The DC area has been sadly lacking in the music festival department since Virgin Mobile decided to end their annual free festivals and the Landmark Festival fizzled after only a single year. But on the last Sunday of July, a triple-headliner show at Merriweather Post Pavilion brought, if not the musical diversity of a full-fledged festival experience, a line-up of heavy-hitters that would normally only be seen together at a large event. Belle and Sebastian, Spoon, and Andrew Bird are all big enough names to headline their own shows individually – together, they brought a night of indie rock and pop to Columbia worthy of the top of a festival line-up.
After completing touring for their 2011 sophomore album Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes went on an extended hiatus while frontman Robin Pecknold pursued his undergraduate degree at Columbia University. Pecknold began teasing new material last year on his Instagram account, and in June the band released their third album, Crack-Up, on Nonesuch Records. Touring for the album brought them to Merriweather Post Pavilion last weekend, where they packed the outdoor venue with eager fans despite the rainy day.
In an interview following the release of The Fall in 2011, Damon Albarn was quoted as saying that it was unlikely that Gorillaz, his collaboration with artist Jamie Hewlett, would put out another album. But times change, and after an even more improbable reunion when Blur put out The Magic Whip in 2015, Albarn announced in October of that year that he and Hewlett had begun work on a new record. The results of those efforts finally came out in April of this year with the release of Humanz, a 20-track tour de force that saw Albarn digging even deeper into the electronica and hip-hop influences behind the project, and deeper into the political climate (even though the album was recorded prior to the votes for Brexit and for Trump, parts of it seem almost prescient), than he ever had before. Along with the album came the announcement of a world tour, and the excitement was so high that the band’s stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion (not a small venue) sold out almost instantly, months in advance.
Jason Isbell’s star has been rising for some time now, and with his latest release The Nashville Sound, the Alabama-born country singer and former Drive-By Truckers member appears to have truly broken into the mainstream. His first album credited to him and his band The 400 Unit since 2011’s Here We Rest (both 2013’s Southeastern and 2015’s Something More Than Free featured the band, but were billed as solo releases), The Nashville Sound contains some of Isbell’s most rocking solo moments yet. When Isbell was last at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2015, it was as an opener for My Morning Jacket, a band making its first foray into headlining amphitheater-sized venues. This time it was Isbell’s turn, playing to a packed audience on a hot late-June night in Columbia.
These are the facts:
- Paul Simon is one of the greatest songwriters of our time.
- Paul Simon is also 75 years old, and, by his own decision is coming to the end of his run as a performer.
- Paul Simon is celebrating as much with “one last tour” around the world
So why does it feel like last Friday’s show was a revival instead of a goodbye?
After a subdued set from opener Sarah McLachlan, Simon and his band took the stage Friday night to a sold out amphitheater nestled in the woods of Columbia, MD. Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year has hosted some legendary shows in the past and so it goes that this night, may go down as one of Paul Simon’s finest hours.
For many bands, four and a half years is nearly an eternity between albums, and a band who isn’t careful can come back to find that the world has moved on. The xx finally released I See You, their follow-up to 2012’s Coexist, early this year, and fortunately came back to find the fans still waiting with anticipation. Part of that may have come down to the success of producer Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx)’s solo debut In Colour which, with its 2015 release, served as a stopgap for fans anxiously awaiting new music from the London trio. It also doubtlessly helped that I See You is by far the band’s strongest effort yet, showing a greater variety in songcraft, stronger vocals from singer and bassist Oliver Sim, and a more approachable sound which sheds some of the more distancing elements of the band’s earlier work while still maintaining its edge. Their tour for the album saw them return to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, where the band took to the stage on a rainy evening last Saturday.
