ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

78 posts in category:

[REVIEWS]

Live music reviews — the heart of this site.

Grant Hart @ Black Cat, 1/13/11

I was super excited about seeing one of my musical heroes, Grant Hart , for the first time ever, on a cold night (in a cold city, in a cold cold cold cold world). It was maybe not everything that I dreamed of, but was totally, well, interesting. I’m really glad I saw him; I’ve been kicking myself for the past year for missing him last time he was in town. Hüsker Dü was actually the first underground/punk/indie band that I ever really got into. Towards the end of my high school years, while the ’...

2010 reviewed

2010 was a great year for music — aren’t they all? I missed more great shows than I went to, but I still saw a lot of amazing performances. Looking back, it is hard to determine what my favorite show was, but I will have to say it was Unrest at their crazy triple-reunion show at the Black Cat. I always say how tired I am of old bands reuniting, but then I see a performance like that and it makes me want to rush out and see all the dinosaur bands before they disappear. For runners-up I will go wi...

Gogol Bordello @ 930 Club, 12/30/10

There’s been an influx of gypsy, Yiddish, and Slavic–influenced music in the indie-rock scene in recent years, but I haven’t paid super close attention to it. On the one hand, it sounds like my kinda thang: I love when cultures intermingle, and I know a fair amount about eastern Europe and its cultural traditions. On the other hand, when I have seen some of these bands , I have been a little unimpressed. Beirut , in particular, halfway turned me off to this sub-genre: it is now so easy to find g...

Imperial China, Ra Ra Rasputin @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 12/10/10

So it seems like Imperial China are still going strong, playing lots of shows around town, going on a few out-of-town jaunts, getting some nice publicity at the end of the year for their album Phosphenes (I reviewed it here ). I think this band has a tough go of it. The kind of music they play doesn’t have much of a following anymore here in DC, but the band is not a gang of 20-year-olds who can move off to Brooklyn or wherever. Maybe they can toe the fine line or — who knows? — help to jump-sta...

Grinderman @ 930 Club, 11/16/10

I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for the first time a couple years ago and it was a hell of a show. I have become a huge fan over the past 5 or 6 years; I find Cave to be perhaps the most interesting aging rocker in history. His past couple of Bad Seeds albums and his two Grinderman releases are all incredibly strong, and kind of unique: in the world of literature you might expect “mature work” from a guy in his 50s, but in the world of 50-year-old rock musicians you are generally stuck with ba...

The Blow @ Black Cat, 11/10/10

Around a decade ago I caught some sort of K Records-related traveling extravaganza at a warehouse in Shaw. Calvin Johnson did stand-up comedy (!?), my then-sort-of-friends Dead Meadow did an acoustic set, and this chick did a random performance under the moniker Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano . That was a fun night, although I didn’t remember too much about Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano besides the name. But around the same time I started to get into The Microphones whic...

Corin Tucker Band, Hungry Ghost @ Black Cat, 10/29/10

The Corin Tucker Band was in interesting prospect! I have really missed Sleater-Kinney in recent years; no one has quite replaced their role in underground music. Sleater-Kinney were passionate and full of fire and conviction, righteous anger, and indignation. We have been living through awfully dark times and it seems like nobody is out there raging against our sucky political/social deadlock of endless wars and corruption. We could use a little Sleater-Kinney in our collective conscious. At th...

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan @ Rock ‘n Roll Hotel, 10/15/10

Two of my favorite albums of the past decade involve Mark Lanegan : his solo album Bubblegum and his first collaboration with Isobel Campbell , Ballad of the Broken Seas . I know his work with Campbell is supposed to be her showcase rather than his, but I am a much bigger fan of his grittier work and aesthetic. As a fairly recent fan, I’d only ever seen him perform live one time, a couple years ago at a Gutter Twins show. That was pretty fun, but I was more interested in the Isobel Campbell pair...

Caribou, Emeralds @ Black Cat, 9/23/10

Way back when, I kinda liked Dan Snaith’s project Manitoba , but not enough to follow him when he had to change his name to Caribou . Yet apparently a lot of people did. They packed the Black Cat for abstract electronic quasi-rock. Sometimes these things seem weird to me. But then, Caribou turned out to be dancier than I expected. I’d heard a little of the openers, Emeralds , and I liked their set quite a bit. It was abstract, too, and dreamy, and reminded me at times of Pink Floyd ‘s “Shine on ...

H.R. @ H Street Festival, 9/18/10

I hit up the H Street Festival largely to see what was up with DC music legend H.R. This is pretty much what he is up to: It was close to what I expected, but he played a tiny bit of punk as an encore: The whole thing was pretty fun. H.R. draws an interesting crowd.

