Michael Shuman (Queens bassist), Tyler Parkford, and Zach Dawes make it clear that when they are not playing on larger stages, they’re still making arena sized rock ‘n’ roll.
In anticipation of her third record Designer, Harding’s setlist comprised mostly of the as-of-yet unreleased album. And the DC9 crowd was utterly silent and captivated through it all.
With Teri Gender Bender serving as the eye of the storm, Le Butcherettes gave a performance that will be remembered for a long time to come.
As she sings in “Dope Queen Blues,” “I am a god, of this I am convinced.” Once you see her perform, maybe you’ll be convinced too.
This Uruguayan guitarist by way of NYC wants you to take the mic and espouse your love of fruits. Get comfortable, cause this might take a while.
The business partners are back on the road, and like any well-run business, they’ve streamlined operations and achieved maximum output and profit.
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.
“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.
Shane Butler is no stranger at this point to the psychedelic rock scene, having released three of the best albums in the last decade as part of the band Quilt. In 2012 he started Olden Yolk as a solo side project to explore one-off musical ideas, beginning with a split 7” with Weyes Blood released in 2014. Soon afterward, he was joined by multi-instrumentalist Caity Shaffer, turning it into a collaborative project. In February, the duo finally released their first, self-titled full-length record, and last Friday they came to DC9 as a five-piece band to present the songs live.
Sheffield, England-based band The Sherlocks are one of the latest indie bands to make their way here from the UK, but they’ve already got a bit of history behind them. Consisting of two sets of brothers – Kiaran and Brandon Crook, and Josh and Andy Davidson – the foursome started when they were just teens, playing covers in bars and slowly working on their own material. By 2015, they were playing at the Reading and Leeds Festivals and getting singles aired on BBC Radio 1. Drawing comparisons to their fellow Sheffielders The Arctic Monkeys for their quick rise in fame, and to The Courteeners for their sound, the band has come a long way in a short time. Now they’ve set their sights on America, and on Monday they played to a small but enthusiastic crowd at DC9.
The Melbourne-based, heavily buzzed power pop ensemble Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (heretofore after Rolling Blackouts C.F) brought their first-ever headline tour to DC9 on May 6. Even in a small venue like DC9, playing on a difficult Sunday night slot, Rolling Blackouts C.F. demonstrated boatloads of power, hooks, and tremendous energy.
The Austin-based ensemble Loma took their very first tour to Washington DC in early May, delivering a mesmerizing set to a small crowd at DC9. Touring on the backs of their debut album on Sub Pop, Loma spotlighted two incredible assets: the vocals of Emily Cross, and the songwriting and guitar of Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg.
Will Johnson and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster are both prolific musicians steeped in the alt-country and singer-songwriter traditions. After the two met when Kinkel-Schuster’s band Water Liars toured as the openers for Johnson’s band Centro-matic on their farewell tour in 2014, it was only natural that a kinship would develop. From that Marie/Lepanto, the name taken from a road sign in Arkansas between the two towns of the same names, was born. It took a few years to come to fruition, but in January the duo released their first album of the new project, titled Tenkiller. Combining the strengths of both musicians both as songwriters and performers, it’s easily one of the best alt-country releases of the year. While their tour for the album has largely consisted of house shows, in DC the pair came to DC9 on Friday night.
The phrase ‘pop-punk’ might leave a negative connotation in people’s heads, reminding them of Vans Warped Tour bands whose time has come and gone. But Diet Cig marries fast-and-furious pop-punk power chords with simple and relatable lyricism brimming with confidence and subject matter that Blink-182 wouldn’t want to touch, like wanting to eat ice cream on your birthday. The duo of singer/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman have sold out shows all over the country, including their stop at Rock and Roll Hotel. With this tour, though, the effervescent duo became a quartet by adding Spook School bassist AC Cory and keyboardist Karli Helm. But still, it was Luciano and Bowman that stole the show as they have time and again.
It may come to people’s surprise that Nick Cave and Karen O are just normal people off the stage. But concert-goers get so wrapped up in their show personas that the show paints a picture in their heads. The collective perception of a band creates a mythology. At DC9, a new mythology began to build around LA-based quartet Starcrawler. Singer Arrow De Wilde and guitarist Henri Cash met in high school in 2015, adding drummer Austin Smith and bassist Tim Franco soon after. Their debut single “Ants” was picked up on Elton John’s “Rocket Hour” show on Apple’s Beats 1, and they’ve made a huge splash on and off the stage since then. They've spit fake blood into the crowd. They've been kicked out of a Teen Vogue party. They’ve almost gotten into a fight with a photographer in San Francisco. And they’ve been slowly racking up appearances in publications like Vice, Vulture, and, surprisingly, Teen Vogue. There’s no doubt about it: Starcrawler is earning their place among the larger-than-life musical personas of Nick Cave and Karen O.
In the world of DC live music, there was a lot to write about in 2017. I.M.P. made its broad presence even broader with the 6,000-capacity Anthem. Songbyrd solidified its niche in the up-and-coming R&B/hip-hop scene with clutch bookings like Xavier Omar, Jamila Woods, and Noname (and booked its first show at The Fillmore, with more co-bookings to come). Competition in the 200-500-capacity space increased with new venues like Union Stage, Pearl Street Warehouse, and The Miracle Theatre. Mount Pleasant DIY venue OTHERFEELS hosted its first DMV music showcase at 9:30 Club, with a second coming in late December. There really is no shortage of opportunities to catch live music in our nation's capital.
I covered 47 shows and one three-day festival for ChunkyGlasses this year, and it’s been a wild ride covering shows in venues big (Capital One Arena) and small (Dew Drop Inn). While most of there were a lot of great shows, the following ten best showcase why the live music experience is so essential. These artists convey emotion and energy in a way that can’t be contained within the confines of an album. With these shows, it was hard to walk away without the lingering feeling of ‘holy shit, they REALLY put their heart and soul into it tonight.’
So with that, here are my ten favorite shows of 2017. Click the headers to see more pics and a full recap of that show.
PS - And if you're still interested in knowing what my favorite songs from this year were, here's my Spotify playlist - Mauricio's Favorite Fifty of 'Seventeen!
Montreal, Canada’s The Dears, despite a two-decade history of writing compelling, intelligent songs, have remained one of indie rock’s best kept secrets. They seemed set to break out with 2003’s No Cities Left and again with 2006’s Gang of Losers, but ended up with more of a cult following, a status which they have kept since despite multiple Polaris Music Prize nominations and gigs opening for some of the biggest names in indie. After a longer-than-usual absence following 2011’s Degeneration Street, the band returned in late 2015 with Times Infinity Volume One, and followed that up this year with its sequel, Times Infinity Volume Two. The tour for this release finally brought them back to DC on Friday for the first time since 2009, where they played to a small but dedicated crowd for an early show at DC9.