Archive for 930 Club

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.

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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.

Phosphorescent Were (Mostly) Luminescent At Last Night’s 930 Club Show

Posted in Music with tags , , , on January 23, 2014 by johnbuckley100

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Photos with a Leica C.

Neither snow nor cold nor gloom of night could prevent Matt Houck from bringing Phosphorescent to D.C. last evening, and the show was variously amazing and slightly off-putting.  Just like Phosphorescent’s breakthrough album, Muchacho.

Muchacho missed the 2013 Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List (c) by a very narrow margin… imagine our thought process, as we visualized the last-second long shot from center court… arcing… and just clanking off the rim.  We loved “Song For Zula,” thinking that if someone dubbed Dylan in on vocals and told us it was an outtake from Time Out Of Mind, we would have believed it.  And “The Quotidian Beasts,” which they began with last night, is one of the best songs of recent years.  But the whole package left us a little desirous of a strong producer telling Houck that he needed to sustain the large band sound across the album’s entirety, not have it so split between what he did with others and what he did mostly by himself.

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And so it was last night.  When the full band played — organ and piano, a lead guitarist and pedal steel player, bass, drums, and a second percussionist, along with Houck on guitar — it was transcendent, a band with the sonic equipoise of Wilco, or Dylan’s posse.  And when Houck allowed them to take a break, and proceeded to play for 30 minutes all by his’self, well, it was like the heat escaping from a punctured balloon… everything came down quick.

Still, when you think about what Houck has done — in the span of a few years, he’s released a tribute to Willie Nelson that today ranks as our favorite country album of the last decade; put out an album — Here’s To Taking It Easy — that is as soulful of a conglomeration of great American songwriting as has come our way since Alejandro Escovedo first burst upon the scene; and in Muchacho, which we will call the 11th best album of last year, released a cross-over album that appeals to anyone who loves fine American songwriting — our hat goes off to him.  This is Alabama country — Muscle Shoals, Alabama country — as filtered through the Brooklyn bar scene and plugged into the second side of Exile On Main Street, or maybe Gram Parson’s GP.

The band was amazing.  The songs are great.  We found Houck to be an amiable presence in fine voice.  We wish he had a coach who could help him with seemingly little things — the pacing of his albums, his sets.  Anytime he wants to play a full set with his great band, we’ll gladly show.  No matter how cold it is.

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.

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