Plant. Page. Jones. Bonham. Four names at the very top of hard rock royalty. A number of touring acts are striving to keep the spirit of Led Zeppelin alive, but none as unique and electrifying as Zepparella. Four immensely talented women playing their asses off and paying homage to Zeppelin… How can you go wrong?
Very honestly, it’s easy to go wrong. Bring up Led Zeppelin to most rock fans, and you aren’t just talking about any old band. This is “The Hammer of the Gods” we’re talking about here. The bar for doing the legendary band and their catalog justice is pretty high—and Zepparella cleared the bar with room to spare.
As the crowd trickled into Jammin’ Java, the vibe was much more relaxed than a typical night out at a club. At the small, yet nice, venue with decent food and a heck of a coffee bar, the slightly older crowd was in good spirits, as were the few kids in tow.
Warming up the crowd this evening were the Queens of Noise, a Runaways tribute band out of the DC area. Five young women with five seemingly distinct personalities paid homage to the girl band of the ’70s. With a dirty blonde mop that hid her face from view, guitarist Nicole Morris had the look of a surfer fresh off the California beach and deftly handled Joan and Lita’s licks.
Given the sheer volume of what we’ll call “Going Out Guides” that rear their heads daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, we like to fancy ourselves as a “Staying In Guide” every now and again. Records and turntables tend to mandate it.
And records also mandate a keen ear and some attention to what they’re played on—and the music that spinning disc of plastic is revealing. Yet, there IS something to the notion that record collectors may not be “audiophiles” per se, but we do care quite considerably that our investments are being listened to and heard properly.
So, allow us to invite you to come out to pursue some of the very best reasons to simply—stay home.
The Capital Audiofest 2014 returns to the region this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, Maryland bringing with it the very best in contemporary and vintage gear, a list of exhibitors far too long to list, guest speakers, raffle items, and a healthy dose of inspiration as to what that man cave—or woman cave—could house to give those records you’ve been stashing away a proper airing.
PHOTOS: NICK NEMPHOS | On Friday night, veteran act Camera Obscura brought their dreamy indie pop to an adoring crowd at the 9:30 Club. It was a show with few surprises and a couple of standout songs, but one that fulfilled the longing of fans to bask in lead singer Tracyanne Campbell’s beautiful, distinctive voice and to sing along to the band’s familiar love songs.
If you’re a fan of indie pop, or beachy, breezy pop with a little soul, or catchy pop songs with a strong brass section, or any combination of the above, you’re going to enjoy a Camera Obscura show. It doesn’t hurt that all Camera Obscura songs sound exactly like Camera Obscura. While each record might lean on electronics or add an orchestral arrangement or stronger beats, the underlying vibe backed by Campbell’s incredible voice remains constant.
For other bands, that could be their downfall. But with Camera Obscura, it is exactly what has kept fans around after five studio albums spanning more than a dozen years—and it’s why the 9:30 Club was packed on Friday.
The crowd leaned older than many 9:30 Club shows. And just three songs into the set, when the Glasgow-based band dove into “Let’s Get Out of This Country,” the title track of their 2006 breakthrough album, the cheering and singing made it clear that the audience was made up of longtime fans.
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Just before Queens of the Stone Age took the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Thursday, it occurred to me that I had last seen Josh Homme on this stage in 1995 with Kyuss, opening for White Zombie. Almost 20 years have passed, and Josh has now led the Queens to new heights with a number one album—and this night cemented in stone that they are at the top of their game.
After fighting my way through the Ragnarök of DC area traffic, I arrived at Merriweather just a few minutes before Brody Dalle took the stage. It was a bit early—still light out, and a fairly sparse crowd at this point, but those who were there early embraced the entertainment. Brody has a new band and a new album, and sounded tighter than ever. Venturing further into alt-rock and away from the frenetic punk sound of her past in the Distillers, she showed a maturity in her music while bringing the rock. Mixing songs from her latest album, Diploid Love, with a few from her past, Brody and her band were the perfect way to start the night.
In between bands, I mentioned to a friend that I had never heard St. Vincent before. Her response was, “She’s kind of like a female Prince.” Hmm, ok. I can get with that. Annie Clark and her band, aka St. Vincent, took the stage, and my friends’ description wasn’t too far off the mark. Funky, groovy, and moving into the second song she still showed the influence of the Purple One.
PHOTOS: NICK NEMPHOS | On Sunday night in Washington, Hamilton Leithauser reintroduced himself to fans as a solo artist. In a short set showcasing his debut album Black Hours, the former Walkmen front man proved himself as a musician worthy of his own following, with a vision all his.
But before we get to that, a note on the venue. For those used to the 9:30 Club or Black Cat, seeing a show at The Hamilton in downtown DC is an alien experience. When I sat down, the couple next to me was finishing their sushi and cheese board, while those on the other side ordered pizza and edamame. It’s not exactly the beer-stained floors of DC’s classic concert venues, but nor is it the old-school glamour that the Howard Theater is looking to cultivate.
No demographic dominated the crowd, which included hipster friends who remembered the Walkmen in their prime and The Rat as their break-up anthem of choice in college and their early ’20s (as did I); older couples sipping wine, out for a night of good music; and a few families peppering tables throughout.
