Galleries

Delarcos, Denizens of Washington, and The Godz – Galaxy Hut 2015-04-20

Another fun Delarcos show, my third so far. I was on the fence about going to this one, being a Monday night, and still tired from a weekend of boat maintenance and not enough sleep, but knowing The Godz were playing pulled me off of the fence, and I mustered everything I had left and pulled it off.

Delarcos did not disappoint at all! I think my favorite is still Industry Night, but some of the others are gaining, esp. Tom’s River and That Girlfriend. I can’t explain exactly what I like about Delarcos (besides the lyrics!), but I can try and contrast it within the context of last night’s show to give some idea.

Delarcos lyrics, by the way, can be found at http://www.mindspring.com/~notionsunlimited/band/delarcos.html

Denizens of Washington did a good job at what they do. They give you a plate of easily-identifiable food in a predictable manner, and deliver it solidly, along with a lot of ex-wife jokes. I was really digging the tone of the bass. I don’t think they quite had enough volume to get the full feel of what they do, especially during the one song that highlighted the drummer’s vocals, and especially after the Delarcos.

In contrast, Delarcos give you some kind of weird food that kind of reminds you of something you had as a kid, in a weird wrapper. And then you remember you liked it. Even though it’s not the same thing it was back then, it’s still pretty fucking tasty, and you can’t explain exactly why. You just want to tell your friends they should try this, and maybe they can explain it better.

All metaphorically, of course — the bands weren’t really giving out food. Actually there seemed to be a lot of what looked like grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots moving around the room, but I had already eaten. GREAT BEER SELECTION AT GALAXY HUT. I started with a Starr Hill double and finished with a Fair Winds.

Last up was The Godz.  When I read about them prior to the show, I knew I was in for something unique, and that’s always what I’m looking for.  Unique, and authentic. They’re a psych-garage-freak-whatever band from the 60s. How it happened that they were playing at a tiny dive bar, capacity 66, with Delarcos and Denizens, I’ll leave to the reader’s imagination. But I for one am grateful.

The vocalist started the show by saying, “I’m old, and it’s past my bedtime.” Guess he’s right, if he was doing this shit in the mid-late 60s. And he validated that by one of songs midway through, “Dead and Gone” (you can listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZuwWErcBKE), which he dedicated to everyone that’s passed away, and everyone that’s going to pass away, which is pretty much everyone.

He also made a couple of references to ex-wives, but I kind of got the feeling that his experiences with ex-wives were somehow different from those of the Denizens. I could explain, but then people might think I’m sensitive. He just seemed, maybe warmer, maybe more open.

The bass player — I love his energy. Ever seen that video of the drummer who’s called out for “playing a different show” than the rest of the band? The band is going through their routine, and he’s going nuts with energy and showmanship. In a good way, this bassist reminded me of that guy. He moved around a lot, played hard, made excellent faces, and fed energy back to the rest of the band, especially in the last jam. I remember thinking at one point, and this may sound like a completely disrespectful thought, and I’m not even sure where it came from, but “Man. I want to go to his funeral.” Can’t explain, but I swear it comes from a good place.

The trumpet player was great too, really added a lot of texture to the songs.

They ended the night with what seemed to be the most widely-known of their repertoire, “Radar Eyes,” (listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9PaX7m9NXw) from at least four decades ago, which gradually morphed into this great acid-tinged jam that really reminded me of some of the best Faust jams from that period.

If you ever get a chance to see The Godz live, DO IT. But make sure it’s THESE guys, not the Godz from Ohio. They’re a very different band.

And you’ll definitely get another chance to see Delarcos. In June, if not before. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/HoursOfFun4everyone

As always, I hope my writeups don’t offend anyone in any way. I try to focus on what I enjoy, to share these positive experiences with friends, followers and random passers-by. And bands are always welcome to reuse any of my band photos. Normally I have a decent camera with me, last night I only had my phone, so I was a bit limited.

Pentatonix (PTX) at Patriot Center

This is the show Sabina has been anticipating for months. She created a fan account on Instagram, and has amassed hundreds of followers, some of whom met her at the show last night. To be honest, though I know they’re good at what they do, I really didn’t expect to be as impressed as I was. Their goal was to take a cappella music and turn it into a rockstar experience, and they succeeded. Boy did they succeed. Their voices were the highlight, of course, but the visuals helped a lot as well.

