The Dodos do not feel like a two-man act. For a band that relies so heavily on so little—a drum kit, guitar, and vocals—they fill the stage with their energy and the venue with their indie, at times somewhat folky, sound.
In addition to displaying incredible talent on the two instruments that make up their band, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber seemed to have great fun with the audience—bantering about the cupcakes that were waiting for them backstage, gently mocking an audience member for unhelpful song requests, and dedicating “Black Night” from the album No Color to all the people in the audience who go running in the negative degree weather (thanks by the way guys, it’s chilly out there). Waiting for Long to tune after a guitar change, drummer Kroeber thanked the crowd for the “warm” welcome, noting that this was the band’s first snow day of the tour.
And the welcome was indeed warm. The audience head bopped along and joined in shouting “HA!” and “HEY!” in all the appropriate places, especially getting in to “Competition” off the band’s most recent album Individ and “Confidence” from Carrier.
Touring to promote her brand new release Heartstrings, Leighton Meester stopped by the Birchmere in Alexandria last Wednesday night to play for a packed house of eager fans.
The night marked the first performance on her current tour that features nine dates in total, beginning here on the east coast with a DC area date, later Philadelphia and Boston shows, and then moves west, culminating in Meester’s home state of California.
With a full five piece band in place and an acoustic guitar in hand, Ms. Meester arrived on stage, her hair pulled back simply and dressed comfortably in a plain grey cardigan and jeans and couldn’t hold back a warm, gracious smile. The audience clearly had no problem expressing their love for her either with applause and warm sentiments. In fact, I think someone in the crowd shouted “I love you, Leighton” after every song. By the end of the show she joked, “Still?”
For all you here in the mid-Atlantic with the winter blues, let Alma Tropicália bring you some sunshine. The psych-rock band, heavily influenced by the Brazilian counterculture movement recently released a two-song single that recalls the sounds of the aforementioned era. The band plays at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club this Sunday, February 22.
Opening for a range of acts such as Jorge Ben and DC’s own Chopteeth, Tropicália features jazz vocalist Elin. With her bandmates Elin creates an experience that highlights an alternative rhythm within the DMV’s musical ecosystem. Founder, and drummer, Ben Takis took a moment out of his schedule to share 5 albums that inspired the samba and dream-pop that resonates from Alma Tropicália’s stage.
O Bidú – Silêncio no Brooklin – Jorge Ben (1967) | There’s no higher figure in Brazilian music than Jorge Ben, and nobody we idolize more (opening for Jorge Ben at the Howard Theatre in November 2013 was surely one of the highlights of my life). Although this is not Jorge’s best album, I’ve always been fascinated by it, particularly the final track “Si Manda” (a misspelling of what should be ‘Se Manda’ in Portuguese).
Caetano Veloso (legendary tropicália balladeer) dedicated several pages of his memoir to this track, as it was hugely influential to the up and coming tropicálistas for how it combined MPB (Brazilian pop) with American rock and soul. You can hear Jorge evolving past his initial “Mas Que Nada” period in this album, and inspiring decades of Brazilian rock to come.
PHOTOS: DAVE BARNHOUSER | In 1988, Living Colour burst onto the scene and took the world by storm with their smash hit “Cult of Personality.” Their sound—an amalgam of punk, funk, soul, jazz, rock, and metal, conveyed messages of tough social issues through a layer of fantastically technical music. After reuniting in 2000 and staying busy with group and individual projects, Living Colour is back out on the road before they finish their sixth studio album later this year. On Tuesday night, the destination was Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, MD where the audience was seated but the energy was high.
The venue, while very nice, seemed to be an odd setting for a heavier band such as Living Colour with a seated crowd and table service. As the band took the stage, this sentiment was echoed by guitarist Vernon Reid as he welcomed the crowd to “Dinner Metal, Part Three.” Reid fitted a slide onto his finger and led them into “Preachin’ Blues,” a heavy blues number from their forthcoming album, Shade.
Frontman Corey Glover was dapper in his slacks and newsboy hat and his voice belted out the lyrics with ease. The band went right into the heavy groove of “Ignorance is Bliss,” then into “Desperate People” from their debut album. The sound was crisp and did the music justice. Doug Wimbish’s deep bass sound shook the earth and was complimented by the dexterous drumming of Will Calhoun. Throughout the set, Reid continuously displayed why he is among the guitar elite. On “Middle Man,” his deft fingerwork was superbly complemented by the complex bassline and funky popping of Wimbish.
As the opening act prepared to take the stage, the announcer reminded the audience that, though the venue is a restaurant and bar, we were about to see some “tender” and “intimate” moments. As would any good cynic, I scoffed. Who really uses the word tender?
An hour later I was crying. As the band exited the stage, a single bright spot fell on Leon Russell, and he sang “Song for You” with, yes, incredible tenderness. The audience, which was largely composed of people who have clearly been fans since the ‘60s and ‘70s, was rapt as Mr. Russell removed his sunglasses for the first and only time that evening and poured himself into his most famous song.
The evening was full of gorgeous moments, including hearing Mr. Russell’s cover of “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones and the gospel hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” Sitting in front of his white, custom-made, baby grand piano, while wearing all white, with his white beard, and under the white spot, a man behind me whispered that Mr. Russell was a “cowboy angel.” As incongruous as the comparison is, with his gruff stage presence and rock-and-roll hair and beard, it is impossible to argue with the statement—his performance was at times ethereal.
This is not to say the evening was ballad heavy or slow. Perhaps the best moment of the evening occurred during Mr. Russell’s performance of “The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” Reaching the lyric “Just myself and forty friends/In the name of Cocker power,” the audience screamed along with him “COCKER POWER” in a tribute to Joe Cocker who passed away in December.
