PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | For almost twenty years, Virginia’s Darkest Hour have been hammering away at the metal scene, carving a niche with their distinct class of melodic death metal. 2014 has brought a new, critically acclaimed album, a new rhythm section, and high-powered live shows, including a run on this year’s Mayhem Fest. Monday night at Empire in Springfield, VA, both the band and the fans were treated to one hell of a homecoming.
With seven bands on the bill, things got off to an early start. I missed some of the local support and Black Crown Initiate while interviewing Darkest Hour guitarist Mike Schleibaum (look for that interview next week). I came back in with enough time to grab a good spot for Kansas’ Origin. The four-piece unleashed an assault of balls-out, intense technical death metal. Vocalist Jason Keyser’s wailing, guttural vocals were otherworldly, and drummer John Longstreth’s blast beats drove the band at warp speed.
A small pit opened up on the floor as they went into “All Things Dead.” Bassist Mike Flores and guitarist Paul Ryan seemed to be in a finger war, seemingly trying to outmatch each other in a technical duel. The crowd was a bit meager due to the early hour, despite being four bands into the set at this point. As Keyser was introducing “The Aftermath,” he hadn’t even finished saying the name of the song, and the band blasted in with a roar akin to a tractor-trailer crash. Hair windmills and headbangs ruled the moment, and Keyser commanded the crowd to start the next song with a silent wall of death, beginning the music as the two sides of the split crowd collided.
London’s Bombay Bicycle Club played an electrifying set to a sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club last Sunday night. Touring in support of 2014’s So Long, See you Tomorrow, the set was a solid mix of older and new material that easily had the Club kids enraptured, including “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep,” “Eyes Off You,” a fervent “Home By Now,” and a cover of Robyn’s “With Every Heartbeat.”
We sent ace photographer Richie Downs to the 9:30 to catch the first 3 songs in the set. (No flash, please.) —Ed.
There are moments in the life of a concertgoer when you go to a show and the band has gotten prettied up in their rock clothes, strut and strike poses on the stage, and maybe even sing a love song or two. The Goddamn Gallows are not that band.
On Monday, October 27th at Revolution in Centreville, VA, the Gallows are kicking off the Halloween week by bringing their bizarrely unique strain of music to the DC area. Call them gutterbilly, call them gypsy punk, call them what you will, the fact remains that there is absolutely no one out there like them.
Their live shows are raucous, at times feeling more like you are watching a musical episode of Looney Tunes rather than a live performance. Singer/guitarist Mikey Classic is the eye of the hurricane, sometimes leading the charge, other times, practically being swept up in the chaos surrounding him.
The primary purveyor of that chaos would be accordion player and percussionist TV’s Avery. His comical interactions with bassist Fishgutzzz bring to mind Bugs Bunny taunting Yosemite Sam, and you never know what will happen between Avery and banjoist Joe Perrezze. Rounded out by drummer Baby Genius, the band is a cast of unique characters but ones that mesh well together, and always put on a fierce, unpredictable show.
“Dream Pop” is not a term that you get to use everyday. For me, the term began to take shape in the form of a beautiful stage setting, complete with subtle strands of lights laid across the stage floor at The Fillmore Silver Spring when the well loved band, Warpaint took the stage.
Beforehand however, the LA based Warpaint played host to New Zealand’s Liam Finn, the second opener of the night. Liam performed his experimental psych-rock for an enthusiastic crowd and led his band with tight rhythms, wild guitar fills, and sudden bursts of energy with his unexpected solos. The vocal harmonies were the big surprise of the night and could not have worked better with any other arrangements.
If you are not familiar with Liam Finn, he is the former frontman of the New Zealand band Betchadupa as well as the son of famed recording artist Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowed House. Despite the completely different approaches to writing and performing music, both Liam and Neil Finn are both geniuses.
Sometimes it truly is an honor to see a great act in a very intimate, and personal setting. Thursday night at the Black Cat’s backstage proved to be one of those nights as indie-rock legend, J Mascis performed to a small audience lucky enough to have a ticket to his sold out appearance.
J Mascis needs no introduction. He could easily be labeled an indie-rock guitar god and the master-musician and guitar virtuoso behind indie pioneers, Dinosaur Jr., not discounting the incredible talents of Mr. Lou Barlow. Mascis has also been associated with acts like The Fog, Witch, and Deep Wound, and over the past 25 years Mascis has displayed his talents was a writer, performer, studio musician, and producer, and has even scored and has been featured on multiple soundtracks, notably 1992’s Gas Food Lodging.
