In 2010, David Wax Museum took the Newport Folk Festival by storm, and it's been nothing but up, up, up ever since. With thrilling records like 2012's Knock Knock Get Up and an even more thrilling live show the ever evolving band has continued to win over fans both new and old wherever they go. When the band stopped at the 9:30 Club last week, front-man David Wax sat down with us...
All photos by Joy Asico (firstname.lastname@example.org | www.asicophoto.com)
The slot of the opening band can be a weird space to occupy. Sometimes it’s filled by the headliner’s label mates, sometimes it’s their friends and sometimes, and perhaps more cynically, it’s a package put together by a PR firm to maximize ticket sales. However the pairing happens, the end result is usually a show that opens with a satisfying but obviously “greener” act that you may catch if you get there early enough, but one that fulfills their duty of warming up the crowd in fine fashion, albeit little consequence. In the case of David Wax Museum’s latest stop through DC though it was clear that somewhere, someone gets it, because the pairing of the mexi-folk outfit from Rhode Island with up-and-comers Kingsley Flood proved to be a winning combo that played more like a high octane double bill than the average tour package that many have come to expect.
Kingsley Flood took the stage to a half empty room and proceeded to take no prisoners – which is what they just seem to do these days. The DC / Boston based band – lead singer Naseem Khuri resides in the District (watch our interview with him here) while the rest remain up north – has been rising through the ranks of the music world over the past few years, and their live shows in support of their latest release Battles is a huge reason why. On record and on stage the band has a bigger-than-life rock star personality that leaves the audience feeling like they just witnessed a stadium-worthy show instead of a barely-out-of-the-bar-band from Beantown, and last Thursday’s performance was no exception. Much like headliners David Wax Museum, Kingsley Flood takes musical inspiration from a wide variety of influences – folk, punk, gypsy, even British Mod – to craft music that is helping to shape a new Americana, one that’s about a whole lot more than an acoustic strum and a torch song.
Using unique instruments to create music is not uncommon, yet bands that incorporate such novelties consistently intrigue music listeners and concertgoers alike. David Wax Museum’s use of a donkey’s broken jawbone for percussion is no exception. If you are curious to know just how a donkey jawbone sounds when played (you know you are), check out David Wax Museum's infectiously joyous Tiny Desk Concert:
Suz Slezak, the featured masterful donkey jawbone player, along with vocalist/guitarist David Wax, make up the core of David Wax Museum. The two, with help from the various saxophonists, stand-up bassists, and other supporting musicians who rotate in and out of the band, blend elements of Americana and traditional Mexican folk to create what they call “Mexo-Americana.”
David Wax Museum caught the music world’s attention in 2010 upon winning a contest, thanks to fans' votes, to play the renowned Newport Music Festival. Everything Is Saved, featuring the single “Boy With A Broken Heart,” came the following year, earning the band even more well-deserved acclaim. However, as ChunkyGlasses Editor-in-Chief Kevin Hill notes in his review of last year’s Knock Knock Get Up, the latest David Wax Museum effort is their best yet. "...Wax and crew have outdone themselves in every way possible, finding not only their balance, but their path forward as a group of truly remarkable musicians," Hill says. Knock Knock went on to claim the number six spot on our Best Albums of 2012 list.
Supporting David Wax Museum at their 9:30 Club show next Thursday, April 4 are local favorites Kingsley Flood. With nods from Rolling Stone, MTV Buzzworthy, and more, the sextet released their second full-length album, Battles, just last month. (Stay tuned for our forthcoming interview with Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri!)
For your chance to a pair of tickets to the show next week, please do one of the following:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite museum and why.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to see David Wax Museum at 9:30 Club! @ChunkyGlasses
Do not miss your chance to see the donkey jawbone in action - enter by this Tuesday, April 2! The lucky winner will be randomly chosen that evening.
Not feeling lucky? Tickets for the show are still available and can be purchased through Ticketfly!
