In just a few short years, singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki has gone from playing a basement in Maryland in 2014 at the home of former D.C.-area favorites Two Inch Astronaut (RIP) to successive packed shows the next two years at DC9, Rock and Roll Hotel, and the festival circuit. For her latest world tour, she’s sold out 30+ dates well in advance. No matter where she plays, it feels like the throngs grow exponentially each time and her set at the beautiful Vic Theatre in Chicago was no different.
Nothing is more reassuring than a group who hasn't toured in six years performing as if nothing has changed. While mentioning that their hour-long set was almost over, Molly Sarle proclaimed "We used to play for 30 minutes, and 15 minutes of it used to be about our periods."
See? Just as humorous as ever.
Since releasing his first solo EP in 2011, Kishi Bashi (the stage name of Kaoru Ishibashi) has been making some of the most thought-provoking, intricate music in the indie pop world today. A multi-instrumentalist but known first and foremost for his acrobatics on the violin, Kishi Bashi has a distinctive style all his own (the only even somewhat close comparison to Andrew Bird fails to take into account all but the broadest strokes of either musician’s work). He released his most recent album, Sonderlust, last year, and his tour for the album at the time brought him to the DC area at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Last week he came back to town, playing the much more intimate setting of Sixth and I, where he had previously played with a string quartet in early 2015.
On Wednesday night, Dustin Kensrue of post-hardcore band Thrice and Andy Hull of indie rock band Manchester Orchestra brought their co-headlining solo tour to Sixth & I, in a format very similar to that followed by Kevin Devine and Evan Weiss earlier this year. Each played a solo set, accompanied by only by his own acoustic guitar. As with that previous show, the synagogue turned out to be the perfect setting for such an intimate performance, giving the artists the chance to showcase their strong vocal talents and songwriting away from the much noisier surroundings of their respective bands.
Although Thirce announced a return from an extended hiatus earlier this year, with appearances set for several festivals throughout the summer, Kensrue also released his second solo album, Carry the Fire, two weeks ago. Much like his earlier solo work, 2007’s Please Come Home, the new record is a departure from the heavier sound of Thrice, venturing in pop and folk directions, which lent itself well to the solo acoustic format.
When it comes to stringed instruments, guitars dominate the world of pop music, and it is unusual for the violin to take central focus. Yet for Kishi Bashi (the stage name of K Ishibahsi, who is classically trained in the instrument), it’s the implement of choice. It is perhaps for this reason that his songs lend themselves so well to adaptation to a more classical form. Washington, DC witnessed this transformation last Thursday, when Ishibashi came to the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue to play a show backed by a string quartet.
From the opening strains of “Manchester” from his first album 151a, the audience knew that they were in for a special evening. While many attempts to adapt popular music to classical form fall quickly into the sort of music that one might expect to hear in an elevator or a grocery store, there was none of that at this performance
Solo acoustic shows from artists who usually perform with bands, performing songs that they usually play with those bands, have the potential to go wrong in so many ways. First, there’s the question of whether the songs can hold up to being stripped down to their barest elements. The bass and the drums might not always be the standout features of a song, but they’re often the underlying structure holding it together. Second, there’s the question of whether the artist can hold the stage by him- or herself, without anyone else to fall back on. It takes a confident performer to be able to engage an audience alone, to be the sole focus of attention for the entire set...
New York-based musician Laura Stevenson has produced three albums, most recently her breakout album, Wheel. In this interview, Aubrey asks her about life on the road, her upcoming work, and the recent transition to living with her band. Stevenson reveals some of the autobiographical influences in her writing and what her stripper song would be. You can catch Stevenson and her seraphim-like voice live this Wednesday at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue playing a solo acoustic show.
If you’re a fan of indie rock, then chances are your also fan of The Magnetic Fields. Fronted by master songsmith Stephen Merritt, the band has spent the better part of two decades weirdly beautiful pop gems that aren’t afraid to explore the darker side of things.
Earlier this year, the band made a stop at the at the legendary 9:30 Club in support of their latest effort, Love At The Bottom Of The Sea, and now they’re BACK for a two night stand at the Historic Synagogue at Sixth and I this Saturday and Sunday!
The first night of this run is now SOLD OUT, but we've got a pair of tickets to give away for night two, and and here's what you've gotta do to get em!:
- Leave a comment below with a valid email address telling us what/who attracts/repels you the most.
- Tweet out or retweet the following:
"RT to enter to win 2 tix to see @TheMagFields at @sixthandI on THIS SUNDAY!! @chunkyglasses @930Club #69LoveSongs #FREERAWKRULES"
We'll pick a winner random Friday at noon, so make with the entering people, and GOOD LUCK!!!