We got there early, very early. We were chatted up in line by an insider with a comp ticket. She’s an actress, singer, internet viral happening maker, numbers nerd and huge fan. She had interesting takes on the business, the group, and lots of other cool stuff. She’s also responsible for getting the Green Bay Packers into the new Pitch Perfect movie. By writing this Buzzfeed article, she set in motion a chain of events that led to something I really can’t wait to see. 😉 http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/pitch-perfect-2-trailer-bellas-battle-green-bay-packers-article-1.2100483

They seem to have sold out the arena, about 6000 seats in last night’s configuration. We had upgraded to floor seats, so when the doors opened, we hustled up to the front, ending up about 10 feet from the stage. We waited FOREVER. We were in line shortly after 5pm, doors opened I think around 6:30, and the show started right around 8:30. So a lot of standing and waiting. But Sabina had one of her friends to chat with, and I had the buzzmaker described above, so it wasn’t unbearable.

When they came on stage, I was genuinely concerned for Sabina’s health. She had been anticipating so long that I thought she might blow a gasket.

They put on a great show, great voices, great arrangements, great song choices. Some of the solos were magical. That boy Mitch, wow, never heard anyone like him.

After the show, Sabina scrambled to meet up with more of her follower/friends, and then we started to leave, when we noticed a crowd lingering near the tour buses. It had already been conveyed to us that they would not be meeting people after the show, but we hung around a while anyway, Sabina chatting with her friends, just in case. Eventually security came along and told us we’d have to clear out.

Lest we not forget Mingering Mike

I was also fortunate that we had time to visit the Smithsonian American Art gallery before the Atlas show. I had been looking forward to the Mingering Mike exhibit ever since I first read about it. I snapped some photos in the exhibit (the signs only said no FLASH photography, so I took that as a sign that non-flash photography was allowed). Turns out the photos were unnecessary, because THEY SELL A FREAKING COFFEE TABLE BOOK OF THE ENTIRE COLLECTION IN THE GIFT SHOP!  Yes, of course I bought one.

Kudos to DC and the Smithsonian for recognizing the value of folk art!

The Goddess Is Alive (and a foot!)

Wonderful show this evening at the Atlas on H Street NE. It has been a long time since I last took the girls to see Rachel perform, and I had forgotten how much I missed her voice, at least until the first notes came out.

Loads of beautiful and sometimes silly Goddess joy.  I especially enjoyed the Klompen instrument.

So glad we braved the ice and freezing bullshit weather to have such a wonderful time in the show tonight.

Review: Kaki King, w/Janelle & Anthony, at the Hamilton DC, 2015-01-30

I first heard of Kaki King just a few months ago, which is really hard to comprehend. I spend a lot of time exposing myself to new music, and I pride myself on being aware of the up-and-comers. But to me, she came out of nowhere. Eve forwarded me an article, something along the lines of the ten best musicians you’ve never heard of. And for once, it was right. At least about kaki.

Darryl and I arrived early for the tech rehearsal and Q&A. After they brought us down to the venue and we chose among the best seats in the house (by the way, the Hamilton is a DAMN COOL VENUE, might well be the best venue in the city right now!), Kaki came out, and did a little show-and-tell with her guitar-controlled projection-masking technology, by which one projector displays video clips of choice on the screen behind her, and can be controlled by which notes she plays, and another projector projects clips directly onto her guitar, also controlled by what she plays.

These projections are controlled by Beth Wexler using some software described as edgy but accessible, in a process Kaki describes as collaborative, in that Beth will choose what clips, scenes or patterns will go up, and respond to what Kaki’s playing, and sometimes anticipate what’s coming next, and provide an appropriate visual for it. Once you see how it works, you can see how limitless it can be. The guitar is bolted to a couple of sawed-off mic stands so that it stays put within the confines of the projection mask.

She also showed part of her Oobleck clip. Oobleck is that mixture of cornstarch and water that comes alive and dances when agitated, for example, by low frequencies on top of a speaker. I was impressed already when the oobleck videos looked like some of the best I’ve seen, and more impressed when she told is the footage was shot in her kitchen.

After Kaki’s demo and discussion, she went backstage and the rest of the packed house was allowed in. Seat-choosing, meal-choosing and mingling occurred, and then it was time for the opening act. We ended up having a nice friendly couple join our table. She was a tiny little thing from Oregon, and he was a tall young guy from Maine. I don’t think they were a couple, proper, because at one point she started a sentence with “My boyfriend…” but then it trailed off. I never did find out what her boyfriend…

Being an Oregonian who had lived in Portland, I asked her of course what she thought of the Decemberists. As predicted, it sounded like she could take them or leave them. I think the adoration for the Decemberists might be reserved for people outside their area, or maybe just people of a certain musical persuasion. I pressed her a little bit on it, and she said that she had only had a few encounters with them, to which I prompted, “sexual encounters?” I guess I was testing her sense of humor. Make or break. Either she’s completely offended at this point, or she gets the joke. I think she got it, because she said, emphatically, “YES.” And she did talk to me again throughout the evening. Win win. By the way, she was half my size and polished off the same size pizza that Darryl and I each finished. So points for that.

