Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The Wilbur)
Midge Ure, OBE, lead singer of Ultravox and cofounder of the Live Aid music festival, stepped out onto stage in front of a house band.
“Give us this day, all that you showed me/the power and the glory, ‘til my kingdom come!”
He belted out his lyrics a Capella before thundering into the guitar riff that serves as the backbone to “Hymn,” one of the best songs from his sadly absent band Ultravox. The high-minded content of Ure’s pop songs are a bit unusual these days, but his songs fit right in on a concert tour lineup that included a hearty group of romantic optimists—among them Howard Jones and Tom Bailey (formerly of the Thompson Twins).
The mini-festival winding its way across the United States at the moment is called the Retro Futura tour, and unfortunately it did not stop in DC on its way across the country. The closest it got was a suburb of Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 22. In previous years, the tour had stopped here under its former name, the Regeneration Tour.
Somewhere in synthpop heaven, a match was made. Norwegian duo Royksopp would party with Swedish indie diva Robyn, and beautiful music would be made.
It happened most spectacularly on Royksopp’s 2009 album, Junior, with the disco smash “The Girl and the Robot,” which between Royksopp’s hooky synths and Robyn’s pleading voice captured a perfect crystalized moment in dancefloor history. Nominally, the song is about a woman in love with someone who may not return her affections, or at least is not as warm as she would like. The video fetishes technology and strobe lights.
And introducing the song gave Robyn a perfect opportunity to declare her raison d’etre before its performance by a happily reunited Robyn and Royksopp Thursday night at Wolf Trap.
Mike Peters and his bandmates met with their new manager one day some 30-odd years ago, and told him they already were done being a supporting act.
“From now on, we only headline shows. We don’t want to be a supporting act,” the members of The Alarm said to their sympathetic manager.
Very soon, however, he called them back with an offer they really might want to consider–opening for U2 on their tour in support of the album October. Gobsmacked, Peters nonetheless reluctantly began to explain the band should stand behind their manifesto. But before they could turn down the deal, drummer Nigel Twist grabbed the phone and shouted, “Of course, we’ll do it!”
The tour was successful, and U2 invited The Alarm to tour with them in America well, introducing their Welch friends to the United States. The bands remained friends through the years, and U2 recorded a cover of The Alarm’s “Blaze of Glory” for a BBC Radio Wales special on the 30th anniversary of The Declaration, the first-full length album from the band, which aired in April.
From 1977 to 1986, one of the most infamous places in DC to boogey down was in the basement of an unlikely location—a Chinese restaurant called the Day Lily, then located at 2142 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
Thursday night, the Chinese Disco, as it was known after dark, returned to DC. With the blessing of the founders of the original night, a bar formerly known as the George has dubbed itself Chinese Disco at 3251 Prospect St. NW, and launched weekend dance parties sure to bring a little more indie dance spirit to Georgetown (a neighborhood sorely long lacking in dance spots).
By any measure, the well-orchestrated soft opening party was a success. More than 700 people signed up for the guest list, which was managed electronically at the door. The large crowd was ready to dance, and dance they did to the likes of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” and even the Spice Girls.
When you’ve watched a band evolve over the span of a decade or more, it’s easy to be blinded by your own personal biases. But when it comes to Filligar, I often like to take a step back and remember the story from the beginning.
It’s only fair that I open this story with the fact that I’ve known Filligar – which is comprised of the Mathias brothers Johnny, Pete, and Ted and their life-long friend Casey Gibson – since I was a freshman at the Latin School of Chicago. It was the Fall of 2004 and I had recently started classes when I made friends with the guys who would become the band Filligar.
My first true introduction to them as a rock band was when we shared a billing at a battle of the bands in November 2004. I’ll never forget that day. It was the day George Harrison passed away. We all hung out in our school theater’s green room before the show talking about music and whatever else freshmen in high school talk about (though Johnny was in the 7th grade at the time). They went by the name Flipside back then and I’m pretty sure I have their first disc somewhere in my CD collection stored safely in a Chicago attic. But nostalgia aside, these guys have come a long way since the early days of the band.