At first glance, Brand New and Modest Mouse might seem like unusual touring partners. Both fall loosely into the “alternative” rock genre, and both have large, strong followings of loyal fans. Yet the crossover of those fan groups might be somewhat limited and divided by age – Modest Mouse has been around for nearly a decade longer, meaning that they have built up a somewhat older following than Brand New’s millennial core. Both bands are in a bit of a comeback phase right now – Modest Mouse released Strangers to Ourselves, their first album of new material since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, last year, while Brand New recently released the singles “Mene” in April 2015 and “I Am a Nightmare” in May 2016, their first new releases since Daisy in 2009, with a new album to follow soon.
The Cure were extremely prolific in the 80s, releasing seven albums during the decade, but in the years since their output has tapered off to the point where one might be forgiven for thinking that the band has gone into retirement. Every few years Robert Smith and company make a return, though, and it is perhaps the rarity of these appearances that make it seem like an event when they happen. When the band announced a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, it sold out quickly – quite a feat for a venue with a capacity of over 19,000 – and on the night of the show the excitement in the air was palpable before the band even took to the stage.
Australian psychedelic rockers Tame Impala released their third album, Currents, nearly a year ago, and the album marked an evolution in their sound. Much more synth-based than its predecessors, the album met with critical acclaim and increased the band’s popularity. This could be seen in the DC area simply by the shift upward in venues – when the band last came to the city, a month before the album’s release, they headlined the Echostage. This time, on their return, they took over Merriweather Post Pavilion for a rainy Thursday evening show, their biggest headlining gig in the area so far. Even the threat of severe thunderstorms couldn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd.
A swelteringly hot summer evening couldn’t stop the rock on Sunday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, where My Morning Jacket and Jason Isbell came to share material from their recent albums and more.
A lauded guitarist and songwriter, Isbell released his fifth record, Something More Than Free, just over a week ago. The album has already broken expectations by reaching number one on not just the country Billboard charts, but on the rock, indie, and folk charts as well. At the core of his 11-song opening set were five tracks from that album, along with several each from the previous two releases, Southeastern and Here We Rest. Longtime fans even got some service in “Decoration Day,” the title track of one the Drive-By Truckers – a band Isbell famously did some time in – most memorable albums.
Isbell’s songs are narratives; each one feeling like it has a story to tell, something which could easily be lost to an opening act in a venue the size of Merriweather where thousands of people are there only to see the main act (especially a quiet country artist opening for a rock band known for their much louder performances). But Isbell and his band the 400 Unit managed to draw the attention of that crowd surprisingly well, and by the end of his set he’d surely made more than a few new fans.
Photos by Joy Asico (email@example.com / www.asicophoto.com)
“Turn up” - 2013’s operative term in this trap rap-laden year in electronic dance music - could not have been a more apropos concept as Steve Aoki, Borgore, Waka Flocka Flame, Pharrell Williams and more played to a chilly, yet enthusiastic and three-quarters filled crowd at Columbia, Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Friday evening. The unseasonably cold weather, however, proved only to be one of the best judgements regarding the effectiveness of EDM in being able to reach, engage and excite Generation Y. As well, in bearing witness to two of the most zeitgeist defining artists of this next generation - Waka and Pharrell - create impeccable synergy with the crowd present, the concert succeeded in defining the shocking, yet developing-into-tolerable guidelines of an era where rappers are the new rock stars and EDM provides the recklessness of rap for a next-level age.
Turn up! Get lucky! Drop the bass!
Whether beloved or reviled, these three terms have dominated EDM’s mainstream rise in the past five years. Thus, it makes perfect sense that at the apex of the movement’s moment in the son, that Dim Mak Records boss Steve Aoki would pull together notorious bass king Borgore, trap music deity Waka Flocka Flame, America’s favorite hipster Pharrell Williams and a few other friends to tour the country and “Aokify America.”
What exactly does “Aokifying America” mean? Well, until he got the bright idea to combine the best parts of 80s shock comic Gallagher sending projectile bits of food (in Aoki’s case enormous sheet cakes) into a suspecting audience, it was all about Aoki having one of the most progressive - yet somehow right on time - takes on big-room and stadium ready hard house music. If the producer has become a superstar in the last half-decade, he likely has a release or two on Aoki’s Los Angeles-based Dim Mak label, or, he’s remixed a few of his tracks.
