tonight Lucero had first shift duties. Led by the unmistakable gravelly voice of singer Ben Nichols, the band opened with “Women and Work” as the temperature in the already-warm club rose rapidly. As they made their way through “Sounds of the City” and “Nights Like These,” the addition of the horns mixed with the unfancy rock and the sweet sounds of Rick Steff on the organ gave their sound an old-school feel with new-school attitude.
Electropop duo, Sylvan Esso invaded DC last Thursday evening and brought their beat-driven melodies to a sold out crowd at DC’s premier concert venue, the 9:30 Club.
Touring to promote their 2014 debut album, the self titled release has already hit some pretty major milestones. The album, well received among critics, has reached #39 on the Billboard charts and has broken into the top 10 on the Independent Album charts. The duo themselves were formed in Durham, North Carolina in 2012 and consists of Amelia Meath on vocals and Nick Sanburn on keyboards and producer credits. All 10 songs on their debut album came from sessions the pair recorded in Sanburn’s apartment from 2012-2013.
If a fast rise to stardom is any indication of talent, Sylvan Esso exhibit loads of it. Selling out the 9:30 Club is no easy task and as they walked on stage for Thursday evening’s performance, the pair acknowledged this to the crowd, asking “How many of you saw us at DC9 last year?” then added, “We’re so happy to be playing the 9:30 Club!” (DC9, a venue just down the street from the 9:30, has a great and very comfortable downstairs bar and boasts an upstairs stage that is incredibly show worthy—but can only host about 200 people.)
Since performing their single “Coffee” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last July, Sylvan Esso’s climb has been steady. Bigger things are certainly on the horizon for this humble yet, compelling duo.
Flock of Dimes was the evening’s opener.
Musician, Producer, and DJ Selector Will Holland, aka Quantic, returns to the road to present a month-long North American tour, devoted to the beloved 45 rpm record and is including a stop in Washington, D.C. for an intimate, beat-happy night at the area’s premier global dancehall, Tropicalia. DFA recording artist, Sinkane will also join as a featured selector for the evening.
Will Holland has been traveling with a box of 45s under his arm since beginning his DJ career at the age of 16. Now, with over 18 studio albums and countless singles, he’s hitting the road to spin his unique sound of tropical-soul and sub-bass laden polyrhythm. Spinning a mix of original material personally cut on dub plates by Holland himself and a choice selection of tunes culled from a lifetime of crate digging, he’ll be filling up dance floors in 18 cities across North America from March 11th–April 5th.
Known for his devotion to analogue recording-techniques and creative, postmodern studio sessions, Holland wanted to highlight the humble vinyl disc which has kept dance floors alive since their conception in 1949. ‘The simplicity of the format of a 45 makes for an objective approach to music,” says Holland. “The 45 is the music lover’s choice—short and sweet, rich and telling.”
The 45 has forever been linked with the dance floor; whether in the cover-up label dances of the Northern Soul era, or Reggae-era specials spinning on Jamaican speaker stacks, or, with the chart topping singles of the ’80s pop era. With the rise in interest and sale of vinyl in the past few years and an all-around appreciation for vinyl, Holland will be offering an exclusive limited edition 45 for sale the tour.
Touring to promote their 2014 release, Man on the Run, Bush took the stage at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD to a sold out crowd of eager fans for Tuesday evening’s performance.
I am a little jaded about some things. The birth of the alternative music movement is something I look at with both affection and dismay. Having been a teenager in the ‘90s, my fellow music-fanatic friends and I had to watch as the punk rock and hardcore scenes that we cared about so much laid dying before our eyes. The bands we loved and held so very dear were now exposed to massive audiences in ways we had never dreamed of at the time. Our music was becoming popular culture. It could be consumed, dissected, and imitated by the masses. It was open to be exploited. New alternative acts were sprouting up almost every week playing faster, harder, and fuzzier. The lines between popular and alternative music had been forever blurred.
By 1992, alternative music was by no means a new entity. The Seattle movement was in full swing and the album that changed everything, Nirvana’s Nevermind, had been released in the previous year. Nirvana’s most commercially successful single, “Smells like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves in late 1991 and boasted its significance as the shot heard around the world as for the impact it had the global music climate. A new genre had been handed to the world. Alternative music was born and music culture everywhere changed overnight. Alternative bands, especially grunge acts, had taken control of national airwaves and big record labels raced and competed to sign and break the next big alternative band. All over the country, national radio stations suddenly had artist rosters that previously only existed on college radio stations. As a result, a generation of fans had been exposed to a culture that previously only existed as a “sub-culture.”
Performing for a sold out and particularly young audience, Echosmith, the four sibling indie pop act from Los Angeles, stopped by DC’s 9:30 Club last Thursday night on a tour marking some of their biggest headlining shows to date.
