Elvis Costello at Linser Auditorium, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. Photo; Francis Chung.
Has it really been more than two years since I last saw Elvis Costello play and felt compelled to write footnotes, basically, on all the curiosities in the set? The calendar does not lie. I’ve seen Costello perform probably 20 times since 1999, but I’d never seen him do a headlining solo set, as he did Friday night at Lisner Auditorium.
Because no one demanded it, I posted some notes over at DCist, where it’s been so long that I don’t even have my own login anymore. The post features great photos by Francis Chung, who took the one above. For an overview of the concert, the great and good Dave McKenna captured it well in his Washington Post review.
We bought a smoke machine.
My first DCist post of 2012 is a review of a very fine show by the very fine Canadian stadium-rockers-in-waiting Metric.
Actually, don’t despair. Just go read if you’re so inclined. Like many of the journo-types I know in DC, I spent Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion for Virgin Festival V, or Virgin Mobile Festival III, or Virgin Mobile Free Festival II. My breathless Twitter feed is here; I also penned a hasty roundup for DCist, which offers you another angle on things in addition to those written by friends and professional acquaintances of mine.
Over at former DCist music editor Amanda Mattos’s newish music site Pinna Storm, I introduce Exquisite Chord, a fun and educational new spin on an old smarty-pants game that you, too, can play.
I was just saying to TBD’s Ally Schweitzer aboard the FreeFest ferris wheel how most of the “ideas” I think I have are really just puns. Case in point!
Oh, I also wrote this nerdy thing for the City Paper’s Arts Desk blog about Washington Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare-in-Klington night, which I did not attend on account of if being scheduled directly opposite LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, y’all. I like this band this much.
That’s not KISS, it’s the great and good Drive-By Truckers, having a little fun last Halloween. My interview with frontman Patterson Hood about The Secret to a Happy Ending, the new DBT doc by Maryland filmmaker Barr Weisman that will have its world premiere Sunday at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre, went up over at DCist yesterday. Patterson and I spoke on Jan. 29 of this year, as the film was supposed to debut three weeks ago, but it snowed a little.
As always, Patterson was a delight to speak with, giving up more good material than I could possibly use at one time. I’ve heard The Big To-Do, the Truckers album due on March 16, and it’s predictably superior. (Sample cut “This Fucking Job” is representative.) As ever, Mike Cooley’s songs have emerged as my early favorites.
Posted in DCist, job insecurity, music, shameless self-promotion, Uncategorized
Tagged AFI, cinema, DCist, documentaries, Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood, pop music
Robert Parsons and Rick Foucheux
What ho, presidential history nerds: My review of Ford’s Theatre’s new production of Norman Corwin’s The Rivalry is up over at DCist.
Corwin is still alive, kicking, lecturing and teaching at the University of Southern California, by the way, at the improbable age of ninety-nine. Among the dozens and dozens of fine radio plays to his credit is one called The Plot to Overthrow Christmas that he wrote (in verse!) more than half a century before FOX News alleged the existence of any such thing. I used a little snippet of it in my audio holiday card the year before last. Sir, my hat is off to you.
There’s a huge star at the center of the Sydney Theatre Company’s much-hyped, Liv Ullman-directed, wholly satisfying new staging of A Streetcar Named Desire, which sold out its Kennedy Center run before the curtain rose on the first preview. I speak, of course, of the dramatist Tennessee Williams.
That’s no slight on Cate Blanchett, who fronts, fights, twirls and finally, crawls her way through a towering, plaintive gut-punch of a performance as Blanche DuBois, the cracked Southern belle at the center of Williams’s oft-revived 1947 Pulitzer-winning war of wills. (She’s also Sydney Theatre’s co-artistic director, with her husband.) Though famous for film roles from Queen Elizabeth to Katherine Hepburn to Bob Dylan, the 40-year-old Blanchett’s almost-as-eclectic stage resume reaches back to the early 90s. Here she proves again that the authority and vulnerability she intimates onscreen is no camera trick. Continue reading
More than ever on the concert circuit, nostalgia is the move. With everyone from Liz Phair to Public Enemy to The Pixies (and those are just the P’s) devoting gigs and sometimes entire tours to reviving their seminal albums in sequence, lots of long-lived performers — particularly those strugging to get even their cult to embrace their new music — have glommed to the trend.