Twenty artists. Three stages. One day. Free.
These are the standard components of Virgin Mobile’s annual FreeFest, which celebrated on Saturday, September 21 its fifth consecutive year being free-of-charge to a majority of the 50,000 attendees who descended upon Merriweather Post Pavilion. Add to that equation one-hundred-percent chance of rain and one muddy lawn, and you have FreeFest 2013.
For this year’s festival, Virgin Mobile made use of virtually all 40 acres of Merriweather’s wooded grounds to provide festival-goers with extracurriculars to enjoy before and between artists’ sets. Among them were interactive art installations, a chalkboard “wish wall”, quintessential festival merchants vending hippie goods, and local music organizations like U Street Music Hall and Ram’s Head Live giving away tickets to upcoming shows.
New York City’s “tropical grit pop” duo Ghost Beach kicked-off FreeFest at noon in the aptly named Dance Forest nestled in the northeastern corner of Merriweather’s woods. The stage was relocated from where it stood in previous years to an area with significantly more trees, the most obstructive being a mere ten feet from the stage, blocking patrons’ views of the musicians performing. Then again, it was the Dance Forest. Fifteen minutes later, The Knocks warmed up the main, Pavilion Stage with an electropop set that featured a remix of M83’s “Midnight City”. As hard as the duo tried, they did not get attendees moving and dancing as much as they might have hoped.
Ezra Koenig and his Vampire Weekend cohorts headlining this years FreeFest (Photo by Joy Asico)
Unless you live in an alternate universe where Ben Gibbard doesn’t exist, you know The Postal Service are back, giving everyone who's turned to Give Up in the wake of a breakup something to smile about.
As music history has it, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie collaborated with Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello, sending demos with their additions back and forth using (you guessed it) the United States Postal Service. Tamborello created instrumental parts, burned the tracks on a CD to send to Gibbard, who added vocals, then mailed it back to Tamborello. The two carried on this way, with vocalist Jenny Lewis contributing to the demos, too, until Give Up became the ten-song, heartbreakingly amazing album it is.
That was a decade ago. For ten years, it seemed The Postal Service's run was a one-off, with no expectation of more music or any live shows to come. Fans resorted to listening to the album obsessively, thinking wishfully of such a reuinion to occur and sure enough, BLAMO! The big announcement came. Not only would a deluxe edition of Give Up be released with fifteen bonus tracks, including the never-before-heard “A Tattered Line of String,” but the band would also embark on a reunion tour.
If it's been your dream to have a sing-a-long to "Such Great Heights" with thousands of other Postal Service super fans, please do one of the following for your chance to win a pair of lawn tickets to the upcoming Merriweather Post Pavilion show on Tuesday, June 18:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us the last time you sent mail using the USPS.
2. Tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to see The Postal Service at Merriweather Post Pavilion! @ChunkyGlasses #PSMPP
The lucky winner will be chosen this Wednesday morning, so be sure to enter before then! GOOD LUCK!
Not feeling lucky but don't want to miss the most exciting reuinion of 2013? Tickets are on sale here.
We're sure you, like most of the ChunkyCrew, are dying to attend the Americanarama Festival of Music. Chances are the mini-festival's incredible bill doesn't need introduction, but here it is anyway - Bob freakin' Dylan, freakin' Wilco, and My Morning freakin' Jacket. But we've got one question...can you handle all the RAWK?! If you think you can, read on to find out how you can enter to win a pair of lawn tickets to the stellar, star-studded show at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 23!
As we all know, Bobby Dylan has aged quite a bit since his fresh-faced days playing Newport Folk Festival in '60's, but the legend is still going strong. Over fifty years into his career, at age seventy-one, the singer-songwriter released his thirty-fifth studio album, Tempest, in 2012. Although his unique voice is fading, music lovers and Dylan diehards continue to flock Dylan's live shows and soak up any new material the creative genius releases.
