Entertainment, Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Our Favorite Shows of 2012

photo courtesy of The Faint

It’s the end of a great year, and the music writers of We Love DC- Mickey,  Jonathan & Alexia have pulled together their respective top 10 favorite shows of 2012.

Mickey: This has been a great year for shows! For me, it’s been a return to old favorites. I caught a few acts that I’ve been into for most of my life and a few that became new favorites in the last 10 years. Interestingly, it wasn’t a big year for acts new to me although I did some promising new stuff.

Of my top 10 shows of 2012, I reviewed eight of them for We Love DC. I didn’t review two of them because they were out of town and I was quite busy! Without further ado, here in reverse chronological order then are my top 10 concerts of 2012.


1. The Faint

930 Club, Dec. 5

It’s become all the rage for a band to tour on the strength of a single album and to perform it in its entirety these days. Most of the time, we see that happen with bands celebrating the 20th or 25th anniversary of an album. But although the album is only about 10 years old, The Faint toured earlier this month on a reissue of Danse Macabre, a record that strikes a powerful chord and compels you to dance like crazy. And dance like crazy the audience did at a very full show at the 9:30 Club on Dec. 5. The album sounded as amazing as ever and The Faint even snuck in a new song, suggesting there is more to come from Nebraska’s favorite electronic sons.


2. Shiny Toy Guns

Rock and Roll Hotel, Nov.4

It’s a great feeling when a band justifies your faith in them. And so it goes with Shiny Toy Guns at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Nov. 4. This stellar new wave band recently put out its third and best album, III, bouncing back strong after a temporary split with their female vocalist Carah Faye and a disappointing second album. The sold-out crowd welcomed the band back like old friends. (And Jeremy Dawson gave me the inside scoop on reuniting with Carah Faye.)


3. Saint Etienne

U Street Music Hall, Oct. 25

Few things are more amazing than an intimate show with one of your absolute favorite niche bands. Saint Etienne has captured a Europop sounds so fresh and invigorating that they surprisingly sound timeless and modern all at once. They captivated a large group composed of mostly men who came out to dance and fawn over Sarah Cracknell, the most modest of divas, when they played at U Street Music Hall on Oct. 25. Although I loved the actual show to bits, my experience was bittersweet as the lovely lady who introduced me to the band went to the show with someone else. As Saint Etienne knows, “Only love can break your heart!”

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

We Love Music: The Gossip @930 Club, 9/24/2012

photo by Rankin

It’s easy to be impressed by big stage productions- stunning light shows, elaborate screen set-ups, jaw-dropping hydraulics, bells and whistles. So sometimes, like Monday night, it takes a band with a bare stage, wearing jeans and t-shirts, or in Beth Ditto’s case a dress from Avenue*, to prove you don’t need anything fancy to blow the sock off of your fans, you can do it by just being ****ing amazing, and singing, dancing and rocking your ass off! The Gossip brought it like none other on Monday night to the 930 Club, shaking, dancing, screaming, sweating and rocking their way through a super-fun, energized set to a full house of adoring fans.
Originally formed in Olympia, Washington, The Gossip has a sound that blends bluesy rock, soul, punk and synth-dance-rock. The resulting combination makes for non-stop hip-shaking, head-bopping, fist-pumping exuberance. The group started off their set with the dancey “Love Long Distance“, and got the crowd moving and shaking right away. After that song front-woman Beth Ditto looked up to the backstage balcony and said “Well Ian was clapping, so that’s a good thing.” (referring to the Make-Up frontman Ian Svenonius, who was clearly enjoying the show, though ducked out of sight when he was called out.)
The dancing and shaking never really stopped, except for in-between some songs when charismatic Ditto would have conversations with audience members, or tell stories or jokes, or rant. That was an equally entertaining part of the show- her personality is larger-than-life.
While The Gossip played plenty of great original material, Ditto liked to mix it up by throwing in lines or choruses from other bands’ songs, making for some fun mash-ups. Highlights included their song “8th Wonder” mashed up with Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” (complete with dedication to Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vail), their song “Listen Up!” mashed with Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”, and their disco-drenched “Get Lost” with an interlude of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita.”
The Gossip delivered a short but powerful encore- first a super-charged cover of the song made famous by Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” which had the audience going crazy and belting along to the chorus. They ended the night with their biggest hit, the knock-down, drag-out “Standing In the way of Control”, and Miss Ditto was not out of steam yet, starting it off with a soul-wrenching howl, and even turned this hit into a mash-up, throwing some of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into the mix partway through.  The Gossip had everyone in the club jumping and singing along to the very end, and of course left their fans full of joy, but starving for more.
*Avenue is a clothes store for big girls. Beth Ditto gave a shout-out to all the big girls in the audience and let them know she got her dress, a curve-hugging shimmery black number, from Avenue, on sale “really reasonable” and advised them to go get it themselves. Work it, gurl.