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Live Review: Hot Chip @ The Atlantis — 6/2/23

Hot Chip
Hot Chip perform at The Atlantis in DC on June 2, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor seems like an endlessly pleasant guy. Not that he’s always upbeat — he has a sad song or two in his catalog — but that he’s always trying to embrace the sunny side of things. You cannot help but feel good after hearing him sing Hot Chip’s smartly rendered and vivid synthpop tunes.

Alexis and Hot Chip did just that after two sold-out nights in DC last week — June 1 at 9:30 Club and June 2 at The Atlantis. It was a particularly electric experience to hear Hot Chips layered dance-pop in the intimate confines of The Atlantis, the newly opened IMP venue with a capacity of only 450 people.

Live Review: Paramore @ Capital One Arena — 6/2/23

Paramore amaze at a packed Capital One Arena on Friday, June 2, 2023. (Photo by Zachary Gray)

“Welcome to the family,” singer Hayley Williams told the crowd at a packed Capital One Arena Friday night. The trio of Williams, guitarist Taylor York, and drummer Zac Farro are in the midst of a World Tour to promote their sixth studio album, This Is Why. Over the span of two decades this band has honed one of the most exciting live shows around. So, it’s no surprise fans lined up around the block to witness a band that inspired a host of musicians from Olivia Rodrigo to Snail Mail.

Live Review: Taj Mahal and Los Lobos w/ North Mississippi Allstars @ Wolf Trap — 6/1/23

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal headlines Wolf Trap on June 1, 2023. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

“We’re all here,” bluesman Taj Mahal recently told the audience at Wolf Trap, “because we love music.”

And what a night of music it was, featuring not just Taj, but revered East LA rockers Los Lobos and southern blues band North Mississippi Allstars in an opening slot at Wolf Trap on June 1.

Live Review: The Backseat Lovers @ The Anthem — 5/30/23

The Backseat Lovers
The Backseat Lovers perform at The Anthem in DC on May 30, 2023. (Photo by Marc Shea)

I’ll preface this article by stating that sometimes it pays to listen to your kids’ music. I first heard The Backseat Lovers back in 2019 when my kids insisted that I listen to the song “Pool House” from their album When We Were Friends. I liked it. I really liked it! I even listened on my own. So when I saw they were playing The Anthem, I figured I would check out the show. I am so glad I listened to my kids!

Live Review: The Walkmen @ The Atlantis — 5/31/23

The Walkmen
The Walkmen return to DC for a sold-out performance at The Atlantis. (Photo by David LaMason)

“We’re The Walkmen, and we’re from… Well, we’re from Washington, DC,” is how Hamilton Leithauser, singer of The Walkmen ended their main set at the sold-out Atlantis Wednesday night.

The band that moved to New York City in 2000 really is DC at its heart. “So we are all from Washington, DC, born and raised all around,” Leithauser told the crowd. “My cousin Walt and I are from the Cleveland Park area.  Paul Maroon is from Georgetown, and Matt Barrick is from McLean, Virginia.”

So having played a string of shows at the 9:30 Club recently, the band returned to play the second-ever show at the newly minted The Atlantis, capacity 450. The Atlantis is a new venue behind the 9:30 Club (930 V St. NW) modeled in homage to the old 9:30 location (930 F St. NW)

Snapshots: Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival @ Pop’s Farm (Martinsville, VA) — 5/25-5/28/23

Rooster Walk
Daniel Donato's Cosmic Country performs at Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival 13 at Pop's Farm. (Photo by Chester Simpson)

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival 13 on May 25-28 in Martinsville, Virginia, was a four-day festival celebrating music, art, and the great outdoors at the idyllic Pop’s Farm venue. With roughly 50 bands performing on six different stages, an amazing roster of stellar music steers the Rooster Walk experience.

Chester Simpson was there to photograph the show.

Live Review: Bloc Party @ 9:30 Club — 5/27/23

Bloc Party
Bloc Party performs at 9:30 Club on May 27, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Bloc Party recently staged a dynamic and kinetic performance during a sold-out show at 9:30 Club, but the best was yet to come as Kele Okereke and his bandmates returned to stage for their encore.

The band were so excited to be playing a “proper gig,” which was to say that they played a full show off their schedule as opening act for Paramore, and they wanted to show their appreciation with something special, Kele said.

And so for the first song of their encore, Bloc Party launched into “Blue,” a new song never before performed live! Kele began the song in hushed tones before the beat dropped after about a minute and a half, and the band rumbled into their hallmark catchy post-punk rhythms.

Interview: Bruce Cockburn (@ Warner Theatre, 6/9/23)

Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn (Photo by Daniel Keebler)

Bruce Cockburn has been making and recording music for more than 50 years, releasing his first, self-titled LP in 1970. He’s released 38 albums, combining folk with jazz and worldbeat, even releasing an instrumental album, Speechless. His most recent album, O Sun O Moon, came out earlier this year via True North Records. His music has tackled a number of spiritual and political issues, always remaining topical and vital.

Bruce Cockburn plays the Warner Theatre in DC on Friday, June 9, along with fellow singer-songwriter Dar Williams.

I caught up with Bruce by phone from his home in California, where he now resides, to talk about his career, making music, parenthood, and a number of other topics. Originally, as he shared, he attended music school with the intention of becoming a jazz composer, but he dropped out amidst the influences of the mid-’60s. Listening to his music, especially his guitar playing, you can hear the influence of his professional training in his style and in the sophistication of his melodies.

Live Review: The Avett Brothers @ Wolf Trap — 5/27/23

Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers kick off the summer season at Wolf Trap on May 27, 2023. (Photo by David LaMason)

The Avett Brothers have an almost telepathic bond that they have honed over the past couple of decades. Scott and Seth Avett continue to write these finely crafted songs that feel timeless. I can put on an Avett Brothers record and get lost in the feeling of those harmonies. But it’s the live shows that are the prize. It’s the icing on the cake. It’s no wonder, over the years the band has been releasing albums, there have been four live volumes released. 

For what has become a tradition at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, The Avett Brothers kicked off the summer concert series for the legendary venue. Three nights of foot-stompin’ sing-alongs with Scott, Seth, Bob Crawford (bass), and Joe Kwon on cello, along with Mike Marsh on drums, Tania Elizabeth on fiddle, and Bonnie Avett-Rini on keys. On the last night of the run, The Avett Brothers put on a brilliant show on a perfect night. That pre-summer feel where you can stretch out and it’s not too hot. 

Live Review: The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem — 5/25/23

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem on May 25, 2023. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

What was the difference between last week’s Flaming Lips show and the one they played not even one year ago at the same venue? They QUADRUPLED their giant inflatable robot budget! Although, this seems to have affected the confetti budget somewhat. Even though it was still flying aplenty, it wasn’t as overwhelming as the last show. But still!