We Love Music

We Love Music: The Avett Brothers @ DAR Constitution Hall, 2/18/11

Avett Brothers @ DAR
All photos by Erin McCann

I didn’t much like the Avett Brothers when I first heard them. The banjo was too much, the vocal harmonies sometimes too off-key, the melodies sometimes just on the other side of pleasant. That changed a little bit for me one day when “Ballad of Love and Hate” from 2007’s “Emotionalism” came on, where the banjo was replaced by an acoustic guitar, and the melody was a simple tale of woe delivered in a clear, mournful voice by Seth Avett. And finally, when “I and Love and You” came out in 2009, and I first heard the chorus to the title track, I was hooked. I got it. I was a convert. I was in love. Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Monotonix @ Comet Ping-Pong, 2/4/11

Monotonix at Comet 018
All photos by author

So this is what anarchy feels like.

Even with over 700 shows under their belt, Monotonix’s show on Friday night at Comet might’ve been the best chance to catch them on this tour. For reference, their show earlier this week in L.A. attracted 600 fans to a tiny venue – the cops ended up shutting down the show. Comet, on the other hand, can only hold 120 people in the back room. The show was sold out around 11pm, and the staff were kicking out people who didn’t have tickets, to stay within fire code.

For those lucky enough to get in, Comet’s back room was ideal for vocalist Ami Shalev’s antics. Sure, I’m a big fan of Monotonix’s brand of garage rock – noisy, positive, exciting, with energetic drums and dirty guitar licks. But a Monotonix show is more performance art than concert. The packed crowd offered a platform for Ami to climb around the room on our arms and shoulders, using every bit of space in the room from the floor to the rafters. I’ve never seen a band so utterly destroy the 4th wall between band and audience.
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The Features

Photos: MAGfest 9

Magfest 2011

Chances are, you’ve played a video game or two in your day. Maybe you haven’t picked up a controller since Mario made his first (of many, because man she was helpless) attempts to rescue Princess Toadstool. Or maybe you’re a little tired this afternoon because you stayed up too late last night obsessively launching birds at pigs. Me, I picked up an Intellivision controller as soon as I was old enough to grip things, and I’ve been at it ever since.

Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to spend last weekend with 3,000 other people at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria for MAGfest 9, an annual four-day celebration of music and gaming.

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Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Anamanaguchi @ Black Cat 1/9/11

all photos by Michael Darpino

Late on a Sunday night, there’s a stark contrast between the cold, deserted DC streets and the cave of 8-bit fantasy I’ve emerged from. Anamanaguchi assaulted the packed Backstage at the Black Cat with strobe lights, pixellated animation, and their unique brand of electronic power-pop.

The last time I caught Anamanaguchi (for the 8-bit Alliance Tour last summer), the room wasn’t even at half capacity. However, the band has clearly gotten some buzz lately from their work on the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. I found the Backstage nearly full when I arrived, which is a rarity for any Sunday night. The young, slightly geeky crowd was ready to rock out to video-game-inspired bleeps and bloops.

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Life in the Capital, People, The Features

Why I Love DC: Martin

‘Rock Creek Parkway at Night’
courtesy of ‘ianseanlivingston’

Why do I love DC?  Because I HATE DRIVING.

I guess I’ve changed a whole lot since I was 17 years old, when I kind of loved my summer job delivering food for Wing Zone around the suburbs of Atlanta. I met plenty of characters, sure, and getting tips for the first time felt like playing a slot machine! But the best part to me was driving around all day, blasting music for just me and the wings in the backseat. To me, this was freedom; no bosses watching over me every second and complete control over my playlist.

