It’s almost that time of year again when music festivals roll into town, bringing bands and music lovers of all genres together for a day or weekend full of music, booze, and possible leg cramping.
These fun-filled weekends come in a variety of sizes and genres. The nationwide Vans Warped Tour is basically a traveling concert, hitting up numerous cities in a span of 50+ days. On the west coast, there’s indie, grunge-rock Coachella and SXSW. On the east coast, there’s the CMJ Music Festival for up-and-coming artists, and the hard-rock and metal M3 Rock Festival.
This year, the M3 Rock Festival celebrates its sixth year of bringing metalheads together for one big hurrah at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though tickets went on sale last month, if you still haven’t gotten yours, have no worries! We’re giving away two-day lawn passes each month leading up to the festival.
How unlucky am I? I was walking down the street the other day when a black cat crossed my path. The black cat said, “Shit! Bad luck!”
Now Kid Congo Powers, on the other hand, is a lucky guy. He’s spent virtually his entire life at the Epicenter of Cool, from his teen years as a Glam Kid dancing to “All the Young Dudes” at Rodney Bingenheimer’s storied English Disco to co-founding The Gun Club with Jeffrey Lee Pierce to playing with the likes of The Cramps and The Bad Seeds. That’s quite the curriculum vitae, and a much-abbreviated version at that, so I suppose in Powers’ case its talent, not luck, at work.
The stories Powers—whose current gig is as front man of Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds—could tell! He could write a book! Here’s one about sepulchral Hollywood Sleaze King Kim Fowley. Seems Fowley showed up at a party where Kid and company were tripping. Nobody at the party liked Fowley—they considered him a stabbing pain in the cock at the best of times—so they all grabbed kitchen knives and waved them out the door, uttering mock-homicidal Manson Family type threats. Fowley decided he’d be safer going elsewhere.
Since relocating to Washington, D.C., Powers has engaged in all manner of extracurricular activities, because he’s a seemingly tireless character and bops around in his hip 50’s biker’s cap and cool ‘stache that’s every bit as tireless as he is. I’ve never met a more energized mustache. Anyway, when Powers isn’t touring or recording in Harveyville, Kansas he’s DJing here and there and everywhere, but I’m not the dancing type so my favorite fun Powers’ side activity is the occasional Kid Congo Powers Hour, wherein le Kid de la Congo leads a supergroup of stellar musicians in a set of skanky-great garage obscurities, sixties scunge-rock classics, and Gun Club and Cramps tunes.
Calling all fans of classic U.K. post-punk and John Peel-approved, left-of-center pop!
One of our favorite DC-based monthly dj nights, We Fought the Big One, is presenting a special live show tonight at CD Cellar in Arlington with legendary U.K. post-punk iconoclast Jowe Head from Swell Maps/TV Personalities!
Early incarnations of Swell Maps, which centered around brothers Nikki Sudden (guitar/vocals) and Epic Soundtracks (drums/piano), existed as early as 1972 (!!!) with Jowe Head joining the band just before the U.K. punk revolution took hold.
The band’s skewed and unabashedly chaotic approach to garage-punk resulted in two classic albums and a string of incendiary singles that were a big influence on Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Big Black, and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Even Blur were fans. Damon Albarn has never been shy about professing his love of Swell Maps. Is it just coincidence that “Song 2,” aka the “Woo-hoo!” song, sounds A LOT like the Jowe Head-penned Swell Maps number “Harmony in Your Bathroom”?
PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Decked out in a black mini-dress, motorcycle jacket, and metallic stilettos, her bleached hair held back in a ponytail, The Sounds lead singer Maja Ivarsson certainly looks like your quintessential rock star. And with a full-volume, energetic show Saturday night at the 9:30 Club, the band proved to an enthusiastic crowd that sixteen years later, they still have it.
Despite playing an early show—The Sounds took the stage at 7:45pm—the Swedish new wave act performed as if were midnight. Formed in 1998, the band’s set included songs from all five of their albums, from their 2002 hit debut, Living in America to their most recent effort Weekend, released in late 2013. Their sound has varied little over the years, sometimes adding more punk elements or more synth or leaning toward dance or pop. This consistency allowed the show to feel complete, despite the time span their songs covered.
Within this deep history, The Sounds are not known for their sophisticated song writing or musical originality—but they are known for catchy rock and dance tracks. Most of their songs work especially well translated live, with their often-simple lyrics easy for eager fans to sing along to every word with Ivarsson.
Last Wednesday night, Hurray for the Riff Raff played in front of a packed house at the beautiful Sixth & I historic synagogue in DC. Their performance exhibited their remarkable talents as both stage performers and songwriters.
Touring to promote their new album Small Town Heroes, the Riff Raff’s stop in our fair city made for one lovely night of music at one of DC’s most unique venues. When Alynda Segarra took the stage, she looked up from her fixed guitar stance and said, “Wow, this is a beautiful place” just before she went into her set.
