Elvis Perkins: I Aubade

Image courtesy of Elvis Perkins
An aubade is a morning love song, a song of hope and joy that the new day brings for both the lover and the beloved. Fitting then that singer-songwriter Elvis Perkins borrows the concept of the aubade for his first album in five years. Recorded in multiple locations across the US, I Aubade ranges from lush psychedelia to scratchy lo-fi. In marked contrast to Perkins’s first two records, which utilized fairly standard rock instrumentation, the album features an expansive sonic pallet, from celeste and nylon string guitar to tabla and dulcimer. Normally shadowy and dark with his Cohenesque musings, Perkins’s lyrics take a more surreal bent here. “Hogus Pogus” is an optimistic tale about a man receiving a pig’s heart in a transplant; “& Eveline” is a Donovan-esque fairly tale with a bit less flower power optimism: (“Once more/ you make it through the night/ on the floor/ the sleeper’s open wide.”) Other experiments are not quite as successful:  (“AM” sounds somewhat like what would happen if someone mashed up Sweetheart of The Rodeo era Byrds with Dixieland jazz and had a despairing Woody Guthrie pen the lyrics), and others are simply impenetrable (the downbeat folk-rock political lullaby “$2″). Not surprisingly, the most pleasant tracks on I Aubade are the simplest, including the flowing nylon string guitar and rumbling synth in the short instrumental ” Accidental Tourist (a white Huyano melody), and Perkins’s weary, pained vocals on the  traveler’s ballad “Wheel In the Morning.” “I Came for Fire” showcases the best elements of the “old and “new” Elvis Perkins, as a simple acoustic blues track is haunted by Perkins’s half-whisper/half-warble. Flutes and synth rush in, creating a typhoon of sound so vast you’d think the devil had just tuned your guitar. “Oh to be somewhere/or be somebody else/Oh to have someone/all to myself.” Perkins croons on “All Today.” Those lines speak to the human heart beating under all of that haze and coded messages. There’s a warmth to these songs that’s less evident in his other work, and might not be readily picked up on a first listen, but becomes more and more apparent as you revisit each track and peel away the layers underneath.

Shows We’re Stoked For: Sweater Beats + Kastle + Manila Killa 3/4

It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited for a show, especially with a lineup this stacked. Thanks to the awesome people behind Closed Sessions, your Wednesday night plans have just been taken care of.

Sweater Beats is bringing his Sweater Weather tour to DC, alongside Kastle and DC’s very own Manilla Killa. Sweater Beats’ music sounds exactly like what his name might imply: super lush and dreamy beats. He’s remixed everyone from Beyoncé to Flume and Chet Faker to Ciara, and put out ton of his own work and mixes.

Kastle brings us vibey dance tracks, and with collaborations with artists such as JMSN and Jason Burns, you’re not going to be standing still during his set. Finally, Manila Killa rounds out the lineup, with his bright and spaced-out beats and diverse sound.

Seriously, for only $12 a ticket, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tickets are still available here, and if you’re a GW student you can use our special code CSGWU for a sweet disount. Win win win.

– Lotanna Obodozie

THEESatisfaction: “EarthEE”

