Dave Grohl at Firefly (Photo courtesy Firefly Music Festival)
Yesterday’s list of summertime cover songs by bands playing at the ever-growing Firefly Music Festival was by no means exhaustive, as you’ll see below.
The second day of Firefly, Friday, June 20, started around 12:30pm and stretched until 2am. (And for morning people, unlike myself, Red Bull sponsored a breakfast series where you could awake even earlier and catch some up and coming bands.)
My day, however, began with neo-psychedelic band Basic Vacation, hailing from New York City. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Greatti, bassist Jon Paul and drummer Mike Montalbano formed a snappy trio, playing their established songs like “I Believe” as well as new songs like “Sirens.” They also played a damn catchy cover of Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Greatti said at the time that the band would not play it again after Firefly, but c’mon, guys! That was a really good cover, and you really put your own spin on it.
It was during the performance of Basic Vacation on the lawn stage that I began to notice an odd phenomenon. Lots of kids were carrying large cut-out heads of random celebrities, like Nicolas Cage and David Bowie and Bryan Cranston. I have no idea why they carried them, but these large cut-out heads showed up on the viewscreen monitors surprisingly well when the cameras cut to the audience during any particular show. If anyone can explain to me how this got started, I would be very interested in knowing.
When We Love DC was invited to cover The Foo Fighters on Friday night at the Verizon Center I offered it up to one of our other music writers because, frankly, I just don’t listen to their music too much. I have much respect for Dave Grohl and all of the interesting projects he is responsible for, or has been a part of, but of all the music he has made The Foo Fighters is the most vanilla to me. When compared to crap on mainstream radio The Foo Fighters shine as one of the last examples of successful good rock music. But when you stack the band’s output up against Killing Joke or Nirvana, Probot or Scream; I am much more interested in all of the above. So I was content to pass this show up (even though the triple bill with Social Distortion and The Joy Formidable was intriguing). Then last minute scheduling conflicts reared their ugly head and I ended up pinch hitting this one anyway.
So I found myself sitting in a damn good seat at the Verizon Center not really knowing what to expect. The Joy Formidable, Social Distortion, and The Foo Fighters are all bands that somehow I have never seen despite my prolific live music experiences and their reputations as excellent live acts. To be quite honest, like The Foo Fighters, Social Distortion is a band that although I respect I never really listen to either. I’m much more of a DK or Black Flag man when it comes to West Coast Punk. A friend of a friend has been trying to talk me into The Joy Formidable for a couple years now and I went into the show probably the most curious about them. A few days before the show I posted on FB about the show by saying, “I’m expecting to be either seriously impressed or completely bored.”
“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.