Travis are in a reflective mood, too, but they’re taking a different route. Founded in Glasgow in the early 1990s, they were one of the better U.K. trad-rock outfits to arise in Oasis’s mid-90s wake. They’re hardly commercial rivals (or contemporaries) of classic-album-revivalists Bruce Springsteen or The Pixies, but they’ve more hummable, singalong-enabled tunes to their credit than you probably remember, if you remember them at all. Continue reading
The great Nick Lowe was in reprise mode at the Barns of Wolf Trap last night. You can hear an NPR podcast of his September 2007 set at the Birchmere here, which is pretty much the same show he performed at the Barns, with the small exceptions I noted in my DCist review. Good show by a great songwriter, but I’d have preferred more variety, and more songs.
About that: Lowe spent way too much time apologizing, to my mind, for slipping one new song into his 20-tune, 70-minute set. One! He asked us if, when we hear a performer say he’d like to introduce some new material, “Does your heart sink? Because mine does.”
Really? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the dilemma of the artist with the large, beloved back catalog struggling to make his audience accept his new work. Continue reading
Mike Birbiglia, dressed for success.
Mike Birbiglia remembers when the room was a lot smaller. He’s headlining Saturday night at the Warner Theatre, where he’ll tell some stories he’s considering for inclusion in his next one-man show. But he cut his teeth at the DC Improv in the late 90s, while a student at Georgetown University. By the time he was 25, he’d done the The Late Show with David Letterman and had his first album and Comedy Central special.
Birbiglia’s act grew more distinct and involving a couple of years ago, when he began to segue from traditional stand-up into more personal storytelling. Continue reading
Few writers have managed to pin the millennial male ego under glass the way Nick Hornby has. In his comic novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, and the new Juliet, Naked, among others, Hornby picks apart our vanity and insecurity in ways that are as scary as they are entertaining. He’s also written loads of great nonfiction about his love of soccer, literature, and pop music.
U2 get anthemic. Photo by Martin Locraft.
And that’s just about gonna do it for writing about U2 this year, I think. My review of last night’s U2 360 gig at FedEx Field is up on DCist, with photos by Martin Locraft. Tough love = real love, y’alls.
And I gotta give it up to the Post’s Chris Richards for penning a funny and insightful notice on deadline last night.
Karen O at the 9:30 Club, 9.25.09
DCist has my review of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Friday-night 9:30 gig, but the real attraction is the phantasmagorical photography of The Artist Formely (?) Known as Information Leafblower, Mr. Kyle Gustafson, who shot the hell out of the show like he always does.
I wish the YYY’s were opening for U2 tomorrow night instead of Muse.
Believe the Hype: Chuck D and Flavor Flav at Virgin Free Fest's West Stage. Photo by Francis Chung.
My arbitrary and semi-complete (owing to some collaborative difficulties) recap of yesterday’s Virgin Free Fest is up at DCist now, accompanied by more photos like the Public Enemy shot above by Francis Chang.
I wish I’d had time to write a more thorough review of Pete McCormack’s superb Facing Ali. But here‘s the quickie I did write, for DCist.
Every long-lived pop musician who achieves success as a young artist eventually confronts the legacy problem: How much of your back catalogue do you take with you when you hit the road to promote your new music?
Whaddaya mean I’m two years too late for a Borat joke?
This still from Aaron Posner’s brilliant new staging of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at the Folger wouldn’t make me want to run out and see it, really. But I hope my DCist review will inspire you to do just that. Best thing I’ve seen on a stage in 2009, certainly, and probably going back a goodly while earlier than that. Run, don’t walk.
What, you want more? Okay. Review proper begins after the jump.