The Black Cat

LIVE: The Raveonettes @ The Black Cat - 10/6/12

From the moment The Raveonettes took the stage at the Black Cat, they owned it with, confidence and familiarity normally reserved for bands ten times their size. With strobe and spotlights surround the stage, providing a light show that was as much a part of their signature as their harmonies or fuzzy distortion, Sune Rose Wagner in his striped t-shirt and trucker cap, and Sharin Foo in boots, fitted dress, and perfect white blond bob barely acknowledged each other, but played as if they were joined at the hip.

The duo - who are originally from Copenhagen, but now claim LA and New York as homes as well - launched their set with “Hallucinations,” a medium tempo cut from Lust Lust Lust to set the tone for the evening, welcoming both friends and strangers with the band’s signature harmonies and buzzy distortion.  “She Owns the Streets,” off of their latest effort Observator, featured Wagner on lead vocals and a jangly guitar that seems more prominent in the Raveonettes sound as of late, with distortion serving more to fill in the background then to be upfront and in your face. 


LIVE: Frightened Rabbit @ The Black Cat - 10/7/12

Oh sure, Frightened Rabbit sold out The Black Cat, but the fact that this band from Selkirk, Scotland isn’t one of the biggest bands in the world right now and others who ape their sound ARE may be one of the biggest crimes, culturally speaking, of the past five years. 

The band formed in 2006 around brothers Scott and Grant Hutchinson. Their debut album Sing The Greys received  moderate praise from critics, but it wasn’t until the emotional, a-bomb sized gut punch of 2007’s The Midnight Organ Fight, that the now five piecegroup’s raw, powerful indie-rock saw the success that it so very much deserved. The product of an absolutely excruciating break up that frontman Scott Hutchinson had recently been through (if the songs that make it up are to believed),, Organ Fight demonstrated with a powerful grace that sometimes it really is best to simply say what you feel. That willingness to simply put it all out there not just lyrically, but performance wise as well, not only earned Frightened Rabbit a reputation as a band to look out for, but turned Hutchinson into sex symbol and consummate frontman almost overnight.

Touring in support of their recently released EP State Hospital, you might think that five years after the fact, Hutchinson is over all of the pain. And while that might partially be the case, if anything their performance demonstrated that not only is there always more pain to go around, but there’s a whole lot of joy too. Imploring the crowd to drink between practically every song, Hutchinson and his thick Scottish accent treated the crowd as if they were all good friends hanging out in his flat. Maybe you had been there for him before, or maybe you were a new friend that he met along the way to getting back to something normal, but everyone in attendance left at least feeling like they were all connected, all there to support Hutchinson and each other.


LIVE: Melvins Lite @ The Black Cat - 10/8/12

The Melvins current tour is called 51 States in 51 Days, because they support statehood for DC and their show at the Black Cat was their 34th consecutive date. As the band themselves has stated numerous times, this is an insane endeavor. The only person to have accomplished anything close to it was George Thorogood and apparently he bitched out before finishing his tour. For “51 in 51,” they are doing things a little differently than they have the past half decade, which saw them performing as a monster 2-drummer setup with the members of the band Big Business. This time around Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover are playing as a three piece called Melvins Lite with virtuoso bassist Trevor Dunn (he of various Mike Patton-related projects, most famously Mr. Bungle).

Opening band Tweakbird were a lot of fun, reminiscent of Dead Meadow but with more delay pedals and noise. The lineup was cool: a guitarist/singer, a drummer/singer, and another drummer/singer; the two drummers were not onstage at the same time for every song. At some point toward the end of the set, the band messed up a song and restarted it twice with the guitarist telling the audience he didn’t give a shit about them and that the band was just going to go ahead and practice for the next night’s show, which was hilarious. After a few songs, the high-pitched harmonies began to grate a little and left me yearning for something a bit heavier to match the music


TO DO LIST: Crocodiles @ The Black Cat TONIGHT!!

Sounds Like: Jesus & Mary Chain, Ravonettes, Vivian Girls, Every bad-ass fuzz band on earth.
Why You Should Go: Because gorgeous sunny Saturday activities should be followed with a scorching dose of dark reality and noise.

