Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots: Daughters with HEALTH and Show Me the Body at the 9:30 Club, 12/18

Daughters made a triumphant appearance on December 18 at Washington, DC’s 9:30 Club, bringing their critically acclaimed noise rock to an exuberant crowd. Along for the journey were Show Me the Body and HEALTH.

Kicking off the night were Show Me the Body, appearing in DC for the second time this year after a headlining show in the spring at Union Stage. After the New York trio (Julian Cashwan Pratt, Harlan Steed, and Noah Cohen-Corbett) thanked DC for its welcome, they launched into their roughly half hour set of hardcore punk. They tour in support of their new album Dog Whistle, which notably features the song “Camp Orchestra,” inspired by a visit to Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Being the first band of the night, one might anticipate a slightly more subdued interest from the crowd. That was not the case at all here. Standing in the photo pit, I could feel gusts of wind hitting me in the back of the head. I turned around to see the front row of fans headbanging, many of whom were wearing the band’s merch, easily identifiable by the three coffin logo.

Adding to the intensity were LA noise rockers HEALTH (Benjamin Jared Miller, Jake Duzsik, and John Famiglietti) who took the stage shrouded in relative darkness. That darkness was punched, however, by the strobe lights on the stage (beware of this if you are sensitive), leaving the band in a near-constant state of silhouette.

Famiglietti, when he wasn’t playing bass, hovered over an array of pedals and switches, headbanging so hair swirled in time. Touring on the heels of their February 2019 release Vol 4: Slaves of Fear, HEALTH are notable for contributing to film soundtracks such as Atomic Blonde but also video game soundtracks, composing the soundtrack to Max Payne 3 in 2012. Like with Show Me the Body, the crowd responded with rabid support.

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Independent Minded: A podcast with Ron Scalzo: The Bouncing Souls

The Independent Minded podcast features conversations with indie artists in the music and entertainment business.

Pop culture legends “Weird Al” Yankovic and Henry Rollins, indie icons CAKE, Gogol Bordello and Mike Doughty, and up-and-coming indie artists The Districts and Vagabon talk about their experiences in the business, their inspirations and passions, and their recent projects.

The podcast is hosted by Ron Scalzo, an indie musician and radio producer with 9 self-released albums and an independent record label of his own, Bald Freak Music.

Independent Minded 110 features Greg Attonito, vocalist in New Jersey punk rock band The Bouncing Souls. Greg talks about fatherhood, crucial moments, ’80s movies, Bruce Springsteen, and 30 years of The Bouncing Souls.

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TVD Live: She & Him Christmas Party at the Anthem, 12/5

PHOTO: DAN WINTERS | The first time Zooey Deschanel sang a Christmas song for huge audiences was 16 years ago in the movie Elf, crooning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in the shower, eventually dueting with an unwelcome Will Ferrell. It was that moment that showed M. Ward that the actress could actually sing, and they eventually got together to form the duo She & Him, which continued to record originals and covers even as her star rose as the star of TV’s The New Girl for seven seasons.

The third album for the two was a Christmas release, as was their sixth, two years ago. That makes fully one third of the She & Him recorded output Yuletide music. So Christmas is a big deal for them. Hence a big “Christmas Party” tour that filled Washington, DC’s cavernous Anthem with good cheer if not completely with fans. A lot of them came in holiday finery so extreme there was a costume show and competition mid-show, hosted by the comic who opened the show Pete Lee, whose schtick is being a wide-eyed innocent, not unlike a certain overgrown elf Deschanel has worked with before. Six Christmas trees stayed alight on the broad stage all night and a huge 10-foot video screen looped a fireplace fire throughout.

Deschanel’s well-defined favorite holiday period was clear from her choice of the the 1944 Frank Loesser duet she did in Elf—relying on the kind of mid-20th century, postwar pop standards popular way before her time—from about the time her father was born. That lent a kind of draggy, melancholy haze to the first half of the show, weighed down with slowed versions of nostalgic standbys from your mom’s Firestone albums like “Happy Holiday,” “The Christmas Waltz,” and “The Christmas Song.”

