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Having become familiar with Augustines after randomly stumbling upon them while perusing through Youtube related videos, I expected a predictable, yet enjoyable indie rock show. What I saw on Wednesday was not that, it was something much, much different.
This was indeed a quite special stop on their US Walkabout tour. It was the first show in which the regular bass player and keyboardist Eric Sanderson was back, after leaving for a family emergency. What a comeback it was.
The lights drew. The band entered from stage left. The steady patter of drums filled the room. Billy McCarthy’s deep, masculine screams and passionate strumming could be heard and felt about every corner of the room in every crack and crevice of the basement venue. We were Headlong Into the Abyss. It wasn’t long before all three band members were riddled with sweat from gallivanting across the stage and passionately throwing together chords. You could see the energy through sweat, tears, and eventually blood that could be seen reflecting off the green and red stage lights. By the time the third song had started, McCarthy had split his lip, another signal of his powerful voice moving away from his physical body.
After the piercing sound of an F-chord began the next song, We Are Augustines, I could see their assistant peeking out from backstage and singing all the lyrics along with them. I guess Augustines is truly a band you can enjoy listening to no matter how many times you have heard the songs. Not soon after, McCarthy hit the tiny stage floor with his guitar, Hendrix-style, flailing so hard he almost knocked the microphone and keyboard over.
A major theme of this show was the band connecting with the audience. At a certain point of the night, the show starting feeling less like a concert and more like a group of friends getting together. Despite both Sanderson and McCarthy handling two instruments, Sanderson constantly switching back and forth from bass to keyboard, they both found their way off the stage and into the crowd at multiple points of the night. Although the drummer, Rob Allen, was forced to be pretty sedentary throughout the night, even he attempted to directly contact the audience with waves and acknowledgements.
The most interesting part of the night, however, came during the encore. When the stage lights were raised, McCarthy and Sanderson were standing on the edge of the stage. After a “you’re killing me, I don’t have a freaking microphone!” they both began a raw version of East Los Angeles. Despite no hardware being use in this stripped down tune, McCarthy’s voice was just as powerful, if not truly echoic.
I thought the night was over when they exited the stage after two encore songs. It was a short, but sweet 90 minute set. The time went by so quickly, and rarely do I want to hear more after a concert has ended. This ending was quite bittersweet. Five minutes later, however, as crowds started to exit back upstairs to the street, the band came out from backstage, equipped with a voice, an acoustic guitar, and bongos, and played a 30 minute set right in the middle of the audience. I had never seen anything like it. It was these unique moments that will have me remember this show for a long time to come. I will be seeing Augustines for sure the next time the roll out to the DMV. However, with a new album in the works and an upcoming tour in the UK, I’m not sure when that will be.
This week in collaboration with the Howard Theatre, we are excited to be promoting four amazing artists.
Did I mention we are also giving away a pair of tickets to each of these artists?
Dumpstphunk and Kermit Ruffins (2/26)
This New Orleans funk band is filled with “filthy grooves” and gives and unmistakable, unforgettable performance. Kermit Ruffins is a talented jazz trumpeter, singer and composer that infuses New Orleans funk and jazz.
Hospin is a California rapper, known for his unpredictable songs and the colored contacts he wears on stage. He is soon releasing an extended play collaboration with Travis Barker.
DJ Questlove (2/28)
Questlove is best known for his work with The Roots, the in-house band for The Tonight Show. He is a multitalented drummer, DJ, and producer, producing artists like Elvis Costello, Common, Jay Z, Amy Winehouse and John Legend. He has been a major player in the alternative hip hop and neo soul movements and continues to change the hip hop world.
Talib Kweli and Pharohe Monch (3/2)
Talib Kewli is a Brooklyn-based rapper who uses his social and political awareness to inspire and shape his music. He has collaborated with Mos Def MC, Yasiin Bey, but is most known for his activism and strong political views. He just released the studio album, Gravitas, in December.
Pharohe Monch is an acclaimed rapper notorious for his complex rapping technique, multisyllabic rhythms, and jazz inspired vocals.