Dreading Monday, when you slog back to work and make up something to say you did over the weekend to hide the fact that you spent 48 hours in your basement with a case of cheap beer, playing Dungeons and Dragons with your hamsters?  Black Cat is here to save you from ignominy and disgrace, by bringing Crocodiles to the mainstage for all the 80’s throwback distortion your face can handle.

If you’re not familiar with Crocodiles, think of every song the cool kids in your college dorm listened to, then multiply that by a thousand dark lyrics and three more layers of reverb.  Hailing from San Diego, where the weather is perfect and the beaches are free, Crocodiles beats back comparisons to California happy distortion bands like Best Coast by dressing like the Ramones and singing songs with titles that include “I Wanna Kill” and the brilliant “All My Hate and My Hexes are For You,” off 2010’s Sleep Forever.  The band thrives on delivering dark and gloomy lyrics on a big old platter of fuzzy, skunky pop, and you can even dance to it if you’re so inclined.  

They’ve collaborated in the past with members of The Slits and Dum Dum Girls, and are touring to promote the most excellent new release Endless Flowers, so drag your butt out of the basement and down to the Black Cat on Saturday and see what turns up.  Be sure to bring your earplugs, cause it’s about to get LOUD up in here.  Tickets available HERE.


LIVE: Oberhofer @ The Black Cat - 6/6/12

With hair borrowed from Phil Lynott and shirts borrowed from “Weird Al” Yankovic, you’d think more people would know Brad Oberhofer by sight. However, not once but twice was I asked “Is that Oberhofer?” as the Danvilles played their opening set. While both bands were impressive, it’s a safe bet that after this show no one in the Black Cat crowd will be making that mistake again.

Kicking off their set with a raw, aggressive version of “Gotta Go,” Oberhofer (Brad named the band after himself) was inundated with camera flashes as he bounced across the stage and attacked his guitar. Perhaps spending much of his early songwriting career cooped up in a bedroom recording on a laptop has made Oberhofer that much more excitable when he plays live – even for a 21 year-old he seems to have boundless energy, frequently jumping off drum risers, kicking amplifiers, and sneering into the microphone.


LIVE MUSIC: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ The Black Cat - 4/27/12

Photos courtesy of Erica Bruce (betweenloveandlike.blogspot.com)

Ted Leo is doing it right.

The man’s been rocking for over 20 years, and it’s still guaranteed that at any given show, he will play the songs you want to hear, rock out until he has sweated through his shirt or his face is bleeding (yes, this really happens), and will be engaging and generally happy to be on stage, doing what he always dreamed of doing when he grew up—being a rock star. 

Beyond filling the obvious criteria for being a great performer, Ted Leo is a principled artist, brilliant lyricist, and great musician.  He has been deeply committed to releasing his music on independent record labels and steering clear of playing corporately-owned venues.  His lyrics are oftentimes packed with powerful political messages and he has recently been active in union efforts in Wisconsin and the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

But most importantly, Ted Leo makes music personal.  To read his website is to learn who Ted is as a person—he tells of his early trials of traveling around as a one-man act, playing music on top of cassette tapes of backing sounds and shares old pictures, stories, and memories.  He interacts with his fan base constantly through Twitter, and a friend of mine tells the story of how when MySpace was the newest fad, Ted got in touch with fans to meet up in person and hang out. 


LIVE MUSIC: Bowerbirds @ The Black Cat - 3/21/12

There’s a point you reach in every relationship you have with a band where you’re not quite sure if you are ready to commit. You like them a lot...maybe even A LOT a lot...but there’s still something that keeps you from feeling that they are just the right fit.

As a duo, Philip Moore and Beth Tacular have built their career on writing smart, emotionally evocative songs that play with the boundaries of what a folk song should or could be. On their latest album, The Clearing they certainly attempted to “fatten up” a little the instrumentation used, it definitely suffers from a seemingly unintentional sparseness of sound that can happen when so few people are working on a record resort to using the tools at hand rather than utilizing the freedom that, say, a full band might offer. And make no mistake - The Clearing is a fantastic record. It just wasn’t until seeing the songs performed live with a full band that it ever really clicked for me. And oh what a performance.


