Archive for 930 Club

The New Pornographers Play Their Best Album In Years At Their Best 9:30 Club Show Ever

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2017 by johnbuckley100

the-new-pornographers-live-in-chicago-at-metro-april-2017-32Purloined photo with apologies and credit to Bobby Talamine of In The Loop Magazine

We didn’t need a reminder, but boy was it comforting to hear The New Pornographers play “The Laws Have Changed” early in their Saturday night 9:30 Club show in D.C.  Yes, in the real world the laws are changing, and not for the better.  Thankfully, in that 90-minute respite from our mad president that we spent seeing a favorite band play a delightful set, we learned The New Pornographers haven’t changed a bit, and are at the same time thoroughly new.

We didn’t miss Dan Bejar, though we recognize the blasphemy of these words.  As great as his songs are, as fun as his contributions have been, both live and on albums, the streamlined New Ps with just Carl and Neko keeping the bleeding heart show rolling worked wonderfully.  The show must go on, and backing an album whose thematic heart lies in “This Is The World Of The Theater,” it surely did. Joe Seiders had already proved himself to be a worthy replacement for Kurt Dahl on drums, and even on the Brill Bruisers tour three years ago we’d learned to relax; Seiders keeps the Niagara pounding going with no letup in its galvanic force, and has a few more tricks up his sleeve.  This was the best of the six or seven shows we’ve seen The New Pornographers play at 9:30 going back to 2005.

Which makes sense, since Whiteout Conditions is the best New Pornographers’ album since the by-now classic Twin Cinema.  It’s hard to remember that when that record came out nearly 12 years ago, it was bemoaned for how the band had lost the oddness and caffeinated sheen of their first two astonishing albums.  Now, of course, we recognize Twin Cinema as a high point in Western Civ (and we’re increasingly worried that 2014’s Brill Bruisers might be seen by future historians as its peak.)  Whiteout Conditions is a mix of everything we love about the band, bright and bouncy, profound when needed.  With songs like “High Ticket Attractions,” which we can’t get out of our head, and new approaches like “Darling Shade,” which sound like Martha and the Vandellas updated for the 21st Century, this Bejar-less edition of the band  flows like a lava tube off the edge of a cliff, powerfully smoking in the creation of new earth.

That The New Pornographers are one of our very favorite bands defies certain logic.  Ordinarily, we treasure the analog sound of Fender guitars played by punk bands and The New Ps feature keyboard-driven synthetic sounds polished to a high gloss.  They’re not exactly a guilty pleasure or a secret passion, for we play their recs all the time, but the pleasure we get from listening to them is a bit like wearing only natural fibers in everyday life, while enjoying the chance to dress up in polyester.  Carl Newman clearly loved songwriters like Brian Wilson and bands like ELO, and us, not so much.  But last night at the 9:30 Club this band — capable of the most intricate studio albums — played a wonderfully organic set with four-part harmonies intact, the songs building and building so that by the time we got to “The Bleeding Heart Show” encore, we could emerge from the club’s doors with a smile on our face, ready to face anything, up to and including all the laws that have changed.

Television, A Friend From Many Stages, Return To D.C.’s 930 Club

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by johnbuckley100

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Speaking of bands who’ve been around for 40 years, Television played at D.C.’s 930 Club, and to say they were in fine form understates the impact of the Platonic ideal.

With only one song from 1992’s Television — “1880 or So” — and none at all from Adventure, this set was Marquee Moon all the way.  Only it was like Marquee Moon from the inside out: no “See No Evil,” and we heard “Prove It” and “Torn Curtain” before “Venus.”  A special highlight was hearing the gorgeous “Guiding Light,” and the closer of the set, “Marquee Moon,” was as good as we have ever heard it — and our hearing it live traces back to New Year’s Eve 1976.

Richard Lloyd has left the band, but Jimmy Rip — who has played with Verlaine since his 1980s solo tours — filled in and then some.  Yes, it was a little odd to hear a stand-in play Lloyd’s lines, but Rip is such an excellent guitarist in his own right, it was like hearing a gifted Branagh fill in for Olivier as Hamlet.

Richard Lloyd once famously said that with while some bands look to see whether they have the crowd moving, Television always judged its performance by whether the audience was motionless.  And yes, when Verlaine and Rip traded guitar lines, the crowd reaction was transfixion.  Verlaine was as loose as we have ever seen him, fronting Television or his own band (often comprised of a similar set of musicians.)  The volume was low, the torque was loose, and it was magnificent.

