My review of Sufjan Stevens’ “Christmess Sing-a-Long” — or to use its full, formal designation, the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice — at the 9:30 Club Saturday night appears in today’s Washington Post. Continue reading
If Uncle Sam is now reading PARADE magazine, we’re screwed. Photo by Heidi May.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking with the great raconteur Henry Rollins a few times now. When I interviewed him in 2008 about his plan to play the Birchmere on Election Eve, we spoke in September, several weeks before the show. He was predicting at that time John McCain would be elected president. A few days after our conversation, Lehman Brothers collapsed, the fiscal dominoes started falling and the dynamic of the race changed dramatically.
Once again, Rollins will be speaking here in DC — in DC, where we don’t have voting representation in Congress; not the “DC area” this time, at the 9:30 Club — the night before America chooses a president. I’ll be there. I was surprised to learn when we spoke the other week that he hadn’t heard of Mike Daisey.
The interview is on Washington City Paper Arts Desk today.
Old 97s play their best album, 1997′s “Too Far to Care,” at the 9:30 Club tonight. Miller is second from the left.
Formed in Dallas in 1993, the alt-country act Old 97s combines the heart-tugging wordplay of Townes van Zandt with the attack of The Clash. After a couple of indie releases in the mid-90s, the group were the beneficiaries of a bidding war, signing with Elektra Records. Their major-label debut, 1997′s Too Far to Care, remains their best and best-loved album. Despite retaining a substantial following — their show at the 9:30 Club tonight is sold out — the group never reached the level of stardom their big label demanded. Since 2004, they’ve been recording for the New West label.
Their current tour supports a 15th anniversary reissue of Too Far to Care, which they’re playing in its entirety in sequence, along with a selection of other songs. I spoke with singer-songwriter Rhett Miller (whose career as a solo artist runs parallel to that of his band) by phone about the quest for perfect setlist, the excesses of major label recording contracts and the perils of singing songs you wrote at 25 when you’re 42.
This interview appears today on the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk. Continue reading
Posted in interviews, music, Uncategorized
Tagged 9:30 Club, David Bowie, Exene Cervenka, interviews, Linda Ronstadt, music, Neil Young, Old 97s, Rhett Miller, The Pixies, The Wedding Present, Washington City Paper, X
I’m sorry to say that Cat Power’s concert at the 9:30 Club last night was another heart-rending chapter in her sad history as a panicky, fragmented performer. It’s always agonizing to watch someone on stage who clearly doesn’t want to be there. I hope she’ll get the help she needs. The club was sold out, so clearly her fans haven’t abandoned her. Last night’s audience struck me as uncommonly respectful, sympathetic and forgiving. Continue reading
And here‘s my Washington Post review of The Budos Band‘s headling gig at the 9:30 Club Thursday night. Wish I’d seen opener Charles Bradley’s full set, because when he returned to sing “Why Is It So Hard” with Budos during their encore he fairly mopped the floor with them. Continue reading
It’s not much of a photo, but it was a pretty fantastic way to spend New Year’s Eve. That’s Booker T. Jones, stage-right, performing at the 9:30 with the Drive-By Truckers, a band I love and that I’ve written about a lot. The first time I saw them play was at The Troubadour in Los Angeles in 2003 or 2004. All I remember about that show is that my then-girlfriend had a pain in her leg and we left early. Since then, I’ve seen DBT play the 9:30 probably 10 times. When they were there for a Friday & Saturday night stay last February, I made a table to show how different the two setlists were. Hey, some people care about baseball statistics. (DBT singer-songwriter Mike Cooley does not.) Continue reading
(Okay, my questions. But still.)
The Drive-By Truckers are one of my favorite bands, and I’ve had the privilege of speaking with singer-songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley on several occasions during the last three-and-a-half years. I talked to them again, separately, for Washingtonian about their plans for their year-ending three-night stand at the 9:30 Club, which kicked off last night.
One of the things we discussed was Cooley’s two-night-only battlefield promotion to full-time frontman when Hood fell too ill to perform just before a weekend of 9:30 Club concerts in February 2009. I reviewed the first of those shows for the Washington Post. Continue reading
I covered the first of Beirut’s two-night, tour-ending stand at 9:30 Club last night for the Washington Post. Read all about it in the paper-paper version, or see the version on Click Track for a few more of Josh Sisk’s fine photos from the show.
I’ve seen The Swell Season perform twice. One of those shows was an opening set for Damien Rice about six months before the film Once came out in the States, dramatically raising their profile. I’ve seen male-half-of-the-Swell Season Glen Hansard’s longtime band The Frames play a great show to a half empty 9:30 Club, too.
Anyway, the Paper of Record sent me to the 9:30 Club the other night to cover Marketa Irglova’s first solo tour, supporting her debut album Anar. My conclusion? She’s a great singer but too humble a performer to sustain interest through a headlining-length set, and the songs she’s writing without Hansard all seem to share one, slow tempo. To be fair, I don’t think Hansard’s as good a songwriter on his own as he is when collaborating with her, either. Here’s the review.
OUT: More Cowbell.
IN: Enough with the Goddamn Vibra-Slap Already.
“We’re opening for ourselves!” CAKE frontman John McCrea announced last night at the first of three consecutive sold-out evenings at the 9:30 Club. He was explaining their appearance at earlyish hour of 8:15. It’s “an evening with CAKE,” he said, stretching out the word “evening” in his mouth. Sounds like the eclectic Sacramento group — riding high on the strength of Showroom of Compassion, their first new music in seven years — had prepared a lengthy program and we’d all best get comfy, right?
