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Updated DEC ·08·2009

• • • • • • • • • UP FRONT GIMME A SHOUT... Send mail here.

• • • ARCTIC MONKEYS • • •
• • • STONE TEMPLE PILOTS • • •
• • • DOVES • • •
 
 
My ticket stub collection is forever growing!
Looking back at the past decade, here are the goods on some of the many shows:
2009: Arctic Monkeys 12/8 at the 9:30...We arrived near the last half of the opener (Screaming Females, who never grabbed us) and found our place stage right, where we stayed put for the duration. Always like to be near Barrett for spirits, and he was working the stage right bar — good for us on the refreshments end of things, but never so good when it comes to passers by. (One guy I talked to wanted to kill me later for asking him to move [we became friends], and another guy was rubbing his butt against mine in some weird concert-mating ritual I've never experienced.) Arctic Monkeys took the stage promptly at 9:30 and played a tight 1½-hour set, minimalist on the encore much to my chagrin. The good news is that Arctic Monkeys are so so solid live and the sound was superb — no ear ringing afterwards yet fully sated = bliss! The bad news is that there's not much to see on stage, as I somewhat expected; Alex's vocals are studio-perfect live, but he hides behind his hair for most of the show. I've been waiting a few years to see these guys, having been hooked by their first effort, and I wasn't disappointed tonight. But something in me knew I should've caught them on their first trip to DC, because much of what I love wasn't heard this eve. Though I appreciate and like their sophomore effort and the more formulaic fare they've put out since, there's a certain unpredictability to the jam they snagged me with. I knew on first listen that I'd love them but never know them, sort of like the person you dig in a group but doubt you'll ever get close to. When I listen to Arctic Monkeys at home, in the car or on the jog, it's nothing I'm intimate with; it's this blissful, dark, sweaty cavern I don't care to define. And tonight I felt less concerned with watching them than listening to them. So don't concern yourself with position if you get the chance to catch them live. They're a sonic powerhouse to be sure (good GOD so many guitars), but feel free to close your eyes wherever you're standing — you'll still be able to suck up the proper goodness. / Moby 9/18 at the 9:30... Sigh. In support of Wait for Me (the one with that Harold and the Purple Crayon - esque cover!) -- always beautiful. I love Moby. / Stone Temple Pilots 7/19 at Merriweather Post Pavillion... Has it really been eight years?? NYEve Orlando, '01... wow, almost! And though I came close to seeing them in Philly in Oct/02, the sniper was running around DC and my cohort had to stay in town to shoot news video on that. We were bummed, because I had a sneaking suspicion it would be our last chance — ANYbody's last chance — to see them. Sure enough, they busted up shortly thereafter and Scott found his way into Velvet Revolver. So I've seen Scott a few times over the years, but I've said it many times: he's great on his own, and was great with VR, but he's always at his best with the original team. Tonight's cohort summed it up best when he said, "I can't believe it's just the four of them, just three musicians and a singer, putting out all that sound. Wow." Indeed. If either of the DeLeo brothers was a singer and they didn't need Scott, it would be like seeing dada, my other favorite trio of gents who consistently blow people's minds with their richness. But these guys need Scott as much as he needs them. Skipped the Virgin Fest last year because I didn't want to see STP in another festival environment (never as good as their own show, always too short), and if they hadn't come back to the area this year I never thought I'd see them all together again, so tonight was a little surreal. We skipped much of the opener (flashback Meat Puppets) to hit the Guitar Hero hut and converse with other gleeful, grateful fans... what a great mixed batch of humans at tonight's show, and for a change not one single concert jerk (you know that guy) to contend with the entire evening! It was a major hitfest — good for my cohort (a live STP virgin) — and I can't imagine there was a disappointed fan anywhere in the crowd. And though I'd glanced at setlists from the past year and knew what to expect, at least as of May, I hadn't seen "Unglued" on any of them so I about lost it when I heard that guitar! (Seems they skipped "Coma" for that one, and it felt like somebody out there was granting me some silly little utlimate setlist wish with that switch!) With the exception of "And So I Know", a fave I knew I wouldn't hear tonight but was lucky enough to get at the Orlando show, tonight was near perfect. MAN they were tight, like they'd spent no years apart. The DeLeo brothers are so solid and precise — ditto Eric Kretz, who I've never thought got enough of the spotlight... I don't play air guitar, but when STP is on stage I am constantly pounding air drums along with Eric. SWEET. Scott was in excellent vocal form, smartly-dressed and low on the antics — a far cry from the crazed preacher, cop or rubber-gloved-boa-wearing fiend I've seen at shows past, one time right at his feet (mind-blowing and frightening at the same time)! I'll take him any way I can get him, but I like him better this way. My face hurt from smiling, and though we had seats in the pavillion we never sat down once. 'Twas a sweet, solid night of rock-n-roll under the stars in cool weather we never expected to be able to enjoy in late July in DC. Many people are sure to say they sounded their best ever (my vote is still with Orlando), and they were indeed in top form on this last night of their tour. And we hope they'll be back — a new album is supposedly due out next year, fingers crossed! Here's your setlist: Silvergun Superman / Wicked Garden / Vasoline / Big Empty / Lounge Fly / Army Ants / Sour Girl / Creep / Crackerman / Plush / Interstate Love Song / Seven Caged Tigers / Down / Sex Type Thing / Sin / Unglued / Encore: Dead and Bloated / Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart / Doves 6/6 at the 9:30... My ears aren't ringing but they're numb enough that the clickety-clack of the keyboard is subdued. Damn I'm happy, and the hair at the nape of my neck is still damp from dancing. Doves kicked ass tonight, and it's the first time in awhile I was six deep from the stage. Love that they've been gone for such a long time and come right back to sell out the 9:30. After clinging to the far bar for opener Wild Light out of New Hampshire (good band, constantly rotating lead, music that brought The Smiths to mind -- interesting, given where Doves are from) we went deep into the pit and stayed. No tall folk in the way, clear shot of the stage all night, perfect audio, and since I left the digicam at home this time I tweeted pics with restraint from my cell phone -- see above. (Sidebar: Michael tossed up the end of last week's In the Year (now) 3000 skit on Conan... "YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge to form one super time-wasting website called YouTwitFace." Kills me!) Doves played for two hours, tight on the instruments, constant wall of sound, typical swirl of random videos large and luminous behind them, Jimi swapping the higher notes for some in a more comfortable octave. Such a cool vibe and an excellent lot of people in the audience, great energy. There are few shows where the greater lot of the people beneath the stage are interested in more than the one or two songs they know, but this is never the case at a Doves show. However, since these guys have more material than they can possibly fit into one show anymore, we deal with some disappointments while we suck up the new. They performed over half of the new album -- in fact the first six tracks, neglecting the entire last half (and my favorite, "Compulsion"), and we didn't get to hear loved gems like "Break Me Gently", "Words", "Cedar Room" and ohIcouldgoON. But I was 100% surprised at the exclusion of "Catch the Sun", the tune that brought easily half of the bodies in that room to discover the band in the first place. But they didn't skip the Jimi-Andy swap for "Here it Comes", and they sure served up a treat when they came out for a second encore and gave us "Spaceface" -- first time on the U.S. tour, and it made the guy next to me positively joyous, as he'd been screaming for it for the last half hour (he hugged me when it exploded from the stage). It was great to meet the two couples in front of us, discussing the randomness of hearing "Strawberry Letter 23" overhead before Doves hit the stage with one couple, and hearing from the other (down from NYC) how lucky we are to have such a great club in our city, and that they'll be back whenever they can get here. According to them the NYC show paled in comparison, and we were warned to steer clear of Terminal 5 in Manhattan at all costs (duly noted)! Doves do love the 9:30 and it always shows. Here's your setlist: Jetstream / Snowden / Winter Hill / Rise / Pounding / Almost Forgot Myself / 10:03 / The Greatest Denier / Kingdom of Rust / Ambition / Black and White Town / The Outsiders / Caught By the River / Encore 1: Firesuite / Here it Comes / Last Broadcast / There Goes the Fear / Encore 2: Spaceface / The Old Ceremony 6/4 at Iota / CAKE 5/30 at the 9:30... Skipped their show at Constitution Hall a couple of years ago because I've seen them so many times by now, and it's been six years since I saw Cake at the 9:30, SIX! That's because the last time was such a disappointment audio-wise, uggh it was tough. But tonight they were ON IT. After some properly-cooked meats at Nellie's we hit the club with the rest of the extremely diverse crowd, young and old, for some of the best altrockcountry music you'll ever see live. Tonight was the first of two sold-out shows at the 9:30 -- impressive for a band that hasn't released a studio album (save a rarities collection) in five years! It was hard to find a soul in the audience who wasn't mouthing along word-for-word, atypical for normally-reserved DC crowds. McCrae was a ramblin' man, always entertaining, jamming on that vibraslap and eternally stating the obvious. Though "Opera Singer" (a personal fave) was sorely missed, it was a perfect mix of tunes. No opener and an intermission were huge treats. My cohort was dutifully singing along for all crowd-participation numbers (easily half of the show) and he and I had two superb viewing spots -- first the faithful stairs, and then down with the throng for the encores (two of 'em)! Since Gogo couldn't be there, I jotted down the setlist for her, and here 'tis: Sad Songs and Waltzes / Short Skirt Long Jacket / Comfort Eagle / Guitar / Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle / Wheels / It's Been a Long Time / Comanche / Love You Madly / Satan is My Motor / Stickshifts and Safetybelts / Italian Leather Sofa / Arco Arena / Sheep Go to Heaven / Daria / Mexico / Haze of Love / Never There / Jolene / Encore 1: War Pigs / Sick of Me / Encore 2: Some slow song I didn't recognize / I Will Survive. Fun bit: Very minimalist on the stage decor (of course), and there in the front sat a large baby tree -- live and random. Turns out they've been giving away a tree at their shows the last couple of years, and tonight they were looking for a fan with some pretty singular qualities, the majors of which were "strength and restraint". So after "Comfort Eagle", lucky strong-and-reserved Scott came up to claim his tree, and his only duty is to send photographic evidence of its planting to the powers that be at cakemusic.com so we can all revel in its growth. Said evidence from other lucky tree recipients across the nation can be viewed here: http://www.cakemusic.com/gallery.html Dig it! Music should always be like this live -- a band in touch with its fans, making them part of the show, and giving them all the great hits they expect with a few they only hope to hear. With superb audio of course. Tonight they did us right! / The Dears w/ Eulogies 5/7 at the Black Cat / Chris Cornell 4/5 at the 9:30 / Middle Distance Runner w/ Eulogies and Payola Reserve 3/28 at Iota... An entire night of goodness -- no duds! A main act with two openers can make for a long night at Iota, and when one drives you nuts (in a bad way) it can be a verrry long one. But 'twas not the case this eve, and as properly lined-up openers should do, each one added more heat to the stage until MDR kicked off with "Brother John", probably my favorite tune of theirs next to "Man of the People" (uhh Hives anyone?? undeniable!) and "Out of Here". I love what this band does, and I haven't found a new musical love since The Old Ceremony years ago now -- so rare it is to find that, especially after the hundreds of shows I've seen in my lifetime and thousands of CDs and albums I've spun. And they're from DC, which is beyond incredible -- we have next to nothing when it comes to exporting music! Happenstance brought them to my attention last fall during a trip to Arlington's living room to see one of their openers (friends of that night's cohorts), and until MDR took the stage I barely gave that space a glance. Not only had the room suddenly become packed, but the energy level went up a few notches when MDR got up there, and the stage came alive. That was their 100th show, and I then learned folks were lined up down the block, and it's no wonder why. Solid and diverse, the stuff I was hearing was rich with the echoes of so many bands either loved or very familiar... early U2, Oasis, REM/Wilco, Travis, The Beatles, The Killers, Radiohead. Damn, one of the songs, intense and multi-layered (must've been "Out of Here") even made me teary-eyed the music was so good and tight... reminded me of recent days with Doves, or old days with Radiohead when what they were doing still sounded new. I liked MDR enough to snag their $5 EP, and in the weeks that followed (over many spins) I heard even more of what really drives me musically. It's not a wonder I was hooked. Somewhere on their site I read that someone described them as "indie pop with a dick and a brain" and that about covers it. And ya gotta love a band who digs the hand clap. Tonight wasn't sold out like last time (perhaps due to the drizzle and fog), and my cohort's head was feeling beaten-up by what the cherry trees are doing out there, so we cut out early. But not until I'd heard my favorites. My ears are a little bruised, just the way I like it! Whenever they're around I'll be there. Must give props as well to the solid Payola Reserve out of Baltimore and their hefty brass, as well as Eulogies out of Los Angeles and their near seamless set of rich, tight indie rock -- another album of great tunes I picked up and look forward to getting familiar with (nice to meet you Peter and thanks for the goodies!) -- looking forward to seeing them again at the Cat in May. Sweet night! / Kinky 3/13 at the 9:30 -- NOT! / The Old Ceremony at Iota 2/26 / Tom Jones 2/25 at the 9:30 / Thievery Corporation 1/28 and 1/31 at the 9:30 / We Are One Inaugural Concert 1/18 at the Lincoln Memorial on the Nat'l Mall
 
2008: The Old Ceremony 12/6 at Iota / Calexico 11/13 at the 9:30... Another packed night at the 9:30 Club for an eclectic mix of country, rock and Mexican jazz -- think Dire Straits, Los Lobos, Cake-lite, the groove side of Ozomatli, and a more sophisticated and less-lively Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (Calexico hails from Tucson, AZ, so go figure). They're just diverse enough that it's hard to nail their sound wholly in just a few words, but any keen ear will hear the southwest and its next door neighbor loud and clear! With an upright bass, a heavy dose of trumpets and even a random accordian thrown over respectable guitar work -- sometimes delving into flamenco, sometimes surf -- they went from sweet Americana rock to crowd-revving Mexican grooves to psych-layered power pop and back again with amazing fluidity. They were sweet to the ears live, though not necessarily anything to watch, so with some room to wander (and possibly sway or shake it) it's a great night of live music without the need for great positioning on the floor. Next time I'll be on the roam -- far away from the leaners, spot stealers and Argyle-sweater-wearing smart arses. Yet another night of music that took me home to the desert at times -- gotta love the Spanish bits! The studio stuff didn't turn me on as much as the live delivery of it, so check them out in all the usual places, but mark your calendar for the next show to really taste it! / Jeez, can you tell it's been a busy year around here? How lame that the most I can muster is a list at this point... Middle Distance Runner 10/10 at Iota / The Old Ceremony 9/27 at the Clarendon Day Festival / Death Cab For Cutie 6/9 at Merriweather Post / The Gin Blossoms 5/22 at the State Theatre / The Old Ceremony 4/26 at Iota / U23D 3/30 at the Natural History Museum (ha - best seat for any show ever!) / Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers 3/27 at the State Theatre / The Presidents of the USA 3/25 at the 9:30 / Nicole Atkins 3/24 at the Rock & Roll Hotel / X Levitation Cult 3/18 at Iota / The Hives w/ The Donnas 3/8 at the 9:30 / Deep Blue Something 2/26 at Iota / Howie Day 2/18 at Iota / The Old Ceremony 1/26 at Iota / The Japanese Beatles 1/11 at the 9:30
 

