Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Gaz Coombes, Caleb Elliott, Kiki Wilder at City Winery, 10/4

When Supergrass called it quits in 2010, frontman Gaz Coombes kept going with a series of solo albums that showed how strong he was at songcraft and increasingly, how talented he is at producing it.

In his solo show at City Winery in Washington, DC on Thursday, he showed how he can do many things well at once, infusing his songs not just with guitar, but with effects laden loops, tapes, backing tracks, and percussion.

It added a depth (if a bit of robotic certainty) to his solid Britpop songs, which might have come across just fine with only his guitars and distinctive vocals, a yowl that sometimes brings to mind Thom Yorke of Radiohead depending on the song. That happened when he stuck to acoustic guitar to sing his salute to his autistic daughter, now 15, in “The Girl Who Fell from Earth.”

With a sprinkling from his three solo albums, the 42-year-old Coombes, still rocking the fuzzy sideburns, didn’t bother to dip into the Supergrass song pool until the last song in the encore, a version of “Moving” that had fans standing and singing along.

Truth to tell, Coombes had asked the crowd to stand for the stirring final song in his set, “Detroit”—it’s weird for a rock ’n’ roller to be playing essentially a seated supper club. But they were glad to do it.

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TVD Live Shots:
The National and
Pheobe Bridgers at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 9/28

Continuing to tour on the strength of their latest studio effort, 2017’s Sleep Well Beast, Cincinnati based rockers The National gave a passionate performance to their DC area fans in the Woodlands at Merriweather Post Pavilion among what turned out to be a monstrous two hour-plus set. 

Sleep Well Beast marks the seventh studio album for The National and along with critical acclaim from just about every major music publication, the release took home a Grammy Award for “Best Alternative Music Album” in 2017.

Their performance drew heavily from the latest record including “Nobody Else Will Be There,” “Day I Die,” “Guilty Party,” and “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” The National touched upon earlier records with material from 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me LP including “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” “Sea of Love,” “Graceless,” and “Slow Show” off 2007’s LP Boxer.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: Liz Phair and Speedy Ortiz at the 9:30 Club, 10/3

PHOTO: ELIZABETH WEINBERG | Liz Phair looked happy and perky as she took the stage at a sold-out 9:30 Club last week to reignite memories for the audience—and of her own past memories at the storied DC club.

After this year’s quarter-century salute to her big splash, Exit in Guyville, Phair at 51 seems resigned to becoming the nostalgia act her audiences demand of her, playing seven of the 18 tracks famously purporting to be answers to the songs on Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. They were well sprinkled through the set, sparking the crowd when their familiar guitar riffs began.

But there was just one new song—an acoustic-backed ballad about “what else? heartbreak,” she said, nothing from her last album, 2010’s Funstyle, and just one from the one before it, 2005’s Somebody’s Miracle.

Fun as it was to hear the jolt of things like “Supernova” and “Extraordinary,” there was something reserved about her oldies performance. Prim in leather pants and accent jacket, she played the cool aunt, but not so much that she ever broke a sweat. In front of a largely generic four piece band that received only cursory intros, she not only had her guitar tech adorn her with each song’s instrument, he had to plug her in as well.

The set decor was top to bottom fake topiary, presumably owing to the “Amps on the Lawn Tour” theme. But plastic nature only helped underscore the lack of real grit in the performance.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at The Anthem, 10/25

Washington, DC! Home of our home, the key figure in our origin story—it’s been ages since we ran a good old-fashioned ticket giveaway for ya—and we’ve got a fantastic one for you today indeed. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds play DC’s newest monument to music, The Anthem, on Thursday, October 25—and we’ve got a pair of tickets to award to one of you. First however, some official background on Cave’s October shows:

“One of the most intense and exciting live acts on the planet, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds will be headlining festivals across Europe this summer, before crossing continents to Latin and North America for 9 dates in October. They will be joined by special guest Cigarettes After Sex for their shows in Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Toronto.

2017 saw the band play sell out shows in Australia, Europe, and North America, stunning audiences with an incredible, emotional live experience and picking up some of the best reviews of an already decorated career.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ seven-piece touring line-up features Nick Cave (vocals, piano), Warren Ellis (piano, keyboards, violin, tenor guitar), Martyn Casey (bass), Thomas Wydler (drums), Jim Sclavunos (vibraphone, percussion, piano), George Vjestica (guitar), and Larry Mullins (keyboards, piano).”

