Author Archives: Rachel Sanford

TVD Live: She & Him
at Wolf Trap, 7/11

When M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel of She & Him took the stage at Wolf Trap on Thursday night, the audience was treated to an evening of retro sights and sounds. The band played a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of very impressive surprises among well-known songs from Volume(s) One, Two, and Three. From the opening notes of “I Was Made For You” from Volume 1 to the encore ending with “I Put a Spell on You,” the show was full of entertaining surprises.

Like many women of my generation who have been following Deschanel’s career since Almost Famous, I feel a kinship with her and many of the characters she has played. Because of this, I felt like I was watching a close friend perform rather than a famous actress who happens to be in a band (or a famous singer who happens to be an actress, however you’d like to look at it). Because of Deschanel’s relatively recent jump into the true mainstream with New Girl, the audience was an interesting mix of fans of all ages. I even noticed a few fans who seemed to take style cues from Jessica Day (Deschanel’s character on New Girl).

I was less familiar with M. Ward before She & Him, and I was pleasantly surprised by his relaxed stage demeanor as he easily transitioned between instruments—electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and piano. Even more impressive was his voice. Many of She & Him’s songs feature Deschanel more prominently, especially on the albums. However, when the songs are performed live, Ward’s vocal contributions are more obvious. “You Really Got a Hold on Me” showcased his vocal talent and made me appreciate the duo’s sound even more.

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TVD Live Shots: Ellie Goulding at The Fillmore Silver Spring, 1/20

When Ellie Goulding took the stage on Sunday night at the Fillmore Silver Spring, she looked effortlessly chic in black leather shorts and a grey t-shirt.

This wardrobe choice allowed her to have a fairly physical performance, dancing and running around the stage or standing at her drum set front and center, depending on what each song called for.

She played a balanced and eclectic set that showcased her vocal talents in both slow ballads and up-tempo dance songs. I was particularly fond of her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” and her performance of the title track to her most recent album, Halcyon. Of course the other crowd pleasers included “Starry Eyed,” “Anything Can Happen,” and “Lights.”

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TVD Live: Gotye with Missy Higgins and Jonti at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 9/30

On Sunday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the rain didn’t keep area fans from seeing Gotye at the largest venue at which he has performed in the DC area. Supported by openers Jonti and Missy Higgins, Gotye gave us an entertaining concert experience that went beyond simply playing music. 

Let me start by saying that I did not know much about Gotye as an artist before seeing this performance, and I was impressed by a few things I learned by watching this particular set. The most surprising fact (at least to me) is that Gotye is a drummer. His set opened with him sitting at a drum kit playing and singing “The Only Way” from the album Like Drawing Blood. Because I wasn’t expecting this, it took me a full minute to realize which musician on stage was actually him.

I never would have expected that by simply listening to his songs (especially the song, which I’ll get to later). When I think of singer/songwriters, I do not picture percussion instruments, and Gotye’s performance showed me that maybe it is time to adjust my expectations for this type of artist.

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TVD Live: Marina and the Diamonds at the
9:30 Club, 8/14

On Tuesday night, the 9:30 Club felt less like a live music venue and more like a theater with a performance by Marina and the Diamonds.

The costume changes, elaborate set, lighting, and final curtain call all signaled theater, but the actual music was pure pop star shenanigans. Marina Diamandis and her group of talented musicians made for an entertaining evening with their energetic performance complemented by a neon pink heart in the background that beat along with each song.

I knew we were in for an interesting set when Ms. Diamandis walked on stage wearing an elaborate vintage-looking bridal veil and sang “Homewrecker” as her first number. The visual of a beautiful singer wearing that get-up while singing the line “I don’t belong to anyone” had the potential to be eye-rollingly annoying, but instead it seemed campy and fun—just like Ms. Diamandis’s entire onstage persona.

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TVD Live: The Ting Tings and MNDR at
the 9:30 Club, 4/12

My favorite part of attending mid-week concerts is feeling like I’m taking a break from my real life. Some nights, that moment of escape is more prominent than others, and this past Thursday at the 9:30 Club definitely fulfilled that idea.

The Ting Tings and MNDR gave their audience plenty of reasons to feel like going to work a little tired the next morning was well worth it.

