Archive for DC

The High Heel Race In The Nation’s Capital

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 29, 2014 by johnbuckley100

High Heel Race

Since the first running of The High Heel Race in 1986, it has become for Washington something like what the Mardi Gras is for New Orleans — a joyous evening of revelry.  Drag queens as serious about this year’s get up as homeowners in Dallas’s Highland Park are about their Christmas lights, mingle — wobble may be more like it, as they’re not usually wearing heels — with frat boys who get into the spirit for a once-a-year, possibly once-a-lifetime, walk on the wild side.

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Between the intersection of 17th and New Hampshire, almost all the way down to the Australian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, queens reign supreme as diners at the bars and restaurants spill out onto the well-organized sidewalks.

High Heel Race Supplement

Washington is not believed to be a place where people let their hair down.  It famously was declared a city “with no Left Bank.” And yet the real Washington — D.C., as it is called by its denizens — is of course a city of tremendous creativity, in no small part driven by a large and friendly gay community.  The High Heel Race, though on a weeknight, was as notable for the families that attended as for the swell of straight couples who saw it as an extension of the Halloween partying season.  Again, DC’s Mardi Gras.

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The marriage theme was ever-present, whether by those who might actually have walked down the aisle…

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Or those simply auditioning for a Crocodiles’ video.

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The cops got into the spirit of things, even when propositioned by Brunhilda and her girlfriend.

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And as the evening swirled…

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A Venice Carnivale of sorts materialized…

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And even those who weren’t quite ready for Halloween donned their gay apparel.  But the delight of those stars who welcomed the arrival of paparazzi made this annual running of the high-heeled women a sight to behold.

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All images Leica Monochrom, 35mm Summilux Asph FLE.

Quilt And Woods At The Rock & Roll Hotel Were More Like Rock & Roll Heaven

Posted in Music with tags , , , on April 27, 2014 by johnbuckley100

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Quilt, Leica C

It wasn’t accidental that two bands that each have produced one of the best albums released so far in 2014 played last night at D.C.’s Rock & Roll Hotel, for Quilt and Woods are, at present, joined like family members.  Woods’ Jason Taveniere produced Quilt’s second album, Held In Splendor, and on this tour at least, Quilt drummer John Andrews plays organ with Woods.  They have more kin connections than a village in West Virginia, and the show last night was one long stream of gorgeous melodies, guitar wizardry, a solid backbeat, and the occasional psychedelic rave-up.

Quilt wrapped us in Held In Splendor, their warm and radio-ready platter o’ harmonic convergence punctuated by intricate pop finger picking and gritty power chords.  Anna Fox Rochinski is a lyrical lead guitarist and an understated, somewhat shy front-woman, but when she and Shane Butler matched their vocal interplay with guitar fire, it brought to mind favorite two-guitar bands like Luna, the Soft Boys, even Television.  Quilt’s sound is jangling ’60s pop with three-part harmonies contained within the parameters of garage, folk, and psychedelica, which is pretty great territory to ply.  In fact, their new album is desert isle material, and the set last night proved they can do it live every bit as powerfully as in the studio.

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Quilt, Leica C, via the Rock & Roll Hotel’s mirror.

 

The crowd’s reaction to the best songs — “Mary Mountain,” “Just Dust,” “Tired & Buttered” — proclaims Quilt has, by their sophomore outing, established themselves as one of a handful of American bands worth tracking as they rise to what, should the cosmic order be proven, can only be inevitable world conquest.

Since the release a few weeks ago of  Woods’ With Light And Lovewe’ve concluded it is every bit the equal to Bend Beyond, which some will remember we called 2012’s best album, and even more than that: an absolutely perfect record. It should go without saying, this is a hard feat to pull off once, never mind twice.  But With Light And Love is astonishing — even prettier than its predecessor, and last night, despite a bad sound mix from the club, Woods revealed just what a treasure they’ve become.

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Woods, Leica C

The new bass player, Chuck Van Dyke, steps well into Kevin Morby’s shoes, and with Quilt’s John Andrews playing organ throughout, Woods’ sound had an emollient undercurrent that was as surprising as it was delightful.  They started out with “Leaves Like Glass,” which on the album sounds like an outtake from a mythic Dylan set and last night sounded like it was a jam in Memphis’ Ardent Studios. Jeremy Earl played acoustic through the early songs, including “Cali in a Cup,” but it was later in the set, when he had strapped on his electric guitar to play two of the highlights from the new album — “Moving To The Left” and “Twin Steps” — that it became clear how, even as amazing an album as Bend Beyond was, With Light And Love takes a giant step into the commercial mainstream, which we mean as a compliment.  They played the title tracks to both recent albums, which means 20 combined minutes of getting your head scalped, and we survived the pyrotechnics, a groggy smile on our putzes.  But it’s where Woods now confidently step into well-crafted pop songs that perhaps the band’s hidden ambitions begin to see the light.