2007: dada 12/21 at Joe's Bar - Chicago, IL... Again, for as long as we can. / Van Halen 11/1 at the Verizon Center... Downtown DC was Former Long Hair Central from 6 pm on. My cohort and I hit a restaurant near the Verizon Center at 5:30 and got a table in the bar, but within half an hour it was standing room only in there. The restaurant was playing nothing but VH, everybody was crazy pumped... haven't felt that sort of high-energy anxiousness around me in ages before a show (outside my own living room anyway). We were in our excellent seats a few minutes before Ky-Mani Marley hit the stage in half-light. (Weird opener for VH, a reggae band. Nonetheless good, another of Bob Marley's sons inherited the gene... we were in for more of that in the coming hours.) During the brief stage change, VH ex and mom Valerie made her way through the front part of the floor to take a seat sidestage, quite the family affair. Van Halen was then prompt about coming out—none of that egotistical "beg and wait for us" garbage, though of all bands this one could pull that off. (They'd kept everyone waiting long enough!) They played for over two hours and everyone in the arena was on their feet for the entire show. Everybody dressed down save Diamond Dave, of course... he does love his polka dots. Tonight he's in dotted black leather pants and shirt, though the outfit changed several times throughout the eve. Michael Anthony should have been there, there is no doubt about that. I was afraid I'd miss him, but it's sad to say I did not. Very early on, when they did Beautiful Girls, it was clear Wolfgang had a handle on the high vocals... wow, really. We were close enough that I can tell you Wolf was singing, because I heard it when he screwed-up as well, which was rare. Overall, I was blown away by their ability to stay on key 95% of the time in front of that massive wall of noise. Eddie had a hundred damned amps stacked behind him, and at first it was just WAY too loud. I could barely hear any of them individually when they first came out (with You Really Got Me)... it was just loud BUZZ and I think my ears were already bleeding. They got a handle on the mix two songs in, luckily, or I'd have wanted my money back. From Runnin' With the Devil (song three) on out it was great, though Eddie still blew over the vocals a few times and it never got any quieter. It was a little odd hearing keyboards patched in for two tunes, but otherwise was a typical rock show. No great shakes on the stage or lights... a huge video screen flanked by light stacks and a simple green laser punctuated an S-shaped ramp that started up top beneath the video screen and snaked down onto and past the stage into the pit like a snake would do. Unfortunately nobody seemed to use the pit end of the S very often (not even Dave), and I'm not sure why. But we weren't there for the shenanigans, bring on the music! There were some tears around us for sure. (You've got to love it when metal makes you cry, haaa.) It wasn't just a hit fest, either, they threw in fancentric tunes like Atomic Punk, I'm the One and Romeo Delight—and thankfully included So This is Love (a top-five fave of mine that's never been considered a radio staple)... damn I loved that!!!! Along with Little Guitars and Cathedral (in Eddie's solo of course) my other fave was Unchained; Wolfgang came to the mic with an earnest pause for the "C'mon Dave... gimme a break" part, haaaaaa. The big surprise—huge—for me was I'll Wait; DLR doesn't care for it, it's a stretch for him to sing it, and it meant more piped-in keyboards. So why include it? Even so, it turned out to be one of the more nostalgic moments of the night for me because I haven't heard that song for nearly twenty years... I sorta kinda left the room for a moment (shout out to Bob Holmes, wherever you are). I could have used me a little Could This Be Magic or something equally silly, or maybe Top Jimmy for a surprise, or my beloved Hear About it Later (love that bass... to me that song belongs to Michael Anthony, though). But the setlist was really well-planned and they missed NO hit except their cover of Dancing in the Streets, which would have pleased the crowd (and been a better choice than I'll Wait). The sweet-n-sniffy part of the night was Dave standing solo on stage plucking an acoustic guitar, waxing nostalgic about the days they played for a buck a head, going on briefly about the origins of Ice Cream Man, and of course taking us into it. And as expected, Hot For Teacher gave him the opportunity to shout, "Hey I heard you missed us, we're baaaaaack." Yeah. Other notes: It was sort of amazing to see Eddie play with his son. Not only is Wolf completely at ease and obviously skilled (loved his job on Everybody Wants Some), he plays high notes on the bass, is that normal? It was pretty cool. Seeing them on their knees facing each other on the floor was just... sweet I guess; I cannot imagine what a garage session at Eddie's house sounds like. Dave and Eddie are both in incredible shape, love love LOVE the short hair (they'd look silly otherwise anyway), and Dave's sporting six-pack abs and still jumping—though not as frequently and not as high (dude is 53). Let's face it: If you're coming to this show expecting to see the "Cirque du Soleil" version of Van Halen from twenty years ago, you're not only delusional you are wasting your money. Catch a video. Because though E and D both throw in enough of their trademark jumpy moves and gave us some amp leaps, they're not suspending themselves in mid-air anymore. However, if you're coming to hear the music, spend the cash, because they are tight TIGHT. I couldn't believe David Lee Roth's pitch was so on—especially, like I said, on top of all the great noise. His voice isn't as strong on high anymore, and he has to push it, but he stays on. Alex did some scary fierce drum solo and I felt like my heart was flipping—we were shaking our heads and I and many around me just exploded into laughter because it was hard to wrap our heads around how fast he was going! And Eddie... well, he's timeless, his guitar is timeless, his contribution to the world of guitar is immense. When the background video zoomed in on Eddie's forearms and hands they were just amazingly craggled like he constantly plays. He got plenty of time to show off (he still floors me), and I told my cohort that he just looks like a teenager when he plays... laying on his back with those red tennies dangling beneath his knees... gorgeous. And save putting some guy's cell phone down his (leather) pants during Everybody Wants Some, Roth was subdued in the right way... wore different funky top hats, changed his outfit five times, even had a bullhorn out for a tune... but he was more of a band member and not the greedy stage whore he used to be. He did some pipe twirling work that was pretty impressive, cool flag work (not overdone), and the guaranteed crowd-pleaser of an encore (Jump) was a sick flurry of confetti and and happy noise. It was cleaner and a bit more mature—okay, Dave rode off the stage on a huge oh-not-phallic-at-allllll microphone amidst the confetti, so it was still a VH concert. "Lose the dress but keep the shoes!" I like the people much better now that they're not all drunk and falling on me. We were all dancing and playing air guitar, so it's not like we're necessarily adults. Everyone should have seen them in the early 80s when they were biggest (I saw the real VH four times, DLR solo twice and Van Hagar once), but they're tight as ever and musically excellent enough for someone who's never seen them to dig it. It was my cohort's first time and he thought it was GREAT. Setlist in order: You Really Got Me / I'm the One / Runnin' With the Devil / Romeo Delight / Somebody Get Me a Doctor / Beautiful Girls / Dance the Night Away / Atomic Punk / Everybody Wants Some / So This Is Love / Mean Street / Pretty Woman / Alex's Solo / Unchained / I'll Wait / And the Cradle Will Rock / Hot for Teacher / Little Dreamer / Little Guitars / Jamie's Cryin' / Dave's Soliloquy into Ice Cream Man / Panama / Eddie's Solo / Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love / (Encore) 1984 into Jump. There are plenty of pyucky cell phone videos on youtube and some decent shots on flickr to check out if you don't make it to the show, but sometimes you just need that arena fix. No better choice than Van Halen for that. / Squirrel Nut Zippers w/ The Old Ceremony 6/21 at Toad's Place in Richmond... / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 6/2 at the 9:30... We got there at nine figuring the doors would be open already only to find a line down the block and around the corner. ?? They sold it out (niiiice). The word on BRMC has obviously (finally) gotten out. We scored the perfect spot overhead -- center balcony against the rail -- and settled for the wait. Dead Combo from NYC was first up, their Finnish lead singer sporting some freakish mini Pippi Longstocking braids and rambling incoherently a la Keith Richards before they launched into a set that sounded like one long song. A loud, monotonous load of noisy grit that went mostly nowhere, their set actually left us yawning. Next up, The Cobbs from Philly, rock with a hooky pop bottom, a touch of psychedelia and a lot less noise. Their look(s) didn't match their sound and it kind of threw me off, though they're a talented band and a great warm-up for the hard-rocking BRMC. I'd heard great things about BRMC's live show, and watching them set up woke me up and got me anxious... stadium-worthy lights were peppered all over the stage beneath the huge skull logo and the smoke machine was chugging long before the trio hit the stage. They kicked off with Took Out a Loan and ended up churning out the yummy noise for a very commendable two hours plus, not something we see at the 9:30 very often anymore. What a blissful wall of raunchy, buzzy fuzz! Much attention was paid to the fabulous new album, all of it swathed in the glorious, blinding light and smoke we expect from any great rock show. (It put Velvet Revolver to shame.) They gave us American X, Robert doing his best Donnie Darko impression and screaming from inside the hood of his sweatshirt (DAMN I love that guy's voice)... it was something I was waiting for and it didn't disappoint, I was sucked up by the solo just as I'd expected to be. By that time I had to shield my eyes from the strobes or I'd end up blind. Midway they took a minimalist chill to shine the light on some Howl material, which was a lovely concert moment. It was at this time that I lost my cohort to a spot somewhere else because his ears couldn't take any more of the hard thrash. I clung to the rail. They picked it back up (dug seeing Peter pull out the horn) and after two hard ones Robert asked us if we wanted one more (duh) and we were thankfully treated to All You Do is Talk, my favorite song from the latest album... it made me teary on this night. They left the stage for quite a long time and we all thought we heard house music so we started to head down and out, but I had a feeling they couldn't possibly be done... too many fan faves (the older goodies) were missing, so I lingered anxiously by the main doors watching the stage. Sure enough, back they came, asking us (truly -- and then playing) what we wanted to hear. Request Night at the 9:30, excellent! I headed into the pit, easier thanks to the exit of those who were duped by the long pause. Another half hour of tunes came our way, the better lot of the night thanks to gems like Six Barrel Shotgun, Love Burns, and Red Eyes and Tears -- without which I'd have felt ripped off. Okay, I still felt a little ripped off because I didn't hear catchy, sexy Stop, but you can't have it all. I was still wet, sated and grateful, my ears still ringing right 'n rock show proper when we left and for hours later. Best night at the 9:30 so far this year! I.O.U. way too many more recaps: The Old Ceremony 5/24 at Iota... / Elvis Costello & The Imposters 5/18 at the 9:30... / Velvet Revolver 5/15 at the 9:30... / Ozomatli 4/18 at Sonar in Baltimore... / Taylor Hicks ('tis true) 4/16 at the Birchmere... / Thievery Corporation 3/11 at the Black Cat... / Badly Drawn Boy 3/6 at the 9:30... Nights with BDB are always beautiful. I wasn't keeping track, but apparently this night was three hours of beautiful. (A friend of mine who also attended claims he played from 9:45 to 12:45, and considering our arrival and departure time, I'll go with that.) But as my cohort said, it sure didn't feel like it. Said cohort went down to start the show in his preferred spot while I stood ever faithful on my upper level stairs -- same place I stood last time I saw him (see 2003). That was actually not a bad call since BDB has always been a private love of mine. Before he hit the stage, we were treated to an ancient (ca. '73 or '74 is my keen wager) live recording of Bruce Springsteen singing Thunder Road, a version very dear to me which most people don't know, with lyrics most people also don't know. That's the Bruce I once loved -- piano-heavy and poignant. Yet another private thing, at this time in my life anyway. Bruce is history for me. But not for Gough (BDB), who really needs to give it a rest in my opinion. We're all products of our influences and experiences and we all have our idols, but c'mon... stand alone, Mr. Boy! (I didn't dig that opening move at all. It felt like a posthumous tribute, while Springsteen is alive and well and raking it in.) I was joined at song two -- my favorite of his new tunes, Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind -- by my cohort who kept his graceful hands on me all night and amped up the magic. The vibe in the room was lovely, everybody cuddly, the couple below us SO cuddly that their makeout session put us to shame. But that's what nights with this guy are like. The greater lot of BDB's music makes you want to make love, there's really no other way to put it. Not most of his latest release, however, so the first hour or so of the show was less the aphrodisiac as he went heavier on the new tunes than the beloved, romantic tunes of years past. Thankfully Gough plays tunes so differently live that you can barely recognize their studio counterparts, which was a big help on the newest fare. For me the show didn't start until he sang The Shining. But halfway through he took a smoke break and that's when the show finally started for the rest of the room. It was palpable. He came back with Promises, a song I skip on the newest album due to its monotony but which was lovely live. The sound all night was fabulous -- pretty sure he insists on that. He also insists on silly covers, and this time we got The Smiths' Back to the Old House (right up his alley), Madonna's Like a Virgin (which almost sounded earnest!), Michael Nyman's The Heart Asks Pleasure First (from The Piano -- and Gough did an amazing job playing it), and Journey's Don't Stop Believin', a crowd singalong which I thought he might actually finish but didn't due to memory loss. We left the stairs during Cause a Rockslide (excellent jam on a tune I've never much cared for) to hit the floor for the last three or four songs, and were hence up close and personal for two of my very favorites: Pissing in the Wind which is always great to sway to, and then the closer, Magic in the Air -- so beautiful, and my very favorite BDB tune... it just makes me weepy. It's the quintessential closer on a concert you need to share with someone special, after which you'll need to, um... get a room. / The Old Ceremony 2/24 at Union Hall in Brooklyn... / The Old