LIVE MUSIC: Dum Dum Girls @ The Black Cat - 2/12/12

Style and substance.  The tension between the two has pervaded and, in many ways, defined the output of the Dum Dum Girls during their brief career.  Their first LP, I Will Be (March 2010) and follow up EP, He Gets Me High (March 2011), were collections of tight, raucous tunes that showcased the group’s consciously cultivated girl group/punk image.  They were enjoyable albums with a distinctive (if familiar) style but the songs tended to blend together and, overall, lacked the personal touches and unique voice necessary to elevate these albums to greatness.  Indeed, the most memorable thing about both albums was the style of the group itself, rather than the individual songs.


LIVE MUSIC: Sharon Van Etten @ The Black Cat - 2/11/12

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Why so sad Sharon Van Etten?

Last Saturday, which was hilariously dubbed as being the most NPR-tastic night of the decade, Van Etten, along with a few friends, brought her heart-stoppingly gorgeous voice and a veritable truckload of melancholia to the Main stage at The Black Cat. It was the largest (inexplicably so) venue that she has played in the District to date, but fans turn out by the hundreds to try and fall under the rapture of her spell.


LIVE MUSIC: Cults @ The Black Cat - 1/14/11

Let’s just get this out of the way: I had every expectation of starting another year of covering shows with a bang, and instead it began with a giant MEH.

Now before you get all up in arms, screaming “But I LOOOOOOVE CULTS” and “You’re a stupid head” hear me out. I love Cults too. There songs are impossibly catchy, impeccably written and without a doubt they put out one of the better albums of 2011, if not the most fun album.

But all of this does not a good live performance make.


You Got Your Rock In My Dance: M83 @ The Black Cat - 10/29/11

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not a fan of “electronic” music. Maybe it’s because of my age group, maybe it’s because I’m not terrifically hip and therefore incapable of “getting it”, or maybe it’s because I simply require more from what I put in my ears than a banging beat, some retro synths and a buildup every 3-4 minutes to keep me on my toes. If that sounds too “get-of-my-lawn” for you then fine, but it’s really not that.

The purpose of dance music is to make people shake their ass, but that doesn’t often happen in the comfort of your own home or on your daily ride to work on the Metro. It happens, or is meant to happen, on the dance floor. Couple that with the simple fact that it really doesn’t take much to get people’s asses moving, and you can maybe see where I’m coming from. For me, dance/electronica is an  art form that too often get’s dragged down the seventh circle of synthesized hell where dorm room/Garageband using stoners crank out repetitive rhythm after repetitive rhythm while they stare at the pretty lights bobbing in time to their “creations” and think “Whoa man. Crispy”

On the other hand though, there’s M83.


Thing You Should Be Doing: M83 @ The Black Cat TONIGHT!!!

The Good News:
French musician Anthony Gonzalez aka M83 is beginning is beginning his world tour right here in DC tonight at The Black Cat!

The Bad News:
That s@#@ sold out MONTHS ago, yo!

Got your ticket? We certainly hope so. Seeing Gonzalez's "very very very epic" new album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (read our review here) brought to life on the stage should be, well, epic. So epic in fact that they had to add another show giving you not one but TWO chances to get your electro-dreampop freakout on.

Or maybe he just needs all that time to get through all of the songs on this gigantic album.

Either way, we've been looking forward to this show for a long time, and now the day is finally here. For those of you not in the door, NEVER FEAR because we have it on good authority that they'll be back this Spring, so be at the ready. And if you really can't wait that long, your old friend Craigslist is always there, waiting to give you what you need.

So get excited people! We'll see you at the early show (#weareold) and be telling you all about it sometime this weekend. Here's to what is sure to be a very, very, very epic Friday night!

 


"Evolution": Wild Flag @ The Black Cat 10/20/11

Words: Paul    Photos: Kevin
I know it seems odd to use the term “evolution” in reference to a band that only came into existence at the end of last year but I could think of no better term what I saw from Wild Flag this year.  Within eight short months, Wild Flag gave an inspired (if raw) debut performance at the Black Cat, released a fantastic album, and finally returned this past Thursday as fully formed rock stars flexing their muscles at the same venue.  It is a rare thing indeed to be able to witness this type of change from a national act in such a tight window of time.