Bare Wires @ Velvet Lounge, 8/30/10

I tend to find out about new music from the randomest sources these days. One of them is WFMU and their stunningly good website, plus its affiliated Free Music Archive . Last spring I really got into this set of music from a California garage rock band called Bare Wires . You should check it out! Download it! It is excellent! So I was pretty stoked to see Bare Wires in the listings for the Velvet Lounge. I somehow managed to get a couple friends to go with me on a Monday night to see these guys,...

Arcade Fire @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/6/10

In the past few years I have mostly stopped listening to new indie rock music — a combination of me getting older and also having a whole internet worth of music to explore. Nowadays I get more excited about listening to old-school rockabilly or German folk-punk or classic country as opposed to, like, the new Grizzly Bear . One of the few exceptions, though, is for the Arcade Fire . This band has all the hallmarks of being the kind of thing I won’t like: popularity, pretension, expensive concert...

Cap’n Jazz @ Black Cat, 7/23/10

I got into indie rock in the mid-’90s, but I was never a hardcore kid. During the early-’90s era when hipper kids my age were into hardcore, I was listening to Queensrÿche and later Alice in Chains . So then I came to DC for college and got into post-hardcore via Fugazi , then other DC bands, then, to some extent, band in similar scenes from throughout the east coast. This is a long way of getting around to saying I never listened to Cap’n Jazz before going to see their reunion show at the Black...

Medications @ U Street Music Hall, 7/22/10

I have rambled on about Medications before, and I’m doing a ridiculously belated review, so let me just quickly go over what I remember about this show. The first band on the line-up was Hume but there is some kind of karmic law that almost always prevents me from seeing Hume perform live. I forget what happened, but I missed them at this show, too, it probably had something to do with it being a really early performance. Anyways, I got there post-Hume but with enough time before the next band, ...

Teenbeat 26th Anniversary Show @ Black Cat, 7/10/10

So I moved to DC a few years too late to ever see Unrest , the flagship act of Teenbeat Records, but the label itself was still thriving back then, in the mid-’90s. Teenbeat still exists, it still puts out interesting music, but much like its friendly neighbor Dischord, it doesn’t have the cultural impact that it did in the DC area during the ’90s (for one thing, label head honcho Mark Robinson moved to the Boston area a while ago). I gradually learned to really enjoy Teenbeat and its artsy, goo...

Sleeper Agent!, Gangland Buries Its Own @ Fort Reno, 7/1/10

In this unusually ugly and hot summer, we have had occasional gemlike days in the 70s. One of these happened to be Thursday, July 1. I had dinner plans with some relatives, but things happened to work out that I was done in time to head to Fort Reno. It was such a nice night that I biked up from downtown, met up with a friend under a tree, and watched the bands. I didn’t really know anything about them in advance, though I had glanced at the info on their respective myspace pages. First up was a...

Lightning Bolt @ DC9, 6/30/10

I waited a long time to see Lightning Bolt a second time. The first time I saw them was around 9 years ago and it was pretty close to a life-altering event. It was by far one of the very best concerts I’ve ever been to . In fact, when people really press me on the topic, like “you’re practically an expert, what are the best shows you’ve seen?”, I tend to mention either that amazing show (with Lightning Bolt, Black Dice , Orthrelm , and Avey Tare & Panda Bear !); or else maybe Paul Flaherty & Chr...

Cornel West Theory @ DC Photo Co-op, 6/26/10

My friend Yulia had a photo show at the DC Photo Co-op in Shaw, and she invited the local band the Cornel West Theory to perform. They were nice enough to accept. I had seen these guys once before at the Sockets Showcase , and I liked them well enough. For the photo show, they put on a smaller-scale performance, just drums and bass and two vocalists. It was really good! Better than I expected, honestly. The sound was not that great (the vocals never really were able to get loud enough), but I wa...

Tinariwen @ 930 Club, 6/25/10

A couple totally unconnected friends recommended seeing Tinariwen when they came through town a couple weeks ago. I didn’t really know anything about them, and it was quite expensive for a 9:30 Club show ($40!), but eventually persuaded myself to go check them out. Apparently they have a great back story, and I do have an interest in things like the status of Tuareg tribes, and they get good reviews, so it wasn’t that hard of a decision. And I don’t regret it or anything — actually they were rea...

M3 Rock Festival @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, 6/19/10

A few weeks back a friend and I decided at the last moment to go to the “M3” Festival (what does it stand for? We didn’t know, or really care). I was sucked into it by the line-up of ’80s metal/hard rock bands that I loved in middle school years. Some of those bands I still love! Some, less so. It promised to be a good mix of both. We didn’t rush — it was a hot summer afternoon, and beer was destined to be consumed, so it seemed prudent to take it easy. This meant that we missed a lot of the ear...

