LIVE: Blondie @ The State Theater - 10/1/12

All photos by Traci J. Brooks ( /

In the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Mike Damone demonstrates his “five point plan” for picking up women on a cardboard cutout of Blondie singer Debbie Harry. Harry (or at least her cardboard doppelganger) is dressed in a revealing, skin-tight red dress, and has a look of casual – yet sexy - disinterest (inasmuch as one can have a look of disinterest when they’re made of cardboard).

Flash-forward 30 years to Monday night – Harry, looking nowhere remotely close to her 67 years – flashed the same sultriness and attitude throughout a hugely entertaining (though short) set at the State Theater. Her voice, while not quite as high as it once was, is still spectacular, and when coupled with her ability to vamp it up on stage, solidifies her place as one of the all-time great female vocalists.

Blondie kicked off the set with two greatest hits, “Dreaming” and “Hanging on the Telephone” before delving into material from last year’s Panic of Girls. The old tracks were given new life – the addition of guitarist Tommy Kessler is especially noticeable – and the new tracks fit right in with the solid 80s vibe.

TO DO LIST: Blondie @ The State Theater TONIGHT!!!

In the indie rock world, Blondie’s self-released 2011 album Panic of Girls may have garnered more attention for its use of Beirut’s Zach Condon than for the fact that it was the band’s first record of new material in eight years. Condon played trumpet on one of the tracks, and the album featured a cover of Beirut’s “Sunday Smile.”

But the album stands up under its own rights – a fantastic effort for one of New Wave’s best bands, who have been splitting up and coming back together for 37 years.  In fact, Blondie’s last three records -including 2003’s The Curse of Blondie and 1999’s No Exit - are highly underrated. It’s not surprising the records haven’t gotten more notice – any new Blondie material is going to be compared to the 1978 classic Parallel Lines (which made Rolling Stone’s list of the best rock records of all time) and likely bring with it a discussion of the band’s internal politics.  On Monday, however, you can judge for yourself as Blondie brings their entire catalog to the State Theater in Falls Church.

The band does a fantastic job of mixing the old with the new, and revamping their songs so that they’re recognizable, but not rote.  In recent shows, for example, the famous rap in the middle of the disco classic “Rapture” has been replaced with lyrics from “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn.” And of course there’s Debbie Harry who, even at 67, can still command your attention as well as any female performer.

Tickets are still available, and you never know when it will be your last chance to see these fantastic performers at work so don’t miss your chance on Monday when they rip up the ‘Burbs. 

Live Music: Hospitality @ The Black Cat - 4/19/12

As the midway point of 2012 rapidly approaches, it becomes more and more clear which bands stand out and are going to be the ones remembered in this, the final year of everything, and which ones are simply going to fall by the wayside…much like the totality of humanity. For me, one band that not only easily stands out, but sits at the top of the list is Hospitality. Given shape in the forge of intelligent, witty songwriting and an ancient miasma of old school NYC punk/new wave truth, Hospitality has taken the lessons that bands like Television, Blondie and Talking Heads laid down, and brought the gospel back to the masses  - surely a sign that the end times are upon us.

I kid but marginally so. It’s true that Hospitality is by far my favorite of the crop of bands that have “debuted” (they actually have been around since 2008) or released new records in 2012, but after their performance at The Black Cat last Thursday, which was the second time I’ve seen them in as many months, I have to say – it’s getting a little frustrating to be a Hospitality fan. To be clear, they delivered a GREAT performance, there just seems to be something…missing.