Courtesy of Pitchfork

For the half hour that I dedicated to listening to awE naturalE, the debut project by Washington state quasi hip-hop duo Catherine “Cat” Harris-White and Stasia “Stas” Irons, it felt almost impossible for me to wrap my head around the soundscapes presented in the work. I was trying so hard to define and compartmentalize what I was hearing into some genre but I quickly found my attempts to be ineffectual and pointless. Perhaps it was because the sound was foreign to me that I liked the album so much – a fresh combination of sound and voice, production and unorthodox poeticism spread across bizarrely-titled tracks and packaged ever so neatly by peculiarly tribal cover art. A strong reminder that new sounds are always welcome.
EarthEE, the duo’s second studio album under Sub Pop Records sees a reprisal of their trans-genre explorations but with a more developed sound and an almost unbelievable feature lineup. The record traverses the worlds of neo-soul, hip-hop and jazz as they harvest elements from each style and throw them together to produce a melting pot of sounds and feels. It’s not strange that this group first gained widespread attention through their feature on fellow Washingtonians Shabazz Palace’s debut, Black Up – in fact it makes complete sense. The similarities in their approach to making music make it seem like they are each others opposite-gender counterparts bound together by the same creative spirit simply pushing it’s voice through different physical vessels. As a result it seemed totally appropriate (if not completely necessary) that Shabazz appear multiple times throughout the project both as individual features and as a duo.
Throughout this project their message is never obvious – it’s presented through abstract lyricism and mysterious sonic landscapes. Essentially, it is unreasonable to suggest that it will mean the same exact thing to different people, but the theme seems to focus on aspects of nature and the universe. It reflects a unity among all living things and human interactions with the spiritual and natural worlds – a principle that lowkey nods at themes centered on the ethereal and abstract. This is modestly reflected in the artwork, which depicts Cat and Stas as Nubian royalties on a suspended golden throne, their attention only to the stars behind and above them because all human matters are trivial in comparison.
The album’s opener continues much in the same vein with dark pharaoh-esque synths and syncopated percussion lines supporting cryptic poetry verses – evocative of some ancient Egyptian anthem. “Said the bird to the water, may I take a sip,” Stas raps as Cat provides vocal harmonies in the background. They seem to have moved away from the political and human subjects examined in awE naturalE to paint pictures (with sound, of course) of things that aren’t of this world. Aptly named “Prophetic Perfection,” the track sees the duo explore the creation of the world by some entity and the interaction of elements in the natural world before human interference.
The sound is abruptly shifted to downbeat Funkadelic/DamFunk-esque sounds while still maintaining spacey undertones as the second song, “No GMO,” plays. Smooth rhythm synthesizers tucked under a layer of piercing leads hit a point somewhere between sexy and weird, right where Stas and Cris fit perfectly. The groovy deep synth carries forward to the next track that sees a return to themes of natural unity through the usage of unorthodox percussion and modern keyboards. “Planet For Sale” presents a sound reminiscent of a fusion between Pharaoh Sanders’s ancient hymns and R. Kelly’s sensual keys. A unity is created between the old and the new – they become one. “How we destroy a planet when we didn’t plant things,” Stas raps over the infectious reverberating snare as she further emphasizes focus on nature and the natural. Cat follows shortly after with a brief vocal line that sounds beautiful at a distance. Paying attention to what she’s saying, I realize that it’s either so abstract that it’s going way over my head or it just doesn’t make sense (as a follow-up to Stas’s verse, at least).
Its not until the fourth track that the first Shabazz Palaces feature comes in (with the first feature overall being on their second track). The male hip-hop duos anaconda-wielding producer/rapper Ishmael Butler – formerly Butterfly of Digable Planets – comes in hot with a laidback yet serious rap. The style of the music has shifted again with the group experimenting with the hip-hop sounds that are at the roots of their music. The beat sounds like it would belong on a remastered Midnight Marauders. Technically simple yet stylistically flawless, it’s almost mesmerizing and you find yourself getting lost. Time is bent around you as the short 2:30 song just seems to linger in a manner most welcome. The first time Shabazz Palaces show up as a group is during the album’s eponymous track where the members pursue a more cheerful approach as they discuss the beauty of black women, love and sexuality.
Me’shell Ndegeocello’s appearance is delayed past the halfway point of the album. 30 minutes through the listen her presence is felt through a prominent and distinct thump. Her bass is so heavily submerged in phasers that she’s just two strings and a wolf pelt shy of being Thundercat, a sound that compliments the atmospheric synths that weave their way through the vocals above. Yet, her vocal presence is limited and as a result I find myself a little disappointed, wanting for more. Regardless, I take a moment to appreciate how smoothly she’s woven into the formula. It feels like a puzzle piece, or when you have just enough coke in your rum.
During Me’shell’s final feature the song starts to revisit the darker tones explored at the very start of the album. The tone persists through the next two tracks, and is further elucidated with the help of Shabazz Palaces, who make their final appearance on the latter of the two, a track titled “Recognition.” Their role has shifted and they’re heard delivering a rhythmic spoken word verse in unison with their female counterparts. The production is minimal for the first half with the focus being primarily on the vocals as they repeat the same two lines over a sinister low ring. The production kicks in just about halfway through, and it would seem as though Rick Wright was resurrected to lend his keyboard talents on this track. The sharp lead synths are eerily reminiscent of the haunting riffs on Pink Floyd’s mid 70’s classic “Welcome to the Machine,” and do well to create a similar atmosphere. The album is brought to a close much within the same ominous light as when it started as they remind you “its not like I haven’t read [your] story, I read [you].”
With the constant shifts in genre, this album bears a similar burden to that of its predecessor, wherein it’s difficult to maintain some degree of flow. From a creative standpoint, this is fair game and even prevents the work from venturing into the mundane. It does, however, present a challenge for the artist to create seamless transitions between the tracks so they could come together cleanly as one body of work. This is this album’s only downfall as the transitions are almost nonexistent. Had the tracks not presented similar concepts to some extent it would be impossible to call this compilation an “album” in good conscience.
Naturally, some tracks resonated within me far more than others but it was straight up impossible for me to skip over tracks entirely. While there were instances where the music just lacked the lyrical emphasis that Stas and Cat’s style is so heavily predicated on, these occasional shortcomings would be made up with interesting production choices. Aside from the seemingly routine harmonizing, repetition was nonexistent in both the lyrical content and production. Each song brought something new to the experience. Although sometimes confusingly abstract, the combination of all these different contrasting elements, the old and the new, the “normal” and the unconventional, creates a refreshing listening experience. An alluring mist surrounds the duo as one comes to the conclusion that they, like Flying Lotus, or Kendrick Lamar, or Kanye West, have seen a world, or a reality, beyond ours. EarthEE is their attempt to bring their audience these other worlds through sonic media. Whether or not you choose to indulge them in their theories on the metaphysical is up to you.