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TVD Live Shots:
The Joy Formidable
with Twen at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 11/29

The Joy Formidable made a stop at Washington, DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel on Black Friday, giving fans respite from the Thanksgiving holiday and oncoming Christmas onslaught. Celebrating ten years together, they treated VIPs to a short acoustic set prior to doors opening before filling the RnR Hotel with tight indie rock.

The Joy Formidable (Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Daffyd, and Matt Thomas) are playing their entire album A Balloon Called Moaning (plus a few more from their catalogue) as a celebration of hitting ten years together. The fans, crammed into the RnR Hotel’s dark snug room, were ecstatic; one yelling appreciation to Thomas as he took the stage and many singing along with Bryan.

The band appeared to be in good humor and a celebratory mood as well, appearing delighted to play their old songs. Bryan stopped to thank a young boy (age ten or so) for being in attendance and Daffyd even took it in stride when an on-stage encounter with Bryan ended with a cut to the forehead, blood trickling down his nose. Thomas for his part pounded the drums like a sledgehammer; I was situated next to his drum kit and could feel the blasts of air moved by his high hat.

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TVD Live: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/26

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | Usually I spend three days before a concert plumbing the depths of the band’s discography, but this time there was no need. I know Led Zeppelin’s back catalog like the back of my hand. So I walked to the venue listening to an astrophysicist with a thick Italian accent explaining orbital mechanics over a poor-quality long-distance call. I mention this interview because it turned out to be an oddly fitting warm-up act for JBLZE—it’s as confusing as it is fascinating.

From the beginning, it’s unclear what JBZLE is supposed to be: cover band? Nostalgia trip? Both at once, or something else entirely? To the band’s credit, it’s also difficult to fuss too much about this performative identity crisis. JBLZE is undeniably fun. They’ve been opening for Peter Frampton recently, and they hit the much smaller stage at the Fillmore with the same energy—they’re loud, proud, and happy to be there.

So is the audience, a mixed collection of Baby Boomers out on Date Night, parents who have dragged their children along (or vice versa), and die-hard Led Heads difficult to categorize any other way. In the queue outside the venue, a teenager chatters at her father about other concerts they’ve clearly been to together. He catches my eye over her head and shrugs, smiles. She’s got the bug. It’s a familiar scene; ten years ago it might have been my father and me.

The family resemblances don’t stop there. Jason Bonham reminisces about his own father between songs, recalling how the resurgence of analog audio led him to an unexpected discovery: that the liner notes give Bonzo songwriting credit on “Good Times, Bad Times.” “He didn’t play an instrument [besides the drums],” Jason explains, “so how did he get the ideas across?” He sang them, according to Jimmy Page, who answered this question with an anecdote about “Out on the Tiles”—which started with one of Bonzo’s old drinking songs.

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TVD Live Shots: La Dispute with Empath
and Touché Amoré at
the 9:30 Club, 11/24

La Dispute brought its post hardcore punk to Washington, DC on 11/24 with an appearance at the 9:30 Club. Philadelphia noise rock band Empath and Los Angeles post-hardcore punks Touché Amoré were along for support.

La Dispute is touring in support of its their well-received fourth album Panorama, the first release with Epitaph Records. The current lineup is vocalist Jordan Dreyer, drummer Brad Vander Lugt, guitarist Chad Morgan-Sterenberg, guitarist Corey Stroffolino, and bass guitarist Adam Vass. Getting great reviews from outlets like Pitchfork, the music blends melodic tones with finely constructed stories that touch on death and life. I was not entirely sure what to expect from this band, with the dim lights and salt lamps on stage; however, the show was extremely energetic and Dreyer possesses the ability to convey deep emotion through fine vocal execution.

It’s worth noting that La Dispute often works with charitable organizations. In addition, early in the set, Dreyer stopped to state the band supports a safe environment for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or race. A quick search reveals that the band makes their catalog of music available free each Christmas, asking only that fans make donations to organizations of their own choosing. It’s always refreshing to see bands use their position to support positivity and charity.

