Archive for 930 Club

Gary Clark, Jr. At The 930 Club In DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 13, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica C.  We like the noise, in both senses of the word.

Gary Clark Jr

The Dandy Warhols Deliver All “Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia” At The 9:30 Club

Posted in Music with tags , , , on May 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

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Seeing a band deliver on stage, in its entirety, a 13-year old album is like examining a flower pressed under glass.  The vitality present when it was a living, breathing thing is replaced by an archival weight, but in the case of The Dandy Warhols playing Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, playing the album brought restorative powers, and all these years later, an informed perspective.  It was exquisite, and they were great.

Yesterday also brought news that an intact Wooly Mammoth, complete with blood samples, had been carved from the tundra in Siberia.  Coincidence? We don’t know.  All we know is that one of our favorite bands who, since 2005, have not brought us new music on par with what came before, played a set that allowed us to clone the enthusiasm we once had for them.  After a note-perfect, enthusiastic, glorious rendition of arguably their best album — and inarguably their high-water mark commercially — the Dandys came through with a restoration drama reaffirming their uniqueness.

A few years ago, we complained in this space that the Dandys were coasting, that they’d never get back to the fresh-squeezed citrus tonic they’d brought to rock’n’roll when they emerged from Portland in the mid-nineties as a band that could graft Rolling Stones chops atop garage-psych songs that were as louche as they were comically astringent.  Tulip Frenzy reader Zia McCabe aggressively defended the band against all charges and urged us to listen to the late stuff anew.  We did, and modified our position, but still believe that you have to go back to the era from which Thirteen Songs emerged to find the really good stuff, “We Used To Be Friends” and “Holding Me Up” notwithstanding.

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Last night, by the time they’d played “Mohammed,” we could understand better how the Dig!-era competition between the Dandys and the Brian Jonestown Massacre could have been so intense, for surely these two bands emerged from the womb as split-zygote representations of the same folk-rock band.  While playing an album onstage and in its entirety reveals the different sequencing needs of two kinds of performance, the set gathered momentum so that by the time they got to “Bohemian Like You” there was a catharsis and belated recognition of how Thirteen Tales was built around what would become the Dandy’s monster hit.  The record itself is a relic from that pre-iTunes era when albums could exist as a unit of measure, not an atomized collection of individually downloadable songs, and while in our opinion it never hung together as a single work so much as it is a great collection, last night the playing of the album as a whole was a success in itself and an assertion, which we accept, of its importance.

We missed the Pixies playing Dolittle, and those artists, from the Breeders to Lucinda Williams, tackling their records on stage.  It’s more than a gimmick, or at least it was last night.  It enables a band to focus on a moment in time when their creativity produced a body of work that can last.  Our fondest hope, after last night’s performance, is that the day the tour is over, the Dandy Warhols go back to the studio and produce music on a level with these 13 songs from 13 years ago.

Robyn Hitchcock Offers Clues To His Ultimate Playlist (9:30 Club, April 27th)

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Over a span of many years — many, many years — we’ve made playlists from Robyn Hitchcock’s albums, vinyl to cassette tape, CDs to Mini Discs, digital files to iPods and iPads.  It’s hard to do a really comprehensive and good list because, Hell’s bells, he’s been at it so long, writing songs at such a consistently high level, that a really good, career-spanning playlist — starting with the Soft Boys in 1980, up to and including the excellent Love From London, which came out earlier this year — you either fill your hard drive with an impossibly long sequence of  his 500 songs, or you skip over whole decades (the ’90s weren’t particularly memorable), or you start taking a single song from an album in the ’80s, say Element of Light, and the next thing you know, you’ve included the whole thing, the whole album, defeating your curatorial purpose.