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: Diana Ross
at the Music Center at Strathmore, 9/25

Nearly 60 years into her career, Diana Ross can still conjure up excitement by just flouncing onstage in an elaborate dress. At the first of two shows at the Music Center at Strathmore last week, she was also able to mostly reach those keening vocals that made her one of the leading female voices in pop.

Her exceedingly lean band (a trio augmented by all manner of unseen tracks), was also well into the choppy funk of “I’m Coming Out” while she was trying to do just that. We heard her voice before we glimpsed the excessive gown. Once on stage, she presented the array of hits by The Supremes that cemented her fame more than a half century ago. And the best thing about hearing the timeless bounce of things like “My World is Empty Without You,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” and “You Can’t Hurry Love,” is that she didn’t give short shrift to the songs in a medley, but presented pretty full versions of each one, just as they deserved.

And only 10 minutes into the show, it was already time for “Stop! In the Name of Love,” with the audience doing all the appropriate hand moves. That’s the legacy of having so many hits, being able to reach those heights so early and just keep going.

Ross was returning to scattered dates after a summer off, she said, because of a broken ankle playing with a grandchild. Soon she’ll be back to Vegas for a residency where she honed this sleek, 80 minute act, that makes time for repeated costume changes though, at 74, that’s not quite necessary. She was proud of recent weight loss and pointing it out in her colorful gowns.

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TVD Live Shots: Car
Seat Headrest and
Naked Giants at the
9:30 Club, 9/20

Indie-rock outfit, Car Seat Headrest brought their sonic talents to the 9:30 Club in DC last week to revisit a moment from their past with a newer and more ambitious interpretation. What emerged was music that is impossible to walk away from. 

In 2011, Car Seat Headrest’s frontman Will Toledo—a DC area local from Leesburg, VA who is now relocated to Seattle, WA—released one of his most admired albums to date, Twin Fantasy, later re-titled Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror). The original album marked Toledo’s sixth solo album and was recorded in the classic low-fi, DIY fashion that Toledo has become known for.

The album was made when he attended school at Virginia’s College of William and Mary and is said to be the first album he viewed as a true full length effort. Twin Fantasy is a genius collection of songs—lyrically it immortalizes a relationship that Toledo was in at the time and touches on issues like depression, love, and homosexuality.

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TVD Live Shots: Dinosaur Jr. at the
Black Cat, 9/21

Since the cancellation of a joint tour with Mastodon due to “a critical situation in the Mastodon family” via an announcement on the band’s website, noise-rock titans Dinosaur Jr. thought it would be a good idea to make a go of it on the road themselves alone. Among dates that include stops throughout the midwest and a few cities in the northeast, DC fans were treated to an evening with J, Lou, and Murph on the main stage of the Black Cat

Literally pioneers of the noise-rock genre itself, Dinosaur Jr.’s sound is made distinctive not by “noise,” but by J Mascis’ rich chord progressions and lead work on guitar, along with Lou Barlow’s melodic, full, and fuzzy bass guitar sounds. The overall tone of the trio is set by Murph’s hard hitting drums—and the sheer volume of the three together on stage. Dinosaur Jr. remains one of the loudest bands I’ve seen to date, and it’s nice to know that they’re carrying on the tradition without a hitch.

For Friday’s performance the band played through newer material and some classics, starting their set with the loud epic “Thumb,” then working their way through “Going Down,” “Lost All Day,” and a few more including their more commercial “Feel the Pain.” Things got really old school after that with “Little Fury Things,” a version of “The Wagon” featuring an additional drummer and guitar player for a fuller sound, then onto  the beloved “Kracked” and the muddy “Sludgefeast.”

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TVD Live Shots: Graham Coxon at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 9/23

Graham Coxon, Blur’s guitarist, stopped by the Rock and Roll Hotel on Sunday, halfway through his first ever North American tour as a solo artist. It was a little surreal to see one of the greatest guitarists of all time playing in a place so small, but it was probably better that way for both the audience and for Coxon. The audience, because you were essentially hanging out in a space the size of a living room with a legend, and for Coxon, a smaller room means a small audience staring at you.

