Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Valient Thorr/Shokker/Hull House - Rock'n'Roll Hotel - April 28 2009

Hull House - Thrash metal with tough vocals. Reasonable if well short of inspiring. The 30 people there enjoyed it at a detached, but respectful level.

Shokker - Kind of a young hair metal band (although two of them didn't have the hair) but the style was toward the higher end of the hair bands, at least what little I know of what I've been force fed over the years. Good set with traded leads, double leads and reasonable music. They seemed young and get bonus points from me for supporting the other bands and no visible tattoos (scratch that, the shirtless bassist turned around and has one on his back). I'm not totally against tattoos, just cliches.

Valient Thorr - Smoking hot metal hard rock. They still remind me of the MC5 doing metal. Strong, rocking and avoiding cliches. Crowd grew in size, although not as big a crowd as I expected (ended up under 100 easily). Still, the crowd dug it and the band kicked in big time. Great band for people wanting it heavy but want to avoid straight metal or even straight punk for that matter.

Quote of the Night 0f V.T.'s front man "How about the news about Spector? Killing a woman and producing the Ramones, eh?" He then went into his confusion of Arlen and Phil which I had done earlier with a friend on the phone when he asked me about (Arlen) Spector and I answered about (Phil) Spector. I guess my ultimate answer is that everybody has gotten what they deserve with all Spectors.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

AvantFairfax Festival 2009 - Old Town Hall - April 25 2009

Very enjoyable festival featuring ten, eleven bands/artists? I lost count and missed I believe one act on each end. Lovely building, very comfortable and good sounds abounded. It was also criminally under priced at $5. In a nutshell, here's a quick glimpse at the proceedings.

Kuschty Rye Ergot - Three guitars, bass, drums and a mac twisted and contorted in feedback reminiscent of early Sonic Youth perhaps. Saw them a while back in DC. Good act.

Insect Factory - Guitar and percussion create nice psyche atmosphere. Saw a version of this at Terrastock last year and this was enjoyable again.

Ezeetiger - This is the bass player (and guitar and drums) for the mighty Paik. He layed down guitar and bass lines in loops and then drummed along. Well done by a creative musician. Good energy, great sound.

Stag Hare - From Utah, a one man Mac user. Sounds were mostly synth drone with guitar and harmonica (first time I've heard this and it wasn't live). A bit long for me, but ok.

Outpost - Solid bass with synths and a touch of guitar and vocals. Almost Kraftwerkian but there are probably better comparisons. Decent songs, good set.

Anduin - ANother one man with computer. Very laid back and I was getting a little drowsy at this time, so the timing was not good for me.

Bomongi - So much for being tired. Wide awake here for Paik's drummer doing his solo act in the manner of his playing partner as shown above. Loud, rocking, but slippery post-rock feel here, too. So see Paik as a group or the solo acts, you can't lose.

Mike Tamburo - Hammered Dulcimer player creating nice music, but pretty much what you would expect in a non-trad fest.

Kohoutek - Reviewed many times before and always fun to see. Check them out yourself.

Quote of the Night - "What would you describe that music as?" asked the homeless lady in front of me, hiding from the sun within the festival. "I would say ambient".

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meatmen/The Electricutions/American Speedway/Meatmen - DC9 - April 22 2009

Copstabber - This set begs the question is a cliche hardcore act worse than a cliche metal act? I will let you more after a trip to Jaxx. Stay tuned. I didn't recognize their hardcore cover song and I know my hardcore. Maybe they should have tried the band on the guitarist t-shirt, Gang Green.

The Electricutions - Ok, the show officially opens now. A bit of early XTC/999 through a tougher Wire like sound and you get something in the vicinity. Nice set.

American Speedway - Great blistering fast and hard rock, not unlike Valiant Thorr, but not as metal and not quite as good. But good enough for me and the jam packed crowd. This is a good choice to precede the Meatmen.

