Category Archives: TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live Shots:
Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 2/16

Colorado jam band Big Head Todd and the Monsters stopped at the Fillmore Silver Spring for a relaxed and fun night of blues rock tinged with a bit of 1990s nostalgia. Without any support act, the band (vocalist Todd Mohr, keyboard/pedal steel guitarist Jeremy Lawton, drummer Brian Nevin, and bassist Rob Squires) was free to take the stage promptly at 8PM and lept into its set, which reached into the band’s early 1990s work.

The Washington, DC area is known for being a region crawling with transplants, so it was no surprise that the crowd responded with a supportive roar when Mohr introduced the band as being from Colorado. Big Head Todd and the Monsters is known for its sizable live following out in the western part of the United States where they spent the late 1980s and ’90s touring extensively. The band still fills venues like Red Rocks near Denver, where they are scheduled to appear again in June. Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ first album, Another Mayberry, was released in 1989. In 1993, Sister Sweetly was released and went platinum in the US. The band’s 12th full-length album, Thunderbird, is scheduled to be released in late spring.

Friday night at the Fillmore Silver Spring, Mohr and the rest of the band, by the looks of it, gave the crowd what it wanted—a well-rounded setlist featuring old favorites (such as “Bittersweet”), new material (“Her Way Out”), and a few carefully selected cover tunes (some John Lee Hooker, anyone?). It was a crowd that skewed in the direction of being old enough to have seen the band in the 1990s; it was also one that was enthusiastic and became more well-lubricated as the show progressed.

Favorites like “Please Don’t Tell Her” got the crowd singing along. “It’s Alright” was delivered with a dash of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On,” which promptly got the unselfconscious in the audience slowly dancing with each other. There were many! The show wrapped up with a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me,” which brought the house down.

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TVD Live Shots: Machine Head with Fear Factory, Orbit Culture, and Gates to Hell at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 2/12

Metal fans gathered Monday night—the night after the Super Bowl—for a blinding night at the Fillmore Silver Spring, the latest stop on metal icon Machine Head’s massive Slaughter the Martour North American tour. Machine Head has Fear Factory, Orbit Culture, and Gates to Hell along for the ride.

The night kicked off early as Gates To Hell took the stage at 6:30PM to a still-assembling crowd. Gates to Hell (vocalist Ryan Storey, bassist Dustin Cantrell, guitarists Seth Lewis, Stephen Price, and Eli Hanson, and drummer Jared Barron) is a metalcore outfit from Louisville, Kentucky; in September 2022, they released their debut self-titled album. The band has said that their body of work is largely inspired by horror-related themes; live Monday night, it prepped the stoked fans for a long night of metal chaos with a 30-minute set.

After seeing Orbit Culture three times in 2023 when they supported Avatar, I was eager to see the Swedish band again. At 7:20PM, Orbit Culture (vocalist/guitarist Niklas Karlsson, guitarist Richard Hansson, bassist Fredrik Lennartsson, and drummer Christopher Wallerstedt), took the stage and proceeded to tear the place down. Watching them perform, the word that kept coming to mind was “ferocious.”

Writing about the band last September, when I covered their date in Nashville with Avatar, I said that Orbit Culture seemed to have gotten better over the course of 2023, if it were possible. I daresay the same thing has happened since last fall—their sound and stage presence seems to have improve even more. The terrorizing sound of the band’s live set was punctuated by the egging on of the audience, which was more than happy to comply with Karlsson’s instructions to form circle pits.

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TVD Live: Juliana Hatfield at the Kennedy Center Millennium
Stage, 1/26

PHOTO: DAVID DOOBININ | Juliana Hatfield looked a little severe as she stepped onto the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage for a well attended free show last weekend. In a slim dark military coat with epaulets, her greying hair center parted and pulled back in a bun.

But soon into her set, accompanying herself on her Barbie-pink electric guitar, she was as we’ve ever known her, in that earnest, high voice, staying true to herself as she mowed down subjects in her songs. There was a sort of logic to her set—the opening “Candy Wrappers” were strewn “all over the hotel room floor,” which led to “Hotel” (“welcome me when I need a home”). She may have been thinking about coming down from Boston and checking into her DC hotel.

Later, she laid bare her process of sequencing songs, saying she paired “Wonder Why,” the well-observed song describing her parents’ house, with an Electric Light Orchestra cover, because the former song described “a transistor radio held up to my ear” on which her teenage self was likely listening to ELO.