Signed to Warner Brothers Records back in 2012, Echosmith released their debut album, Talking Dreams in October of 2013. They received notoriety for their hit song, “Cool Kids” which rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2104 their song “Surround You” was featured in the film Endless Love and the band was named MTV’s Artist to Watch for 2104. They toured the entire length of the Vans Warped Tour in 2014 as well.
On the road with The Colourist through March, Echosmith will have stops in most major cities in the northern US before they tour Europe from April until June, and judging by the audience response on Thursday evening, these kids—Graham, Sydney, Noah, and Jamie Sierota—are indeed alright.
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | For anyone missing the ’90s, specifically the days of Riot Grrrls owning the stage, Honeyblood is what has been missing from your playlist.
Their particular brand of tart pop vibrates with fuzzy guitars and mellow vocals. This Scottish duo brought their assaulting feminist pop anthems to DC9 this past Saturday.
I was first turned on to them after hearing “Super Rat” and was hooked. Where their contemporaries turn love songs into a melodramatic whine-fests, Honeyblood takes that world and spits in its face. Their nonchalance is beguiling and captivating, they aren’t here for your entertainment, but their music is.
Cruzie Beaux is the latest project from Kristina Reznikov, a DC musician who has been making music since childhood. Most recently she was the lead vocalist for Drop Electric and the short-lived Blanche Has Friends.
In Kristina’s new project, Cruzie Beaux is a party animal, writing songs for dirty dive bars and angry female protagonists. Cruzie tells us that she loves the dirty 1970s Joan Jett style guitar, with a steady (but modern) beat. Cruzie Beaux will be working with Tinderbox Music promoting her demo, which currently has Ingrid Michaelson and Imagine Dragons on their client list.
In Drop Electric, Kristina’s gritty vocals brought a new element to the band’s sound which was previously instrumental, and In Blanche has Friends, Kristina moved toward being somewhat less serious with a beautiful rawness stemming from the freedom to work as a solo musician. We asked Kristina how the transition has been from being in a band to working as a solo artist:
The Dodos do not feel like a two-man act. For a band that relies so heavily on so little—a drum kit, guitar, and vocals—they fill the stage with their energy and the venue with their indie, at times somewhat folky, sound.
In addition to displaying incredible talent on the two instruments that make up their band, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber seemed to have great fun with the audience—bantering about the cupcakes that were waiting for them backstage, gently mocking an audience member for unhelpful song requests, and dedicating “Black Night” from the album No Color to all the people in the audience who go running in the negative degree weather (thanks by the way guys, it’s chilly out there). Waiting for Long to tune after a guitar change, drummer Kroeber thanked the crowd for the “warm” welcome, noting that this was the band’s first snow day of the tour.
And the welcome was indeed warm. The audience head bopped along and joined in shouting “HA!” and “HEY!” in all the appropriate places, especially getting in to “Competition” off the band’s most recent album Individ and “Confidence” from Carrier.
Touring to promote her brand new release Heartstrings, Leighton Meester stopped by the Birchmere in Alexandria last Wednesday night to play for a packed house of eager fans.
The night marked the first performance on her current tour that features nine dates in total, beginning here on the east coast with a DC area date, later Philadelphia and Boston shows, and then moves west, culminating in Meester’s home state of California.
With a full five piece band in place and an acoustic guitar in hand, Ms. Meester arrived on stage, her hair pulled back simply and dressed comfortably in a plain grey cardigan and jeans and couldn’t hold back a warm, gracious smile. The audience clearly had no problem expressing their love for her either with applause and warm sentiments. In fact, I think someone in the crowd shouted “I love you, Leighton” after every song. By the end of the show she joked, “Still?”
For all you here in the mid-Atlantic with the winter blues, let Alma Tropicália bring you some sunshine. The psych-rock band, heavily influenced by the Brazilian counterculture movement recently released a two-song single that recalls the sounds of the aforementioned era. The band plays at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club this Sunday, February 22.
Opening for a range of acts such as Jorge Ben and DC’s own Chopteeth, Tropicália features jazz vocalist Elin. With her bandmates Elin creates an experience that highlights an alternative rhythm within the DMV’s musical ecosystem. Founder, and drummer, Ben Takis took a moment out of his schedule to share 5 albums that inspired the samba and dream-pop that resonates from Alma Tropicália’s stage.
O Bidú – Silêncio no Brooklin – Jorge Ben (1967) | There’s no higher figure in Brazilian music than Jorge Ben, and nobody we idolize more (opening for Jorge Ben at the Howard Theatre in November 2013 was surely one of the highlights of my life). Although this is not Jorge’s best album, I’ve always been fascinated by it, particularly the final track “Si Manda” (a misspelling of what should be ‘Se Manda’ in Portuguese).
Caetano Veloso (legendary tropicália balladeer) dedicated several pages of his memoir to this track, as it was hugely influential to the up and coming tropicálistas for how it combined MPB (Brazilian pop) with American rock and soul. You can hear Jorge evolving past his initial “Mas Que Nada” period in this album, and inspiring decades of Brazilian rock to come.