Last night Robyn Hitchcock played D.C.’s 9:30 Club with a band so good that Peter Buck played rhythm guitar — yeah, think of that, the multimillionaire legend from R.E.M. goes out on the road as Hitchcock’s sideman — and his set list was just that sort of perfect playlist that has eluded us.  When he strapped on the electric guitar, his long fingers languorously alighting lead notes even as he sang, of course he started with “Kingdom Of Love,” a song first heard when he and Kimberly Rew were giving Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd a run for their money as the best tandem guitar duo in that confused era between punk and post-punk.  He closed his set with “Goodnight Oslo,” (sung with some missed high notes, the quality of his voice necessitating the emollient of tea), and we’d be forgiven if we said, Wow, what a span of amazing songs, except “Goodnight Oslo,” which he loves so much he’s recorded it twice — once in English, once in Norwegian — was released first in 2009, and he’s put out three excellent albums since then!   Yeah, more than three decades on, Hitchcock’s fountain still bubbles with Byrdsy jangle and folk-rock craftsmanship.

To say he is still going strong understates.  To put the timeline in perspective against the quality of music produced, what Hitchcock is doing now would be the equivalent of, say, the Rolling Stones still releasing excellent new music in the late ’90s, right? 33 years on from that first one.  The only artist in rock’n’roll music we know who has had/is having such a late phase claim to greatness is Dylan, and unlike Dylan, Hitchcock still has his voice.  Even if last night some of those high notes were just out of reach.

We love Love From London, though when it first came out, we thought maybe Goodnight Oslo or 2006’s Ole! Tarantula were a bit better.  We’ve since reconsidered.  Last night, playing the wonderful “I Love You” and “Fix You,” Hitchcock reminded us just how great that album is.  He limited himself to two songs from the new album because, clearly, even he has trouble choosing the great songs to offer, and it’s a zero-sum game, if he’d taken too many songs from Love From London, he wouldn’t have been able to give us “Element of Light,” or maybe “Underground Sun.”  (On the latter, the band did something so charming… having forgotten the bridge, after they ended the song, they remembered what they’d left off, started up again, and played the bridge!)  He wouldn’t have given us “Madonna of the Wasps” or “Adventure Rocket Ship” or “N.Y. Doll.”

He came back with an encore consisting of, get this, “I’m Waiting For the Man,” followed by Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing,” followed by “She Said She Said” and “Eight Miles High.” Well, did we mention that Peter Buck was in his band.  Brilliant.  A complete gem of an encore package, missing only, like, “Parachute Woman” to have hit ’60s evocation nirvana.

And now, having heard the set last night, maybe we have our dream playlist, at once a concise distillation of Hitchcock’s greatness, and a reminder that it’s really just a taste of this most satisfying career.

Jesus And Mary Chain At 930 Club Come On Like A Heart Attack

Posted in Music with tags , on September 10, 2012 by johnbuckley100

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The Jesus And Mary Chain returned to D.C. for the first time in years and tuned up the amps for their show at FedEx Field.  Unfortunately, they were playing at the 930 Club.  Maybe they remembered that show from 1993 when, even before the 930 Club moved from its F Street locale to its current digs on V Street, the Chain played with Mazzy Star in this very building, which at that point had holes in the roof.  Maybe they were hoping that they could be heard at the International Space Station.  All we know is that a show that included many of their best songs from that string of great albums that started with Darklands and sadly ended, in 1998, with the under-appreciated Munki, was marred by sound problems not simply generated by the volume dials being turned past Spinal Tap’s 11.  Occasionally the glorious mix of the Ramones meeting Lou Reed in the Brill Building basement shone through, and yeah, those hits from Automatic and Honey’s Dead were a sound for sore ears. What started out as a noise rock band was transformed along the way into the greatest exemplars of the Velvet Underground who ever got radio play, but it was hard to hear the Velvets influence last night underneath the din, and this is not simply because we are old as the band is.  Jim Reid seemed healthy and happy, which was a delight to see.  William seemed slightly bewildered that the subtleties of his guitar playing got electrocuted somewhere between the strum and squall.  They had a superb drummer who could have been heard at the Space Station without benefit of amplification.  But to these ears, or what’s left of them after last night, what was the most anticipated return by one of our favorite bands was blown away by the megatonnage of nuclear overkill, which really is too bad.