Klauss sounds like a band you’ve heard a hundred times and never tired of. Their songs are light, with drums that manage to sound more melodic than percussive. Much of the band’s new release, Totems, lends itself to a vein of the indie-folk genre, but can at times also transcend the label, and delve into stronger-hitting, garage-rock waters.
Aspects of Totems sound like softened renditions of a T-Rex or Bowie tune, and come off just as successfully. This isn’t to say the music is unoriginal, but rather that Totems could almost be seen as an indie re-envisionment of the 1970s pop-rock scene. And it is this property of Klauss’ music that makes the band successful; they manage to function as an indie band without falling prey to the genre’s more uninspiring elements (bland, acoustic-heavy, pseudo pop).
Check them out on their Bandcamp and grab some of their music. You won’t be dissapointed.
Aloe Blacc is best known for his hit song “I Need A Dollar,” his last album, Good Things, was released in 2010. Good Things featured some strong songs and revealed Aloe Blacc as a funky, soulful singer that has an ability to write impactful lyrics, a gem to this generation of music. Aloe Blacc’s latest release was motivated by the success of DJ Avicci’s single “Wake Me Up!” which featured uncredited vocals from Aloe Blacc. Wake Me Up-EP is not the full-length album fans were hoping for, but the EP’s five songs pack quite a punch. The lyrics and themes on the EP are creative and meaningful; the production is stellar and at times almost steals the show from Blacc’s lyrics. Wake Me Up-EP was released in October but has not been charting well till recently. The strongest tracks on the EP are “The Man” and “Wake Me Up,” these songs set a tone that the rest of the tracks fail to match. The EP’s commercial success is going to be driven by its leading tracks, and while the proceeding tracks don’t surpass the initial two they should not be ignored.
It’s after midnight and no one knows where he is. The missing person is a 36 year-old African American male, one half of legendary hip hop duo Clipse, whose exploits in the drug game remain the solitary subject of many of his songs. Legally known as Terrance Thornton, but known to us as Pusha T, he’s playing songs from his critically-acclaimed and first proper solo album My Name Is My Name (MNIMN) at his DC concert.
Before the crowd got to see King Push, it seemed as though every other rapper from the DMV region came onstage to placate the throng of Pusha T devotees. It became so tedious that every time the emcee came onstage he was booed. To be fair, the “talent” that preceded King Push was some pretty terrible stuff, the worst being a dude from Rockville, Maryland, proving the notion that Montgomery County is an entity you can definitely mess with without worrying about the consequences.
One of the reasons why I so thoroughly enjoyed Pusha’s MNIMN is my obsession with HBO’s The Wire. Pusha T’s status as a drug kingpin-cum-rapper lends itself well to comparisons between himself and characters from the show, so you could just imagine my delight when the actor who plays Slim Charles came out to introduce Pusha with, “Hey y’all, my name is Anwan Glover and I played Slim Charles on a little show called The Wire.” It was Slim’s presence at the show and the name of the album, based on a line from the series finale, a clip of which Push played at the end of a few of the songs, that confirmed for me that I was in for a great evening.
After a few minutes, Pusha T came out and as the drum roll from “King Push” rata tat tat-ed on my ear drums, all was right in the world. I’ve been to hip hop shows before and been let down by live versions of studio-manufactured tone and pace, but Pusha did not disappoint. He seamlessly rattled off a few of the hits from MNIMN, “Hold On”, “Sweet Serenade”, and “Suicide” before reminding those less familiar with him of the mainstream stuff he’s done.
King Push then performed his verses from Kanye West’s “So Appalled” and “Runaway”, the 2012 summer hit “Mercy” from G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer, and one of my favorite set of verses from 2012, “New God Flow” also from Cruel Summer. Then, Push brought things back to basics, remarking to the crowd “Hold up I think we’re gettin’ a little too commercial, lemme play some real Pusha T.”
He ended the show by playing two of my favorite songs from 2013, the gritty “Numbers on the Board” and “Nosetalgia”, whose album version features a great verse from Kendrick Lamar who sadly was not there to drop his bars. He finished the set by playing “Pain.”
Thankfully we did not have to wait too long for an encore, which Pusha delivered with energy, playing “40 Acres”, also from MNIMN, and “Grindin’” from Clipse’s fantastic Lord Willin’.
