201 F Street NE
Image courtesy of Ebenezers Coffeehouse
Located in Capitol Hill just a block away from Union Station, Ebenezers Coffeehouse has been serving customers since 2006. Something they really stress is that they purchase all of their coffee for sale through fair trade. With all shows being all ages, this is one of the friendliest and cleanest venues I’ve ever been to.
The actual coffeehouse itself has a truly cozy feeling, with padded chairs, wood tables, and mood lighting located throughout the shop. Getting to a show early and having a cup of coffee with a friend is definitely recommended. Walking down some stairs opens up the space to another seating area for customers during most days; however, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the place transforms into a cool venue. The same warm feeling floats down from upstairs and spills into this room as well, with the twinkling lights and large antique wooden tables. The walls behind the stage are metal and industrial, almost like a classy garage. Although I would have preferred a standing venue for the show I saw, I did enjoy being able to sit in the chairs provided for the couple hours I was there. And with the stage only two feet above the ground, you still get that close response with the performers.
With a great show space and high moral standards, Ebenezers Coffeehouse is like no other. After a show ends, the space makes it super easy to go up and talk to the artists that just performed, which is great if you normally get too nervous in more grungy venues. The snug ambiance of the venue leads to the audience having a chill, friendly evening. If you have a lot of stress in your life, going to a show here would really help you forget about all of your worries for a while and maybe even feel a little bit better.
If you’re interested in booking a show, email them at email@example.com.
11/20: Ddendyl. Omnia Hegazy. 7:30. ($10-12)
12/4: Carolyn Crysdale. Duke Walker. Angela Everwood. Daniel Rivera. 7:30. ($10)
12/10: Daryl Shawn. 7:00. (Free)
12/11: Tenia Mackall CD Release Concert. 8:00. (Free).
12/17: The Brilliance [at The Miracle Theatre]. 8:00. ($12-15)
Image courtesy of Capitol File Magazine
Originally from the DMV area, but based in New York, Andy Suzuki & The Method have been touring around the east coast for years now, slowly building up their fan base. I had the pleasure of talking to Andy before their show on Thursday at Ebenezers Coffeehouse, where we sat immersed in the seasonal ambiance of the venue’s twinkling Christmas lights.
When you guys first started at Brown, what were your thoughts or dreams for the future of the band?
Andy: I think, like all bands, the dreams were pretty huge right? Everyone’s like ‘yooo we’re gonna take over the world!’ That’s what everyone thinks. We knew we wanted to be able to play music full-time and have our music touch as many people as possible. You know what I’m saying? So that was the main goal. And we’ve just been working at that goal for a long time. We still haven’t taken over the world yet but that’s okay. It’s a process.
Andy: We’ve been working on it. It’s a long process. But it’s been great. And we’re seeing a lot of tangible growth and results recently so we’re super excited for the future.
How does your newest album, Born Out of Mischief, differ from 300 Pianos and The Ghost Stories EP?
Andy: Great question. It’s better, by far. I feel like with that album, it’s the first album where we found our sound. However cheesy that sounds. Through Born Out of Mischief, through the writing and recording, and afterwards, the performing of that album on the road, we found a sound. Whereas before, I’m a big believer in learning by doing. That’s what I’ve been doing for years and years and years. And I’m super proud of those other albums, they’ve helped me get to where I am today. And I think there are some strong songs in those albums, but Born Out of Mischief, I would say, is the one I’m most proud of for sure and helped us get to where we have a sound. Before I think I was just kinda making music. And now it’s like, oh we have a sound. So that’s what Born Out of Mischief brings. How it’s different. It’s us. It’s our sound. We found it.
That was released a year and a half ago. Have you guys been working on anything new?
Andy: Yeah, you’re going to hear some new songs tonight, for sure. A song I wrote, actually I won’t spoil the surprise*. But yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. We’re writing a lot of new stuff, and working on that to release some new stuff. Some stuff I’m super excited about. We’re only probably going to play two new ones.