Modest Mouse: “The Ground Walks, with Time in A Box”

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Erstwhile indie rockers Modest Mouse announced a new album recently, Strangers to Ourselves, and based on the first two singles- (the bring down the world party jam “Lampshades on Fire” and the folk-tinged “Coyotes”), I expected the album to be familiar territory for MM- with a few new sonic flourishes and  an enhanced environmental awareness beneath Isaac Brock’s painfully cryptic lyrics. That what makes “The Ground Walks, with Time in A Box” such a pleasant surprise. The main riff (which sounds like a schizoid mutation of “Float On’s” classic progression filtered through Interpol’s post-punk revivalism), struts and starts as Brock cooly delivers some of his most delightfully misanthropic lyrics to date: (“The world’s an inventor/ we’re the dirtiest thing he’s thought about/ And we really don’t mind”). Florid imagery (“Trees drop colorful fruits/Directly into our mouths”) clashes with impenetrable strings of words (“Eyes vacuum up light/sound gets trapped by the mouth/What to do with the remainder/When the dents, the dents, get hammered out/ Then we’ll travel through time”). Jittery plucked strings and an in-your-face horn section keep the bombast flowing without letting it tip into overindulgence. All seems relatively sane until the chorus, where eerie harmonies slide into Brock’s ghost-like phase shifted vocal. After a couple more choral repetitions and two new verses, the track descends into controlled noise, with the guitar offering blasts of pitch-shifted chords, much like “Dramamine.” After that subsides, the horns threaten to blast off into full on mariachi mode. Synths and percussion take on a sort of wormhole-funk motif as the main riff returns, only to be punctuated by Brock’s warble and closed out with a melange of more percussion, steam pistons, and an electronic bit which sounds as if it’d work well in a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Our predecessor left this box and something’s clawing around/ I think it really wants out’ snarls Brock in the last verse of the song. What the hell? Let it loose! Modest Mouse are like Pandora’s Box, you never know quite what to expect from them, but one thing’s for sure. It’s going to be a pretty awesome ride.