The night kicked off with Philadelphia noise punk darlings Empath, described by Rolling Stone as being much of a “cosmic jazz combo as a screaming punk band”. Empath (Catherine Elicson, Garrett Koloski, Emily Shanahan, and Randall Coon) are promoting their debut LP, Active Listening: Night in Earth, described as fierce and cacophonous. It’s clear, in performance, this is a band not interested in fitting into a neat category.

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Independent Minded: A podcast with Ron Scalzo: Ra Ra Riot

The Independent Minded podcast features conversations with indie artists in the music and entertainment business.

Pop culture legends “Weird Al” Yankovic and Henry Rollins, indie icons CAKE, Gogol Bordello and Mike Doughty, and up-and-coming indie artists The Districts and Vagabon talk about their experiences in the business, their inspirations and passions, and their recent projects.

The podcast is hosted by Ron Scalzo, an indie musician and radio producer with 9 self-released albums and an independent record label of his own, Bald Freak Music.

Episode 108 features Mat Santos, bass player in New York indie rock band Ra Ra Riot. Mat talks about poor tour packing, bonding over U2, making Superbloom, and his bass guitar heroes.

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TVD Live Shots: Electric Wizard with Midnight at the Fillmore, 11/18

It was a night of doom and black metal as veterans Electric Wizard made an appearance at the Fillmore Silver Spring supported by the barely contained black metal and punk energy of Midnight.

For the uninitiated, an Electric Wizard show involves slurping from a chalice of sludgy metal masterpieces, with lyrics touching on gothic literature and obscure horror films. In concert this is all set against a backdrop of ’70s Satanic Panic exploitation films and bathed in orange and red lights. The guitars (Liz Buckingham with Haz Wheaton on bass) are raw, the drums (Simon Poole) pound, and Jus Oborn’s vocals are tortured while blood and Satanic ceremony flash above the stage on the screen. It’s hypnotic and intense, and a little unnerving if you’re unaccustomed to it.

The fans gathered at the Fillmore were there for it, however. The usual roundup of black-clad metal fans came to see Electric Wizard on their brief jaunt through the East Coast, two years after their 2017 release, Wizard Bloody Wizard. The stop at the Fillmore Silver Spring was number three of six for the US this fall, so a special appearance indeed, and a treat for doom metal fans.

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TVD Live: Hozier at
the Anthem, 11/18

Monday night, freezing rain, and there’s a queue outside the Anthem that stretches all the way to the rideshare drop-off loop. It’s a motley group, ranging from teen- to middle-aged and representing eclectic social and sartorial demographics. There’s as much flannel as there is glitter. The line lurches along until everyone is swept inside with a wave of a security guard’s magic wand. The auditorium is a dark high-ceilinged dome, vaguely churchlike. It makes sense—an assignation in the House of God made Hozier famous in the first place.

But the people packed into the Anthem didn’t just come to hear “Take Me to Church.” They listen attentively to opening act Angie McMahon, an Australian singer-songwriter whose waifish appearance and guttural vocals are somehow reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith at the same time. (She’s fantastic, by the way. Folks who skipped her missed out.)

When the main attraction makes his way onstage, the audience worships him, loves every song, knows all the words. It’s not just music; it’s more like a religious experience, complete with gospel choirs and rays of celestial light. There’s something hagiographic about Hozier—a gangly bearded Irishman with the voice of a soul singer and the sublimely morbid sensibility of a Romantic poet. He seems like he’d be equally at home in an Irish bog or a boneyard in Baton Rouge, crooning to a lover or howling at the moon.

But as normal indoor concerts go, this one is thoughtful, absorbing, and impeccably produced. What’s most impressive is the cohesive artistic vision: intricate lighting cues are in constant conversation with the music, while the projections fluently transform from live feed to animation to news reels and abstract film, all designed to heighten the mood.