Ceremony 2/23 at Joe's Pub in Manhattan... / Yo La Tengo 2/9 at Sonar in Baltimore... / Squirrel Nut Zippers w/ The Old Ceremony 2/6 at the Birchmere... My three cohorts and I settled at a table stage left on this frosty night and readied ourselves for dinner and a bit of a flashback with the SNZs. First up, however, somebody new... The Old Ceremony from Chapel Hill, NC filled the stage (all fifty of them, or so it seemed). No clue what we were in for, but it sounded great from the get-go. Clever, intelligent lyrics and the sweet fusion of instruments were hard to ignore, ditto the deft frontman. Even the in-between-tune banter was impressive. Then came a song called Reservations and I thought, oh my, somebody likes the Beatles... (always makes me turn a hard ear). From there I was very attentive through the end of their set. Three other tunes left a lasting impression... Poison Pen, Papers in Order, and Baio Qian -- a beautiful song sung in Mandarin and completely unexpected amidst their already surprisingly diverse set of melodic pop rock. During the break one cohort and I proceeded to purchase all (two) albums they had for sale in the lobby and meet deft frontman Django Haskins -- who ended up teaching me one of the most important tricks I've ever learned (no lie). CD lock labels have nothing on me now, thank you forever Django! He labeled their fare "pop noir" and it fits. I had no idea I'd come to love this band as much as any in my personal bunch of top faves, but back to the show... The SNZ gave us what I expected, a trip back into their modern take on 1920s-era jazz fused with country swing, stirring up plenty of memories thanks to tunes from Hot and Perennial Favorites. Rather romantic at times... at one point the cohort I was holding hands with breathed in my ear, "Doesn't she look like Sean Young?" I thought, wow, she does -- and keep breathing in my ear. Great observation that I was never able to shake. An enjoyable night of music, but unfortunately it was a rather rusty performance and I couldn't engage. (I learned later it was their first time on stage together in years.) First time in ages an opening band had outshined the headliner for me. We left the show to find new fallen snow covering our cars in the lot and the first thing we did was put The Old Ceremony's latest disc in the player. I'd found a new love. / Red Hot Chili Peppers w/ Gnarls Barkley 1/25 at Verizon Center... Kicked off with Gnarls Barkley, the bunch behind last year's (inexplicable) hit Crazy, which drives me nuts in the wrong way, bleh! Sound was horribly loud and muddy throughout their entire set. Not sure what was up with the Austin Powers stage gimmick. Austin was at the top on keyboards (he looked more like Lionel Richie masquerading as Prince), Foxy Cleopatra shook stage left, and the fembots were stage right... actually called the G-Strings, they were four innocent-looking chicks in fluffy white mini-dresses who played string instruments when required, but otherwise did the funky pigeon head bop when the band was in a funk groove (pretty surreal). The bass player has got to be a living bobble head doll because he achieved some amazing velocity with the hair swinging -- I can't believe I can say this, but he put my favorite Joie (not a Ramone, a Calio) to shame in that department! I still think lead singer Cee-Lo Green sounds like a chick. Nina Simone on helium lite or something. Nuffa that... on to the rock show! We looked at the rafters and what at first appeared to be part of the catwalk infrastructure, but I said, "Hmm... actually I don't know what that is, there's nowhere for anyone to stand." It looked more like five huge ladders stretched toward the center of the ceiling, or maybe some gigantor window blinds. We found out soon enough. The crowd noise swelled to deafening proportions (the likes of which I've not heard in ages, that's for certain) and then the sky was blood red as RHCP bubbled onto the stage. Those gigantic venetian blinds overhead? Flaming red lights. Everywhere you looked, flaming red lights. The wall behind them was a mess of light tubes which glowed and flashed and looked at times like a huge LiteBrite. On top of those? Two screens slowly rising behind either side of the stage... uh oh, two more, now four screens, and they played war games all night long. Funky punky metal trip began. These guys are all phenomenal musicians and it was a first-class show top to bottom. Flawless from where we sat -- I mean, stood -- from the stage to the lights to the top-notch camera work. The show was refreshing in its lack of typical rocker pomp. The guys were detached at times, almost like we were watching them jam in a garage. It was a musicians' show and a fans' show, no doubt about it. The musicians in the crowd would give anything to have 1/10th the talent of each of the four gents on stage. And though RHCP's career has lasted two-decades they gave nods to every bit of it. It's a Repeat blew my head off... powerhouse Will Farrell lookalike Chad Smith's drums were in perfect synchronicity with Flea's fuzzy bass -- never quite heard such a thing, and the lights they worked in made it an epileptic's nightmare. Let's not forget Kiedis, who should have his picture in the dictionary under stamina (I know that dude could go all night like no mortal)... cohort Pedro was equally shocked and said the guy basically did jumping jacks for two hours. No lie. The crowd favorite from the current album seemed to be Snow (Hey Oh), which on this night was a bigger hit than Dani. (Don't ask me, you know I don't do radio.) Flea is still the god of bass, half the time amazing me, the other half making me laugh. Frusciante is a wah head and oh god oh god I love that... his guitar just cries. Color me mad, what was with that London Calling tease? I'd love to have heard them tackle that! My fave part of the show: when they slowed down and surprised me with my favorite tune off Stadium Arcadium, the bluesy and hot summery Hey... the arena was swathed in deep, steely blue and I imagined a breeze. From there we got face-to-face guitar men in an oddly sexual bluesy jam (see a fan's low-fi clip of it here and try to ignore the screaming) that took us into Californication. Excellent graphics flashed in theback, 50/60s era line art illustrations of bobbed blondes in convertibles and women under hair dryers, the word BOTOX on the light board behind them... yeah. Before the first encore all the twelve-year-olds had to scoot due to curfew, and then the band decided to Give It Away give ittttaway give ittttaway now, without which the night wouldn't have complete. No Under the Bridge though, probably because it's standard issue RHCP by now -- they reuse the formula at least once on every album... Californication was never anything more than a weak remake of Bridge in my book, and with that in the show I suppose there's no need for what started it all. (Too bad, actually, because Bridge is a far better tune!) By The Way ended the show, or so we thought. Kiedes walked off and left the stage to the talented musicians behind him. Suddenly it was Santana on crack with a closing number/jam/crazyf*gouttacontrol piece that was nothing short of mindblowing. Thrashy speed metal that still had corners, I could still keep time and groove with something that truly was too fast for my mind to make sense of -- I closed my eyes at one moment and just saw silver. What in hell?? I don't think there's another hard and heavy rock band out there like this anymore. Shit, Frusciante's hand was bleeding at the end. Viva la Arena Rock!

 

2006: Pet Shop Boys 10/15 at Constitution Hall... Yep, it's true, I'm into and have seen almost everything you can hear. (I know you know what I mean.) Having never seen the Pet Shop Boys I decided it was time, and my tall, dark and handsome cohort was intrigued enough to accompany me -- and, as it turns out, make my fellow concertgoers green with envy. (I swear I didn't know the extent of it!) It was definitely one of the more minimal of the wannabeflamboyant shows I've seen. Said cohort remarked, "They're no Madonna," and I added, "or Peter Gabriel!" (That's pretty unfair, though.) I figured they'd go the way of Chemical Brothers and wax visually-arresting, but that wasn't the case. Read: They made an effort to keep the stage interesting -- paramount for an instrument-free electronic dance duo you'd expect to see in the studio as opposed to on stage -- but it wasn't quite enough. However, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (who "are still the Pet Shop Boys" -- a comment from Neil that garnered raucous applause) gave their fans a huge treat, as time has paid them no mind since they were at their peak. My cohort was unhappy with the audio and thought the normally punchy electronica was swallowed by the venue and turned echoey. Truth is, this pseudoposh venue was NOT the best choice. The 9:30 would've been better -- not to mention it would've allowed the fanatics to dance, something they desperately wanted to do! This was the biggest problem for me... a dance outfit playing ConstHall?? Wrong, wrong!! Though the stage set was crazy low-tech and left us perplexed, the M-I-N-I-M-A-L thing works for them. Two halves of a brain projected on big, mobile, translucent cubes welcomed us before the show started. When the lights went down we were thrown into the opening soundtrack from Psycho while two hooded guys in white (who looked like freaky sperm!) rearranged the cubes to make way for the Boys' entrance. To the tune of Psychological -- the first track on their new album -- out of silhouettes of themselves came Tennant and Lowe, dressed respectively in tails and hat and baseball jacket and cap. They were quickly followed by clones of themselves who turned out to be dancers, and then more clones who turned out to be back-up singers. It was an impressive intro, but a fleeting gimmick. They were later joined by the requisite diva, a monster female vocalist, and the cubes were rearranged all night long... different lighting, sometimes with humans moving about inside, sometimes not. Turned out it was sometimes clever, most times boring. (I'm sure the stoned folks in the crowd just loved it.) The two dancers could've been tighter... though occasionally entertaining, at times they were so sloppy it was as if the Boys ran through the 'hood prior to the show and paid a couple wanderers an AndyJack each to pretend to dance around the stage! Hopefully it's just early-tour hinkiness; toward the end of the show they seemed to get it together, especially when they pulled out the gold lamé. As for the music, they did a superb job of providing the expected hitfest with new tunes peppered throughout. The new tunes are an amazing complement to their catalog of crowd-pleasing favorites, so much so that you could never pick them out if you'd never heard anything by this duo before. Highlights for me were 1) Dreaming of the Queen, which was performed in front of a gritty video of Princess Diana's funeral procession; 2) Home and Dry, a treat because Tennant pulled out an acoustic guitar for a simple, scaled-back version of this very sweet tune with all vocalists in beautiful form; and 3) my fave tune Opportunities -- one of six full-house singalongs on this low-key Sunday eve (sing with me... Suburbia, Rent, Domino Dancing, West End Girls, It's a Sin). Must give credit where it's due: Pet Shop Boys were at the forefront of this genre of music... it's rather mindblowing to consider where it's gone. I enjoyed the trip back to the 80s. I even appreciated the gold lamé cowboy who was dancing around with the Madhatter toward the VERY campy end of the night, but it might have been the cold medicine. All told it was a nice eve and quite entertaining -- even perhaps when it wasn't meant to be! We both rank it 7/10. But unless they move it to a dance-friendly venue and amp up the stage shenanigans, I'd not recommend this for non-fans or concertgoers with short attention spans. / Def Leppard w/ Journey 7/7 at Nissan Pavillion... My bro flew in to relive highschool memories with me by taking in music from bands we had a hard time believing could still kick so much ass. (No Don't Stop Believing references!) Friends Pat and Natalia, and Namtrah (shhh... it's his alien name) and his group, were seated in sections behind us and I'd planned to find them for beer breaks during the night. (Right.) Anticipation was high, our seats were fabulous. I was a bit surprised when I heard it's this summer's hottest concert ticket -- and not cheap unless you do the lawn. But that eve of feel-good, anthemic American rock and feel-good, crispy British popmetal was worth every penny. Can't say the trip to and from Nissan is ever a good time (after years of pain, the traffic hasn't gotten better on either end of the show arrgghhhh good GOD)!! But it was a great place to see both of these bands -- unmatched though they were -- as the lights, sound and video are some of the best in the area and rival indoor arenas. SO. Some disappointing news arrived via e-mail from fellow Def Leppard fan Namtrah that afternoon... Steve Augeri, Journey's current frontman -- who astonished me several years ago when I found out after the fact that he wasn't Steve Perry and was actually "a clone" (cut me some slack, we were many rows back) -- came down with a throat infection and had to skip out on the rest of the tour. He was being temporarily replaced by someone named Jeff Scott Soto, whose first go would be at our show. Hmm. My brother was a bit disappointed he wouldn't be seeing the infamous clone, and plenty were understandably concerned... Schon's ear-piercing guitar, Perry's/Augeri's soaring vocals... pretty much Journey's ID, no? So when we arrived at the beer stands promptly at show kick-off and heard a grumbly male voice over an unfamiliar melody coming from the pavillion, we looked at each with serious alarm. He said, "Um, if that's Journey in there? Yeah, we can skip the first half of the show." Haaaa. Luckily it wasn't Journey (never found out who it was), and we grabbed another beer and headed in. Great seats, lovely breezy afernoon, pretty perfect. Neal Schon, in shades and bent over backwards, was as blistering and focused as ever. I'm not what you'd call an active Journey fan, and was never a serious one back in the day -- read: Steve Perry's day. However, I liked (in two or three cases loved) and appreciated what they did when they did it, and Infinity is a must-have album IMO. But you forget how much music of your past meant to you until you're surrounded by it again. The minute I heard Stone in Love I was gone, back to the carefree days of parties, trips, crushes and dates of highschool -- definitely sunny for my brother and me. Schon's blazing, lengthy deliverance of the Star Spangled Banner had everyone on their feet, hands over their hearts, and from there on out it was a total hitfest, one after the other -- complete (for me) thanks to Wheel in the Sky and Lights, the only Journey tunes I love (save Still They Ride, my brother reminded me). And during the sappier tunes like Open Arms and Faithfully, Namtrah sent me "I luv U" text messages, which had me giggling. Okay, now for the pleasant surprise: Jeff Scott Soto kicks all sorts of ass. I'd never even heard of this dude, and am thankful to have discovered a new male rock voice to embrace, much the way I do Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland. Yikes! I was crazy impressed with his pipes and his showmanship -- why doesn't everybody know about this man?? (Come to find out he's the one who supplied the vocals for lead singer "Bobby Beers" to in the movie Rock Star. Not to mention he's been around for decades and is an expert songwriter. Quite the package.) He's not built for the ultra-high fare Perry and Augeri are, but did a stand-up job -- I actually preferred seeing him take the lead over Augeri, mostly because he made it a rock show. Separate Ways was actually heart-stopping. Jeff just knocked me out... such a beautiful, solid alto. And it doesn't hurt that he's hot as hell... phew, seriously. If Augeri ever decides to leave permanently, this man could change the "flashback" stigma of this band and actually make me a fan after all these years. INTERMISSION (damn this review is long)!!!! Couldn't find Pat and Nat, but I found Namtrah at his seat, exchanged groovy hugs and kisses with him and his cohort Eric (a perfect stranger for all of three seconds) and off we went for a beer and baño run whilst Namtrah and I spouted Holy Grail quotes. Quite the beer lines out there, but I didn't notice thanks to Eric and the best scalp and neck massage I've ever received from someone I've never met who couldn't stop smelling me. Okay, time for Def Leppard, the other reason we came. Found my brother back at our seats and settled in for some typically-perfect sound and lighting action -- though settled is the wrong word, as we were on our feet straight through lights-up-and-shuffle-out! Def Leppard are perfectionists, it always shows. 