Sufjan Stevens: “No Shade In The Shadow of The Cross” Review

 Image Courtesy of Sufjan Stevens

In the eleven years since Seven Swans, Sufjan Stevens has worn many hats; from that of a literate, banjo strumming folkie to a cutting-edge man of mystery who sheathes his`introspection in walls of synths. Although I love to see Stevens playing twenty instruments on his records, and even indulging in the occasional 25 minute opus, deep down it’s a relief to see him return to his acoustic roots. On “No Shade In The Shadow of The Cross,” there are no anthemic choruses, orchestral swells, or blasts of noise. Just Stevens’s voice and a classical guitar, which glides along quite nicely as the singer-songwriter muses over his parents: (“like my mother/give wings to a stone”), combines natural imagery with personal reflection: (“I slept on my back/in the shade of the meadowlark/Like a champion, get drunk to get laid”), and occasionally slips in a vague motto: (“Give out to give in”). It’s vintage Stevens, in the mold of “The Dress Looks Nice on You,” but less celebratory and more uncertain. The harmonies are a bit much, and Stevens’s trademark half-whisper makes you wonder if he’s trying too hard to be sincere. Overall though, it works. Restraint isn’t something we’ve seen from Stevens recently. As this song proves, it still looks nice on him.

An Interview With Autograf


Photo credit: Jordan Farley

After a beautiful symphony of tropical beats, along with the first live performance of the recent remix of ODESZA’s “All We Need (feat. Shy Girls), we caught up with Jake and Louis, the duo known as Autograf, to chat after their Saturday night set at U Hall. The duo delivered an upbeat, groovy, move-your-body set infused with their signature future summer style. And after their set, the boys were gracious enough to hang out with us while we enjoyed the funky stylings of Zimmer.

If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

Jake: Stegosaurus. Easy, stegosaurus. He’s the fucking pinecone of the dinosaur world. You can’t find a stegosaurus without getting your shit handed to you. Seriously. They have spikes and they got that tail that could beat the hell out of you.

Louis: I’d say pterodactyl because you’re a lizard the size of an airplane that flies. You’re a lizard! A cold blooded lizard flying in the sky! The size of an airplane, well a small airplane.

What is your favorite weird color?

Jake: Russian blue.

What is that?

Jake: Russian Blue. It’s like a grey-blue. It’s like a neutral blue. Ever since I was little it’s been my favorite. You know that shit that builds up on the outside of a blueberry? It’s like a deep blue but a tapery blue. That’s my fucking color.

Louis: White because it’s pure. It’s just representative, I mean, I am wearing black and white.

In all honesty, this question is meant for when I find the man that says his favorite color is the mac and cheese crayon in the 64 pack.

Jake: I will say this, this guy more than just about anyone else I know, lives in very black and white world. So when he says “white”, that is a pretty fucking good answer because that means pure, that means clean, that makes blank slate. That means everything.

Do you agree that you live in a very black and white world? Are there not 50 shades of grey in your life?

Louis: No, I just like the pure colors. It’s all or nothing, nothing in between.

If you could be any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

Louis: I think mint is always weird because it’s this color that doesn’t exist naturally yet it’s supposed to be this natural flavor. Mint flavor is not green. When I see mint chocolate chip ice cream that’s white, I love it. It goes back to the whole pure color thing. I don’t know why, I just love pure colors. I don’t like when ice cream gets weird. Just be mint.

If you could have anything named after you, what would it be?

Louis: I think a continent would be cool. The thing is, Earth is always making new continents. Back when we’re at Pangea again, that should be called Autograf.

Jake: A solar system, not a galaxy. It’s way more specific than a galaxy.

That’s cool. I love space. Would your solar system include Pluto?

Jake: Absolutely not. Pluto is a loser. It has no value.

What! No, Pluto’s a valid planet.

Jake: According to current human psychology, Pluto has absolutely zero value.

[Jake, Lotanna, and Jordan agree to disagree after a long conversation re: Pluto’s legitimacy]

So were you more into science or history growing up?

Jake: I’m a pretty big history buff. I loved the Romans. I know a lot of stupid history that I probably shouldn’t have spent so much time learning when I was in college.

What’s your favorite era of history?

