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The Howard Theatre
620 T Street NW
Image Courtesy of The Howard Theatre
The Howard Theatre is probably one of the most beautiful venues I have ever been to; it’s definitely the cleanest. People could roll around on the floor and stand up cleaner than they were before. I was almost afraid to touch anything, fearful that I would taint such a magnificent building. But even with all of the mind-blowing splendor, The Howard Theatre has an extremely grounded feel that makes you crave for more places like this.
When I first walked up to the venue, I honest-to-god thought I had travelled back in time and was about to step into the 30s. The building itself was built in 1910 and restored only a couple years ago to its full grace and beauty. The lobby and main room both have incredibly high ceilings, making you feel microscopic in the vastness of such a place. The bar is close to the main room doors so when you actually go far enough in, the venue opens up like a clam with tons of room on the floor to go crazy with dancing. The entire building is designed to look like an old-school theater, and boy do they accomplish that.
The Howard Theatre hosts so many various events, including a weekly Sunday brunch that has a great menu of real soul food- it puts Founding Farmers to shame. They aim so far to please their customers that on their website there is a tab specifically for regular people to request an artist to come and play for them at the theatre. And with all shows appropriate for every age, they know how to draw in a crowd. Everything about The Howard Theatre just screams classy. I would definitely recommend checking this venue out because nothing else even compares.
If you’re interested in booking a show, go online at thehowardtheatre.com/contact and send them a message!
10/20: Gregory Porter. Doors at 6. ($37.50-$70)
10/21: Mali Music – Jordan Bratton. Doors at 6. ($25-$40)
10/22: Cocoa Tea in Concert ft. Etana & Louie Culture. Step by Step Band. Doors at 6. ($25-$60)
10/23: Leisure Cruise. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. Doors at 6. ($15 in advance, $17 at door)
10/24: DJ Zu. Keith Sweat. Doors at 6. ($46.50 in advance, $55 at door)
- Shannon Turner
A night of great local music, art, and comedy, DC Music Download and Raise Your City present their Autumn Spectacular to raise money for the Guitars Not Guns foundation. Their fall event celebrates and promotes local music- something that D.C. has no shortage of.
Typefighter is a garage pop band with enough teenage angst to make you want to dance in your underwear. Their punk meets glam rock vibe makes you want to bob your head along to their uptempo emo streams through you.
THE SEA LIFE
The Sea Life is bubbly dreampop band with an easy flow that makes your body sway. Their cleverly titled track “Prozac & Merlot” was recorded in their living room, proving their true indie status.
They also have a show October 18th at The Lot @ Atlantic Plumbing.
Teen Mom is like a toned-down version of Joan Jett. (Can I say this if it’s an all dude band?) They’re fuzz pop meets indie rock with the same deep vocals. They’ve got an edge and a sampling of punk they’ve managed to mix with an soft elegance.
They have a house show on October 12th as well.
lowercase letters is an R&B meets soulful indie band with female vocals to die for. Her soothing, sultry voice makes you get lost in the music. Combined with they’re sweet guitar riffs, lowercase letters is an eclectic conglomeration of indie rock and PBR&B.
On October 10 Black Cat will be hosting the album release of one of D.C.’s most innovative funk groups, The Funk Ark, accompanied by gypsy-brass act Black Masala. The Funk Ark has been a large part of the D.C. funk scene since its inception just a few years ago, and is known for its deep-driving funk and Afro-beat grooves that drip with a vivid sense of rhythm and drive. The seven-piece outfit’s upcoming release, Man is A Monster, is the next addition to an already stellar discography, which started with 2011’s spirited declaration, From The Rooftops. The band is remarkable for their technically stunning interplay that weaves through grooves that are as engaging as they are inventive, and culminate in a funk-rock vibe that hearkens back to the late sixties.