Medications & Imperial China @ Black Cat, 5/20/10

Last week I was pretty excited to go see Medications at the Black Cat. I have their new album and have been grappling with it for a few weeks. I am not sure yet how I feel about it — it is a strange album — and I was hoping the live show would provide a little clarity. I’ve seen Medications lots of times (and Faraquet lots of times before that), though the current version of the band is obviously significantly different from what came before. The last time I saw them was maybe a year and a half ...

Converge, Thursday @ Black Cat, 5/4/10

How old are the dudes in Converge ? It seems like this band has been around for freakin’ ever. I have known their music a little bit for a long time, but I’m not super familiar with them and had never seen them before, so I was up for going with an old-Converge-fan friend. Neither of us knew much about their newer music but it wasn’t like it was gonna be startling. Anyway Converge was fun. The show was actually pretty early, and Converge was opening for Thursday , so by the time we got there Con...

Quasi @ Black Cat, 4/24/10

A whole month has somehow slipped by since I went to the Black Cat to see Quasi . A friend from my old band is a big fan of them and had an extra ticket, and I was up for it. I actually saw Quasi many years ago, probably as an opening act? Maybe a decade ago. But I have never really listened to them much. It was not terribly crowded at the main stage of the Black Cat, but the joint was full of old scenesters and I had a sudden shock of nostalgia the first time Janet Weiss walked by — it made me ...

The Points, Davey Crockett @ DC9, 4/22/10

There is this band called The Points that has been kicking around DC for a while and I have been vaguely aware of them. They were the house band at Fight Club and they play at other places, and they have a whiff of controversy about them… getting banned from clubs, maybe? I am not sure. Anyway I didn’t think I had ever seen them forgot that I had seen them before and so I was willing to go along with some friends that wanted to check them out. And I was amused, though not overwhelmed. They were ...

Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Obits @ 930 Club, 4/9/10

There was a pretty great line-up a couple weeks back on a Thursday the 9th at the 930 — Ted Leo and the Pharmacists , Obits , and Screaming Females . I knew the Screaming Females only by reputation. I’d already seen Obits twice in the past year. And I have seen Ted Leo like a million times. So in a way I really wanted to see them in inverse order, but I had some social obligations and ended up missing Screaming Females, unfortunately. But I wasn’t about to miss Obits. What a kick-ass rock band! ...

Serena-Maneesh @ DC9, 4/7/10

I heard about Serena-Maneesh years ago, and downloaded a few songs. “Drain Cosmetics” ended up on one of my virtual mix tapes from 2006 or so. But I never really pursued my mild interest in these Norwegians. I think I got them mixed up with Autolux or possibly one of the other 10 billion bands that were doing neo-shoegaze towards the end of the past decade. It’s a great sound, but basically interchangeable. Even 15 to 20 years ago these bands were mostly interchangeable. There was a livejournal ...

Japandroids @ Rock ‘n Roll Hotel, 3/29/10

Japandroids ! This is a band that I begrudgingly adore! I heard about them from multiple people a while ago, and slowly started to listen to them, then bought their album. And with each listen I found myself grinning more often and enjoying myself more. Such fun! Such cheese! I sometimes pretend to be too old and embittered — and too into experimental, cerebral music — to love this goofy, joyful, noise/pop/emo duo, but I just can’t resist. These are two young Vancouverites rocking out in the tra...

The xx @ 6th & I Synagogue, 3/28/10

I don’t pay too much attention to bands that are hot on the internet: the p4k bands, the blog-hyped bands, the college bands, the hipster bands. But a few of my friends like The xx and I listened to them enough, and liked them enough, to check them out at 6th & I Synagogue on a Sunday afternoon. It was a strange show. Weirdly, I was both impressed and disappointed at the same time, but it was a pleasant way to spend an hour. It gave me several things to reflect and pontificate upon. (They played...

Midnight Kids & Casper Bangs @ Black Cat, 3/13/10

Saturday night I was excited to go check out Midnight Kids for the first time. They are a local band that I don’t know much about, but the City Paper linked to their free EP and I listened to it a bunch. I am only mildly familiar with The Apes who were a kind of a predecessor band… I know they were around but I probably never saw them (I always mixed them up with the Black Eyes and I wasn’t all that crazy about either). Anyway the Midnight Kids EP is an excellent mix of rock and electronics, smo...