'Twas another hitfest, with the energy turned up several notches. Save Bringin' on the Heartbreak, the first DL tune I ever heard and one of my very favorites, they were all played, and Sugar was saved for the encore, of course. Thanks to the release of Yeah! a few weeks ago, we also got a nice three-tune set of well-tooled covers including T.Rex's 20th Century Boy (viva la glam), Badfinger's No Matter What (perfect pop), and the best: Rock On by David Essex -- on the heels of a sweet bass solo by Sav which was followed by the sultry appearance of Joe Elliott high above the stage in a long leopard coat. That was probably my favorite part of the show. Phil, meanwhile, is just as glam and tight as ever... I met and spent time with these guys in Scottsdale in '87 and Phil surprised me then with that coolio short 'do while the rest of the guys had metal hair. I loved talking to him. And, sigh... I have to say, Rick was a smiling fiend all night long -- infectious, really. I'm eternally amazed by him, and have zero patience for dolts who make jokes about one-armed drummers. Yeah, too much to say there... such an example of dedication and focus, we'd all be lucky to have such determination and talent. He makes me smile and cry, right on Rick. And another rather unlikely lead vocalist (he never meant to be one), I still have it bad for Joe Elliott and that great, scratchy voice of his... he avoided the ultra-highs but otherwise was in great form. And the mighty Bic salute came, and the encore came... ah, 80s rock. Show over and my voice gone, we hit the dirt lot for a nice 1½-hour wait before we even started the car. Amazingly, the people next to us were 22-23 and there to see Journey. ??! That's kooky. But very cool. I hope I get to see both bands o' gents again. BLAST! / Monty Python's Spamalot 6/25 at the National Theatre... "You've got two halves of a coconut and you're bangin' 'em together!" Thanks be to Eric Idle and Director Mike Nichols for the greatest time I've had at the theatah in years. I know, you son of a silly person, this was not a concert... but I know the "lyrics" to this as well as I know any favorite tune. This Tony-winning parody of stage musicals is based ("lovingly") on the classic Brit comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- a tape I've worn out, and a DVD I'm waiting patiently to buy until they've suitably restored it... (hello??) 'Twas beyond cool to see it brought to the stage, expertly morphed into something completely modern while maintaining all the raunchy, brilliant wit that made me and everyone else in the theatre love the movie. Even the low-fi animation made it in! It's been running in NYC for over a year and has sold out every single night as it did here. And the traveling company was fantastic -- considered by many to give a more cohesive performance than the powerhouse Broadway bunch that featured Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce and Tim Curry. I'm glad I saw these folks instead for myriad reasons. Nods especially to the crazy-talented David Turner, obviously a natural comedian, who played (among other roles of course, in typical Python fashion) Sir Robin and made me laugh until I cried. Bradley Dean, whose Sir Gallahad was here a (deservedly -- oh my) vain knight with the greatest teeth and hair you've ever seen, also shone as Prince Herbert's father. Spot on! It's probably the only theatre event I've attended where it was expected -- instead of frowned upon -- that people make noise. From the minute Patsy and his coconuts followed King Arthur onto the stage, the applause came in constant waves as beloved character after beloved character appeared... Not Dead Fred, the Old Woman (Dennis), the Black Knight, the French Taunters, the Knights of Ni, and Tim and the cruel, foul Killer Bunny -- even Sir Not Appearing in This Film, er play. Yes, all were here on stage. John Cleese was also with us as the voice of God, a major treat for me. And borrowing from Monty Python's Life of Brian, Patsy sang at King Arthur to always look on the bright side of life -- or death I guess... depends on the verse! (But what was up with Zoot's Anthrax girls appearing in the dance numbers while the Castle was nowhere to be seen? Silly!) Brilliant move to make a character out of the wa'ery tart known as the Lady of the Lake; Pia Glenn killed us with the constant Diva's Lament! But let's not bicker over who killed who... there wasn't a weak performance in the bunch, and fans of all ages -- seriously, from 20 to 80! -- recited every movie line that made the cut, making this similar to a full-house singalong. (Maybe it was a concert afterall.) A perfect parody of a parody, low-brow and high-brow with tongue firmly planted in cheek, this is not a show for the lazy-minded (I can't think of a stage musical that wasn't referenced), nor was it one for the sensitive, as there isn't a soul who was safe from ridicule. It'll suffice to say this is not a very PC event -- and one I can't go on too much more about in the event a curious person with a ticket happens to stumble across my words. There's plenty to keep hush about here as the surprise is half the fun. It's left DC, but hopefully Spamalot is coming to a theatre near you. Expect to be blown away by the familiar cum new. It may be your 50th time hearing an argument about swallows, but your face will still hurt from smiling as if it was your first! / Mike Doughty's Band 6/16 at the 9:30... Wow, M., what a sweet assembly of gents! Seriously, Doughty's got himself supported by three wonderful musicians these days. Last time I saw him he was alone, as he was a few times before that, after Soul Coughing called it quits in 2K. I still miss that band and the fabulous, hip-hoppin' deep slacker jazz, (we got two SC tunes, never enough), but Mike's wit and warmth and funky creativity have been alive and well, and last night proved it's going nowhere. We were 12-15 people deep from the stage, close enough to connect but far enough back for audio balance. They kicked the night off with the plugged version of Busting Up A Starbucks, which previously I'd only heard done acoustically. Wow. Though I loved the simple version, this noticeably raised the temperature in the room. From there he went into 27 Jennifers (nod to the "brave youngster" on keyboards who seemed to channel Steely Dan for a minute there), and the groove only got stronger as the show wore on. I never stopped smiling. Happy people up on stage, there appears to be a lot of affection and/or respect up there. Whatever it is, they are one sweet unit... just drums, keyboards, upright bass, and Doughty on lead guitar and vocals, the guys "in back" are hardly in back. They each had a distinct presence on stage and are highly talented in their own rights. And Scrap, Mr. Upright Bass? Crazy good, I fell in love. (Great name, love his hair.) Excellent sound in the club this night. The band took us through short, solid tunes expertly divided by some tight jams -- one some sort of freeform astral jazz (almost scary, truly), another a flat-out funk fest and the last some crazy, speedy funk rock. Definitely dug the "show within a show" where Mike did what we've seen him do for the past five years -- go at it alone with his acoustic guitar for a few. He has so many adoring fans, and rightly so. I swear he looked into the eyes of each and every person as far as 30 deep on the floor. Ever the brilliant lyricist, I've always thought he was the least likely of lead singers (what a crazy unique voice he has), but it's such a soothing sound. To me it never sounds sweeter than in The Only Answer, sadly beautiful and upbeat. His campfire vibe is irresistible, but it's no beach or forest, it's city... fire up the trash in the can and give him a street corner, like that. He's real. John Mayer, Jack Johnson and [insert any same-ol'-same-ol' cookie cutter oh-so-groovy folk dude here] need to attend the School of Doughty -- he's been hip to the low-fi chill since he was born and sounds like NObody else. And there are so many left turns in his live show, it's like some sort of reset button for your brain... dude's always pushing the envelope musically. Back to the team, the Paradise City / Gambler funk take was weird and fun, but then that pretty much describes everything this guy does. That third jam? Yikes. Drummer Pete McNeal was on fire!! His ragey happy face had me laughing out loud while I was dancing... incredible. And MAN, Firetruck?? Last time I heard that it was only ten seconds long. Now it's this ferocious funk monster! So glad I wore comfy zapatos because I was moving the entire time. It would be strange if people weren't dancing at his show. Okay, the Hair and Hat couple (whom Lou appropriately deemed "deliberately bizarre") were a little over the top, but everywhere else were people who love their jazz and funk and aren't afraid to show it. Love the 9:30 when the floor's a wave of non-stop bopping heads! He closed with Your Misfortune, an op for a Janine-style singalong, something we expect and something you know he digs. "Louder please... We kindly ask that you sing louder... We respectfully request that you sing louder..." Sigh. As Lou said when the lights came up, "Um, I want more." Yeah. Mmm-uh. I heart Doughty.

 
2005: It's coming... one day. I have two years to fill in, bleh! I think I just might never.
 
2004: The Hives 7/20 at the 9:30... Nulla salus sine The Hives! They descended upon the U.S. tonight, first stop DC, next stop... Austin? We can't be sure, but Pelle mentioned them tonight -- said they wouldn't be too happy if DC decided they wanted The Hives to themselves. Well we did. Last time they were ending their U.S. tour in DC, and this time it was the kick-off. And lucky us, it was the CD release party to boot. Picked that sucker up earlier today and must say, diversity's found its way in (not that we didn't love power chord after power chord as was Veni Vidi Vicious) and tonight's show was twice the length of our last crazy Hives experience. Not nearly as chaotic as the show at the Cat, the sold-out 9:30 left little room for moshing and shined the light on enough preppy folks (okay, I saw one mohawk) that The Gap could've had a booth in there and done some slammin' business. Still, the stylin' Swedes were true-to-form, spitting (literally, I saw it) in the face of garage rock, pushing the glampunk dressed in black with white coats, white bowties and spats, the stage complete with all white equipment. (Those brilliant, snowy Hiwatt amps will probably be for sale at IKEA next year in their all-white line, check it out.) Pelle was up on the speakers again, preening and loving himself (which we love him for), urging us to love them, forcing all the uptight but oh-so-hip DC urbanites to let loose and beg for the new material, not that they didn't do us right with the old stuff we know and love. They did a splendid job mixing the old with the new, though the highlight of the show was definitely the segue from Outsmarted into A Little More For Little You. They bragged about taking us over two years ago and we loved it then. This time around they talked of hating the U.S. at times and wondering if we'd been... OUTSMARTED, taking an unsure and slightly offended audience into the tune and then making us forget we'd been offended. I dig his M.O., and though the music is exhilirating enough in its raunchy purity, the show would be nothing without Howlin' Pelle, and dude knows it. Okay, drummer Chris Dangerous knows it too, and he's eternally disgusted with our feeble admiration. God I love these guys! Tyrannosaurus Hives indeed. There's still some rock out there. / dada 7/14 at The Bottle and Cork - Dewey Beach... Another kick-ass show with one of my favorite bands on the planet. Scroll, because there's nothing more I can say. Previous reviews say it all. / dada 7/9 on the Herndon Town Green... A muggy night but a lovely stage for my favorite gents -- and a pleasure to finally see it with my lovely friend Olga -- smooch and see you in black soon again! Pics will be up soon. For reviews, yeah... scroll! / Velvet Revolver 5/27 at the 9:30... First and foremost: I'm a Velvet Revolver fan! I didn't know this, of course, until tonight's full-throttle sweatfest. Actually, it would be better to say I'm a Scott Weiland fan (hands down and die-hard), because he's what drew me there. Had the smiling-until-my-face-hurt pleasure of catching Scott -- clad in low-rise red jeans and shimmying at his best -- front his new band at the 9:30 tonight, and to quote concert cohort Beel, "he's home." True dat. Anyone who knows me knows how serious an STP fan I am, and I have to admit I didn't miss the rest of the boys in that band tonight. Scott is bomb blast rock-n-roll, and with the boys of G-n-R it appears he's found nirvana. His pipes -- the thing we fans all love him for -- were in top form (as were his trademark lava lamp, pigeon mating dance), and the music was rock solid. God bless them for giving us Crackerman (my fave STP song) and Sex Type Thing, but otherwise, echoes of STP weren't necessary. Is that good or bad? This is one uber fit rock and roll band, and the players are all heavy hitters -- Scott isn't the only one in the spotlight. Nice to see the teamwork! True to form I was after the crowd's opinion... asked a few random concert-goers what brought them there tonight, STP love or G-n-R love? The answers were all the same, "Scott Weiland is a god, and Slash is the other god. I had to be here." Well I can tell you that I now have the utmost respect for the ol' G-n-R guys, who sound and look far better than they did twenty years ago. Though I was almost completely unfamiliar with the material this eve, there wasn't a dull moment. Solid, HARD, tight. WOW, not easy to say that in the face of unfamiliar fare. I'll be following this new gang with nearly as much fervor as I did Scott's old troupe. Bill and I, and everyone we spoke to, said the same thing, "The 9:30 is more 'sold out' than I've ever witnessed." Bill thought they over-sold, and all I can say is that we'd never seen such craziness at a merch stand or such foaming at the mouth for the guys on stage. And think about it... this is a new band! God speed, VR, you're in prime form. Hope you'll be around for a looooong time, at least for me to have another go! / dada 3/13 at State Theatre... Won't go on. Scroll down! dada excels at the jam, excels at most everything. The world is stupid for not knowing them, and I'm tired of saying it! I've been tired of saying it for far too many years. Met up with several (now familiar) dada fans, and was pleased to spend some time with merch Nick and roadie Greg -- thanks for the late-night entertainment! Tom and Becky? Any time, I would hang with you two any time. Personal moments like singing (at warp speed) with Joie, and then with Michael on the bus ("when people are MEAN!") will make this night special forever. God bless you guys. World, for cryin' out loud, get wise. For pics from the night, go here. / Joie Calio 1/19-24 at Iota, Poe's Pub in Richmond, and The Saint in Asbury Park...dada is sweet. Joie Calio ( of the voice that is dada) is sweeter. If you want to be sucked into the brain of a sweet poet, Joie Calio will take you away... take you to sun and happiness. Saw the man melt mere mortals three times in a week, and I was ready to sign my life away. Nobody does it sweeter, nobody softens me like he does. He reminds me of the way I used to be before the world made me cynical. And props to Sir Halden for adding another dimension -- you were a grrand blast. Save basking in Joie's and Gregory's talent, it was a week like no other... thanks Tim for the fun road trip and overnight haven, thanks Cathi for the girlie banter, great company and safe transport en route to the land of (what did you all those guys hanging out in the lot?), and so good to meet you fellow dada (and Joie) fans. Sorry it was so cold J and G, don't let that put Leg Two off too long. We love you! More pics than you could hope to want are here.
