Adams: "I got a plan."
I saw Ryan Adams and the Cardinals open for Oasis (!) in 2008 (!!!) but I only caught part of their set from across a basketball arena and anyway it was not an especially memorable experience. But I quite enjoyed the talky, sloppy Adams solo show — and opener Jason Isbell — that I review in today’s Washington Post. Continue reading
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Tagged Aimee Mann, Click Track, Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, music, Patton Oswalt, pop music, Ryan Adams, Strathmore, The Birchmere, The Washington Post
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.
So the Washington Post sent me to a Kid Rock show. One of the best things about working as a critic is that it forces you to broaden your taste! It was my first visit to the Fillmore Silver Spring, the new Live Nation concert venue across from the AFI Silver Theater that finally opened its doors two months ago after years of preamble. Here’s my report of what all went down.
Kid Rock is 40 years old. His most recent album, the year-old “Born Free,” was produced by late-career rejuvenation specialist Rick Rubin and evokes 1970s Bob Seger more than it does the Clinton-era rap-rock that made Rock a multiplatinum star. He hasn’t been arrested at a strip club or a Waffle House in years. He’s recorded a duet with Sheryl Crow. Twice, actually.
But chin-and-middle-fingers up, Kid Rock fans. While these harbingers of mortality are unmistakable, Rock’s 105-minute set at a tightly-packed Fillmore Silver Spring last night demonstrated that maturity hasn’t laid its liver-spotted hands on him just yet. Continue reading
Gillian Welch posted her Strathmore setlist on her Twitter feed this morning.
Ain’t never heard a horse sing no song.
I reviewed Gillian Welch and David Rawlings‘s concert at the Music Hall at Strathmore last night for the Washington Post. It was great. It was better than that. There wasn’t a bum note all night. Continue reading
A perfectly cromulent lede except for being two years too late:
In a better world than this, Fleet Foxes is an all-female professional motorcycle racing team that dabbles in counterterrorism and sometimes unwinds by playing Runaways covers in their garage. In our imperfect realm? They’re Seattle dudes, vegans surely, at least half of whom have beards and wear stocking caps even when visiting Washington, DC in the summertime.
Here’s the review as it appeared in the Paper of Record.
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
I never listened to a Dismemberment Plan album in my life until a week-and-a-half ago, when I got a copy of Emergency & I to prepare for last weekend’s reunion gigs celebrating the 1999 albums’s new vinyl release. In addition to the Black Cat show I reviewed for the Washington Post on Friday night, I saw the second of The Plan’s two shows at the 9:30 Club, on Sunday. I’m glad I was there.
My review is after the jump. 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
Also, I went to a Michael Buble concert this week. I thought it was good, even if a few people who read my review thought I was raining on the guy just because I don’t think much of most of his original songs. But I like him just fine when he’s singing standards, and as a live performer — a guy who is fully present when he’s on stage; whose mildly blue (turquoise?) quips and dance steps don’t seem rehearsed to death, and who’ll draw out a tween-song interlude to five minutes as long as the jokes don’t dry up — I really do think he’s aces. “The American media thinks that because I wear a suit and sing romantic songs that this is some Sex and the City 3 shit,” he told us. “I’m here to change that perception.” The first time I saw him play, three years ago, he did exactly that. Ring a ding ding!
The abz of Songz
In the post-R. Kelly R&B carnality arms race (or is it an abs race?), 25-year-old Peterburg, Va. native Trey Songz is in little danger of being outgunned. He may one day use his limber tenor to map the terrain of other subjects and emotions, but four albums into a career on which he’s cited Kelly as the prime influence, Songz is, to hear him tell it, a man whose devotion to sex is so pure, so singular, so encompassing, “monastic” is the only word.
Last night at a sold-out DAR Constitution Hall, he prayed a high holy Mass.
The 100-minute session opened with “I Invented Sex” and peaked with “The Neighbors Know My Name.” (Not because they accidentally got some of his mail.) In between, Songz issued a more humble declaration of fealty with no, ha, fooled you. He did snap a photo of the audience, telling us, “There is no me without y’all.” Save for some conspicuous pre-recorded backing vocals, his tour with long-lived R&B star Monica was absent big-venue production gimmicks: the gig succeeded entirely on its star’s vocal power, energy and charisma, all boundless, though you wonder whether he has any other hobbies. Truth, his main addiction might be work: His breakthrough album, “Ready,” is barely a year old, but the follow-up, Passion, Pain & Pleasure drops next week.
When Man of Few Words, Many Songs Tom Petty allowed himself a few words in praise of his since-forever band, The Heartbreakers, last night at — there’s just no way to get around saying this – Jiffy Lube Live, he introduced drummer Steve Ferrone as “the man who gets the job done.”
He could just as easily have been doing something he seems to detest: talking about himself.
Everyone knows you don’t go to Tom Petty for flash or invention. You to him for the thing he has, more than any other rocker of his generation, come to embody: excitement-free dependability. Since 1976, he’s rarely let more than a couple years go by without giving us another song or three that sounds just perfect on the radio of a car with the windows open. (It should’ve been Petty who eventually starting selling pickup trucks, not John Mellencamp, who despite sharing Petty’s greatest-hits approach to live performance, has at various points in his career appeared to suspect he was making art.) Petty has always made writing great — well, greatish — songs look easy. And last Christmas, an expansive box set compiling three decades of concert recordings made a strong case that TP and the HBs have earned a spot in the live rock band pantheon. Continue reading
When you fling a bra into the abyss, the abyss flings it back at you.
