Tag Archives: live music

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”


on deck: nighttime adventure society at black cat (album release party)

27 Jul

A truly amazing thing about DC summer is that here, unlike most other places, you can walk into a packed, sweaty club, and actually feel refreshed because it is STILL cooler there than outside. Cotdamn.

But this weekend, I’m making a pledge: I will not complain about the heat. I will not complain about the heat. Let’s move on.

In other exciting news, I am checking out a DC band on Saturday night. A band that has one of my favorite band names in recent memory: The Nighttime Adventure Society. Doesn’t that instantly make you think of a bunch of cool, smart bookclub friends who like to go out and get drunk together and make mischief? I certainly do.

NAS (also a great band acronym) plays a style of folk pop that reminds me of certain bands who made me fall in love with folk in high school- namely, Rilo Kiley, Broken Social Scene, and everything else that involved Feist. And no, I’m not just drawing similarities between NAS and Feist because of the presence of a red-headed female lead singer, though it doesn’t hurt the comparison.

I wouldn’t miss this album release at Black Cat this weekend. WOOT local music. WOOT red headed lead singers.

Nighttime Adventure Society, “Older Boys”

on deck: u street music hall’s two year anniversary week

13 Mar

It’s hard to believe that just two short years ago, DC existed without U Street Music Hall. The now legendary danceclub/music venue/electro basement has played such a crucial role in my DC nightlife experience right from the get-go that I simply can’t imagine my life in DC sans UHall. No place has so often made me curse the weeknight Metro schedule, sing the praises of Natty Boh, or lose my voice from shouting over an eardrum-blasting soundsystem than U Street Music Hall.

Ok, mushy stuff aside, let’s get serious. You know the folks at UHall wouldn’t let an anniversary pass without throwing down in a big way to celebrate… all week long. Make it to one event, make it to them all- you owe it to UHall. They do so much for the young and bass hungry of this city. So go forth, don your glowsticks, and toast to many more successful years spent dancing at one of the nation’s best clubs, right here in our hometown.

Tuesday: Anniversary week launches with a live performance from one of the most highly respected and prolific DJs in the game, Four Tet. So respected, in fact, that he was one of a handful of DJs who received the ultimate privilege of remixing Radiohead for the King of Limbs 12″ remix series. Tet will be joined by New York-based garage/Hip-Hop/dubstep-influenced electronic producer FaltyDL and local mixmaster Harry Ransom. Advance tickets are sold out (womp) but a limited number of additional tickets will be available at the door.

Four Tet, “Pinnacles”


Wednesday: MOOMBAHTON. A homegrown electro subgenre that is doing amazing things for DC’s rep on the national electro scene. The 13th installment of UHall’s monthly Moombahton Massive features Moombahton pioneer and D.C. native Dave Nada with partner Matt Nordstrom (a.k.a. Nadastrom), resident DJ Sabo (Sol Selectas, Los Angeles), and special guest Toddla T of BBC Radio 1.  Oh, and HUGE bonus points for arranging Dave Nada’s mother, “Mama Nada,” to hold down the kitchen and whip up an assortment of her homemade empanadas all night. Yes please. 

Nadastrom, Rum & Coke EP


Thursday: D.C. electronic music blog Blisspop.com presents DJ sets from Ellum Audio, Maceo Plex, Catz N Dogz, along with Bristol’s bass-heavy house producer Eats Everything and Blisspop’s DC favorite Lxsx Frxnk.

Lsxs Frxnk, “Lost and Sound” (teaser)


Friday: I admit my trips to UHall more often occur on weeknights and Saturdays, but UHall has a weekly house party called Red Friday. This week the lineup includes house pioneers Derrick Carter and Alan Braxe, with a set from local DJ Juan Zapata.

