Black Cat

Robert Ellis @ Songbyrd - 4/4/2019

Robert Ellis @ Songbyrd - 4/4/2019

Robert Ellis, once regarded as a canny Texas troubadour in Country and winsome rock, has adopted a fully formed persona in his current record as the “Texas Piano Man,” resplendent in an all-white tuxedo tinkling the ivories. He and his four-piece band, dressed stoically in all black suits, took their Texas Piano Man tour to the packed basement of the Songbyrd Music House and Record Café.


Peter Bjorn & John @ Rock & Roll Hotel - 12/2/2018

Peter Bjorn & John @ Rock & Roll Hotel - 12/2/2018

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.


Penguin Prison @ Black Cat - 4/18/2018

Penguin Prison @ Black Cat - 4/18/2018

In the guide to the essential indie synth-pop musicians of the 2010s, Penguin Prison will absolutely make an appearance. Since 2009, Chris Glover’s one-man music-making and remixing operation has put out two albums alongside remixes for the likes of Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, and Imagine Dragons. He’s got an ear for knowing how to get the masses to dance, and his latest EP keeps the streak going. Turn It Up is a compact quartet of toe-tapping tunes that deal with topics that are more introspective than songs past, focusing on adversity and uncertainty about the future. Sure, the lyrics are growing up, but the melodies are as catchy as ever.


Rogue Wave @ Black Cat - 3/31/2018

Rogue Wave @ Black Cat - 3/31/2018

Oakland, California-based Rogue Wave have been making their melodic indie rock for a decade and a half now, having released six albums of original songs and, most recently, an album of covers last year. But if only one record of their extensive output were destined to be considered a classic, it would almost certainly be their third release, 2007’s Asleep at Heaven’s Gate. It, and in particular the song “Lake Michigan,” was the record which brought the band to a wider audience and cemented their position as an important band in the indie rock scene of the last decade. But it was almost destined to become a lost classic, as the album went out of print and has been unavailable for several years. A new, remastered and expanded vinyl edition released by Slow Down Sounds in March corrects that. The band’s tour in support of that release brought them to the Black Cat on Saturday night.


Son Lux @ Black Cat - 3/21/2018

Son Lux @ Black Cat - 3/21/2018

Ryan Lott and company weren't going to let a bit of snow ruin the kick-off to their North American tour. Son Lux, comprised of Lott on keys/vocals, Rafiq Bhattia on guitars, and Ian Chang on drums, released their fourth album (and second as an official trio) Brighter Wounds in 2018. The album is an amalgamation of emotions and genres - fear, joy, and anguish all shine through their complicated, contemplative, and anthemic tracks. The snow caused other cancellations around town that night, but Son Lux insisted that the show would go on. Though opener Hanna Benn had to cancel, Son Lux alongside openers Sinkane provided a compelling night of music for those that stuck it out.


Japanese Breakfast @ Black Cat - 9/7/2017

Japanese Breakfast @ Black Cat - 9/7/2017

At this point, it’s safe to say that Japanese Breakfast is no longer just a curious side project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner. On night 1 of her headlining tour across America (and soon, Europe), Zauner explained that opening for other artists like Slowdive and Mitski has been great, but headlining in support of her well-received sophomore album Soft Sounds from Another Planet is even greater. "I've felt like a bridesmaid for the last year and a half - that's why I'm wearing white tonight." 


Arto Lindsay and Beauty Pill @ Black Cat - 4/29/2017

Arto Lindsay and Beauty Pill @ Black Cat - 4/29/2017

Arto Lindsay first came to prominence with seminal NYC-based no wave group DNA in the late 70s, featured on the Brian Eno-produced No New York compilation which came to be one of the defining documents of the genre. After stints playing on the first album by The Lounge Lizards and the first two albums by The Golden Palominos, and as a member of dance pop group Ambitious Lovers, Lindsay went solo, heavily adopting the Tropicália influences that he had picked up during time spent living in Brazil. Lindsay released several albums under his own name throughout the 90s, but after 2004’s Salt he seemed to almost disappear from the scene. That finally changed this year with the release of his first album in 13 years, Cuidado Madame, a strong return that ranks easily amongst his best work. A rare tour for the album brought him to play in DC at the Black Cat.


