The Red Palace

LIVE MUSIC: Plants and Animals @ The Red Palace - 4/6/12

“Plants and Animals” is an apt name for a band that doesn’t quite know what it is.  They’ve been around for ten years, but their LPs make a pretty good go of trying to cover every genre without settling on one cohesive ideal, like a collection of musical schizophrenia.  The band’s show on Friday at the Red Palace maintained that vein, and if you closed your eyes and simply listened, you would at times have had no idea if you were listening to fellow Canadians Arcade Fire or an old Rush album.

The show opened with a great big wall of dancey-jammy-basey sound and a “How’re you doing, Austin?”  We’ll excuse the confusion, P&A, because you’ve been on constant tour and openly said how damn tired everyone was, you had five dates at SXSW last month (but then again, even that guy who plays the plastic tubs outside the Verizon Center had a five-show gig at SXSW this year), and it’s not like you can see the Washington Monument from H Street.  Moving quickly into “Good Friend,” from 2008’s Parc Avenue, proved a solid move -- the three-quarter capacity crowd broke into spontaneous mass head-bobbing, and who wouldn’t love a song that includes the lyrics “It takes a good friend to say you’ve got your head up your ass?”  The audience largely consisted of a few mega-fans and the people they’d dragged with them, so getting right to a good, hooky song led to a whole lot of See, man, I told you they were awesome

LIVE MUSIC: Poliça @ The Red Palace - 3/23/12

No one, not even Kipling Dynamite, loves technology like Poliça. Created last summer from loose parts of other Minneapolis indie bands, the quartet uses technology to enormous effect on their first album, Give You the Ghost, relying heavily on distortion, looping, and digital manipulation of practically every note and instrument to spawn an ethereal, haunting set of songs. It’s always with a healthy dose of skepticism that we see if a band can pull off a live show to support such a record. At the Red Palace on Friday, where laptops and what appeared to be a Helicon voice processor featured as heavily as the actual band members, Poliça (pronounced Po-lisa) put on a text-book display of how to digitally assist a live performance and not come off looking like a bunch of poseurs.

LIVE MUSIC: Other Lives @ The Red Palace - 2/21/12

I first saw Other Lives back in 2009 opening for Bat for Lashes at the 9:30 Club. It was a chance encounter that not only would shape our little groups philosophy toward concert going (ALWAYS get there for the opener...ALWAYS) but in a large part was the beginnings of the idea to create this site.

What I witnessed then was a band that demonstrated a maturity and a commitment to their craft that, as someone who has played music to varying levels of achievement for over 30 years now, hit on an almost spiritual level. For a while I just couldn’t stop talking about it the band and that show to whoever would listen, which became increasingly frustrating when, for whatever reason, they didn’t immediately blossom into the biggest band in the world. The “southwestern Radiohead” instead slipped quietly from the public eye to become a not-so-well-kept secret of music nerds far and wide.

Jump forward 3 years to last Tuesday night’s sold out performance at The Red Palace, and it’s clear that NOW is the time for Other Lives, and I couldn’t imagine any band more deserving of the success that they are about to have.

LIVE MUSIC: Wildlife @ The Red Palace - 1/19/12

There is so much that can go wrong when you insert any musical genre before the word “punk”. Pop-Punk? Art-Punk? Post-Proto-Pseudo-Punk? All serve to diminish the actual punk of the thing, but one supposes that they are necessary in a time when the lines between genres become more and more blurred. Even worse, most bands, once saddled with the burden of this blood red generalization to wear prominently on their sleeves, most bands give in to all of the tropes and traditions that they’re new made-just-for-them genre would suggest, and never manage to rise above the branding.

Luckily, Wildlife is not one of those bands.

Press Play: Wildlife - "Stand In The Water"

What It Sounds Like: The Arcade Fire on Sum 42...and Canadian Mist
Why You Should Care: They might just be on to something here.

I think it's safe to say at this point that there is something in the water in Canada. Oh sure, maybe its the health care for everyone thing, or maybe just a health diet of Labatt's and Molson, but musically speaking our enemy our friends to the North just seem to be able to go large in a way that's just a little, well, LARGER than their American counterparts, and the band Wildlife is no exception.

"I Have TWO Phasers": The War On Drugs w/Caveman @ The Red Palace - 9/2/11

First of all, I have to give it up for the NYC band known as Caveman. It’s embarrassing that I’ve never even heard of them, but after witnessing their opening set Friday night, you can be sure that I won’t be forgetting them. Floating around somewhere between Radiohead and the sound of America in the 70’s (think Midlake’s Trials of Van Occupanther, but a little more out there) the band is one of the best you’ll see this year.  Their debut album Coco Rises will be out September 13, so make sure you pick it up. You’ll thank me, promise. More to the point though, when Caveman comes to your town, at all costs GO!

Caveman turning noobs into fans

Now. Onto The War On Drugs.