Ever since they popped onto the larger scene somewhere around 2010, the Philly based minimal synth sounds of Void Vision have been a tour de force for stone cold electronic music fans.
Fortunately for those of us here in the nation’s capital, Void Vision will be gracing Black Cat with their very first DC appearance, as part of Technophobia’s Bleeding Hands Remixes, Cassette Release Party (along with the electro doom sounds of Baltimore’s Curse), on July 19th. As such, the fine folks in Technophobia thought it only fitting to ask Shari Wallin of Void Vision a few questions, to get DC better acquainted.
You have a lot of gear when you play live, how do you deal with that logistically?
Well, I’ve managed to cut things down a little over the years, but what really helped was getting a large case for some of my smaller synth modules and drum machines. Most of it fits in there and then I use velcro to secure it all into place. It saves a lot of setup time. It’s hard though because I keep buying new gear and wanting to add it to the live setup.
What originally inspired the sound of Void Vision?
I’ve always been drawn to the piano and electronic sounds ever since I was very young. Video game music and dance / techno music were the first things I got into since that was what was immediately around me. As a weirdo kid in 1994, you really couldn’t avoid being influenced by NIN in some way of course. I suppose that was one of the first bands that really opened up my mind to the ways in which any kind of sounds imaginable could be used to make music.
Synthesizers were exciting because they weren’t like the typical rock band instrumentation and the possibilities seemed endless. So I started playing around with keyboards and sampling and making my own sound libraries when I was 12. Then I started reading a lot of musical biographies and discovering the electronic music of the past. I found the early experimental electronic music especially inspiring since I was from a culturally devoid suburban environment. I sincerely felt like I had been born in the wrong place and time. I think a lot of my music may be an attempt to experience what I feel like I missed out on, and to find a place of comfort.
Join The Vinyl District at Den of Thieves to launch a monthly all-vinyl DJ night curated by the editors of TVD to celebrate the analog dimension—and it kicks off this Thursday, July 17.
The third Thursday of every month we’ll program the DJs and give away some slabs of vinyl in various formats: 45s, 10s, and 12-inches. This week we present DC’s own, Sol Power All-Stars. This crew have had their mixes featured on the Okayafrica blog and described as a “diaspora dance collective who typically pull sounds influenced by Cuban beats, Lagos discos, and Rio de Janeiro beach parties when making selections for their infectious live sets.”
They recently released an afro house banger 12” on BSTRD Boots which connects the dots between Haiti, Africa, and New Orleans. Expect a sweaty, exhilarating party experience!
RSVP ON FACEBOOK!
Among the din of amphitheater excursions this summer, one of the most highly anticipated tours of the year is without a doubt, Queens of the Stone Age. This Thursday (7/17) at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the anticipation of a long overdue Queens tour will come to a wonderful end.
If you haven’t heard about Queens’ 2013 release …Like Clockwork, then you surely must have been on a mission trip to a cannibal tribe in the South American jungle, or living under the proverbial rock. Debuting at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and earning three Grammy nominations, …Like Clockwork has placed Queens of the Stone Age on a higher mountaintop than they have ever been.
Recorded on the heels of a near-death experience during surgery, Homme brought a bit of that darkness with him and spit it back out into an amazing album. In an interview on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, Homme reflected,”Because of that process, we’re really tighter as a band and as friends. I was in the fog and they came in the fog with me, and I came out of it. There’s a lot of trust.”
Master griot from Mali, Cheick Hamala Diabate gets “mixed-up” by some of the finest purveyors of groove on the planet—NYCTrust, The Whiskey Barons, Daytoner, and Jon Kennedy.
Destined to become a world-class burner, Prudence highlights an ancient-to-the-future aspect of Cheick Hamala’s breadth as a genre-bending experimental artist who has one foot firmly planted in tradition and roots, but also a keen, focused eye on the limitless possibilities of cross-cultural exchange via global collaboration with artists outside of his legacy as a griot.
Cheick Hamala Diabate is a musician and a historian in the West African griot tradition from the Republic of Mali. Born into a griot family in Kita, Mali, he absorbed 800 years of Malian history and from a young age he learned to play the ngoni—a stringed instrument related to the American banjo—for which he is recognized as a world master.
Now based in the cultural crossroads of Washington DC, where he teaches and represents West African culture, Cheick Hamala continually pushes beyond the boundaries of tradition, collaborating and experimenting with multigenerational musicians, producers, and incorporating electronic technology into his music.
It’s impossible to discuss Hamilton Leithauser without referencing the Walkmen. With seven albums spanning 14 years, the Walkmen produced a steady stream of high quality rock music that attracted a strong and loyal fan base. But after shocking fans by announcing an “extreme hiatus” at the end of 2013, it should come as no surprise that the band’s members have started releasing solo albums.
Chief among those is Walkmen front man Leithauser, whose debut Black Hours came out June 3. For fans already missing the Walkmen, Leithauser’s album provides some respite from the withdrawal. Not only does his distinctive, cragged voice forever connect him with the Walkmen, but Black Hours doesn’t try too hard to stray far from their sound.
Drawing on similar classic rock and folk influences that infiltrated the Walkmen, Leithauser veers only slightly from what we would expect from him over the past decade and a half. This is further cemented by Walkmen guitarist Paul Maroon’s contributions to the album.