Balkan Beat Box @ 930 Club, 3/12/10

I like almost every style of music, but there a few exceptions . I don’t mind dance music (though I am not super into dancing) but I just don’t really like the dancehall permutations of it, or, really, funk and genres like that. It is ok — even reggae, my least favorite genre of all, has its charms. But I don’t normally go out of my way to see dance music that draws on these styles, and where they tell you when to throw your hands in the air. But friends wanted to go see Balkan Beat Box last Fri...

Happy Hollows, The Mantis, America Hearts @ Black Cat, 3/3/10

Went to the Black Cat last night for no particular reason — a friend of mine wanted to go out and then looked up the band The Mantis and was mildly interested. So I was like, ok, sure. Ten bucks, something to do on a Wednesday night. We hit the backstage one or two songs into the set by openers America Hearts . My first reaction was, this is ok, I have heard a lot of worse bands before. It was pleasant garage-y pop music with a singer/guitarist who looked about 15. Basic stuff, but not bad. Afte...

The Clientele @ Black Cat, 2/23/10

I didn’t know much about The Clientele , but what I knew I basically liked, so I was amenable to checking them out when a friend had an extra ticket. I liked them and would like to check them out more. They reminded me of all kinds of stuff, all of it good: Galaxie 500, Spiritualized, The Velvet Underground , 4AD bands, Britpop bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain … basically they reminded me of every VU-influenced pop band, especially the British ones. They were also interesting to watch. My friend ...

Wanda Jackson @ Black Cat, 2/12/10

Over the past few years I have been more and more into old country and rockabilly. (My new favorite musician is Roger Miller — amazing!) So I was kind of intrigued by the prospect of seeing 72-year-old Wanda Jackson in the familiar confines of the Black Cat. I had some friends hanging out downstairs drinking, and was halfway tempted to pass up the show ($20 is expensive for the Black Cat) but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t check it out. Good decision! I actually knew some of her songs in a...

Sockets Showcase @ Black Cat, 1/22/10

So last month I was waxing enthusiastic about the Sockets showcase at the Black Cat, and I went and brought a bunch of friends. And it was great! But I got a little burned out on all-Sockets, all-the-time music thinking, and so I’m just getting around to writing it up. It was a solid show, all 5 bands were good, and the whole night had a lot of good vibes. There was a nice turnout and a lot of enthusiasm for the music. And I talked to members of several of the bands, discussed things with my fri...

Versus & Soft Power @ Black Cat, 12/12/09

This has been a busy/strange time… holidays, epic snowstorms, bouts of H1N1, apartment/living situation drama. As a result I missed a lot of shows (and why didn’t somebody tell me that Grant Hart played at the Velvet Lounge???) and anticipate missing too many more. But one that I really didn’t want to miss (though maybe I’d have traded it for Grant Hart — damn…) turned out to be the last show I saw in 2009: my favorite band, Versus , for the first time in like 8 years. So I have been complaining...

Russian Circles @ DC9, 12/3/09

I’ve seen lots of instrumental rock bands, of varying styles, and probably wouldn’t have thought of going to see Russian Circles last week, but a friend was really excited to see them, so I was amenable. I knew them a little bit — I mentally lump them in with bands like Red Sparowes as epic, serious-minded, metal-tinged instrumentalists. This seemed pretty accurate — the show was good but a little too earnest. The crowd was about 90% male (even real metal shows have more chicks), and mostly on t...

Pixies @ DAR Constitution Hall, 12/1/09

I wasn’t totally sure about going to see the Pixies — it was a show that violated a lot of my self-imposed guidelines, like “no more reunion shows” and “no more shows that cost more than 25 bucks or so” and “no more shows ever at Constitution Hall, the worst venue in the area to see rock and roll.” But it turned out to be a great show (with the typical Constitution Hall caveat that it would have been a million times better at a place like the 930 Club or even an arena). The Pixies have been in t...

Amy Millan @ DC9, 11/8/09

There are many categories of music that I like, but am only glancingly acquainted with: black metal, Nuggets -style psych, krautrock, truck-driving country, etc. One of those genres is Canadian indie pop from the oughts. There is this whole scene — a “broken” “social” scene, I guess — that I find pretty good but don’t know that much about. It has never been my focus, and I have never really listened to Stars and wouldn’t have thought of going to see Amy Millan except that a friend strongly recom...

Fuck Buttons @ DC9, 11/4/09

I went to DC9 last Wednesday on a bit of a lark to see Fuck Buttons . I had seen them before, about a year ago, opening for Mogwai , and thought their music was pretty great, and had downloaded a copy of their album Street Horrrsing which was also pretty good. But it isn’t like they really do anything that you can watch, other than turn knobs and stuff, so I didn’t really need to see them live again. But anyhow I ended up enjoying it. It was a pretty sizable crowd for a Wednesday night — amazing...