When Wild Flag first played the Black Cat in February, I had no idea what to expect.  All I knew was that two members of Sleater Kinney, the lead singer of Helium, and the drummer from the Minders had formed a band that had been getting rave reviews on its first tour.  There was no album, no video, nothing to indicate what their live show would be like.  But reputation and curiosity were enough to get me, the rest of the CG staff, and a sold out crowd through the door – a door which they proceeded to blow off its hinges.


Things That Rock: The Felice Brothers

Welcome to our new column, Things That Rock. Sometimes there's just so much damn rock going on that we can't get to everything we want to in a timely fashion. That sucks because it means there's some really good music that we just don't get the chance to talk about. WELL NO MORE.

Things That Rock is our new official blow off valve. Sometimes it will be a review of a show that deserved more mention than we gave it, sometimes it will be simply a band that we love and are just now finding the time to tell the world about it. Whatever it is, it has to meet one criteria and one criteria only: THAT IT ROCKS. So keep your eyes peeled for the column, and without further ado, here.we.go.

Touring in support of their latest album, Celebration, Florida, New York based band The Felice Brothers made a stop at The Black Cat a few weeks ago. Historically, the bands music has been at sort of dark glance at a Gothic America that is just outside of what most people know as everyday life. Their songs owe as much to Dylan as they do to the carnival barker personality of Tom Waits, and until now they’ve respectfully, if not purposefully, stayed well within the musical boundaries that those two artists would suggest. 

The Felice Brothers have always had an edge to them. A bravado. But they've never given any indication that they would become the indomitably fearless band that they seem to have become. The Felice Brothers these days seem have become unhinged in the very best of ways. It was clear from the start that while they may be operating inside some weird genre of folk rock, the old rules no longer apply.

At times lead singer Ian Felice seemed to be less singing than howling like some feral animal. It’s an energy that flows through the band as a whole, and makes for some damn exciting rock and roll. On record, the material from Celebration, Florida tends to sound more like a band that isn’t quite sure of their direction, but live it quickly became clear that these were the songs of a band who just didn’t give a f@#@ anymore.


Win Stuff: 2 tix to see DUM DUM GIRLS this Saturday @ The Black Cat!!

[CONTEST CLOSED]

Oh, your faithful Word Economist has made a grievous error.  A while back, I purchased tickets to see the Dum Dum Girls at the Black Cat this Saturday, October 22nd.  Unfortunately, a short time ago I was gently reminded by Lady Word Economist that I have a wedding to attend this Saturday.  As a result, my tickets must be forfeited. But my loss can be your gain...I am giving BOTH tickets away to one lucky @ChunkyGlasses Twitter follower.

However, I won't give these tickets to just anybody.  See, Dum Dum Girls new album, Only in Dreams, is one of my favorite LPs of the year and a mortal lock for my year end top-10.  So, if you want to see Dee Dee and her band for free, you have to show me how much you love the new album. Just leave a comment below or send a tweet to @ChunkyGlasses (Yes, you can enter TWICE) before NOON SATURDAY telling us what you think of the track "Coming Down."  Any entry that includes the terms "Mazzy Star" or "Fade Into You" will be immediately disqualified.  You're better than that.

GOOD LUCK!


What's the Bizness?: tUnE-YarDs w/Pat Jordache @ The Black Cat 10/8/11

The always fantastic and frequently mindblowing tUnE-YarDs payed another visit to DC this past Saturday, and I'd like to say we're all a little better for it. Merril Garbus, the engine that drives this "group" is simply one of the best, and most capable perfomers on the scene today. And her album whokill  is a must hear for anyone who even has the inkling of an appreciation for challenging, thought provoking music that still manages to satisfy on every level. Put simply it's one of the best album released this year.

When we saw Merril and Co. last time here, the buzz was beginning to build behind the album, but had really only spread throughout critics circles and completely obsessive music nerds. She played the Red Palace on H Street, a room that fits 200 on a good day, and at that point in time came off as almost scared of the crowd ammased before her. When she was in the song, she was a veritable hurricane of musical muscle, but the spaces between revealed a somewhat shy performer who may not have quite been sure yet as to why exactly all these people were here in front of her.