Other Than The Magic Castles, How Were The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mrs. Lincoln?

Posted in Music with tags , , , on August 23, 2012 by johnbuckley100

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What a difference having a good album to push makes.  We’ve seen — and enjoyed immensely — the last four Brian Jonestown Massacre tours, but with the release earlier in the year of Aufheben, the first BJM album in a decade that rivals the best of their ’90s output, it was as if Anton Newcombe was reborn as a downright chatty (for him), occasionally pogoing multi-instrumentalist (okay, harmonica as well as guitar.) We counted four songs from the new album, or was it five?  They didn’t simply rely on classics from Take It From The Man; this was a set more evenly balanced between music from this decade and the previous ones.  The BJM’s live sound is so unique: a rhythm guitar army, Branca-esque in force, widens spectral mid-tones while Anton picks riffs that serve as careful filigrees over the main strumming squall.  (Having Matt Hollywood take on the singing duties from “Viholliseni Maalla” was a nice touch, and who knew he could sing in Finnish?)

Moreover, whoever would have thought we’d hear music like this in 2012?  Whoever would have thought Anton would be this strong and vital at this moment in time?  Not the last Dandy on Earth, that’s who.  Berlin agrees with him.  The band is revitalized by the new material.  They were fine last night.

Are The Magic Castles The Best Young Band In America?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on August 23, 2012 by johnbuckley100

We saw the Magic Castles open for the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the 930 Club last night.  Too often, you have to endure opening acts to get to the main event, and few things are worse than having to sit through the thudding gyrations of bands you find just fundamentally lacking.  This is not so much the case when the BJM are in town; Anton Newcombe is many things, and one of them is a good mentor, as evidenced by how many of the bands we love have cited, on their websites, that they toured with the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  It’s like a punk rock Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, playing with BJM, and it’s worth showing up an hour earlier than otherwise you might. We’ve liked The Young Sinclairs, and that Icelandic band, Singapore Sling, they had open for them in 2009, and didn’t we see the Flavor Crystals open for them once? But The Magic Castles were… magic.

Imagine John Densmore drumming while Dean Wareham and Sterling Morrison back up Neil Young.  We’d read the reference to them in last week’s issue of The New Yorker, capsule-previewing their opening for the BJM with that shorthand citation: a comparison to the Velvet Underground.  As some know, Tulip Frenzy has an office policy, rigidly enforced from the senior staff on down to the interns, to be curious about any band that is referenced in the same sentence as the VU, either as in, “They sound like the Velvet Underground,” or, “They sound nothing like the Velvet Underground.”  We don’t much care which way it goes; any such reference is worthy of our checking it out.  Only, when we saw them play last night, we didn’t think of the VU so much as First Communion Afterparty, the Doors, Luna, Kurt Vile, Fripp and Eno, or maybe it’s Cluster and Eno — all of them great character references.

So we didn’t know they were from Minneapolis, which makes some sense given the FCAP vibe.  They’re not really like the late and lamented psyche-tyros — granted, the Magic Castles’ music, especially as recorded, has these psilocybin traces of the color spectrum limning its edges, though not the lysergic propulsion of that other sadly mothballed Minneapolis band.  On vinyl, on the eponymous record they put out on Anton’s A Records, they’re more like an entrant into the Elephant 6 landscape: ’60’s vocals that emerge like beekeeping monks who have all just swallowed  something interesting spontaneously breaking out into song, while the guitar notes wind around their black-clad habits like a quietly buzzing but sonically active hive.  Live, though, they were tougher, more Summer of Luvish, a band we could imagine coming not from the Twin Cities but from our Notional Brooklyn, where the artisanal hippies have all gone to roost, tinkering in their workshops, a serious Portlandia where everything is made of fresh-baked fixins that have tasty undertones.  Yeah, the Magic Castles make you think this way.  Let’s hear more.