February is upon us, which means one thing—it’s time to fall in love with some music this month. Have a special Valentine this year? Why don’t you do something extra special like take your loved one to one of the many kickass shows happening at the 9:30 Club to show your appreciation. Here’s a selection of upcoming shows on sale at the 9:30 NOW—and your chance to win tickets to the concert of your choice from the list below.
Laura Tsaggaris vs Justin Jones & The B-Sides, 2/4 | Let’s talk about some of the most famous “versus” in history. There’s Louis vs. Schmeling, Tyson vs. Holyfield, and now there’s Laura Tsaggaris vs. Justin Jones & The B-Sides. Yes, these two songwriter heavyweights are coming together to battle for your love with some soulful music.
Laura Tsaggaris recently put out a new record, Live At The Atlas, back in September 2014. Funded entirely by pre-orders and fan contributions, the album was inspired by some of the best live albums of all time, albums that Laura says inspired her as a songwriter. Virginia native Justin Jones and his cleverly named band The B-Sides join Laura to complement her acoustic sound with their raw rock ‘n’ roll. Watch the battle up close when the pair come to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, February 4.
Those of you following the DC Record Fair on Facebook might deem the forthcoming news a bit old, as we revved up the gears on the Winter 2015 edition of the record fair while we were on our holiday break, yet it bears an official announcement: the DC Record Fair returns to downtown DC’s Penn Social on January 25, 2015!
And six years in, some things are still a given—the 40+ vendors from up and down the East Coast, the curated DJ line up, the bar, the food, and the many other surprises that make the DC Record Fair a special community event for all ages.
Additionally, Zeke’s Coffee will once again be on hand with a special blend brewed just for the DC Record Fair, and our friends at Electric Cowbell Records will be on site passing out free records just for attending!
THE WINTER 2015 DJ SCHEDULE:
11:00 – 12:00: Crown Vic, Electric Cowbell Records
12:00 – 1:00: Brendan Canty, Fugazi, Deathfix
1:00 – 2:00: Daisy Lacy, Smash Records
2:00 – 3:00: Brian Proust, Georgia Soul Recordings
3:00 – 4:00: DJ Singh Slim, DC Vinyl Headz
4:00 – 5:00: DJ Alizay
Mark your calendars!
THE DC RECORD FAIR
Sunday, January 25, 2015 at Penn Social, 801 E Street, NW
11:00–12:00, Early Bird Admission $5.00
12:00–5:00, Regular Admission $2.00
RSVP at the Facebook invite!
The DC Record Fair is brought you by Som Records, DC Soul Recordings, and us!
At concerts with stacked lineups such as this one, especially one in which the personalities on stage are erratically different, it’s easy enough to pick out each band’s fans in the crowd. Sometimes it’s their attire, sometimes it’s how (un)apologetic they are when they curb stomp someone who didn’t willingly find themselves in the pit. This night may not have been an exception, but at some point, the lines blurred.
Nearly every person in the room found that there was something they liked about a band they hadn’t come to see. Anyone unfamiliar with Night Birds quickly learned that the Jersey/ Brooklyn boys don’t skimp on the deranged, spastic fun that litters their set; that though their performance is surprisingly well thought out, they never take themselves too seriously. Those only seeing Torche for the first time forgot about antics and showmanship and instead found themselves transfixed on technical ability–at times, maybe too much so, but the lasting energy from the other acts helped carry them through.
And Municipal Waste fans? They more than accurately conveyed that, in the band’s own words, “Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up!” Which they did, and somehow managed to fuse together all the aforementioned traits of the opening bands while doing so.
In 2014, the demand for new music in the form of vinyl met hot and cold results. While the retail numbers are optimistic, production challenges stunt the growth potential of the LP. With the decline of music downloads and the rapid rise of streaming, however, the desire for a physical format is a clear-cut reflection of music consumer preference.
Back in November 2014, data journalist Felix Richter at Statista reported LPs, globally, reached $218 million in annual sales. If you compare that figure to the cost of a show at the 9:30 Club, it can be significant, but otherwise it is not influential to capital. Statista reported by the first half of the year, 4 million units sold. This month, the Wall Street Journal touted Nielsen’s reports of 9.2 million units moved, a 52 percent increase from 2013. The downside of this phenomenon: vinyl records only make up 2 percent of US music sales, despite the digital decline.
One of the champions of annual LP sales is Third Man Records, Jack White’s label. With his evengreen bent for self-promotion, White’s latest effort, Lazaretto, sold 40,000 vinyl copies in its first week and 87,000 cumulatively. White rallied his fanbase during Record Store Day when he recorded, pressed, and released the “boutique” album in less than four hours.
Last years sales were also boosted by artists such as Beck, Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, and Lana Del Rey. Classic albums Abbey Road and Legend held their own in top 10 collective sales of LPs in the United States.
PHOTOS: DAVE BARNHOUSER | Mae West was once quoted as saying, “All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.” Nowhere is this more applicable than in the world of music. Some people move on, some grow apart, and others shed this mortal coil leaving a gap that can either be mended and healed or it becomes the death knell of a band. In the case of GWAR, the wound left by the passing of Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, has been cleaned, dressed, and is healing up quite nicely.
Saturday night at Baltimore Soundstage, GWAR made a triumphant return, closing out the first tour of this new era and ensuring the outlandish legacy of the Scumdogs continues to march forth.
After sitting in hellish traffic due to the annual Army-Navy football game, I arrived about halfway through American Sharks‘ set. I quickly determined that I was none too thrilled about this, because these guys absolutely rocked my pants off. Figuratively, of course. Soundstage was already a packed house, and the high voltage punk-tinged stoner rock from the stage was the perfect way to start the night. Thick, heavy riffs with a Detroit garage rock flair, their sound was very catchy without being cliché or boring.