Their live show is what makes them standout in an over-saturated music market and, on Saturday July 26, they showed the crowd at DC9 exactly that. Not only did the packed house demand Filligar play one more song before they agreed to a one-song encore but when they ended the show for the night, their devoted fans continued to chant for more music.
Never have I felt the floors of DC9 shake as they did that night. I worried for a moment that the ground beneath my feet was about to collapse while Filligar played their staple set-ending tune “Trepador,” which they’ve recorded a couple times between 2008 and 2013. But the floors didn’t collapse and the show ended on a high note. The sheer amount of energy they expel while performing live is infectious and that’s what the room was left with — energy.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Kooks shimmied into the 9:30 Club Sunday night with new material and a revitalized stage show that was eaten up by the sold-out crowd.
From the beginning, vocalist Luke Pritchard strutted and slid across the stage, very much looking like he could have sprung whole from the ‘60s music that inspired his lyrical Britpop.
Pritchard, guitarist Hugh Harris, drummer Alexis Nunez, and bassist Peter Denton have been opening their set with lead single “Down,” from a new album Listen, set to be released in the United States on Sept. 2. It’s a catchy pop song of jittery sophistication, and its words are a challenge to a woman seeking to bring our man “down down diggy de down down diggy diggy.”
Just because you’ve got a sad song doesn’t mean you can’t get diggy with it.
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Erin and The Wildfire live. I’ve always been a firm believer that the live music experience tends to trump any recording (within reason) and this band captured my attention from their very first song of their live set back in March 2014 at Iota Club in Arlington, Va. Since then, the band — featuring vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Erin Lunsford, guitarist Ryan Lipps, bassist Matt Wood, and drummer Nick Quillen — continues to make waves regionally and has a stop at Jammin’ Java planned for this Sunday night, July 27. They’ll be joined by Tim Jones and Zach Broocke as part of a Buncearoo Presents show in Vienna, Va.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you all get together to start this band and why? There’s got to be a story there!
Met through a student-run musicians’ collective called O Records. Erin needed a band for a frat party so we learned some terrible covers, took our shirts off, and the rest is history.
How would you describe Erin & The Wildfire’s sound to someone who’s trying to decide if they should come to a show?
“It’s a rock show.” Particularly, Irish mellow bog-punk. But seriously, soul + blues + funk. Continue reading →
The song receives new treatments from Pleasure Curses, Lenorable, Psykofly and Semita Serpens.
According to a Technophobia press release, “The original Bleeding Hands gives way to trip through a midnight discotheque from dance duo Pleasure Curses. Soon after, the void opens up for a space-birthed dirge courtesy of Lenorable, before the hammer comes down via Psykofly’s brutish drum and bass treatment. The last hope of light is finally vanquished due to Semita Serpen’s riveting ‘Industrial Cinema’ remix.”
I saw Void Vision in Philadelphia three years ago, and I can attest that artist Shari Vari is a frenetic bundle of new romantic/new wave/dark wave/industrial energy in a sonically sweet wrap. Given how much energy our own Technophobia put into a show, this performance is guaranteed to grab your attention.
w/ Void Vision, Curse
Saturday, July 19
Pictured (L to R): Kevin Nolan, Matt Nolan, Willie Morrison, Dave Benson, and Truman Morrison.
Washington, D.C. is a city internationally known as being the hub of American politics as opposed to it being the home of Country music but the home-grown Morrison Brothers Band has made D.C. their Nashville. Seven years ago, the current lineup of D.C.’s own Southern Rock band was set and now they’re headlining the 9:30 Club for the second time on Friday, July 11.
As their moniker points out, The Morrison Brothers Band does actually consist of two sets of brothers from D.C. including lead vocalist Willie Morrison and his older brother/guitar player Truman as well as drummer Matt Nolan and his younger brother/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Nolan. Then, to round out the group, there’s multi-instrumentalist Dave Benson and vocals from Alyson Gilbert.