Janelle and Anthony are a duo, recently engaged. They play a kind of music together that starts as sparse, melodic, sometimes melancholy spacy shoegaze, with light, clear guitar, bowed cello, and sometimes Janelle’s ethereal voice. Over the course of some of the songs, layers are added through long delay pedals and other effects are brought in, until the song spirals out into infinity in a cacophony of sounds, reversed tones, fuzzy flanged-out segments of pink noise, and the like (think Beatles’ Revolution 9), leaving a wake of flashbacks and destroyed villages in its path.  They’re good at what they do, and it was quite compelling, despite the table next to ours continuing loud conversation, spilling a drink and otherwise causing distraction from the show.

They packed up and cleared the stage, leaving only Kaki’s setup, the white mounted Ovation Adamas Kaki King signature (painted white for this purpose, and with a carbon fiber textured surface added for additional soundscape construction), a few pedals, the projectors, and a small mirror mounted at the end of the stage so that she could see what she’s projecting.

After a while, the crowd subsided into eating, drinking and quiet conversation while we waited for Kaki. The clue came when a pattern emerged on the big screen in the back. A drone sound began, starting as a kind of low feedback hum.

Kaki came on stage in a white jumpsuit with white sunglasses, matched perfectly to her white guitar. She sat and started playing, realizing during her first piece that something had moved, and her projection mask was no longer in line with the guitar. It was still beautiful, but she knew it was wrong, and we knew it was wrong, so it created a tension while we all watched her play and waited to see what she’d do about it. At the end of her first piece, she got up and notified Beth that it was off, and apologized to the crowd, acknowledging that the show is still evolving, and there are a lot of moving parts. Beth came up and adjusted the projector, and all was well, and the show continued.

During the show, so many things were displayed on the screen and the guitar – spirals, bubbles, street scenes, subways, boats at harbor, drawings, stunning computer-generated visual effects, etc., that it was easy to forget that there was a true guitar virtuoso up there on stage, making it all happen. She could play her songs on the stage, just herself, without visual effects, and those who appreciate music and playing ability would be just as amazed. Instead, she’s breaking new ground in this show, titled “The Neck is the Bridge to the Body.”

In the middle of the show, she inserted an adorable little show-within-the-show, a movie on the back screen about what it’s like, from the guitar’s point of view, to grow up as a weird little guitar, and how it perceives itself among a world of older, cooler looking guitars. The guitar’s “words” were projected on the guitar itself, as she “played” note for word. The cutest part of that video was seeing the guitar’s family in her home. They were all a bunch of other exotic Ovations, and their sounds were appropriately unusual, squawky and jangly and non-traditional. I suspect others who have spent some time around guitars would have loved that story.

Another piece seemed to be displaying postcards Kaki has received (from friends? from fans?) on the guitar as she played.

Kaki’s encore was a piece about the Philae lander that descended from the Rosetta spacecraft and LANDED ON A FUCKING COMET. With appropriate space debris visuals on the big screen.

Kaki is changing the face of guitar.  Literally.

 

History Repeated, Delarcos & Plurals @ Black Cat

Warning – long post.  Forgive me, for I have friends who may be interested in a detail level here. Also, please forgive the mixed use of past and present tense. I just don’t care enough to force my thoughts to conform.

I arrived early due to the timing of my day.  Parked very close, less than half a block from the door to the club.

The first thing I noticed, after I parked and shut down the vehicle, was a street light going out, about half a block down from where I sat.  Amused, I waited.  And waited.  It came back on, in that way those big streetlights (sodium?) tend to do — starting out white, then yellowing as it slowly grows to full brightness. After a while, it went out again. Then came back on again. Overheating? Delayed solar activation/deactivation due to ambient light? or was it SLI? How should I know, I’m not a scientist OR a paranormal investigator.  I’ve got more important things to do than double-blind studies. You decide.

Doors were scheduled to open at 8pm, I had a bit of time to kill. Wandered around the neighborhood looking for suitable attractions. Whoa. A real live RECORD STORE (Som Records). With VINYL. Nope, not gonna do it. But it’s OPEN!  Nope.  Passing it by.  [Hindsight: should have gone in, the way the Universe has been working with me lately, they probably have a mint copy of the Layla Cries album.]

