The end is near… Of 2015! And my top 30 favorite sets of 2015. Here are the last 10.
This show is on the list for a few reasons. This was probably my 14th or 15th time seeing this Baltimore group since their formation several years ago, and this was to be my (and everyone’s) last time to see them. Their UN Fest (an excellent festival in Baltimore) set was advertised as their last, and I was able to experience the loudness and wild crowd, one last time.
The second set on this list was Pleasure Leftists opening for Chameleons VOX, at Metro Gallery. I have been a fan of this Midwest post-punk group for a while, and it was nice to finally see them live. I loved the singer’s dance moves.
The next one was something random for me, Sun Ra Arkestra at the Ottobar. I was hooked on their weirdo jazz, and loved every minute. The pissed off looking dude was my favorite performer of their raucous set.
This was one of the Wildhoney sets I saw. This noisy group gets better and better. This was their first set with a new guitar player.
Expert Alterations are some nice dudes and local indie pop heroes. This was their debut album release show. I made it there just in time to see them (performing with a member of Wildhoney as a quartet) give an inspired and impassioned performance.
I saw the Polyphonic Spree for a third time. This time I had a front table seat at a sit down venue. The Spree tore it up for two sets; one being their first album in it’s entirety, the second a greatest hits and covers and rarities set. I love the Spree and this performance further cemented my love.
I have seen Wolf Eyes a few times now. This was the weirdest of all of the sets. Which is saying a lot for the mavens of Trip Metal. This was almost a jazz set, and I think it was mostly improv. I could be wrong, but it didn’t sound like their new LP.
Wing Dam is one of my favorite bands. They always rock. They played Cocoon which is my favorite song by them and one I think they had not played the last couple times I saw them. They also had the best shirts (Miley Cyrus ones that can be seen in the picture below) and I added one to my collection.
At number 9 is DC band Paint Branch. This show was in a library basement. They are another band I have been into for a few years and finally saw. I think they are the new America (the band) with their harmonies and interplay (guitar and vocals).
The last of my favorite sets was actually tonight. And no I am not just throwing them on here. I felt like i might really dig it so I saved a slot, just in case. Good thing I did because the unseasonable heat and a packed basement in DC with one of my favorite singers belting out her old and new songs was too excellent. I had heard they were gonna break up, now it seems like they wont. Good, I want to see them again…
Until 2016 (and the one last show I have this year, or maybe two) my friends!
All images in all show pictures by me
I go to a lot of live music. Here were my thirty favorite sets, a quick sentence or two about each, and a picture. They are in chronological order. I wont be posting dates for each one though.
First up, Crimson Wave at Sidebar. It was their second to last ever show, and I included this over their last because while this was sad.. It was not as sad as the last one was.
This was from War on Women’s record release show. It was a great time with a diverse lineup, and War on Women slayed and made me a lifetime fan (I already loved the EP before this).
Downtown Boys at Windup Space. They made me even more of a fan of the sax.
The Body at CCAS! (RIP CCAS). This was one of the few times that I went to Charm City Art Space. This was a matinee show and the Body slayed like it was midnight. It was the loudest thing I heard all night.
I saw Prince on a date with my fiancee (she does not go to many shows so each one I consider a special event). Plus, motherfucking Prince yo.
This is Lightning Bolt right before they destroyed Floristree. I did not know that the crowd would be so crazy and I spent most of the show in the back of this DIY spot.
Scapescape is one of my favorite festivals. With a lineup focusing on local talent, there is always something playing that I would want to see. This was my first time seeing Blacksage (though not my last, I ended up seeing them two other times in 2015) and they did not disappoint. They should be huge.
This is another Scapescape performance, by Adbu Ali. His confrontational, emotional style of hip-hop was a thing of beauty and he had me dancing his whole set.
Chastity Belt was a band who I immediately loved when I first heard them this year. They did not let me down at their Metro Gallery show. Plus the lead singer plays the same guitar as me. I do not see tons of guitarists using it. Also props to Metro Gallery, my favorite venue. Venue of 2015!
Number ten and last of this bunch is Romantic States at the Crown. Their music is perfect pop songs with loud and soft dynamics. I saw them a couple other times this year, but this was my favorite.