Brush up on the lyrics to "Mr. Brightside" because The Killers are coming to town!
Saturday, August 10, the Las Vegas rockers bring their collection of anthemic hits - "Mr. Brightside," "Somebody Told Me," and "When You Were Young," to name a few - to Merriweather Post Pavilion, and we want to send you to join in on the massive sing-a-long FO' FREE!
The Killers began in 2001 as the project of vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers and guitarist Dave Keuning. The pair began writing, recording, and performing together while kinks in the band's full lineup were worked out. A year later, drummer Ronnie Vannucci and bassist Mark Stoermer came into the picture, cementing The Killers' final roster from there on out. Over the past eleven years, the four guys have collaborated to release four full-length albums - 2004's critically-acclaimed Hot Fuss, sophomore follow-up Sam's Town in 2006, Day & Age two years later, and Battle Born in 2012 after a short hiatus.
Reportedly, The Killers are in the process of recording a fifth album. Curious to know if they will play any new songs at the Merriweather show? Please do one of the following for your chance to win a pair of lawn tickets:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite Killers lyric and why.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to see The Killers at Merriweather Post Pavilion! @ChunkyGlasses #FREERAWKRULES #KillersMPP
The lucky winner will be chosen THIS THURSDAY NIGHT, so make sure to enter before then!
Not feeling lucky but still want to see Flowers and company rock Merriweather? Tickets go on sale this Friday, May 17 at 10 a.m. through Ticketfly.
Boy oh boy, have we got a sweet deal for you – the chance to win tickets to Sweetlife 2013!
Sweetlife, the single-day music and food festival hosted by local salad purveyors sweetgreen, returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion next month with a star-studded lineup. This year, big name acts such as Phoenix, Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs will grace the main pavilion stage while up-and-coming names including MS MR, Shark Week, and Holy Ghost! play the “Treehouse” stage. Check out the full lineup here.
In addition to providing festivalgoers a day of stellar live music, Sweetlife also focuses on food and sustainable practices. The festival's "Experience Zone" boasts a smorgasbord of good eats from sweetgreen's own salads and wraps to sweet treats from Dolcezza, local dishes from Toki Underground and 13th Street Meats, fresh seafood from the Chesapeake, three food trucks, Serious Eats pizza, doughnuts, and sliders...AND local brews and spirits to wash it all down. You can get the full rundown here, but trust us, the food lineup is just as impressive as the artist lineup.
All sounds pretty sweet, huh? For your chance to win a pair of general admission tickets to the festival on Saturday, May 11, please do one of the following:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite food-related song.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to Sweetlife! @ChunkyGlasses
The lucky winner will be chosen Monday, April 22, so make sure to enter before then! GOOD LUCK!
Not feeling lucky? Tickets are available through Ticketfly.
Had a Blue Monday? Some good news for you then! Merriweather Post Pavilion is going to get some new wave/post-punk grace from none other than New Order: the band that inspired many indie rock and electronica bands alike. One of the benchmark bands of the infamous Factory Records (once home to bands like The Happy Mondays and The Wake), New Order is back on tour after an extensive break since 2006 and ready to remind the younger generation of where synth-rock first came from. In tow is Lost Sirens: a collection of unused songs recorded while New Order’s most recent full length, Waiting for the Siren’s Call, was being produced.
The band has gone through a lineup change as well. This incarnation of New Order consists of Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert (after ten years away from performing), Phil Cunningham, and Tom Chapman (filling in for New Order’s founding bassist Peter Hook). Fresh off shows in Vegas and a headlining spot at Coachella, New Order are ready to bring their iconic sound to the D.C. area!
For your chance to win a pair of lawn tickets to the show on Sunday, July 28, please do one of the following:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite New Order album and why.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to see New Order at Merriweather Post Pavilion! @ChunkyGlasses #NewOrderMPP
The winner will be chosen randomly and notified THIS THURSDAY NIGHT, so be sure to enter before then!
