Entertainment, Music, Special Events, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Virgin Free Fest, or The Festival of Lines, 10/6/2012

photo by Alexia

Since festivals offer so much to see in so little time, and everyone may have a different experience, we decided to get a few perspectives on Saturday’s Virgin Free Fest. We Love DC’s music writers Alexia and Jonathan write about their experiences, and guest writer Sarah Jackson shares her thoughts too.

Alexia: Who knew that the drive to Saturday’s Virgin Free Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion would be a portend of the dreary, largely agonizing day that would follow. What should have been a breezy, 1-hour drive from DC to Columbia, Maryland, where Merriweather is located turned into a three-and-a-half hour punishment- two hours of which were spent in an almost complete standstill after taking the exit to Merriweather.
At three o’clock, when I had imagined myself jumping and dancing along to The Dismemberment Plan on the West Stage I was instead sitting in my car on Brokenland Parkway, a mere stone’s throw from the venue, so close, but yet so far. At one point we could see the field and the side of the stage, and even hear the din of the music, but that was only depressing/enraging, as we were stuck in the hell of festival traffic. The only entertainment we experienced was watching people get out of their cars to pee on the side of the road. Eventually, after passing all of the full parking lots, we located parking approximately (not exaggerating) a mile away from the venue. I think there were supposed to be shuttles, but none passed us as we walked in the herd of festival-goers to the venue.

Ben Folds Five, photo courtesy of Virgin Free Fest

By the time I got in to Merriweather I was, not too surprisingly, in a foul mood. Thankfully I didn’t miss too much of Ben Folds Five’s set, and got to watch them do their thing from the sunny lawn. Their set was, for the most part, upbeat and energetic. Somehow hearing “Brick” in a festival setting, as popular as it was for the band, seemed inappropriate. The introspective, heartfelt song was a little too personal and quiet for the atmosphere of constant gabbing and partying going on all around as the band performed. They were at their best for the setting with bouncier numbers like “Kate” and “Army” which had the audience singing along and getting into the groove.

Much of the rest of the day was an overcrowded, dirty, cold blur. I fought my way through the hordes to catch Santigold’s set, which I was looking forward to. Unfortunately as much as I like her music, and appreciated her fun dancers, it was so crowded that it was hard to see much, and I didn’t really connect with the performance onstage.

I managed to make it back to the Pavilion stage for a good portion of Alabama Shakes’ set, which was actually great. I’d never heard the band before, and the singer’s vocals were powerful, soulful, engaging.

M83, photo courtesy of Virgin Free Fest

While a disproportionately large part of my day felt like it was spent either being cold (and I was a smart one who brought an extra sweatshirt along- there were plenty of people walking around in halter-tops and short-shorts), inhaling dust from the herds of people clomping around, searching for my friends (extremely crappy cell service the whole day) or waiting in lines (20-plus-minute lines for everything from getting a drink to taking a pee in a dark port-o-potty with no toilet paper) there were, thankfully, a couple redeeming high points by the end of the night. After waiting in line for probably a half-hour while listening to M83, my friends and I got to ride on the beautiful, lit-up ferris wheel which was adjacent to the stage on which M83 was performing. This was a magical moment. We had, for that brief time, a perfect view of the stage, awesome lights, perfect sound, and the scary-big crowd in front of the stage, which I was so thankful not to be in. Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

The Ten Best Concerts In And Around DC For 2010

Photo courtesy of
‘Muse – Patriot Center – March 1, 2010′
courtesy of ‘Mrs. Gemstone’

This is my favorite post to write each year. There are many reasons why but the main one is that I love how it tasks me with reliving my year in music. I have re-read every review that I have written in the past year. I have thought about every show and every individual set that I have seen in 2010.* I have made numerous lists of the sets I have seen, and I have broken them down into categories to determine the best of the best in each. I always enjoy the concert-to-concert combat that rages in my memory as I try to boil down a year’s worth of experiences into a shortlist that best represents the year. I am equally surprised and proud to discover that this is the sixth year that I have completed this process of list making.

2010 may be the single best year of live music that I have experienced in my eighteen years of concert-going. Collectively the shows I have seen across the U.S. and in and around DC this year have provided me with more moments of music nirvana, pure aural bliss, then I ever imagined was possible. I often say I am on a life-long quest to attain music nirvana and 2010 is as close as I have come to discovering it in a sustained form. With a year this good, my usual challenging task of narrowing the field down to the 10 best concerts was more difficult than ever.**

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Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Dead Weather @ 9:30 Club 7/13/10

The Dead Weather @ 9:30 Club 7/13/10
Andrew Markowitz photography.

Last Tuesday, The Dead Weather hit the 9:30 Club stage like a sonic hurricane. It is almost a week later and I am still completely, utterly, hopelessly gobsmacked by their incredible concert. I have been trying to process their over-the-top, in-your-face stage presence and pitch-perfect, rock-n-roll transcendence for days now; my entire music-loving spirit is still humming from witnessing this resonant performance. It was a performance that tapped into that deep-down love of rock-n-roll; that passion that dwells in the chest of every red-blooded music fan whose pulse beats to the rhythm. The Dead Weather put on a show that was a colossal celebration of the leather-clad, hair-in-eyes rock image and jaw-drop inducing, instrument-torture creativity. Their whole live presentation combined music and image so perfectly that it is impossible to imagine one without the other. Together these elements combined on-stage to create a brilliant set of music that I will remember for a very long time.

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Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

The Winning Ticket: The Dead Weather

The Dead Weather
image courtesy of The Dead Weather.

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 each week. Check back here every Wednesday morning at 9am to find out what tickets we’re giving away and leave a comment for your chance to be the lucky winner!

We are giving away tickets to another scorching hot show this week! This week’s prize: a pair of tickets to catch The Dead Weather at their sold out show at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, July 13th.

Not that this Jack White/Alison Mosshart super-group really needs any introduction to those readers who would kill for these tix; but for those passer-bys that might want to roll the dice this week, I’ll say that The Dead Weather are a formidable foursome cranking out some of the very best and weirdest down-home, bad-mutha, rock-n-roll this side of the Mississippi. Masterminded by Jack White of The White Stripes, supported by multi-instrumentalists Dean Fertita of QOTSA and Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes, and led by a reinvented femme-fatale, bad-ass in Alison Mosshart of The Kills; The Dead Weather have made two killer albums that offer a danger-cool sound all their own. Their sound is sweaty, bible-belt, sinning preachers; paint-peeled rocking chairs on rickety porches; sneaked belts of whiskey behind wood-sheds; Jim Thompson novel climaxes along thorny creek-beds littered with rusty Studebaker husks. In other words, their music is a dark, sexy, humid swirl of southern-tinged rock awesomeness and winning these tickets will be your passport to The Dead Weather’s night of swampy, foot-stomp, crazy.

For your chance to win these tickets simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address between 9am and 4pm today. One entry per email address, please. If today doesn’t turn out to be your lucky day, check back here each Wednesday for a chance to win tickets to other great concerts.

For the rules of this giveaway…
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