Music Park: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings @ The Lincoln Theatre – 12/8/15

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings perform in May, 2014 (Photo by wcmickle)

You haven’t seen Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings until you’ve seen Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. By which I mean that you’ve heard the music and the voice, and seen some videos or clips of live shows, but that isn’t really seeing her. Because to see Sharon Jones is to feel her. The energy, the presence, the command that she brings into a room. And I’m not speaking of just any room, but a sold out, standing room only night at The Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC.

This past Tuesday marked one of just two live performance scheduled for this holiday season and Jones brought a dynamic collection of originals, holiday standards, and holiday originals, which were released on her first holiday album, It’s a Holiday Soul Party. The audience hung on every soulful word she sang and every tight, clean note that The Dap-Kings played.

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Music Park: We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Black Cat – 11/6/15

We Were Promised Jetpacks
We Were Promised Jetpacks drummer Darren Lackie performs on Dec. 8, 2014. (Photo by Dick Nempsey)

When We Were Promised Jetpacks took to the stage last Friday at Black Cat, they did so on a night that felt as transitional and pushing against it’s own skin as the percussive music of the band. A warm and rainy November night that played against type. An anxious crowd that lined up early for an 11pm show. A not-quite-sold-out crowd that nevertheless pushed and crowded to the stage in order to feel the music as much as hear it.

And feel it they did. WWPJ’s driving post-punk rhythm section is the type that seeps into your skin, into your muscles, into your bones. Speaking personally, I’m a lyrics man, then a guitar man, and then a drums man. But give me enough time with the likes of WWPJ and I’ll forego everything but the drum kit.

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Don’t Miss: We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Black Cat, 11/06/15

We Were Promised Jetpacks

We Were Promised Jetpacks (Incase – 03/16/2012)

We Were Promised Jetpacks is coming to Black Cat on Friday, November 6 with Seoul. WWPJ is touring in support of their most recent album, 2014’s Unraveling, on FatCat Records.

Unraveling finds the Scottish band displaying a well-earned maturity, having been playing together since 2008, touring extensively over the past seven years, and releasing three studio records. There is a measure of restraint on many of the songs on this album, sonically embodying a coiled muscle just waiting to snap into percussive momentum. You’ll hear that muscle flex as well on this album, complete with grooves and instrumentals on the back half of the album, but as a whole, this record paints the later years of unsure young men, still uncertain, but more contemplative and striving forward.

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It’s difficult to forget the center-stage drums that drove songs like “Quiet Little Voices” on their debut album, These Four Walls. They were one of the signature sounds of this band, a cornerstone of the post-punk side that sidled up against emo but never tipped the edge. They contained a energy that was Interpol without the leering darkness, Attack on Memory-era Cloud Nothings, with the angst more controlled (more being the operative word).

That iteration of the band was a strong one, one that brought them well-deserved attention, and they have since evolved during the intervening years. I don’t believe that one iteration of the band is better than the other, but instead that we as listeners are gaining a better fleshed-out band, one with deeper characterizations. We get a band that doesn’t hinge on just a few tricks but instead is more fully realized, more unique, more human, and more honest.

In the DC live music scene, the Black Cat holds a unique position. It’s perfect for yet-to-break-through bands bursting at the seams, and even more ideal for known names that thrive in tight, emotionally resonant spaces. We Were Promised Jetpacks is exactly that band thriving in this space. These are walls ideal for bouncing Adam Thompson’s vocals, for pounding Darren Lackie’s drums so resonantly you feel them in your bones. Take this opportunity to see this great, powerful band and you won’t be disappointed.

We Were Promised Jetpacks
Black Cat
Friday, November 6
Doors @9:00pm
$18 Adv / $20 DOS

[youtube]“Quiet Little Voices”

Music Park: The Cairo Gang @ U Street Music Hall – 9/22/15

Cairo Gang
Emmett Kelly of The Cairo Gang

The Cairo Gang takes it name from a group of British intelligence officers sent to Dublin in the 1920s to conduct operations against the IRA. The name evokes a certain romantic exoticism, mystery, intrigue, and danger. An appropriate choice then for a band whose sound calls to mind a certain period in the past – the mid ’60s – with a sometimes moody atmosphere and forceful drive, while maintaining a pop sensibility that lightens the load.

The first act in a lineup that would include Calvin Love and Mikal Cronin, the 4-piece mingled with fans in the small crowd before taking the stage around 8pm. In a set that ran just over 40 minutes, they burned through 11 songs in efficient, workman style that gave the audience as much as we could ask for. Emmett Kelly, clad in black, ran the band from the corner of the stage.

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Don’t Miss: The Cairo Gang (Opening for Mikal Cronin) @ U Street Music Hall, 9/22/2015

The Cairo GangEmmett Kelly of The Cairo Gang

The Cairo Gang is coming to the U Street Music Hall this Tuesday, touring with Mikal Cronin. The band is touring in support of their most recent album, Goes Missing, released June 23rd on God? Records.

The first single off the new record, “Ice Fishing”, continues in The Cairo Gang’s tradition of jangly, Rickenbacker pop with a slightly sharp edge, as if The Byrds had a run-in with The Velvet Underground’s softer side.

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This new album follows on the heels of 2013’s Tiny Rebels, which itself was a long time coming after their self-titled debut in 2006. During those intervening years, Emmett Kelly and the rest of The Cairo Gang have regularly been contributing their sounds to the recorded works and live performances of Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

The Cairo Gang traffics in the type of songs that on the surface, sound like catchy pop tunes that might have drifted out of car windows a half-century ago. But linger just a moment on the voice, on the lyrics, and you’ll find a bit more. More depth, more shades of darkness, more meaning.

In my experience, The Cairo Gang is the type of band that rewards repeat listens and that only improves with time. The U Street Music Hall is thus an ideal venue for new listeners getting acquainted and old friends remembering what this sound is all about.

The Cairo Gang
(Opening for Mikal Cronin)
U Street Music Hall
Tuesday, September 22
Doors @7:00pm
All ages

[youtube]“Tiny Rebels”