Office of Future Plans @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 10/30/09

[updated 12/11/09] There was a lot of stuff going on last Friday, an odd All-Hallow’s-Eve-Eve where some people were celebrating Halloween and some were not. But I wanted to check out Office of Future Plans , the newest project of J. Robbins, playing with Darren Zentek and a couple other guys. This makes, let’s see, the fourth Robbins band I’ve seen play live, having seen Jawbox , Burning Airlines , and Channels once apiece. So now I’m wishing I’d been a little more sober, since based on the pre...

Pinback & Obits @ Black Cat, 10/28/09

At a Wednesday-night happy hour with a couple friends, debating whether to do prosaic things like go to our respective homes and do laundry, I mentioned that I was mildly interested in going to the Black Cat to see Pinback and Obits . Thanks to one of those friend’s recent obsession with Hot Snakes (whose singer Rick Froberg now heads Obits) and the general sense that it was a good night to abandon prosaism, we headed over in time to catch most of Obits and all of Pinback. It was a good choice. ...

The Raveonettes @ 930 Club, 10/16/09

So I love the Raveonettes! They have to be one of my top favorite bands of the past decade or so. (Maybe I will make a list for the end of the decade… I imagine they might come in second behind Les Savy Fav .) I think their music is a perfect blend of pop music and noise — a combination that a lot of my favorite bands go for but rarely so smartly. They are not original at all but they have perfected a formula that has a long, hip, tradition dating back as far as the Velvet Underground . I always...

Phosphorescent @ Black Cat, 10/13/09

Last Tuesday I was thinking of going to see Daniel Johnston but ended up joining some friends to see a band I knew nothing about, Phosphorescent . They were a suitably bearded Brooklyn-by-way-of-the-South alt-country kind of band. I liked them at first — they reminded me of a better version of onetime DC hipster/country band Canyon and I was totally digging the steel guitar sound. (I never tire of quoting John Peel saying that “if God played an instrument it would be the steel guitar.”) I found ...

Buildings @ Haydee’s, 9/24/09

I’ve been wanting to check out Buildings , a.k.a. BLDGS, for a while, so was pleased to have the chance to check them out at Haydee’s Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant — close enough to home that I could make it on a banged-up knee that has been keeping me away from shows. Plus at Haydee’s you can sit and drink mediocre margaritas. You don’t get margaritas at the Black Cat. I first heard about Buildings sometime several months ago, maybe in the spring, and when I listened to them online I was quite imp...

S PRCSS @ Black Cat, 9/12/09

So I think S PRCSS are pretty great. Last time I saw them I compared them to Lungfish . This time they also reminded me a little of Fugazi , what with the two guitarist/singer line-up. It is fun to see bald dudes playing jagged post-hardcore again. I have been waiting forever for a renaissance of this kind of music and I can’t wait to hear their next album. I feel bad that I missed opener Hume . I have been wanting to see them and my friends told me they were good. I am screwing things up at the...

In between days

Bit of a downtime for rock shows here… I have made an effort but to little avail. I went to the Black Cat last week to see Zomes but stupidly got there too late. I went to Lamont Park a couple weeks ago to see Hume and Janel and Anthony but the show was cancelled. So instead I have mostly been biding time until finally seeing Motörhead this week. I’ll discuss that shortly. But while clearing out photos on my phone thought I’d share a picture and a couple comments about some random live music I s...

Motörhead, Reverend Horton Heat, Nashville Pussy @ 930 Club, 9/8/09

So this is turning into quite the summer for legendary British metal. Two Judas Priest shows and then Motörhead ! Motörhead! I’ve been grumbling for years about how metal bands hardly ever play in town, thanks to JAXX out in Springfield (and also lots of Baltimore clubs). Motörhead at the 930 Club makes sense, though, if partly because Lemmy and crew have a pretty substantial hipster following. I am no expert on the band, but it seems to me like they flit comfortably between a few different musi...

Judas Priest w/Kix, Merriweather Post Pavilion, 8/22/09

Judas Priest twice in one summer! And my hometown heroes Kix ! Ha! It’s always great to have old-school metal to fall back on when indie rock starts boring me to tears. Going to see Priest again was a pretty random, last-second decision, and I probably would not have gone except that an old friend was kinda interested, and I have always sort of wanted to see Kix. Priest had been on tour with Whitesnake for much of the summer, but I never really gave a damn about Whitesnake. So I was pretty excit...

