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.
“The Foo Fighters” by Andrew Markowitz
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.
photos by Andrew Markowitz.
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.”
Guess which one it was?