Jump forward to Saturday night at the Black Cat. During opener Pat Jordache's (more about him in a minute) set, her and bass player Nate Brenner could be seen side-stage GETTING THE F@#@ DOWN to the 80's inflected sounds that Jordache and his crew were pumping out. It was a joyous discovery to glance over and see this celebration taking place, and it fairly set the tone for the rest of the evening.


Photos: tUnE-YarDs w/Pat Jordache @ The Black Cat - 10/8/11

The short version of our feelings about last nights show are "F@#@ing Awesome!!", but we'll have a full review for you in the coming days.

In the meantime, why don't you check out some of our shots from what proved to be one of the most energizing, engageing, and flat out FUN performances that we've seen all year.

Merrill Garbus, you are our hero.

Sincerely, 

The entire ChunkyGlasses team.

 


Daily Listen -Thing You Must Do Edition: FRUIT BATS @ The Black Cat - TONIGHT!

We're taking a break from the Daily Listen today to let you know that we're going to tell you something to do, then you're going to do it.

I know, that sounds weird. We don't know you, and you don't know us, but this is the sort of thing that you are just going to have to trust us on. We know better, and now we're telling you.

Meet us at The Black Cat for an INSANE triple bill that puts Citay, Vetiver and  Fruit Bats all on the same stage, all on one night. 

Never heard of them. WHO CARES! Don't you remember the trust us part! OK. How about letting us try to convince you.

Exhibit A:

WHAT.DID.I.FREAKING.TELL.YOU?!! RIGHTEOUS RIGHT?

Full disclosure: THERE IS NO EXHIBIT B. 

Look, the fact of the matter is that the album Tripper by the Fruit Bats is one of the best released this year. We've been overly wildly excited for this show since the day it was announced and without a doubt is going to be one hell of a night of music. 

So how do you want it to go? Do you want to be able to tell your grandkids you were there, or are you gonna sit at home and worry about the humidity of your crisper drawer in your fridge? I know which one we're choosing.

In fact,we'll double down on this one.

Be our 100th follower on Twitter and we've got your tickets covered. No BS. We're putting our money where our mouth is on this one, so now you have NO excuse not to go.

See you tomorrow night everyone. 

Official Site | Facebook Twitter Rdio 


International (?) Man of Mystery: Cass McCombs w/Lower Dens @ The Black Cat 7/15/11

The only thing visible besides the silhouettes of the assembled musicians is the occasional glint of a flash off a guitar, or the blinking lights of a random effects pedal. The crowd that has assembled listens eagerly as a dark, man shaped shadow explains from the stage how even though McComb’s is somewhat of a transitory musician, Chicago now claims the singer/songwriter as their own. Members of the crowd shout back “Baltimore!” (which is where his Wikipedia page claims he’s based. He’s not.) but the shadow from the stage isn’t hearing it. Instead he continues to run down the list of everything that makes Cass McComb’s music great. He’s the perfect hype man, though McCombs doesn’t really need it. He finishes, the band takes the stage in front of panels of blinking and shifting lights, and as they opening strains of “Buried Alive” hit the audience, it’s as if a bubble closed tight around the room, and we were all suddenly transported somewhere else.


New Wave In A New Time: Eleanor Friedberger @ The Black Cat 7/12/11

When you’re half of a band as well known as The Fiery Furnaces, people, right or wrong, are going to have expectations.  Eleanor Friedbergers’s first victory over those expectations this week was the release of her excellent new solo album, Last Summer. Breezy, poppy and loud when it’s gotta be, Last Summer is an unmitigated hit, as well as being one of our favorite records of the year so far. Her second victory over those expectations this week was the performance that she delivered to a welcoming crowd assembled in the Back Room of the Black Cat on Tuesday, the  night of that records release.

My expectation for  the show was that it would be somewhat reserved, but perfectly serviceable. I also (wrongly) assumed that Eleanor might be the type who is solely focused on the music, acknowledging the crowd once in a while, but for the most part just performing her material to the people who paid to see it.