There is a simple yet unstated beauty that lies within folk songs, especially when they are performed in the correct manner. Hurray for the Riff Raff’s performance in DC was one that I will always remember fondly. Segarra’s vocals were as mesmerizing as they were enchanting.
Wolfmother are back together, despite not having two of their original band members, and are better than ever. A full year after announcing the breakup of the band, they are on tour and will be making a stop at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on May 20.
Formed in 2000 by lead singer and guitarist Andrew Stockdale, Wolfmother are an Australian rock band that did not receive much recognition until the release of their self-titled debut album, Wolfmother in late 2005.
After Wolfmother, the band rapidly gained success, and Wolfmother blew up all over the US. “Woman,” a single from their debut album, won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2006. Their songs were featured in major movie soundtracks such as The Hangover, Jackass Number Two, and Shrek The Third. They played every big-name music festival, from Lollapalooza to Coachella. These guys were on top of the music world.
At first listen, Davidson Opsina’s production work might reveal he studied the sounds that defined underground club music. Ospina grew up in Queens in the 1980s where music was its own ecosystem. Influences such as Latin, breakdance, and hip-hop filled out the hierarchy of sounds in urban NYC. Music was experimental, self-referencing, and lent itself to universal access, more or less.
Ospina was the proverbial kid in a candy store.
He’ll be a special guest deejay at this month’s 1,001 Beats event presented by DC’s transformational art collective, Meso Creso. Because he is such a fan of vinyl and the golden age of house music, I couldn’t let him pass through the District without sharing his favorite singles.
1. “Voodoo Ray” – A Guy Called Gerald | Recorded over 2 days in the late spring/early summer of 1988, “Voodoo Ray” was one of hottest singles of its year.
The squelch-heavy groove was released on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl formats, on the Rham! label. Conceived at Moonraker Studios in Manchester, Rham! pressed 500 copies of the record that sold out in one day, solidifying Gerald’s reign as important figure in the acid house sub-genre.
Rocket from the Crypt, the legendary rockers from San Diego, California invaded the Black Cat last Saturday night to play to a sold out crowd of their most loyal and intrepid DC fans. The Black Cat’s show has been sold out for months and was the last show on the east coast leg of the band’s reunion tour that started in 2013. The boys from sunny California have a just a few more dates scheduled for their current tour and both performances are set at festivals in Canada early this summer.
When Rocket from the Crypt formed in 1989, the punk inspired indie-rockers quickly developed an almost cult-like following that spread like wildfire from California, quickly moving eastwards. John Reis (AKA Speedo), who is one of my personal favorite guitar players to this day, is at the helm of this band and takes on duties as guitar player and lead vocalist for the band.
Reis has been associated with arguably some of the best and most unique bands to come out of the ’90s and 2000s. He has played with acts such as Pitchfork, Hot Snakes, The Night Marchers, The Sultans, and Drive Like Jehu, which Reis actually formed around the same time as Rocket from the Crypt. Joining Reis in RFTC is drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Clickatat Ikatowi), saxophone player Apollo 9, trumpet player JC 2000, guitarist Andy “ND” Stamets (The Sultans), and Petey X on Bass guitar.
A year after the release of their fifth studio album Weekend, the new wave indie Swedish rock band The Sounds is back touring North America. Their dance-punk and ‘80s-rock vibes have been compared to that of Blondie, The Cars, and Berlin.
With songs like “Shake, Shake, Shake,” The Sounds recreate their classic disco-influenced beats, while adding a punky guitar vibe that differs from that of their previous albums.
Lead keyboard and guitarist Jesper Anderberg explained Weekend as “a groove based on five members who have been playing music together for a long time. We weren’t looking to overthink the song writing, and especially wanted to make it sound like we just hit the switch on the amps and just started playing the songs.” Front woman Maja Ivarsson has said that the band’s newest album is meant to “capture what [they] do best—which is putting on a great live show.”
On April 12, you will have the opportunity to see their great live show at the 9:30 Club, with electronic duos Blondfire and Ghost Beach as support, and we have a pair of tickets to give away to help make that happen.
You’ve probably heard by now that noted musicians Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow and lyrical pop genius Linus Elkow from Style of Eye have joined forces to create one hell of a self-titled debut EP, Galantis, which was released earlier this week.
Karlsson has written and produced for Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Britney Spears, including Spears’ ubiquitous hit “Toxic,” and Elkow wrote and produced Icona Pop’s chart-topper “I Love It.” But for themselves, the pair have moved away from such pop sensibilities. Only after listening to their debut EP will you realize the eccentric and groovy tunes that deliver a truly unique ’90s-meets-euro-house feel.
This powerhouse duo will have their debut at Coachella, and then their nationwide tour kicks off right here in Washington, DC, at the 9:30 Club on April 24. The show will include “production surprises,” as they believe that a DJ set would not do the EP justice. We have a pair of tickets to give away so that you and a friend can experience it all in person.