 

2003: Seal 12/13 at the 9:30... Oh my lord, what a lovefest! On a verrrry chilly night in DC, saw the love and the light with my groovy friend Brenda, the biggest and craziest Seal fan I know -- who flew in from Texas for the event. WOW, what a talent, the entire room was aglow, and I doubt I've been to a show where the love was more apparent. If you've not seen this man live, do yourself a favor and catch the room full of groove and shine. I had no clue I was such a Seal fan. Okay, we won't let that loooooong wait outside the bus color our frigid memories. Big smooches, Ms. Brenda! / dada 12/4 at the Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ... Another dada concert, but this time in the desert, and special because I was with long-time dada fan and cousin GOGO. I know Joie was shocked to see me at the foot of the stage, and that was hilarious... "Hmm, what city are we in??" No reason to go on about their show, save the fact that it was possibly the best of the tour (and the last, at least on this leg) due to length, and due to the phenomenal Ask The Dust -- better than I've ever heard or seen. I had to wipe Ms. Gogo off the floor thanks to Mr. Gurley and what he does, which needs no explanation for a dada fan, but to put it lightly makes a woman weak in the knees. Understood. Thanks for the all-encompassing hugs, Sir Calio, you know I'm there for you. Please, anyone checking this out, go see dada live, it's almost holy. No one will kill you with the jam like dada. / Badly Drawn Boy 11/7 at the 9:30...This British artist is one seriously talented man... I'm still sort of floating. We skipped the opener for some yummy Caribbean eats on U Street (good suggestion, babe), and couldn't have timed the club entrance any better. Damon Gough (BDB) took the stage about five minutes after we arrived (was that a Jackson 5 song?) and played for a whopping two and a half hours -- unheard of these days, save the dada shows these past months. Tonight I decided I'm almost glad I missed him the last few times he's come through DC... with three great albums under his belt there's a lot of material for him to play with, and I could've stood up there on those steps for another hour if he'd wanted me to! When he first took the stage it was just a man and his beautiful, rich guitar, and I wondered if that would be it. Five minutes later I didn't wonder or care, but as it turned out he pulled in support on and off throughout the night, and it seemed as though he'd planned none of it, which kept it constantly surprising. He is as clever with his banter as he is his compositions, and the crowd was alternately swaying and laughing while Damon moved between his guitars and the keyboards, smoking cigarettes and tossing out witty remarks -- pausing between tunes at one point to pass a picture of his kids around amongst the folks pressed against the barrier below him in the front row. (Loved hearing the tale behind Have You Fed the Fish!) Boredom wasn't on the schedule, not for a minute. He is why people should see the artists they love live, because there was nothing here you could've captured in a studio session... he took every song in an almost opposite direction, electrifying and exploding the simpler ones, and toning down his more complicated fare. He also paid due respect to all his albums, so I doubt there was a disappointed fan in the room. It would take far too much space to detail every little nuance of tonight's lovely experience. It was so intimate it was as if we were watching him in his living room... so much was unscripted. There was a ten-minute freeform bit near the end that amazed us -- as my cohort, a fellow fan, put it, "man... he's totally winging it, this is unbelievable." Just some ad lib atop yet another gorgeous beat, keeping us all on our toes, watching him create right there on the fly. He gave props to many an artist throughout the eve, dedicating a song to the recently deceased Elliot Smith (a friend), and performing 40 Days, 40 Fights for Bruce Springsteen, which probably took a few folks by surprise. Whether it's a simple or complex arrangement, he's brilliant. And what a voice... silver icing on moist, chocolate cake -- through your ears, straight down your spine and flooding you with warmth. Ain't no way I'm missing him next time. Babe (4 greens!)... couldn't imagine seeing him with anyone else. / dada 10/9 at State Theatre... Okay, apparently I lied when I said I was sated. Not gonna pass up an opportunity to see one of my very favorite bands if they're playing down the street! Yet more raves. Sound was great. Opener Melbourne was quite good; second up Ebo, eh... seen 'em before, don't need to go there again. Dada rocked, nothing less than I expected, all the energy I've ever seen before -- and very smiley this eve, gave us an unexpectedly long set. I sat at a front table with newbie Kath (who didn't appreciate the music - gasp! but don't worry... we, um, "took care of her...") Sucked up the total view for most of the night, only running to stand below Michael during Mary Sunshine... couldn't miss that. Dug the two new tunes. Had the usual meet and greet afterwards, many hugs with the guys and signatures all around. Lovely to meet some of you board peeps (and your wives!), all very cool people. Hooked up with MegaDan, Twnty1inRF, Backflip Bob and his bachelor party (you were killin' me) and of course the muy generous and fun Cathi and her troupe. No need to repeat myself from previous reviews... such damned beautiful music, and wonderful, talented guys, nothing like it. But I have to say it again: The place should've been sold out. The world is just not wise. Thanks for the transport, Cathi! / Emmet Swimming 8/22 at Herndon Town Center? (wherever it was, they didn't have bathrooms!)... Chipotle on the run, Emmet outdoors, a little rain, a lovely night. A flashy guitar thingie for my lapel! No bathrooms. That about sums it up. / Cake 9/4 at the 9:30... Okay, so they sang Opera Singer, which I was waiting for all night. And the company was good, and Cake is always good, but YIKES, what were the sound people smoking? Easily the worst show I've seen at the 9:30 soundwise, and easily Cake's worst show soundwise. Oh so sad... often times we couldn't even hear the lead. Booo... ! / dada 8/10 at Recher Theatre in Towson... Guess I didn't get enough! Home safe and sound sans voice (and normal hearing) from yet another mind-blowing dada show and am uberthankful they went back on the road, don't know what else to say. Damn... I was unencumbered (no camera) this time around and got to suck it all up, right at Mike's feet this time (last week I was Joie side), and am blissfully exhausted. Not as intimate as last weekend's show (hard to beat Iota on the intimacy factor, though roadie Jeremy might have another word for it), but it was a better show content-wise... got to hear all the little extras other shows gave everybody ("Mary Sunshine Rain, dammit!" ha, I was desperate! -- they kicked ASS on that tune) and again got to chat with the guys; feeling quite content and complete at the moment. I'll never understand why the venues have so much breathing room at their shows, NEVER. Think twelve people deep and then drop it off... ??? They deserve so much more than that. But I love the unity of these shows, all of us obsessed with every little note and lyric. Great to meet some of you B'more fans, (thanks, Mr. "I have extra cotton if you need it)! After two shows I've been sated. Mike winced when I asked them to do "Dog," so I guess I was stretching it a bit. We got spoiled tonight! It was beautiful. Made the pilgrimage with Rich this time around, a major dada fan who'd never seen them live. At the end of the night? He said it was the best show he's ever seen, period. / dada 8/3 at Iota... How long have I waited for this?? Ah, my boyz! What a treat, easily the most anticipated concert this year. 'Twas a great night in Northern VA -- the show was fantastic! The room was almost full with plenty of breathing room in the back. Interesting to note: mostly male this crowd... VERY few women were there, I just don't get that. They started after 10:30 and played for over two hours. Took the stage (Joie in a flaming orange wig) while Sympathy For the Devil played in the club -- which stopped and started twice because Joie asked them to keep the music going. I was surprised (and pleased) that they kicked off with Dim, which will always and forever be my favorite song. It was a tad slower than the CD version, great just the same. I don't recall the entire setlist, but they played 'em all! Halfway through they deemed it "All Request Sunday" so there were a few surprises. Phil KICKS, truly one of the best drummers out there and I always tell him so -- he said he's been playing since he was five or something. Both Mike and Joie were in great form, voices sounded beautiful -- Joie belted out Moon as passionately as ever. They put a VERY cool jazzy little ending on Information Undertow (had to commend Mike on that one), damn I love Mike's guitar! They were very fan-friendly as usual, talking before and after the show with anyone who wanted to shake their hands. This was my sixth (?) show in the ten years I've been a fan (#7 will be next Sunday--and I'm not even a groupie sort, swear it!), and almost every time I've had the pleasure of hanging with them afterwards, asking questions and getting legit answers. I was happy to hear from each of them separately that they're psyched about the band and trying to get their name and music out there in people's faces again, hence the tour. Phil said they're by no means "kaput" and have no intention of making this their last tour. Still in lust with this band, probably always will be. One of the most talented trios ever, couldn't say enough! Another new show for Shoot, and he was muy impressed. For pics from the show go here. / Cracker 7/18 at the 9:30... Can't believe I'm reviewing Cracker again, so I'll keep it short. Dave and company sound better than ever, I no tell a lie, I couldn't believe it! Wow, the years are doing them well. Lots of people think they're done, but I'm here to tell you they most certainly are not! It was a jamfest, vocals pure as can be -- and complete with Eurotrash Girl, as every Cracker show should be. It was Shoot's first time at a Cracker show, and I believe he dug it mightily! Sidebar: I wish I knew who in hell you were, sir who was holding up my hair so I could drink... you were finer than air conditioning. / Peter Gabriel 6/22 at Nissan Pavillion... What a damned gorgeous day and night it was, and here I'd thought (when I bought the tickets) that we were going to be sitting out there sweating! Nice to be so close (we had excellent seats) and enjoy his music outdoors. Have to say it's a much different show on that smaller stage, though he did his best to keep the theatrics alive. He and Melanie rode around on Segues during Games Without Frontiers this time, and it was pretty hilarious. They even brought down the huge bubblewrap ball for Growing Up, and damned if he didn't bounce up and down and roll around that TINY Nissan stage in the thing! We were laughing our asses off, knowing how much more room he'd had at MCI, yet here he was pulling it off at Nissan. Nice to have seen both shows, because they had different setlists. At first Bill thought some of Gabriel's theatrical magic was lost on this small stage, but he got more into it halfway through and accepted the small venue atmosphere. I thought it was a nice mix-up because this time we got more of the "band jam" feel than we did last time -- more music, less stage antics. (Have to say, though, the MCI show was better.) Bill also thought we were lucky we got included in the second leg of his tour, because it seemed most of the concentration was on Midwest locations. It was a little hard to listen to Don't Give Up, as Melanie's voice is sweet for back-up, but I don't think she has carrying power. That was my least favorite tune of the night. Sevara (the opener) was interesting -- Bill said "Enigma from a different country." Pretty, mostly stuff for laying down on the lawn or doing yoga. Didn't appreciate their presence during In Your Eyes, though, because some of their instruments were fighting with his -- enough that it was almost off-tune to my ears the entire way through. Took us an hour to get out of the parking lot, something I'd never experienced there before, though I've heard horror stories. But it was a great night, thanks be to the weather gods! Wow, a day FREE of rain in Washington, DC! / Johnny Marr + the healers 5/16 at the Black Cat... Good Lord, how many bands did we have to sit through whilst waiting for Johnny, three?? I don't recall, but there were far too many. Can't complain about noise at the Cat anymore, as their new digs seem to have conquered that problem... the past year's shows there have been sweet. Had a decent group this time around, Rols, Bill, and Jared in town before heading to Germany. I have a sneaking suspicion Jared didn't love the show, headbanger that he is, but he was atleast a good sport about it. I don't know what freaked him out more, the music or the guy that was trying to pick him up, ha! Johnny was excellent, damn he can play! I was completely mesmerized, standing about ten people deep throughout most of the show, dancing my ass off. It was a lovely, honest performance -- dug what he was playing and saying. I swear he was singing right to me the entire time. Kicked ass on that train! I had not one complaint... hope he heads back soon. / Ashley MacIsaac 5/13 at Iota... First time ever that I had to stand in line! What a shocker... I really didn't expect Ashley to sell the place out. Boy was it ever packed. We could barely see him most of the night, and I'm sad to say that he did so little from Hi How Are You Today (the only album I know well and love) that I was wondering who I was watching! He was killing that fiddle, as usual, but I can't say I was too pleased to learn that he's started singing. Where've I been while all this evolving was going on?? Missed you, Gogo. I think Shoot and I had more fun at the after party at my place looping the Celtic "wedding song!" / IKE 5/2 at Iota... Glad to have the boyz back at Iota, though the crowd was subpar and the night was sort of a bust in general. Next time I'm bringing fans with me! / Bruce Springsteen 3/6 at Richmond Coliseum... One of my cohorts for the eve said to me early in the day, "STP, the Beatles and Springsteen, huh? Interesting..." He found it odd that I'd get palps over all of them. (Later, on the ride back to DC, he proposed to me. I'm still mulling it over.) But it's easy if you think about it and know where any of them were/are coming from... Rock-n-Roll 101. I sat there tonight looking out at all the faces above and below me, awash in pink light, most of them older than me (not the norm these days), some of them younger, and wondered how they all came to find Bruce. The seats were full to the nosebleed section of the nosebleed section... was it sold out? Of course -- in under four hours, I heard, which is as standard these days as it was when I was in highschool. When I discovered Springsteen back then (thanks to Wade, I love you by the way), he wasn't a household name, he was not mainstream, he wasn't somebody my parents appreciated hearing wailing down the halls of our house. But when I cranked She's The One, my mom said, "I would die to have a man write those words about me." I think she sort of got it. (Many years later, when he was Dancing in the Dark and the rest of the world caught on, she definitely got it.) To this day, I've never seen a better live performance by any individual or band (though some agreed tonight that Peter Gabriel holds a candle). 1980 ASU? 1981 Veterans Memorial Coliseum? Don't recall, but good Lord. Detroit Medley on the floor, and half the people had left! Tonight I leaned over to one of my cohorts and said, "I never thought I would be here watching him so many years later." Save She's The One, Badlands, Prove It All Night and Born to Run, I didn't hear any of the songs that made me love him so many years ago. He's a different man. Though I know he's "done his part" around this country, I don't dig the Blue-Collar-Hero-Man-of-the-People thing, because I loved him when he was a rebel rock-n'-roller, pissed at his Catholic upbringing, pissed at his nazi record label, unknown by most... I liked the stories, the rock operas, the blazing guitar (oh that Fender!) and the stage antics. (No rocker can shake it like Bruce, no one.) Seeing him live back then was like watching a kid crank it and dance around the house when his parents are gone, up on the couch, the table, jumping up and down on the bed... he'd tear it up for over three hours without a break, and then come back out to us three more times, even when the lights were up, down in the pit with us, unstoppable. He loves what he does, period. I'm going on about this because the concert archives on this page just don't go back that far -- pity, because the bands of today could learn a thing or two from the rock heroes of the 70s. This one in particular touches everybody in a different way. Once you get past the obsessive and somewhat silly fans -- the ones who point and pound the air with their fists and scream every word to every song just to prove they know them (I used to be one of them, I've grown up since then) -- and watch the rest of the crowd, you can see his grand effect and appreciate it. Being at a Springsteen concert is not about being cool or being modern or being better, it's about communion. There's love on the stage that's stronger than most marriages (I said it before, I say it again!) and faith in the room that can't be found in any church. That said, he's thankfully dropped his evangelistic addresses, and his stories of his youth, and he just rocks. His catalog is too vast anymore to please any single soul in the room. I myself was disappointed tonight, but to please me he'd have had to play for eight hours. The good news is that he looks younger than he has in years. (I wonder why that matters to me... perhaps if Bruce is getting older it means I am, too!) No matter what he was playing, he was playing it with as much passion as he did twenty years ago, albeit without the glorious hops to the top of the piano and numerous encores. Save trips to the bar -- hey peanut tosser and bar escort, did you go off and arrest somebody? -- I never once took my eyes off the stage or screens, and was grateful to see Bruce do his old slide down the stage. Props to Max for leaving his subdued Conan gig behind tonight... mighty Max he definitely is. (But Garry, what is up with all that facial hair??) 'Twas an interesting day at the very disorganized Blues Cafe & Bistro before the show -- Val you are a crazy woman (watch that STEEL), and cool Norm, your future's so bright... Patski? Thanks for getting me the best seats I've had since I was front and center in '80. We could almost touch him. Loved For You at the piano, but otherwise Richmond didn't get any real treats. Bleh! No Thunder Road, no Backstreets, no Rosalita, no Jungeland, but it was still a lovely night and a fun road trip. / Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun w/ Commander Cody Band 2/28 at the Birchmere... Perfect seats and good company for a really, really good shew... Commander Cody, known by most everyone on the planet, hit the stage first on cane. Bill Kirchen, Lost Planet Airmen guitarist and vocalist until '77, hit the stage next. It was a very disjointed evening. Both were good, though we only saw George Frayne (Cody) from the nose up all night (at the piano), and Bill went uncharacteristically "country ballad" and UNdieselbilly on us for twenty minutes! (Special guest Linda Lay overstayed her welcome in my book. Lovely pipes, but I was yawning!) Cody gave us Seeds & Stems Again, which I have always loved, and Bill thankfully included the swoony Sleepwalkin' (I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get up and sway to it). I think Bill's shining moment that night was the Peace, Love & Understanding cover, though, which was superb! When Cody came back on stage and they combined forces at the end of the show it was decidedly more energetic, but see Kirchen on his own, he's better. Even that kick-ass version of Hot Rod Lincoln, which Gattaca-man Kirchen always delivers, was weak on this night. And where in HELL was Rockabilly Funeral? Babe K, hope you were out there somewhere in the crowd. / The Two of Us: John & Paul Unplugged ("John & Paul" of the Beatlemania Now Project) 2/24 at Iota... We got the booth! (score) It was a sing-along eve like no other at my favorite public living room, watching two gents -- the names of whom escape me, sorry LADS! -- portray the "Abbey Road" J&P (atleast in dress) while they tossed out one Beatles song after another, spanning their entire career, including a few of each of the impersonatees' solo tunes. I was smiling the entire night... such unbelievable melodies, all those tunes. --Okay, Rich, you get some of the smile credit... "That keyboardist, he was all about the music, man." (Peace, love and Irish Nachos.) Albeit rusty on a lot of the lyrics, both guys were in character full-tilt, but we were in agreement on one thing: the "Paul guy" was so broadway he went overboard on McCartney's expressions to the point of ridiculous. I've seen Rain (old, old Beatles tribute band) kick ass all over all the Beatles tunes with today's modern equipment, but it was sort of a treat to hear an acoustic set. We got to hear little delicacies like I'll Follow the Sun. And though I'd shouted it out early on in the night, I had to wait until the encore to hear I'm Looking Through You. It was definitely a serious fan's sort of get together... I'm sure we'd all agree we knew those songs better than the two guys on stage. / Todd Rundgren 2/4 at the Birchmere... Great, fun eve! PistoBeel and I were both excited to see him, because we both love him, period -- Beel especially, as he'd never seen the man. However, he was much better on the Walk Down Abbey Road thing I saw a couple years ago, mostly because this time around he was unplugged -- just him, a baby grand, and a couple guitars. And he did this weird little bit where he brought out a machine with some pre-recorded music... ended up doing a couple of his hits to some odd latin background, which, though unique at first for a song or two, got old, like an SNL skit that went on far too long. He was also WAY too political, and was ranting for most of the eve. (That also got very old.) Great venue for him, and his voice is in top form, so it's too bad he wasn't plugged and goin' at it. With the exception of his quite passionate go at Hello, It's Me on the piano, it was almost as if he didn't care so much about his performance or his material. Sadly, I Saw the Light fell victim to the pre-recorded latin noise, and it's my favorite. Bleh! Though it was the first of Todd's little latin numbers and therefore interesting, I was a tad disappointed. The opener (?) was strange and made me uncomfortable... if not for the Anne Frank doppelganger and a little napkin hangman, we'd not have been so entertained. _ _M _ _ B_ _ ED! On a 1-to-10 scale, though, Beel gave Rundgren a seven. I'd agree. Not too shabby.