Doing cover albums has been a thing in recent years for Hatfield—her latest is Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO, from which she did “Telephone Line,” which required a bit of crowd participation, as well as the lesser known “Sweet in the Night,” which she said was her favorite.

From her other thematic cover albums she played the most famous one from the Police collection, “Roxanne,” with just the right tone, and two from her surprising collection of Olivia Newton John songs—the yearning country ballad “Please Mr. Please” and the splendidly poppy “Dancing’ ‘Round and ‘Round.”

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TVD Live: Chuck Prophet at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 1/19

Chuck Prophet appeared a little wary when he looked out at the seated, earlybird audience at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, essentially a hallway of the cavernous performing arts hall. There is some prestige to start a short tour at the hallowed national space—and though a few hundred were on hand to witness it live, it’s also amplified through an in-house video available worldwide for free streaming.

Prophet by now certainly knows how to shape a show; beginning some of his wistful rockers with amusing stories and always ready with an unexpected reference or lyric turn of phrase. He told of an odd fourth grade field trip near San Clemente in “Nixonland,” of a meeting at the power lines in “Womankind,” and a yearning for an alternate world where the New York Dolls were still around and he’d be “High as Johnny Thunders.”

Those three were from the latest album, the 2019 The Land That Time Forgot, whose songs fit nicely with his live standards, from an unseasonable “Summertime Thing” to “Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You),” a tune he said he got to sing once on Late Night with David Letterman, when the reaction of his mother later was “It’s not my favorite song.”

The emphasis of his show were songs from his 21st century releases, the 2014 Night Surfer and Temple Beautiful, his 2012 stand out album dedicated to his hometown of San Francisco and its colorful people. There was nothing, though, from his first rate 2017 Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, perhaps because it’s more built for a band.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Charlatans and
Ride at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 1/17

It was a frosty night in the Washington, DC area, but the Fillmore Silver Spring was warm with 1990s nostalgia when The Charlatans and Ride stopped by on a date for their coheadlining Between Nowhere tour last Wednesday night. Between Nowhere is a mashup of Ride’s classic album Nowhere, from 1990, and The Charlatans’ classic Between 10th and 11th , from 1992, both of which are played in full on this tour. 

Wednesday, The Charlatans kicked the night off and tore through Between 10th and 11th sounding as well-oiled as ever. Led by the energetic Tim Burgess, The Charlatans (Burgess, Martin Blunt, Mark Collins, Tony Rogers, and touring drummer Peter Salisbury), are known for being a pioneering indie rock band, having formed in 1988 in England, and associated with the “Madchester” scene. The R&B and keyboard-tinged soul music the band is known for was on display at the Fillmore Wednesday night.

As mentioned, the set included all Between 10th and 11th which included “Tremelo Song,” “The End of Everything,” and “Weirdo,” and “Chewing Gum Weekend.” Once the album wrapped up, the band launched into selections from the rest of their catalog, including “Just When You’re Thinking Things Over” and “The Only One I Know.” The first half of the night ended with “Sproston Green” from The Charlatans’ debut album, 1990’s Some Friendly. It was a set filled with fan favorites and clearly designed to evoke memories.

The blond-mopped Burgess hyped the crowd through the band’s set, clapping waving his arms, and engaging with the audience. After some banter about where folks shopped for clothes, one fan in the balcony took off her sweater and threw it at Burgess. The crowd cheered for him to give her his sweater in return. After a few unsuccessful attempts to toss his wooly blue garment up to the balcony, the “jumper swap” was finally successful. Burgess spent the rest of the set wearing a bright green sweater that said “WEIRDO” in bright pink letters across the front and presumably the fan went home with a memorable item from the show.

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TVD Live: Southern Culture on the Skids
and Jumpin’ Jupiter
at Pearl Street Warehouse, 12/30

One imagines New Year’s Eve weekend gigs as big dress-up affairs, with champagne toasts, balloon drops, and an overall classier sort of celebration. Southern Culture on the Skids, as their name implies, works against most of that, with swampy, stomping anthems about dirt tracks, fried chicken, mobile homes, moonshine, and generally déclassé down-home living.

The band’s stage set Saturday at the Pearl Street Warehouse in DC, had a few strands of sad looking garland on amplifiers, some cardboard ribbons to denote the recent Yuletide they never mentioned. Bassist Mary Huff, in her bouffed up hair and go-go boots, looked the most done-up for New Year’s; she cracked open the Lite variation of what was once known as the champagne of bottled beer.