In a previous interview, you called yourself the love child of Amos Lee and Sara Bareilles. A lot of people compare you to John Legend and Jason Mraz. Are those people you get your inspiration from or where else?
Andy: I get my inspiration from Amos Lee. I get my inspiration from a variety of sources. This singer/songwriter named Patty Griffin, I’m definitely inspired by. I’m inspired by Ben Howard’s album, Every Kingdom. That was huge inspiration. On the other end of the spectrum, those are people who I kind of sound like. I’m inspired tons by rap and hip hop, which I grew up listening to. Drake is one of my favorite artists of all time. I love Drake. I would die for Drake. [leans into mic] I would die for Drake. I’m inspired by that, and I love country music. I love country pop music so I’m inspired by Jason Aldean and shit, all the people.
When I first listened to your album, honestly the first thing I thought of was that it sounded country-esque.
Andy: Yeah it is a little bit. The joke in the band is that I’m slowly but surely turning this thing into a country thing. With the bolo tie and the things. I mean I’m from this area, so it’s definitely not the south. Although some people might call Maryland somewhat in the south, but it’s not obviously. But yeah, that’s just what speaks to me, that blues-y stuff. That blues-y, folk-y stuff. I’m into all that stuff. So my inspiration is from a lot of places.
Back in March, you guys toured through California for the first time. How was that different than your usual east coast shows?
Andy: That was just exciting because of so many unknowns. The east coast, we’ve been playing for a while. I more or less know 95, I’ve driven up and down that tons of times. But it was cool to be in a different area, different climate, and see a different set of fans. See fans who we’ve had out there for years, who had been like ‘when are you gonna play in San Francisco?’ and finally we come and meet them face to face.
That must have been an awesome feeling.
Andy: Right! For sure, that was great for both of us. And also to see friends too, over there. That was cool to play for them. And they hadn’t seen us in years, and to have them see the progress. And the freaking weather, I mean come on! What are we doing over here? So that kinda thing. It was cool. It was exciting.
So when the audience listens to your music, how do you want them to feel afterwards? What do you aim for?
Andy: The aim is just for them to feel. You know what I’m saying? Every artist brings something different to the table. Some people just have incredible R&B singing chops, for example Usher Raymond. He can just sing, licks and riffs and do crazy stuff. I can’t do that. I used to think I could, but I finally learned I couldn’t. But I feel like what I can do is I can…the goal of my show, is to have the audience feel as present as possible and forget everything except exactly what’s happening at that moment, and just feel. And some of the songs are sad, some of the songs are upbeat and happy, my goal is just to feel and forget everything. And for me to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and everyone feels inspired. Then we can feed off each other. It’s about creating a special night. That’s my goal, to create a special night.
So what are your plans for after the Rock Boat festival in Miami?
Andy: Man, wow. Let me tell you, the fact that you did so much research means a lot. The plan after that is to do another tour, coming back to DC for sure, without a doubt. People do the Rock Boat from all over the country, and the world, but usually the US. After the Rock Boat, they become huge fans ideally, and anytime we’re in their city, they’ll come. So I want to cement that and do another east coast tour after that. So I’ll be hitting my usual suspects, Boston, DC, Philly, New York, where I’m based. At least, at the very least. We have a new agent, which I’m very excited about, my manager’s killin it, and we’re just working on that next step. It’s definitely a new chapter, a new phase, with everything. I’m excited, a lot of hard work ahead, but super excited.
When they walked onto the stage, everyone silenced their side conversations, putting their full attention on the band in front of them. After a couple minutes of the band members shuffling and quietly talking to each other, the crowd started to murmur in the background again. Even when the drummer and guitarist starting making a little noise, the audience was unfazed, thinking they were just tuning their instruments. Only when Andy Suzuki began to sing did everyone cease to talk and all gaze up in awe. I full-heartedly believe that in that moment, everyone realized they were about to have an unforgettable night. His smooth voice fell onto the audience in a blanket of comfort and beauty. Playing their single first, “Keep Me Runnin”, immediately got the audience hyped up.