 

2002: The Strokes w/ Jimmy Fallon 11/26 at Constitution Hall... I wish we'd brought a cot. What a lovely, crisp and misty night it started out to be, Jeremy and me rubbing up against strange people in the mini-bars dotted outside the main hall. Lovely to meet the gents who purchased my extra tickets on eBay, too... some of the cooler "juniors" we've met in awhile. But the Strokes? Or Lordie, what a yawn. They sounded perfect, no doubt about it. Not that what they do is complex in the least, but it's still nice when a band can hold their own outside the confines (and magic) of the studio. But they were so perfect, we might as well have been listening to the album. Some people think that's cool, but we didn't. Why buy a ticket to see somebody kick it live when they sound like they'd sound in your living room? I shouldn't say kick it, though, because they might as well have been mannequins up there. Sad to say, we sat through over half of the concert, ready to bolt at a moment's notice. Thank heaven for the uberfunny (and adorable) Jimmy Fallon beforehand, who had us all laughing in amazement over his spot-on parodies -- even his band's quirky punkpop is respectable! (You go boy... see you in Vegas some day.) But back to The Strokes... zero movement on stage. They need to check out a Hives show to see what to do! Lead singer Julian Casablancas couldn't care less about what he's doing up there. In fact, he appears to be bored stiff and hating the world, and he's all tooooo coooool. (Liam Gallagher is a hyper, cheery lad in comparison.) Save your cash... buy a bottle of red or a six-pack and spin the disc at home, you'll have a better time. / Peter Gabriel w/ The Blind Boys of Alabama 11/24 at MCI Center... Went with Gabriel freak PistoBeel to one of the top shows of the year, hands down. I was promised reviews by my cohort and others and never got them, so here goes my lame attempt (I was a newbie and have NOTHING to compare it to!)... We walked in on the end of the opener, Blind Boys of Alabama, who kicked off the moody night with a big gospel set. Gabriel then walked on stage clad in black karate wear and opened with Beel's favorite Here Comes the Flood, something I never appreciated on the first album, but something I fell in love with live and have always loved when it's just Peter on the piano. (Started out the night in tears, great!) From there it was basically a series of peerless multimedia mindblowers, from the oh-so-dramatic Gabriel descending upon the stage in (and singing an entire tune inside) a huge ball of bubble wrap, to him belting out a tune upside down while suspended on a circular track over the stage with his daughter, who sang back-up all night. (Oh, can't forget the light-pocked coat he was wearing during Sledgehammer, ode to the video I suppose.) It was in the round, this broadway-like event, and though we had better seats than many, I can't imagine there was a bad view in the house. I couldn't believe the all-corners-of-the-mind trip I was on all night, from crazy fun to eerie and then back again, pure emotion. The music and his voice are perfect, almost surreal, and I can't say I've ever seen anything like it. He's so worth the ticket. The only downfall (hard to find) was the all-too-frequent appearance of stagehands in orange monkey suits, who came out between almost every song to prepare for the next theatrical display. (He could atleast dress them in black! Enough said.) Though we never got Shock the Monkey (other cities did), I got my other faves like Solsbury Hill, Mercy Street and In Your Eyes. He closed the show with Father, Son and left me all weepy again. Pretty intimate feeling for such a large venue. I can't say I was a sweaty mess physically, but my mind was drenched. I'm damned mad I waited so long to see him! / Lamya 10/4 at Iota... Sir Rols and I tripped into Iota one beautimous late afternoon after having played hooky all day. Unbeknownst to us, a 20-yr highschool reunion was taking place that night, and some of the folks were already there and raring to go. Let's just say we weren't as into them as they were US. Ahem. ("Dave, hey! You look great, really! Whoever in hell you are... and NO! You cannot go home with us.") We weren't there for the show, we wanted brew. But some beautiful, petite woman was setting up gear on the stage and doing a sound check not long after we got there, and we were sort of mesmerized, so we stayed. The song she sang during the check was amazing... "Bring me MEN, bring me men to match my mountains..." This gorgeous little amber-skinned woman, dressed down in jeans, was banging on her drums and singing raw and hard, and we were hooked. This be Lamya. She's from Britain, she's got soul, she's got pop, she rocks on the world beat, and that night the entire room was buzzing. What an unexpected treat. The next great thing, perhaps? The thick crowd around her afterwards was hard to believe, and it was nice to get up there in her face and tell her how personal and intimate her performance was. She hugged me over it, she was amazing. She'll be back at the 9:30 in March and hopefully we'll be there. / Doves 9/12 at the 9:30... Doves do loves DC, no doubt about it. For the fourth time in a year and a half (is that right?) my ears got the headrock they love. Won't go on about it, as you can read about the previous shows below... only difference from those this time around was a megadose of laser lights -- enough that I felt like I was at a Floyd show, and just about perfect for Doves' beautimous tunes. JD was in the thick of things while Beel and I hung at the bar and watched him groove in the mirror. Good time had by all as usual. Space Face was extra chunky this time out... you people needed room to shake it! / Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers w/ Jim's Big Ego and Shurman 9/7 at Iota... Cheers to another night dense with tequila-laden fun and kick-ass bluesy rock and roll! Got there muy early to save spots for cohorts and chit chat with other Freshies/Peace fanatics (nice to meet you Jeremy and Mindy), and by nine the place was sold out. No worries for the sad fans (that includes you, Martin the Evil) who were lined up outside, as it seems they all made it in before the Peacemakers were half way through their set; Connie made it in because she banged on the side of the tour bus! The energy was high and the rock solid, right from the get-go... Rols and I knew we'd be impressed when we heard the drums during the soundcheck. First up, Shurman from L.A., unknown to most of us and heartily welcomed--watch for these guys, damn they kick! Passionate on the lead and prone to odd autographs (see the pic above), Aaron was great to watch, all heart and soul--almost as great to watch as drummer Damon, the most active dude I've seen behind a kit in a long time... blistering and focused, he never stopped moving once! Toit like a toiger I say! Had to shake his hand (thanks for the impromptu dance amongst the sardines). Johnny's quite the happy bass player, and sadly, due to a blocked view, I saw almost nothing of Rich. But what I did see was quite a many Shurman CDs being purchased, they're definitely a hot ticket (here's a great piece of press for the not-so-easily-swayed). Next up, Jim's Big Ego, a trio from Boston who chilled us out and made us laugh while we waited for Roger and the clan to get off the bus and come inside. At times Cake-esque (leave it to JD to point that out), and definitely silly, they were a perfect interlude. And then the night's big seller, the Peacemakers ripped up the stage to full-house singalongs as usual--though during Mexico, Roger himself couldn't sing along with US! That was sweet to listen to and take part in; they get more love from their fans than most bands out there. We got most of what we wanted to hear on this trip through the tumbleweeds, but unlike April's show (perfect setlist, that), they missed a few faves. Didn't seem to bother anybody too much, it's always a great time. Got a sweet cover of American Girl (chh!), and muchas gracias to the boyz for (GODDAMMIT!) playing Better Beautiful Than Perfect again... just makes me sway. Time for a bigger venue, me thinks. They're just too big for a weekend night at that little haunt! But oh, come back, come back soon... Arlington loves you. Go here for the photos. / BoDeans w/ Highway 9 8/31 at the 9:30... We were the first ones in the club (that's a first) and scored seats up top for maybe the third time in my life at the 9:30--not easy, considering there are all of ten to be had. Come to think of it, it was the same spot from which I soaked up the solid sweetness of the BoDeans last time around. After a verrry long wait, Highway 9 kicked off the evening with their brand of New Jersey rock; nice sound from the Long Branch lads but very little diversity in the set (= sleepy mood). The lead singer sounded exactly like Springsteen when he spoke but Don Henley when he sang... it was uncanny when I closed my eyes. (Sweeeet cover of Help!) The BoDeans then gave the near-full house a truly perfect show--only thing missing for me was Sylvia, ahhh! Every concert is like a homecoming with these guys... it'd be safe to say that most of the people in that room had seen them before, as crowd participation was up to par, everybody right there with them. (This has to be the sixth or seventh time I've seen them in the past ten years.) The vocals and harmony were crystal clear, though I'd expect nothing less from them; next to Dada, they're the best out there. Bob was in a kooky mood, and Kurt seemed a little more quiet than usual, almost lost in his own little world when making that guitar talk. (Sidebar: What was with the "harmonica holder" dude?? That was one of the funniest things we'd ever seen!) They passionately delivered all the great tunes from every album, and threw in a couple of covers, as seems to be their usual thing. We got two full hours of solid rock, running the gamut from foot-stomping to teary-eyed to wall-of-sound, complete with two encores. Who could complain? And this time around they closed the night with Beast of Burden... I swear, that gifted Sammy can nail anything, what CHORDS on the guy!! Oh I do love his raw, soulful voice. (Is it the whiskey?) If you have the opportunity, check them out atleast once; a ticket to and night with the BoDeans is always cash and time well spent. / Doves w/ Elbow 6/19 at the 9:30... Got to drown in another psychedelic wave of haunting, ethereal Brit rock from the boys who are doing it the best these days. New videos this time around! Went with a fellow Doves show veteran (JD, yes, everyone was looking at you -- ha!) and three newbies, and I think we were all quite pleased, albeit disappointed with the brief set. This is always one of my favorite "let go" experiences -- head rock complete with eye candy, nothing to do but sway back and forth and overload your senses, not much on the stage to watch as the lads concentrate on the sound. I'm sort of glad they brought me back to life with that staple of a closer Space Face... ah, the groove! We walked in on the last two tunes of Elbow's set and Bill was floored by a similarity to early Genesis, so there you go, Elbow; too bad we missed most of that set, maybe next time. Doves? They give me goosebumps--even on my brain-- and they always will. / The Hives 6/15 at the Black Cat... "Welcome to the United States of the Hives!" Finally! The "Swedish Mafia" ended their excruciatingly-long US Tour (three and a half weeks, how ever did they do it?) in Washington, DC and we were there to perspire to and be inspired by it. After a ridiculously long wait in the dark, they hit the stage with a boom as their name was emblazoned in hot white light over the American flag. I was blinded, then I felt like I was transported in time by some twenty years to a much darker, cooler, swankier dive than this for a mod punk eve like no other! Skipping the one mellow tune in their collection (damn it, but I get it), The Hives did the punk thing right... fast, fun, furious, no fail front to back. They've a surprisingly small catalogue after the years they're purported to have been playing, and they used that for all it's worth by counting down the minutes in the set between each tune. Sweet, because not only were we rockin' our asses off, we were laughing all the way! Dug dug dug that freeze action during Main Offender, it was almost surreal... frozen Hives on exhibit! They threatened to destroy us--actually, our country--several times throughout the hour-long set, trickin' up and adoring themselves all the while. Lead peacock, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist (looking and acting like a young Mick Jagger), begged us to shout his name several times, and when he thought we might not know it, he told us--then begged some more. They know we love them, and we know they know. Damn! Bring on the new material, we're ready for another sweaty, sing-along, rock-along set! / M. Doughty 5/10 at the 9:30... Back for another night with Mr. Doughty, great to see him back at the 9:30 after those noisy Cat shows. This time we were right up there (me and my Family Values Tours cohorts -- go figure!) for Doughty's campfire-esque performance. Some new tunes from the man, beautimous as the others -- and no, Subcommander was NOT the name of our fave, ha! The phone recordings were harsh... there's no way to pass this experience on. It's a must-be-there, very intimate affair. / Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers w/ Cliff Hillis & The Forward Thinkers 4/23 at Iota... One of the best shows of the past year! Roger and his Peacemakers brought the desert to Arlington, complete with Long Wongs t-shirts (no lie--saw some in the crowd)! For a second I didn't know where I was. And for so long I thought I was the only ol' Freshies (now Peacemakers) fan in these parts... been loving and following these guys for years, and it was a treat to have them here in my backyard--and to see so many fellow fans! Took Arizona boy Larry with me, and from the kick-off (the rousing Bury My Heart at the Trailer Park, followed by Wanted - ay caramba!), we both sighed and smiled... "so Arizona." It definitely takes you back--cross the border, pass the Tequila! Nobody captures the charms of that part of the world as well as these guys do, and to see them up close and personal at my favorite haunt was too much for blissful me to handle. I was part dancing fool, part maniacal photographer. Up front snapping pictures early on, I shouted for Better Beautiful than Perfect, and was promised by Roger right there that I'd hear it. (Muchas gracias, it was sweet when it came.) The rock was as solid as ever (oh that Fender sound...) and, I'd almost swear, better than the last times I heard these songs done by them, to quote Roger, "when they were a more famous band." Got all my fave tunes off the latest Peacemakers disc as well as all the old Refreshments tunes. It was a perfect night--couldn't have asked for a better setlist! True to form, they also threw in a couple covers--most notably The Who's Baba O'Riley (brilliant) which came outta nowhere near the end of Girly. Also heard, a teaser bit of AC/DC's Back in Black at the start of the encore, and some U2 (Trip Through Your Wires) mixed in early on in the show. What an appreciative crowd for being so far over here on the East coast. I'd go so far as to say they sold out, if I were judging by the packed and sweaty room alone (wasn't about to peek outside and risk missing a second of the show). Nice to chat with Roger outside, what a gracious and warm guy. He said they're likely to be back within the year, and it wouldn't be too soon. I'm half inclined to head down to Mexico to catch them! Props also to Cliff Hillis and his Forward Thinkers for a sweet warm-up, so rich when wired; if not for Cliff, I'd never have known so early on that the Peacemakers were headed this way. Go here for the photos. / The Soledad Brothers w/ The White Stripes and Brendan Benson 4/1 at the 9:30...