Notoriously shy and introverted, Coxon is the quintessential guitarist in a band who prefers to let someone else be in front, the kind who is only truly comfortable when he’s playing guitar. And he makes it so endearing, and well…real. As a solo artist though, that makes things a little difficult, which he admitted. “You lock yourself away with bloody guitars or painting and you get good at it. And maybe you’re not sociable to begin with. And then you’re expected to go out and talk to people,” he quipped. He also admitted he couldn’t talk and tune at the same time, which led to a fair amount of silence between songs. But it was kind of charming to see, like watching a mad scientist so focused on his work…

Coxon wrote a few songs for Blur but his solo work began when a neighbor asked him to write songs for a movie that was never made. Eight solo records later, his latest output is the soundtrack from the Netflix series, The End Of The F***ing World. A majority of this tour’s setlist pulls from that (“There’s Something in the Way that You Cry” and “Roaming Star” are heart stoppingly beautiful live), and per audience request, Coxon did a little of TEoTFW’s “Bus Stop” (“It’s better with drums. My friends are too expensive now (to tour with a band),” he joked.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live Shots: The DC Record Fair at U Street Music Hall, 9/16

So, there was a record fair last weekend! The DC Record Fair returned to U Street Music Hall for its midseason mini event, which if you’ve been one of those grumbling about crowd size in the past, most likely that wasn’t a complaint this time around—the event scaled down for the venue.

But! Next year DC’s record fair turns 10 and we’re mulling over options this very moment—and we’d like your input. Please share your thoughts in the comments below with what you might like to see for the 10 year anniversary, and perhaps a thing or to for us to avoid. It’s a team effort here and you guys are on the team as well.

Meanwhile, photographer Brendan O’Hara was on site Sunday to document the record rummage in pixels for us.

The DC Record Fair is brought you by Som Records, DC Soul Recordings, and TVD.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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TVD Live: MC50 and
the Detroit Cobras at
the 9:30 Club, 9/11

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 11: MC5 (Motor City 5) performs at 930 Club in Washington, DC on September, 11 2018 during the MC50 event. (Photo by Richie Downs)

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNSHistory swirled around the rare booking of MC50 at the 9:30 Club Tuesday. Yes, it was the half century anniversary of the debut LP of the Motor City Five. In addition, a couple of weeks earlier had marked 50 years since the Democratic National Convention police riots in Chicago, where the MC5 served as house band amid the tear gas of Grant Park. And here they were in Washington, on the anniversary of 9/11.

Anyone expecting the lone survivor of the band to come out doddering had another thing coming. Guitarist Wayne Kramer was, if anything, at 70, the most active person in the reconstituted band, swirling and kicking his way onto the set and continuing his high energy approach to what looked to be the same stars and stripes guitar he used back in the day. He also grinned ear to ear during most of the show, as did the younger rockers surrounding him in playing the band’s classics.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 11: MC5 (Motor City 5) performs at 930 Club in Washington, DC on September, 11 2018 during the MC50 event. (Photo by Richie Downs)

Chief among them was guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, touring for the first time since the death of Chris Cornell in May 2017. He largely provided solid rhythm while leaving Kramer to do his explosive originating solos. But there were several times when the two combined forces to trade off solos as on “Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)” and “Borderline.” Mostly it was good to see him back in action on stage.

Billy Gould of Faith No More held down the bass, and the biggest roar all might may have been for hometown hero Brendan Canty of Fugazi on drums, slamming it out all night. But they found something special in 6-foot-7 front man Marcus Durant of the San Francisco band Zen Guerrilla, who seems to have reincarnated the very spirit of Rob Tyner, from the wild Afro to the lanky loose-jointed moves and especially the blues-tinged yowl. After Kramer was done with just about the only song he ever sang lead on, “Ramblin’ Rose,” it was Durant taking over lead vocals on the premature rush for the anthemic “Kick Out the Jams.”

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TODAY! The DC Record Fair returns to U Street Music Hall!

Back in its 9th year is Washington, DC’s twice yearly record rummage, The DC Record Fair, which sets up for an almost Fall edition at U Street Music Hall on Sunday, September 16, 2018.

At this event we’ll have 24 vinyl vendors from DC and up and down the East Coast, the anticipated DJ line up, the bar, the food, and special raffle items up for grabs just for coming through the door, all of which make the DC Record Fair a special community event.

THE DC RECORD FAIR ON U DJ LINEUP:
11:00-12:00 – Jim Byers (WPFW FM)
12:00-1:00 – Johnson Lee (Joe’s Record Paradise)
1:00-2:00 – Mike Bernstein (Home Rule Records)
2:00-3:00 – Marc Cisneros (Des Demonas, Make-Up, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds)
3:00-4:00 – Rayblev (Heavy Psych)
4:00-5:00 – Nicktha1da (DC Vinyl Headz)

Now, about those raffle items—our friends at I.M.P., the folks behind the 9:30 Club and The Anthem, have have generously put together 3 ticket giveaways for simply attending the DC Record Fair on Sunday. Enter to win a pair of tickets among 2 individual prizes or 1 grand prize upon entry:

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