These days when I contemplate driving, pleasant memories of deliveries, road trips, and burning donuts in parking lots don’t come to me immediately. Mostly I think about how I got a $100 parking ticket* within a week of moving here, then got harassed for not having DC plates. Or I think about that time someone threw a brick through my side window just days before Christmas, while my car was parked in front of a church, in order to steal nothing more than a couple awesome CDs like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Zeitgeist” and a sweet mix I made called “Maximum Chillaximum”.  
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We Love Music

We Love Music: Reel Big Fish (and Aquabats!) at 9:30 Club

Reel Big Fish

You can tell a lot about a show by the way people leave after it’s over. The lights come up, the house music kicks in, and people filter through the door, clinging a little bit to the last two hours. Or, in the case of Reel Big Fish at the 9:30 Club on Monday night, they hum along a little to that house music before breaking into a spontaneous group singalong of “Sweet Caroline.”

Which, really, tells you everything you need to know about that show: a little corny, a whole lot catchy, and, deep down, something you probably enjoy despite yourself.
Fun & Games, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

National Geographic Live: December 2010

Ben Folds, by Ben Folds, courtesy National Geographic

Ben Folds, by Ben Folds, courtesy National Geographic

National Geographic concludes their 2010 NatGeo Live season with eight more programs to ring in the holidays. Because all of their events wrap up before mid-December, we’re giving you a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to any of the programs below (except the sold-out Irish Christmas Celebration). To enter, simply comment below (using your first name and a legit email address) with which two events you’d most like to attend, using your first name and a legit email address; we’ll randomly draw two winners sometime after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

We at WeLoveDC would like to thank National Geographic for bringing our readers the opportunity to attend these events all year long. It’s been quite the diverse line-up this year and we can only look forward to another great year in 2011!

If you’re interested in attending one of these events, visit NatGeo’s website or their box office, located at 17th and M Street, NW. Keep in mind that parking in NatGeo’s underground lot is free for all programs beginning after 6 p.m.

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Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Singing Capital Chorus


It was just after five on a Monday afternoon and Jim Cullen decided to lay down for a little nap. It felt so good to rest his eyes, he recalled, that he let them stay shut until eight. That’s when he woke up in a hurry.

“Oh my god,” he said. “I’m missing my Monday night.”

Over a decade earlier, Cullen started a new Monday night tradition in his own life thanks to a suggestion from his sister. “[I have a friend who’s] having a great time [singing in a barbershop chorus]. Why don’t you go,” she recommended.

So Cullen went. He’s been going ever since.

The Singing Capital Chorus is a unique fraternity of men. They range in age from 24 to 93 and come from over the greater Washington region. What brings them together is that they love to sing.  But it isn’t just singing that they love, it’s the “lock and ring” of Barbershop harmony. Continue reading

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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Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the 9:30 Club

Photo courtesy of
by ‘erin m’

There’s a unique tension that exists between the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the fans in the crowd: for the guys on stage, a good show requires precision, in dress and musical performance, even movements; a good night for the mass of people rests upon the successful implementation of the exact opposite — moshing into a hot sweaty mess, riding the crowd, letting go of inhibitions and being OK with looking like a fool. The music has to be tight; the fans cannot. By that measure, and a few more, the Bosstones appearance at the 9:30 club on Saturday was a good night.

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Music, The Daily Feed

Photos: Welcome back, Fort Reno.

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘erin m’

I love Fort Reno. And I don’t mean in some, “Oh man, that’s a great event” sort of way. I mean…well, you remember that scene in “Say Anything” where John Cusack is holding up the boom box outside Ione Skye’s window? That’s how I feel about Fort Reno, the summer concert series that kicked off Thursday night. Fort Reno to me is summer. It is grass. It is picnics. It is kids and dogs and ice cream trucks and glorious sunsets and, most importantly, it is music.

Thursday’s show became the de facto kick-off for this year’s series after the threat of rain canceled last Monday’s concert, and a drummer’s broken arm forced the usual trio of bands to become a twosome–let’s hope that’s it for the curse-like events this year. The two bands, Gangland Buries Its Own and Sleeper Agent, stepped up admirably and gave a great welcome to this year’s concerts. After the jump, photos of the picnics,  the people, the glorious sunset and the music.