(SOLD OUT) Like that billing? Well the ticket may not have reflected it, but that's the way it should've read. My cohort and I caught the headliners (brother and sister pair White Stripes) in an effort to validate "all that hype" and walked away pleased with them, yet not completely supportive of all that's been purported. That said and all told, phew! What an awesome, raw eve of rock at the 9:30! Taking the stage first, the Soledad Bros (from Toledo, Ohio--Johnny Walker and Ben Swank) kicked our BUTTS with what they refer to as "acid blues," so much so that we raced to purchase anything we could from them, including both their CDs and a few limited-edition 45s (yes, VINYL) as quickly as two songs in. Holy hell, this was some soulful, heart-stopping, passionate, primitive rock... could two people produce so much sound? We were blown away. Raw, palpitating guitar and---good Lord, I don't think I've ever witnessed more passionate drumming (that kit is overflowing with sweat)--we were dancing far too early into the night... way to go on the geetar lovemaking, Mr. Johnny Walker--that closer made my heart stop, as well as other parts of my body! Figuring NO ONE lets a band open for them who could outdo them, we expected positively great things from the following two bands. Unfortunately, Brendan Benson's crew was far too poppy-mod for our tastes and the line-up, (read: the Strokes with less blood on the vocal chords)... though good, they were easily forgotten and (later) deemed unnecessary on this eve. When the White Stripes hit the stage, the place was full of heat and ready, and nobody left disappointed--though we were surprised at the absence of red and white... as far as our eyes could see, it was a sea of black and grey, nothing like we expected. (More than once, we heard "check out THE HIVES!" Right on!!!) Fashion aside, the White Stripes are meant to be heard live. I would never call them the saviours of rock and roll, because they're simply regurgitating all we've heard before. Though obviously a talented duo, Mr. White (brother) shines--ridiculously so--over sister Ms. White, who offers supportive, but metronomish (unremarkable) drum beats. This man is about full-on passion, on guitar AND vocals, though we could've done with a little less Robert Plantesque vocal stylings and reverb. Rumor has it that they're actually ex-husband and -wife as opposed to siblings, but who cares? All told and rated, 1-10? White Stripes 8, Brendan Benson 6, Soledad Brothers 10. Keep an eye out for the Soledad Brothers!!! Final on the White Stripes? Skip the CD (it pales) and catch them live... no contest. Kick-ass show. / Todd Watts (of Emmet Swimming) and Friends w/ Recovery 3/12 at Iota... What a perfect night! First some guitar-heavy solid rock from the muy talented Recovery--formerly known as Mudcat Jones ('bout time they made it to Iota!), obviously at home on the stage, moving expertly from sweet pop rock to some grinding metal. Philippe, Daryll, Tim, Gregg and Jimmy are more ready-for-radio than ever and played to what looked to be a very appreciative crowd. Dug that "STPish" tune at the close there, guys. From there Todd Watts took the stage and gave us a lot of Emmet faves, at times alone, other times with two or three friends up there with him... damn, what a voice he has, completely captivating. He packed the joint, not a surprise as NoVA is Emmet 'hood and they're sorely missed (as Rich put it, they didn't break up, they just sort of... went away). Mixed in were a few covers--beautiful job on all--which I could have requested myself (Bodeans, Radiohead, The Las, World Party), so I had quite the glow. We'd have sat there all night and watched him control the room if he'd let us, lots of passion up there on that stage. Great evening all around, new friends and old. (Loved that backrub train.) Sweet! / Cliff Hillis 3/1 at Annapolis Grill... Nice to see Cliff show up in these parts again, it's been way too long! Can't say we dug the venue, but it was a treat to hear his powerful, honest tunes up close. Beautimous guitar and such a sweet voice... Word's out that he'll be back in the area again at the end of April (Iota); look for him to open for Roger Clyne of Refreshments (!!) fame--right on, great bill! / Blue Calamari 2/23 at Parker's... Right on with the funk jam!! 'Twas a cool eve of bluesy, funky drum-n-bass groove--three sets to be exact, though we missed the third. Saw this DC band at Iota a couple of years back, and they sound even better than before. Another band with kick-ass percussion (three of them up there) and multi-layered guitar complete with keyboards, horns and sexy vocals... jump back, kiss mah self! They kick out a few covers--heard Laid by James, War's Low Rider and a head-boppin' reggae version of Johnny B. Goode, among other funk faves--but they don't need to... the original material is strong and memorable on its own. (Hey guys, I'm lookin' for Pain Lies on the Riverside--get on it!) They've got their first CD effort making the rounds, but catch the energy of the live show. Good Lord, they need a bigger stage. If you're looking for a full night of groovy undulation, find them! They play every third Saturday at Parker's in Bethesda... I know I'll be back with some funk-lovin' friends. / Charlatans U.K. w/ Starsailor 1/30 at the 9:30... They're still fresh and still bring 'em in--the place was packed! Starsailor was good, but beside a great set of pipes on the lead singer, no big shakes... a bit too monotonous, spent most of this set in the blue room chattin' up other Charlatans fans until they took the stage. This time sucked up the drenching keyboard madness from midway in the pit, so I had a chance to focus on Charlatans' newer sound, which is even groovier and swampier than the old stuff I love (which is still the best). The first third was decidedly new stuff, with Tim Burgess going falcetto, sounding and preening like Jagger (think: is there nothin' I can say, nothin' I can DO??), smiling at us all the while. I never realized these guys were so happy to be doing what they do up there--makes a big difference. Outstanding percussion, enough that half of your attention is on the drummer; he's way above par and deserves a pedestal. They gave us The Only One I Know very early on, and from that point we got a lot of old favorites, including Weirdo (but no Opportunity, bleh!). They closed the night with a teasing, building, kick-ass version of Sproston Green; if sound was water, we'd have been drowning--I had to dance just to keep myself in the here and now. Nothin' like wall-o'-sound Brit stuff in a club like this. / Los Straitjackets w/ Peter Zaremba (Fleshtones) and the Famous Pontani Sisters 1/10 at Iota... Phew! First raucous show of 2002, and man, what a party... If this is any portent of what's to come on DC's local stages this year, get your concert budget ready! Surf rockers extraordinaire Los Straitjackets packed the Arlington joint with fans-in-the-know and left some sad wannaberockers standing in line on Wilson Blvd. What they missed: two bang'emup sets... first up, the boyz in masks alone, warming up the room in blazing style with Los Straits faves and making us all yearn for summer; intermission (be still, Aussie Rob's beating heart), the cleverly- and multi-costumed Pontani Sisters from NY with fit-for-Vegas dance numbers; second set, Peter Zaremba joined them on stage for a rip-roaring version of Treat Her Right and carried us through the rest of the night in underground club style. Check out their tour schedule, you don't want to miss the action... true entertainment, soup to nuts! We were on our bar stools, on the bar... all I know is we were UP. (Thanks be to all my music-loving friends for the party!)

 
2001: STONE TEMPLE PILOTS 12/31 at Hard Rock Live - Orlando, FL... Ah, what a fierce way to bring in the New Year! It's about time I got to rock with one of my favorite bands in a classic concert setting--read: no other bands! No festival shite! STP -- and only STP fans! Small, superb venue! Happy to have enjoyed the event with some new friends before and after--smooches to you Brenda, Krissi and Carrie--and some new friends during--smooches and thanks to you Bob, Eric, Lauri and Cocoa Beach woman who sang every song with me and helped me shake it to Hollywood Bitch, you rock! Had a plush (no pun intended) center balcony seat from which to soak up all the STP goodness... in all the times I've seen them, this was by far their best show--all four lads in top form, sucking up and giving back the STP love! Kicked off at 10:45 with Lounge Fly (no Crackerman this time around, boo hiss but can't have it all), Scott having skipped the rockstar glam in favor of some elegance on this festive eve. Then they surprised us by diving right into Sex Type Thing--what, so soon? Those of us in the know knew that meant we wouldn't be getting the same ol' exit, and we were oh so thankful for the mix-'em-up. They played for almost two hours, hitting material from each album, including all four songs I most wanted to hear this time around: Wonderful, Down, And So I Know (sweeeeet--finally!) and Revolution, with which they shook the house after the ball dropped--full house singalong, tremendous energy felt and contributed to by all. Closed the show with speedy, driving Trippin', leaving us all smiling and anxious for more. (Cross your fingers in hope that they'll cruise through your town for a solo show, and then don't miss it!) Came home with mysterious bruises and no voice, all well worth it. Brenda got her little sign kissed by Scott; quite sure she's been sleeping with it ever since. Thanks for trippin' (another pun?) down to Orlando with me, JD; you were quite stylin' in my babyblu boa! And thanks for the pics, Ms. Brenda--and "Dave," whoever you are. Read more from the Orlando Sentinel. / Rhodes Tavern Troubadors 12/23 at Iota... 'Twas a happy holiday show with our local DC faves. We were breathlessly basking in the Fender glow when Jack, Mark, Jake and Dave tore up Run, Run Rudolph. Yikes! Too much talent for such a small venue, they get better with every performance. Where's that CD?? Dave was on fire, and he makes it look sooo easy... wish I had his fingers. Add that to Jake's kicky songsmithing, Mark's husky pipes and Jack's rapidfire drumming... it's a party! You can catch them every Thursday at the Half Moon Barbecue in Silver Spring--highly recommended! / The Cult 11/21 at the 9:30... Can't tell by Astbury's pipes that the band formerly known as Southern Death Cult is 17 years old. 'Twas a damned fine solid set of straight-up rock and roll for what looked to be a sold-out 9:30. If you thought they were defunct, you'd be incorrect... they still bring 'em in! When the hits came (they all sounded fab), the bouncing bodies took me way back. Sweeeeet. The pit was alive and well, though I can't say the same with any certainty for the two women I saw get dropped head first. Ouch. Interesting crowd... everything from preps to big-hairs to the gothest goth. That mean guy from the movie The Crow was even there above us--probably several times over, I just didn't see all the clones! Sound was right on (ears are still intact), and aside from a few drum kinks, they were tight as ever. The new material sounds like the old Cult we all recognize and dig; think I'll be snatching that one up. Rich says he didn't know Ian was such a "snazzy dancer"--more like spasms-R-us, but hey, it works for him. Sans dress this time around, he seems to be a very, um, gracious guy... says, "Thankyou!" to drum beats at the end of EVERY tune. Wonderful show all told. They were little peas dressed in black on the stage at the HFStival, so I'm glad to finally have caught them up close. / John Faye Power Trip 10/26 at Iota... Glad to hear some new ones from my favorite pop-rockin' Philly boyz-n-girl as they were en route to Atlanta to record album two! Special treat to have them up first as well. Loved that old Caulfields treat for the closer, and wished them luck in the studio. And Cliff, get back here on your own again soon... dig that solo stuff! / The Family Values Tour with Linkin Park, Staind and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS 10/18 at the MCI Center... Ah well, we got burned by Radiohead in August, but gathered again for a much less cerebral rockfest--with no chance of rain! They searched us three or four times on our way in (JD had to kiss his Leatherman g'bye for good upon entry), and then sent us into the bowels of the MCI Center, where they let us out onto the floor through only one entrance. Couldn't have planned it better, because we arrived about five minutes before Linkin Park hit the stage. Luckily we had those floor tickets, so we were able to be up front for the action, and in the case of STP, I mean UP FRONT! Haven't done the mosh pit for years, but we were right on top of the band this time, nice to look into the eyes of the guy who writes the songs that make me scream! We stood back aways for the first two sets. Linkin Park surprised me, very tight and full of energy, all over the stage. Been tired of that white boy rap thing for quite awhile, but this was good enough to send me to the record store. Staind's lead singer is an extremely passionate singer (he loves his pipes and holds his stomach while he sings), and they sounded beautimous though they're not much to watch up there; we skipped out for our final baño break during the song I knew the least--in prep for our journey to the front. Look out folks in the front, we're comin' in! Started out seven people deep and ended up front and center thanks to the undulating rows of bodies. Lost my cohorts in the sea of humanity (Sir Rols took his first surfing trip!) but was surrounded by (laying on? being layed on by?) very cool people the entire time. Thanks mucho to both you strangers, shirted and shirtless, for taking showers before you came and looking out for me when that 200-lb dude was dropped on my head! STP hit the stage with Crackerman, Scott with megaphone in hand, clad in a wide-brimmed hat and a black Morton Salt Girl plastic number, which he shed after that tune. That left the ultimate frontman in a black shirt with a mock priest's collar, though that came off as well a few songs later. Sweet to be right underneath him and look him in the eyes; his face structure is amazing. He spent lots of time hovering over us and getting us to sing along. (Not a problem, we were all RIGHT THERE with him!) He also dived into the pit at one point to be amongst us. Aside from Coma, which sounded fabulous, it was your general hitfest (only one tune from SLDD and Tiny), similar to last Fall and maybe a bit shorter. Roland was surfed out during Plush (his fave), lost his glasses on the trip, but actually dived back in and found them... amazing. Chester from Linkin Park came up to lend his voice to Dead and Bloated--sounded great! They closed with Sex Type Thing, as usual, and the whole flag around Scott's naked butt bit (flag falling OFF near the end, I now feel I know him a little TOO well). When it was all over, I was drenched and blissful, and we walked out to And So I Know once again... oh, if only they'd done that live (sigh). My voice was shot the next day, and 24 hours later my entire torso was sore from being squashed for over an hour. All well worth it. Keeping our fingers crossed that STP comes back alone soon and gives us more time! / Ken Stringfellow 9/21 at Iota... 