Jake: I really like the Dark Ages because the Dark Ages were fucking cool. That’s like the misty era that we know of. Generally around the year 600-900 is really fucking cool because there’s literally nothing. Nobody knows anything around 300 years of human history and we have so much recorded before then and then 300 years are just fucking gone. It’s fascinating. Especially if you look at the Mediterranean area in particular developed really independently from everything else and it’s fascinating.

So were you a history major?

Jake: No, I went to art school. I studied metal sculpture.

That’s rad. What’s the coolest thing you ever built?

Jake: So I used to work for the Department of Defense. So I did research and development for new weapon tech. Before I did that, I was doing metal sculpture as a fine art degree and I made this giant robot and this colonel in the army really liked it so he hired me and I started doing R&D for the Department of Defense. I graduated and that summer I was working for the DOD. I started working on a stealth helicopter and a whole bunch of stuff like that.

That’s a sick background!

[Jake disappears for awhile]

What’s your favorite sea creature?

Louis: Well, you already have it embedded in my brain, but octopus. They’re cool because they rearrange shit. They’re creative and they’re too smart.

Where is your dream venue to play?

Louis: I feel like I’ve played at a lot of places but I really like playing internationally. There are a lot of weird venues in Asia that I’ve never even heard of on the beach and it’s epic. But the best places I’ve played so far were Brazil and Bangkok because people in those places go to clubs at 2am so they are out until daylight so they just go to the beach.

If you could be a musician in any type of genre or musical performance other than your current one, what would you be?

Louis: I want to be stadium rock from the 80s with ten minute solos and a lot of guitar. It’d be epic. You know live Van Halen or Depeche Mode from the 80s. That kind of pop new-wave kind of shit in a stadium.

What’s the best new SoundCloud song you’ve been listening to?

Louis: Teemid did a remix of Jasmine Thompson. You know Jasmine Thompson, right? Her voice is ridiculous so everyone is doing remixes of her now. She’s fucking awesome.

What’s your favorite slang word?

Louis: Sometimes I dislike slang. Think about how butchered the English language is now. Think about old English, you can’t even read it. That’s a sign of the decline of society. Like Latin did the same thing so we entered Middle English in the Dark Ages.

This has been an interesting interview. It’s been a fun interview.

Louis: I hope you got some stuff. I’m sure it’ll entertaining. If not, just make shit up.

[Jake’s epic return]

Louis: I want to ask you a question. If you could ask one final question at the end of the world, what would it be? The world is about to end, a meteor is about to strike, and you have one last question.

Literally, who invented pizza because it’s the greatest thing ever.

Louis: Well, his name is probably Pizza. That’s what I would do.

I think my last question to any random person would be “are you happy?”.

Louis: Wow. That’s deep.

Jake: That’s real.

Interview conducted by Jordan Farley and Lotanna Obodozie

Interview With Theophilus London

https://i1.wp.com/cdn.ticketfly.com/i/00/01/34/17/99-atlg.jpgPhoto Courtesy of: ustreetmusichall.com/event/739757-theophilus-london-washington/


Just after sound check at the U St. Music Hall, we caught up with Theophilus London to talk about his new album, Kanye West, his 2011 show next to GW’s campus, Young Thug and much more.

Read the rest of this entry

Vibes Tour Review: Featuring Father and Theophilus London

As the U St. Music Hall began to fill up before Father and Theophilus London’s sold out show on a very cold night, anticipation began to rise. People literally ran into the venue to get as close to the stage as possible, and at a place like U St., that means standing almost inches from your favorite artists. Atlanta upstart Father has grown a lot of buzz from his latest mixtape Young Hot Ebony, and songs like “Look At Wrist” and the title track “Young Hot Ebony” has grown his fanbase nationwide. London’s latest album Vibes has continued to push the boundaries of conventional hip-hop music, combining multiple genres and creating an atmosphere relatable to almost all. These two guys in the same place? Definitely will make for a great show.

