Ought (Photo courtesy Constellation Records)
Tim Beeler is on your stage, and he has something he wants to say to you.
Guitar in hand, sometimes he sings it to you, but just as often it seems, he speaks over the snappy art punk beats of his band, Ought.
And Beeler wants to talk about being in the moment, being in love, putting things together — but all in a perspective from “every man.” In that way perhaps, the lanky vocalist is extremely reminiscent of David Byrne or Lou Reed in his delivery.
Thursday night at DC9, Ought opened with “Today More Than Any Other Day,” an amazing tribute really to living one’s life. It’s a bit like lyrics by Byrne superimposed over melodies that could have come from Television. Musically, Ought could have sprung straight from 1977 via New York City.
About two-thirds of the way through her set, French pop siren Yelle strides up to a platform to situate herself between the two drummers comprising her band.
Performing the bright electropop song “Tohu” from her new album, Complètement fou, she picks up a disco ball and holds it in her hands before her. Laser-like lightbeams crisscrossing the stage until this point changed direction to target the ball.
The lights scatter from the disco ball. The resulting light shower rained out over the room and the audience, and everyone was dazzled.
Yelle followed up the theatrics by bouncing right into the popular “Safari Disco Club,” the title track to her second album.
Indeed, light tricks or no, the sold-out audience was consistently dazzled by Yelle when she stopped by the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 11 in a tour supporting the latest album, released last month.
Yelle (Photo by Maciek Pozoga)
At the end of last month, Yelle released her third studio album, Complètement fou — French for “completely crazy” or “stark raving mad.” Yet interestingly, it’s perhaps her smoothest album to date.
The breakout songs from the first two Yelle albums had much more in common with spiky synth beats found in some of her contemporaries in the nu disco scene. By contrast, the songs of Complètement fou are largely more mellow, sparkling with an upbeat 80′s synth sound that you may associate with Goldfrapp or other trailblazing acts that revitalized synth-driven electropop in the past decade.
In support of the new album, Yelle comes to the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 11. I’ve seen her at the 9:30 Club twice before (on tours supporting Pop Up and Safari Disco Club), and I can report that she’s charming, cute, engaging and entertaining. (I also was extremely impressed with how quickly her English improved!)
Truly, how rare is it that U.S. audiences embrace a foreign pop act that sings in their native tongue? Personally, it takes me back to the days when Falco or Nena could score a hit song in the U.S. top 10 with their own new wave stylings.
Tickets are available online! A bientôt!
Saturday, Oct. 11
Doors @ 8pm
Lykke Li (Photo courtesy Press Here)
The lights and fog on stage created the illusion of a misty sky behind a circular enclosure. Thin, sheer black curtains hanging between the lights created the illusion of a temple.
But the priestess of that temple was no illusion. Indeed, the sold-out crowd gathered at the 9:30 Club Monday night to drink from the altar of their chosen indie singer-songwriter heroine Lykke Li. Clad in flowing black garb, the beguiling Swede struck a moody, artistic note as she paraded and swayed through a solid 75 minutes of sadly atmospheric songs.
Li opened the show with the title track of I Never Learn, her third and latest album released earlier this year. The song, like many of her others, deals with unfulfilling or lost love — and the implication is that “never learning” equates to “never getting over someone.”
Kasabian (Photo courtesy Press Here)
Neo-psychedelic quartet Kasabian play at the 9:30 Club this Sunday, Sept. 28, in support of their new album, 48:13 (named for its running time), and amazingly tickets are still available.
Kasabian sold out the 9:30 Club the last time they were here and reminded us why they’ve collected a lot of awards for best British live band. We Love DC chatted with guitarist and writer Sergio Pizzorno about the new album, some of its messages and why the band are great performers.
Mickey McCarter: The new album sounds great. How did it come together?
Sergio Pizzorno: From the outset, we try to make futurist rock and roll. The vision at the start was to make a forward-thinking rock record.
When we approach it, we don’t go in there to jam out. It comes from loops and drum patterns. The groove is so important. From the opening tune, when those drums kicks in, you know what it is. It’s become our signature.
Nina (Photo courtesy of Aztec Records)
Nina, the latest indie-dance chanteuse from the United Kingdom, opened for Erasure in two sold-out dates at the 9:30 Club on Friday, Sept. 19, and Saturday, Sept. 20. If you enjoyed her show in DC or elsewhere, you’ll be pleased to know she has two solo performances coming up in New York City before she returns to London–Friday, Sept. 26, at the Pyramid Club in Alphabet City and Monday, Oct. 13, at Friends and Lovers in Brooklyn.
Watch her video for “We Are the Wild Ones” below and find out more about the artist in our interview afterward! (We talked to Nina Friday before her show at the 9:30 Club.)
Mickey McCarter: Songs like your new single “My Mistake” have a great dance beat but they are lyrically full of loneliness and regret? How do you reconcile that?
NINA: When I write, that’s mainly what I write about. It’s a lot about escape and love and melancholic things. When I write, sometimes I’m in quite a dark space; sometimes I can be in a happy space-–it depends!
I was collaborating with a band called Hunter As A Horse. We were kind of at the same level; we are very similar when it comes to writing. We write very dark lyrics about heartbreak and things like that. So it worked out really well. We also have that dance beat to it as well.
