Tag Archives: pop music

She Couldn’t Blame Us: Cat Power at the 9:30 Club, reviewed.

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

Who Would You Rather Be? Metric at the Music Center at Strathmore, reviewed.

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.

Emmylou Harris and John Prine at Wolf Trap, reviewed

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

The Beach Boys at Merriweather

Three out of five original Beach Boys are still kicking.

My review 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

They Want Their Money Back If You’re Alive at 33: WSC Avant Bard’s The Tooth of Crime

John Tweel sits atop a throne of guitars as Hoss.

I struggled with Kathleen Akerley‘s production of Sam Shepard‘s The Tooth of Crime after I saw it last weekend. The play is a fascinating time capsule of how much danger and possibility pop music, and rock and roll specifically, must’ve still had when Shepard wrote it back in 1972. That gives it a charm that partially compensates for the fact the (apparently) postapocalyptic world it’s set in is so cryptic and thinly drawn. Continue reading

We Happy Few: Drive-By Truckers and Lucinda Williams at a mostly empty Merriweather Post Pavilion, reviewed

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.

Van Halen’d! Being an Account of the Verizon Center Concert Wherein David Lee Roth Addressed Alex Van Halen as “Frito Tiger,” Apparently in Reference to His Sunglasses

“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

When the Star Talks Himself Blue: Ryan Adams at Strathmore, considered

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

Postcards from “Postcards from Italy”: Beirut at the 9:30 Club, reviewed.

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.

Talk to the Hansard: Marketa Irglova at the 9:30 Club, reviewed.

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.

Hey, I Like the Quarry House, Too: Kid Rock at the Fillmore, discussed.

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

A Four-Part Harmony in Search of a Song: Fleet Foxes at Constitution Hall

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.

Buble’d!

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!

Christopher “Chris” Klimek on Kristoffer Kristian “Kris” Kristofferson

Photo: Marina Chavez

So Saturday, me and my pal @HeatherMG went to see the guy who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.” This short review is kinda buried in today’s Paper of Record, and split over two pages web-wise, so I’m posting it here to make things easier. For all of us.

Kris Kristofferson is no hurry, but he doesn’t like to waste time. At the Music Center at Strathmore last night, he marched onstage in his customary black-shirt-black-jeans-black-boots regalia at exactly the announced go-time of 8 p.m., launching with little fanfare into a generous 30-song solo acoustic revue of his bone-deep body of work. A hardy 74, the Rhodes Scholar and former Army helicopter pilot moved lightly from one coiled, economical story-song to the next, punctuating each tune with an abrupt “Thank you!” or better still, “True story!” rather than allow the last note to hang in the air — as they can, within the Music Center’s sound-abetting walls. His tectonic growl would be frightening if it didn’t let it break so freely into laughter, or if you couldn’t see that beatific smile. Continue reading

Reality Theater: The Enemy is Everywhere

MEMORY of a FREE FESTIVAL

Being a drama in one act.

SETTING: The press tent of a large outdoor pop music festival in the suburbs. Not far from here. Not long from now.

CAST IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:

RICHARDS, a music critic for a newspaper, about thirty

A WOMAN, perhaps thirty-five

A BALD MAN, maybe forty

MALITZ, Richards’s malnourished colleague, also about thirty

KLIMEK, a writer for a website, slightly older than thirty Continue reading

Loving Spit: Broken Social Scene at the Warner Theatre

The membership of Toronto indie-rock impressionists Broken Social Scene fluctuates between as few as a half-dozen and as many as three times that, which maybe has something to do with how this band has always — well, since 1999 — made music that feels intimate and epic at the same time.

Their generous 130-minute show at the Warner Theater last night boasted a lineup of eight (with Lisa Lobsinger performing the parts sung on record by BSS alums Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, and Amy Millan) performing crystalline lullabies, triumphant fist pumpers, and a few of the discursive, hazy instrumentals that used to get a lot more time on the collective’s albums than they do now. The one that came out at the beginning of summer (after leaking weeks earlier) Forgiveness Rock Record, is more focused and song-oriented than its forebears. It contributed the bulk of last night’s set, but the show still felt thrillingly rife with possibility, even if it was, as frontman and co-founder Kevin Drew repeatedly observed, a Monday night. (That still matters when you’re a full time rock semi-star? Depressing. A more likely potential inhibitor was that Of Montreal and Janelle Monae were kicking off a tour a couple miles north at the 9:30 Club.) Continue reading

I don’t think this guy has a safe word: Trey Songz’s Passion, Pain & Pleasure Tour

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.
Continue reading

Heartbreaker: Tom Petty at the Lube

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

New Pornographers Night Two Setlist

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

Perfectly Attended: New Pornographers at the 9:30 Club

(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