Time once again to calculate and list the ten best musical performances I saw in the past year in and around Washington DC.* This ‘best of’ article is one of my favorite activities as a music writer because it embodies the very essence of why I take the time out of my increasingly busy schedule to attend so many concerts and write about them. Simply put, I am a fan of great live music and when someone or a group of someones delivers a really special performance I want to tell as many people as I can about it. There is real magic happening during a great musical performance that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced; if I manage to share just a fraction of that magic with my readers by exposing them to a band they might not otherwise have heard then my job as a music writer is done.
In the last six months, positive events in my personal life have greatly affected my ability to cover as many concerts as I’d like too with the quality of writing that I feel they deserve. Because of this I have been writing much less than usual and I predict that this trend will continue for most of 2012. I know from reader feedback and from conversations with some of the great people I’ve met at shows over the years that my writing about music has had an impact on their musical world. Knowing this enables me to walk away from music writing fulfilled.
2011 was kind of a weird year for live music. The entire year felt like an odd hang-over from 2010 (one of the greatest years of live music ever). In recent conversations I think I have been undervaluing 2011’s shows, because now as I revisit all of the sets I saw, I realize that there were plenty of great performances, they were just obscured by a lot more mediocre ones than I have seen in recent years. Once I dusted away the humdrum and the disappointing, I was left with about 35 really great sets to choose from for my top ten list this year. Continue reading →
This a concert review that is more about a beer than a band. Rather, this is a beer review that is more about a band than a beer. Or how about, this is a review that is about a beer that is named after a band who played a concert in honor of their beer. The band and the beer are called Clutch. The beer hails from Colorado. The band has its roots in Maryland. The concert in honor of the beer was at The Red Palace in Washington DC. The events that follow took place on Sunday night.* It was awesome and I’m sorry you weren’t there.
But really few people were. The performance space at Red Palace was full of people but since it’s a tiny space it could only hold so many. All told about a 150 lucky Clutch fans piled into the Red Palace for a free show by the band. So relatively speaking to the Red Palace, there were ‘a lot’ of people there. But compared to your standard Clutch show at 9:30 Club (or at HFStival the day before), you could say this beer show was quite exclusive. But exclusive sounds kind of stuck up and this event was far from that. In fact I would describe Clutch the band and this event as the complete opposite of stuck up. So instead let’s describe this concert with one of the region’s, nay, the country’s best rock bands as limited edition. I like that. Music collectors enjoy things that are limited edition. Usually we’d use the term to describe an object, but I think it’s safe to use it to describe this intimate free concert. I mean how often do you get to pile into a tiny room for free, drink a mighty tasty beer designed by one of your favorite bands, then listen to them play five or six rare ‘acoustic’ arrangements, before having your face rocked off when they unleash Pure Electric Rock Fury in the form of monster jam versions of some of your favorite tunes?
Clutch just may be the most bad ass band to have ever come out of these parts (hailing from Germantown, MD and making 9:30 Club their home). Now this bad ass band has teamed up with New Belgium Brewing (of Colorado) to design their own bad ass beer: “Clutch Dark Sour Ale”.
To celebrate their eponymous libation, Clutch are hosting a free launch party at Red Palace on Sunday night. On hand will be ample supplies of Clutch Dark Sour Ale and all the members of the band to mix it up with their fans and fellow beer aficionados. Rumor has it that Clutch will perform some kind of acoustic set for the lucky fans who gain access to this first come, first serve – 200 capacity event. For fans of a band that normally fills the 9:30 Club with ease, this intimate performance will be a very special event. My advice – get in line early. Good luck!
Clutch: The Band, The Beer
@ Red Palace
Sunday, September 18
7pm doors / 8pm show
21+ / First Come, First Serve
Shake of that post-Holiday hang-over and warm up from this winter chill by catching the awe-inspiring Clutch perform at The National down in Richmond tonight. The boys from Germantown love them some winter touring and tonight kicks off the latest in their long tradition of short winter tours.
I have been a fan of Clutch for many years and have seen these blues-stoner-metal masters put on some truly spectacular shows. Most recently, I got a brief taste of their current live show at the 9:30 Club 30th Anniversary Concert. Needless to say but Clutch’s hurricane-force mini-set that day completely blew me away and showed off an epic quality of Clutch that has me thinking this already phenomenal band has reached the next level of performance. While I lament the fact that they are not playing their traditional Christmas-time show at the 9:30 Club this year, Clutch could not have picked a better venue than The National in Richmond as a substitute. I expect full force, psych-metal annihilation in that high-ceilinged theater tonight. Don’t miss it!
w/ Kylesa, Righteous Fool, Hex Machine
@ The National
“The reason this is the best club in America is the people that work here. Trust me, most nightclubs are terrible places. You don’t want to go there.” – Neill Fallon of Clutch.
“I can not imagine a DC without the 9:30 Club. It is unimaginable. It’s just unimaginable” – Mark Noone of The Slickee Boys.
“I love the fact that I’m from DC!” – Henry Rollins
“Let’s kick on the way back machine and get this thing over with.” – Bob Mould.
One of the truly singular music events I have ever attended took place on Monday night at the 9:30 Club. It was a special free concert held in celebration of this legendary club’s 30th anniversary. The night was also a celebration of the people who work (and have worked) there, the icons who got their start there, and the wonderful music that has been played there over the last 30 years. The night was full of anecdotes and music from 13 bands and artists that have strong ties to both the old and new 9:30 Club locations. For some the evening was a living, breathing, crash course in DC music history; for others it was a fun and at times even emotional trip down memory lane.
The 9:30 Club (original location) is the nightclub I cut my teeth on when I moved here in 1993. Within a few days of arriving I was catching my first show there (British twee-band Heavenly); and in the months and years after many, many more shows followed. I once took a date there to see The Boredoms and she left with a black-eye. My little brother did his first stage dive when I took him there to see Helmet. I was completely enthralled with industrial music after hearing Einstruzende Neubauten on the PA before the melodramatic, dynamite-strapped Sheep on Drugs brought the house down with their industrial-dance mayhem. And I was seduced along with everyone else in the crowd by Toni Halliday and the sounds of Curve. The old club opened my mind to most of the music that I still passionately love today.
The V st. location is without a doubt the best club-venue in the country. I’ve been to concert halls all over the U.S.A. and it always comes back to the 9:30 Club’s awesome sound-system (which I have written/gushed about at length over the years). Seeing a concert at the 9:30 Club is a sublime experience for a die-hard music fan. Perhaps none more-so than the amazing show that club-owner Seth Hurwitz treated dedicated DC music fans to on Monday night.