Tag Archives: Black Cat

two bars three stars: upcoming DC shows

20 Aug

Rainy Sundays can be so ideal for people who enjoy music and writing, because staying indoors is the ideal environment to enjoy both of those pursuits. This blog, like the American agriculture industry, could benefit from a little more rain this summer.

So, let’s catch up, shall we? There have been a flurry of ticket purchases recently, and I’d like to bring your attention to all of them.

1. Thursday, August 23: Nighttime Adventure Society with Mike & Cody at Rock n Roll Hotel (local music alert)

I’ve blogged about both of these bands’ shows recently, so if you haven’t seen either of em yet, then you’re in luck! They’re playing again this week at RnR. The show will act as a nice lead-up to NAS’ debut album release in a few weeks. It’ll be on sale for only $7, so check them out and cop that ish when it drops on September 4.

Nighttime Adventure Society, “Past Life”

2. Sunday, September 30: St. Vincent and David Byrne at the Strathmore

David Byrne is an especially gratifying musician to admire, because not only has he been a musical pioneer for decades, but he also chooses excellent, exciting musicians for collaborations. Remember when he remixed Zola Jesus? Incredible. Now, he’s teaming with guitar goddess (and object of my extreme affection) St. Vincent for the ultimate genre-blurring, line-pushing, too-much-talent-fueled duo album, Love this Giant. The first single off of said upcoming album, “Who,” was featured on RwR’s July playlist, and I still cant stop listening to it as we near September- the horns, the funky grooves, St. Vincent’s voice with David Byrne’s crazy beats… amazing. The second single, “Weekend in the Dust,” has only added to my intense excitement for what will undoubtedly be a highlight of my fall show schedule- and perhaps unlike any show I’ve seen before. I mean forreal, can one stage really hold all of that talent? It might just collapse under their metaphoric weight.

St. Vincent and David Byrne, “Weekend in the Dust”

3. Friday, October 3 – Sunday, October 5: Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Music Festival (lots o’ local music alert)

Back again and bigger than ever, STTPFest will take over various clubs, restaurants, and cafes all over the city and infuse them with live, local music for all of Columbus Day weekend. For those who have visited Austin for South by Southwest, the set-up is similar: live music takeover. If this fest has it’s way, you wont be able to avoid running into a plethora of local and visiting acts performing at your favorite places in Adam’s Morgan, U Street, and Cleveland Park.

4. Thursday, October 25: Major Lazer at 930 Club

I blogged about this guy recently as well, when I hyped one of his proteges (Brazilian club bangers Bonde do Role). But here’s a bit more background: Major Lazer was formerly a collaboration between mega-producer/DJ Diplo (the mastermind behind much of M.I.A.’s music) and DJ Switch, though now Major Lazer is solely a Diplo project. Major Lazer encompasses Diplo’s interest in fusing Jamaican dancehall beats with more traditional electro house. With thumping reggaeton beats, the familiar uhn-tiss of house, and some smashing guest vocals from Santigold, Amanda Blanks, and Nina Sky, the result is nothing short of boombastic. Major Lazer is the musical equivalent of the party that’s so intense and outrageous that you’re not even sure if you should be there, but eventually you just embrace it and have a buck-wild good time. Hence, the 930 Club will be one hot sweaty mess come October 25.

Major Lazer ft. M.I.A. and Busy Signal, “Sound of Siren”

5. Friday, December 7: Japandroids at Black Cat

Somehow, back in June, I failed to notice when Japandroids made their first DC appearance following their incredible spring release, Celebration Rock. I have no idea what caused that dire inattentiveness to show calendars, but suffice to say I was disappointed. I’ve been listening to Celebration Rock with ever-increasing frequency since April, and it truly is a gem. These guys are noisy in all the right ways, but not abrasive or obnoxious. The lyrics are simple and relatable, and their music makes me feel like these guys are just my good buddies, singing songs about the house party we went to last weekend. DC, how lucky are we that these guys are coming back in just a few short months, at one of the city’s most perfect venues?! Snipe your tickets now, they won’t last long.

Japandroids, ‘Fire’s Highway”

weekend roll out: architecture in helsinki at black cat, anniversary edition

15 Jun

Exactly one year ago today, I paid a little too much money to see a band I didn’t care about that much: a ~$35 Stub Hub ticket to the sold out Architecture in Helsinki show at the Black Cat.

