Saturday, January 30, 2010


More Late January Stuff

1/19/09 Beastie Boys/Sheryl Crow/Citizen Cope/Justin Jones @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

The day before Obama's inauguration. I knew this was going to be a very late night, followed by a VERY early morning. No way I was going to miss this though. I know it's not cool to say it, but I really like Sheryl Crow. There's nothing wrong with good pop songs. She played about an hour, opening with "A Change Will Do You Good'" I think. Appropriate. Citizen Cope played a solo acoustic set, which was much better than I expected - although I didn't really expect anything, being completely unfamiliar with him. The Beasties were fun - as usual. This whole show was really just a big party. Not as crowded as you'd expect, considering the show sold out in about 30 seconds. Plenty of room to dance, mill about and basically just celebrate the future. I think I got home around 2:30 and was up by about 4:00am to head down for the inauguration.

1/20/07 Exit Clov/De Novo Dahl/Middle Distance Runner Black Cat Washington, DC

I went to this one mainly to see De Novo Dahl. As I recall, they played in their pajamas. Again - I could be mis-remembering. They're always fun live. Fun, danceable pop. Middle Distance Runner is another local indie band. One of the better ones, actually. I think they're still together, but they don't play out much these days. Every time I notice them on a bill, it's in VA. That ain't gonna happen. I think I left early, during Exit Clov's set. They've got an incredibly unique sound, but I find it boring after about 15 minutes and grating after about 30. I seem to be in the minority in that opinion though. The kids love 'em. shrug.

1/22/07 Camera Obscura/The Essex Green @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

Speaking of fun, danceable pop, Camera Obscura was quite fun. Kinda twee, which I like, but it always has the potential to get on my nerves after a while. Too much sweetness can eventually turn into a bad thing. They were fine though. The Essex Green is one of those bands that put out a really nice, kinda mellow record, but almost put me to sleep live. I like them a lot, but they're not the kind of band that's exactly exciting - or even terribly interesting - to watch. Most bands step it up a notch live. They didn't.

hmm...I just listened to a bit of The Cannibal Sea for the first time in a while. Not as quiet as I remembered. Maybe I need to revisit them. Anyway - That's still how I remember it.

1/26/07 Washington Social Club/These United States @ The Black Cat - Washington, DC

One of the many WSC shows I saw. I don't remember anything in particular, but These United States was always good to see, so this was quite a good local bill.

1/27/06 Bicycle Thieves/Cedars/Nethers 9:30 Club Washington, DC

Back in the day the old 9:30 used to have local music nights all the time. Not so in the new, larger space. I guess it's just not practical. So when they decided to try it again I figured I'd go support it. I had wanted to see Nethers for a while and Cedars was one of my favorites at the time. I couldn't lose.

My original review is here.

In short: Nethers was quite impressive. The went from the garage-rockness of The Carlsonics and turned into this quiet, acousticy-drony sound, but it really worked. I guess they broke up, since I never hear anything about them anymore. Too bad. They were great.

Cedars was awesome - as usual. Great to see them on a big stage in front of an impressive crowd. I really thought they were going to make it. :(
Bicycle Thieves weren't my thing. They sounded like every other mainstream indie band out there. Not bad by any means, but nothing special. I bought their cd anyway.

I need to start paying more attention to local music again. I've fallen out of that habit.

1/30/05 Arcade Fire @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

Now this is what I'm talking about. I know I sound like a grump sometimes - getting bored easily and not being impressed with every flavor-of-the-month band that comes along. But when I get hit by something like this, it reminds me what got me to this space in the first place. I hold the bar rather high. This show jumped WAY over that bar, crushed it, kept going and never looked back. Holy Crap was this a good show. I went in a doubter - fully expecting them to not live up to the hype. Wrong Wrong Wrong. This show (along with their DAR show in 2007) were among my favorites of the DECADE. Whatever great things you hear about Arcade Fire's live shows - believe it. They're the real deal.

My full, more detailed original review is here. I sound like a total fanboy in that one.

1/30/09 Thievery Corporation @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

And the opposite end of the spectrum... Here's a show that I think was ruined by all the hype. I knew of Thievery Corporation, but didn't really know much about them, other than they're a hugely popular, local dance band. I kept hearing about these near religious experiences people were having at their shows and how they're just this giant party with people dancing and having the time of their lives. That - and they can apparently sellout 5 nights at the 9:30 Club. Wow. I need to see any band that can do that.

With hype like that - there's really nowhere to go but down. I actually liked them quite a bit. I was really selling them short by calling them a "dance band". They've got this great world-music vibe to them that makes their groove quite infectious. They were incredibly interesting and fun to watch, but it wasn't this insanely amazing performance I had been promised. People seemed to be having fun, but it wasn't the dance-fest I had heard about. That's possibly due to the ridiculous overcrowding of sold-out 9:30 shows. They kept me entertained though. I seem to recall them playing for a LONG time (2-3 hours?), but I never got bored or frustrated. That says a lot. They were actually quite good, but the hype almost ruined it for me.