KeithCharlesSpaceBar (KCSB) came on stage and instantly warmed-up the crowd with D.C.’s own Yung Gleesh’s popular song “Wasabi.” After one song, with the crowd already in a tizzy, the familiar opening of “Look At Wrist” welcomed Father to the stage, setting the tone for the rest of his set. Performing songs from both Young Hot Ebony and Lil D1ddy, Father seemed almost a little surprised that people knew his work so well in the DMV. However, he continued to rock with the crowd, even unveiling new content from his upcoming mixtape Who’s Gonna Get F****d First? which is slated for a release sometime this month. The only thing really lacking from Father’s set was its length. I wish it had gone on longer, as his energy was infectious. However, with more material and a larger fanbase I’m sure this will be the case soon.

After only a brief pause, the man of the hour stepped on stage. Accompanied with a full band (featuring a bassist/keyboardist, drummer and electric guitar player), London approached the microphone with his profile to the crowd. He performed his first few songs this way until turning towards the crowd for almost the remainder of the performance. Playing hits old and new, Theophilus played the majority of his songs from Vibes, and had the crowd dancing non-stop. The swagger and cool moves London unleashed brought the energy in the small venue sky high.

His interaction with the audience was great as well. Not only did he bring girls on-stage to dance/sing with him, but he also serenaded one woman and asked questions of the audience. Simple questions such as “What did you do for Valentine’s Day?” and “What song do you wanna hear next?” were requests of the crowd I honestly have never heard before. And upon passing the mic to lucky unlookers, he responded right back. He even brought beers out for people in the crowd! If that’s not a cool way to start a party, I don’t know what is.

His ease with the crowd translated into the fluidity with which the concert seemed to flow. Instead of a stringent set list, it seemed like Theophilus was working with his band to feel the crowd and what they were into. A couple of times, he stopped the band/his laptop from playing a song to respond with another he felt to be more appropriate. They also did a good job of keeping the energy high as he would continue playing the same notes/stanzas of his songs that the audience seemed to be feeling most. The energy level hit the roof of the venue in a basemenet as he called Father back onto the stage to perform “Look At Wrist” once again. Inviting girls and both artists’ seemingly never-ending posse’s on-stage, he started a whole other party, employing people to follow him to nearby club Tropicalia.

Overall, I thought the contrast of Father and Theophilus was a good one. Although both are known to be unconventional, their styles differ to a point where they complimented one another. Father’s hard beats and biting lyrics were a good introduction for London’s musicality and romantic content as their energies meshed well and created a great show.

Be sure to look out for my interview with Theophilus London, which will be out soon here on the WRGW Music Blog.

February 12th: PHOX and Field Report @ 930 Club

Field Report, the Milwaukee, WI based indie-folk trio, was formed in 2011 by singer/songwriter Chris Porterfield a few years after his first band, DeYarmond Edison split up. The name, Field Report, is actually an anagram of Porterfield, Chris’s surname. The band released their newest album, Marigolden, back in October of last year, and has been playing much of that album on tour.


Photo Credit: Anour Esa

When Field Report took the stage, the 9:30 club was nicely filled, and ready to hear music be played. With Porterfield on acoustic-electric guitar and lead vocals, Thomas Wincek on Bass, Guitar, backing vocals and midi board, and Shane Leonard on Drums, the music began. The soulful lyrics, paired with methodic layers of slowly moving harmony gave the music an earthy, raw, almost painful feel to it. Later in the show, PHOX lead singer described Porterfield’s music as being “thoughtful” and listening to the music, one could feel the soft intensity to the lyrics. The entire venue seemed to be deep in thought, taking in all that the music of Field Report generated. With soft spoken but strong vocals, an arrangement of percussive instruments, and an ever evolving sound, Field Report satisfied the audience’s yearning for a soothing music performance.

After a seemingly endless intermission between the two sets, PHOX finally came on stage, to a thunder of applause and hoots from eager fans. The Wisconsin band of six hailing from the small town of Baraboo was in DC this past December, where they opened for Indie-Folk group The Head and The Heart. Needless to say, they had no trouble filling the venue, with long time fans, and first time listeners alike. The band had been at NPR’s studios earlier that day, doing their very own tiny desk concert, which when Monica announced at the show, the band received a plethora of applause and cheering.