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The last time we saw Television play was at Georgetown, when they were pushing their 1992 eponymous  reunion album.  The playing then was a bit like this: quieter and more self-contained than those shows we saw as they were exiting stage left in 1978.  But then and now, there was plenty that was raucous contained at an adult volume.

We once had Tom Verlaine explain to us, while sitting in our apartment in New York for an interview for the Soho Weekly News, that Television’s two-Fender guitar sound was aimed at extracting the jaggedness of wild songs.  But last night, he and Rip convened a harmonic convergence — on the unreleased, and very long, “Persia,” the fusion music had the audience guessing where the Farfisa , violins, and synths were hiding, though it was only the two guitars.  And on that post-Bolero finish to “Marquee Moon,” the return to the melody was like a post-coital urge for more, unheralded by the drums.

Fred Smith, the Harvey Keitel of rock’n’roll, was his wonderfully understated self, and Billy Ficca proved anew why he’s the greatest jazz drummer to ever center a punk-era band.  But it was Verlaine, of course, who people came to see, and both his singing and his magically elusive guitar were a reminder that one of the greatest bands in history can still evoke the era in which we first saw them, all those years ago.

An Evening With The Brian Jonestown Massacre At D.C.’s 9:30 Club

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 6, 2016 by johnbuckley100
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On their 2016 tour of these United States, The Brian Jonestown Massacre are doing something they mostly avoided the last time we saw them — they are playing songs from Anton Newcombe’s fairly astonishing recent creative output, and going deep into the back catalogue.  It is as if Methadrone and Mini Album Thingy Wingy were recorded by the same band in the same year, not by largely different bands more than 20 years apart.

We’d largely forgotten “Never Ever,” which kicked off the set, but if ever you wanted to steep yourself like a mushroom tea bag in the Velvets’ Factory sound, yeah, good place to begin.  And what a thrill it was to hear them play “Goodbye (Butterfly)” or “Pish,” which rank among our favorite recent BJM songs, capturing all the magic of this greatest working band which, not that long ago, may have seemed like their best work was behind them.

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For the initiated, this was a marvelous show, occasionally crystalizing with shimmering layers of guitar, the emollience of the organ, Daniel Allaire kicking the drum kit no matter what else was going on.  And there was a lot going on.  Anton was as cranky as we’ve ever seen him, twice chiding Ryan Van Kriedt for playing acoustic guitar (on “Anemone” and “Prozac vs. Heroin”), even though in the latter case, Van Kriedt politely informed the mercurial bandleader that he’d actually told him to play it.  (“I don’t care, there’s a hole in the middle of the song when you play it.”)  Hey, at least he didn’t stab him, like he allegedly did Frankie Teardrop during the 2009 tour.

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Hearing the band line up with Anton, Ryan, and Ricky Maymi each playing 12-string guitars was a treat, a sonic treat.  Over the course of their long existence, BJM have grafted their own take on the Velvet Underground’s guitar sound atop Cure-era Power Pop, while somehow harkening to a Summer of Love psychedelic dynamic.  When you hear Anton sing and play guitar on a fairly new song, “Days, Weeks and Moths” from 2014’s Revelation, it brings to mind Blind Faith, or maybe Traffic, but nevertheless a band right on the back end of the ’60s.  And yet it is completely contemporary, if you’re an oddball like me who thinks psychedelic rock’n’roll is contemporary.

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There were moments when even Joel Gion grew a little frustrated with Anton’s temper.  But let’s cut the genius some slack.  Since quitting drugs and alcohol, since moving to Berlin and becoming a father, Anton has produced some of the greatest music of his career, which no one, circa 2005, would have predicted.  There were moments during last night’s near three-hour set that were magical, less like seeing a band perform than being inside the rehearsal studio when lightning was captured in a bottle.  Anton promised not one, but two new albums this year.  We can’t wait to hear ’em.

 

 

Hoarse Of Voice, At The 930 Club, The Dandy Warhols Still Have Much To Say

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 18, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Dandy's Rule 1Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s voice was shredded from the back-to-back New York gigs this weekend, part of the price we always pay in D.C. getting first-rate bands on second-rate evenings (Sundays or Thursdays.) With show-must-go-on enthusiasm and a decidedly low-key vibe, the set was still powerful, evenly drawing from the first three albums while — and this was most delightful — showcasing how good are the best songs on Distortland, their first really good new album in some years.