Willie and Truman were college students away from home in Los Angeles at the same time when they originally started the band. They even ended up playing the group’s first show at the infamous Roxy. Upon graduation, Truman moved back to D.C. and started the migration of the band from California to its current D.C. home. During that summer, Willie and his big brother were introduced to drummer Matt Nolan (who was attending school in New Orleans) out of necessity and he seemingly passed the audition to fill a much needed void before casually mentioning that he knew a bass player and would bring him next time. That bass player ended up being Matt’s 12-year-old brother Kevin.
As others have by now reported, the organizers of the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series have resolved their differences with the National Park Service. And they now have posted a schedule that begins Monday, July 7 and runs through Thursday, July 31.
Straight from FortReno.com, here is the lineup:
Monday, July 7 2014
Thursday, July 10 2014
Peanut Butter & Dave
Monday, July 14 2014
Baby Bry Bry
Thursday, July 17 2014
Monday, July 21 2014
Alarms & Controls
Thursday, July 24 2014
Monday, July 28 2014
The Raised by Wolves
VinoLovers, a new personalized wine subscription service based in DC, presented its inaugural VinoFest at Union Market Saturday, offering a happy gathering of wine appreciators selections from a dozen different wines and a musical lineup that included nine different acts, including Eric Hilton of the Thievery Corporation and Jesse Boykins III.
The weather was perfect for the gathering, which served as a perfect summer escape via parking lot. VinoFest was held in the loading dock and adjoining lot behind Union Market, and it became a perfectly comfortable location as more and more people filled the space throughout the afternoon, contributing to the feeling that you were attending a fancy block party in a secluded cul de sac in the city.
After taking some time to check out the wine selection, I caught the performance by Brooklyn-based quartet Body Language, who played some very catchy electronic R&B. Musicians Grant Wheeler, Matt Young and Ian Chang took to synthesizers and other instuments while vocalist and Angelica Bess smoothly sang some smooth but funky tunes, sometimes in harmony with the men. Her soaring yet sweet voice was a lovely compliment to the synths of the band — and the effect was not unlike watching some of the better moments of a live Moby stage show when the DJ teams with a soul singer for some of his better songs.
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer proves his band still has it (Photo courtesy of Firefly Music Festival)
Four days is a long time to commit to a festival, but it actually buzzes right by when you follow your festival roadmap of bands to see.
The final day of the Firefly Music Festival, Sunday, June 22, was a short day for me as my compatriots and I determined to return to DC from Dover at a reasonable time (say, around 9pm instead of midnight or later).
I’ll wrap my festival diary then with a short nod to the three bands I caught on my last day, starting with Misterwives, who performed on the festival’s small forest stage.
The New-York based quintet is a young band that’s been around for not quite a year and a half. But they got a record deal pretty quickly, even if they don’t yet have a Wikipedia page. Vocalist Mandy Lee is total sweetheart, chatting with the audience from stage and then breaking into equally sweet, fast-paced song, such as with the band’s single “Reflections,” also the title track of their only EP so far. “Reflections” lyrically reflects Ms. Lee’s sunny attitude — maybe there’s some possibilities still ahead? And it’s neo-psychedelic rythms speak to a band that likes to whip up a good dance number — a band that includes guitarist Marc Campbell, drummer Etienne Bowler, bassist William Hehi and keyboardist Jesse Blum.
Misterwives performed a bright, upbeat cover of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” which the forest stage audience embraced quite quickly. There was much dancing. Misterwives have an upcoming show where they support Bleachers at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, Sept. 3, if you’re interested in checking them out.
The series could not bear the costs of this unannounced new requirement, prompting organizer Amanda Mackaye to announce the cancellation of the popular concerts Thursday.
We asked Mackaye what could folks do if they wanted to help. She suggested reaching out to protest the decision by the National Park Service (NPS) in hopes of reversing the requirement to bear the costs of an officer at the concerts.