Walked around the corner, and what do I see but a bar called  Compass Rose. Is Poseidon himself calling me for pre-event drinks? Nope. Very careful about that. Because of that Los Angeles trip. And because I’m driving.

Okay, now the doors of the club are open.  Maker’s on the rocks, quite a generous pour, almost feels like a double, $8. Stabb is down the bar picking up something. Then I’m sitting next to one of the Plurals at the bar, she’s ordering a pitcher of house lager for the band. Another Plural is standing nearby. I can tell by the not-quite-matching blue hair, and the fact that they are communicating with one another.

The evening has turned very tactile. First the sting of my earlobes, as well as the runny nose, because it was so damned cold outside. Then my lips are numb from the bourbon. A lovely kind of medical numbness.

The Plurals go onstage. The taller of the blue-hairs announces that she has forgotten her power cord for her Alesis , and will be simulating her keyboard using her voice. Much laughter is had, but she has the last laugh later, as she does things with her voice that keyboards only wish they could do, in their heart of hearts, in places they don’t talk about at parties.

I enjoyed their set a lot. Especially Look at the Nerds, and Rose Garden. They had some really fun B-52s kind of campy surf-like grooves (but somehow cooler), and “fake keyboard playing girl” had this adorable way of creating modesty with her hand as she bent her knees to retrieve her beer from the stage floor. (Her skirt was quite short). In another song (Rose Garden) she made a really unique “Whoop” sound. At the time I thought it sounded almost electronic, but looking back, you heard it here first, I BET THEY ARE CLOSET JUGGALOS.  WHOOP WHOOP! Anyhow, they’re really fun, go see them if you can, you’ll enjoy them.

I spoke with Whoop fake keyboard girl after their set, I think she said she used to do opera.

Next up was the Delarcos, who I saw recently at Iota. Great set by them, I could hear them a little better this time, especially the lead guitar. I’m still trying to search my musical memory banks for things it sounds like. I’m not finding a lot, except the obvious vocal timbre and delivery similarities to Pere Ubu and maybe the Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex -era No Trend (Copperhead, for example). They’re unique. I like their sound, their energy, and their understated humor. It’s difficult to hear in a barroom, so the Delarcos have been kind enough to put their lyrics (and chords!) online so that we can all sing (and play!) along.  After listening to last night’s show again, I’m starting to feel like Delarcos might be the closest to the ROOTS of “this thing of ours.” I’m digging it. Musically, lyrically, and maybe more.  Stabb pointed out during the gig, I think, that Ian Mackaye likened them to the Chumps, and that’s going way back into the DC punk vault:

For more on the Chumps, check out http://ducksbattlesatan.com/category/the-chumps/

Then came History Repeated, the headliner. This is what I came for, for personal reasons. See, History Repeated is fronted byJohn Stabb of Government Issue, who I saw over 31 years ago at my very first concert (bootleg available HERE) — I was just sixteen years old.

I was ecstatic to see that 31 years later, Stabb still has all the energy of a young punk rocker, and still brings it!  In fact, he brings it by the case, and gives it all. Still theatrical after all these years, still willing to take injuries in the process.  He’s very physical, as if putting everything he has into merely singing the song is not quite enough – as if he’s ADHD, and singing the song just doesn’t engage him enough, so while he’s putting in 100% at the mic, he’s putting in a whole bunch more to keep him occupied – wrapping cords around him, punching himself, falling over, gesturing wildly…

A couple of jump-down-into-the-crowd call and response moments. I missed the first one because I couldn’t hear the words that well.  The second one was easy. When it was my turn, Stabb was in my face, with his hand on my shoulder and a mic between us, shouting “PUNK ROCK SONGS” — I replied enthusiastically, “DID NOT CHANGE THE WORLD!”  At least I hope that’s what I was supposed to say.  They sure changed MY world.

For the last song, Stabb invited Mike (from the Delarcos) on stage to improv some sax. In the middle of the song, Stabb fell onto the dance floor and someone put a chair on top of him.

Ian Mackaye (Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi, The Evens) was spectating sidestage for most of the show. He looked like he was enjoying it. I don’t know if anyone else was hoping for a reason for him to be brought on stage for something, but I kinda was.  I never got around to seeing him during the DC heyday, but I was fortunate that The Evens came to Fredericksburg in late 2012 to play a bookstore.  Had a really enjoyable time there too.

I got the feeling the light crowd was largely friends of the bands (like me) and veterans of the early DC HC scene, either players or just folks that showed up (back then), also like me.