If you think about the sheer quantity of music that was released in 2012, the thought of compiling anything into some sort of consensus seems a fool’s errand. Yet, this year, like every year, our prehistoric brain takes over and we are once again force to assign, rearrange, tabulate and label until we are able to put together one of man’s greatest contributions to the universe: The list.
This year, eleven voters ended up contributing over seventy different albums to a pool that ultimately had to be whittled down to just ten. Every single staffer here has one thing in common - THEY FUCKING LOVE MUSIC – and I think this list represents not only the diversity of the ChunkyGlasses team, but why what we do is so much damn fun.
But the time for writing is done this year. Now we hash it out, mano y mano, for your listening pleasure. For the faint of heart, we’ve broken this booze soaked supersized podcast into ten bite size nuggets to consume at will should you choose. Either way, strap in, grab a cold one (or ten) and get ready to find out what happens when a bunch of music nerds with no filters lock themselves in a basement and hit record.
The Official ChunkyGlasses Top 10 Albums of 2012!!
Episode 18: Best Of 2012
Alt J - An Awesome Wave
"It’s nearly impossible to describe the album, which won this year’s Mercury award in Britain, without referencing that Alt-J has clearly found the soul and innovation Radiohead abandoned over the past five years. Joe Newman’s reedy voice weaves the best threads of world influence into ridiculously layered electronics, and the entire album runs like a drug-addled trip around the globe. The band’s name is written Alt-J because that’s the keyboard shortcut on a Mac to make the Delta symbol (?) – if this album weren’t spectacular, the whole thing would smack of a project by a bunch of art school jackholes, but fortunately for them it is spectacular." - Carrie
#10: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Dinosaur Jr. - Bet On Sky
"...I Bet On Sky doesn’t break much new ground, nor would Dino Jr.’s fans want it to. The leadoff single “Watch the Corners” starts with a crunchy one-chord intro before finding its way to the melodic noise that Mascis excels at. At 46, Mascis’ voice has never sounded better, inasmuch as a voice that doesn’t actually sing as much as mumble with style can sound better. He manages to convey some emotion on a slower tune, “Stick A Toe In,” which hearkens back to another Dino Jr. song, “I Don’t Wanna Go There,” with Mascis asking in both songs if he’s doomed to “walk alone.” “Pierce the Morning Rain” may cover the most ground in terms of illustrating all Dino Jr. does well; the opening riff throws a nod to Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” before seguing into the kind of jaunty rock found on songs like “The Wagon,” then right back to the Sabbath power chords. It’s a garden of delights." - Justin
#9: Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
"It’s a concept album. It’s a confession. It’s a snapshot of LA life unlike anything we’ve seen in years. Landing somewhere between Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean has made the album of his career and lucky for all of us, he’s just getting started. channel Orange is topping best of lists everywhere you look and it’s with good reason: It’s simply that good."
#8: Frank Ocean - channel Orange
Hospitality - Hospitality
Standout Tracks: “Friends” “Betty Wang”
By channeling everything that was right about the new-wave/punk scene hanging around CBGB’s in the late 70’s and putting a borderline twee pop sheen on it, Hospitality turned out one of the most listenable albums of 2012. More importantly though, it was also one of the most smartly satisfying records in recent memory. By simply having not only great taste in music, but the ability to execute on it with great songwriting, Amber Papini and crew set the bar just a little higher for all the aspiring indie-popsters out there this year.
Oddisee - People Hear What People Say
Standout Tracks: “Let It Go” “Anothers Grind”
Hip hop these days tends to either aim to either invigorate social awareness or lean towards a celebration of the more bacchanalian pursuits in life, but seldom does it more successfully meld the two more sweetly than on People Hear What People Say. Oddisee, originally a DC native, laid down twelve tracks of old school rhymes mashed against late 60’s universal soul and the result was an album that transcended the genre as much as it celebrated it. A wild ride that veers from West Coast to East Coast, KRS-One to Posdunus and back , People doesn’t just revel in the history of hip hop, it exalts the history of popular music PERIOD, and isn’t just a record that you shouldn’t miss, if you have ears, you practically can’t.