On the first of the two night stand, they didn’t have to worry about countdowns at midnight—or any kind of particular arc to their typically woolly and wayward show. The closest they came was a cover of The Pretty Things’ 1966 “Midnight to Six Man,” but that was about it. Mostly they stuck to their greasy, down-home formula, which was certainly welcome from a band that recently marked its 40th anniversary.

Throughout, guitarist and front man Rick Miller is the only mainstay, but they’ve remained the same trio for 36 years, still sounding vital, though they looked a little odd all spread across the bar’s stage with Miller center, Huff over to one side thrumming her pink bass, and the hard-hitting drummer Dave Hartman way over on the left, standing at his sparse kit of a snare and two toms.

Miller, in his seed cap and grey pappy chin beard is a demon on the guitar, kicking off with a stinging surf instrumental, “Skullbucket,” cracking a smile every time he hit a sweet riff. On harder rockers like the “Voodoo Cadillac” that followed or the boogie “Greenback Fly,” he gets a little lost in his driving solos, extending them into extended guitar workouts, cutting further and further into the groove until Huff shoots him a look as if to remind him its time to wrap up. Hartman, for his part, just keeps whacking away, with nothing to slow this engine.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS with Amber Wild at
CFG Bank Arena, 11/29

BALTIMORE, MD | The mighty KISS—the ones who gave rock ‘n’ roll to us all, the gods of thunder, “the best” we ever wanted—have said farewell to touring life forever with their End of the Road World Tour.

The global tour has been ongoing since 2019 and has had a least two DMV stops including Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia in 2019 and a recent November 29th performance in Baltimore, Maryland at CFG Bank Arena for the KISS Army to rock and roll all night once more time in Charm City.

The tour concluded with a two night stay in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The spectacle of “Kiss Week in NYC” dominated music press and social media all week with enough face paint to be seen for miles, literally. The fab foursome actually had a portrait adorned on the city’s beloved Empire State building on November 30 ahead of their NYC shows. I have to say, the thought of a rock band from Queens with their picture on the Empire State building for the whole world to see is enough to bring tears to any music fans eyes.

As for the Baltimore show, I don’t have to tell you that band was amazing. With KISS we’ve come to expect nothing less. After all, the band practically wrote the book on how to put on a rock show, and no live performance has the pageantry, the mystique, or the grandeur of a KISS show. They bring it every night—and they are simply the best.

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TVD Live Shots: Ice Nine Kills, In This Moment, Avatar, and New Year’s Day at the Anthem, 11/28

Weirdos, misfits, and freaks gathered at The Anthem in Washington, DC on Tuesday night to catch one of the last few dates of the Kiss of Death tour, with coheadliners Ice Nine Kills and In This Moment. Swedish metal gods Avatar provided support, as did California’s New Year’s Day. It was a fun and fabulous evening for lovers of heavy music with a theatric bent, and I was delighted and honored to have the privilege of covering this tour date for The Vinyl District. It was a spectacular night.

With four bands on the bill, the festivities got started early. At 6:15 PM the lights went down, and the members of New Year’s Day took the stage. Avatar followed precisely at 7 PM. But more on those bands in a bit.

The first coheadliner to take the stage Tuesday night was In This Moment. I’ve been hearing about In this Moment and their lavish live shows for years now; somehow, I’d never seen them until Tuesday night. As their set began, I was eager to experience what was in store. The stage was hidden by a white sheet adorned with a giant black spider. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” filled the room until the curtain dropped—and the crowd lost its collective mind.

Led by the beautiful and mysterious Maria Brink, In This Moment hails from LA, and was formed in 2005 by Brink and Chris Howorth. Along with Brink and Howorth, the current lineup includes Travis Johnson, Randy Weitzel, and Kent Diimmel. Live, In This Moment couples heavy but catchy music with an elaborate stage production.

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TVD Live: Molly Tuttle
at the 9:30 Club, 11/21 

Molly Tuttle knew she had a great bluegrass band when she put together The Golden Highway two years ago, so soon after touring their first album together last year, the Grammy-winning Crooked Tree, she got busy writing songs for a new album. Ten songs from that new one, City of Gold dominated their big sellout show at the 9:30 Club last week, closing the Eastern leg of their tour.

Tuttle, fresh off a full-show Austin City Limits broadcast, was happy to be making her first appearance at the long-running DC club (which she thought was so named because that’s when all its shows start). Her confidence seemed that much more amped up to fill a rock club, following her previous area show last year, playing the quieter Birchmere across the river in Alexandria, VA.