A clue to the ground they currently occupy can be found on the sequencing on the new album of the songs “Full Moon” and “Only The Lonely.” On the former, Jason Taveniere plays George Harrison-inflected slide, and the latter is the title of a different Roy Orbison song.  Are they trying to emulate The Traveling Willburys?  No, they’re still a Brooklyn-based band of artisanal pop craft, still weird and wooly, though it could be said that invoking Roy Orbison is one way of placing Jeremy Earl’s astonishing voice, his high plains croon, in a more recognizable context.

We’ve seen Woods three times in 18 months.  In November 2012, when they played across the street at the old Red Palace, it was like seeing Sun Ra come back to Earth, fireworks going off in the mind.  Last night, with a new bass player and the sound of an organ ladling sweet honey on the guitars, the band was every bit as remarkable, but in a way that those with less adventuresome tastes could relate.

How delightful it is to see two so great bands in a club with a couple of hundred souls.  It’s only because of the injustice of life that we would see these bands on the H Street corridor and not downtown at the Verizon Center.  Optimists that we are, we think both bands will get there.

 

Happiness Is: Sunset In The Tidal Basin When The Cherry Blossoms Are Out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 11, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-ASPH.  People sure were happy.  More anon.

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Dean Wareham Returns To DC

Posted in Music with tags , , , on April 5, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Playing songs from his latest album album all the way back to Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat Captain.” More anon.

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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.

For A Moment Last Night At DC’s Black Cat, Capsula Were The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

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All lifelong aficionados of real rock’n’roll have essentially the same fantasy, which is to see their favorite band play ten feet away.  Some burly mothers regularly achieve this by muscling their way to the front of the crowd and staying there for an hour before the show starts.  Others — including the team at Tulip Frenzy – like a little breathing room, a little distance.  Unless circumstances allow us to get real close without bother.  Last night, alas, the Nation’s Capital did not show up in force to see Capsula open for Brazilian legends Os Mutantes.  But you sure couldn’t have told that from the way Capsula played.  And so we stood there, maybe five feet away, while they put on one of the best shows we’ve seen in the modern epoch.

Capsula, for those who don’t know — and if you don’t, we pity you — are the finest punk rock band to ever emerge from South America, though for the past 13 years they’ve used Bilbao as their locus for world domination.  It’s been paying off, too, as Solar Secrets, their recent album produced by Tony Visconti — fresh from his handling the chores for David Bowie’s The Next Day — has been topping Alternative charts in Europe.  They may be the hardest working band in rock’n’roll these days.  Based on the commitment they showed last night, wherein Martin Guevara and Coni Duchess bounced off one another, and then the ceiling, like those ping pong balls about to be plucked for the Powerball lottery, they may, at moments, also be the single best live band working today.  The drummer — was that Ignacio Villarejo or someone else? — was like a locomotive, minus the smoke, and even when Guevara and Duchess were doing synchronized back flips, the musicianship would have made the Berlin Philharmonic seem like amateurs.

Longtime fans of Tulip Frenzy know we’ve been wild for Capsula for years and years.  Ever since hearing 2006’s Songs & Circuits, we’ve viewed them as some magical combo of the Cramps, the Stooges, and the best ’70s radio pop.  We can’t put it better than… we already have: “Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin. When Songs & Circuits came out five years ago, we could scarcely believe our luck, pinched ourselves to find a modern punk band that played fast and offered steaming parilla of smoking riffs and still poured on melody like it was hot sauce.”

We still feel that way, even as we would rank Solar Secrets a half-notch below both Songs & Circuits and 2011’s In The Land Of The Silver Souls.  The set list last night was long on new material like “Constellation Freedom,” and a cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” which they played on their Ziggy Stardust homage, with a dip back into the catalogue with songs like “Communication,” their update of the Stooges’ “Penetration.”

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At one point, Guevara hung his guitar from the ceiling and then wrapped his mike around a pipe, singing into it while it dangled above him.  Although on record, they can be very smart classicists, in their first-ever DC concert they showed themselves to be the kind of hams that the Fleshtones can be, willing to do virtually anything to extend that rock’n’roll moment one minute longer, to turn the dials to 11.  There should have have been 1000 people there, not a couple of hundred, but here’s the essential thing to know about Capsula: the set they would have played for that larger crowd wouldn’t have been any different than what they did for us last night.

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