I'll go see them again, eventually (although I skipped this year's 5-night run), but I'll go in with a different mindset.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Late January Stuff

Holy crap there are a lot of shows to cover for the end of January. I'm gonna have to spread this one out over a couple posts.

1/25/86 Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble/Fabulous Thunderbirds @ University Hall - UVA - Charlottesville, VA

I was one of the few guys in my fraternity that had a car. When it came time for our pledges to go on their bolt, they asked me to drive them. The deal was that they pay for gas and all of my food and drink for the weekend and in return I'd drive them to UVA. Sounded good to me. Off we went.

My friend Tom and I found a local paper and started looking for things to do. As luck would have it SRV was playing that night. Much to our amazement it wasn't sold out. We got there early and for a measly $10 we found ourselves 10 feet from the stage, directly in front of Stevie.

The show was just ridiculous. The man was amazing. It was one of those nights where you just stood and stared and occasionally remembered to pick your jaw up off the floor. I feel incredibly lucky that I just happened to stumble into this show. I have no idea what he played or what he was touring for. I just remember being completely awestruck. I should see if there's a recording of this out there.

The Fabulous T-Birds opened. I didn't know Stevie's brother was in the band at the time, so I thought it was an odd pairing at first. They kicked some ass though. Don't judge them by that "Tuff Enuff" song. They were quite the rockin' band.

1/27/88 The Meatmen @ 9:30 Club Washington, DC

This show was billed as their "Final Appearance". I'm not sure how long that lasted, but they're definitely still around. They were supposedly recording a live album, too, but I'm not sure if that ever came out. Typical dirty, rockin' Meatmen gig. Fun was had by all.

1/25/03 Camper Van Beethoven @ 9:30 Club Washington, DC

This was the big CVB reunion tour. I was a big fan of the first couple records back in the early/mid-80s. I saw them a few times back then (including once opening for R.E.M.) and they were always great, but I lost track of them after college. There was a lot of hype about this show. They were fun, but there was so much material I didn't know, I found myself wanting more. It was good to see them, although I don't think I need to do it again. Maybe if they just play Telephone Free Landslide Victory from start-to-finish (minus bonus tracks) with an "Interstellar Overdrive" encore. That would get me there for sure. They're still around. I think they were here a week or two ago.

1/22/04 Washington Social Club/Peelander-Z Velvet Lounge Washington, DC

Everyone should see Peelander-Z once. "Japanese Action Comic Punk." Once may be enough, but I guarantee it's a show you'll never forget. This was one of our earlier WSC shows. Tiny venue. Lots of dancing. Great party. It was great being able to watch them grow from small venues like this to selling out The Black Cat and even doing a decent job of filling 9:30. God I miss them. Still a little bitter about not getting a farewell show. hrmph.

1/21/05 Dave Attell @ DC Improv - Washington, DC

My first trip to a comedy club. I think I almost peed myself I was laughing so hard. I totally wish Insomniac had come to DC. My original review mentions that this was the first stand-up comic I had seen, but I forgot about seeing Robin Williams back in the 80s. oops.

1/22/05 Hoover/Medications/City Goats @ Black Cat Washington, DC

Great bill, but I found myself bored with Hoover by the end of the night. I'll chalk that up to sitting through all 3 bands alone and not being familiar with Hoover's material. I left early.

Are City Goats still around? They were fun. I wouldn't mind seeing them again.

My original thoughts on both the Hoover and Dave Attell gigs can be found here.

1/25/05 Carlsonics/(The Sounds Of) Kaleidoscope @ DC9 - Washington, DC

The Carlsonics were a hard-rocking garage-type band that used to play around town a lot. I seem to recall this being part of a month long residency @ DC9. I could be wrong about that. This was the last time I saw them. I wish I had seen them more before they broke up. Check out their cd. Gritty rock-and-roll goodness.

TSOK still pop-up every now and then. Psychedelic Indie Rock. Good stuff. It's been too long since I've seen them. This show was a great double-bill.

More "End of January Stuff" to come...

Monday, January 18, 2010


Mid-January Stuff

1/18/87 The Pretenders/Iggy Pop @ Rec Hall - Penn State - State College, PA

My senior year of college. We didn't get many shows in Bumf--k, PA back then, Getting a double-bill this solid was huge. The show was 100% reserved, but as soon as the lights went out a bunch of us rushed the stage. We weren't about to watch Iggy from the back of the basketball arena. There were only a couple dozen of us, so they kept trying to clear us out. They couldn't keep up though, We'd just loop back around and come back when they were clearing put the others. They eventually gave up and let us stay for Iggy's set. I didn't know most of the songs at the time, but it was a helluva show. He was touring for Blah Blah Blah, which I like probably more than I should - probably the result of seeing this show. Iggy Is King. All hail Iggy.