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The Daily Feed

Blossom! A Design Challenge

Photo courtesy of
’09-3-31 – Cherry Blossoms – Pink and Yellow’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

Who doesn’t love a good design challenge? Especially one that has to do with the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Festival is seeking amateur designers from the metro-DC area to showcase their creativity through the design of an original graphic creation using the blossom for inspiration.  Entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of four, which will include Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation and Antonio Alcalá of Studio A – to name a few.  The winner will receive $5,000 in tuition prize, via Shiseido, to Westwood College School of Design. The “People’s Choice” winner will be awarded $250.00 in prize money too!

The winning design will be featured at the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Cherry Blast: A Night of Contemporary Art + Music on Friday, April 2.

The contest is running now through March 26, 2010.  Learn more about the challenge here.

Music, News, The Daily Feed

9:30 Club Says Fight the Merger

Photo courtesy of
‘Sold Out’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Last night I got an email from the 9:30 club. Usually, their emails are about the sweet shows they get, and about DC Music, but this one was about something else entirely: the LiveNation/Ticketmaster merger that’s in the works. Specifically, they’re hoping that it won’t go through, because it would be bad for DC:

As a concertgoer you have already felt the pain, and if Ticketmaster and Live Nation get their way, it’ll get worse. In the last 12 years, since Live Nation and its predecessor started its widespread takeover of the concert industry, concert ticket prices have shot up 82% while the consumer price index has gone up just 17%*. We are concerned that if the two concert industry behemoths, Live Nation and Ticketmaster, are permitted to merge, the variety and quality of artists coming to local venues will be affected, and your costs could rise further and faster.

And it’s signed:

The 9:30 Club, I.M.P., Merriweather Post Pavilion, Jam Productions, Metropolitan Talent, Another Planet Entertainment, Frank Productions, Stone City Attractions, Rams Head Live, The Black Cat … and independent concert promoters and venue operators nationwide.

If you want to learn more, you can check out TicketDisaster.org and read up on the merger, and how to object as a concert-goer. Me, I think those bastards at TicketMaster can die in a fire, so I’m all for tanking this. “Convenience” Fees my ass…

The Features, Thrifty District

Thrifty District: Music

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

If you’re a music fiend like me, you find a way to fit music in your budget– but if you don’t keep an eye on your spending, it can easily get out of control. But is there any way around just buckling down and buying $200 concert tickets or $18 CDs?

Oh yeah. Especially in DC, you can definitely go see great live music and get your hands on CDs for less than you think.  Continue reading

Entertainment, We Love Arts

A Historic Rage

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘musicalhedonist’

No matter what Craig Finn may tell you about a unified scene, The Hold Steady comes at you in fragments.

Blame it on the sometimes sloppy, jangly old-school rock and roll riffs — unashamedly lifted straight from your dad’s collection of vinyl — the drunken sing-speak proclamations of Finn, or just the confusion over just what you’re watching; America’s biggest bar band throws the craziest fist-pumping house party in town.

Granted, it’d be a strange place thing to witness from the rafters, a seat, or just a spot on the balcony — boredom and misplaced analysis falls easy— but when you’re packed into the rolling, bouncing first rows of the 9:30 Club on a sloshing Sunday night, there’s no scene that I’d rather fall into.

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The Features, We Love Arts

Artomatic 2009 Opens!

Photo courtesy of
‘Twirling Fire at Artomatic’
courtesy of ‘starbuck77’

The building at 55 M St SE, right above the Nationals Park entrance of Navy Yard Metro still hasn’t become much. With area development on hold due to the economy, the completed, but unoccupied, monolith along the Capitol Riverfront is a perfect host for this year’s Artomatic. This the tenth anniversary of the roving art show that takes place in the District’s most ad-hoc gallery. This year, it covers 8 floors of the building, with several performance artist spaces, as well as the traditional art-mounted-on-plywood.

