2016 is here! It took me a week, but I finally went to a show. And thank goodness I did; I was actually planning on staying home that day, and then decided to go out a few hours before. The bill was stacked (from both what I already knew, and what I had heard from the unknown groups’ Bandcamp pages). I hopped into my car and headed north.
I got to the Crown 15 minutes late, but that was no issue as the first artist was just getting ready to perform. First up was musician extraordinaire; Andrew Bernstein. I was already familiar with his work, he is in one of my favorite bands, Horse Lords. This was my first time to see him solo, and he did not disappoint. He wailed on his sax for around 20 minutes in an impressive display of skill. He was accompanied by a laptop, but the sound was so loud that I could really only hear the sax; which was fine, the sax playing was amazing. It was also an appropriate set to sit in a chair and zone out. Check out Andrew’s solo music at Bandcamp.
Next up was extremely new to me band, Beverly Tender. I guess they make indie rock. Whatever it is called, it was pleasant and fun and I really dug the vocalists style, both live and on record. I would definitely go see them again.
The third band of the night was Lunch Cult. This was the band’s sixth ever show. I could not tell that from their performance. Their playing was extremely tight. They also switch instruments, and singing duties throughout their set and they all seem to be capable song writers, lyricists, drummers, bassists, and guitar players (though one dude did not drum and one did not play the bass). All in all they had a fun energy and I grabbed a copy of their excellent tape.
The last of the night was Princess Reason. I was expecting maybe a solo acoustic set, but was instead treated to a full band experience. It was reminiscent of the loud soft dynamics of grunge, with chorus and verses and parts where the Big Muff was stomped. I am not sure if it is the permanent band, but the group featured members of Boy Spit and Romantic States.
All images by me and from my Instagram account
I will keep this one short. Helmet had a solid run of albums for me in the 90s, including the excellent Betty, and I consider it a classic. This day I was able to see it live. They played it and minus a couple tiny hiccups (missed lyrics, sound issues (but I do not ever like the sound at the Black Cat, it is not great) it was a blast to the past and a lot of fun. I had never seen a Band X plays Album Y show before, that I remember, so that was a weird sensation; knowing what was coming next. I left after the Betty set, as I did not want to sit through any of their 2000s musical output. I do like other 90s albums, but I was satisfied with my Betty experience. I bought a shirt and called it a day. I had dug this shirt since my friend had it in high school (a different color, but the same graphic). I broke my avoid DC for anything but work rule for this, and DC did not disappoint in experiencing 30 minutes of looking for parking and running to the show so I did not miss a note.
photo by me from my Instagram account
The second show of that night, was the already in progress show over at the Metro Gallery. I sped off with my GPS guiding me to the venue from an unfamiliar direction. I was cutting it close – Crimson Wave were to play at 9:30 PM and Metro Gallery is pretty good with set times. The machine told me 15 minutes, but with the walk to my car, I was cutting it close. I finally got to the area, parked blocks away, and ran to the venue. I made it just in time. Local favorites Crimson Wave had just started. And it was packed. I had to stand on the side of the stage to see this final outing of this bummer pop outfit. I have all of their releases, and saw them three or four times since the first time at Baltimore Popfest 2013. I will miss them and the set was bittersweet to experience.
I was able to get a good spot at the front of the stage for headlining band, Superheaven. I guess they had less of a crossover appeal. Superheaven‘s crowd was really young, and the Xs on hands outnumbered the 21 year old plus bracelets. Not a diss, just an observation, as I am pretty sure I would have also dug this band if I was a teenager. They are definitely a grunge throwback. They played a shorter set than I expected (30 minutes) and that is my only complaint. The songs off of Jar (and their new single) sounded good on the sound system and I left a it disappointed that I did not have any money on me to buy a t-shirt from them.
After the show I hung out with a myriad of folks from Baltimore bands, and had a good chill time hanging out (something I needed that day). It ended up being a longer night than I was expecting (I got home around 3:30 AM) but it was worth it.
photos by me from my Instagram
April 2 was a double header for me. The first show was over at the WTMD studio, in Towson. They were to broadcast Lower Dens playing for an hour, and I had to go since I had never seen them, loved their new album, and had recently had to skip them due to illness (at the new AMP venue in Maryland). The show started promptly at 8pm and I was instantly glad that I went. The crowd was respectful, and they ended up playing an hour long set that including most (all?) of their excellent new wave ish new release, Escape from Evil. They ended it all with a cover of Maneater by Hall and Oates and a final older track. Video of the performance can hopefully be found soon, as it was a treat that everyone needs to experience. I hope they are able to share their art with more people in the world. I feel like they definitely could be huge.
Image by me from my Instagram
Lord knows why it is so hard for me to blog in a timely manner. So here I am, WWE Raw on in the background, words spilling out of my laptop to play catch up on the last few show write ups. So here goes something.
