Summer is nearly here, and if even the weather has been a little wishy-washy about it lately, it won’t be long until hot sunny days and warm nights lure everyone outdoors. One sure sign of the start of the season is the return of WTMD’s First Thursday concerts, held on (surprise!) the first Thursday of every month from May to September at Canton Waterfront Park in Baltimore. Bringing in a wide variety of artists from the internationally known to the new and local, and covering a wide range of genres, the free monthly events have something for everybody. This past week’s inaugural show for the 2018 season was no exception.
Headlining the event were reunited 90s rockers Belly. The performance became a de facto album release show, happening on the eve of the release of their third record, and first in 23 years, Dove. The band played a selection of songs from it, including first single “Shiny One,” “Stars Align” (which they performed live for the first time ever), “Artifact,” “Army of Clay,” and “Human Child.” But they didn’t neglect the past either, giving both the dedicated fans who crowded the front of the stage and those who remembered them from college radio a good taste of both 1993’s Star (“Dusted,” “Gepetto,” “Feed the Tree,” “Slow Dog”) and 1995’s King (“Seal My Fate,” “Now They'll Sleep,” “Super-Connected”). It may have been over two decades, but one thing was clear hearing the old and new songs together – Belly is back, and stronger than ever. The foursome of singer Tanya Donnelly, guitarist Tom Gorman, bassist Gail Greenwood, and drummer Chris Gorman play with an urgency that many younger bands could only hope to emulate, and the music sounds as fresh as ever. Belly return to Washington, DC for a show at the 9:30 Club on September 29th, and it’s one not to be missed.
Also performing on the West Stage were Philadelphia rockers Low Cut Connie, with singer and pianist Adam Weiner putting on an energetic and at times acrobatic show, and Loma, the collaborative project of Shearwater and Cross Record, who released their self-titled debut album on Sub Pop in February. The East Stage was dedicated to the blues, with three acts local to the region – The Nighthawks, the Tom Principato Band, and the Ursula Ricks Project – performing.
The next WTMD First Thursday takes place on June 7th, and brings artists including Typhoon, Family of the Year, Jessica Lea Mayfeild, Natalie Prass, and more. For more info, go to the WTMD website.