Los Campesinos! w/ Girls @ 930 Club, 8/5/09

So on the one hand, I can’t stand punctuation in band names, and the main singer of Los Campesinos! was annoying as all hell, and the members of the band all go by the last name of “Campesinos!” Yuck. On the other hand I can’t really hate a band that does decent Pavement covers. So I will let the Campesinos slide. Also, for all their wry cleverness, I myself just wrote a song with the tentative title of “Summer Haze (Winter Version)” so I can’t really criticize them for such bon mots as “2007 Th...

Mogwai @ 930 Club, 8/3/09

As I get old and curmudgeonly, I fine myself both looking down upon young musicians and bands, and becoming skeptical about old favorites retaining their strengths. I think the right term for this is “jaded.” I am a jaded music fan and rarely expect much even from my favorite bands. Maybe that’s why my reviews tend to be positive — actual live music can transport me out of humdrum world-weariness, or even make me euphoric. Somewhere deep in my mind I know this, and keep showing up to see live mu...

Run for Cover ’09

A few years ago I went to the Black Cat’s Run for Cover event (where a whole bunch of local musicians put together one-night-only cover bands for charity) and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I had wanted to go back ever since. But this past Saturday I was less impressed. It wasn’t bad, but I was tired, annoyed by the Bon Jovi cover band, and left before seeing the last two bands (one a Weezer cover band, the other doing the Bee Gees ). From what I saw, there were two main highlights — the Runaways cov...

M. Ward @ 930 Club, 7/30/09

A couple days before this show, I got a contrasting pair of emails from friends with extra tickets to 2 concerts the same night: M. Ward and Tool . I had never seen either one, and like both, though I know Tool a lot better and like them more. So my inclination was more towards seeing Tool, but the relative price of tickets and choice of venue led me to choose M. Ward instead (didn’t really feel like hauling my way out to GMU for Tool; besides I have seen enough big-name bands for the summer). A...

Imperial China @ Fort Reno, 7/9/09

My first night out at Fort Reno this summer, I got there late, missed most of the second band while in line at Whole Foods trying to get a burrito and tea, but got to check out Imperial China for the first time on a gorgeous summer night. I’d heard their name around this town before, but never was all that interested in checking them out, partly because I really don’t like the name at all. (Oddly, one of the people I went with, the other guitarist in my band, said the exact opposite.) Imperial C...

Sonic Youth @ 930 Club, 7/6/09

I’ve seen Sonic Youth like a million times. Well, maybe more like 10, but that is more than almost anyone else and definitely more than any other band that is not from the DC area. This is what longevity gets you. They are probably my favorite band and I never get tired of listening to them, but even with the best musicians, there is always the chance that familiarity breeds indifference. I remember how the last time I saw Fugazi (probably the band I have seen most of all) I was kind of antsy an...

Judas Priest @ Milwaukee Summerfest, 7/2/09

While on a quick trip out of town to see family, I got to go to the Milwaukee Summerfest with my brother and brother-in-law to see the very first rock band I ever cared about, legendary metal gods Judas Priest . I was into Priest in the early-to-mid ’80s when I was like six or seven years old, via my older brother who was obsessed with them during high school (and still kind of is to this day). My first favorite song was “Free Wheel Burning” and I also loved “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll.” My broth...

S PRCSS @ Comet Ping Pong, 6/27/09

S PRCSS are one of the coolest bands that I know little about. Their mysterious nature — do a web search and see how much you dig up — makes it quite rad to see them play. I knew nothing about this band until I saw them, sometime last year, at the Lighthouse (itself a fairly off-the-beaten-path venue). Since then I have managed to piece together bits of information about the group. Seems they were a Philly-based band some time ago, but either broke up or became basically inactive, but have gotte...

Frodus & The Van Pelt, Black Cat, 6/20/09

Over the past few years, I’ve become more accustomed to going to see reunions of bands I cared about in their heyday. It was one thing for me to see, say, a Black Sabbath reunion (though I totally liked Sabbath when I did get to see them), and quite another for me to see bands that actually meant a lot to me, and were around, when I was younger. It’s weird. I can’t tell whether bands have always gotten back together like this, and I just didn’t realize it because I was young, or whether this is ...

Double Dagger @ Crooked Beat, 6/17/09

I’d been wanting to see Baltimore’s Double Dagger for a while… love a few of their songs, love that they were calling themselves “graphicdesigncore”, love the song titles (“I Was So Bored I Wanted to Hang Myself on the Dance Floor” is particularly good). And the last time I was at a show at Crooked Beat was to see Human Bell a year or so ago, and it was one of my favorite shows in a long, long time. But I was a little underwhelmed by Double Dagger. It might have been the sound mix (vocals too lo...