That songs like “Search Party,” “All The Girls In London,” and the Cars-like “You Are Killing Me” more than held their own with faves like “Plan A,” “I Love You,” and “Bohemian Like You” is the best news we can deliver.  It has been a while since the Dandys’ new stuff sounded as vibrant as what they launched into space with during their late ’90s rise, and that Distortland has been on near constant rotation on our hard drive is as welcome news as spring’s arrival.

Dandy's Rule 3Courtney’s voice notwithstanding, the band played as well as they did when performing the entirety of Thirteen Tales Of Urban Bohemia here there years ago. There’s something remarkably sporting about a band that remains a foursome after all these years, with no calling in the supporting cast to deliver the goods. Brent De Boer remains one of rock’s great unheralded drummers, a timekeeper to be sure, but dynamic when it’s needed.  Peter Holmstrom is unflashy in his floppy hat, but hangs the wire holding up the canvas on which Courtney paints the songs.  Zia remains the heart and soul of the band, playing one-hand keyboard bass, leaving the other free for tambourine or keyboard frills.  If there is a single instrument in the Dandys possession you most want to hear, it’s Courtney’s voice, and though last night it was hoarse, he earnestly powered through.

Dandy's Rule 2Some years ago, in frustration, we wrote an obituary of sorts for what has been, and remains, one of our favorite bands.  We were struck by how, in contravention of the Dig! dichotomy, it was the Brian Jonestown Massacre that was thriving, the Dandys, on record at least, shadows of their former greatness.  Few things give us more pleasure than to report that, Yeah, Zia, you are still great live — and on record, showing new life, new possibilities, new things to say.

Ty Segall’s 9:30 Club Show And The Triumph Of Willful Perversity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 26, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Ty 2016 TFrenzy

It’s a little perverse when a brilliant musician, whose typically raw but highly polished albums feature him playing every single instrument, turns over the playing to a band of aces.  At this point in his career, though, Ty Segall knows exactly what he’s doing: his perversity is willful.

Ty is a once-in-a-generation inspiration, a revivalist of real rock’n’roll who has an impact on the entire West Coast punk rock environment, but he’s a primitive, right, so it’s okay if we don’t delve too deeply into the meaning of his baby’n’umbilical-chord persona with which he came out flogging his new album, Emotional Mugger.  It’s okay if we don’t accord him the depth of a Bowie, or even a Stephen Colbert, when he abandons the guitar and instead plays a character on the album and stage.  Let’s take this at the level at which we have always viewed him: pure rock’n’roll power, a character like Iggy Pop is a character, not on the level of Ziggy Stardust.

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The Muggers picked our pockets and left us bowled over on the floor, with Evan Burrows of Wand creating his own little breeder reactor on the drum kit, his fellow bandmate Cory Hanson filling in on synth and guitar, and King Tuff, looking like he’d just stepped off of a Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band photo shoot, laying down the leads that heretofore Charles Moothart (whose CFM was an amazing opening act), or Ty himself would have played.  Not having to play guitar left Segall able to tiptoe to the edge of the crowd, inspiring all manner of surfers, including one girl who safely was carried back to the sound booth, returning to the stage with a game face and no doubt minor bruises.

Ty 2016 TFrenzy-3The last time Ty hit the 9:30 Club stage, he was touring behind his most commercial album ever, Manipulator, which had Black Keys hooks with a sharkskin sheen.  Emotional Mugger is at once as ambitious as Manipulator but also deliberately repellant and obscure, but live — and with this stellar band backing him, baby head and all — the tornado force of the music was nothing less than fun.

Ty 2016 TFrenzy-6We don’t really pretend to know why, midway through the set, he went back into character with the baby head and all, just that by the time he played “Candy Sam,”the crowd would have followed him to pillage all the chocolate shops on U Street.

Ty 2016-2When he’d completed the full rendition of Emotional Mugger and we heard the familiar chords of “Thank God For Sinners” from Twins, still his best album, it was great to have him shed the mask, ditch the character, and get back to Ty Segall, the tyro of his age.  “Manipulator” and “Feel” from his last real album were a reminder of what this guy can do, especially when a drummer like Evan Burrows is banging a gong.  In this miserable political year we’ve witnessed one guy with blonde hair get crowds to respond to his manipulations in an ugly manner.  Great it was last night to see another guy with blonde hair whip a crowd into a frenzy with the benignity of the cathartic arts.

Courtney Barnett At 930 Was Like Hearing Stiff Records’ Greatest Hits Played By Nirvana

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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We overheard someone in the audience next to us say that the last time Courtney Barnett played DC, it was at DC9, a venue considerably smaller than the 1000-and-change-sized 930 Club.  Given the roars of approval — as loud as we have heard them in 20+ years going to shows in this venue — and the quality of the performance, it seems almost inevitable that she’s going to make the leap to venues a quantum larger.