Suggested contacts below
Jon Jarvis, NPS director
No readily available contact info as of yet
Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, acting regional NPS director for National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Dr. SW
Washington, DC 20242
These DC officials have been sympathetic to the situation, and Mackaye suggested contacting them to inquire about how to help:
Sen. Paul Strauss
One Judiciary Square, Suite 1000-S
Washington, DC 20001
Councilmember Mary Cheh
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 108
Washington, DC 20004
In addition, Change.org has posted a petition protesting the Park Service requirement. You can sign the petition online.
What can happen at this point? I don’t know, but Mackaye wrote to me, “I believe in the power of the people. I look forward to those who hold this concert series dear to their hearts being the reason we can move forward with the schedule we created for this summer.”
Sean Scanlon, vocalist of Smallpools (photo courtesy Firefly Music Festival)
Day three of the Firefly Music Festival on Saturday, June 21, focused mostly on new bands for me — finding such new bands always is the strength of well-organized festivals.
My day began with Smallpools, a quartet from Los Angeles, and their catchy pop songs on the Firefly backyard stage. Smallpools have not yet released a full-length album, but their most popular single, Dreaming (from a self-titled EP) is a very neo-psychedelic dance number that smacks of Foster the People and Passion Pit, as many others have observed. Vocalist Sean Scanlon demonstrated a good sense of humor when recounting a protest email the band once received about its name. Apparently, someone was unhappy that Smallpools would celebrate “small pools,” which are not healthy for killer whales. In response, the band named a new song “Killer Whale.”
Smallpools open for Neon Trees in a show at the 9:30 Club on July 13, but it’s already sold out sadly!
The organizers of the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series in upper Northwest DC have cancelled the series for 2014.
In a note on the website for the concert series (http://www.fortreno.com), organizer Amanda Mackaye laments the cancellation, which is due to an unexpected announcement from the National Park Service (NPS) that the organizers pay for an officer from the US Park Police (USPP) onsite at each concert in Fort Reno Park. This never had been a requirement previously, Mackaye said, and the humble little concert series cannot afford the cost of the officer required.
“So as it stands today, not only does the concert series not have the funds to cover this cost at the last minute but we don’t feel we should have to do this without just cause. Our feeling is that if something had changed within the operations at NPS or USPP regarding public events since last summer, there was ample time to inform us. NPS has all of my contact information. And this is not a little cost as USPP seems to think. It will literally double the VERY small budget of the concert series. It will affect how many shows can happen because the money must be paid up front. I didn’t even bother to get into what happens if we are dark due to rain…,” Mackaye wrote.
“That all said, with the heaviest of hearts the decision is that the concert series will be dark for 2014 in an effort to resolve this for the future. I hope it goes without saying that this is not the outcome we expected and certainly don’t want,” she added.
Sounds like blind, needless bureaucracy to us! We hope Mackaye can resolve these challenges, although as you can see in her letter, no one has stepped up to meet with her on the issue.
Dave Grohl at Firefly (Photo courtesy Firefly Music Festival)
Yesterday’s list of summertime cover songs by bands playing at the ever-growing Firefly Music Festival was by no means exhaustive, as you’ll see below.
The second day of Firefly, Friday, June 20, started around 12:30pm and stretched until 2am. (And for morning people, unlike myself, Red Bull sponsored a breakfast series where you could awake even earlier and catch some up and coming bands.)
My day, however, began with neo-psychedelic band Basic Vacation, hailing from New York City. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Greatti, bassist Jon Paul and drummer Mike Montalbano formed a snappy trio, playing their established songs like “I Believe” as well as new songs like “Sirens.” They also played a damn catchy cover of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Greatti said at the time that the band would not play it again after Firefly, but c’mon, guys! That was a really good cover, and you really put your own spin on it.