Derrick Carter, “Get On It”


Saturday: Ok, here’s the biggie– Bliss, one of D.C.’s mainstay parties fronted by UHall co-owner Will Eastman, will host a special anniversary night featuring a selection of D.C.’s hometown heroes including the debut club performance of Volta Bureau (Will Eastman, Outputmessage and Micah Vellian), Starks & Nacey of Nouveau Riche, and UHall’s resident DJ, Brian Billion. Holy ish. Gold on gold on gold. This is basically DC’s royal family on the turntables all night, and this lineup is the only one that could bring me to a place that doesn’t serve Guinneess on St. Patrick’s Day. I went to anniversary night last year, and it’s definitely not one to miss.

Volta Bureau, “Alley Cat”

two bars three stars: cuff at napoleon

1 Mar

I have previously expressed my affinity for DC’s smorgasbord of monthly dance parties because hey, I’m a creature of habit.

But while All Things Gold, Fatback, and Che Sera remain my nightlife utopias, a new event has caught my eye in a big way. This new fiesta, going down for the second time ever tomorrow night, has a very real chance of shotgunning to the top of the highly exclusive “Steph’s Monthly Party Schedule” list (admissions are always rolling).

So, what is this new event, and why am I so convinced it will be bomb.com? Well, it’s called Cuff, and it’s happening at Napoleon- there’s reason  #1. Napoleon is one of my favorite bars in DC, and it’s the perfect place for a weeknight dance party. Stylish decor, pretty people, pretty bartenders, champagne  and St. Germaine abound, crucial soundsystem, what more could I want? Plus, during the week you can usually get your groove on a little more freely than during the packed weekend nights.

Now, onto the lineup: we got Sanitize, Starks & Nacey (2/3 of Nouveau Riche), and Lightwaves. Oh hey DC DJ Dream Team, what up.

Especially regarding Sanitize, Starks, and Nacey, Cuff’s organizers couldn’t have picked a group of DJs more near and dear to my heart. I have seen each of those guys spin more times than I can count, but I always come back for more because they never let me down. In fact, when I wrote my first local music feature for Scoutmob DC, I turned to these guys to help me compile a playlist of tracks hand-selected by my favorite DC DJs. That’s how I highly I value their beat-selecting abilities.

Lightwaves is also a frequent fixture at my DC nightlife destinations , notably when he’s filling Bourbon to the brim or manning the turntables during All Things Gold at UHall. If a DJ can set himself apart in stacked lineups that have included The Knocks, St. Lucia, and US Royalty, he’s doing something right. Plus, Lightwaves’ more vocal-heavy tracks will be a perfect way to round out the evening, and they will keep the crowd on its toes all night.

As if you needed further convincing, sample tracks for your listening pleasure. If these tracks and $4 rails until 11 p.m. can’t get you to Napoleon on a Thursday night, I question your judgment.

Lightwaves, “Spirit Gun”

Sanitize, Germ Free Mix Vol. 4

Starks and Nacey, “Neva Get Caught”

on deck: big freedia at rock n roll hotel

21 Feb

This St. Patrick’s day will be a weird one for me. And weird in two very different, distinctly weird ways, because neither of them involve Guinness. First, I’m running my second half-marathon, the DC Rock N Roll Half-Marathon, for which I am woefully underprepared. Second, I’m seeing bounce DJ extraordinaire Big Freedia tear up Rock n Roll Hotel that night.

Just push play. Semi NSFW.

Now that your mind is appropriately blow, allow me to explain. Big Freedia is a big name in the world of bounce, a New Orleans-based subset of hip-hop with similar characteristics to DC’s beloved go-go. Bounce is extremely energetic and relentlessly fast, but with a gritty feel to lyrics that often center strongly on booty-shaking (especially in Big Freedia’s case). It often involves the call-and-response patterns that characterize go-go as well, but with an energy level unparalleled by any genre.

Big Freedia (aka the Queen Diva, if you ask her), in everything from her style to her music to her sexuality, is a gigantic force to be reckoned with, and she is one of the few bounce artists to gain attention on the national stage beyond New Orleans. She is also part of why bounce is one of the few hip hop communities to accept gender bending and alternative sexual identity as all part of the game.