Black Masala is a D.C. outfit that has found success riding off of its own inventiveness. Experimenting with a flirtatious combination of gypsy punkiness and brass, the band can expertly churn an audience of awkward head-bobbers into a livened stew of aspirant dancers. Their big-band sound seems able to adapt to any venue; readily filling out the cavernous space of the 9:30 while simultaneously fitting to match the intimacy of Tropicalia. For them, no groove is off limits.
915 U Street NW, DC
Courtesy of Done & Done
As far as first impressions go, Velvet Lounge’s intense grunge smacks you right in the face in a surprisingly good way. With red mood lighting everywhere and all-black furniture, you automatically think about how you should go home, change into your leather jacket and combat boots, and get a new piercing. But once your eyes adjust to the light, Velvet Lounge exudes a much more cozy vibe that by the time you go a second time, you slide into the booths in the back as if you were home.
When you walk into the building, you immediately hit some stairs. But if you’re early enough to have a drink and chill before the bands start playing, you turn right and one of the guys checks your ID before you’re allowed to step into the bar. If you’re underage like me, the best way to go is walk straight past the bar and booths in the back, all the way until you’re outside staring at a bunch of graffiti, lights, plants, and have a good cigarette.
The great thing about the Velvet Lounge is how minimalistic everything is, until you get to the art. Their website only has the bare necessities, all the shows cost $8, and the location itself barely has anything other than a couple stools, booths, and the bar. Velvet Lounge lets the music do all the talking. And when no one’s playing, the graffiti keeps the artistic feel alive. If you’re looking for a great place to rock out to literally anything, this is it.
If you’re interested in booking a show, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check the website for a list of info they need.
10/9: Dedwax, The Great Socio, Spit Dirty. Doors at 7:30. (18+)
10/11: Toxic Moxie, Makoor, Stereosleep. Doors at 9. (21+)
10/12: The Phuss, Never Wrong, Babies with Rabies, The Screws. Doors at 4. (18+)
10/13: Ilima Considine and The Sexbots, Hudson K, Buster Britches, Shocktart Vol. 2. Doors at 7:30. (18+)
10/15: Sir Eu, Dullard, Chomp Chomp. Doors at 7:30. (18+)
Image Courtesy of Chromeo
It was a Monday night at the 9:30 club in DC on September 29th, but the venue was bouncing nonetheless. Chromeo, the electro-funk duo hailing from Montreal, was rolling in their usual funky style with lead vocalist and guitarist Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) sporting a bright red leather jacket, and talk-box wielding synth man P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) in all black, his iconic beard done up for the event in a neat braid. The duo filled the club with their iconic sound, renowned for its similarity to 80’s synth-pop — but with a bumping 21st century bass and energetic light show making for a night of dancing. The high energy but low key group made interaction with the crowd a priority, leading claps and call and response moments in their more famous songs. At one point Dave 1 requested that “more girls need to be on guys’ shoulders!,” prompting a several duos throughout the hall to comply. The group thrives not on what one might consider exceedingly complex melodies or serious musicianship, but rather on a lively, dance-oriented, retro beat that can give energy to even the quietest crowd. The key word that night was fun, and fun is what was delivered by the groovy duo.
The group recently released their newest album, White Women (an homage to Helmut Newton, as it turns out), with the single “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” topping it off. The duo has now released 4 albums in 10 years since their conception as a band in 2002. Dave 1 even mentioned that the first time they played in DC had been 10 years ago, which made us feel old as hell. Since when is Chromeo a decade-old group? Nonetheless the group’s staying power is a force to be reckoned with. Their worldwide club hit “Needy Girl” from the 2004 debut album, She’s In Control, has survived as a crowd favorite for the past ten years, so when the 10-year-old hit found its way back into the 9:30 club as the closing song of the set we danced our pants off.