Between almost every song Andy gave a little background history about the band and sometimes gave the audience an insight as to how or why he wrote the next song. One song in particular stood out, called “Forgiven” (*I’m assuming this was the surprise he mentioned in the interview). He gave a tear-inducing preface to the song, explaining how much it meant to him and his family, specifically his mother. I can honestly say I have never cried at a show before that night. But now I proudly state that Andy Suzuki & The Method made me feel. A lot. Mission accomplished.
Their recorded albums are good but do not do them justice. Seeing them live felt like a privilege that just fell into my lap. Their onstage presence exuded an intense passion for their music that the audience just second-handedly absorbed. Sometimes it even looked like they forgot there was an audience. In the interview, Andy Suzuki said they finally found their sound. Part of me disagreed with that statement after the show. Their songs varied tremendously, ranging from what sounded like indie rock to almost full country. But that’s what makes them great. They have so many sounds, and they pull it off flawlessly. I highly recommend going to see them next time they’re in DC.
Image Courtesy of Meticulous Women
Released February 2014, Meticulous Women’s self-titled album shines with a youthful, garage-rock vibe. The rough and throaty voice of the lead vocalist is reminiscent of punk icon Joey Ramone, and refreshingly evokes in listeners an earlier era of punk music. The debut track, “Don’t Listen to Her,” is spirited and punchy and would undeniably inspire some good old head banging at a show. Yet there is little variation in the sound of many tracks. A lot of songs can be repetitive, and there is not much range in the lead vocals; the instrumentals are far from groundbreaking. When the lead vocalist uses the same growling tone of voice throughout most of the album, it is easy to overlook the subtle differences between tracks. The sixth track on the album, “Giselle,” in particular offers little vocal variation and largely plays on the same formula of preceding tracks, not introducing new musical progressions. The band resembles other current indie punk and garage rock acts such as Diarrhea Planet and JEFF the Brotherhood but does not yet have a distinctive sound. In order to set themselves apart from other acts, they need to push the creative boundaries more successfully and further expand upon their sound and themes of their music. Meticulous Women does, however, show many promising and skillful aspects to their music. As this is only their first album, Meticulous Women have room to mature. The boisterous “Officer Demins” stands out as a key track that features gritty Joe Strummer-esque vocals and clean, beach-y instrumental breaks. “Fork Horse,” the last track on the album, has a moderate tempo, played stately and solemnly. The instrumentals on this track have fullness to them, offering warmth and depth. Meticulous Women evidently aims to employs chromaticism, as they veer away from tonality and harmony and often include many sour and piercing vocal notes. The band has raw energy and enthusiasm that is especially impressive for a band new to the scene with only one independently released album. Meticulous Women has potential, but they need to better channel this energy and add more depth and dimension to their sound on a future album.
Check out the album for yourself:
As far as I’m concerned, DC9 is a no frills zone. The performance space rests a floor above what looks like a small version of Cheers, with a stage that is little more than a raised platform, maybe eight inches off the ground. Needless to say, there is no backstage, no VIP area, and no room for divas. The bands wiggle through the crowd to get to the stage, pass concert-goers in the stairwell to go out for a smoke, and always man their own dining booth converted into merch table. Indeed, I have seen incredible shows here with lights that are always on point, a couple disco balls, and (apparently) a projector they seldom utilize. In my experience, bands typically make their performances here a reflection of the DC9 vibe – they’re happy to be there, but don’t often treat it like a big, impressionable show; Alvvays was the exception.
