WTMD, the public radio station affiliated with Towson University, has been running their First Thursdays summer concert events in Baltimore for well over a decade now, bringing in a diverse range of artists from small local bands to legends. Their 2017 season has been no different, and has, in fact, seen the event grow from one stage to two in Canton Waterfront Park. A rainy day for their July event forced them to combine the event onto a single stage on the adjacent parking lot, but couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of the performers or the crowd who braved the forecast to see them.
July’s lineup was particularly stacked, with a diverse lineup including indie singer-songwriter Waxahatchee, roots rockers Hollis Brown, Philly garage punk Ron Gallo, southern rockers The Weeks, and the legendary Robyn Hitchcock. Unfortunately, bad weather and worse traffic meant that by the time we were able to get to Baltimore we missed the first two bands, but the remaining artists put on a show that was more than worth the trip. Both currently touring on new albums, Ron Gallo (Heavy Meta) and The Weeks (Easy) put on short, high energy sets that showcased their talents and left the audience wanting more.
Robyn Hitchcock and His LA Squires performing at WTMD First Thursdays at Canton Waterfront Park, Baltimore on July 6th, 2017 (photo by Matt Condon / @arcane93)
The real thrill of the night, though, was a (rare these days) full-band set from Robyn Hitchcock. Hitchcock has indicated that he is likely done touring with bands for the most part, and his most recent visit to the DC area – two nights at Jammin’ Java back in May – was a solo acoustic affair. For this show, however, he brought along a trio of musicians dubbed his “LA Squires” – Luther Russel of The Freewheelers and Those Pretty Wrongs on guitar, record producer Tony Buchen on bass, and actor Mark Sheppard (known most recently for his role as Crowley on Supernatural) on drums – to play an electric set that covered songs from the earliest part of his musical career in the Soft Boys (“Kingdom of Love” and “I Wanna Destroy You”) all the way up through his latest, self-titled album (“I Want to Tell You About What I Want,” “Mad Shelley’s Letterbox,” “Sayonara Judge”). In between, he and the band played songs from throughout his career, from the most popular (“Madonna of the Wasps,” “So You Think You’re In Love,” “If You Were a Priest”) to the more obscure (“N.Y. Doll,” “Strawberries Dress”). After an hour-long set, the band returned for an encore cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues."
The next WTMD First Thursday event takes place on August 3rd, with Chicano Batman, Nikki Lane, The Wild Reeds, and more. The event is free, and more information can be found on the WTMD website. Here’s hoping for some drier weather!