Not feeling lucky? Tickets are still available right HERE!
If your familiarity with DeVotchKa extends only to the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack and the haunting background noises you hear whilst blowing the heads off your enemies in Gears of War 2, your ears will write you a thank you note if you expand that base of knowledge. Not for the xenophobic, DeVotchKa’s recorded catalog spans the past decade and more parts of the globe than Carmen San Diego, and they brought a traveling circus of multi-instrumentalists to the Sixth & I last Thursday for a world-class evening of music.
Any DeVotchKa review has certain common threads: some mixture of the words “gypsy,” “soaring,” “Eastern European Polka-Rock,” and “George Clooney” is inescapable. Lead singer Nick Urata may be identified for overall handsomeness, an ethereal, soaring voice, and an acoustic guitar with a gaping hole strummed through the body, but the rest of the band is just as noted for live shows full of sophisticated instrumentation and passionate delivery. Is it sophisticated for an audience to cat call well-dressed people carrying stringed instruments and even an oboe into a synagogue? Probably not, but audience and band alike were having a fantastic time from the moment the original four members of DeVotchKa arrived on stage accompanied by 6 additional musicians.
Septuagenarian Sixto Diaz Rodriguez - or just Rodriguez to his fans – held tightly to 9:30 staffer Josh “That Guy” Burdette’s arm as he shuffled down the aisle towards the stage at a sold out Sixth & I last Thursday. Moving slowly toward a solitary microphone, slightly hunched over and clearly frail, the singer took a sip of water and offered a polite “hello” to the excited and restless crowd. It’s not so much that the years haven’t been kind to Rodriguez as it is that he has very clearly lived them.
But a funny thing happened as Rodriguez slung his guitar over his shoulder and began to tune up; with his face mostly hidden by a black, large brimmed hat, those lines could be seen tightening into a boyish grin that belonged not to an aging folk “hero,” but to that of young, idealistic hippy folkster picking up right where he left off some 30 years prior.
In a story whose weirdness rivals that of site favorite Jim Sullivan, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, or simply Rodriguez to his fans. Despite widespread critical acclaim, Cold Fact, Rodriguez’s 1970 release didn’t manage to achieve much commercial success and the soulful Michigan songwriter quickly faded off into obscurity. And then things got weird.
As chronicled in the film Searching For Sugarman, in select theaters now, Rodriguez’s music lived on despite the numerous and sometimes grisly reports of his demise. Cold Fact became a rallying cry in the youth of South Africa’s fight against apartheid, and twenty years after the fact Rodriguez found that he had achieved international fame. More importantly his songs had achieved the social relevance that he had always hoped for.
Touring in support of the soundtrack to Sugarman, Rodriguez lands in DC tonight at the historic synagogue at 6th and I. The event is sold out, but if you can manage to hunt a ticket down, it might be in your best interest. We caught a glimpse of Rodriguez’s set back in July at the Newport Folk Festival, and all we have to say about that is “whoa.” Check out the trailer for Searching For Sugarman below, and we’ll see you (hopefully) at the show tonight!
The soundtrack for Searching For Sugarman, as well as Rodriguez's other albums, are available to buy everywhere, or stream via Rdio or Spotify right NOW. Shotimes of the film can be found via the link below.
Do you like to do some dancing? How about some laughing? How about doing some dancing with your laughing, all in the basement of a community events space that sells alcohol sippy cups so’s you don’t spill your smart cocktail (or beer) all over your dress while you’re doing your dancing and laughing?
Nick Waterhouse roars on into town tonight to support his new album Time’s All Gone, and if you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to be a naughty teenager in the 1950s, sneaking grain alcohol and listening to the music of the devil, then grab your mama’s prom dress - Hell, grab your grandma’s prom dress - and get your money maker to the 6th & I Synagogue tonight for an evening of blow-the-roof-off R&B. This guy has sold out venues across the country - even the persnickety writers at the A.V. Club love him - so forget that it’s before Memorial Day, strap on your white saddle bucks and get your ass to Sixth and I TONIGHT. TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE
Still not convinced? Check this out:
Here’s something you might not guess about a guy whose music is so depressing -- William Fitzsimmons can be remarkably funny and engaging in the right venue. Fortunately, the main level of the 6th & I Synagogue is the perfect backdrop for him, and his performance on Feb. 27th in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd showcased a mixture of old and new songs with his observations about immediate surroundings and life in general. The balcony was closed for this show, which lent an intimate feel to Fitzsimmons’ personalized brand of songwriting.