PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | It’s not easy out there for female singer/ songwriters.
Take the duo who played the Hamilton in DC Tuesday night. Headliner Morgan James is a belter who has conquered several fields, from covers, to Broadway to Nina Simone to her own well honed R&B, but still making her way, despite a dynamic presence and often astonishing vocal range.
Opener Boh Doran is having it a little tougher, keeping track of her two keyboards and a backing track via iPad while trying to sing her songs solo and having to lug her own equipment when her half hour was done.
A Minnesotan who studied politics at George Washington a few years back, the former MaryEllen Doran was having a bit of a homecoming in the D.C. show. And while she presents herself as a fully formed interesting chanteuse in her sultry five-song EP and especially the track “White Knuckles,” which this site premiered in June, she had too much to keep track of in a solo show where she ultimately had to serve as her own roadie.
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.
PHOTOS: DAVE BARNHOUSER | It’s been over a year since the untimely passing of Gwar leader and founder Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, but the Gwar machine is still rolling full steam ahead. Soldiering on with a new book, a Gwar-themed bar, the yearly Gwar-B-Q and more, they have hit the road for a fall tour as is their norm, leaving a path of gore and destruction in their wake.
This time around, they stopped at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. with Michigan thrashers Battlecross in tow. Entering the venue, the telltale signs were evident that Gwar was in town. The 9:30 staff dressed in white for maximum visual effect, and sheets of plastic draped around the club to protect the bars and equipment from the forthcoming bloodbath.
The self-proclaimed “blue-collar thrashers,” Battlecross got things going in a hurry, beginning with “Force Fed Lies” and “Not Your Slave.” With a bit of prodding from vocalist Kyle Gunther, the crowd who was a bit reluctant at first (not surprising for a cold, rainy Monday evening), eventually warmed up and increased the enthusiasm with a pit starting here and there during the set. Gunther was a blur of energy, injecting both humor and fire into the band’s set.
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.
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Because Nikki Lane has a portrayed herself so effectively in videos as a snarling, dangerously vindictive woman who burns down the motorcycle of a cheatin’ ex, a kind of vengeful angel with a terminal “Thelma & Louise” complex, it was a little alarming to see her take the stage with a little puppy for her show at Gypsy Sally’s last Friday.
Given her persona, I almost thought she’d strangle the little thing on stage.
But no, she was quite affectionate to the little mutt she obtained at some charity event along the road. And while it was adorable that Clyde Barker, as he was called, licked the faces of Lane and her duet partner Frankie Lee during the show, she mostly put him away backstage and concentrated on her twangy and kickin’ country rock set.
After a debut album Walk of Shame that got some attention particularly for its title track, she dialed it up a notch or two with a Dan Auerbach-produced All or Nothin’ on New West Records last year, whose tuneful hard-rocking echoed a Wanda Jackson with a distinctly modern sensibility, a fully rockabilly fashion sense and a knack for smart phrases.
In “Right Time,” she’s warding off 2 a.m. booty calls, considering stealing a Shelby from the country club valet and knocking on Willie Nelson’s tour bus for a toke, all under the rubric “It’s always the right time to do the wrong thing.”
REVIEW: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS | I found Cypress Hill about eight years ago on a hard drive my friend’s dad let me borrow. Among albums ranging from Alice in Chains to Tiesto was Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday. It had very raw production, reminiscent of guys rapping on the side of the road on a hot summer day in South Gate, California. They were the first group that pulled me into the world of hip hop, partially due to their Hispanic origin. Something I found very relatable.
Kray spared no time getting the crowd hyped. Most of their songs were short but fairly memorable. They led the crowd in several call-and-responses; one fondly remembered was “FUCK TRUMP,” which garnered quite a bit of participation. They flowed decently off each other, although it was hard to hear what they were saying over the music and their set was very short.