Not feeling lucky? Tickets go on sale this Friday, April 19 at 10 a.m. through Ticketfly.
Ready for this trifecta of METAL MADNESS?
Alice Cooper. Marilyn Manson. And Gwar. All on the same bill at Merriweather Post Pavilion this June as part of their "Monsters of Madness" tour!
Prepare to have your face melted three times in one night is all we have to say. Don't believe us? Check out these videos of their live performances for yourself.
All three artists have decades of recording and performing experience to their names. Alice Cooper first began as a full band effort, but in 1975, Cooper broke ties with his band and launched his solo career with the concept album Welcome to My Nightmare, which documents the night terrors of a young fictional character named Steven. Since that year, Cooper has released eighteen studio albums, the most recent being Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a sequel and thirteenth anniversary tribute to his first solo album.
Marilyn Manson, along with his band, released their first studio album Portrait of an American Family in 1994. This jumpstarted the beginning of Manson's successful career and later albums including Smells Like Teen Children and Antichrist Superstar only added to their notoriety. Through his controversial music, forays into film, art and book-writing, and tumultuous love life, Manson has kept himself in the public eye.
"Satirical heavy metal band" Gwar formed in Richmond in 1984 and have spent the past few decades making a name for themselves though their monstrous costumes, vulgar lyrics, and theatric, bloody live shows. The band's current lineup, consisting of vocalist Oderus Urungus, lead guitarist Pustulus Maximus, second guitarist Balsac the Jaws of Death, drummer Jizmak Da Gusha, and bassist Beefcake the Mighty, have not released an album since 2010, but continue to tour frequently.
Whether you want to attend for Cooper's theatric stage show that draws from vaudeville and horror movies, Manson's controversial shock rock, or Gwar's blood cannons, we want to send you for free to witness the madness!
To enter our giveaway for a pair of lawn tickets before the show even goes on sale, please do one of the following:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your craziest memory from an Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, or Gwar show.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win tix to see Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, and Gwar at Merriweather Post Pavilion! @ChunkyGlasses #CooperMansonMPP
The lucky winner of this "win before you can buy" giveaway will be chosen randomly and notified this Thursday night, so be sure to enter before then!
Aren't the lucky winner but don't want to miss these "Masters of Madness" in action? Tickets for the sale go on sale this Friday, March 15 at 10 a.m. through Ticketfly!
A couple months ago, The National announced a handful of live shows, but much to my disappointment, none of them were in the DC area. Feeling, though, that such an announcement was imminent as more and more news about the band's 2013 engagements surfaced, I continued obsessively checking their tour dates. Sure enough, a Merriweather Post Pavilion show with Dirty Projectors was added to their schedule, along with news of a sixth studio album being released in May!
Merriweather is where I fell irrevocably in love with The National. I had always been a fan, but something about their performance at the pavilion on a rainy September night in 2011 is what pushed me overboard from plain ol' fan to diehard. A large part of it was this incredible, acoustic encore of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" wherein Matt Berninger's baritone vocals boomed through the rafters, sans mic, while the crowd sang along.
It's one of my all-time favorite concert moments, and I still get chills just thinking about it. And I want you to have just as great of an experience at their upcoming show this summer with this pair of lawn tickets we're giving away! Here are a couple ways you can enter the contest:
1. Leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite National song and why.
2. Retweet this or tweet the following:
I'm entering to win 2 tix to see The National at Merriweather Post Pavilion this June! #NationalMPP @ChunkyGlasses
One lucky winner will be chosen randomly and notified THIS THURSDAY MORNING AT 9 A.M., so be sure to enter before then!
Aren't the lucky winner but don't to miss Matt Berninger drinking a bottle of wine on stage in a spiffy suit? The general sale begins this Friday, March 1 at 10 a.m. through Ticketfly!