At their 10:15 set time on the dot (thank the lord), the lights dimmed, Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome” faded out, and in faded ABBA’s “Arrival.” For those of you unfamiliar with the tune, it is what “Here Comes the Bride” is to a wedding. Orchestral and full of intention, it signaled the entrance of the fabulous Toronto pop band Alvvays. The crowd parted as the quintet headed to the stage, rocking the best normcore I’ve seen all year. As fangirls and boys alike went weak in the knees, Alvvays jumped right into the shimmery pop hits off their eponymous debut like “Adult Diversion” and “Ones Who Love You.”
A few songs in, front woman Molly Rankin let us know that this was actually their first show ever in Washington, DC – as the last time they were here coincided with the wretched Snowmageddon of 2010. They weren’t even expecting anyone to show up, so imagine their surprise when the show sold out almost a week in advance. A note on Rankin: despite being a magnificent, full-bodied and almost pop-opera like vocalist, she is an absolutely adorable human being. Seriously, her speaking voice is what I imagine this field mouse sounding like, in the very best way possible. As her voice suggests, she’s pretty tiny, which made the real-time projector on the wall of the bar all the more helpful, albeit slightly creepy.
With a sense of longing and melancholy, Alvvays played through a majority of their debut album and I practically fell in love with it all over again. After a blissful 45-minute set, the end had come and Rankin announced that they would play a brand new song, with the caveat that we help her crowd surf to the merch table afterwards. To much dismay, she wound up walking over herself; however they also went on to play a two-song encore, so I guess we all won in the end. Overall, this show was an absolute treat and I 100% recommend seeking them out in the future. Long live Alvvays.
600 14th Street NW
Image Courtesy of Gilt City
If you’ve been looking for a great venue to go by yourself for the first time, The Hamilton is it. I’ve been growing accustomed to solo trips as I continue my venue tour around DC, but if I had come to this venue first, it would have saved me a lot of anxiety later about going to other venues stag. The Hamilton is the perfect spot to just relax, soak in the music, and enjoy some great food.
First walking up to the venue, I wasn’t actually sure which door to enter, so I took my luck and tried the side door. Thankfully there was a sign pointing to the box office and from there, they were able to help me find my way around. Down these beautiful steps opened up to the main room, where people can reserve tables in the center to eat and watch at the same time. If you’re just there for the music or didn’t reserve a table in advance, the ushers point you to the side and back areas where the bars are located. If you’re early to the show, you’ll probably get lucky and score a seat with a perfect view of the stage. If not, you might have to lean to see around the industrial pillars scattered around the room.
Never in my life have I been to such a truly classy venue. Booking shows of almost every genre allows them to always have a great lineup of live performances. With the addition of being able to sit and eat while listening to good bands, The Hamilton might just very well be heaven on earth. Also, all of the employees are incredibly nice and very helpful. If you’re on the older side and don’t want to stand at a concert with a bunch of hyped up teenagers, go to The Hamilton. If you’re young and don’t want to deal with the same thing, go to The Hamilton. Everyone should just go to The Hamilton.
If you’re interested in booking a show, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
11/13: Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. Ron Holloway. Doors at 6:30. ($15-20)
11/14: Hot Rize. Todd Burge. Doors at 7. ($35-40)
11/15: Brass-A-Holics. Doors at 7. ($20-25)
11/16: Chuck Prophet& The Mission Express. John Murry. Doors at 6:30. ($17-20)
11/18: Will Hoge. Danny Burns. Doors at 6:30. ($15-20)
Photo Credit: Andy DelGiudice
Bands often compliment the audience, usually by calling them beautiful or wonderful or fun. But never sexy. Because a sexy audience is hard to come by. But that’s exactly what you’d find if you had gone to Fitz and the Tantrums at 9:30 Club last Saturday night. They’re a “neo-soul” band, which I assume means fun, loud alt-pop meets funky r&b band, because that’s the best way I can describe them. Upon entering the historic venue, you were given a white bracelet decaled with Fitz’s heart logo and installed inside it was a blinking light, but more about that later.