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TVD Live Shots: Anna Rose with Annie Stokes at DC9, 11/17

On Sunday night, an intimate, low key crowd gathered at Washington DC’s DC9 to see New York rocker Anna Rose, with support from local singer songwriter Annie Stokes.

Anna Rose Menken, who goes professionally by Anna Rose, has music in her DNA. Her father, renowned composer Alan Menken, is perhaps best known for his scores for Disney films (such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast). In contrast, however, Anna Rose’s style is much more rock and roll. Her sound has been described as an amalgam of blues, rock, and grunge and she cites such female greats as Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin as influences.

Her latest album, The Light Between, is described as more of a singer-songwriter’s foray into Americana, having been recorded in (and likely influenced by) Nashville. To a fan of rock music, she has a welcome sound: backed by a four-piece band, she possesses a beautiful voice, but the songs are not pretty. Gritty and guitar laden, they tell stories of those who are lost and restless. Underscoring her influences, in concert her performance of “Bury Me Deep” leads to a gorgeous rendition of “Rhiannon.” Warm and enjoyable, Anna Rose’s music goes down like sips of fine bourbon. In short, she’s terrific.

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TVD Live: Marshall Crenshaw at City Winery, 11/16

Marshall Crenshaw’s tours these days take different forms. Sometimes he goes solo, other times he shares the stage with the Bottle Rockets. He was the lead voice for a Smithereens tribute tour earlier this year as well. But Saturday for a show at City Winery in Washington DC, he fronted a trio that gave both muscular backing to his tuneful, timeless songs and a loose, fresh approach to many of them.

It began with the opening “There She Goes Again,” whose bounce slowed with a more relaxed beat. The sprightly song had kicked off his landmark self-titled album in 1982 that’s still a favorite of Crenshaw fans and to which the singer returned a couple of other times for show high points, “Cynical Girl” and “Someday, Someway,” which with he ended the set.

But other songs may have better used his group, which boasted bassist Jared Michael Nickerson, who has played with Charlie Musselwhite, Freedy Johnston, and Vernon Reid and drummer Dan Hickey, who played for years for They Might Be Giants, and also Joe Jackson, Joe Cocker, The B-52’s and Cyndi Lauper.

The jazzy “Fantastic Planet of Love” was well suited for their instrumental flights; the hard-charging “Better Back Off” got a slower, almost country approach. The looseness overall may have been the inevitable result of not rehearsing, the singer admitted. Crenshaw extolling the practice of Dean Martin in approaching his TV variety show the same way. But it also meant the show had a spontaneity throughout.

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TVD Live: Kinky Friedman at Pearl Street Warehouse, 11/7

He’s been a popular detective novelist, a singer, a columnist, Peace Corps volunteer, animal rescuer, and a politician. He played at the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday Night Live, and the Rolling Thunder Revue. He’s the only performer in 45 years to record an episode of Austin City Limits that was never aired. And he won 12.6 percent of the vote when he ran for Governor of Texas in 2006.

Kinky Friedman is back on the road and playing music, with the latest of a revived recording career and a new album that’s in the Americana Top 10. In a typically laconic solo show at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington, DC on Thursday, days after he turned 75, he placed himself in the tradition of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, with wisecracks out of Mark Twain (he fiddled with a cigar that he never lit indoors).

That notion probably comes from starting with Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” a populist Robin Hood anthem, that begins with the invitation, “If you’ll gather ‘round me, children, a story I will tell..” That’s the same way another staple of his set began, Peter LaFarge’s “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” another song about social import about a Pima Indian who became a forgotten World War II hero.

More often in his show—and what the dozens of people came to see—were his randy little ditties like “Waitret, Please Waitret” (“come sit on my fate” is its written lyric) or his flirty song of archeology, “Homo Erectus.” And it wouldn’t be a Kinky concert without his “Asshole from El Paso,” Chinga Chavin’s inversion of Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.”

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TVD Live: The New Pornographers and
Lady Lamb at the
Lincoln Theatre, 11/6

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | From the big sound that comes from The New Pornographers you’d almost expect more people on stage. But just eight were there Wednesday at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington DC, covering songs from eight different albums before a happy, largely seated audience.

