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.
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, infact as good as this song by Lambert, 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
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.
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.
Kaiser Chiefs (courtesy Press Here)
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.
Elly Jackson, with her fair skin, fiery hair and slight frame, seems like a mythical creature who could disappear in a puff of pixie dust if you looked at her sideways.
And disappear she did for a few years while working on the second album for La Roux.
But thankfully, La Roux and her lovely soprano vocals made a welcome return to the 9:30 Club late Sunday night in a sold-out performance that included some strong new songs in addition to first-album favorites.
Jackson opened the set with new song “Let Me Down Gently,” a wonderfully lovelorn, mature recognition that love may not be going your way. Thematically, the song is a bit of a departure from most of the songs on the self-titled first La Roux album, which dealt largely with romance largely from a capacity of being unavailable, whether due to suffering heartbreak (“Bulletproof”), gaining wisdom (“I’m Not Your Toy”) or just being too awesome (“In for the Kill”).
Comedian Michael Ian Black takes over the 9:30 Club Twitter account to answer questions on Friday, May 23 at 3pm before visiting town for his show at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, May 27. (You may remember him from Wet Hot American Summer, Ed, The State and many other appearances.)
Be there! Both times!
Michael Ian Black
Friday, May 23
As usual there’s tons of stellar music in our fair city this month, so Mickey and I have pulled together recommendations that span venues and music genres. Enjoy!
Monday, May 12
You’ve likely heard The 1975′s “Chocolate” all over the radio, but they’re so much more than what the corporate DJs of the world would have you hear. Heralding from Manchester, UK, the quartet’s songs focus on sex, love, drugs, hope, death, and fear – you know all the stuff that’s on a millennials mind. Definitely going to be an energy filled way to kick off the week. — Rebecca
As Boy George covered a song by Yoko Ono, “Death of Samantha,” in the first song of his encore Monday night at the 9:30 Club, two gents broke out in dramatic dance in front of the coffee bar upstairs. They, like much of the audience at the sold-out show, had giddily enjoyed the entertainment and could no longer hide it. So they seized what opportunity they could to throw themselves into it.
Similar sentiments broke out around the club as Boy George received a hero’s welcome from a diverse crowd of young and old, gay and straight, black and white. Concert-goers expressed their enthusiasm in generally raucous cheer, happy to receive the maverick performer who clearly had been missing from the United States for far too long.
George, for his part, was a professional and gracious performer. At a point about two-thirds through the main set, he attempted to engage audience enthusiasm for an acoustic cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” by Bob Dylan. After realizing that the dance-hungry crowd wasn’t going to focus enough for the quiet hush of the song, George merely used it as an interlude to segue into other songs from his new album, This Is What I Do, and the new material was very well received by those looking for more of what they expected from the former Culture Club frontman.
That’s not to say Boy George has become a one-trick pony at this point in his career. He wasn’t afraid to go glam or even country from song to song. His voice these days has a husky sweetness that suits the older George, a little weathered, a little wiser. And he used it well in the reggae-flavored dance tunes that dominated most of his set.
A booming sad voice fills the air from the very first song.
“Hey now, letters burning by my bed for you.”
Melancholy yet so very strong, the voice of Hannah Reid of London Grammar is so powerful an instrument that you are forced to wonder if she could simply tour as an a cappella act and be tremendously successful solo.
But no. Given a bit of time at Monday night’s sold-out performance by London Grammar at the 9:30 Club, the gentle guitar of Dan Rothman and playful keyboards and drums from Dot Major swell under the vocals and provide each song with a full sound, as with the opener, “Hey Now.”
Country singer Pat Green released a second album of covers, Songs We Wish We’d Written II, in 2012. With his cover series, the Texas country artist explores more of the influences in his nearly 20-year career with songs like Joe Ely’s “All Just to Get to You.” But he also surprises by reaching outside of his genre with a song like “Even the Losers” by Tom Petty, to which he adds his affable demeanor and mellow croon.
Green is probably best known for his song “Wave on Wave,” which hit #3 on the U.S. Country chart in 2003. He makes his mark with his easygoing, laidback style, which serves as hallmark to that song and others. Tomorrow, Green performs at the 9:30 Club, which may not be a traditional venue for country artists. But after selling out shows by Loretta Lynn, why shouldn’t the 9:30 Club host some country folks who can work D.C.’s best space? Pat Green might just fit that bill.
w/ Cory Morrow
Wednesday, April 16
Maja sings at Jesper in Philadelphia
The Sounds brought plenty of shake-shake-shake to the 9:30 Club Saturday.