This show was wacky. I’ve never been to a show at 9:30 that has truly been all ages. There were people my age, older than me, my parents age, and everything over, under, and in between. But despite the obvious age differences, this crowd had energy. It was clear that this crowd was there to get down and dance.
Now if you’ve ever listened to their recorded stuff, don’t. Their recorded tracks are very very poppy and produced. They’re not bad, they’re just the complete opposite of their live performances, which have a larger fuller sound. Songs like “House On Fire”, that have huge bassy depth and a loud accents from their horn instruments are toned down in their recordings. They mixed up their song “Last Raindrop” to include not 1 but 2 sexy saxophone solos. And they take songs like “Spark” that has powerful loud live vocals and they hush them on the album. Their live music has a vibe and a sensation that attracts people, that makes us listen because it’s so strong and soulful. Their recorded music just doesn’t capture that.
And that’s why you should always see the band live. That and because they usually play a cover and covers are my jam. Fitz’s groovy cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is a modern rebirth of the always relevant ‘80s hit.
Oh yes, and you must be wondering about the blinking bracelets that look like those fancy Nike bracelets that calculate your weight stamina, body fat, BAC, and all that jazz. Fitz and Noelle used the bracelets in the same sense that boy bands get girls to use their iPhone flashlights and 80s hair bands had their hardcore, beer guzzling fans wave around zippo lighters. Which was cool, and different.
Calling all fans of electronic music, cuddling, electronic music that sounds like cuddling, Pokémon, Canada, and just a straight up good time: Canadian Prince aka Mr. Steal Your Wifi aka Producer Game Omar Borkan Al Galaaka aka the Bae Whisperer* is back at U Street Music Hall next Wednesday, November 19th. Now, this isn’t Ryan Hemsworth’s first time at the club. I happened to catch his set earlier this year, and I can assure you that you are not going to want to miss out on this show. He’s currently on his Sucker for Punishment tour, and he’s brought along the artists from his Shh Secret Songs project, with different artists performing on different dates. For his Washington DC stop, Ryan Hemsworth will be playing with Tennyson and Ricky Eat Acid (who actually happen to be two of my favorite artists from the project.) Believe me when I say that this is probably going to be one of the most fun shows you’ll go to in a while, so bring a friend or twelve and make sure you put on your dancing shoes. Check out his latest album, Alone For The First Time, which just dropped, and is full of his typical woozy, unconventional sound.
Excited yet? Fortunately for you, this Friday we’re giving away a pair of tickets to catch the Remix Ryan Gosling live and in the flesh! Check our Twitter page on Friday afternoon for your chance to win. Don’t fret if you don’t win — they’re still available for purchase here, but get them quick. Good luck!
* These were all taken from his Twitter bio, I promise.
- Lotanna Obodozie
Azealia Banks. Where do I even begin? You might all know her as the rapper who released “212″ waaaaaay back in the day (read: 2011). You might know her as the artist who dominated the blogosphere with the aforementioned song: brash, flagrant, but oh-so catchy. Everyone from Slate to the New York Times to the ever-omnipresent Pitchfork was talking about her. Then what happened? For the sake of keeping a very long story short (we’re all #blessed with Google these days. Feel free to further explore as you will.), I’m going to give you all the abbreviated version of her story, as I understand it. She was signed to a record label. She dropped the record label. There was loads of Twitter beef in there somewhere? Add a hearty sprinkling of announcements about the release of her debut album, which kept getting pushed back to the point of it being a joke that it would ever be released, a mixtape and a stellar EP, a few artist collaborations that never came to fruition, and here we are today. It is the Year of our Lord 2014 and Miss Banks has released Broke With Expensive Taste.
In case you’re living under a rock, I just want to tell you that you read that right. Miss Banks’s album is OUT. (BUY BWET ON ITUNES!) She pulled a total Beyoncé by Beyoncé on us and just released it out of the blue! When news of this broke, I texted one of my friends (the one who introduced me to her music in the first place) and he asked if we had time travelled to 2020. Ouch. It was that bad.