The new album is something of a road trip into the West, into the old gold mining towns in “El Dorado” or riding an imaginary rail in the “San Joaquin” from Tehachapi to Bakersfield. And she began with its anthem of “a girl as wild as a western town” who “can saddle up, not settle down” in “Evergreen, OK.”

There was little settling down in the typically high-energy show that offered a lot of showcases for the speedy, virtuoso band members, from mandolinist Dominick Leslie, who is also part of the group Hawktail; as well as fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Shelby Means on bass, and Kyle Tuttle on banjo.

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The DC Record Fair returns to Eaton DC, 10/29

Surprise! We’ve scared up another DC Record Fair! Now in its 14th year, DC’s twice yearly record dig, returns to Washington’s vinyl and community-centric Eaton DC on Sunday, October 29, 2023.

For this event, we’ll have 45+ record dealers from up and down the East Coast with thousands of records, a stellar DJ line up—and entry to the event is free of charge for the entire day.

Our thanks to YouTube user Abigail Bender for a recap of last October 2022’s DC Record Fair above!

11:00-12:00 – Cinema Hearts
12:00-1:00 – Doc Delay
1:00-2:00 – DJ Neville C
2:00-3:00 – DJ Fleg
3:00-4:00 – DJ Fatback
4:00-5:00 – Baby Alcatraz

Mark your calendars! 

Sunday, October 29, 2023 at Eaton DC, 1201 K Street, NW DC
11:00AM–5:00PM—and free all day!
Follow via Facebook.

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TVD Live: Lucinda Williams at Capital
One Hall, 10/24

It was a bit of a shock to see Lucinda Williams being helped onto the stage for her Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets tour at the sleek new Capital One Hall in Tysons, VA. Unsure on her feet and moving slowly on the arm of a roadie, she presented quite a different vision than the strong and vibrant, guitar-slinging singer-songwriter we’ve come to know over the past few decades.

The path was to a stool where she sat, minus guitar, swinging her feet, as she alternated stories of her life with appropriate songs. Her condition precluded her playing her guitar temporarily, she said. “I like to think of it as temporary.” And while she freely noted that it was due to “a stroke I had last year,” it was 2020 when she suffered that stroke. Luckily, it didn’t affect her voice, which still had its lilting drawl while speaking and was absolutely strong, clear, and ringing through her songs.

Because the tour is named after the memoir she released earlier this year and not the album she also put out in this year (that has a title like a book), Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, the evening took the format of one of those book and music shows, most successfully done by Bruce Springsteen on Broadway from 2017 to 2021, but also attempted by Ray Davies for his book X Ray in 1995.

Williams never read directly from her book, though. Rather, she shared her vignettes of growing up in various towns in the South, playing guitar since she was 12, extemporaneously—often wondering if she was going a little too far off track before she’d get back to the song with which she’d pair it.

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TVD Live:
Alejandro Escovedo at
The Hamilton, 10/21

PHOTO: NANCY RANKIN ESCOVEDO | Alejandro Escovedo has played with a lot of different outfits over the years, from raging punk bands to Americana outfits to classical ensembles. One of the more unusual pairings may have been the rural Italian group with whom he cut his last album, The Crossing (with whom he’ll reunite for an album of new versions of old songs before recording some new things next year).

For now, ever the troubadour, Escovedo has been touring in a trio that’s given some muscle and versatility to whatever he selects from what he called “14 or something albums.” For the tour that brought him to The Hamilton in DC, Escovedo was flanked by able Houston drummer Mike Henne and Denton, Texas, keyboardist Scott Danbom. Together they brought a full backing to Escovedo’s electric guitar and a voice that was still surprisingly strong and smooth at 72.

The stories behind “The Crossing,” a coming of age tale that somewhat mirrored his own family’s move from Mexico to Texas to California, provided a lot of the dialog. But he also moved back to things like “Sometimes” from 1996’s With These Hands. Whole albums were necessarily skipped in the 13-song set, particularly Real Animal and Street Songs of Love, but the 2001 album A Man Under the Influence provided a kind of framework for the show, starting with “Wave,” the moving song of migration that opened the show; to the love story “Rosalie” that provided an emotional heart late in the show, with its own explanatory intro; to the can’t miss, set-closing rocker “Castanets.”

