Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Kiefer Sutherland at the Birchmere, 5/23

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Among the perks of being a successful actor is the ability, at the drop of a hat, to fulfill every vague rock star notion you ever had. Unlike most struggling artists, there is no barrier to hiring a decent band, recording an album, or booking a tour that sells out based simply on your celebrity, giving fans the opportunity to see you in the flesh in their own towns, even if you don’t happen to be doing the thing that made you famous—acting—but happen to be singing or playing music instead.

It’s a formula that’s worked for Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, David Duchovny, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Costner. So why not Kiefer Sutherland? The star of TV’s 24 and the current Designated Survivor is spending time away from the camera on an extensive tour to promote his album Down in a Hole, produced by Jude Cole, that was released last summer. His show at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, Tuesday had been sold out for weeks.

With a solid band behind him that handled nearly all of the music, Sutherland, 50, still carried an acoustic guitar, occasionally switching to electric, though neither seemed to add a lot to the total sound. For an actor who has built a career going from theatrical whisper to big declarative shouts—the essence of his approach to Jack Bauer on 24—there was much less range in his singing voice. His aim is to deliver the simple lyrics he devised, but it doesn’t come with much in terms of timbre or style.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live Shots: Budweiser InfieldFest at Pimlico Raceway, 5/20

Last Saturday, the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Raceway in Baltimore hosted the Budweiser InfieldFest which featured a variety of musical offerings ranging from electro-house to pop-punk—with a big dose of country-cool.

Headlining the performances for the day were country star Sam Hunt, Grammy award winner Anton Zaslavski, aka ZEDD, Maryland natives Good Charlotte and LoCash, and opening up the festivities was the Canadian country duo High Valley.

Despite the wet weather holding off through the day’s events, the rain from the night before left a muddy infield and track, as has become a tradition for the past few years. Weather aside, the crowds came in droves to bet on the horses, drink, eat some from local digs, and get their fill of live music.

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TVD Live: Pixies at the Lincoln Theatre, 5/16

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Conventional wisdom says the road from the Stooges to Nirvana went through the Pixies. And though they never broke through to the degree of some of their emulators, the driving Massachusetts band returned from a long hiatus this century to see just how ingrained their songs had become. In ads alone, their anthems got much more play than they did on radio—from “Gigantic” for iPhones to “Where is My Mind?” for both Samsung and Acura.

Following its big reunion tour in 2004 that came with just one new track, the band continues in a slightly different form. Paz Lenchantin may be the first woman not named Kim to play bass for the band, replacing original Kim Deal and Kim Shattuck, who briefly toured in her stead.

In the first of a pair of shows at DC’s Lincoln Theatre Tuesday, the Pixies had something more to prove: as much as people loved those first few albums that have become touchstones in rock—and beloved oldies dominated the generous 31-song show—many of the tracks from their unjustly ignored latest album Head Carrier from last year deserved to be played alongside the enshrined classics.

Indeed nine from the new one were played to fine effect—the same number played from the beloved 1989 Doolittle. And while their 1988 Surfer Rosa and 1987 EP “Come On Pilgrim” were liberally sampled as well, there was just a peep from their somewhat uneven initial comeback album, 2014’s Indie Cindy.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: Midnight Oil
at the Fillmore Silver
Spring, 5/9

I had an odd thought as I watched Midnight Oil at the Fillmore Silver Spring last Tuesday—how many Americans in the sold-out crowd first discovered the band because of MTV back in the mid-to-late ’80s?

They weren’t a radio staple, with their songs about the plight of indigenous Australian populations and desecration of the environment, even if their post-punk music was incredibly catchy. And they weren’t video-pinups like their Aussie brethren INXS. While INXS frontman Michael Hutchence set fire to hearts and crotches of men and women alike as he slithered around the screen, Oils frontman Peter Garrett was about setting fire to brains, damn near reaching out of the screen to shake your moral conscience awake.

