Richard Schiff and Randall Newsome, neither of whom are “Hughie.”
So I saw Hughie — Eugene O’Neill’s odd, sad little two-hander of a one-act — the other night, hoofed the not-quite-three miles back uptown from the Landsburgh Theatre to headquarters, and was still in by 10 p.m. But I don’t think it was a flush of gratitude for a play that takes only an hour that led me to like it so much. Reviewed for the Washington City Paper.
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
I was asked to provide a sidebar for my Washington Post essay (in today’s Sunday Style insert, with Helen Mirren on the cover, which actually came out Friday) about making my annual yulemix. We didn’t have room for my brief rationales for choosing the Twelve Songs of Christmas that I did, so I’m posting it here. Bow your heads and tremble before Twelve Songs of Christmas!
(Not the twelve songs, as if there could be such a thing. Merely a dozen yule-sides that ring my Christmas bell, presented chronologically.)
My essay about making my Christmas mixtape is in the Style section of today’s Washington Post, the pullout section with Helen Mirren on the cover. I was surprised how difficult I found it to write about this silly little project that’s come to claim so many
tens hundreds of hours of my time and moxie every fall. Continue reading
While you were watching President Obama Uncle Fluffy his way through the first presidential debate Wednesday night, I was watching the Soft Pack play the Black Cat. That’s right: I went to see a band the youngest member of which is probably a decade younger than me. Usually I’m on the venerable old treasure beat, more or less voluntarily.
I reviewed their show for today’s Washington Post.
Wow. It appears that the last time Emmylou Harris played at Wolf Trap, in 2008, I tried to corner the market, penning a a review of her then-most-recent album for the Washington Post as well as a Post review of the concert and a profile for The Examiner that I can’t find a link to now. I used to have it on this site as a PDF, but then Apple discontinued its .Mac service. It’s the circle of life, I suppose. Continue reading
Three out of five original Beach Boys are still kicking.
of Friday’s night’s Beach Boys concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion is in today’s Washington Post. I thought it was odd that the 14-piece band played along to the recorded vocal track of Dennis Wilson (d. 1983) singing “Forever” and then to a recording of Carl Wilson (d. 1998) singing “God Only Knows,” but the fact that “Heroes and Villains” made the setlist inclines me to forgive them anything. Continue reading
Lucinda Williams, badass
I am experienced. I’ve reviewed the great Louisiana songwriter Lucinda Williams for the Washington Post before, in 2007 and 2009.
I’ve also reviewed Drive-By Truckers, one of my favorite bands, for the Post in 2009, and I’ve interviewed Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, the band’s two frontmen, separately for DCist, The Examiner, the Washington City Paper and Washingtonian. I was at DBT’s year-ending shows at the 9:30 Club last December, which were amazing.
Saturday night I covered the bill Williams and DBT shared at Merriweather Post Pavilion for the Post. It was a beautiful night and a good show. Too bad almost nobody saw it.
“I’ll be your substitute teacher for the remainder of the concert,” preened 57-year-old David Lee Roth last night, midway through Van Halen’s wry, spry two-hour gig at a sold-out Verizon Center. He was freestyling a new spoken interlude, as is his wont, to a resistence-is-futile Van Halen classic that already featured plenty of chitchat, “Hot for Teacher.”
Substitute? Puh-shaw! He’s the real guy!
This wasn’t Van Halen’s first tour with their cocksure original singer since they kicked him out of the band in the mid-eighties. Roth and the trio of Van Halens — guitar god Eddie, drummer Alex, and 21-year-old spawn-of-Eddie Wolfgang on the bass — made up and made a killing on the road in ‘07 and ‘08.
This time, Eddie kept his shirt on and instead flogged A Different Kind of Truth, the group’s first new album together since 1984 in 1984, approximately 125 Earth-years ago. Performed at detail-eradicating volume, the handful of new songs sounded enough like the circa 1978-84 warhorses dominating the set that no one seemed to notice. Roth’s attempt to get the mostly age-40-and-up crowd to sing “Tah! Too! Tah! Too!” during a new jam entitled, uh, “Tattoo” flamed out a lot faster than his post-Halen solo career did, though. Continue reading
Sheldon Best & Manny Brown in Studio's SUCKER PUNCH (Scott Suchman)
I did a follow-up to my Washington City Paper feature about the fight choreography in the Studio Theatre’s current U.S. premiere of Roy Williams’s boxing play Sucker Punch after the play had opened, and after the Washington Post had run their subsequent story on the same topic.
Personally — and professionally, come to that — I had more fun with the imported comic illusionism of Elephant Room at Arena (“would look far more comfortable in some ramshackle, claustrophobic space, where its raw aesthetics and ironic sensibility might … Continue reading
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.
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.
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
I’ve written about OK Go, a band I like, on two prior occasions. The first time, I even incurred a big, fat ugly correction for four errors in the piece, only one of which was present in my copy as filed. (I’ve forgiven and forgotten, obviously!) Plus a lot of randomly italicized letters. But this piece I wrote in the Kennedy Center’s press closet in half an hour on a bottle of water and a cookie. With a headache.
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
My WashPo review of is right here. Click on that Kyle Gustafson photo up there to get the Click Track version featuring more of his images.
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.
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