Spiritualized At The 930 Club, May 10, 2012

Posted in Music with tags , , on May 11, 2012 by johnbuckley100

The band’s leader, for years bedeviled by drug and health issues, stands off to the side, with evident disdain either for playing frontman or for the crowd.  Brian Jonestown Massacre circa 2009?  No, Spiritualized last night.

It was a badly paced set — we could have done without the long transition between “Rated X” and “Electric Mainline” — but when they were on, ladies and gentlemen, we were rocket-launched through space.  With the exception of “Hey Jane,” which opened, and was filled with air and space so that its tight motorik tempo allowed the engine to breath, the great songs from Sweet Heart Sweet Light reminded us that the five-piece band, plus singers, could have used the further emollient of horns.  But the arrangements were fantastic — we were completely fooled by the intro to “Heading For The Top,” thinking Pierce had gone all the way back to Lazer Guided Melodies to play “If I Were With Her Now.”

Jason Pierce seemed strong, for someone who’s medical records have played out on the pages of music magazines for years.  He’s a big guy, with a head the size of Helmut Kohl’s, and one wished his generous volubility with interviewers would have accommodated more than a single “thank you” as they left the stage.  But when we heard “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)” followed by “Come Together,” all was forgiven.

Fleshtones Promote Physical Fitness At 930 Club

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 11, 2010 by johnbuckley100

America’s hardest working band brought Hitsburg, USA to the Nation’s Capital last night, playing at the 930 Club for the first time since it’s 30th Birthday party on Memorial Day.  They were opening for Southern Culture On The Skids, drawn to perform their boss folklore act to the home of the Smithsonian Institution, a city JFK famously said crossed Southern efficiency with Northern charm.

The spirit of JFK hung with us, as the ‘Tones high kicked their way through an all-too short, nonetheless exuberant set that witnessed everything from a salute to the Ramones, an incredible song we’ve never heard before about mean rats in the kitchen, to an instrumental cover of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper.” “Theme From The Vindicators” was played by Keith standing on a borrowed chair in the center of the club, and ultimately Peter triumphantly belted out the lyrics to “First Date (Are You Coming On To Me.”  Why JFK?  Well, growing up in Canada, Ken might have missed this, but surely Bill, Peter, and Keith are of an age to remember those Presidential Physical Fitness badges you had to earn back in the day — at least it would seem they remembered them as they got much of the crowd down on all fours during “Push Up Man.”

All we know is we got an unexpected work out, though as always, it was our cheek muscles that ached, for grinning like a goblin for an hour at a time is exhausting.  We left 9:30 with SCOTS “Voodoo Cadillac” stamped into our brain, marveling at how the Fleshtones can encourage mass mania, this time in support of physical fitness, 100+ shows each year, lo these many years.  Thanks, guys.  And we look forward to hearing the fruits of your labor in the studio with Lenny.

The New Pornographers’ Spectacular Show At The 9:30 Club

Posted in Music with tags , on June 23, 2010 by johnbuckley100

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It was not merely the best New Pornographer’s show we’ve seen, it may have been the best show we’ve seen in some years, full stop. Occasionally Neko’s vocals slipped the track and the band rode on for a mile or two with sparks flying.  But for the most part, the harmonies flew like the Blue Angels in formation, Kurt Dahl continued to rack up points in the computer rankings of the #1 drummer in the universe, and the band rocked with the precision of a synchronized swim team.

Starting with “Sing Me Spanish Techno” is always a challenge, in the same way that starting the NASCAR circuit at Daytona is a challenge — there are going to be wrecks, even as you’re thrilled that the show is underway.  By the time Dan Bejar appeared onstage in a beer bubble, descending like Pink at an awards ceremony to play “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras,” it all gelled.