The first band at this Ottobar show was Eula. I actually started the night thinking the band was Eola, and was quite surprised by the full-band rocking treat. They definitely had a cool thing going, and I plan on checking out more of them sometime in the future.
Next up were locals, Wume. They played a cool mix of synths/sequencing and live drumming.
Perfect Pussy were third. This was my third time seeing them. I was impressed with their stage presence as they ripped through their noisy set (I was told the band was all sick at the same time). My only complaint would have been that the vocals were low in the mix. The first time I saw them in Baltimore, at Metro Gallery, the distorted vocals were way more in your face.
Last up was Deerhoof. I had heard of this band, but had never heard them. Sometimes I would get them confused with other “deer” bands. They were really impressive. Their drummer was going off on his set, and was extremely intense (he also had a nice rambling speech in the middle of their set). Their frontperson, was a lot of fun to watch. She jumped around, shredded on her ax, and looked like she was having a lot of fun. As with Eula, I definitely need to check out their back catalog.
All in all, it was a great night of music. Several styles and locations were represented (Baltimore, NYC, San Fransisco) and the bands had a diversity of genders that was refreshing.
All photos by me (from my Instagram)
Today I am playing catch up on blog posts. After making a resolution to blog about every show that I attend in 2015, i immediately disregarded it and now I have three shows to write about at once. Oh well, I can do this. I promise to step it up and at least do my show write ups in a timely manner, and with the event fresher in my mind.
First off, it was a cold night. Snow was piled everywhere in Baltimore, and it took us a long time to find a parking spot. When we did park, it was a sprint down several snowy blocks of city and we arrived shivering at Metro Gallery with opening band Black Clouds already playing on the stage. I did not miss much of their set, and was really into their post-metal jams. I did not realize that this DC band was a three piece, as they have a sound that sounds like more than three people are creating it. They do this by having a guitarist who also handles synth duty. Their light/laser show was a lot of fun as well, and added an extra element to their set.
After they finished, it was the band that I was the most excited to see that night, Thrushes. This Baltimore shoegaze band has been one of my favorites for over five years, with their albums Sun Come Undone and Night Falls in heavy rotation at various points. They went away a couple years ago, and I was surprised to see that they were playing again. They played some new tunes (which they are recording with J Robbins) and plenty of old ones as well. I thought they sounded great, and even with a long break, did not sound rusty at all. I really look forward to seeing them again, and hearing the new record. With Thrushes, Wildhoney, and Dead Mellotron all currently active/semi-active, the Baltimore shoegaze scene is healthy and I look forward to many future shows.
After Thrushes came another Baltimore band, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I do not think I had seen them since the last Whartscape in 2010. Too bad, as I was blown away by the tunes, the showmanship, and the stage banter of Ed Schrader and his bass playing cohort, Devlin. They played in darkness, with only a light under the floor tom Ed bangs on, for illumination. He was really funny and I do not understand why he is not a major star in the United States.
The last band of the night was A Place to Bury Strangers. They were on tour to promote their new album, Transfixation. This was my second time seeing them (the first being at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC a couple years ago). They did not disappoint. They played loud. The drums crashed and thundered. The bass roared. The guitars screamed. Everything including vocals was covered in a haze of fuzz. As for the assault on my other senses, their light and laser show, and insane amounts of fog kept the visual stimuli interesting. The guys are really insane showmen. Guitars swing, guitars are thrown to the ceiling, pedals are stomped and heads in the crowd are banged.
My plan was to blog about every show that I go to in 2015. So far I am off to a bad start – last night was my third show and not a single blog post was written. Well, today I rectify that. I am going to write shorter catch-up posts and then will start doing them the next day after I go to a show.
My first show of the year did not happen until almost the end of January. I decided to kick off my show going year with a few solo artists over at the Crown in Baltimore. I had a friend in tow and we braved the cold to go see some music (both the cold outside and the frigid temperatures inside the Crown; we kept our hats and coats on all night) and eat some great food.
First up was local guitar player, Terrors. I do not know anything about him. All I know is he played a nice set of tunes on a guitar that looked better suited for heavy metal and not post-rock delay fests. He closed his set by rubbing a mandolin on top of his guitar for a little noise.
Next up was Nathan Bowles. I had already seen this banjo hero perform (several times) at Hopscotch in 2013. He played a nice set of virtuosic banjo plucking that I think my grandfather would have enjoyed. He finished off his set with Elisa joining him on her guitar for a tune.
The night was capped off with an excellent performance by Elisa Ambrogio, of Magic Markers fame, who was touring for her excellent record,The Immoralist. Nathan joined her on drums, and she played her guitar through her pedals and sang her songs. The set ended with her by herself. It was excellent, and my first time to see her solo. It was comparable to a Magic Markers set, slightly different vibe, but still similar. I also was able to hang with Elisa again, after meeting her and hanging with her and her band at Hopscotch 2013, and even picked up a copy of her album on vinyl, and got it signed. It was an excellent night and a great way to kick off 2015.
(all photos by me and from my instagram)