Danbom, formerly of Centro-matic, and who had also played in Slobberbone and (briefly) Drive-by Truckers, had the responsibilities of a Ray Manzarek—holding down bass on his analog synthesizer while paying electric keyboards, adding a distinctive “96 Tears” vibe to things like “Break This Time.” But Escovedo often stood opposite Henne’s drum set, concentrating on the basic call-and-response of drums to guitar that’s often at the heart of his songbook.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Darkness with
Paris Monster at the
9:30 Club, 10/22

Twenty years after the release of Permission to Land, rock legends The Darkness hit the road on a tour supporting the reissue of their massively successful debut album. The US leg of the Permission to Land 20th Anniversary Tour wrapped up in Washington, DC, Sunday night at the storied 9:30 Club.

Permission To Land was released in 2003; it was met with immediate success, powered by the single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” I was able to briefly catch the band the following summer at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was excited to see them but got dragged away by my aunt and cousin after a few songs; we had just seen Prince and they wanted to get home. After Sunday night, I’m very sorry it’s taken 19 years for me to see the band again. Better to be late to the party than to never show up at all, I suppose.

The band (frontman Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain, and Rufus Tiger Taylor) wasted no time, launching into “Black Shuck,” “Get Your Hands Off of My Woman,” and “Growing on Me,” the first three tracks of Permission to Land. From there it felt like barely contained, delightful chaos, fueled by Hawkins himself who, by the way, sounds just as good as he did 20 years ago.

Clad in a jumpsuit reminiscent of 1970s Freddie Mercury, Hawkins filled the entire club with his charisma and mischievous spirit, jumping in the air, doing a handstand on the drum riser, joking with the crowd, and stepping onto the barrier from the stage. He playfully teased a few dudes in the audience; one man was scolded for wearing a non-licensed Darkness t-shirt to the show. His punishment? Hawkins removed the shirt from the man and wore it himself for a bit before handing it back.

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TVD Live Shots: St. Paul and the Broken Bones with Y la Bamba at the Warner Theatre, 10/10

St. Paul & The Broken Bones performed to a delighted crowd in Washington, DC Tuesday night, a stop on the Angels in Science Fiction tour.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based soul band (Paul Janeway, Browan Lollar, Jesse Phillips, Kevin Leon, Allen Branstetter, Amari Ansari, and Chad Fisher), wasted no time getting into the groove when they took the stage, jamming until bandleader/vocalist Janeway strutted into the spotlight, crowd cheering. They kicked off their set with “Flow with It (You Got Me Feeling Like),” from their 2016 release, Sea of Noise.

The band’s latest album is Angels in Science Fiction, a work largely inspired by fatherhood, specifically, the experience of Janeway becoming a new father to a baby girl. Before performing “Lonely Love Song,” accompanied only by a guitar, Janeway talked about the feelings he had about impending parenthood and how they moved him to write that song. It was one of only three songs (out of an 18 song setlist) from the new album.

The rest of the night’s selections were pulled from across the band’s expanding discography, with the most coming from 2014’s Half the City, which nearly ten years later, remains a fan favorite, judging by the DC crowd. A highlight of the night isn’t a St Paul & the Broken Bones song at all, but a cover of Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over.”

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TVD Live Shots: Boris and Melvins at the Howard Theatre, 9/22

Legendary trio Melvins stopped at Washington, DC’s Howard Theatre last Friday night, a date on their massive 40th anniversary “Twins of Evil” tour, a coheadlining tour with Boris.

Formed in Washington State in 1983, Melvins (currently Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover, and Stephen McDonald) are credited with merging the worlds of punk and heavy music, influencing the development of sludge metal and grunge. The “Twins of Evil” tour is not just a 40th anniversary tour for Melvins, but a showcase for their 1991 album Bullhead. This album is what is cited as a turning point for the band, the point at which Melvins became a true metal outfit with a more chugging sound and longer songs.

Melvins kicked off the coheadlining set Friday night to a packed and steamy house—one unfortunate fan succumbed to heat before the show even got started. The legends played all of Bullhead with a few additional tracks thrown in for good measure to the delight of the crowd. They were impressive over the course of their hour-long set.

Singer/guitarist Osborne’s voice and playing have stood the test of time and bassist McDonald hammed it up for the crowd. Coady Willis, filling in for Crover on tour, pounded away tirelessly on drums. Melvins played on stage with a backdrop of actress Agnes Moorehead in full Endora makeup (from the old TV show Betwitched) and vibrant, almost psychedelic, lighting—all pink and orange. It was a heady experience coupled with the sludgy metal. They ended with, of course, “Boris.”

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