We have a new song, however, that’s slightly different. It’s a little bit more ’80s and a bit more happy. I thought I would try something happy and see how it works! It’s the last song in the set tonight. It’s called “Sweet Surrender.”
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke (Photo by Joe Dilworth)
Erasure danced into town over the weekend for a pair of back-to-back sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club.
Well, more accurately, vocalist Andy Bell danced into town–boogied, shuffled, two-stepped–all wild entertainment and outrageous outfits that gave an ample amount of glitz to Erasure’s glossy, high-tempo synth music. His bandmate, the legendary Vince Clarke, more often stood stoically behind his synthesizer, stepping outside his box only occasionally to strum frenetically away on his guitar during super hits like “A Little Respect.”
And the show, which I caught on Friday, Sept. 19, was full of the big hits from Erasure. They opened wisely with eternal fan-fave “Oh L’Amour,” which got the room hopping. One of several nods to the band’s fourth album with the song “Star” followed before Bell introduced material from the band’s 16th studio album, Violet Flame, released literally today in the United Kingdom.
Metronomy (Photo courtesy Press Here)
Metronomy blew into the 9:30 Club late Wednesday night in a fresh breeze of guitars and synthesizers, charming an impressive crowd who gathered for a midnight show to dance and cheer.
I say guitars and synthesizers but let me applaud the standout player from Wednesday night, drummer Anna Prior. The sole woman in the group distinguished herself quite remarkably on the drums and the synthesizer with a winsome smile and playful grace. She even takes over lead vocals on the sunny and sweet song “Everything Goes My Way” from the band’s remarkable third album, The English Riveria. I’ve seen Metronomy previously but Ms. Prior stole the show for me last night.
Of course, everyone put on a great show, starting with band leader Joseph Mount. Looking dapper in the band’s coordinated white suits, Mount sang, swayed, played guitar and synthesizer and drums, and he generally seemed to be having a marvelous time doing it. Opening the set with “Holiday” from second album Nights Out, which got a lot of respect on this show, Mount led his touring quintet through a setlist that was very soulful without being too much and very electronic without being chirpy or bleepy. In other words, we experienced a band that truly sounded like everyone was contributing to the greater whole, and the result was just very good music with the occasional wry wink to the audience.
Earlier this year, Kiera Knightly told Entertainment Weekly that Metronomy’s “Love Letters,” the title track from the English quartet’s fourth studio album, was one of her favorite “romantic songs.” As a bonus, IMO, the video for the song is directed by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”).
Talented multi-instrumentalist Joseph Mount continues to lead the band with new innovations. Metronomy have certainly evolved lushly since their debut, the instrumental Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe), in 2006. Tonight, they return to DC in support of their new album, Love Letters, performing a late show at the 9:30 Club.
For a glimpse of Metronomy’s live show, watch a recent live performance of the single “I’m Aquarius” below.
w/ Dawn Golden
Wednesday, Sept. 17
Hamilton Leithauser (Photo courtesy Press Here)
If there were any doubts Hamilton Leithauser could successfully launch a solo career, he has been steadily putting them to rest with a series of solid performances since the release of his first album, Black Hours, in June.
Leithauser’s Black Hours serves as an ode to staying out until the early hours of the morning, in a very classic way of “painting the town red.” And last week he kicked off the evening for three sold-out nights as the opener for Spoon at the Lincoln Theatre on Sept. 2-4.
The former lead singer of The Walkmen strode onto the hometown stage full of confidence, with a strong voice and a talented band to croon a pleasing set of 10 songs drawn largely from the new album. He opened with a song that could very easily serve as a coda for a solo career, “I Don’t Need Anyone,” a song that’s actually a bit about aligning your path with someone else’s.
After the Sex Pistols shook up the U.K. music scene in 1976, new music groups exploded across the country, and perhaps the city of Manchester cultivated the most intriguing of the bands that resulted.
Among them: the Buzzcocks, the legendary punk popsters, who have released a new album, The Way, this year.
It’s remarkable that the Buzzcocks have managed to stay together despite an extended breakup in the ’80s; more remarkable that the band retains two of its original members in vocalists and guitarists Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle; and absolutely most remarkable that the new album (funded through PledgeMusic) sounds pretty good from the tracks I’ve heard.
In support of the new album, the Buzzcocks visit the Black Cat tonight to launch a North American tour, and they are sure to play lots of classics, including “What Do I Get,” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” and “Orgasm Addict,” as well.
Buy tickets online or at the door (although I warn you, they sold out at the last minute when the Buzzcocks last came to the Black Cat on May 11, 2010, as We Love DC reported then).
w/ Loud Boyz
Thursday, Sept. 4
Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The
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.
“Love is a lot of work. Love is hard,” she said.
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.
Filligar Live at DC9 – 7/26/14
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.
The Kooks (Photo courtesy Big Hassle)
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.
Provided by Red Dust Music
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
Our friends in dark-wave trio Technophobia have enlisted their friends on a number of remixes for their song “Bleeding Hands.” And so vocalist Denman C. Anderson and synthmasters Stephen and Katie Petix are throwing a cassette release party for these remixes this Saturday, July 19, on the backstage of the Black Cat.
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.”
Void Vision (Photo by Nikki Sneakers)
In a show to celebrate the cassette release of the “Bleeding Hands” remixes (which you also can hear online at Soundcloud), Technophobia will host Philadelphia’s Void Vision in their first DC appearance along with Baltimore’s Curse.
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.