Jane’s Addiction/Nine Inch Nails @ Merriweather, 6/9/09

I rarely go to big concerts to see big names at huge venues, but I find them kind of stupidly enjoyable. Ozzfest, Journey concerts, Tom Petty concerts, and such can be a blast even though they are not necessarily the main kinds of music I’m into. So when a friend wanted to see Jane’s and NIN I was amenable to the possibility. A couple of the big-name concerts I’ve seen in the past have been Nine Inch Nails and I enjoyed those shows, and I have never seen Jane’s Addiction, so it had potential to ...

Denali @ Black Cat, 6/6/09

I found out about Denali from some internet source back around the beginning of the millennium. Maybe it was a record label website, maybe it was something about DC/Virginia bands. I don’t really remember. But at some point I downloaded a couple sample songs, “Gunner” and “Relief” and they were heavy in rotation on my old laptop of the era… ah, Winamp days… So innocent, so pure. Anyhow I picked up a CD of theirs years later and also liked it. By which point the band had broken up. So I was inter...

Dean and Britta @ Black Cat, 6/5/09

It is unusual for me to go to more than one concert in a night. Well, I often would like to, but it is generally not possible. But the same friends with whom I went to see PJ Harvey had bought tickets to Dean and Britta for the same night. It seemed possible to go to both, since PJH was at the Warner Theatre, while a mainstage show on Friday night at the Black Cat probably wouldn’t start until like 11. So we hopped in a cab from downtown and made it to the Black Cat while the opener was still fi...

John Parish and PJ Harvey, Warner Theatre, 6/5/09

I have been a pretty big PJ Harvey fan for a long time, but my attention has waned in recent years. I haven’t been super impressed with any of her albums in years; I haven’t followed the type of music news that would cover her material. I am out of the loop, I guess you’d say. But when I saw an ad for her show with John Parish I felt interested and decided I’d like to see her again. The last time I saw PJ Harvey was a momentous evening: September 10, 2001. Nine or ten hours after the show, plane...

just gimme experimental music

I have gotten steadily more into experimental music over the past decade or so, entering the genre via post-hardcore and Sonic Youth-style experimental rock. I don’t go to see live experimental stuff as often as I’d like, though there is a fairly thriving experimental scene in DC. For one thing, it’s hard to drag along friends to watch people make droning noises for half an hour. Last Friday, 5/8/09, I went to the Warehouse to check out the DC Listening Lounge ‘s Sound Scene show called “The Hum...

The Kills & The Horrors, 930 Club, 4/30/09

The Kills and the Horrors both have a lot in common: generically cool band names, hefty internet buzz, unoriginal sounds, the promotion of style over substance. The former have better songs, the latter were marginally better live, but overall it was one of the worst rock shows I’ve seen in ages. Some friends of mine wanted to see the Kills and I was not opposed. I have followed them, though not closely, for as long as they’ve been around. I liked some of their early material — “Hitched” is a gre...

The Foundry Field Recordings @ The Red and the Black, 4/20/09

A friend of mine is friends with the main guy from the Foundry Field Recordings and I obligingly went along to see them last night when they passed through town. FFR are from Missouri and play pretty straightforward indie rock. They were friendly, I talked to the whole band pretty much, since there wasn’t much of a crowd on a rainy Monday night. The main problem I had with these guys was that I had trouble (continue to have trouble) remembering their name. I keep mixing it up with Pure Prairie L...

Flaming Lips @ Earth Day Green Apple Festival, National Mall, 4/19/09

I’d never seen the Flaming Lips before. I really like them but was never too concerned about seeing them live. I’ve seen them on tv, I’ve seen them on the internet, and I feel that their live show is mostly an entertainment show, akin to a Jonas Bros. or Miley Cyrus kind of thing. As in, lots of spectacle, lots of effects, lots of silliness, but not a lot of actual performing. Entertainment has its place but I usually prefer to see music where I can watch people just perform and not wear giant c...

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Black Cat, 4/17/09

I have heard of Thao for a while now, she’s a young local singer with a degree of success (signed to Kill Rock Stars ). I’d never gotten around to seeing her but a friend who is a big fan wanted to go so I was quite willing. I have kind of a thing for Asian-American guitar-playing chicks anyway… who doesn’t? She was pretty good… dynamic, charismatic, had decent chops on guitar. She reminded me of a cross between Edie Brickell and Ani DiFranco . I like that kind of music but it isn’t my favorite,...

Beirut @ 6th & I, 4/11/09

My first time at 6th & I for music; my first major exposure to the hipster-popular band Beirut. I liked it. I wasn’t overwhelmed. I am kind of tired of these young white male soulful singers from bands like The National, The Walkmen, etc. My review was “more horns, less singing, please.” But it was pretty good. Great venue, I wish they would have more interesting bands there. Reviewed at dcist .