The night was set up for disappointment and when you’ve told all of your friends to go to a show, there’s a lot of pressure involved. But as I walked out of Echostage with my two friends saying how much they enjoyed the show, I felt thoroughly satisfied by an awesome demonstration of real rap perfectly articulated by Pusha T.
As a musician who entered college this year, it didn’t take very long in anyone’s initial conversation with me to find out that I rap and perform spoken word. The responses I receive range from, “Oh, that’s really cool” to “Oh that’s… nice.” These reactions neither offend me, nor do I expect otherwise; my talent is considered niche and not necessarily interesting to people who don’t listen to hip-hop. What’s worse, however, is being introduced at parties and social gatherings as, “This dude’s mad white, but he can rap really well,” or, “Connor’s a decent rapper for a white guy.”
People: it’s 2013. I’m pretty sure you still have “Thrift Shop” stuck in your head and have heard of Eminem’s latest re-entry into the rap game. Why is my race still relevant? Read the rest of this entry
There are many things about Moby’s new album Innocents that will resonate with his prior fans: the atmospheric background of strings, the occasional piano key, and the peculiar softness of Moby’s voice. However, there is one thing about this album that may throw many devout Moby fans off-kilter: the presence of other artists. Moby traditionally is not known for collaborating with other musicians, but has successfully managed to create some of his best compositions yet due to the various arrays of voices and sounds implemented.
The opening track, “Everything That Rises,” is typical of Moby: creating an ambient “safe-space” with synthesized strings against calming drum patterns, but with an extra sitar-esque exoticness that brings the track to another level. “Almost Home” is a track that would be appreciated by fans of artists like Bon Iver, with falsetto-dominated vocals and depressing/inspiring lyrics (depending on which way you decide to take them). The album is full of highly variable tunes; the listener moves from one genre to another just by skipping to the next track, or sometimes not even that. “The Perfect Life” travels from verses filled with distorted, galactic-sounding, warped guitar reminiscent of a Space Odyssey-era David Bowie, to choruses with church choir vocals and powerful female voices.
Innocents may diverge greatly from the dancy disco beats of Moby’s past, but is another step in a similar direction of his most recent albums falling from mainstream appeal. It is an album best appreciated on a cold, autumn night, relaxing with friends. In a world where dubstep and rapid-beat “rager” music dominate mainstream electronic music, it is nice to hear something a little calmer and a lot more beautiful.
Notable Tracks: Everything that Rises, Almost Home, The Perfect Life, Don’t Love Me
Review by Mikaela Moschella
Bristol pop-rockers Neotropics are making waves on the charts recently, and for good reason. Stating that their self-described “nostalgic blend of Sonic 80′s Synth Pop & Modern Anthemic Rock” is catchy is an understatement to the inherently danceable characteristics of their music. Here is a band that sounds like the keyboards of M83 with a tip of the hat to The 1975 (whom they recently opened for at two sell out shows) and pop-punk all conveniently available in one package undoubtedly destined for greatness in the coming months. The three person outfit’s most recent single “Closer” (available on Soundcloud) will likely become your iPod’s guilty pleasure in the coming weeks, like any decent alternative-pop song, but it’s ok to admit that there are some pop performers with a lot of talent. Besides “Closer”, make sure to also listen to “Reflections” for a more downbeat but just as catchy break from all the dancing you’ll be doing.
Review by Conner McInerney
I’ve never been to Black Cat’s Backstage, having always seen the shows upstairs on the Mainstage, so when I got there to see Tennis and Night Sweats, I was a little surprised to find them playing in the tiny Backstage. After all, Tennis is a pretty buzz band, having done a tour to support their second album, Origins, through Europe, North America and elsewhere around the world. They could’ve easily sold the Mainstage by itself, especially with the other bands on the billing such as ON AN ON, Savoir Adore and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats.
After experiencing mega success with their 2006 debut album, Costello Music, The Fratellis called it quits in 2009. Four years and several side projects later, they regrouped to record their third studio album, We Need Medicine. Before their show at U Street Music Hall, the DC leg of their almost sold-out North American tour, I sat down with bass guitarist, Baz Fratelli, to talk about the band’s past and present.