Take some Bob Dylan, add a little Tom Petty, then throw in a wall of guitars and not one but TWO phasers, and you’ve pretty much got The War On Drugs at The Red Palace last Friday. But those comparisons may actually be selling the band short

"Let's write songs together": William Elliott Whitmore @ The Red Palace 7/24/11

William Elliott Whitmore's deep baritone is one of the most genuinely soulful voices in music today. So why is it then that Sunday night at The Red Palace wasn't the best damn show I ever saw.? Well that’s probably my own problem, because the rest of the crowd in attendance had the time of their lives.

Yes, The Red Palace was filled (and I mean FILLED) with the devoted, the followers and the down right true-believers of William Elliot Whitmore, and to them, this show was nothing less than special. First and foremost (beyond that ridiculously incredible voice that is) Whitmore is a performer of the highest degree. No only that, he knows his audience. Hell…he's one of them. He may sing traditional dirt farmer blues, but he's also got ties deep into the hardcore/punk scene and all his friends showed up, fully sleeved and ready to rock…softly.

It's this sense of community that makes a William Elliot Whitmore show feel more like you're hanging out with good friends than are at some club and in this he succeeds in spades. Whitmore, addressing the overcrowding problem even invited fans to come up on stage with him…just "don't touch my whiskey". And they did! Littered around Whitmore for the remainder of the performance were his adoring fans. Again, it's this type of stuff that makes for a GREAT show, so what exactly is my freaking problem?

Clocking in at almost 2 hours, it's important for the people in attendance who aren't the devoted, who aren't the true believers that the show have some sort of dynamics. There has to be some ups and downs to the ride, or else the people onboard tend to lose interest. Strip away the (fantastic) audience interaction and what we were left with was a fairly one note show. To be fair, it’s a wonderful note, and you do owe it to yourself to see Whitmore when he comes to your town. I just personally feel that there needed to be something else to it. Sure there were moments, including a cover of Bad Religion’s  "Don’t Pray On Me" (which was excellent) and an unexpected rendition of Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine", but this came closer to the end of the whole thing than the start.

Now before any of you William Elliott Whitmore fans decide to have words with me, let me explain something. I think Whitmore is a remarkable performer, singer, songwriter, what have you. I just sort of want more from his performance. Objectively it was a great performance, it’s just one that I’ve seen before. It’s important for an artist to do shows like this (even if this type of show is all they do) because it connects them and their fans on a much deeper level than most artists are willing to go to.

Whitmore had audience members ordering beers for him, joking with him, sitting at his feet as he played. Like I said before, it was one big party for him and his new/old friends for the evening. But maybe it’s time to invite a few more people to the party and see how good that can be. Bring some other musicians out on the road and put the songs in a band context like he did with 2009’s Animals In The Dark. I want to see that show when you come around next time!

But really, I just need to stop worrying about it, because at the end of the day, nobody, and I mean nobody sings like William Elliot Whitmore, and any chance you have to see him perform is one you should take. So next time you’re sitting on stage next to Whitmore, consider yourself lucky.

Just don’t touch his whiskey.

Check out the rest of the photos from the night over in the photo gallery!

Official Site | Facebook | Rdio | Spotify

Daily Listen: EMA - California

EMA played The Red Palace last night and by the size of the crowd I'm willing to bet that most of you weren't there. That being the case we decided it might be best to do something about that for the next time she comes to town and give you guys a tastes of the awesomeness that you simply don't want to miss next time. Spun out of the dissolution of the band Gowns, and fronted by that bands Erika Anderson, EMA exists somewhere between Sonic Youth and Cat Power. Anderson's guitar is a ferocious beast in her hands, and it permeates every single moment of their album Past Life Martyrd Saints (one of Paul's picks for best of the year so far). This track from that album may be the band at their most volatile, and it's certainly the band at their very best. 

EMA - California

Official Site

Win Stuff!: Win 2 tickets to see Real Estate @ The Red Palace this Sunday!!!!

CLOSED: Congratulations to Nate, the winner of our Real Estate giveaway! Have a great show!!

Hailing from Ridgewood, NJ, the band Real Estate is hitting the stage at The Red Palace on Sunday night and we want YOU to be there!

Having toured extensively over the past year, even playing the Pitchfork festival in 2010, this 4 piece is finally bringing their  unique brand of surfed up rock that is racking up acclaim all across the country to DC. But don't take my word for it. Check out the bands press release as well as a video for the song "Careless" below.

Real Estate waft in on vibes of hazy summers past. The New Jersey quartet of Martin Courtney IV, Matthew Mondanile III, Etienne Pierre Duguay and Alex Bleeker cut the sleeves short and the pop smooth to shade you from the midday heat. Every song works its way to that part of your consciousness that reveled in the fleeting waves of freedom that eked in once classes broke and the sun lingered a little longer over suburban roofs. And with three quarters of the band holding down Garden State roots its no surprise that a bit of Jersey indie-pop heritage sneaks its way into their sound, lifting the most sun streaked moments from The Feelies and Yo La Tengo and filtering them through the kaleidoscope of memories aimless drives through parched neighborhood streets.

Real Estate - "Careless" live from moogie on Vimeo.