I loved The Pretenders at the time, too, but didn't want to bother trying to go up front again. I just stayed in my seat. I think they were touring for Get Close, so it wasn't the classic Pretenders line-up. They still sounded great though. I remember Chrissie Hynde coming out and saying that before she started, she wanted to kiss the stage that Iggy just performed on (and she did). I thought that was cool as hell at the time. Nice show - lots of hits plus the new record. After the show we went over to the Sheraton (the only decent hotel in town at the time) hoping to meet the band. We were in the lobby when they walked-in, but opted to not bother going up to them. I'm not sure if we were trying to be respectful or we just chickened-out. My guess is the latter.

1/16/93 B-52's/Juliana Hatfield @ Smith Center - GWU - Washington, DC

Juliana may have been billed as "The Juliana Hatfield 3". Not sure. The B's were touring for Good Stuff, which pretty much sucked. No Cindy. Enough said. By far the lamest B's show I've ever seen.

1/14/95 Pearl Jam/Neil Young/L7 @ Constitution Hall - Washington, DC

This was a Voters for Choice benefit. PJ was trying to avoid TicketMaster and did a mail-order-only ticket lottery. I didn't get tickets. I did what any deadhead would do and went anyway - holding my finger in the air and begging for someone to sell me a ticket. I had exactly one offer for several hundred dollars. No thanks. A while later this girl came up to me and said she didn't have a ticket, but was wondering what they were going for. We both agreed that the previous offer was ludicrous. She asked me what I thought was a reasonable price and I answered "face value". She just laughed and asked me if I really expected to get a face-value ticket. I said no, but I'd try again the next night. If I don't find one, then I'll just come back the next time they're in town. Pearl Jam was trying to help their fans by avoiding TicketMaster and by doing the mail-order thing to try to thwart scalpers. I felt it was kind of a slap in their face to spend a fortune on scalped tickets. She agreed. We talked for a while about various other things, then she left to go inside to see the show. About 10 minutes later she came back. She said she had lied about not having an extra ticket. She just wanted to make sure it went to someone who really "got" what PJ was doing. She sold me the ticket for face value. Within 10 minutes I was inside.

It was my first time seeing Pearl Jam. I had tickets to see them in '94, but opted to go see The Grateful Dead in Miami instead. I kind of regret that, as the PJ show was the night that Kurt Cobain died.

1/18/06 We Are Scientists/Oxford Collapse @ Sonar - Baltimore, MD

I think this is the only time I've been to Sonar. I had seen We Are Scientists on 2005, but never Oxford Collapse. I'd see this same line-up several more times over the years. Oxford Collapse was a great band. The played that same slightly-awkward yet danceable rock music that WAS played. They were a great pairing. WAS came onstage for "The Boys Go Home" and looked like they were having a helluva time. I left with a handful of their stuff and vowed to see them again ASAP.

We Are Scientists were, once again, a great f--king time. Having seen them before, my hopes were high and they met them easily. Their first record was finally out, so I was slightly familiar with some of their songs. After this show I was positive they were going to be the next-big-thing.

1/15/08 Editors/Hot Hot Heat @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

I posted my thoughts about this one before. I keep forgetting about Editors. Every time I hear them I think "Damn they're good. I should listen to them more often" and never do. Another great band I don't pay enough attention to. They're coming to town in February. I may have to go. You should too, but wait until I get my tickets first.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


So Long, Penguin

Goodbye to the Silver Spring Penguin, who closed-up shop yesterday. The Penguin did a great job of keeping me up-to-date on things in my hood. I guess I need to start paying better attention on my own now.

Good Luck, Penguin. You'll be missed!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Jay Reatard - R.I.P.

Jay Reatard was found dead today. Only 29 years old. How sad.

I got to see Jay twice in 2007. Once opening for The Ponys on the Backstage and once opening for The Meat Puppets on the Mainstage (both at The Black Cat). He was incredible. His music came in these short, manic bursts of energy that were hard to keep up with, yet his band was nice and tight. Each song was a little snapshot of controlled chaos. Rarely 2 minutes long and only enough time after one song to count-off the next one. He could zip through a dozen songs in 20-25 minutes, easily. His Blood Visions album is one of my favorites of the last few years. Highly recommended. Go buy it and see what you missed.