For reasons other than the quality of Architecture in Helsinki’s performance, it was $35 very well spent. Sometimes, factors other than the music lead to you considering a particular show a highlight of your week, month, year, or even life. It might be that you discovered a new venue, made new friends, celebrated a big accomplishment, or just busted out new dance moves- whatever. That’s the magic of live music, isn’t it? It’s never just about the music.

Don’t get me wrong, Architecture in Helsinki put on a great show (if I remember correctly, there was a whole smorgasbord of artists and instruments and accordions on stage), but on that night is was all about the company.

Roll out to a beautiful weekend, friends.

Architecture in Helsinki, “Contact High”

Architecture in Helsinki, “Heart it Races”

i was there: real estate at black cat, 1.22

30 Jan

Exactly one week ago, I saw a really amazing show. A show that I did not anticipate would be as amazing as what transpired that night. So amazing that I needed a week to let it resonate—to gather my thoughts, to let the impressions stew, to listen to the band’s discography impulsively to reevaluate how the show transformed my feelings toward their music.

Now that I have sufficiently procrastinated mulled, I finally feel prepared to offer an insightful take on the show, albeit with the input of some friends who understand this band on a deeper level than I.

Last Sunday, a New Jersey-based quartet called Real Estate rolled into town for the first time since fall 2009 to play at Black Cat. (Sidenote: what’s with all of these impossible-to-Google band names? “Girls”? “Real Estate”? “The The”?! You guys are making my smart phone work waaay too hard). After releasing their self-titled debut in 2009, Real Estate built their reputation as ambassadors of chill; their sound is the epitome of dreamy and laidback, but with enough bells and whistles to keep things interesting. In fact, the first time I listened to Real Estate I instantly declared, “Oh, neat, a West Coast version of the Shins.”

Incorrect assumptions about geographic origin aside, a beach bum aesthetic pervades each and every song as it drifts down a musical lazy river, with lyrics that romanticize the mundanities of daily life in a small beach town. Yet the simplicity of their lyrics is completely calculated, and they serve as a neutral palette for the supremely crisp, multifaceted, and expertly edited instrumentals. When the band recorded their second album Days in 2011, they stuck to this formula and, quite simply, did it better. They keep the lyrics uncomplicated and let their beautiful instruments play the starring role.

That being said, Real Estate’s music never made me think, “I cannot WAIT to see these guys live.” I couldn’t predict how their sound would translate on stage. If performed improperly, “dreamy” music can easily border on “drowsy” in a live setting. However, if the band could amplify every shimmering, gorgeous layer of their tunes into a casually grandiose experience, then that show could be a treat.

Last Sunday, I happily experienced the latter. On stage at the Black Cat, Real Estate conveyed exactly what makes their music so uniquely special: they capitalize on the carefree simplicity in their lyrics to make their instrumentation soar, and the band’s live presence felt nonchalant but genuine. Bassist Alex Bleeker donned a Giants sweatshirt and clearly struggled to focus on the performance as the G-Men went into overtime, and lead vocalist Martin Courtney’s dance moves never strayed far from some turtleneck head-bobbing.

In a breezy 90 minutes, the band at least touched on all 10 tracks from their latest album. They set the bar high by opening with a rock-solid rendition of “Green Aisles,” a standard to which not every subsequent song could meet—though many came close. Also, I would have appreciated a bit more time dedicated to “All the Same,” the superb 8-minute number that closes out Days. The swells and spirals of that tune offer a glimpse of a future Real Estate, one that can leap out of their comfort zone, and I would have loved to see them really lay into the jam session parts of the song.

Ultimately, however, the award for “having more fun than anybody” definitely went to lead guitarist Matthew Mondanile, particularly when he fell off stage during the encore. That’s ok, though. Even before his puzzling tumble, Mondanile was the best performer of the bunch, taking the energy up a notch at times when, frankly, it needed to be taken up a notch. The group relies on him for that ounce of traditional charisma that they normally dodge, and that ounce is all they need to put forth a performance that could convert a skeptic into to a believer (myself included).

More iPhone photos for your enjoyment. Real Estate is also not so down with the flash from a DSLR, according to Black Cat.

Lead guitarist Matthew Mondanile: drunk or just clumsy?

Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney, gettin his turtle on. Real Estate Bassist Alex Bleeker reppin the New York Gians. #Dynamicduo