We love the Australian singer and guitarist’s debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, as readers of Tulip Frenzy well know.  Sometimes we prefer her real introduction to the States, 2014’s The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas.  Mostly, though, the hesitancy we had before fully embracing the album was that we were unprepared for the transition, the way the sound had been torqued tighter, louder, with more pop urgency. It would be like riding in your favorite ’73 BMW 2002 and suddenly getting into its most recent 3 Series descendent: familiar, but scary in way, once you put your foot to the pedal and saw how it had been modernized for the Autobahn.

Last night, she played virtually the entire new album, plus a number of our favorite songs from the double EP, and we realized how they both connect, and why we think she’s the strongest talent to emerge since Ty Segall five years ago. For what we liked most about The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas was the way she updated the sound of a particular era of British pop music that coincided with the emergence of punk but preceded Power Pop — those early albums by Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Nick Lowe.  Last night, that particular proto-Power Pop song sensibility was apparent — though powered along with a thunder more like Nirvana than any other trio we can remember.

Courtney

Barnett is a great storyteller, but that may make her sound twee, and she’s anything but: she and her band kick harder than any Aussies we can think of since Radio Birdman.  From “Elevator Operator,” which opened the set, to “History Eraser,” which finished the encore, the Courtney Barnett 3 played like a band with twice the instruments.  There may come a time when they’ll need sidemen to fill the arenas she’ll headline.  Yeah, after a thoroughly entertaining show last night, the first of two sold-out shows at 930, we have no doubt that’s where she’s heading.

Ty Segall’s Epic 930 Club Show Was A Crowd-Surfing Frenzy

Posted in Music with tags , on September 16, 2014 by johnbuckley100

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Last night at D.C.’s 930 Club, Ty Segall showed that the best songs on his new double album, Manipulator, are so many and strong that he can go for a 45-minute stretch before dipping into his glorious back catalogue.  Beginning with the title track and ripping through “It’s Over,” “Feel,” and an electrified — and electrifying — version of “Green Belly,” it’s no wonder the audience took to lemming-like launches into the waiting arms of their sturdy compatriots, who passed them around the venerable club like so many sacks of ecstatic jute.

For the better part of the decade, Ty Segall has been a one-man tent revival preaching real rock’n’roll, jacked into the absurdly varied electrical circuit that brought us garage rock, psyche, metal and the Beatles, a melodic and propulsive reminder of what the genre, as it dies, once was capable of.  And now he is hitting a city near you, toting his most commercially viable album ever, and putting on shows which, if last night is the par example, remind us all of what once was, and what still can be.  When we say he’s been a one-man band, in the studio it’s true; as alway when playing live, longtime sidekicks Mikal Cronin, Charlie Moothart, and Emily Epstein prove they can kick forward and back too, an undulating mass of throbbing gristle and Twisted Sister hair playing the best punk rock on the planet.

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From our vantage point — and we were smart enough to get upstairs — this was among the most tumultuous shows ever played at the 930 Club’s second incarnation.  (We offer a pro tip to young ‘uns swept up in the crowd-surfing impulse: if you choose to dive from the stage after 30 of your cohort have gone before you, don’t hit precisely the same spot, as the audience will have tired arms and sweaty, slippery fingers.)

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Readers who grant us the Talmudic inspection our writing deserves will know that while we believe Manipulator has a boodle of boss tracks on it, its overt play to get Black Keys-like radio love — by subverting, with the addition of newfound R&B riffs, Ty’s strong suit in melodic hard rock with punk’n’metal overtones — left us wondering if the delivery of what we once had wished for — the boy producing a solid slab o’ commercial potential — was a deviation from what we most enjoyed about this latest Savior of Rock’n’Roll.  But last night was the clincher: the album is truly worthy.  We’ve long predicted he had a future on the stage at the Verizon Center, and maybe this is the last time we will see him in a club the size of 930.  But honestly, why — money aside — would you want to play Verizon, where they get huffy about crowd surfing, when you can fall back on the audience and they will carry you for a moment before gently returning you right back to the stage?

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We were happy to hear the songs from his best album, Twins, and the songs from The Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse were a reminder of a previous moment when it took the live set to reveal how great the album was.  When we stepped out into the street, we felt like we’d survived the mayhem Ty unleashes.  Mayhem and ear-to-ear grins.  Hell, our ears were grinning too.

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