Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Gary Numan @ Black Cat — 10/27/13

I quite like Gary Numan — the musician and the man.

His new album Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) undeniably shows influences of his association with Nine Inch Nails — but to be fair, Nine Inch Nails have long been admiring Numan. So it perhaps is only fair that the two musical acts would commingle. Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck played on some of Splinter’s tracks and joined him live on several recent tour dates.

The influence clearly was felt in the show at the Black Cat on Sunday, Oct. 27. Numan was energetic and in good form with a strong band that handled their goth guitar pretty well. They were very tight on “Everything Comes Down to This,” a new song from Splinter, demonstrating impressive range. The song is at times sparse and ethereal and at other times full and frenetic. Numan’s voice was strong and his physical flourishes added a great deal to his performance.

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

Hulkamania is running wild, Brother! I never realized it until I saw this photo by R Lopez but what this world needs is more Hulk Hogans. Not the current soft-spoken Hulk Hogan doing his reality tv thing but the 1980s Hulk Hogan, leader of the Hulkamaniacs, overly tanned, overly blond, overly oiled, and with a voice so strained that you’re waiting for the moment when all the muscles in his neck pop. Though most likely dressed up for a Halloween party I’m going to hold out hope that we’ll see more of these guys around town on a regular basis. Maybe some Macho Man Randy Savages too. OOOOH YEEEEAH!

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Love in Afghanistan

Love in Afghanistan

Khris Davis and Melis Aker in Love in Afghanistan at Arena Stage. Photo credit: Teresa Wood.

It could have been the perfect modern-day Cinderella story—rich and handsome boy meets oppressed but beautiful girl, the attraction is immediate, they fall in love, and despite the multiple barriers that ensue, he eventually rescues her from her oppressive situation, they get married and live happily ever after in his world of fame and fortune, never to look back on her former life of injustices. Real life and love, of course, are much more complicated, and thankfully, the lovers’ relationship in Arena Stage’s production of Love in Afghanistan reflects life and love’s complexities. It doesn’t fall prey to the fairy tale ending.

Playwright Charles Randolph-Wright’s modern tale of love in war-torn Afghanistan is the story of Duke (played by Khris Davis), a young, successful American hip-hop artist performing for the US troops at the military base in Kabul, whose language interpreter, Roya (Melis Aker), is a beautiful and smart Afghan woman who, when she’s not utilizing her skills as a polyglot for the US military, is secretly helping run an underground rescue organization for women. Intrigued and impressed by the other person, an immediate and intimate friendship between Duke and Roya develops. Although the transition from friendship to love is predictable, the relationship between the two characters is not. Theirs is a love complicated by the intricacies of two separate cultures that, in many ways, are not compatible with one another. He is from the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ where playing the proverbial hero on the white horse rescuing the damsel in distress is considered noble and romantic, while she is from a land where, although fear permeates every facet of life and bomb explosions are regular occurrences, women do not want to be rescued by men but, rather, are rescuing themselves from the oppression of a male-dominated society. Continue reading

Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Sparks @ 9:30 Club – 10/27/13

Ron and Russell Mael (photo courtesy Sparks)

Ron and Russell Mael (photo courtesy Sparks)

Sparks are certainly an acquired taste. The brothers Ronald and Russell Mael have been touring their Two Hands, One Mouth show for several years now. In so doing, Ron Mael (two hands on keyboards) and Russell Mael (one mouth on vocals) have condensed their catalogue into a vaudevillian presentation of their efforts to deconstruct pop music.

It’s not music for the masses, so its reception in any given venue is going to be a bit of a mystery. The Maels openly wondered if they would be well received at the 9:30 Club on Sunday evening after a long absence from D.C. At the end of the show, they seemed quite pleased with the comfortably half-full club, which contained quite a few admirers of Sparks’ clever word play and occasionally theatrical posturing.

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Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 10/25-10/27

It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year: the week of Halloween! When the sun is noticeably setting early; when the wind takes on a spooky feel; and when I give myself multiple cavities because I MUST HAVE ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS!!! Or the Almond Joys…or the Kit-Kats…or the…you get the idea: I must have the GOOD candy. While I am now too old to go trick-or-treating, the trade off is I am now old enough to buy my own candy and not share with the neighborhood kids. I’m sure many of our loyal readers would agree with, and follow, this notion.