It was the rare second day in the city to satisfy demand. Even more rare was that they were inside a theater rather than a big nightclub. “In 15 years I don’t think we’ve ever not played the 9:30 Club,” frontman Carl Newman said. It was such a topsy-turvy thing, he sang a line from “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” from “Hamilton,” perhaps inspired by being in the Nation’s Capital an extra day. But in doing a second night’s show, though, they were determined to present a different show than the night before. “It’s only polite,” said Newman, ever the Canadian.

So people didn’t hear the new “Leather on the Seat” from their new album In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Instead of “Dancehall Domine” from Brill Bruisers they played “You Tell Me Where”; two things were heard from Challengers including the title track that they hadn’t played the night before; they did a rare “Use It” but not “Stacked Crooked” from Twin Cinema. Further, “Avalanche Alley” instead of “High Ticket Attractions” from Whiteout Conditions; and “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” instead of “Crash Years” from Together.

It couldn’t have been too easy; these are intricate pop creations with lots of parts presumably needing lots of practice—they don’t just bang out anything. But it all sounded pretty darn glorious and they kept in enough favorites to rally fans from any of its eras (for me, it was “Singing Spanish Techno”).

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TVD Live: Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding at City Winery, 11/5

Rockabilly had its heyday and faded 20 years before Robert Gordon picked up the mantle in the late ’70s. By then, he had already been frontman for CBGB’s mainstay Tuff Darts and he would bring the same punk energy to the bass-slapping vibrancy of the ’50s sound.

He was the pre-Stray Cats king of the rockabilly revivalists even if he only grazed the mainstream. Still, Bruce Springsteen gave him the throbbing “Fire”; he recorded Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway” before its author made it his signature song. Throughout a string of initial albums, he built a body of rockabilly works that would drive the music into the next decade.

Decades later, Gordon, at 72, is still performing and on Tuesday headlined a show at City Winery in Washington, DC, not far from where he grew up in Bethesda, MD. A lot of old friends showed up for him, including the drummer for the first band he was in at age 15. But it was not as crowded a night as past local appearances have been.

In a stylish suit and cummerbund, with an attempt at a modish cut in his hair, he cut a figure like a retired baseball star or ex-boxer opening a nightclub. He was welcoming and debonair but with a rough-hewn, old school expression that put him from another era. In front of a band with more credentials than there were fans before them, they rocked right into “Someday, Someway” after a five song set led by guitarist Chris Spedding, who comes to the tour after backing Bryan Ferry on a swing that played to thousands at the Anthem locally this summer.

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TVD Live Shots:
Sabaton and HammerFall at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/3

For many years, I’ve had an interest in the study of World War I, “The Great War.” In just four years, that conflict sprayed carnage across the world, leaving millions dead, accelerated technological advancements, influenced the culture of a generation, and shaped an entire century. I’d read books and given speeches on why we should continue to have an interest, even as 100 years have passed since November 11, 1918. I’ve only ever been met with polite attention. I know now what was missing from my discussions, the thing that could generate sustained enthusiasm for creaky, dusty history: Swedish power metal.

This realization came to me when Sabaton (Joakim Brodén, Pär Sundström, Tommy Johansson, Hannes van Dahl, and Chris Rörland) marched through suburban Washington, DC this past Sunday night with support from HammerFall, blasting the sold out Fillmore Silver Spring, the last night of the US leg of “The Great Tour.” Sabaton are promoting their new album The Great War. Unlike previous albums that were built around a war-related theme—last stands, heroes, the rise and fall of the Swedish Empire—this album is built around World War I.

It was an impressive stage setup for a club venue—a war tank with the drum kit perched on top and mic stands in the form of helmets and rifles. After kicking off with “Ghost Division,” Sabaton tore through roughly half of The Great War, setting stories about the Red Baron and the Battle of Verdun to fist pumps and metal riffs.

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