Nope! They played exactly 90 minutes, the minimum acceptable amount for a band with a 17-year catalog. Which would’ve been okay if they didn’t do everything possible to drain the gig whenever any momentum or excitement threatened to accrue. A 20-minute intermission after only 45 of music? Allowable if you’re going to play at least double that upon your return, or if you’re an aged legend who physically requires a midshow rest. These guys? All in their mid-40s.
Post-intermission, they burned another 10 interminable minutes giving away a tree to an audience member. And eliciting a promise from the unlucky winner to re-plant said tree. And to use it to teach his students — he’s a teacher — “where food comes from.” And to post photos of himself with the tree on the band’s website. I have a compost pile in my apartment, and this was, even to me, insufferable. Continue reading
Lucinda Williams at the 9:30 Club, Tuesday, March 15, 2011
01 I Just Wanted to See You So Bad
02 Fruits of My Labor
03 Metal Firecracker
04 Still I Long for Your Kiss
06 Drunken Angel
Rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, after taking the stage at 23:35 hours Friday night: “I said, ’9:30 Club?,’ looked at my watch and said, ‘Heck, I already missed it.’” What a voice, what a lady, a proud daughter of the great state of Oklahoma. Here’s my Washington Post review.
HOLY SHIT I KNEW THE DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS NEVER USED A SETLIST BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THEY MIGHT ALMOST NEED TO TO GET THE INCREDIBLE VARIETY BETWEEN THE TWO SETS THEY PLAYED AT THE 9:30 CLUB THIS WEEKEND ATTENTION MUST BE PAID HERE IS THE EVIDENCE THEY ONLY REPEATED SEVEN SONGS OUT OF A 28/9-SONG SET EACH NIGHT WOW. Continue reading
The Belfast-bred dance-rock trio Two Door Cinema Club has been around for less time than it takes Radiohead to make an album now, and its members are barely old enough to drink at the 9:30 Club. But the group’s lean, efficient set there last night demonstrated that for all their youthful charm and enthusiasm, as songwriters and performers both, they’re confident, more-than-competent professionals. Originality comes harder, but what band didn’t begin their career with a batch of tunes derivative of the bands they like? Continue reading
ITEM! Big changes in the New Pornographers’ setlist between nights one and two at the 9:30 this time, as advertised. Newman kept speaking to someone upfront who had apparently provided his or her own list, from whence, said Newman, he’d culled three or four songs the band wouldn’t have played otherwise, and that they’d likely keep playing. It’s worth noting that over the course of the two nights, we heard seven of Mass Romantic ‘s twelve, wow. Is the New Pornos’ nostalgia phase now upon us? Perhaps. Perhaps not: They played eight from the new Together last night, too.
Last night’s show was about 15 minutes shorter than Tuesday’s, too, owing to less dead time between songs. There was at least as much banter as the first night, but it was faster and funnier. Continue reading
Because the abstract of my already-short Click Track review of Jakob Dylan’s Friday-night 9:30 Club show with Neko Case and Kelly Hogan would be, “Okay, but too many samey-same slow songs and not enough Neko!,” I am re-posting this very distinct, very fast 2009 Jason Creps photo Campfire Noir Knockout with Twizzler (Or Is That a Red Vine?) in an attempt to balance the scales. Continue reading
Another January, another Thievery Corporation residency at the 9:30 Club. Don’t forget:
1) Earplugs; and
2) Drugs (optional).
At the home opener of a five-night stand, DC’s veteran purveyors of instant, worldly, ambience for your dinner party or client presentation delivered the fair-trade goods for 135 minutes, at fidelity-obliterating, sternum-rattling volume. It’d be tempting to say the often listless affair was a comme ci, comme ca concert but a good dance party, if not for the inconvenient truth that an only slightly larger portion of the crowd was shaking it than on a typical 9:30-hosted night of indie rock. That couldn’t have been great for the video shoot taking place. Continue reading
The New York City that birthed The Strokes, fully formed and never better than on their 2001 debut Is This It?, was as bright and prosperous as the NYC of 23 years earlier — when Strokes singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas was born there — was broke, decadent, and dangerous. Their first album managed, improbably, to conjure both Blondie-era risk and pre-9/11 ennui. It’s lately resurfaced on just about everyone’s list of the aughties’ top ten. Continue reading
One of the things I lament about the steep drop-off in newspaper movie ads — aside from the obvious, which is that it’s hurt newspapers I’d like to see survive — is that we’re not seeing as many ads wherein studio publicists dig deep to find reliably nearsighted pseudo-critics whose endorsements of shit like Old Dogs or the punctuation-offending Law Abiding Citizen they can quote. I always wondered if the people putting these ads together actually believed that anyone inclined to plan their weekend around a screening of Leap Year cares what film critics have to say.
I like it even better when publicists take real critics’ words completely out of context. I’ve been pull-quoted myself once or twice, but wouldn’t you know it, my meaning has always been preserved intact.
Publicists practice context-ignoring pull-quotery all the time, I know. But to me, at least, it never fails to amuse. Continue reading
Posted in 9:30 Club, music, navel-gazing, The Washington Post
Tagged 9:30 Club, David Malitz, flackery, Julian Casablancas, music, pop music, pull quotes, The Strokes, The Washington Post
If NBC ever releases a compilation of The Roots’ performances as house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the DVD commentary track might make your player explode. The veteran Philly hip-hop band won’t finish a tune without referencing pieces of nine others. Their hyperlinked performance style is reliably thrilling, though you do sometimes want to yell at song-surfing bandleader/drummer/Twitter addict Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, “Hey, I was digging that!”
Last night, at the first of two 9:30 club dates, The Roots offered a sweaty, channel-flipping blitz, packing about eight hours of mercilessly funky rap, rock, go-go, jazz, and soul into 140 breathless minutes. Though they’ve continued to tour since they got their gig upstaging SNL alum Fallon, their return to the 9:30 still had a celebratory, school’s-out vibe. Continue reading