Regardless of the smoke and mirrors surrounding Big Freedia herself, one only needs to watch video or see pictures of her shows to see that she is nothing short of a magician when it comes to performing. Small clubs are turned into all-out raves with each person in the crowd giving everything they have to keep up with the rapid-fire beat, with varying degrees of success. If DC throws down even 10% like  Brooklyn did when big Freedia came to NY in 2010, then Rock N Roll Hotel will simply never be the same again.

Do some exploring to get a closer look at what this scene and sound are all about- but again, much is NSFW so don’t say I didn’t warn you about the amount of gyrating you’re about to see. Pitchfork produced an excellent video about the singer here, definitely check it out–then buy a ticket to see how DC’s crowd responds to Hurricane Freedia in March.

on deck: zola jesus at u street music hall

16 Feb

If you read my post about the David Lynch remix of Zola Jesus’ track “In Your Nature,” then you saw my excitement about tomorrow night’s show at U Street Music Hall unfold in real time. I was going nuts over an artist, only to discover a) she was coming to DC,  b) the show would be at one of my favorite venues, and c) it was part of a collaborative effort between three of my favorite venues (Black Cat + 930 Club + Uhall). Score on score on score.

Thankfully, that remix led me to do more than just buying two $15 tickets to her show (duh, steal). It led me to delve into the rest of her discography—an impressive 3 EPs (Tsar Bomba, Stridulum, Valusia), 3 LPs (New Amsterdam, Spoils, Conatus), and some various and sundries with other artists.

Only when I started talking to friends about my newfound obsession did I realize how hard it is to describe her sound. But the one point I always hit home? Obviously, her voice. What. A. Voice. After learning that Zola received extensive opera training as a child, it became easier to understand why this college-age electro-goth songstress’ voice had enough range, depth, and thunder to compete with any six-time Grammy winner (ahem). Fans of Florence and the Machine, take note.

It will be a refreshingly new experience to watch a slower and more calculated performance on Uhall’s normally bombastic stage. Nonetheless, the venue’s small space, dark lighting, and crystal-clear speakers provide the perfect atmosphere to see this lady bring down the house.

Watch the video, listen to the tracks, soak up the voice.

(Also check out BYT’s recent interview with the singer).

two bars three stars: happy local music day!

8 Feb

Happy local music day, DC readers! Well, one could argue every day is local music day, but today we have the pleasure of enjoying local music through a monthly organized event. Since October 2011, Listen Local First has partnered with DC businesses to stream a pre-selected playlist of local artists. All day. And today is that day for February. Score.

The day not only involves some of my favorite local businesses (what up, Tryst), but has exposed me to some sweet DC bands I hadn’t listen to previously (what up, Ugly Purple Sweater). If this event couldn’t be any more tailored to my interests, this month’s playlist and accompanying artist showcase focuses heavily on Black artists in honor of Black History Month.

This all culminates in a can’t-miss artist showcase and panel discussion on Thursday, February 9 at The Dunes in Columbia Heights. The panel discussion, “Black Broadway: The Roots of DC Hip Hop,” will include a panel of some serious DC music smarty pants, such as singer/songwriter/actor/poet W. Ellington Felton, Capital Bop Editor Luke Stewart, Blues musician Stacy Brooks, and DJs Alizay and RBI–all under the careful moderation of James Benson and Kokayi, the masterminds behind the DC Hip Hop History Project.

But the piece de resistance of the evening, which I am antsily excited for given the small venue and excellent lineup, is the live showcase featuring Cornel West Theory and Nappy Riddem. These guys represent some of the best hip-hop and funk (respectively) to come out of the District in recent years, and their DC roots truly infiltrate their sound. I’m incredibly stoked to see these up-close-and-personal performances from a group of guys with serious flow and serious funk.

Check out the Listen Local First site for a full list of participating artists and businesses, and their blog for full event info–as well as a piece on Sockets Records written by yours truly.

A taste of what you’ll hear on Thursday:

Nappy Riddem, “Nappy Riddem”

Cornel West Theory, “DC Love Story”