Where can you find music from Vampire Weekend, The 1975, CHVRCHES, Grouplove, Foals, The Naked and Famous and Bloc Party together on one disc? On a playlist that I burned for long car rides? Yes. But, that’s not the only place. These bands were all also featured on the soundtrack of one of the most popular video games today, Fifa. Read the rest of this entry
Image Courtesy of Cherub
If you can imagine what the hybrid of 80’s pop and the setlist from your favorite urban dance club would sound like, you can imagine how Cherub’s latest release, Year of the Caprese, sounds. The duo, comprised of Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber, aimed to give fans what they perceive as the best of both musical worlds. However, being an enthusiast of either of the two aforementioned genres may provide a better context for appreciating Year of the Caprese.
What’s immediately impressive about this album is that each song seems to have been carefully ordered to maximize the listening pleasure of anyone who plays this album start to finish interrupted. The balance between the two slightly opposing genres can sometimes seem tacky and sharp, but when the balance is right, there is no denying the eargasm that ensues. The transition from Simple, the opening track, into Disco Sh*t is typical of how a seasoned DJ may rally a tiring audience. The song then unexpectedly launches into a tune that probably just missed the cut from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The consistent synthesizer beat carries throughout the entirety of the album with little variations in tempo, which does start to feel dull.
Year of the Caprese is unique in how it blends- or rather fails to blend- the melodic components of two different genres; though one area where the album is fairly consistent is in the content of its lyrics. On almost all of the tracks, the lyrics read like a textbook on how to abuse various substances. If this isn’t the case, the lyrics can also be too NSFW for your parents, who may be initially drawn in by the 80’s disco vibe given off by these same songs. One example of this is on the track “Strip to This,” where the chorus is comprised of “Watch my money go up & down, pick it up/ Is this LOVE? Or I am drunk?/ It’s the only night I’m in town, then I’m gone/ This is lust, I wanna f-.” Does this kind of songwriting abandon some of Cherub’s fans? Or does it just allow a specific subset of ravers who subsquently enjoy disco music to be completely fulfilled? Regardless of the answer, Cherub is breaking new ground in whatever scene they consider themselves a part of, which is setting the bar high for what they decide to release next.
D.C dream pop trio The Walking Sticks (composed of Chelsea Lee and brothers Spencer and Max Ernst) are coming off the excitement of having released their album Send The Night in December of last year, and are now ready to drop a new five track EP. The band has been finding great success within The District’s music scene, having just played the 9:30 Club two weeks ago, and Black Cat previous to that. Now, amid a schedule of festival and club dates, The Walking Sticks are planning a pre-release show on September 27 at DC9, complete with a live music video shoot for their new song “One Sweet Thing”. WRGW catches up with them outside of The Library of Congress, where they are taking a break in between sets of a private gig.
Elliot Greiner: How long have you guys been working on this new EP?
Chelsea: We’ve been writing these songs for a year. We started writing last July, and started recording in April.
Max: We actually just wrapped up the songs a couple weeks ago.
EG: Have you released the name for this new EP yet?
Max: Oh yeah, yeah we got it.
EG: Can I hear it?
Max: Yeah, you ready for it? It’s Pop Dreams. We don’t have an answer to why we’ve called it Pop Dreams quite yet though do we?
Spencer: Sort of do.
Max: I mean the obvious answer is that dream pop is the genre of the album- but then a good buddy of ours in MH and His Orchestra, he was like “You guys are ‘Pop Dreams’ and we thought it was kinda funny. Then we had this concept for our EP cover- I’ll show you now.
Max pulls out his phone with a picture of the new cover.
EG: Wow that’s pretty cool.
Max: Yeah, you’re the first to see it. We really wanted Chelsea’s eye make up to pop out, the make up artist went crazy on us. Do you want to know the track listing?
EG: Yes that would be great.
Max: Okay. The first song is called “Bang”, the second is “Senorita”- which is our Justin Timberlake cover, and then the third song is “One Sweet Thing”, the fourth is “Take Me Up to The Sun”, and the fifth is “Name on It”.
EG: How would you compare Pop Dreams to Send The Night?