And he played a Flying-V. How cool is that?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Early January Stuff

1/ 4/87 The Ramones @ The Bayou - Washington, DC

Not the first time I saw The Ramones. Certainly not the last. I saw The Ramones 4 times at The Bayou. To tell you the truth, the only distinguishing factor I remember from any of them was when The Smithereens opened for them. I think that was '86 though. Anyway...I remember hating The Bayou. They treated all the hippies like low-lifes and the punks like...well...punks. Anything close to pogo-ing would get you tossed in a flash. Plus it was in Georgetown, so there were always annoying people around, both inside and outside the club.

1/ 8/87 The Meatmen @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

Oh, Tesco, you little scamp. The Meatmen were rude, loud and all kinds of awesome. Just when you thought they couldn't get any more offensive, they went a little further. They offended just about everyone eventually. How can you not love a band obsessed with poop and gays and with songs like "Mr. Tapeworm", "Crippled Children Suck" and "Orgy Of One"? They were a semi-local band - having moved here from Michigan a few years after getting started. That's fine. I have no problem claiming them as our own. Their shows are always a blast. They're reformed again and are still playing around. Highly recommended, but you've been warned. Stud Powercock... is a must-have for anyone who claims to like punk rock.

Yet another reason I heart the interwebs:

1/ 3/2003 Patti Smith @ 9:30 Club - Washington, DC

Patti is one of those people I always felt like I should like, but didn't really get into for a long time. I finally decided it was time to check her out. I bought Horses, figuring she'd have to play at least a few tracks off of that one. Nothing prepared me for the show though. Holy mother of God - What took me so long? She was absolutely mesmerizing. One moment she'd seem to bare her soul to us, appearing vulnerable and weak....then 10 minutes later she's got everyone jumping up and down, hands in the air, having me convinced she could take on the world (and most likely win). Such power and emotion - not to mention mixed-in with a little fun. Part revival - part poetry reading - part rock and roll show. Amazing. I'll be back every time.

Patti has a new book out this month, documenting her life with Robert Mappelthorpe in the late-60s/early-70s. Looks pretty interesting. While you're buying that - buy Horses, too. Everyone should own that. Everyone.

1/ 7/09 Edie Sedgwick @ Black Cat Backstage - Washington, DC

I don't really know what to say about Edie Sedgwick other than he's my hero. His band seems to be a revolving line-up of various local indie-rock musicians, but the records sounds kind of electro-punk-dancy-weird. I've seen live shows where he's jumping around like a crazy person and another show where it's just him and some beats sitting in front of a dvd-fireplace. You never know what you're going to get. This show was my first. Edie and a band of locals cranking out some quirky Q And Not U - style dance tunes. It's always a not-to-be-missed event. I really don't understand why he's not a superstar.

You should follow him on Twitter, too. It's a real treat.

Saturday, January 02, 2010



I've chronicled New Years-past previously, so I won't bother with that again.

12/31/09 - Dark Star Orchestra/The Bridge @ Rams Head Live - Baltimore, MD

This year we headed up to Baltimore again to see Dark Star Orchestra. We did the same thing last year and had a great time. It was the obvious choice for this year.

We got there just after 9:00. The coat-check was already full. Dammit. We caught the last song from The Bridge, who seemed pretty fun. They seem to open for DSO around here often. Maybe next time we'll head in earlier to see them.

This was our first time seeing DSO with their new "Jerry." Their previous "Jerry" was so good he got snatched-up by Phil Lesh and Bob Weir for their current Furthur project. Not a bad gig.

They opened with a short acoustic set which was fun, but not terribly exciting. The electric sets were much better. The new guy didn't disappoint at all. Holy crap is he good. Right off the bat they opened the electric sets with a "Help->Slip->Franklin's" that had quite a few jaws dropping. Wow. Donna Jean Godchaux was in the house and sat in with the band for a few songs. As a former Donna-skeptic I have to admit it was great seeing her again. She sounded fine and looked like she was having a blast. Quite a kick to see her dancing with Father Time at midnight. We left the show early - a little after 1:00am when they went into "Alligator". That indicated to us that they probably had at least 20-30 minutes left and we're too old and tired to hang out that much longer.

The band sounded fine all night. It was an "original setlist" show, which brings me to my beef with DSO. Their schtick is that they cover Grateful Dead shows in their entirety - basically recreating the whole Grateful Dead concert experience. Once in a while they mix things up by playing "original setlist" shows, but they got where they are by covering entire shows (and doing it very well.) I've seen them about 7 times now, and I'm pretty sure 5 of those have been "original setlist" shows. They always sound good, but I find the way they mix things up to be too jarring. I find myself thinking "The Dead would never do that" and it throws me off. It makes me think of them as just another cover band, rather than something unique. Don't get me wrong - the music is always top-notch - but I always leave thinking I didn't quite get what I paid for.

The walk back to the hotel was pretty cold, wet and miserable, but we were treated to the sight of quite a few drunken women (and one guy) throwing-up or being carried home by their friends. Awesome.

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