It was a while before Immortal Technique took the stage. DJ STATIC played a solid ten to fifteen minutes and then instead of Immortal Technique coming on immediately after, his hype men did a rather long set. Although it was clear that they were very seasoned rappers, I feel like they overstayed their welcome. They should’ve been billed as a separate act. I felt a tad aggravated, thinking “C’MON, GET TO IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE ALREADY!!”
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.
Proof of truly enduring music comes in work whose popularity can be celebrated in terms of decades. Accordingly, the 20th anniversary of the Son Volt debut Trace comes with a tour by Jay Farrar that began October 28 at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. The tour, in turn, heralds the same week release of a double disc reissue of the work that marked Farrar’s first creative departure from Uncle Tupelo in 1995.
It helps that the sound, songcraft, and familiar mournful vocals of Farrar was so well crystallized in Trace, and that its songs have been a highlight of his shows ever since, both in subsequent solo tours and in the band that went through a five-year hiatus and wholesale member change.
With his black bangs, rumpled western shirt and sideburns, Farrar at 48 looked pretty much as he did 20 years ago as well — or maybe like a character in this season’s Fargo. Surrounded by two Son Volt members from different lineups—the talented multi instrumentalist Gary Hunt on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, and Eric Heywood on pedal steel, the old songs had a resonance and the easy familiarity of old boots.
And while the show was programmed to start by playing each one of the 11 songs on Trace, at least he shuffled their order so as to provide some surprise. It also meant he began with “Tear Stained Eye” instead of “Windfall,” the first tune of the album that became the last of the set of songs from Trace.
The Teaches of Peaches should be a sex ed class taught in middle school. The world is a better place with her humorous take on sexuality and the weird power of genitalia. Also, independence. Peaches DJ’ed the entire set herself, running the mixing boards while claiming the meagerly decorated stage as her pulpit. Her performance preached freedom, sexual liberation, and quite simply, not giving a fuck. It was refreshing and captivating.
Peaches performed her set with the help of two fierce dancers who were as committed to the visual spectacle as she was. They changed outfits so many times, it was hard to keep up. The sensuous red and pink vulva costumes were a highlight.
Peaches crowd surfed. She unfurled what looked like a 4-foot wide roll of giant bubble wrap and walked out into the crowd on it. She performed in nude pasties referencing her AA breasts in a fantastic rendition of “AA XXX.”
Toward the end of the show, when she and her dancers brought out bottles of champagne, those of us near the stage were looking forward to some kind of audience interaction. We got it. Peaches sprayed the champagne, poured it into people’s mouths, and this writer got a special treat—her hot female dancer seduced me into a body shot and a kiss. Hot, random, amazing. Very Peaches.
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | As we noted earlier this month, Last of Our Kind is the first album in three years for The Darkness. It’s hailed as one of their finest records yet, and a maturation of their sound. “It is the best rock album you will hear this year,” says singer Justin Hawkins. “It is the best rock album you will hear until next time The Darkness makes an album.” It’s difficult to argue for a more appropriate title; they don’t make rock bands like The Darkness anymore.
“We’ve always been a cult band,” bass guitarist Frankie Poullain tells TVD, but that’s quite an over-simplification (and he knows it). It’s been over a dozen years since Permission to Land blasted rock music out of its same-y, neo-garage rut. Its influence punched the genre in the face and reminded people, who were too young to remember, what it was like for rock to be a fun, profane, exhilarating spectacle. With Last of Our Kind, The Darkness again unleash tongue-in-cheek bombastic rock music that delivers in spades and (figurative, possibly literal) pyrotechnics.”
And there we’re both literal and figurative pyrotechnics on display last Sunday evening at the Fillmore Silver Spring. “Growing on Me,” “Black Shuck,” “Mudslide,” “Friday Night,” “Stuck in a Rut,” the monster single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” and Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” hit like hammers. (Thor’s, to be exact.)
If not the best rock band on the planet, they’re in close orbit. Decide for yourself.