Chelsea: We solidified our sound. We were just starting out with our new equipment on the Send The Night EP, and now I think we have final honed in on our sound and figured out how we are going to move forward.
Spencer: It’s a little dreamier I’d say too.
Max: I think we really upped our drum game. In our last EP the backing tracks were sparser, and in this one we’ve kind of filled it out a little more.
EG: When you’re making these albums- and I mean look, you’ve already covered JT- are you more influenced by past or contemporary artists, or is it a mix of both?
Chelsea: It’s a mix of both. I’m really influenced by the eighties and they’re really influence by the seventies as far as past influences go. But we are always hearing new artists that we really love, like recently we found Jungle and we are obsessed with them; Tame Impala is also a great band. Really we are always looking for new artists, and they are always inspiring us just as much as the old songs.
EG: Do all three of you weigh in equally on the song writing?
Max: I’d say yeah we do, we all kind of contribute differently in terms of the writing process and how the song is produced.
Spencer: The key is that all three of us are always involved in the process, and everyone’s input in respected. We all shape the songs.
EG: Do you guys have a tour planned?
Max: Not currently, we are definitely going to play New York. However our first priority is to promote the EP.
Spencer: We’d like to hype it up in D.C.
Max: Yeah, we’re going to do a big cd release show. And for right now we are just really trying to get our music out on YouTube and online and just try to get a buzz going.
More information on the September 29th show and video shoot can be found here: http://www.dcnine.com/event/the-walking-sticks-2/
And for those interested in being a part of the music video, this tutorial will come as a bit of help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mU0Fev3BhQ&list=UUn5dK9BqMQ6FuW-fZXq-gPw
Only the Rolling Stones can claim an evolution as variable as U2’s; Bono himself has gone from baby-faced new waver to long haired 80’s rocker to international rock star to tongue in cheek pop shocker, and now in this past decade, to sunglass wearing celebrity. Some criticize bands like U2 and The Stones for continuing to play music well into their years, but why should they? Proper rock musicians have only been around for the past fifty years as it is; there has never been a precedent for retirement. At 95 Chuck Berry still plays a regular once a month gig at a local venue in St. Louis, and B.B King has never stopped touring despite having already surpassed the average American life expectancy by ten years. In comparison U2 is still youthful at 38, and despite rumors of splitting the band has just come out with an album of post-apocalyptic proportions in every aspect. As of yesterday it stands as the only record in history to have been owned by 500 million people at the moment of its release, and as the band’s first album in five years its unexpected arrival could not have created more of a global flurry. In a letter to fans Bono wrote that U2 is “collaborating with Apple on some cool stuff over the next couple of years, innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed.” If this is truly the case, then the album might be the impetus of a new direction for U2, albeit a currently foggy and unknown direction.
As a free, preloaded download on ITunes, Songs of Innocence represents the largest album drop of all time, and is now theoretically owned by every ITunes customer in 119 countries. In recent years U2 has attracted the misguided dissent of millennials who claim Bono’s extensive humanitarian work to be something akin to a long-played publicity stunt (which is an argument for another time), however it would be foolish for even them to ignore what has been done by both the band and Apple. Music is losing its viability as a commodity with applications such as Spotify and Pandora about; this move on U2’s part regards the future of music sharing to be something far more accessible than what the previous decade has let on. It may only be a matter of time before Apple starts to revamp the role of ITunes as a music provider -or perhaps creates a more ‘Spotify-esque’ player- and of course, as Apple does so will others. While premature, it seems that the expiration date fixed to the current practice of music commerce may soon pave way for the wet dream of former LimeWire-ers; free, widespread, and legally provided music. And Apple couldn’t have picked a better album to spur on this new age.