Baltimore again proved to be a treasure trove of amazing art. A few of the albums I loved. I also had more that were included on my other lists, like the amazing Noisem or Black Sheep DZ…
Romantic States – Romantic States
Sweepstakes – Tongues Out
Holy Ghost Party – Bayou Music
Blacksage – Basement Vows
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked
Natural Velvet – She Is Me
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Exposing Seas
War on Women – War On Women
Dope Body – Kunk
Romantic States – Broken Clothes
Sweepstakes – Hands In The Air
Holy Ghost Party – Squiq
Blacksage – Casualty
Expert Alterations – Well Good For You
Natural Velvet – Perfect Roleplay
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Joan Of Arc
War on Women – Meathead
Dope Body – Goon Line
photo of wildhoney by me
2016 was a great year for all types of hip-hop. My ten favorite releases:
STS x RJD2 – STS x RJD2
Black Zheep DZ – Mirror, Mirror
Shark Tank – Don’t Fuck With Us
Sortahuman – SORTAHUMAN4LIFE
Death Grips – Jenny Death
JPEGMAFIA – communist slow jams
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
BLVCK CEILING – Trap Magic
Young Thug – Slime Season 2
Junglepussy – Pregnant with Success
STS x RJD2 – Tennessee
Black Zheep DZ – The Other Side [Prod. Rvdical the Kid]
Shark Tank – Nighttime Men pt. 2
Sortahuman – EVERLASTING (PROD. BY BIG LOS)
Death Grips – Pss Pss
JPEGMAFIA – lemmy
Drake – Madonna
BLVCK CEILING – poor it Up
Young Thug – Big Racks
Junglepussy – Only Way
photo by me
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)
December – snow, playoffs, fireplaces, Christmas… And end of the year lists. This is the first of three that I will be posting. Each will be 10 releases, LPs or EPs, grouped together in a particular way. The first list is my favorite (not best of, I hate that term) releases from Baltimore artists in 2014. In addition, I made a mix that can be heard on Mixcloud, featuring one track from each release:
WIldhoney – Seventeen Forever: First up is the newest EP from shoegazers Wildhoney. Three slabs of walls of sound, mastered by Jake Reid of Screen Vinyl Image fame.
Wye Oak – Shriek: Wye Oak changed it all up. No longer did guitars rule this duo. The old formula was vocals plus guitar plus drummer who is also playing bass parts as he drums. The new formula was singer playing bass with a drummer who is also playing lead parts on synth. This new synthpop sound really works for them, and I spent an excellent evening at the 930 Club this year watching them do their new thing.
Mt Royal – Mt Royal EP: Anything Katrina Ford is on is excellent. Mt Royal’s debut is not any different. I had patiently waited for this for a long time after seeing them perform a few times.
Future Islands – Singles: This could almost be called the year of Future Islands. They went from local darlings to one of the biggest indie bands in the planet. Their Letterman appearance shouldn’t need to be mentioned – their music does the speaking for them. This release followed their trajectory of pushing their envelopes with lyrical composition, vocal styling, soundscapes and other synth goodness, and their ever steady bass anchoring it all together.
Silk Rhodes – Silk Rhodes: This release is pure funk. Disco, funk, soul… It all exists in the same realm for these two Baltimore artists. This is extremely danceable. I have not had the pleasure of catching them live (versus every other artist on this list, at least once, if not several times) but hope to remedy that in 2015.
Wing Dam – Shifter: Wing Dam followed up their last classic with another classic. I had already heard a lot of these songs live, and instantly dug it. I was fortunate to be allowed to sit in the producer booth while they recorded a couple of these, and for that I am eternally grateful. It was quite the experience and it was a lot of fun to hear the finished product, and see some of the recording process first-hand. They are one of the funnest bands to catch live, and some of the nicest people around.
Hive Bent – dyatlov: Two piece that crush. Heavy heavy heavy. I don’t have much more to say other than I love Hive Bent. Go grab their newest EP, you wont regret it.
Multicult – Variable Impulse: Multicult are another great band on record and live. The on one hand look to Shellac for inspiration and on the other surpass them in terms of energy.
Roomrunner – Seperate: Roomrunner’s newest EP is a bit of a departure for them sonically. This time around they recorded with J Robbins, who helped the record catch a slightly different groove than their previous (and excellent) releases. They still look towards the 1990s, but this time you can feel a variety of influences creep in.
Horse Lords – Hidden Cities: One of the most intriguing bands to see live. Their rythum cant be beat. I have been mesmerized in a trance every time I have seen them. This record does a good job of captuing their vibe, but if you haven’t seen them live, do yourself a favor and check them out.