The Radio Dept. @ Black Cat - 2/15/2017

The Radio Dept. @ Black Cat - 2/15/2017

Swedish dream pop band The Radio Dept. like to take their time between albums. The band released their fourth full-length, Running Out of Love, last October, their first since 2010’s Clinging to a Scheme. The band refers to the album as “dystopian” in nature, being “about the impatience that turns into anger, hate and ultimately withdrawal and apathy when love for the world and our existence begins to falter.” These sentiments may have only grown more fitting in the time since the record was recorded. The new songs take the band further into the synthpop direction than they have ever ventured before, mostly leaving behind the guitars that were previously a staple of the band’s sound. Still present, however, are singer Johan Duncanson’s hushed, understated vocals.


Austra @ Black Cat - 1/28/2017

Austra @ Black Cat - 1/28/2017

Austra released their third album, Future Politics, in January. On it, Canadian musician Katie Stelmanis takes on a dystopian vision that seems almost prescient given all that has occurred in the time since she wrote and recorded the record. But far from simply being a bleak vision, the songs seek to offer a way forward. “I’m looking for something to rise up above,” she sings in the title track, and that sense of hopefulness pervades even some of the starkest moments. The band’s recent tour brought them to the Black Cat in Washington, DC, where Stelmanis and her band presented much of the album live to a packed crowd


Steve Gunn @ Black Cat - 7/10/2016

Steve Gunn @ Black Cat - 7/10/2016

Since his self-released, self-titled first album came out in 2007, Steve Gunn has been extremely prolific, putting out a full-length record (and often more than one), either alone or in collaboration with other artists, in each year since. In June he released Eyes on the Lines, his first album for Matador Records, and as one of the strongest and most varied of his career so far, it shows an artist continuing to grow in his craft. Gunn and his band are currently touring in support of the album, and they recently came to play DC at the Black Cat backstage.


Okkervil River @ Black Cat - 11/25/15

Okkervil River @ Black Cat - 11/25/15

What does success mean to artists in the current music landscape, beyond mere survival?

One answer is longevity; another is impact.

On Friday at the Black Cat, Okkervil River demonstrated their achievements in longevity and impact to a sold out crowd.  Billed as "An Evening with Okkervil River," the band eased into, exploded through, and even managed to shed new light on their first great album (in what would become a run of three straight), Black Sheep Boy.  

Released in 2005, Black Sheep Boy delivered on the promise of earlier efforts.  Drawing from a cover of a Tim Hardin song about heroin addiction, the album plunges into themes of devotion, heartbreak, and loss.  But that is not to say it is slow or monotonous.  Each song has its own specific rhythm and color, with tracks like "For Real" and "Black" eliminating any doubt about whether the band can, or does, rock.  


Episode 139: Jonny Grave

Episode 139: Jonny Grave

This week on the podcast we’re sitting down with DC’s Jonny Grave in advance of his Third Annual Halloween Circus at taking place at the Black Cat in Washington, DC this weekend. Part bluesman, part historian, and all heart, Jonny shares his love of music, DC, history and much, much more. First though, fresh off two days at this year’s Future Of Music Coalition Policy Summit, Kevin shares some brief thoughts on the conference, the organization, and what it all means to you, (especially if you’re a musician). And finally, following a hot tip from Random Nerds’ Bryce Taylor Rudow (@brycetrudow), we’re playing a track from Columbia, MD rapper K.A.A.N.’s most excellent mixtape, Abstract Art.

Grab a beverage and loosen yer ears, because you’re about to get rocked by Episode 139 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast featuring Jonny Grave!