Photo Credit: Anour Esa

After some small talk, the band went right into it, playing their rolling, warm, and dreamy music that left a gentle smile on your lips. Their tender and very organic sound had the audience swaying and dancing to every song. The band, after playing a few songs normally off the record, switched to all acoustic instruments, and, with the help of a condenser microphone gave us their own tiny desk concert on stage. After a few songs of their wonderful acoustic set, Monica stayed on stage, and sang a solo set playing only her Ukulele. After enchanting the audience with her one of a kind voice, Monica, Matteo, and Jason teamed up and sang an acapella song showing off the wonderful vocal assets of PHOX. The band returned in full to the stage, and instead of playing an encore, they simply told the audience they were cutting to the chase, and going to play all they were going to play, as it was a Thursday night and there was a lot of “drinking or sleeping to be had.” The band closed out with Espeon, dedicated to Monica’s younger sister. With crashing drums, groovy bass, wailing guitar, rolling piano, the occasional flute, and soothing vocals, PHOX rocked the house with Espeon, and called it a night.

The band is headed to Australia for a short tour, ending in a music festival in New Zealand in a few weeks; so if you’re reading this from down under, check PHOX out! All in all, between the raw, earthy sound of Field Report, to the rolling and dreamy sound of PHOX, this was a show well worth seeing.

JMSN + abhi//dijon @ U Street Music Hall


All photos: Lotanna Obodozie

If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s when artists have epic intro music play before they hit the stage. It’s a great way to build up excitement for the crowd, and it’s also interesting to see what the artist chooses – a song of theirs or a song by someone else. Maryland electronic-R&B duo abhi//dijon chose to go with the latter, choosing “Know Yourself” off of Drake’s new mixtape. It had been out for less than 24 hours, but thanks to abhi//dijon, I got to hear part of it blasted through U Street Music Hall’s glorious sound system.DSC_3285

The lights were low, and the mellow R&B that had been playing through the speakers was abruptly interrupted by Drake’s voice shouting “I was running through The 6 with my woes.” Abhi//dijon then took the stage and chatted briefly with the crowd before beginning their set, mentioning that this was only their second performance ever. Despite this being the second time they’ve ever taken the stage, they played with so much heart that any rough spots (which were few and far between) were immediately forgiven by the crowd. Their music is so lush, and so good, that it speaks for itself and those in the crowd seemed to be fans of abhi//dijon since day one. This was especially apparent when abhi//dijon played some of their older songs; audience members would cheer at the sound of the opening notes and sing along to every word.


Abhi//dijon’s set was an excellent combination of older and newer material, and they even played a few unreleased tracks throughout, all of which were all received warmly by the audience. Sadly, their set was rather brief, but they ended with an immensely groovy new track that I cannot wait to get my hands on.



Then came JMSN. Straight out of Los Angeles via Detroit and serving some biker Jesus realness in a mesh tank and hiking boots, he took the stage (not without his own epic intro music) and launched right into “Addicted,” a standout track from his latest self-titled album. From then on, it was apparent that this was not going to be the mellow show I was expecting. Not at all.


JMSN and his band turned U Street Music Hall into a full on rock concert, complete with crazy dance moves, body-crushing bass, and pounding drums. The audience fed off of his energy, jumping, dancing, and nodding their heads along with JMSN, and he appeared to feed off of the energy of the crowd as well, with the show getting louder and louder after every song. The audience appeared to be a solid mix of day one fans and newer fans, with some of them shouting out the names of his previous monikers in between songs, belting along to songs, and cheering as loud as they could whenever they could. A real star of the show, however, was JMSN’s drummer. In between songs, he would look out into the crowd, his face full of awe, as if this wasn’t really happening. He had the biggest grin on his face throughout the entire set, and garnered some of the loudest applause from the crowd.


JMSN ended his set with “‘Bout It,” playing through the entire song, but instead of ending it there, his band kept playing, only getting louder and louder as he busted out some of his signature dance moves, as demonstrated in his Boogie Basics video.

He then left the stage, but was gone for only a minute or two before he came running back on for an incredibly satisfying four-song encore. JMSN had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the entire show, and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform again very soon.









– Lotanna Obodozie


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