In a very
nearly totally sold-out room, the Swedish quintet kicked off the night with “Emperor,” a song from their new album. If some in the audience didn’t know it that well, the band got their attention with better-known “Song with a Mission” from their popular second album, Dying to Say This to You, and kept the crowd jumping and squealing in delight for the rest of the night.
All members of The Sounds performed with a furious energy. Vocalist Maja Ivarsson was in good form, singing huskily through selections from all five of the band’s albums as she writhed, hopped and slinked across the floor. Ivarsson however did not perform too many of her trademark kicks Saturday. I caught The Sounds earlier in the week at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia, and Ivarsson was striking out with her legs in dramatic fashion as she pranced along the stage in heels with some disregard as to how much of her underwear she showed off. Still, Ivarsson stomped and vamped through the set — at one point during the end of the show, she even slid down on her belly to sing seductively into a microphone that had fallen on the ground.
All That Remains (Photo by P.R. Brown)
DC has been enjoying an interest in all things metal lately, particularly with the spectacular Spirits in Black monthly at various locations and Monday Heavy Metal nights at Satellite Room.
So it’s a perfect time to get out tomorrow and catch All That Remains as they hit the 9:30 Club Wednesday as they prepare to release their seventh studio album in the near future. Meanwhile, the band recently released a video for their song “What If I Was Nothing” from their last album, 2012′s A War You Cannot Win.
Sonically, A War You Cannot Win covers a lot of ground! Songs like the opening track “Down Through the Ages” and “You Can’t Fill My Shadow” are prime examples of the “metalcore” for which the band is known–howling hardcore choruses over thumping metal guitar riffs. Watching the video above, however, you would accurately conclude that the band is not without its sensitive side, capable of breaking out sweeping ballads to express wistful reflections of sorrow. Metalheads can be sensitive too!
Clearly, these guys have some tricks up their sleeve. Come out and see what other surprises they have in store for us!
All That Remains
w/ Darkest Hour, Wilson, Wings Denied
Wednesday, April 9
Kraftwerk graphics (Photo by Christine Hall)
(Editor’s note: Long-time Kraftwerk aficionado Christine Hall was kind enough to report on last week’s Kraftwerk concert — a very important show indeed — as yours truly was out of town.)
Robots! Space travel! The Autobahn! For those who yearn for what was once “the future,” Kraftwerk’s sold-out, two-show, 3D spectacular at the 9:30 Club on Friday, April 4, was wondrous.
The best part was the man in the machine.
The artistic concept is impressive: four man-machines in matching neoprene uniform-jumpsuits (in an irregular, phosphorescent grid), expressionless and stationary before (luminescent-trimmed) cuboid synthesizers, making robot-music, accompanied by retro-3D animation (and some black-and-white film sequences).
Versions or elements of the show were previously presented at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Tate Modern and Munich’s Lenbachhaus. Visually, the 3D animation, ca. 1980s/early CGI, is thrilling to behold (through good old-fashioned 3D glasses), especially when a flying saucer bears down on you with unsettling urgency (see: Spacelab) or a giant man-machine head peers around and speaks at you rather eerily.
As a way to say thanks to our loyal readers, We Love DC will be giving away a pair of tickets to a 9:30 Club concert to one lucky reader periodically. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to find out what tickets we’re giving away, and leave a comment for your chance to be the lucky winner!
Today, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see Galantis at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, April 24.
For your chance to win these tickets, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address between 10am and 5pm today. Feel free to leave any comment, but perhaps share your favorite song by Galantis (or one of their related projects)! One entry per email address, please. Tickets for this show are also available through Ticketfly.
Galantis! They came to dance! Galantis is Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow and Linus Eklöw aka Style of Eye. They are making their live debut at Coachella on April 12 then embarking on a brief tour that ends at the 9:30 Club on April 24. They will bring with them their self-titled debut EP, which includes dance tracks such as “Smile” and “Revolution.” Lest you wonder what these gents know about dance (I mean, other than the Miike Snow thing), Karlsson has co-produced tracks such as “Toxic” for Britney Spears and Eklöw produced “I Love It” for Icona Pop. So there you go.
For the rules of this giveaway…
Comments will be closed at 5pm and a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be notified by email. The winner must respond to our email within 24 hours or they will forfeit their tickets and we will pick another winner.
Tickets will be available to the winner at the 9:30 Club Guest List window one hour before doors open on the night of the concert. The tickets must be claimed with a valid ID. The winner must be old enough to attend the specific concert or must have a parent’s permission to enter if he/she is under 18 years old.
Thursday, April 24