There was certainly a ghostly vibe in our Flickr pool, which I think means more scary things in store for the week to come. So enjoy this Flashback and be sure to get all your ghoulish pics in for the end of the week’s Review. Enjoy the photos…if you dare! Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Denver defeats Washington 45-21

Only the most die hard Washington fans thought that their football team would have much of a chance against Peyton Manning and the high powered Denver offense, but they did more than have a chance. Washington entered the fourth quarter with a seven point lead, but that quickly evaporated as John Fox went for it on fourth down and Peyton Manning found Joel Dreessen on a one yard touchdown pass. Washington would then quickly go three and out on three straight passes, two that hit receiver’s hands. Sav Rocca would shank the punt and Peyton Manning and Knowshon Mereno would run a perfectly executed screen that gave Denver a seven point lead.

It was a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish as on the next possession Robert Griffin would fumble the football, Denver would recover, and Peyton Manning would march them down the field for yet another score. Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and while there was some hope when Washington went up by fourteen points there was still a quarter and a half for Manning to play and he has come back from larger deficits in less time than that.

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Interviews, People, She/He Loves DC, The Features

He Loves DC: Ed Cunningham

Photo Courtesy of ESPN

Photo Courtesy of ESPN

Ed Cunningham grew up playing football at Mount Vernon High School in DC’s backyard. His ability to play the game and play it well enabled a successful career as a professional football player and on-air sports analyst. The athleticism he exhibited on the field led Cunningham to a Rose Bowl Championship — that he won — in college before he continued on to spend time in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks in the 90′s.

Most recently, Cunningham finds himself working as a college football analyst for ESPN. And this weekend, ESPN is bringing Cunningham back home to call the Clemson at Maryland football game which is scheduled to air at 3:30 p.m. ET this afternoon.

What is it about DC that makes it home to you?

Now that I have lived away for so long, I think it is the accents of the people. There is such a unique way of speaking here, and it always reminds me of being a kid in such a great place.

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Friday Happy Hour: Chartreuse-Fernet


I am having a hard time imagining the origins of this drink. I think it would have to have gone something like this:

“Hey, what do bartenders like to drink? Chartreuse and Fernet? Okay then, pour both of those into a glass and add vermouth and bitters for good measure!”

Eventually everyone in the industry, bartenders and voracious cocktail drinkers of Hemingway-esque proportions alike, will find themselves in a rut. It’s at times like this that you find yourself doing strange and frightening things, like ordering vodka on the rocks, when what you really need is to go back to your roots and rediscover what you’re passionate about. There aren’t many things that will excite jaded bartenders, but Green Chartreuse and Fernet Branca are near the top of that list.

Look at respected institutions like Range on Wisconsin Avenue and Canon in Seattle, winner of Tales of the Cocktail World’s Best Drink Selection, and veteran haunts like Bar Pilar on 14th Street NW. Range and Canon have Green Chartreuse on tap and Bar Pilar has a Fernet Branca tap. Why on tap? Because why the heck not? They enjoy enough of it, they might as well reserve a tap line for ye olde “Bartender’s Handshake.” But this is not just a drink for bartenders. Somewhere between the equal parts of Green Chartreuse, Fernet Branca, Martini and Rosso sweet vermouth, and a few spirited dashes of aromatic bitters, everyone comes together and mellows each other out.

On the menu at Firefly on New Hampshire Ave NW, the flavor text reads “for the lion-hearted drinker,” but this drink is a big pussy cat. Don’t get me wrong, when I had the chance to get an early look at the new cocktail menu, this drink jumped right out at me and screamed “bartender porn.” Continue reading

Music, The Features, We Love Music

Hot Ticket: Sparks @ 9:30 Club, 10/27/13


I caught Sparks in two very different shows back in April. I hit up their sold-out performance at Hollywood Forever, a masonic mausoleum in Los Angeles, where Ron and Russell Mael did a full-length show but alone with Ron on keyboards and Russell on vocals.

It was slightly amazing to see them in such an intimate venue with people who were truly fans. I got caught up on some of their recent work like the addictively catchy “The Rhythm Thief” from Lil’ Beethoven. Well, I say recent although that album is now 10 years old. I went to the show exclusively to hear selections like “The Number One Song in Heaven,” which also did not disappoint.

I next saw them at The Coachella Valley Music Festival, where some people really loved them, some people were puzzled and some were just hanging out.

When Sparks play at the 9:30 Club this Sunday, Oct. 27, I suspect you’ll find more of the people who really love them, as this is a rare area performance by the synthpop duo. They play more in Europe, where they are much more popular, and in Los Angeles, their hometown.

In advance of the show, the 9:30 Club interviewed them for its blog, and it sounds like the gents have a good show planned for Thursday. And that they are working on material beyond their recent effort to score an independent film in development, The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman.

