I can safely say that all the concerts I attended in 2017 exceeded my expectations, but of course I say that about all live music. I was fortunate to photograph over 80 shows in 2017, from artists both well known to those just starting out. I’m truly inspired watching these talented musicians and their courage in getting up on a stage to lay their souls bare. Or as the L.A. Times’ David Ackert so eloquently put it, “…musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment — to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul.”
The first time I heard Angel Olsen sing, the name Patsy Cline kept repeating through my mind, and not because Wikipedia describes Ms. Olsen’s music as indie folk, indie rock, or alternative country, and not because their voices sound anything alike. Perhaps one could make a case that underneath Angel’s county blues melodies, there lurks Patsy’s Cline’s spirit. But for me the purity of their voices share the same mix of vulnerability and world-weariness.
Some may call it dad rock, others power pop or indie. But I call it damn fine rock ‘n roll. Eyelids recently popped up on my musical radar — and when I saw the Portland, Oregon quintet was making a DC stop on its short east coast tour, I made sure to be at the Black Cat on Sunday. Headlining a bill that included DC’s own Humble Fire and Jay Gonzalez (of Drive-by Truckers), Eyelids delivered a blistering 80-minute set of hook-heavy pop rock gems.
I first became aware of Dhani Harrison in 2003 while watching the concert film, “Concert for George.” At one point, Sir Paul McCartney said, referring to Dhani onstage, something to the effect that “we all got old, but George stayed the same.” Indeed, the physical resemblance with his beloved father is startling, but the younger Harrison has made his way as a musician on his own terms as evidenced by his show at U Street Music Hall on Nov. 7.
October’s first weekend was a frantic one for Near Northeast. On Saturday, the band performed at Porchfest in Adams Morgan, then loaded up their gear for a quick trip to Norfolk, Virginia, for a secret SoFar show. Then it was back up to the District to support headliner Sam Amidon at the Songbyrd Music House Sunday.
The quartet, named for the D.C. neighborhood where it originated, takes its work and art seriously: relentlessly performing whenever and wherever a gig is to be had.
The 9:30 Club transformed Saturday into a showcase for some of the finest local bands DC has to offer. The brainchild of local DJ and musician Brian Nelson-Palmer, the first annual (one hopes) DC Music Rocks Festival presented five bands, each with distinct musical pedigrees.
If variety is the spice of life, the Rock and Roll Hotel served up a flavorful mix of D.C. musical dishes this past Friday, Aug. 11.
As the appetizer, Near Northeast opened the evening’s fare with its eclectic mix of Americana-, jazz- and rock-inflected melodies. Frenemies’ complex power pop felt like we were having dessert first. Nuex (pronounced “new”) then took the stage and reset the table with its soulful electronic pop. The main course arrived on stage with Humble Fire, celebrating the release of its newest album, Builder.