Last night, I decided that the only way to cope with the Redskins loss was to head up to Baltimore for a doom metal show. I had never been to Club K before, but it’s a tiny room attached to the back of a Korean restaurant, about halfway between the Ottobar and the Wind-Up Space. It was a totally trippy space, decked out in black lights(!), with paintings of zebras(!!) and diamonds on the wall– honestly, it felt more like a space for a rave than for a metal/hardcore show. There were four bands performing: Baltimore atmospheric black metal band Barbelith, Philly hardcore band Congenital Death, Maine doom band Swaath, and Baltimore doom band Ophidian. Swaath were awesome and well worth the trip up, even though they only played for about 25 minutes. Actually, all of the bands played short sets– the first band started around 9, and all four bands were done before midnight; fairly impressively quick, since each band had to load all of their equipment from the outside since there was no backstage area. Anyway, it was a fun show and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Club K’s schedule coming up; it looks like they’re posting shows on their facebook page as well.
On Saturday night, I went up to Sonar in Baltimore for a four-band black metal tour: Sweden’s Marduk, Norway’s 1349, Atlanta’s Withered, and Canada’s Weapon. There were also 7 local bands on the lineup– I’m not a huge fan of pay-to-play (which is the policy of asking local bands to pre-sell tickets to shows in order to play; I wrote a lengthy article for TBD.com about Jaxx last year where I talked a lot about that policy; you can read that article here), and I think that an ELEVEN-BAND lineup is a bit ridiculous, even for a Saturday night. Sure, having a lot of local bands on the bill helps bring people out to the show, but there were already four good touring bands on this bill!
Anyway: apparently they were staggering the local bands between the Talking Head Lounge (Sonar’s smallest room) and the Talking Head Club (the medium-sized room), to shorten the setup time, then all four touring bands played on the Club stage. Except that’s not exactly what happened. I got there around 8:30 and caught the end of Baltimore’s Strong Intention‘s set on the Club stage, then Weapon played a great set. Then, as Withered played its set on the Club stage, there was another local band playing AT THE SAME TIME on the Talking Head stage down the hall. No joke– one of the touring bands was competing for an audience with one of the local bands. Not only that, those of us trying to hear Withered from the back of the Club room had to strain to hear them over the sound of the local band playing a few feet away (if you’ve never been to Sonar, these two rooms are very close together). It made for a really frustrating night– sure, I’d just seen Withered about a year ago when they played Sonar with Krallice, but it would’ve been nice to hear them again without having their music mashed up with that of a local band. It made for a really frustrating night and just seemed completely unprofessional overall. Seriously, folks: don’t have a touring band compete for an audience and decibels with a local band. It’s just not awesome.
Local band news
So much news about local bands that we had to break it into its own section today!
• Black Clouds have a “name your own price” deal for their album Everything Is Not Going To Be OK on Bandcamp.
• You can pre-order the new limited-edition Auroboros EP (250 hand-numbered copies that come with a free digital download) via Australopithecus Records. No, we can’t spell that either, so just click the link.
• Preview: Michael J West on the DC Jazz Festival [Washington CityPaper], which started this past weekend.
• Somewhat after the fact but somewhat relevant: Here are several previews for CapitalBop‘s DC Jazz Lofts, part of this year’s DC Jazz Festival: Siriam Gopal [DCist] and Listen Local First. Two shows were this weekend and the third is June 9th.
Last night, I went to the Arlington Temple in Rosslyn to see the San Francisco vocal band the House Jacks, who have been around since 1991 but are more recently known for their work on the NBC a cappella competition show The Sing-Off. The quintet did not disappoint, performing a ton of original songs and a few selected covers; they always do a selection of audience requests, and it’s pretty amazing to me how little it takes to make for a convincing cover of a pop song (the guys did just fine with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Maroon 5′s “This Love” with just the lead and percussion– sure, some of the other guys were tossing in some harmonies or other auxiliary parts, but they really weren’t necessary). Better was the guys’ take on audience requests they didn’t know; Deke Sharon provided a particularly hilarious guess of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. (Notably, my request for their version of the Monday Night Football theme was not indulged– the House Jacks actually performed the song with Hank Williams Jr. last season, but the theme stopped being aired after a few weeks when Williams made a Hitler comment.) The show overall was great, though; I captured a few tunes on video: early in the show, Nick Girard soloed on a cover of Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy”, and for the encore, Deke Sharon invited openers Euphonism on stage to sing Bob Marley‘s “Three Little Birds”.
On Friday night, I went to see Trampled By Turtles at the 9:30 Club. My friend Tom Herbers runs their sound (and recorded their most recent album Stars & Satellites). There were a couple of all-star jams with openers These United States, including a booming cover of The Band‘s “The Weight”. Overall, I thought they sounded great (definitely better than the last time I saw them), but the one thing that continues to be frustrating is the number of people who talk and talk and talk during the band’s slower, quieter songs. I guess the crowd made up for it during the louder ones (there was a moment where everyone was jumping in unison so fiercely that I thought the entire 9:30 club building was going to levitate).
• Interview/profile: Jonathan L Fischer celebrates the blog All Our Noise and shares some of the blog’s favorite live videos over its 4 year history [Washington CityPaper].
• The Washington Post has a column called “She The People: Women Writing on Politics and Culture”. This week, Suzi Parker muses on What American women could learn from Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock girl band. Three of its members have been in police custody since March for overtaking the pulpit of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and chanting “Mother Mary, drive Putin away.” Their crime: hooliganism.
Last night was a concert double-header for me. I started out at the Hamilton in Penn Quarter– it was my first time there, and that place is seriously cool. The obvious comparison is that it’s most similar to the Birchmere, because both venues are seated with tables and you can order food. The Hamilton is wider, though, and the stage is curved so the tables all come out like rays instead of being perpendicular or parallel to it. There’s an entire restaurant attached to the venue, but the venue is downstairs, so there’s no interference between the two. I was also surprised that the menu was different in the venue than it was in the restaurant– you can see the venue menu here and the restaurant menu here. There’s some overlap between the two, but I was disappointed that the venue menu didn’t have the falafel sandwich that the restaurant menu had, as I generally tend to keep vegan when I can, and there didn’t seem to be any vegan options at the venue. I had the wild mushroom pizza instead, which was also quite good. (Note that the venue charges for refills of things like lemonade!). The sound was good and the stage was really pro– there was quite the lighting display during the bands. Opening the show was Baltimore’s Cris Jacobs Band, who mentioned that they’d just finished recording a new CD, so that should be out “in a few weeks”(!), they said. The headliners were Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, a 9-piece funk/soul band from Brooklyn that features siblings Arleigh Kincheloe (voice) and Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica) alongside a 4-piece horn section. They were a lot of fun– you could tell that the crowd really wanted to dance, but there wasn’t a lot of space for that.
Then, since that show got out early (10:30), I hopped in my car and headed out to Fat Tuesday’s in Fairfax where there was a metal show going on. There was a ton of traffic because the Caps game got out at the same time– plus the inevitable construction on 66– but I got there in time to see stoner metal band Caltrop who were great live. Bizarre to see them playing in that New Orleans themed dive bar, but with the Corpse Fortress gone now, there are fewer DIY spaces for metal bands like that to play. You can download a free song on their Facebook page if you’d like to hear what they sound like.