'Twas a very intimate and quiet evening--though way too DARK in there! Ken's okay to watch, but due to obvious introspection and something that teeters between shyness and apathy (he and Thom Yorke oughta get together), he's much more pleasing in the recording studio in my opinion. Glad we listened to the CD afterwards, T! / Ours w/ Pete Yorn 8/2 at the 9:30... Glad to have finally caught these East Coast boyz live, as the CD's been in and out of my car for months (JD got me by on a single for the longest time--gracias for the find, Bamboo Shoot). While they aren't acrobats on stage, the music is splendid live. Lead singer Gnecco is thoroughly engaging and enigmatic and has a range that will take your breath away. Loved that Bohemian Rhapsody interlude, and there are few voices I could imagine tackling it. It's hard to dismiss the Radiohead (heard Sometimes?) and U2 influences, and their hard, heavy, swelling melancholy was right up my alley, since I dig it when music is complex and rich. Nice to meet Anthony out front by the bus (put him up front, guys, he should be your poster boy). Their set was too short, and my three cohorts agreed that the billing was completely wrong; they opened for the very vanilla Pete Yorn, who packed the joint to all of our amazement. Mr. Yorn gets props from me for opening with the Springsteen classic Racing in the Street (he's from Jersey, go figure), but beyond that, it was hard to tell any one of his tunes from another. Nice, mainstream pop-rock-for-all... 'nuff said. / M. Doughty 7/28 at the Black Cat... 'Twas a sweet eve at the hot and noisy Cat (seems Doughty doesn't appreciate that either) as the former lead singer of Soul Coughing, slim and glowing, gave us another night "around the campfire" with some of our favorite SC tunes and lots of Skittish. He's got a lot of loyal fans, that guy, and we love his words--as well as the traditional post-show meet and greet, this time with discs to buy. Dig that Bustin' Up Starbucks. And Tony still has True Dreams on his phone machine from last year! For pics, click here. / Cecilia 7/26 at Iota... My goodness have they matured! (You go young lad on lead guitar!) Once local and now based in NY, this folk rock family affair, rich in sound and voice, will bring tears to your eyes and non-stop tingle to your ears. This was the fourth time I've seen them, and I've never heard it so heavenly. / Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes 7/22 at the Birchmere... Repeat performance from the Jersey Shore with better seats this time around. But how come we didn't "have a party??" That's just wrong to leave that one out! Overheard the following convo in the restroom... pretty much sums it up: Little girl to mother, "Mommie, what kind of music is this?" Mother to daughter, "It's New Jersey music, honey." / "A Walk Down Abbey Road" w/ Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, John Entwistle, Ann Wilson and David Pack 7/17 at Wolf Trap... Lost the singing voice on a warm night in Vienna watching these talents deftly handle some of the Beatles greatest hits, as well as their own. I went for a Rundgren and Beatles fix, and was surprised at how pleased I was to hear the rest of it. The first set (their own hits) was often clumsy as they tackled segues you'd never attempt on your most eclectic mix tape. Yet the chops were quickly forgotten the minute that familiar song hit the right nerve--not a surprise since each in their own right is gifted. Standing ovies went out early on for each one, but there's no doubt that Rundgren and Wilson were stand-outs. Entwistle plays that bass at breakneck speed, and it was sweet as hell to watch him bang out My Generation. Even with the heat, Ms. Wilson's pipes raised goosebumps on my arms (good Lord!) as she belted out Heart's 70's staples and a lot of McCartney's scorchers and rockers--notably I'm Down and Hey Jude... we were hard-pressed to imagine any other woman who could've replaced her. Todd was his whacky, creative genius self, flailing about the stage during Fool on the Hill (loved that), clad in white tails and the blinding pants in the above pic, acting like a freak for, well, no reason at all. He gave us Hello It's Me, but not my other fave I Saw the Light (snif), and his guitar was on fire during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. SWEET! Parsons' hits were sung by David Pack (of Ambrosia fame) who threw in a couple of his own hits; great pop voice on that chap for those tunes, but a little vapid on the Beatles hits. Alan himself was less of a musical presence onstage, save his sweet rendition of Blackbird, but this baby was his project... until I read the program, I had no idea he'd engineered the Abbey Road album and produced the muy importante Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Kudos to him on a great idea and a well-executed event. Thanks for the company and sing-alongs, Sir Jeremy! / The Bacon Brothers 7/7 at the 9:30... On a lark, we went to catch the famous Kevin and his bro on stage with no expectations. The opener, Dexter Freebish, was a talented bunch--great chords on the lead singer--but unremarkable beyond that, so we didn't know what to expect from the headlining Bacons. To our outright delight, they were fantastic! There wasn't one low point in the whole performance. Roots rock, folk- and blues-charged and acoustically heavy, they are impressively tight and multi-talented, six guys on the stage throughout (Michael, Kevin, Paul, Marshal, Ira and Frank), and I swear I saw my friend Rich in roadie clothes takin' care of business, and the ghost of Pisto in the brilliant lefty lead guitarist (Ira) from Jersey! Kevin should give up his "Hollow" performances and direct his energies toward the stage, because he's certainly got it goin' on here (saWEET stage presence), and Michael is a mini-orchestra in his own right. Add Kevin's harmonica and Michael's cello to the mix of tight percussion and acoustic guitar, and well, it's a smorgasbord of feel-good rock. We even bought the CD! It's damned hard to make a rather "snobbish" rocker chick like me sway in the crowd, but I was reluctant to even go to the bathroom during their show. Both Bacons sure can write a song (love that "Bus")... some of their stuff was downright gorgeous, the rest of it all over the map. We got treated to a Footloose finale, as Pat had pegged, and left extremely satisfied, wanting more. We'll be back when they're back! / The Rhodes Tavern Troubadors and Bill Kirchen 7/3 at Iota... What a way to see in the Fourth--a stage full (twice!) of some of our finest local musicians. See below for reviews of DC's finer musical offerings. / Doves 6/30 at the 9:30... Well it was Spring redux for Jeremy and me... same film, same KICK ASS head music--except they didn't save Spaceface for last as they did last time, which was quite the heartstopper before. See below for a review of one of the greatest bands to fly over from across the pond in the past decade. / Sara Lee 6/18 at Iota... While her good friend Ani DiFranco was pulling them in at Wolftrap, Ms. Sara Lee was killing us with cool at Iota. What an ecelectic grouping of sounds... Ms. Sara on bass (gotta live a fiery little redhead on the funkay thang) with an icy cool and smooth vocal, over decades-distant keyboards and Boston-style acidic guitar, this was a funky explosion of talent. (Nice chattin' with you, Sara, you rock.) She'll be back this Fall, don't miss her. / Styx, Kansas and Survivor 6/16 at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds... Flashback concert of the year! Long story short: on a very drizzly day, Survivor was vinyl-perfect, yet it seems Kansas hasn't been much of a survivor... (Dust in the Wind is an understatement). However, Styx brought down the muddy swamp in A-1 form, even with the absence of Dennis (great job on Lady, boyz!) Tommy Shaw was in fine form with flowing mane and stage antics. Mucho thanks for avoiding Mr. Roboto--known to most of us as the end of Styx--and thanks for the memories and the Floyd (us, us, us... and them, them, them...) during the break! From the top of the drumset to the soaked stage, you were amazing. You had too many hits in your day to mention, and we were amazed at the teens who were there to soak you up. Right on! / The HFStival w/ such notables as Fuel, The Cult, Green Day, Live, Incubus, 3 Doors Down and others 5/27 at RFK Stadium... a very mellow day with a lot of radio bands, still worth it. For the full story, go here. / The Rhodes Tavern Troubadors 4/20 at Iota... DC is a telecaster town! Mark Noone, Jack O'Dell, Jake Flack and Dave Chappell have come together (surprising that they have the time with their incestuous ties to so many local bands) to form this new band of veteran DC musicians, and look out... makes you want to go home and put on everything you own! From Johnny Rivers to the Replacements, Johnny Cash and Santo & Johnny--even a super-sweet and deserving tribute to the Ramones (R.I.P. Joey) with a little help from Jay, Iota's chef extraordinaire--these guys packed the joint with feel-good, tight rock. Love that Dotcom Guy tune, though my right breast didn't appreciate getting smacked by that drum key, Jack! / Bill Kirchen 3/23 at Iota... The man is outta Gattaca! (How many fingers does he have on that hand for God's sake??!) He and his Too Much Fun cohorts had the entire Iota crowd standing at attention for over three hours, delivering his kick-ass live version of Hot Rod Lincoln and our swoony childhood fave (Sleepwalkin'), not to mention some new tunes for which I'll be on the hunt! Quintessential Kirchen fan Kris was there with us and claims he was on FIRE this night, and I'm happy to have introduced a newbie to the sounds of Too Much Fun (Sir Roland was left breathless and standing on his bar stool). What a perfect night! Smooches to you, Madame Maria, bartender extraordinaire. If you're a fan of all things Americana and blazing, you shouldn't miss Bill's next pass. He spins the rockabilly weekly at the Sunset Grille, so if you're stuck with nothing to do on a Thursday eve, you know where to go. Prepare yourself to witness true musical passion on stage. The man is amazing. / Doves 2/25 at the 9:30... After a deafening opener--Stroke, which sounded punky fab when we could actually stand to listen (had to employ earplugs, it was truly the most painful 9:30 experience I've ever had and was nothing but noise)--Doves kicked off with a film that was bizarre at best. Akin to the beautiful, golden gravediggin' scene in Traffic, it featured the band with four of the most unlikely characters ever thrown together...The Reaper, the General, Pavarotti and the Bear--what the heck was THAT? We weren't properly, um, enlightened enough to appreciate it. 'Nuff said. After a bit of a hunt for a new amp, we gracefully rode a near seamless wave of sound, the crowd swaying to a backdrop of well-choreographed video--a plus, since these boyz are about the music, not stage antics. One thing's for certain, they lose nothing between the studio and the stage--all the beauty's intact, and the sound is perfect! For the encore's first tune (the very "Manchesterish" Here It Comes), lead man and drummer boy switched, and JD was right--he's a better front man (and quite the firecracker). And then forget the wave--for the closer, we were belly-flopped into the grooviest tune of the night, (Spaceface?), for which I am on the hunt. Somebody please find it for me!!! No sweaty event (and thankfully no need for earplugs), this was a superb treat for the ears. Muchas gracias to the SR ng for telling me to find these guys last year. / Stereophonics 2/9 at the 9:30... This was a first: seats on the 9:30 floor! Whah..?? An intimate evening with just boyz and guitars from Wales. And it was engaging all the way through, thanks to some intelligent lyrics and Kelly Jones' incredibly passionate voice--which I'd thought very Liam-ish when I saw them open for the Charlatans a year ago, but which is actually Rod Stewart all over the place... they even covered Handbags & Gladrags (no surprise there) and it was weepy gorgeous--hear it the way we did in Downloads. The opener, Vibrolush, was mediocre and forgettable, but the Stereophonics pulled off an acoustic show like they were plugged; not easy to do, considering they gave us many new/unknown tunes from the upcoming CD (check out Mr. Writer in Downloads--it's beauteous!) and Kelly had the flu. They colored it up with a few covers--some Neil Young and even Don't Let Me Down from my favorite Liverpudlians. The place was packed like people actually know who these guys are! They should. Save the disrespectful chatty kathies all around us, it was well worth more than it cost us. They'll be back in May with wires, and we'll be there. / Michael Penn and Aimee Mann 1/16 at the Birchmere... Scored the last two seats for the first of three sold-out nights! I've been enamored with both artists since about '92, when I thought their music was incredibly similar and complimentary... so I was amazed in '97 when I heard they'd married. I've no clue how long they'd known each other by then, but if they weren't acquainted in '92, it's damned eerie how similar they were. Seeing them together on stage solidified my initial response to their musical union. It's like eating chocolate and peanut butter separately forever and then having someone hand you a Reeses PB cup... "Of course." These two together are a no-brainer, yet the introspection on stage is a bit disarming, (neither is a very charismatic performer--it's rather like you're a fly on the wall at a jam session in their family room). The musical combination is strong (of course), yet each of their individuality is intact. Arguably more upbeat when I saw him at the Coach House in LA years ago, some of Penn's cerebral pop was missing to make way for Mann's modern acoustic fare, but it was a sweet and solid show. I haven't seen that many guitars on stage in quite awhile. Of course Penn didn't give us No Myth, which was a disappointment to many I'm sure, (see Downloads for a beautiful acoustic version of that tune).
 
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