Meatmen - Tesco Vee is back out of retirement (his son wanted to see what the Meatmen were like) at age 50. I used to trade records with him and found him a pretty basic midwestern guy like myself, except for his crazed non-PC (before that term was around) lyrics and wild stage persona. He entered in full bullfighter dress and had lots of the classic Meatmen props, masks, towels with sayings printed on them and a new 3 piece, young backup band. Musically solid and covering all the hits and many covers--oh there's the Gang Green cover I wanted. Good fun and I haven't seen a mosh pit like this in a long time. And it's ok if I never see one again. Kudos for the bands in delivering 4 sets and getting me home a few minutes after midnight. Lots of music in a short blistering window.

Quote of the Night - Sorry Tesco, you were amusing as always but the winner goes to a guy before the show. A couple guys walked from the downstairs bar up to the upstairs stage. The quote: "So, this is the upstairs." Yes and if I were writing for MAD Magazine, I would respond:

a) No, it's an MC Escher painting and we are on a continuous loop.
b) No, it's the downstairs. Our inept contractor installed the staircase backwards.
c) No, it's very downstairs. Can't you tell by the Meatmen t-shirt with "I love Satan" on it?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Richard Lloyd & the Sufi Monkey Trio/Ottley!/The Moderate - Velvet Lounge - April 21 2009

The Moderate - Four young guys who I was thinking were making some nice moves in search of an identity. While still true, they grew on me with some nice songs. Still a bit scattered, but a nice job and plenty of time to gig and practice and keep developing into a strong unit. There is more right than wrong in getting a set like this as an opener.

Ottley! - A three piece, female singer, guitarist and drummer that are a cult supergroup from DC. The singer and guitarist were in the Slickee Boys way back in the day and the drummer was in numerous bands including Nils Lofgren's Grin. The style is close the classic revved up garage rock that the Slickee Boys did so well. Excellent set by a great band well worth seeing at any time.

Richard Lloyd - Oh my, how do I tackle this one. At the beginning, Lloyd treats us to a surly chat with the sound man as he (correctly) points out that this is a line check and not a sound check and to just move it along. He then launches into Television's Friction and some more recognizable cuts, ultimately varying the material with Hendrix covers and other more recent originals. He tells the digital camera lady to turn it off because he had a new song to play without a copyright yet. Yes, the forty people in attendance were all set to steal original Richard Lloyd songs in 2009. Actually he was friends with the woman recording so it wasn't as bad as it sounds. Lloyd had other rambling semi-hazy comments throughout the night and many were amusing. His guitar playing was strong and exceeded my expectations. He does dabble with the new Rocket from the Tombs so I shouldn't be too surprised. The drummer was Billy Ficca also from television. I saw Verlaine a couple years back with Television's bass player, so I have unofficially seen Television (even saw Richard Hell back in the days I could have really seen Television). As Lloyd said, he's paying for his past sins, but it's a pretty small investment from the audience and worth the money for sure.

Quote of the Night - Gads, too many to do, but I'll choose the one from Ottley's drummer describing their namesake... "He said that this was the first obituary I have been in where I wasn't dead".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Acid Mothers Temple/Sonic Suicide Squad - DC9 - April 19 2009

Sonic Suicide Squad - A psyche noise jazz outfit featuring drums as the anchor, sax as the main instrument and a guitarist and electronics guy to create atmospheric noise. Ok, now with that established, I have to admit I really have not much of an idea how to critique noise bands like this. They were modestly effective but not overly moving. There was nothing to give me cause to go running downstairs, nor anything to have me buying a CD or even listening the free stuff at their Myspace page. But if you really like this genre, feel free to explore.

Acid Mothers Temple - A 4-piece this time with the core members I've seen before. I forgot how good the bass/vocalist is and I really enjoyed his interplay with Kawabata on guitar. The drums and the rhythm guitar anchor the songs with the rhythm guitarist also doing a lot of nice work on his Roland. Middle got a little less interesting, but the beginning and end was exciting enough to really make the set work. Always a fun true psychedelic band with a sound that goes from Saucerful of Secrets to Algarnas Tradgard to Hawkwind. I am always happy they make it over from Japan for our entertainment.

