The Wood Brothers are native to the foothills of the Rockies, and their sound was perfectly nestled among the mountains at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival last summer. But even at sea level, their show at 9:30 Club on a snowy Thursday night lifted an attentive audience’s spirits to 8,000 feet.
Hearing Colter Wall’s voice--described as “Johnny Cash’s [voice] in the morning” — coming out of his wirey, 23-year old frame is surprising and exhilarating the first time you hear it. The road-weary tone and rustic storytelling on his most recent album Songs of the Plains are also remarkable given the current state of popular country music. Colter Wall’s sound is a throwback that has launched him into a constellation of contemporary country artists (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton) linked by the producer of Wall’s first two full-length records, Dave Cobb. Cobb has said that his work is driven by unique voices that can carry a story. At Colter’s 9:30 Club his voice was clearly the main attraction.
On a cold Thursday night, The Ballroom Thieves warmed hearts with a lot of screaming and shouting...and some soft-spoken melodies, too. That’s their M.O. - rile them up. Calm them down. Simply put, take them all for a ride.
The Internet (the band, not the technology) has been building hype since its creation as an offshoot of influential rap group Odd Future in 2011. You don’t need to look any further than the fact that they’re playing two nights at The Fillmore in Silver Spring to understand that the hype is still real.
The first 30 minutes of Tom Krell’s set at Sleeping Village felt like being totally enveloped by The Anteroom. Krell, who performs as How to Dress Well, released the expansive Anteroom in October, and it was a significant departure from his previous two outings. Both Care — produced in part by in-demand producer Jack Antonoff — and 2014’s What is This Heart?, veered perhaps too far into pop territory, the former failing to reach the levels of Pitchfork Best New Music acclaim as Total Loss (2012) and Love Remains (2010). But all of Krell’s catalog helped inform The Anteroom, a return to the spare, industrial stylings of his experimental electronic early work.
Peter, Bjorn and John have always been able to display a unique spectrum of sensations that can elevate you from mellow to euphoric in a few chords, and that skill was on full display last Saturday during their show at Rock and Roll Hotel.
A cold Monday and a late start time didn’t stop a crowd of 500 strong from spending a crisp hour or so with the Scottish trio, who combine hip-hop and rap, tribal percussion, anthemic vocals, and warm synths for an intriguing, utterly danceable mix.
A Fender Telecaster isn’t the first instrument that comes to mind when one thinks of jazz guitar. Jazz, after all, is a woman, better suited to the elegant lines of a Gibson ES or an Ibanez AF95 than the brutal “squareness” of a Tele. Indeed, Julian Lage’s arsenal includes several varieties of archtops and hollow bodies, but the Telecaster is his axe of choice, and with it, he is creating one hell of a legacy.
Washington-based punk-poppers Flasher put an exclamation point on their breakout year of 2018 with a homecoming gig on November 30th at the Black Cat.
The name of indie pop duo Savor Adore roughly translates to “to know love” in French — and love is exactly what was felt throughout their short but sweet set at DC9 on November 28th. Led by co-vocalists Paul Hammer and Lauren Zettler, the band put on a show that demonstrated their ability to dazzle an audience with the help of some blissful melodies.
Allen Stone’s Thanksgiving Eve show at 9:30 Club was full of gratitude. Touring ahead of the release of his fourth album (release date, TBA), the soulful Washingtonian—the state of—performed soulful favorites and new singles “Brown Eyed Lover,” “Taste Of You,” and “Warriors.”
“So much work and thought went into every turn of phrase and every tiny shimmer of sound.” That is undoubtedly true listening to Laura Gibson’s fifth studio album Goners. It also added to the punchline when Gibson told the audience at her DC9 show that European press on her recent tour struggled to find a translation of the slang term she used as a title and pronounced in a more, well, juvenile fashion. It’s a funny reminder that you can control a lot of things in life, but you can’t control the world’s response—even when you’re careful.
Freddie Gibbs aka the Baby Face Killa’s roots lie in Gary, Indiana, but the Midwest veteran sounds like he’s plucked from the tree of hip-hop’s most influential artists from various regions. The gangsta grit of Three Six Mafia sprinkled with the southern flair of Scarface, and lyrical prowess of Ice Cube are traits that make Freddie Gibbs extremely versatile in his craft.
Throughout life, we are often given the opportunity to witness events and experiences that transform and shape us, and what Icelandic musician Ólafur Arnalds is accomplishing on his re:member tour is one of those opportunities. Arnalds began his set at Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Theatre in silence with two spotlights highlighting his seat at the grand piano. Ever so gently, the darkness of the room shifted to light as a symphony of sound resonated throughout the historic venue.
Wild Nothing’s return back to the 9:30 Club on November 18th was their first time headlining the beloved venue, and they made sure to show their gratitude in the form of a surreal, atmospheric 90 minute-long set.
Two years ago Tash Sultana played a sold out show at Rock & Roll Hotel. Now, the Melbourne native is playing the much larger Anthem but still providing fans with an intimate musical experience.
Alex Giannascoli may be the brains behind the project, but his live sound would be nothing without the musicians he has brought along on tour to play with.
The wildly-entertaining Caroline Rose closed out her tour at DC’s Miracle Theatre with kazoo solos, Kum & Go shirts, a chihuahua, and a giant bonfire. Interested yet?
At the first of two sold-out nights at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen, spastic noise rock outfit Daughters transported some 200 fans back to the mid-oughts. While the vast majority made it out of Beat Kitchen on this night unbloodied, none who entered the room left dry — either by their own body’s accord or the sweat of their fellow attendees.
Jazz saxophonist Marcus Strickland and his ensemble Twi-Life brought a powerful groove and thoughtful exploration of the linkages between African and American music forms to the City Winery on November 20th, in a celebration of his new record, People of the Sun. Strickland’s musical vision accentuates the connectivity between black musicianship on both sides of the Atlantic, from Mali to the American South, including the intersection of jazz with soul and hip-hop and blues textures.