Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Cannibal Corpse @ Rock & Roll Hotel 11/21/10

all photos by author.

As soon as this show ended and my friend and I found each other amidst the human debris of the mosh pit, I asked him, “Why do we always under-estimate these metal shows? We always have a great time!” to which he replied, “Because we want to be intellectual metal snobs but deep down inside we just love fucking metal.”

Fair enough.

Cannibal Corpse
are intensity personified. Cannibal Corpse are ridiculous, grotesque, and beyond offensive. Cannibal Corpse are a big, bloated, sack of swollen body parts; or rather they sing about such things on a regular basis. Cannibal Corpse are one of the longest running and most prolific Death Metal outfits in America. You could call them kings of their corner of the music underground; sporting titles well-fought with halberd and mace, guitar and kick-drum. Their subject matter is absurd and their music is brutal. For me their show on Sunday night at Rock & Roll Hotel started out as a lark; a trip down teen nostalgia lane. At its end I found myself drenched in sweat with a big bloody smile on my face as my innards slowly settled back into place after the aural pounding that Cannibal Corpse had delivered unto them.

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The Features, We Love Music

The Winning Ticket: A Q&A With Dawes

The “next big thing” is thrown around a lot in music culture. What you hear about less often is the next great thing, the next band that’ll knock your socks off not just because all the cool kids love them but because they are just that good. If there is a musical god out there doling out success to those most deserving, Dawes, a rock and roll quartet from Los Angeles who will be appearing at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Wednesday, will be just one such band. Their 2009 debut, “North Hills,” was praised by critics as wide-ranging as Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal (!); Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller calls lyricist Taylor Goldsmith “as magnificent of a songwriter as there is currently creating.” Goldsmith has a knack for crafting beautiful lyrics that make order out of the chaos of our lives, and the men sharing the stage with him — his brother, drummer Griffin Goldsmith; Wylie Gelber on bass; and Alex Casnoff on keyboards — excel at setting those lyrics to music. On stage, the result is an improbable blend of melodic folk and high-energy rock and roll.

And they need that energy to get through a tour schedule that seems endless. In the last year and a half, the band has appeared at such festivals as South By Southwest, Newport Folk Festival, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, and opened for artists including (deep breath here): Josh Ritter, Corey Chisel and the Wandering Sons, Edward Sharpe, Langhorne Slim, She and Him, Jason Boesel, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit. Dawes has hit the road hard in support of “North Hills,” and the legwork has paid off. The tour that brings them back to D.C. for their fourth show in the area in a year is their first as headliners.

As a special thanks to We Love DC readers, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to Wednesday’s show. See the bottom of this post for rules of the giveaway.

I talked with Taylor Goldsmith about the band’s rising star, musical influences and future plans:

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Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Dragonette @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8/15/10

photo by author.

Electro good time gal Martina Sorbara and her synth-savvy husband Dan Kurtz brought their attitude drenched, dance-pop band Dragonette to Rock & Roll Hotel on Sunday night to keep a party-packed weekend rocking into Monday morning. Joined by beat-maker and human time-piece, drummer Joel Stouffer, the husband and wife team wowed the small but dedicated crowd full of electro fanatics, pretty boys, and dancing queens. Their late-start set covered the deepest cuts from their albums, “Galore” and “Fixin’ to Thrill”, and blew the roof off when they launched into the three excellent new songs from their latest EP, “Mixin’ to Thrill”.

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The Daily Feed

Hot Ticket: Dragonette @ Rock & Roll Hotel 8/15/10

This summer has seen a string of excellent, female-fronted, electro-pop acts in concert so far and the action continues on Sunday night at Rock & Roll Hotel with Dragonette. Much like the record temperatures have been driving the mercury higher and higher, each awesome electro-pop show to hit town has raised the stakes for the next. The Golden Filter, Goldfrapp, and Robyn have all delivered phenomenal shows in DC and each one has been better than the last. For Sunday night, Dragonette are on deck and I’m expecting it to be a hot, humid, sweaty dance party when they make their bid for the Summer 2010 Electro-Pop crown. Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: HEALTH @ Rock & Roll Hotel 7/24/10

courtesy of HEALTH.

As I predicted last week, Los Angeles noise outfit HEALTH smashed Rock & Roll Hotel into a million tiny pieces on Saturday night with a spectacular show of guitar and drum demolition. Constantly shifting gears between raw noise, power electronics, and their unique brand of danceable noise-pop HEALTH kept the audience gleefully off-balance for the duration. Their set was an audio killdozer, rolling over the crowd with its well-timed dual percussion, mad scientist guitar sounds, and deranged vocal manipulation. It was the most joyous and inventive celebration of controlled noise that I have seen come through DC so far this year.

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The Daily Feed

Hot Ticket: HEALTH @ RNR Hotel 7/24/10

This Saturday Rock & Roll Hotel is going to be demolished by HEALTH.