In which the gang takes a trip to late night radio, pants become an optional accessory and the winner of the Bob Dylan growl-alike contest is finally announced. PLUS!!! Discussion of new music from David Byrne and St. Vincent, The XX, David Wax Museum and some guy that goes by the name of Zimmerman.
Episode 15: No Pantses Required"
While 2011’s Everything Is Saved was an enjoyable enough record, it tended to play it safe. The lead single from that album, “Boy With A Broken Heart,” while as effusive a pop song as you were likely to find that year, did little to distinguish itself from some of the other fare that was been offered up, and swallowed up, by the masses (see Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, etc..). That’s not to say the Saved was a bad or even insignificant record. It’s blending of traditional folk with the sounds of rural Mexico that front man David Wax has spent much of his life studying was a refreshing alternative to some of the less ambitious efforts of the groups peers, but on the whole it was exactly the kind of record that you would expect a band like David Wax Museum to make.
Perhaps the biggest surprise then on Knock Knock Get Up is that not only is it a huge leap forward for David Wax and crew, but there are moments scattered about its ten tracks that suggest this is a band that has totally reinvented itself. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what they’ve done right here – besides everything – but throwing out terms like “mature,” “confident” and “realized potential” are a pretty good start.
Originally from Greenbelt, MD, singer/songwriter Joe Pug is, as they say, living the dream. 4 years ago he left college and moved to Chicago to pursue a career in music, and he has never looked back. With 2 albums, 3 EP's and a list of collaborations that reads like a who's who of music under his belt (Josh Ritter, Craig Finn, M. Ward, the late Levon Helm), Pug's career to date has been an inspirational of what one man can do with just a little hard work and dream.
Take a whole lot of joy, pile another dab or so, then mix in a little more joy and you’d be starting to get the idea of what the David Wax Museum performance at the 9:30 Club last week was like.
Comprised of David Wax on a variety of stringed instruments and Suz Sleezak on fiddle and donkey jawbone (yes, you read that right) this group from Boston blends Mexican and American folk music into a sound that at it’s best is a veritable party for your ears. But there’s more to it than just the party. Their music is an exploration of Americana that is as utterly familiar as it is engaging and fresh in its delivery.
And oh that delivery.
Look, I’m not gonna pretend that I think that David Wax Museum is writing songs for the ages. They aren’t…yet. What they are doing though is winning over audiences left and right by channeling an energy that comes from god knows where and then letting the audience tap into that energy in a way I’ve never quite seen before. I’ve attended 100’s of shows at the 9:30 but I’ve never seen a show where audience members en masse were moved to swing dance in whatever small space they were able to carve out around them. It was an explosive expression of pure, and here’s that word again, joy that threatened to infect everyone and anyone who got close to it…which by the end of the show WAS everyone.
Congratulations to Benjamin! We'll see you at the show!
We were lucky enough to to make it up to the Newport Folk Festival this year and one of the best acts we saw was The David Wax Museum. That shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the band as NPR has been all over them for quite a while, and in fact they personally thanked Bob Boilen for their ENTIRE career at Newport.
While that might be an overstatement (we like to think they got where they are on their talent) what isn't an overstatement is that the band puts on a hell of a show. So obviously we're thrilled that they'll be playing the 9:30 Club next Wednesday.
But we don't want to be at the show all alone, which is why we're giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner so they can join us for what is sure to be a fantastic night of music.
All you have to do to enter is answer the following question in the comments section below:
"If you had to spend the rest of your days stuck as an exhibit in a wax museum, who or what would you would prefer to be stuck as and why?"*
Be as brief or creative as you like, but you have to enter to win.
We'll pick the best entry over the weekend and announce the winner Monday morning. Couldn't be easier!
Good luck and we'll see you at the show!
*All entrants must provide a VALID email address that they can be contacted at.