This is a rare opportunity to catch Sparks locally as they play an early show at the 9:30 Club! Come out and beat the clock! :)

9:30 Club
Sunday, Oct. 27
Doors @6pm
All ages

Week in Review

Week in Review: 10/21-10/24

We made it you guys! Another work week (almost) in the bag. We’ve got a fine collection of photos for you today. Much time was spent looking through Flickr for those not hip to the We Love DC groove and asking them to share their righteous snaps of our fair city. Below are some familiar names but also some new ones. Want to see your name here? You know what to do.  Make sure you tag your photos with “welovedc” as well so we can find them even when you don’t remember to add them to the group.

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We Love Weekends

We Love Weekends: Oct 25-27

Patrick: I will be out of town this weekend for PhotoPlus Expo, but I’m not too sad to miss Halloween weekend in DC. Typically I try and skip town, I know that last year it looked like I was all about dressing up but normally unless I have a solid costume I’m keeping it low. While you won’t see me on M Street, my landlord told me that if you are in Clarendon to check out N Jackson St. on Halloween- the families come out with their kids and it’s apparently quite a sight to see all the costumes roaming about. When I get back from NYC on Sunday I’ll be in Shirlington to review Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill at Signature.

Rebecca: Like Patrick I’m out of town this weekend and not sad about missing Halloween weekend in DC. I mean it’s not even Halloween guys; that’s next week and I will definitely be out celebrating on Thursday. Climbing down from my soap box, I am sad to be missing the following DC ongoings. Friday Lego is hosting a free closing party for Architecture Week, where guests can create their own LEGO structures. The only Halloween activity I’d be getting to this weekend is Saturday’s Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration at Marjorie Post’s pet cemetery on the Hillwood Estate in NW. The event features a TON of dog owner activities, including a pet costume contest, caricature pet portraits, obstacle training course, etc. Sunday, as this week’s weather has me in the mood for leaf peeping, I’ll research the best DC route to take for a relaxing stroll through the fall foliage.

Fedward:  I got started on Thursday with some chamber music: Quarteto Casals with Manuel Barrueco at the Library of Congress. Friday night that LEGO party Rebecca mentioned sounds AWESOME to my inner kid (“inner?” the wise guys ask). For Saturday, the Social Chair just called my attention to this Music and Technology presentation also at the Library of Congress. When, oh when, will someone host a Music, Technology, LEGO, and craft cocktail event? I’ll be the first to arrive and last to leave! Sunday we’ll be at opening night for The Night Watcher at Studio. As for Halloween, as much as it might be amateur night (or sexy fill-in-the-blank night) I’ll make exceptions for Mockingbird Hill’s Poe Toast and the Passenger’s Zombie 80′s Prom. Not to mention Spirits in Black. Oy. I better call in sick for next Friday, huh.

Jenn: As far as everyone’s favorite spooky holiday, yes, you can start celebrating this weekend for Halloween and go right on through til the real thing next Thursday. That’s quite a marathon. I was ordered to be 80s Madonna for the Passenger’s Zombie 80′s Prom next Thursday, and hopefully I won’t get walled up alive for Mockingbird Hill’s amontillado-inspired Poe Toast earlier that night, and of course I’ll hit Spirits in Black as well. But what about this weekend? Focus, Jenn. BYT’s taking over the gorgeously creepy Sphinx Club on Saturday for their Twerk or Treat Halloween Extravaganza (there will be giant hamster balls!), and Black Cat’s hosting the Eighties Mayhem Halloween Dance Party. Not in the mood for the Great Pumpkin yet? Head to Jaleo on Saturday afternoon for a Camus cognac tasting with Kayleigh Kulp, author of Booze for Babes, to learn about cognac, the origins of the classic Sidecar cocktail, and how to make the perfect one yourself. Kulp is a wonderful spirits writer and it will be a lovely afternoon. If you’d like to escape all the pre-Halloween/boozy mayhem, the Freer/Sackler galleries are celebrating Diwali, the Indian Festival of Light, with a day full of events coinciding with their exhibit Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Ah yes, restore your soul before beating up your liver. Bliss.

Don: My weekend starts with a bit of glamour shots; we’ve hired our friend Chris of Route 1 Multimedia to take some family pictures of us and That Darned Baby. Who says weekend nights aren’t exciting when you’ve got a kid? Well, WC Fields in this case, I suspect, since getting both the infant and the family dog to look in the same place at the same time is a task that might make you wish for a rock and a giant eagle. Then off to bed because we’re up tomorrow at the butt-crack of dawn for the Walk to End Alzheimers. We’re still fund raising so if you’d like to do some good with a deductible donation we’d love to have it. Sunday we may just enjoy a warm beverage inside after all that chilly outdoors work the previous two days. Maybe we’ll go sit in the Kogod courtyard and enjoy the light and an outdoors-ish feel while still being sheltered from what’s projected to be a blustery day.