Obits & The Points @ Black Cat, 4/5/09

I don’t know Obits too well yet, but I fell in love with Hot Snakes just in time to see them on their last tour. That was a great one, at the mainstage of the Black Cat about four years ago. The Sunday-night-at-the-backstage vibe was mellower and the Obits’ set was pretty short. I liked it but was wondering about how they put the songs together. One of the last ones was totally pop, it sounded like Imperial Teen or something. I’ll have to get their album… it’s sadly on Sub Pop which is not on em...

Summery

Caught a few good shows in the past couple weeks: Tortoise at the Black Cat, Mary Timony and Medications at Fort Reno, Les Savy Fav on a quick weekend trip to New York (though 99% of the music I see is here in DC, I’ll go ahead and comment on any out-of-town shows I catch). Some good shows are coming up this week, too, with the highlights being Drive-By Truckers on Friday at the 930 Club and Mirah on Saturday at the Black Cat — but I might be out of town again for the Mirah show, alas. Tortoise ...

Treading water

In the past couple weeks I’ve seen a few rock bands, and need to note it for the record as I am starting to forget all my shows. A couple weeks ago I got a phone call from friends with extra tickets to go see The National who have been getting rave reviews everywhere but whom I don’t really know much about. I went to the 930 Club that night (June 20) and checked them out and found them fairly decent but totally non-memorable. I mean I am listening to them again right now via their myspace page a...

Getting behind

I haven’t forgotten this site, just been busy, and my concert-going schedule has slipped a bit lately. But over the next month or two there are a lot of shows that I’m excited about so I have to try to catch back up. Part of the reason I want to keep a record of the bands I see is that I am getting old and forgetful. Last night I went to Fort Reno to see Mass Movement of the Moth and I couldn’t remember whether or not I had seen them before. Before the show, I didn’t think I had. I thought maybe...

Nostalgia will lead me away

The Dismemberment Plan at the Black Cat, 4/27/07 Strange days, lately. I haven’t been focusing so much on rock music as I’ve been preoccupied with things like gearing up for turning 30, and debating what to do about whether to stay in school or not. I’ve been seriously burned out just at the time when I want to be renewed — it’s spring and I’m soon about to start a whole new, rather grown-up decade of my life. And somewhere in the middle of that, I had a few guests visit me to relive old times, ...

Death in April

How awesome are Made Out of Babies ? I was really looking forward to this show (Friday April 13 at the Rock and Roll Hotel), and it seemed pretty appropriate to show up totally drunk with my totally drunk friends, ready to rock out. Made Out of Babies did not disappoint. We got there pretty much right on time to see the crazy noise extravaganza, difficult to describe, and impossible to forget. It was not a particularly crowded night so we meandered to the front of the crowd, watching the band ge...

Degrees of separation (The Aquarium, The Cassettes, Benjy Ferree at the Black Cat)

Last night I was talking to a friend about degrees of separation; I theorized that just through the simple process of aging, our network of friends and acquaintances keeps expanding to the point where the degrees of separation are trivial. Last Saturday at the Black Cat were a trio of local bands that I have all sorts of close connections to. In fact I have met members of all of these bands before, but I can’t say I really know them. It’s such a small town, DC. You can’t go anywhere without trip...

Ted Leo/Rx @ the 930 Club

Ted Leo on 3/30 was pretty rocking. I have been a fan since the old days, and the last time I saw Ted was at Operation : Ceasefire , a huge antiwar rally a couple years ago, and I didn’t really enjoy it. That was my first Ted Leo concert in several years, since before I left the country in 2002, and in the meantime he had gained a whole new contingent of fans who were a lot younger. Which is fine. But weird. And it annoyed me at the protest, because there were speakers talking about the war and ...

Zone Doubt: Sebadoh at the 930, 4/3/07

A friend asked me before the show what kind of music Sebadoh was, and I had to say, “indie rock. They are like the definition of indie rock.” And they are, for me. Sebadoh and Pavement are basically the two bands I still think of when I hear the term. But I am showing my age. I still think of indie rock in terms of the ’90s, but the ’90s have been over for seven years. Today I don’t know what indie rock is supposed to sound like. But I am starting to realize that I’m not really that interested i...

The story so far

A quick retrospective to get this blog thing going. I have only been out to shows a few times so far this year. The winter is not the best time for bands coming on tour, or for feeling motivated to go out to see them. I’ve missed some shows I really wanted to see, but nonetheless I’ll try to keep track of my experiences for posterity’s sake. In January I went to see Camera Obscura , who were decent, actually better than I expected. Still, I kept wanting to hear Belle & Sebastian songs. Here is a...