Midnight Oil stopped as a band in the early 2000s because Garrett ran for political office and wound up serving three terms in Australian federal politics. But, in an effort to sound an alarm in this current political climate, Garret said on Tuesday, “It was time for us to come and play for you again.” The Oil’s performance was stocked with as much power and passion as it had 30 years ago, complete with vocal commentary on Trump (or “The Dumpster,” as Garret called him), and politics in general.

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TVD Live Shots:
The xx and Sampha
at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 5/6

For lovers of the “dream pop” genre, I couldn’t imagine a better place to be than Merriweather Post Pavilion for last Saturday’s performance by the critically acclaimed artists, The xx and supporting act, Sampha.  

UK-based trio, The xx is touring to support their third studio album, I See You, which was released in January of this year. The band’s record label Young Turks, is an independent British label that consists of artists such as FKA twigs, SBTRKT, Jamie xx, and Sampha, their supporting act for the evening.  I See You drew widespread acclaim from critics, and the album debuted at the number one spot on the British album charts and reached number two on the Billboard 200 in the US.

Watching The xx perform live evokes just as much emotion as the dramatic tones that inhabit their recordings. The ambiance of their on-stage setup certainly creates an atmosphere all its own. Giant (moving) mirrored panels flank both sides of the stage and cover the center drum/ DJ riser to create a deceivingly infinite space. Falling smoke on the crest of the stage and deep purple lighting only emphasized the moodiness.

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TVD Live: Breakin’
Even Fest 2: Night One
at Songbyrd, 5/5

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | The first night of DC’s second Breakin’ Even Festival at Songbyrd looked well on its way to success Friday, making back its costs, gathering like-minded fans of melodic punk, and getting the bands all intermingling as well.

It began with a set by Flowerbomb, a Northern Virginia band led by the tiny Rachel Kline. In another era her guitar-led tunes may have been part of folk set, but she’s been supercharged by her band of Nat Brown, Dan Abh, and Charles Schneider into some dynamic tunes. In their first performance since January, they seemed stoked to be back on stage.

What would have been a fest started by two female-led bands instead led to a very different sound from the Baltimore band Dead End Lane. Lead singer Erin Demise is taking time from the band and won’t be back until the fall, so it fell to Mitch Nelson of the Gaithersburg band Brace Face to fill in. Demise’s vocals are usually aggressive, but Nelson’s aggro-rock was way over the top and the whole band in black sleeveless Ts was a little more bro-tastic than Dead End Lane may have ever intended.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances at the Lincoln Theatre, 5/3

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | What began last year as the 50th Anniversary World Tour of a masterpiece that never had a tour in its time is still on the road, out so long it’s now called “Pet Sounds: The Final Performances.” It circled back to the D.C. area Wednesday for the first of two nights at the Lincoln Theatre and fans couldn’t have been happier.

Brian Wilson, who turns 75 next month, has been through a lot in his life and, as depicted in books and the movie Love and Mercy, alternately under the control of people who didn’t have his best interests at heart (Murray Wilson, Dr. Eugene Landy) and has found people now who do (his wife and a devoted band). Luckily for fans who love his classic work, he’s fallen in with musicians who love his work just as much and things no fan could have dreamed—touring at all, let alone playing the whole of Smile or Pet Sounds—have happened.

The music itself soars. Not only Pet Sounds, which top to bottom is a classic, replicated lovingly down to bicycle bell, French horn, bass harmonica, and theremin, but a full concert’s worth of extras that might otherwise have filled a nostalgic night.

The show’s first act from the dozen well chosen players consists of Beach Boys classics from “California Girls” to a bunch of car songs (“I Get Around,” “Shut Down,” “Little Deuce Coupe’’—featuring the most complex automotive descriptions ever allowed into the Top Ten). Crucially, instead of “Kokomo” or whatever crap Mike Love is singing in his fake Wilson-less touring Beach Boys, here are well-chosen rarities. The show begins, for example, with “Heroes and Villains,” but the version with the “Cantina” insert—as was recorded for Smile.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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