Luna brings Penthouse to the 9:30 Club on Oct. 5, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
Luna have been making great music for nearly 30 years, but for some reason even after being on major labels, having had songs featured on major movie soundtracks, and the critical praise of not only their peers but of big name music publications (Rolling Stone famously named them “the best band you’ve never heard”), Luna isn’t a household name, though it should be!
In fact, one of their best albums, Penthouse, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, was named one of the best 100 albums of the 1990s by Rolling Stone recently. And it’s that same album that was performed in full (plus some, but I’ll get into that in a moment) at the 9:30 Club recently.
Bob Mould rocks the City Winery on Sept. 26, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
My introduction to Bob Mould came years ago after picking up a cut-out cassette of Hüsker Dü’s final LP, Warehouse: Songs and Stories. One of the first records I owned myself, I felt I had something special no one knew about. “There’s this record by this band and this guy’s voice is so cool!”
That guy’s voice, by the way, was Bob Mould. I hadn’t heard anyone sing like that before. Of course, I had been listening to mostly U2 and hair metal bands at that point, but that record was clearly different — and in a good way. It was melodic but loud, punk but with hooks.
Orville Peck croons the night away at Union Stage on Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
Whether it’s the smooth baritone croon, the old west cowboy veneer, or perhaps the well talked about mystery behind the fringed black mask that draws you in: Once you witness Orville Peck, it’s hard not to be a fan.
Low wows a sold-out show at the Metro Gallery on Sept. 11, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
It may seem strange talking about a band that hails from Duluth, Minnesota, but there’s a feeling I get when I see them perform that makes it feel like they’re from here — Baltimore, that is. Possibly the first time I saw them was right across the street from the Metro Gallery, where they performed to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night.
Lower Dens brings the love to Rituals on Sept. 1, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
Although it’s only been four years in between albums and only three years since I saw them perform last, I really missed Lower Dens. They covered the gap recently in a show at Ritual in Baltimore.
Vampire Weekend performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Aug 29, 2019 (Photo by David LaMason)
Songs are a funny thing. Some songs you hear and then forget but then you strangely remember them, like in a dream, when you find yourself in situations or places where you may have caught that one riff or that line that reminds you of a place or a person you thought you had forgotten completely. Other songs end up becoming sort of like the soundtrack to your life. I’d have to say that Vampire Weekend over the last 10 years has ended up (willingly or not) creating much of that soundtrack for me.
The Raconteurs (Photo by Olivia Jean)
Whether or not rock ‘n’ roll needs a cheerleader, it certainly has one in Jack White. From days of the White Stripes to collaborations with luminaries like Loretta Lynn and bands like the Dead Weather and Raconteurs to his own solo material there’s a constellation of work that values the history and power of the art. There’s that and the fact that he, literally, pumps up a crowd like few I’ve witnessed. As a case in point, take the packed house at The Anthem Saturday night.
Thunderpussy rocks the Metro Gallery on Aug. 11, 2019 (Photo by David LaMason)
I think it’s fair to say I was a fan before I’d even seen them. Through friends saying, “You have to see this band,” to amazing photos of their live shows, to (and most importantly) hearing that first song off their self-titled debut album, “Speed Queen,” I was hooked. But I hadn’t witnessed the force that is Thunderpussy a recent show at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore.
Kurt Vile and The Violators rock a sold-out Ottobar on July 23, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
There’s something about Kurt Vile that’s hard to pin down, but maybe that’s the point. Listen to any of his solo work that’s been released over the past 10 years and you might see what I mean. Although he has put out several albums over the past decade under both his own name and with various other artists, including Courtney Barnett, Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis — and he is a frequent collaborator with the band The War on Drugs — Kurt creates the kind of rambling but layered music that’s hard to pull yourself away from (if you ever wanted to in the first place).
Sebadoh plays a sold-out Metro Gallery on June 19, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
Back when I was in college, a friend and I drove down to the beach (about a three or four hour drive) at night straight to the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland; found a good spot; and proceeded to play (among other things) a stirring rendition of Sebadoh’s “Punch in the Nose” complete with clarinet solo and out of tune acoustic guitar. It was fun, sloppy, and exciting — much like the music that Sebadoh has been creating — off and on– for the last 30 years.