PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Young Fathers have been called a lot of things, Krautrock, experimental—whatever it is, it’s the best of politically aware spoken word and hip-hop that will make you dance. After winning the Mercury Award for their debut LP Dead, they came back with the controversially titled White Men are Black Men Too.
Sunday night Steve Morrison took the stage like a conductor, mostly unnoticed by the crowd before he stoically struck the drums. Someone let out a shriek and all eyes turned as the rest of the band joined him on stage for the familiar “No Way.” They carried the crowd’s energy into “Queen is Dead” off their “Tape Two” EP.
Live, each young father’s role within the band is clearly defined in a way that’s difficult to infer from a recording. Even in today’s saturated world of electronic music, it’s usually clear that someone is pushing the buttons while someone else is singing, but Young Fathers has three very distinct voices complementing each other. While G adds dimension with his low howls, Kayus brings the energy as he moves about the stage, Alloysious is the steady harmony bringing it together.
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | On Friday April 10, Delta Rae and Greg Holden played at the 9:30 Club, providing a haven for wayward Washingtonians desperately trying to escape the tornado of tourists taking over the Tidal Basin.
Greg Holden is coming out at the right time. Some people thought he was a Christian act, some thought he was Australian, but everyone agreed that he was two things: great and good-looking. His album comes out today (4/14) and it’s perfect driving and road trip music. His harmonies are made for rays of sun hitting your Ray Bans, and his mastery over the guitar makes you wish you were sitting next to him back on your college campus or favorite park. He’s a natural when he banters with the audience. I fully expect him to become a better performer once he hits mainstream.
He also makes the natural choice for Delta Rae’s opener. If anything, he sounds the most like Eric Holljes on Carry the Fire, Delta Rae’s freshman album. Plainly put, he loves the crowd and the crowd learned to love him. Especially during “Boys in the Street,” his acoustic ballad about an out gay man growing up with a backwards, homophobic father who gets so close to shedding his vitriolic exoskeleton before the end of his life. It brought the crowd to a stand still.
It’s virtually impossible to have a conversation about stoner and doom metal without talking about England’s Electric Wizard. The self-proclaimed “heaviest band in the universe” has been laying down their evil brand of occult-tinged doom since 1995. 2014 saw the release of their eighth studio album, Time to Die, and at long last the Wizard has crossed the sea for their first American tour in ten years. The coven congregated on Wednesday night at Baltimore Soundstage, for a night of doom, evil, and weed—not necessarily in that order.
A sure sign that a band has not toured in the States in quite some time was the fact that upon entering Soundstage, you were instantly hit with a massive line. The line however was not for the bar, not for the bathrooms, but for merch. The line spread all the way across the floor to the front door as fans clamored to buy psychedelic black light posters and shirts that proudly proclaimed, “Legalise Drugs and Murder,” taken from the 2012 EP of the same name. By mid-show, a sign was posted stating that “ALL SHIRTS ARE SOLD OUT!”
The 9 o’clock hour tolled and Satan’s Satyrs took the stage. The trio from Virginia, bedecked in ‘70s garb, help establish the heavy retro vibe of the evening. Drummer Stephen Fairfield was damn near a spitting image of Geezer Butler, down to his frizzy mane and mustache. As they played “Show Me Your Skull,” Fairfield even broke out some retro metal moves, windmilling his hair around as he played. Overall, there was not a whole lot different this night than the last time I had seen them. The music was tight and cohesive at times and occasionally songs tried to be a bit jammy, but just seemed to unravel.
English songstress Jessie Ware graced the stage of the 9:30 Club on Tuesday night—quite literally—to perform for a sold out crowd.
Touring to promote her 2015 release Tough Love (Interscope), Ware’s performance could be described in one word for this attendee…stellar. Her emotive voice and veteran stage presence gave her every opportunity to dispatch her talents with ease. The eager crowd hung on every breath, every beat.
Wielding influences that range from pop, soul, R&B, and folk, Ware’s stage show reflects the passionate vibe of her new album, displaying her singular strength as a songwriter and performer.
For the last 11 years, first Fridays at the Marx Cafe in Washington, DC have been synonymous with the kind of classic post-punk sounds and left-of-center pop famously championed by the late (and truly great) BBC DJ John Peel. That’s when DJs Rick Taylor and Brandon Grover host We Fought the Big One, one of the District’s longest-running DJ nights, and one deliberately inspired by the maverick spirit of John Peel.
We Fought the Big One officially turns 11 this Friday, and we’ve asked Rick and Brandon to curate an 11-track mix via the glories of YouTube and Vimeo. Take it away guys.
The Saints – “Know Your Product” (1978) Quite possibly my all-time favorite punk song. And yes, it has a Stax Records-inspired horn section. That’s what makes it so punk. The Saints—who were from Australia by the way—made no bones about the fact they were just as influenced by Sam and Dave as they were the Sex Pistols. The fact that so many punk fans didn’t get this only makes the band that much more punk. A true classic in every sense. (RICK)
Modern Lovers – “She Cracked” (1972) It’s bewildering to me that this perfectly formed punk-scorcher was recorded in 1972! I did a double-take when I first heard it. Thanks to Kim Fowley, this version is much rougher around the edges than what appeared on the band’s lone LP. Apparently, Jonathan Richman had seen The Stooges right before he recorded this. The home-made video for this track is pretty awesome too. (RICK)
One month after the release of their brilliant fourth full-length album, Restarter, Miami’s Torche have continued to defy being categorized into a subgenre of metal. Despite typically being labeled as “stoner” or “sludge,” their game plan is simple—do whatever the fuck they want—and it has worked out pretty well so far. On Sunday, Torche brought an eclectic cast of bands to the District to share the stage with them at DC9.
The eight o’clock hour arrived and DC’s own Black Clouds took the stage. Awash in blue light, the tranquil intro of “We Begged For The Floods” filled the room and quickly shifted gears, the tone of the music turning urgent and thunderous. There was not one spare inch of room on the diminutive DC9 stage made all the more crowded by the lighting rigs used by Black Clouds throughout the set. With each song, it becomes apparent that the lights are as integral to their live experience as the music, setting tones as gentle or as harsh as the music calls for.
All three members were in perfect synchronicity with one another. Drummer Jimmy Rhodes hammered out the rhythms from center stage while Justin Horenstein doubled down on guitar and keyboards. The mix of ambient soundscapes with an aggressively heavy post-rock aura work well with each other, and the sheer amount of soul and emotion conveyed by the instrumental trio was astounding.
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.”