Besides his work on his own material, Mascis has been involved with the countless projects of other musicians including Sonic Youth, the late, but intrepid GG Allin, The Hold Steady, Mike Watt, and Firehose.
Somewhere in the world there lies a perfect balance between pop and punk music. The Nearly Deads seem to have found this perfect mix and are taking it on the road to share it with the world, along with a splash of their own personalized zombie culture.
Two weeks into their current tour to support their recent album, Invisible Tonight, Nashville’s The Nearly Deads had a surprise stop in Washington, DC for a show at The Treehouse Lounge. It’s a real treat for me to get to see a band like The Nearly Deads at a smaller place like this one—it doesn’t get more intimate than watching a band perform their set five feet in front of you. You get to take in all the little nuances that you normally don’t get to experience on larger stages. Stuff like their whispers to each other in between songs as well as the breaths they take in-between vocal runs…really cool stuff, I love it.
With her bright, smooth voice and good looks, Theresa Jeane fronts this band with style and with ease. She certainly has all the necessary charisma and her amazing vocal range cut right to the top of the mix during Wednesday night’s performance. She has somewhat of this grungy-grit to her obviously trained voice that is really mesmerizing. As a band, The Nearly Deads fall comparatively somewhere in the realm of acts like The Distillers and Paramore, but with a fresh twist—a perfect mix of progressive pop and zombie-punk.
Placebo played a triumphant show to a packed house at the Fillmore Silver Spring last Thursday evening and the band proved once more that they have the staying power to span multiple generations—and musical climates.
Formed in 1994 in London, Placebo were particularly well received all throughout Europe and eventually bled their way to the airwaves in the States, offering some relief from our musical crisis of creativity at the time—and they sound fresh even now.
Placebo uniquely utilizes elements of electronic music combined with explosive guitar parts and harmonic vocals which has garnered the band an almost cult-like following. At their show on Thursday the band was on top of their game and even sounded invigorated.
Touring to promote their September 2014 release Listen, The Kooks rounded out their current US tour with a stop at Rams Head Live in downtown Baltimore last Wednesday evening.
Playing for a packed in crowd of loyal fans, The Kooks happily stumbled through their somewhat nostalgic setlist with their classic favorites and added some new tunes to to their set as well. The ecstatic fans in Baltimore seemed to revel in the night’s set as guys and gals alike danced and sang along. Here’s a look at the evening’s performance.
Julian Casablancas from The Strokes is currently on tour with his new band Julian Casablancas + The Voidz and will be able to fill your Strokes void when they come to DC’s 9:30 Club.
His work with Julian Casablancas + The Voidz may be different from what his fans are used to; their album, Tyranny, is darker and credits Casablancas as sole songwriter. Working with The Voidz allows him to experiment with new sounds, deeper lyrics, heavy use of synthesizers, and grittier guitar riffs.
Casablancas spoke to The Guardian about the album and said, “It’s kind of a protest record. It feels like one to me. It’s more to do with morality than politics. We have the sense that we’ve moved on from the system where the centres of wealth arbitrarily decide what is law and what wars we fight, etc. But I really don’t think that we are removed from that. The [US democratic] system is very similar to a monarchy.”
The stunning Charli XCX visited the 9:30 Club last Thursday night for a late-late show and performed an amazing set in full-blown pop icon fashion. Playing to a sold out and very enthusiastic audience, the 22 year old English songstress provided ample reason for her DC area fans to believe that she is indeed “so fancy.”
Accompanied by her band, the aptly named Charli’s Angels, Miss XCX hit the stage like an explosion wearing a white and blue cheerleader’s outfit with the title of her forthcoming new album, Sucker printed across the front of her chest. Her band, a classic three-piece—guitar, bass, and drums, and dressed as her backup cheerleading squad—lent her sound a raw, punky-rock edge to it. I loved it right from the first chord.
With her stunning good looks and the flawless delivery of her semi-choreographed dance moves, Charli owned the stage in a way that she never has before. If the audience is any indication, they hung onto every moment of the night’s performance and screamed louder and louder as the evening went on, singing along with every word of every song.