Music, The Features, We Love Music

Hot Ticket: Gary Numan @ Black Cat, 10/27/13


Gary Numan has come a long way since he hit number one on the UK charts with “Are Friends Electric” in 1979. He’s hit some highs and lows in that time, and he recently immigrated from England to Los Angeles.

It’s interesting how much music has changed during that time. At the start of his career, Numan received criticism for seeking success—15 years later glory-seeking was an actual characteristic of Britpop bands. In that time, Numan changed his sound quite a bit, traversing from synthpop auteur to gothic acoustic. In recent years, he’s come back around a bit, re-embraced his synth, and still sounds like he’s light-years ahead of the pack.

Numan has a new album, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), released Oct. 14, and he comes to the Black Cat Sunday to tour it. The new album continues a trend of gloomy self-examination but frankly he remains one of the most intriguing artists in any genre.

Numan last came to the Black Cat almost exactly three years ago, and sold-out a highly anticipated display for the 30th anniversary of his album, The Pleasure Principle, which featured his most globally famous song, “Cars.” His recent set lists suggest he hasn’t forgotten that world tour was pretty good for everyone, so this is a great opportunity to catch him explore songs old and new. Don’t miss out!

Gary Numan
w/ The Color Film
Black Cat
Sunday, Oct. 27
Doors @8pm
$25 advance/$30 doors
All ages

Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: A Love Letter to The Sounds

The first time I saw The Sounds, they were promoting their second album, Dying to Say This to You, with a performance at the 9:30 Club. It was April 10, 2006, and the Swedish new wavers were there with Morningwood and Action Action.

It goes without saying that it was love at first listen—I was instantly hooked by the feminine but tough vocals of Maja Ivarsson and the rock star sensibilities of her bandmates. Guitarist Felix Rodriguez, bassist Johan Bengtsson, drummer Fredrik Blond and keyboardist Jesper Anderberg all are remarkable musicians—and instruments in The Sounds come together from a delightfully cohesive sound. They quickly became my favorite new band.

The Sounds release a new album, Weekend, on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and they leapt over to the United States to play some dates in support of their fifth LP. It’s an excellent mix of some of the raucous dance tunes for which the band is celebrated and some of the softer, reflective ballads that somehow still manage to surprise with their sincerity. Those who like The Sounds for their great dance numbers like “Tony the Beat” and “Dance with the Devil” will welcome the first single, “Shake Shake Shake” and the rebellious “Outlaw.” If “Night After Night” or “Dorchester Hotel” appeal to you, then you’ll likewise welcome the reflective “Hurt the Ones I Love” or the sweetness of “Weekend” (thematically a reflective and forward-looking companion and counterpart to the Pet Shop Boy’s more immediate “Thursday).

Felix, Johan, Maja, Jesper, Frederik

Felix, Johan, Maja, Jesper, Frederik

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Featured Photo

Featured Photo

We have a fascinating a scene from Mount Pleasant today, captured by Gerda. There is a fascinating complexity to the shot, with the foreground texture of the door, the faint reflection in the glass, and the main scene of the laundromat. As well, looking onto the people in the shot, you start wondering what is happening. Are the two female laundromat patrons looking at the photographer or at something out on the street? And Gerda was able to frame this shot with two people going about simple, every day actions (the man folding laundry and the woman checking her cell). Gerda wisely has this shot in black and white, which removes the potential distraction of color, allowing us to focus only on composition. An excellent shot, to be sure.

Concert Roundup, Entertainment, Essential DC, Get Out & About, Life in the Capital, Music, The District

The Winning Ticket: San Fermin @ DC9, 10/24/13


Today we have a pair of tickets to give away for tomorrow night’s San Fermin show at DC9.

San Fermin, pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN], and their self-titled, debut album is the brainchild of Brooklyn music composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone who wrote the album in the Canadian Rocky Mountains over the course of six weeks. Tracks on the album alternate between female and male lead vocals allowing Leone’s concept for the album – a dialogue between an earnest, unhappy man and a cynical, elusive woman – to come to life. The inspiration for this concept was Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises which explains the album’s title, the bull-theme photos and the Spanish song titles.