Whine of the Night - A good sized crowd came to the DC-9 (Band played Rock'n'Roll Hotel previously). In spite of that, I didn't hear a single memorable quote all night although the bass player for AMT kept welcoming Washington DC by inventing a different meaning for the DC acronym about 6 times which showed pretty amusing use of English I thought. But I didn't have my notes, so instead of a quote I will sound like the resident old guy bitching about the guy doing a text message in front of me while the band was playing. If you want to ignore them, fine, but don't blast that light in my face for that long a time or one of these days, I will be talking to you. I always avoid making a scene as I think it will be just a few seconds, but sometimes it is not. I know, I know, a tiresome complaint, but some of you people out there ought to really learn to focus and what is good and immediate and what can wait.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dengue Fever/Chicha Libre - State Theater - April 17 2009

Chicha Libre - LA buddies of the headliner, the band comes in with a similar polyglot of nationalities and/or styles in its music. Featuring guitars, electric upright bass, two percussionists and an accordion, it stressed more rhythms and guitar textures to go with its steady vocals. A nice cover of "Alone Again or" reminded me of seeing Love on this very stage a few years back. Quirky Westernized salsa world beat for the most part (oh yeah, that). Good band, nice set received respectfully by another laid back State Theater audience.

Dengue Fever - This band has been a favorite of mine since the early days and I was pleased to hear them playing cuts from their first lp such as my all-time favorite "New Years Eve". Gorgeous Cambodian singing courtesy of Chhom Nimol, great soft-psyche organ, guitar with tasteful effects, and great rhythm made for an invigorating enjoyable set. The crowd slowly moved forward and moved more and by the end had a great time. The venue was a little too big for where Dengue Fever is right now, but they are steadily growing and more people will be joining the bandwagon as they move on. Excellent band, highly recommended.

Quote of the Night: "This song's called Shave Your Beard" said by the guitarist who has a beard that looks about as long as Billy Gibbons' beard. Ok, simple laugh line, but good enough for me in a relatively quiet night--even the long metro rides were amazingly tame for Friday night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Robyn Hitchcok & the Venus 3/Jennifer O'Connor - Black Cat - April 9 2009

Jennifer O'Connor - One woman with microphone and acoustic guitar. You get the drill. Nice set, pleasant but I have a feeling it won't be memorable.

Robyn Hitchcock - I haven't seen Hitchcock in decades. He played with a violinist then. Now, he has two axemen and a drummer with him. I enjoyed the full band. They never hit the tempos of the old Soft Boys, but gave a good flavor to the songs with even a touch of light psychedelia. Hitchcock was in fine form delivering his wry songs which had all the hooks you would want without venturing to far into pop music. And note to all other bands/frontmen. Please study Robin Hitchcock stage patter and determine if you are maybe 1/2 or 1/4 as good, then continue. If not, stick to cliches and quick breaks between songs. Because frankly, Hitchcock could stand up there and do spoken word and be worth the cover. And how exactly does he know to use Tyson's Corner to Annapolis as a reference to some quirky strip mall point he was making. No matter, songs were excelent as was the host.

Quote of the Night - "Thank you and my shirt likes you, too" - Hitchcock responding to obvious audience shout. He did have a great colorful shirt with his band mostly in black. Too many additional great quotes, but I would have needed a recorder.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obits/Points - Black Cat - April 5 2009

The Points - A grungy Misfits sounding band with a farfisa making some noise over the top. Vocals more guttural than Mr. Danzig. A nice 25 minute blast that may wear audiences out if it goes longer.

Obits - Am I standing in a bad spot or are the vocals way too faint tonight at the Backroom of the Black Cat? Too bad, because this NYC band proved very interesting. A couple of guitars slowly becoming more interesting as the night went on with a very solid driving rhythm. Nothing all too fancy, but steadily building into a compelling set. Maybe a lesser version of a band between the Nils and the Replacements. A good pickup for SubPop. A 45 minute set plus a couple of encores made for a quick and entertaining night. My cat thanks both bands and the club since I had lots of time to play with him unlike when I get home at two or three.

Observation of the Night: What is it in DC with all the soccer jerseys I see at shows? I've seen Ronaldinho, Crespo (nice!) and Ronaldo if I think back. I suppose I should dust off my Henrik Larsson jersey and join them. The quick answer is the international flavor of my fair city which works for me. Still more soccer jersey than Washington Redskins jerseys or whatever that alleged baseball team is that plays in front of a few people here from time to time.