The sold-out crowd seemed intrigued by the opening act, MNDR (Amanda Warner). Even though she has been making music for over three years, the audience for The Ting Tings did not appear to be familiar with her work at first. However, her energy was contagious and her outfit was creative so she grabbed our attention. I don’t usually comment on the clothes that artists wear, but Amanda Warner of MNDR and Katie White of The Ting Tings each showed some edginess and confidence that many artists could never hope to pull off.

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TVD Live: Trampled
by Turtles at the 9:30 Club, 11/18

Trampled by Turtles showed their Midwestern roots with crowd-pleasing tunes and easy-going onstage demeanor at 9:30 Club on Friday night.

I’m from Ohio, so I should like country music. Many friends have tried to encourage me to listen to country music over the years, but none of it has quite stuck. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at 9:30 Club on Friday night for a concert dubbed “alt-country” and I was pleasantly surprised. The performance was fairly subdued, but the musical talent on stage was unmistakable.

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TVD Live: The Wombats and The Postelles at the 9:30 Club, 10/21

An early show at 9:30 Club meant that the crowd was an interesting combination of high school and college students and “casual Friday” young professionals. The Wombats and The Postelles drew a diverse crowd that participated in the show by dancing, singing, and occasionally crowd surfing.

The Postelles played up their DC connections by talking about singer Daniel Balk’s brother who is a student at GW. Balk even gave his brother a shout out and told the ladies that his brother “is much better looking.” By the time they played my personal favorite, “She She,” the way some of the girls in front of the stage acted made me think that Daniel is in fact the better looking brother.

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TVD Ticket & Prize
Pack Giveaway: The Wombats at the 9:30 Club, 10/21 (early show)

The Wombats consist of members who met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 2003. Matthew Murphy, Dan Haggis, and Tord Overland-Knudsen have been jamming, writing, and releasing catchy singles ever since.

From their first single “Girls, Boys, and Marsupials” released in 2006 to the current single “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves),” The Wombats find a way to entertain us with fun synth beats and thoughtful lyrics.

The Wombats are playing at 9:30 Club this Friday (10/21) with The Postelles and The Static Jacks, and we have an amazing prize pack to give away!

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TVD Live: Mates of State at 9:30 Club, 9/21

Among ethereal stage decorations consisting of clouds hanging from the ceiling and paper foliage on the keyboard and drums, Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel of Mates of State put on an energetic show for their fans at 9:30 Club on Wednesday night.

This was the first stop on their current tour following the release of Mountaintops. Prior to the show, I was looking forward to hearing some upbeat tunes and seeing one of my favorite songwriting duos live for the first time. They did not disappoint.

Before Mates of State even began playing, Gardner and Hammel casually set up their own equipment. From the album covers for Bring it Back and Re-Arrange Us, we know that Gardner and Hammel are attractive people. However, I chalked much of that attractiveness up to artistic airbrushing, so I was somewhat taken aback by how beautiful they both are in person. Once they began playing, I snapped out of my admiring trance and bounced along to the music with the rest of the crowd.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Mates of State at the 9:30 Club, 9/21

Mates of State are touring in support of their new album, Mountaintops which brings them to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, September 21. TVD, as the graphic above makes plain, wants to send you to the show.

It promises to be a night filled with the up-beat quirky pop that the duo is known for. I know that I could use some cheering up because this chilly weather is making me mourn the end of the summer.

The Mates are but one of many duos in the annal of musicdom who have spun pure pop confectionery. In the comments to this post, make the case for another like-minded duo from past or present, and the most unique or clever of the bunch will be front and center—on us and the 9:30—on Wednesday.

We’ll choose our winner at noon on Tuesday, 9/20!

Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 6 Comments

TVD Live: Bright Eyes
at 9:30 Club, 9/4

Bright Eyes is a fairly polarizing band—most people either love them or hate them. Rather, most people either love or hate the frontman Conor Oberst. It is hard to dispute the genius in his lyrics and uniqueness in his voice, but I never thought of him as a dynamic frontman with stage presence until the sold out show at 9:30 Club Sunday night.

After the band took the stage, Oberst waited a few seconds before walking right up to the mic with his acoustic guitar and opening the show with “Another Travelin’ Song.” I appreciated the fact that he opened with an upbeat, sing-along-able song since so many of his songs are exactly the opposite.

Throughout the entire set, the band had an incredible energy. In spite of a few technical difficulties with power sources on the stage, the show ran seamlessly. Oberst spoke to the crowd between songs. He had some choice words about DC. Apparently, we are “in the belly of the beast” and he encourages us to “keep our heads up.”

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