Songs of Innocence, which has been described so tactfully by Noisey’s savvy Dan Ozzi as “a gross confluence of self-promotion, commercialization of music, and corporate dick-suckery,” stands as a testament to the genuine lack of taste held by Ozzi. The record is distinctly U2, standing as a bittersweet and autobiographical narrative of the band’s past forty years. Bono sings with the same lyricism that crafted the landmark success of 1991’s Achtung Baby, while touting an intimate maturity that has only occasionally come out in previous albums (“Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own” “Moment of Surrender”). Keeping true to their arena-rock sound of the 1990’s, anthemic guitar and militant percussion abound, and are joined by a distinct and polarizing pop-rock production value that can occasionally overpower the album. There is no hiding that U2 is progressing towards a new immediate sound, one that relies on ambience and the glittery churning of keyboards and distortion. It is by far the pop-iest of U2’s albums -surpassing the glossy aims of 1997’s Pop- yet traverses territory distant from the majority of 21st century pop. These truly are songs of innocence; reflections on growth and relationships that ultimately resolve with the bleak prospects that come with age. Unlike their previous albums Innocence concerns itself little with love, as one of the most powerful tracks- “Iris”- details the death of Bono’s mother when he was 14, and the most haunting- Raised by Wolves- chronicles the aftermath of an Irish car bombing. Innocence draws significance from its discomfort, not caring to sell itself as a universally palatable album. It is arguably the most direct work the band has yet made, and easily the darkest.
However much melancholy Songs of Innocence presents, Bono has already risen hopes for the release of a sister project called Songs of Experience. No date has been set for it, and as it stands there is no indication if anything has yet been recorded. But with a tour coming up, and the physical release of the new album set for October, U2 is gaining a forceful momentum, possibly enough to propel them into the next decade.
One can only hope.
Over the past couple of days I’ve found myself listening to a lot of Gucci Mane. Not The State vs. Radric Davis, but NEW Gucci. His collaborations with the likes of Young Thug, Migos and Peewee Longway have shaped modern Southern hip-hop. Although known for his rapping and antics Gucci Mane is also a great businessman. From smart signings to consistent content, Guop has been a staple of hip-hop for better or worse.
People love Gucci Mane. Almost any time I tell people about a new Gucci discovery they are intrigued. Something about the beat selection, interesting flows and trap lyrics make the combination oddly pleasing. Do I relate to Gucci Mane? Honestly no, but the catchiness of his music has been the reason he’s still in the spotlight. It makes me excited and ready for anything, whether it be a party or a test. It’s not always quality music but his gems are known throughout.
Gucci Mane has to be one of the best businessmen in the game. Gucci does it his own way. Who else can continue to direct the release of content for a record label from jail? Sentenced to 183 days in prison, Gucci keeps churning out material. In his sentence he has released a solo mixtape, four collaborative mixtapes and a handful of singles. With Gucci at the helm this new sound has started to appear throughout the rap game.
1017 Brick Squad have definitely started to expand their collaborators. Wiz Khalifa and members of 1017 joined up on many songs off the notable mixtape 28 Grams. Metro Boomin, 808 Mafia and Zaytoven make production appearances on the mixtape. More recently, 1017 was featured throughout Travi$ Scott’s Days Before Rodeo. Features from Young Thug, Pewee Longway and Metro Boomin have made the mixtape a huge hit and have boosted the G.O.O.D. Music artist’s status.
But Gucci has been in the game for a while and his 1017 Brick Squad has signed other big names too. Waka Flocka started with 1017 Brick Squad, however issues between the rapper caused the two to break their ties. But, while early connections helped Gucci sign Waka, his negotiation skills were on display as he also nabbed Chief Keef at the beginning of his popularity. Amidst rumors of Keef committing to G.O.O.D. Music, Gucci convinced the young rapper to join his expanding record label.
While Gucci Mane has appeared to be co-sponsoring or collaborating with mostly recently discovered artists, his ability to release his own music and find new artists have kept Gucci and 1017 relevant. Since 2005 Gucci has produced content that has helped both himself and his affiliates. As long as this recent stint in prison doesn’t change anything I see 1017 Brick Squad continuing as a successful record label for a long time.