As much as I pride myself as having stuck by her side (figuratively, since I don’t actually know her personally? Azealia, if you’re reading this: Hi. WRGW’d love you have you in the studio.) throughout all of this turmoil, even I had my doubts as to the legitimacy of an album release.
All skepticism aside, this album goes so HARD and is almost, almost, worth the three year wait. For those that have absolutely no idea who this woman is, what type of music she makes, what her sound is, etc., that’s why we have this column! Azealia Banks is a rapper with a slick tongue and even slicker beats. Seriously. She’s tapped everyone from Lone to Machinedrum to AraabMuzik to Pearson Sound on BWET. I’m going to leave you all to listen to it, but let me recommend what I think are some of the stronger tracks on the album: Ice Princess (I’m getting major Le1f vibes. Can we get a collab, please?), Soda, Heavy Metal and Reflective, and Miss Amor. Enough of my ramblings. Go listen to BWET and hear what I’m talking about for yourself.
- Lotanna Obodozie
Buying my ticket for CMJ this summer was in itself an intoxicating experience. Some homies involved in college radio at other schools, in addition to my friends in the leadership at WRGW, had hyped the shit out of this event; to my understanding, it would be a boozed-up, drug-laden odyssey through Brooklyn and Manhattan for five days without worry of class or social obligations back in DC.
As my sickly, washed-up, hollow body rode the Bolt Bus back to DC, however, I realized I will likely not be attending CMJ 2015. Read the rest of this entry
Courtesy of Motion City Soundtrack
Or, When the Moment You’ve Been Waiting for Since Puberty Lands on Your Computer Screen.
Here’s how it went down: it was the morning of November 10, 2014 and I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, taking half-ass notes instead of paying attention to my professor. When, in a shocking turn of events, my mundane Monday morning was transformed into THE GREATEST DAY EVER. Why is that you ask? For the first time (since my solo throwback dance party last Tuesday night, in my living room, with a bottle of sparkling peach wine) my 6th grade self was graced with the legitimate opportunity to resurface.
It was one of those beautiful, longed-for moments that happens as you’re scrolling through all the insignificant micro-happenings in the lives of your marginal friends when suddenly you spot a diamond in the rough: “Motion City Soundtrack Commit This to Memory 10 Year Anniversary Tour Announcement.”
—eyes widen—breathes deeply—reminds self not to squeal while in class—contemplates if shouting this out to the world would tarnish indie cred—shares anyway—euphoria ensues—everything is alright—
“Calm down, Maddy” they said, “they peaked 10 years ago” they said. Well, to the non-believers, I say: this is what I dreamt of while thumbing through Hot Topic band tees searching for the one freaking size small they had in stock; it’s what I fantasized about as I routinely blasted Myspace playlists on my familial computer; it’s the answer to my adolescent prayers to the demi-gods of spiked hair and leather bracelets. They understood me; they wrote the ballads to the soundtrack of my life. I was there for them, they were there for me, and we were in this crazy thing called life together.
Friends, one of the greatest—and in my opinion, most underrated—pop-punk bands of the early 2000’s has just announced that they are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the release of their best (read: my favorite) album with a tour in which they are going to PLAY THE ALBUM IN ITS ENTIRETY. If you’re interested in reliving the most cringe-worthy, embarrassing, and beloved years of your lives, go to this show. If you want to scream in unison the melodramatic lyrics and pop hooks that defined your (read: my) middle school years as tears stream down your (read: my) face, go to this show. Commit This to Memory, not unlike Justin Pierre’s hair, has stood the test of time. GO TO THIS SHOW. Hey, at least you won’t have braces this time.
Never forget your roots; Commit This to Memory
Tickets go on sale Friday 11/14 at 10am local time.
**Bonus** Check out the opening bands for more pop-punk throwbacks