May we offer special thanks that two-thirds of the way through the sold-out show, they played “We End Up Together,” not just the best song on Together, but once again a song where the New Pornos drop the ironic armature and stand there unprotected.  Our breath ended up one county over.

Neko was in really fine form on all the old showstoppers, not to mention “All The Old Showstoppers.”  On songs like “Letter From An Occupant” or “The Laws Have Changed,” which call for vocal gymnastics, she flipped and bounced in perfect pitch, but in a seemingly easier song to sing, such as “These Are The Fables,” things were a little shakier.

Still, not just a good show, but a great show.  On “Jackie, Dressed In Cobras,” you would have thought Vollman and Kaylan were once again joined with the Mothers of Invention.  A band that plays with such an effort at precision may get a little too loose and chatty between songs, and Canadian humor may in fact be an oxymoron.  But who cares.  After an album (Together) that did slightly disappoint, nice to see it all come together for the funnest band on the planet.

Brian Jonestown Massacre At the 9:30 Club Was The Eye, Not The Hurricane

Posted in Music with tags , , on June 10, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Lord knows The Brian Jonestown Massacre have had their share of tumultuous shows, but last night at Washington’s 9:30 Club, they were an island of calm amidst a sea of chaos.

Consider: coming home from a dinner out before heading to the show, a deranged driver of a pickup truck shot across four lanes of avenue traffic and headed directly for our car proceeding up one of Upper Northwest D.C.’s narrowest streets.  We pulled over as the truck shot by going upwards of 50, and it just barely missed us moments before it drove over a curb and through a hedge, its brake lights never glimpsed.  Or this: an hour before we arrived at 9:30, three young men were shot right in front of the club, which was then surrounded by police and crime-scene tape.  Think of it: the Brian Jonestown Massacre played a locale surrounded by police and crime-scene tape, and it had absolutely nothing to do with them.

They played a calm, ultimately moving, pretty glorious set, turning the set lists from the 2008 and 2009 tours inside out.  Instead of opening with “Whoever You Are,” the band followed Anton into “Super-Sonic.”  “Wasted” was the third song of the night, and with its chugging refrain of “I want to know,” the band kicked hard, but were as impassive as jurors settling in for a long trial.  Sure, Joel Gion got worked up when Matt Hollywood sang “Got My Eye On You,” and the drumming, as always, was an artful pneumatic drill, but when you think about the way the BJM live meld three and four strumming guitars against Anton’s methodical leads, it’s a speedball combo of the constant and the virtuoso.  Thick layers of six- and twelve-string guitars, powerhouse drumming, an emollient organ, and Anton plinking his notes, one at a time, putting in Sterling Morrison fills, and singing, shyly.

Calm as they were, as professional as they are, the impression should not be conveyed that they failed to produce a big ruckus. “Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth” had the whole, nearly sold out crowd singing, and it was just a practice run for a raucous “Who?”  I’d never heard them play “Going To Hell,” and it was an up-tempo delight.  Something was slightly off in the mix, or the tuning, for “That Girl Suicide,” but this is a mild kvetch.  With the exception of “Hide and Seek, ” “Straight Up And Down,” and “Nailing Honey To The Bee,” they played all the songs you’d want them to (and they may even have played those, but after almost a two-hour set, we braved the D.C. streets.) “Servo,” and  “Vacuum Boots” and “Anemone” were all quite fine.

Anton seemed stronger than he has the last few tours: still hidden behind a burka of forelocks, saying virtually nothing, standing as he always does playing to the stage, not to the crowd.  But his voice was strong, and he’s still with us.  As are those three guys shot out on the street just before the show, and since we haven’t heard otherwise, the driver of that pickup truck terrorizing the leafy interior suburbs of the Nation’s Capital.  Whowouldathunk that The Brian Jonestown Massacre would be the steady counterpoint to the chaos of the streets, or even that in 2010, they’d still be around and kicking hard against beautiful songwriting strummed in perfect unison.

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