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Entertainment, Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Music, Special Events, The District, We Love Arts, WMATA

We Love Arts: Cherry Blast

I think we can all agree that one of the reasons “we love DC” is the arrival of spring each year when our city is transformed from a bleak, gray land of zombies into a cheery land of fresh-faced partiers.  The harsh winter weather is behind us, the cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom, girls swap their jeans for skirts, and it’s time to start planning how you’ll enjoy every waking minute before the sweltering heat invades our city.

What better way to celebrate the disappearance of winter than checking out the National Cherry Blossom Festival?  While it officially started on March 28th, it runs until April 12th and is packed full of fun things to do, ranging from blossom tours to photo safaris to wicked awesome Japanese-themed art fashion anime parties.  Say what?  That’s right, on Friday the Pink Line Project kicks into gear again to throw a party that is sure to be the highlight of this year’s festival.  Enter stage left: Cherry Blast.

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The Features, Weekend Flashback

Weekend Flashback: 3/20 – 3/22/09

Photo courtesy of quinnums
They make a big deal about the cherry blossoms and spring here in DC, courtesy of quinnums

In case you had no doubt, spring is finally here in DC. Hope you all were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and the end of winter’s grasp. From the photos I saw in Flickr, there was a lot of hustle and bustle in the area, sampling everything from concerts to the circus to museums to the opening buds of the cherry blossoms.

Fair warning: we’ll be having a lot of cherry blossom photos over the next few weeks, since it is arguably one of the best times to photograph DC. And it never gets old.

Meantimes, enjoy the sampling of shots from our area photogs from this past weekend! Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, Night Life, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Music: Musical Moments– Kurtágs Play Kurtág at the Library of Congress

Photo courtesy of
‘2007.10.19-111c.am’ courtesy of ‘RShinozaki’

Saturday, February 7, 2009
Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium
György and Márta Kurtág & the Keller Quartet

After the Library of Congress’ recent parade of the rather bland contemporary American music, the premiere of a new work by Kurtág performed by the composer and his wife and long-time duet partner Márta was like a breath of fresh air.  Exquisite comes to mind, as does vital.  It was an honor to share in this celebration of a national treasure of another nation.

The programs describes György Kurtág as one of the world’s foremost composers, which is certainly true in certain circles.  He has served as Professor of Piano and Chamber Music at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest,  as composer-in-residence at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Konzerthausgesellschaft, and has a list of awards, honors and recordings too lengthy to even describe here.  In America, Kurtág’s name is better known than his music still, I think, and the music is better known through recordings than through live performances.  The experience of performances of works almost always exceeds the experience of hearing recordings of those works, but in Kurtág’s case, the contrast is particularly striking.

Much work has been done in the press and printed program to connect this concert to a Library of Congress concert of Kurtág’s countryman Béla Bartók.  Bartók’s storied performance with violinist Joseph Szigeti, performed the at the Library of Congress in 1940 marked the premiere of Bartók Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano.  (In a spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that the recording of that recital was a staple of my undergraduate listening regime.)  Continue reading

Entertainment, Music, The Daily Feed

Live Blog – Moby @ The 9:30 Club

Breakin' Beats Breakin' the Club

D.C. begins it’s musical revelry for the Inauguration of Barack Obama on Sunday with both concerts for the masses but also in smaller venues. Tonight, or this morning if you take it that way, Moby is now on stage at the 9:30 Club with a sold out show expected to end at 4:30am this morning. This is the first such event at the club to push past the normal D.C. curfew for alcohol and noise. If you can still get a ticket, it’s one of the most intimate and loose events of the next two days of celebration.

At approximately 1:32am, Moby “broke” the club. The entire club’s power supply tripped and sent revelers into a chant of “yes we can” as attempts to restore the life back to the club continued. At least the bar servers were still able to dispense alcohol in the bottle format to keep the “mob”-y at bay.

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