HEALTH are perhaps the most exciting American noise-rock band right now. They hail from California and are touring to support “Disco2” an great new remix disc featuring remixes of tracks from there amazing 2009 album “Get Colors”. I was sold on HEALTH when Pitchfork compared them to Japanese noise-rock/percussion royalty The Boredoms. The Boredoms are a band I have seen a gazillion times because their shows are legendary every single time. I even tracked them down while on my honeymoon! HEALTH’s albums are a great mix of electronic and physical noise/percussion and you can hear the influence of The Boredoms on almost every track.

If HEALTH in concert are just one percent as good as they are on their fantastic albums or as The Boredoms are live, then Saturday’s show at Rock & Roll Hotel will be one you will be talking about for a long time.

w/ True Womanhood and Yip Yip
@ Rock & Roll Hotel

Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Wavves & Cloud Nothings @ RNR Hotel 6/25/10

Wavves @ RNR Hotel 6/25/10
courtesy of Wavves.

While the early-week, DC-music, blogosphere is atwitter with tales of Courtney Love’s awful on-stage antics at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, Friday night’s Wavves show seems to be completely off radar. This is interesting to me, because Wavves mastermind, Nathan Williams, is an equally volatile personality known for on-stage meltdowns and fisticuffs of his own. In fact, before the weekend began, the quality of the Friday night Waaves’ concert at Rock & Roll Hotel was as much in question as was which Courtney Love would appear at the 9:30 Club on Sunday. When faced with the decision of which concert to attend (there was no way I was going to sandwich my weekend with potential cluster-f*cks) I used a simple calculus to aid my decision making: Courtney Love is a miserable, over-the-hill, waste of space who only ever put out one good album; while Nathan Williams of Wavves is an unpredictable, indie-genius on the rise, who cranks out infectious tunes as frequently as normal people draw breath. For me the decision was easy; both shows had the potential to be spectacular personality-based failures, but only Wavves had the possible upside of also delivering brilliant music.

Nathan Williams did not have a nervous break-down on-stage, nor did he indulge himself as the star of his own iPhone-shot reality-show on Friday night. He did talk quite a bit between songs, but then so did his rhythm section. Their collective antics were less delusional rants and more about bratty fun. Wavves did more than hold it together on Friday night. They showed up with their snotty, punk attitude and tore through an hour of great, noise-wrapped pop-music. They were preceded by another blog buzz-band in Cloud Nothings from Cleveland, who also put on an excellent set of bedroom-recording inspired tunes. Both bands combined to put on an fantastic new music showcase for the nearly sold-out crowd at Rock & Roll Hotel on Friday.

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Music, The Daily Feed

Hot Ticket: Red Sparowes @ RNR Hotel 4/11/10

Red Sparowes, Red Sparrows, Red Sparrowes
courtesy of Red Sparowes.

Hot Ticket is a new column, where I will occasionally recommend a good (possibly great) upcoming concert in the DC area for your consideration.

This Sunday night post-metal, geniuses Red Sparowes make their return to Rock & Roll Hotel. They last played DC at the same venue in 2007; an incredibly powerful show that I attended but didn’t get the chance to review. If you don’t know Red Sparowes but are a fan of epic, emotional, instrumental, hard-rock soundscapes then you should most certainly seek their music out. Here’s a taste: Red Sparowes new album preview

Red Sparowes’ live show is an all-encompassing, emotional roller-coaster. The band play from behind a veil of fast-moving projected images creating a hypnotic effect. Their sound sweeps you up, impossible to resist, as you ride their expertly crafted tsunami of sound. Judging by the strength of their new album “The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer” and the awesome spectacle of their RNR Hotel show in 2007, I am expecting Sunday night’s show to be one of the emotional high-points of this year’s very strong Spring concert season.

For $10 you also get to see the great Boston, stoner-metal act Doomriders; and for those indie kids who really want to stay on the cutting edge, you also get to see the oddly-paired to this show, but about to blow-up huge, Fang Island.

This Sunday:
RED SPAROWES w/ Doom Riders & Fang Island
@ Rock & Roll Hotel
$10 adv/$12

The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: April Music Preview

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Every band’s gotta start somewhere. Last month, we took a look at local acts at local venues. The homegrown groups got some sweet, sweet lovin’ via your attendance at their shows. April, the first full month of spring, calls for a savory new way to titillate your aesthetic sense. Here are five concerts to catch at the hometown venues you’ve learned to love with up-and-coming east coast (and Canadian!) musicians, air guitar pros, and a personal favorite of mine (aka live jazz). Continue reading

The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Very Small


Boys start bands in high school. It’s one of the great American clichés. But — every once in awhile — the guys that truly love  music end up making a name for themselves, and it’s all because of their dedication to the game.

DC’s most dedicated award in rock music goes to — The Very Small.

Never heard of ’em? That’s okay. They’re not big yet. They’re not signed to a label. They practice in a make shift rehearsal space in their basement, all while cracking jokes and keeping it real. And — they’re kicking-off their first tour this Thursday at The Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street.

Remember those guys who decided to make a rock band and played every single “battle of the bands” possible back when the captain of the football team ruled the school while dating the head cheerleader? These are those guys.

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