Not surprisingly love anchors the issues explored in the album, but there is also a strong Biblical tie, in particular to forgiveness, hopelessness, lamentation and pilgrimage. These themes are acutely emphasized by the musical deftness of the eight-member group composed of Allen Tate and Rae Cassidy on lead vocals, Rebekah Durham on vocals/violin, Stephen Chen on saxophone, John Brandon on trumpet, Mike Hanf on drums, Tyler McDiarmid on guitar and Ellis Ludwig-Leone on keyboard. Whew. Hope I covered everyone there. Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Get Out & About, Life in the Capital, Technology, The District

DC Fall Foliage Gets Digitized & Meaningful

If you’re like me, you’re in love with infographics because they take spreadsheets, lists, tables and large amounts of data and make them meaningful, useful and sometimes – when done right – beautiful. Case and point are two interactive infographics created by Casey Trees that are a leaf peepers dream.

The first infographic, which for me is the more useful of the two, suggests DC routes leaf peepers should take for maximum fall color viewing. On hover over, users are given the route’s length, walk or drive recommendations, number of colored trees along the route, types of trees along the route and expected level of color users will see.Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 10.36.32 AM

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Franz Ferdinand @ Strathmore Music Center — 10/17/13

Franz Ferdinand (Photo by Andy Knowles)

Franz Ferdinand (Photo by Andy Knowles)

We expect a lot from certain bands these days. Sometimes it’s not enough to play good music—the musicians must have style, personality and wit.

We therefore appreciate standard-bearers like Franz Ferdinand, who craft their upbeat post-punk songs with clever lyrics and catchy riffs. When you’re four men singing “music for girls,” as they famously say, it’s important to follow through with a certain amount of panache and sophistication.

And thankfully, Franz Ferdinand still maintains a great deal of this fire. Their lyrics are as wry and witty as ever and their energy is high. The dapper gents from Scotland have a new album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, which they toured through the Strathmore Music Center last Thursday, Oct. 17. There seems to be a consensus that the band’s last album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, wasn’t everything that it could be… and frontman Alex Kapranos has said the band was not spending a lot of time together and collaborated a lot over distances instead of working in the same room when making that album.

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Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Simple Minds @ 9:30 Club — 10/18/13

A representative of a music production company once told my favorite lady Yasmin that Simple Minds would not be about to mount a tour of the United States. They wanted too much money for their current place in the echelon of UK bands, the rep said.

It was quite satisfying then to see this fellow proved wrong as the 9:30 Club solidly sold out its $40-a-ticket show of the Glasgow quintet, who were in fine form for a 35th anniversary greatest hits tour. Vocalist Jim Kerr and company only hit seven dates in North America, so it was doubly satisfying that D.C. was on the tour bill.

I went to the show hoping that the band would not neglect its earlier material in favor of radio staples that got them noticed in the United States after “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the number one hit they logged from The Breakfast Club soundtrack. As the band broke through here, their sound shifted direction to my ear away from the synth-driven music they embraced in their earlier albums toward soulful arena rock. While pleasing nevertheless, I do not find those radio hits like “Alive and Kicking” as satisfying as some of the material more obscure to Americans.

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Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 10/18-10/20

We know, it’s Monday. We know there are a million things you’d rather be doing today than sitting at work. Like sleeping. Or napping. Or snoozing. But since you can’t be doing those things you can sit back, look at some photos, and reminisce about the weekend. It was a good weekend wasn’t it? All that sleeping. And lounging. And the doing of nothing. Don’t worry, only 5 more days until the next one.

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The Daily Feed

Washington defeats Chicago 45-41 in See-Saw Affair

After 86 combined points and eight lead changes the Washington/Chicago game finally came to the end with the Chicago back-up quarterback, Josh McCown, laying on the turf after being sacked by Barry Cofield. This was the most complete game Washington has played this season. Two out of three facets of the game played well enough to win and special teams kept Chicago in the game. It was more an early interception that led to a Chigaco touchdown by RGIII, a punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester, and multiple penalties by Brandon Meriweather. If not for those plays Washington could have had a more comfortable victory. A victory worthy of 45 points and 499 offensive yards.

The important part of the game is that Washington won. The other part is that Brandon Meriweather should no longer be on an NFL playing field. He is a dangerous player that plays like he is trying to knock everyone out, including his own teammates, instead of playing the position of safety. Meriweather is not a good football player and when he is on the field does more harm to Washington’s efforts than good. They need someone there and with one draft pick out for the season, another in the Shanahan doghouse, and Reed Doughty facing a concussion Washington may have no other choice than using Meriweather, when he isn’t suspended.

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