It was during the performance of Basic Vacation on the lawn stage that I began to notice an odd phenomenon. Lots of kids were carrying large cut-out heads of random celebrities, like Nicolas Cage and David Bowie and Bryan Cranston. I have no idea why they carried them, but these large cut-out heads showed up on the viewscreen monitors surprisingly well when the cameras cut to the audience during any particular show. If anyone can explain to me how this got started, I would be very interested in knowing.
2014 Firefly crowd (Photo courtesy Firefly Music Festival)
The third-annual Firefly Music Festival drew an estimated 80,000 people to an expanded four-day concert experience in nearby Dover, Del., June 19-22, boasting more than 125 artists over seven stages.
Although I arrived at the first day of the festival for a bit, let me stop and recount some of the figures from the festival distributed on the second day, when Del. Gov Jack Markell and Firefly Music Festival Director Greg Bostrom spoke about the scope of the festival.
The festival brought an estimated $12 million into Delaware with visitors from all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) as well as 17 countries. Two percent of overall ticket sales came from DC (not too shabby) while neighboring Maryland and Virginia accounted for 15 and 8 percent of sales respectively. (By contrast, Delawareans also accounted for 15 percent.) Firefly grew significantly from last year, when the three-day festival drew about 65,000 attendees.
With that dry economic report out of the way, was the festival any good? Is it worth traveling a little more than 100 miles each way from DC to attend?
At one point in the latter half of the sold-out performance of the Kaiser Chiefs at the 9:30 Club, singer Ricky Wilson swung from the stage to the stage left bar, where he promptly reviewed his drink options and ordered a shot of Jameson.
Before consuming said shot (while still standing on the bar), Wilson reminisced on how he did a similar thing in his last visit to the 9:30 Club two years ago, when he swung to the bar to pull himself a beer from the taps.
The audience, of course, ate it up. Wilson and the Kaiser Chiefs delivered exactly what they sought in both antics and music — a lot of energy, a big dash of rowdiness and the occasional cheeky flourish.
The band opened its set with “The Factory Gates” from its cool new album, Education, Education, Education and War, revisiting a familiar theme in their songs — perhaps there is more to life than being a drone or “part of the crowd.” Indeed, many of the new songs were really strong songs, sitting atop the best of the Kaisers’ catalog, in my opinion. New songs “Coming Home” and “Meanwhile Up in Heaven” offer some slower moments of reflection while “Ruffians on Parade” and “Misery Company” provide fuel for frenetic sing-alongs and dancefloor stomping, laughing (literally in the case of “Misery Company”) in the face of danger with a devil-may-care flair.
Two years ago, I wrote to a girl friend to describe my love of the Kaiser Chiefs. When doing so, I chose 10 great songs by the band by which to describe their music.
Today, the Kaiser Chiefs have a great new album, Education, Education, Education and War, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of tracks from that album (such as “Meanwhile Up in Heaven,” above). But this list may still serve as a good primer for what to expect from the lads from Leeds, who perform tonight at the 9:30 Club before appearing in Delaware at the Firefly Festival on Saturday (5:15-6:15pm on the Lawn).
Wednesday morning update: Morrissey announced the cancellation of the entire tour on Tuesday evening.
“It is with great sadness that the remainder of the U.S. Tour has been cancelled. The respiratory infection Morrissey contracted in Miami has worsened, and in the interest of making a full recovery, all further touring plans have been halted. Morrissey thanks his fans for their compassion, understanding, and well-wishes during this difficult period as he recuperates,” according to a statement on his official Facebook page.
Get well soon, Morrissey!
As every Morrissey fan undoubtedly already has heard, the Man from Manchester has rescheduled tonight’s performance in Baltimore and tomorrow’s performance in DC for dates two weeks later.
In a statement late Monday, I.M.P. Productions, which is supporting both shows, said, “At the advice of Morrissey’s medical team, Baltimore at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is now rescheduled for June 24 and The Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC, is rescheduled for June 25. All tickets previously purchased will be honored for the new dates.”