…where, ah, “the abyss” is the possibly-biggest-selling, certainly-biggest-sounding band in indie rock. Specifically, Arcade Fire. More specifically, Régine Chassagne, singer and co-songwriter and spouse of frontman Win Butler, who, late in Arcade Fire’s ecstatic 95-minute concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, briefly abandoned her post behind the piano to toss that ladies’ garmet (which might actually have been a halter top; it was hard to see) back to its owner. This isn’t 1987 and we’re not Poison, her revolted glare seemed to scold.
Of course, it could very well have been circa-1987 U2, what with the urgent vastness of the music; the related sense of a big, important band grown huge and courting self-importance; and also the lack of any detectable awareness of sex– which is kind of weird, given how driving and propulsive Arcade Fire’s most arresting music is. On a tune like “Rebellion (Lies)”, the dizzying set-closer that invited the bra-throw, all eight musicians on stage were basically playing percussion, and almost all of them were shouting the lyrics whether they had microphones or not. Continue reading
(Two-thirds of) The New Pornographers. From Canada!
Who was it who said that 90 percent of success in life is showing up? Was that Woody Guthrie? Allen Ginsberg? Vince Lombardi? Brian Eno? T-Pain? It was somebody smart, and he or she was almost certainly discussing a concert by The New Pornographers, Canada’s pop musical Justice League whose legend far eclipses that of any of its individual superheroes (with the eternal exception of the exceptional alt-country chanteuse Neko Case). When the group can field its complete nine-strong roster — a feat they haven’t always managed when playing Our Nation’s Capitol — the results are seldom less then splendid. Continue reading
Better than Sleigh Bells, not as good as Broken Social Scene. My Click Track review of last night’s Broken Bells gig at the 9:30 Club is here and also here. I regret to inform you there was no sign of Christina Hendricks at the show.
RELATED: I wrote about Gnarls Barkley when they played the 9:30 a couple of summers ago.
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
So your problem with Norah Jones is what, exactly? Do you hate her because she’s beautiful? Because your mom likes her records? Because people have bought 35 million of them? Do you find it disrespectful to the honored dead that she sings like Dusty Springfield, even if that means her singing is lovely? Do those lulling, breathy pipes make it hard to tell, even after four studio albums, if she’s a good songwriter? Do you wish Ravi Shankar was your dad instead of hers?
Get over it. Or don’t. On the evidence of the latte chanteuse’s pleasant if not revelatory 90-minute set at the Warner Theatre on Friday night, it don’t make no nevermind to her. Ease is her thing, not exertion.
Read the review in its brief entirety on Click Track.
Sorry I’ve let things slide around here for the past couple of weeks, everybody. But What ho!, new writing at last: I reviewed what turned out to be an epic Wilco concert — three hours, 37 songs, last Red Line train home – for the Washington Post. The blog version features a setlist and copious photos by the great Kyle Gustafson, while the paper-paper version has only one.
I thought I’d have more to say about the show, which included a lot of excellent, seldom-performed songs I never thought I’d hear, like “Some Day Some Morning Sometime” from Mermaid Avenue Vol. II , for instance, but for once I managed to stick to my allotted space. Amy Argetsinger gave me a little shout in her Reliable Source item about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel being at the show, which is why the Daily Swarm linked to the review. I haven’t loved Wilco’s most recent pair of records as much the ones they released between 1996 and 2004, but I’ve seen them play a bunch of times in the last 10 years, and I don’t think they’ve ever been a better live band than they are now.
Here’s Valerie’s fine DCist review breaking down the value-for-money equation, with some great photos by Jeff Martin.
On an unrelated note, I wrote about Bruce Norris’s superb new play Clybourne Park at Woolly Mammoth for the City Paper last week, but the Best of DC special issue didn’t contain an arts section, so the piece didn’t come out until today. Apologies, Woolly Mammoths.
It’s almost impossible to imagine England’s glam-bastic future-shock trio Muse peddling their warp-speed, Dark Matter riffs and florid piano interludes anywhere smaller than the Patriot Center, the coziest basketball arena on the itinerary of their U.S. tour. Wembley-packing popular in Europe, they traversed American football stadiums last fall supporting U2, a gig they may have cinched for their ability to make the headliners appear restrained and subtle by comparison.
Subtlety was irrelevant at last-night’s retina-singeing ode to space operatic excess. For the 105-minute pageant to express the band’s apocalypse-is-coming, so-shall-we-rock quintessence any more perfectly would have required giant harvester-like robots to wander into the audience and atomize us with their laser rays. A stage comprised of three telescoping video-cube platforms yawned open to reveal the three band members, lightsabering their way through “Uprising,” the pulsing, ominous opener of their latest album, The Resistance. (This is one band where the titles tell you exactly what you’re in for.) Lyrics “They will not control us! We will be victorious!” flashed as the crowd chanted along, implicitly telling Them exactly where They can cram their . . . well, whatever. 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