Interested NOW? All you have to do to win is leave a comment with a valid email address below and your entered! We'll announce the winner Sunday morning and then see everyone Sunday night at the show. 

Free rock is pretty cool, ain't it?

Check out the band's official Myspace page to learn more about Real Estate

Hanging with Laura Palmer: Other Lives @ The Red Palace 6/10/11

When I walked into the Red Palace on Friday night, I already felt like I was in a David Lynch story. Strange sideshow oddities peered down on me at obtuse angles as I climbed the steps and made it through the large curtains, I fully expected to see a dwarf dancing in a strobe light with special agent Cooper sitting and watching. But there was no dwarf, or Cooper, to be found, so I assumed this feeling would settle out as the night went on. Largely unfamiliar with The Other Lives catalog of music, I came to their show as an open book...

Win Stuff!! Other Lives @ The Red Palace TONIGHT!!!!!



Update!! We have a winner. Roddy, you'll be catching Other Lives tonight at The Red Palace on H Street! Congratulations and we'll see you at the show!!!!

Excited that Other Lives are playing at The Red Palace tonight? Haven't got your tickets yet? Well today is your lucky day. We're giving a pair of tickets to see the band tonight as they hit DC in support of their excellent new album Tamer Animals. All you have to do is leave a comment with a valid email below and we'll pick the winner at random at 4:30 today. Easy, right? So get to it, because the giveaway starts NOW!!!

Daily Listen: Other Lives - "Tamer Animals

The first time I encountered this group from Oklahoma they were opening for Bat For Lashes in support of their self titled debut. Ever since then I've been anxiously awaiting anything new from the band, so it is a giant fail on my part when I learned that not only did they have a new album done, but it was out. Tamer Animals takes the groundwork that the band laid on their 2009 release and moves it further into the same "country Radiohead" territory that bands like Midlake have occupied before them.

After only 3 listens I can tell you this: This album is f@#@ing good (as expeceted). I'll have more to report later, but in the meantime why not check out the title track and just jump on in to this record along with me.


Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Other Lives will be coming to DC to play The Red Palace on June 10. It's a Friday and it's only $8 (really? WTF?) so you have no excuse not to head down to H Street and see them in a place this small while you still can. Buy your tickets NOW!!

Like it? BUY IT!

Myspace | Official Site

“Like a velvet bathtub” – Phosphorescent - 5/10/11 at The Red Palace (DC)

That’s how Phosphorescent front man, and for the most part only man, Matthew Houck described his usual voice to the near sold out crowd Tuesday. Poking fun at himself and his vocal “issues” about midway through the set, it was an endearing moment that was typical of the night. His voice noticeably cracking throughout, Houck and his Taking It Easy band tore through a mostly ferocious hour and a half long set that ranged from the quietest of songs (“My Dove, My Lamb” performed solo”) to outright feedback breakdown at the end of “A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise” that echoed the best moments of Crazy Horse and their legendary band leader.

Daily Listen: Phosphorescent - "It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)"

Phosphorescent is playing The Red Palace in DC tonight and you should be too. The brain child of Brooklyn transplant Matthew Houck Phosphorescent is a rotating cast of musicians that come together to bring you some of the best alt-country style rock going today.

Why is he playing a place this small? We have no idea. Especially after the awesomeness of his second album for the Dead Oceans label, To Willie, which is nothing but Willie Nelson covers done right. Like I said, we don't know why he's playing a place as small as The Red Palace (although maybe it's because it is one of the best rooms in DC) but we'll take it!

If need convincing or just have never heard of the band, check out the opening track of their excellent album Here's To Taking It Easy and let the music do the talking.

At $12 a ticket, how could you possibly go wrong.

"It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)

Myspace | Official Site


Sharon Van Etten @ The Red Palace 4.17.11. (Washington, DC)

Why is this woman smiling?

Over the course of three albums she has spoken of nothing but heartbreak, betrayal and more heartbreak. With a throaty wail that is threatening to burst into a roar at any moment, she has dragged listeners into the very dark places that all of our relationships can/have slipped if things go awry and she typically leaves very little room for even the hint of brightness or positive resolve. To be sure, her songs aren’t happy. So again, why is this woman smiling?

Because she’s Sharon Von Etten and she is f@#@ing fantastic.

Live Music: Apex Manor @ The Red Palace 2.21.11

Apex Manor vs. The Red Palace


Fresh off SXSW, Apex Manor made their DC debut at The Red Palace Monday night. I’ll get to their performance in a minute but first let’s talk about the room. The remodeled space that combines the upstairs of both Red and The Black and Palace of Wonders has been flying under the radar since it was repurposed, but one glance a their upcoming schedule and it’s clear that they gunning to attract business from some of the larger clubs (Black Cat, 9:30 Club) in the area, and after finally catching a show in this room, it’s clear that they are going to succeed in that.

This is a room where memories are going to be made for both the audience and the bands. It’s small, dark and simple, with an easily accessible bar in the back corner. The sound, as far as I could tell, was impeccable and overall it feels like a tiny club should. This room is built for rock, and so it was that Apex Manor was obliged to bring it.