Author Archives: Justin Duckham

TVD Live: Craig Finn
at Rock & Roll Hotel, 3/2

I’ll admit that when I made plans to see Craig Finn, I was actually expecting to see the Hold Steady Lite. Considering that Finn is the face and voice of the band, I couldn’t see how there’d be much of a difference, besides possibly scaling the entire operation down to fit the Rock & Roll Hotel’s small stage last Friday.

That was before I heard his solo album.

When I finally sat down and listened to Clear Heart Full Eyes, I was a little disappointed. The songs were well-crafted, but while Hold Steady albums often have at least several really strong songs that veer into the sublime, I was left feeling flat in comparison. I guiltily wanted an album packed with “Arms and Hearts” knock-offs, or at the very least, something that sounded more like what I was used to with Finn’s other band.

As a result, I went to Friday’s show saddled with doubt. However, I’m pleased to report that Finn ended up winning me over.

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TVD Recommends:
Craig Finn at the Rock
and Roll Hotel, 3/2

Last summer’s announcement that Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn was releasing his first solo album left me with a few questions. First and foremost, why?

Was the Hold Steady not giving him ample breathing room? Although the Brooklyn-born band are energetic and Springsteen-like, Finn’s lyrics, reflecting mad tales of drug-crazed kids, redemption, and Rock & Roll problems, seem deeply personal, if not biographical. So what’s the point?

Finn answers this on Clear Heart Full Eyes.

Craig Finn solo touches on a lot of the same themes as his bar-band alter ego, including his strange blend of Catholicism that the band brought to the forefront in their mangnum opus Separation Sunday.

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TVD Live: Zola Jesus at the U St. Music Hall, 2/16

It feels like a disservice to Nika Roza Danilova to comment on Zola Jesus’ appearance before acknowledging her vocal prowess, but that’s the first thing that strikes you when seeing the outfit in the flesh.

Her records conjure up an image of a larger-than-life goth priestess, but when she took the stage Thursday night at the U Street Music Hall, the audience was instead met with a petite, almost pixie-like, figure shrouded in white.

The juxtaposition highlights one of the most interesting aspects of seeing Zola Jesus live. On vinyl, particularly their latest release Conatus, they craft lavish dreamscapes that sound damn near otherworldly. While this translates to their performance, there’s another surprising element: the music is just as entrancing, but suddenly approachable.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Zola Jesus at U Street Music Hall, 2/16

Between a poor economy, mounting geopolitical tension, and the horrors of public transportation, it’s safe to say that life can pretty much suck sometimes. When it does, it’s always wise to look inside yourself and ask one important question: What would Zola Jesus do?

I have my guesses, but you can find out for yourself Thursday (2/16) night at the U Street Music Hall when goth infused singer/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova returns to Washington, DC, since we have a pair of tickets to give away.

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Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 6 Comments
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