Lucinda Williams (Photo by David McClister)
I suspect the inclusion of Lucinda Williams among my favorite artists stood out a little on my (now deleted) dating profile, buried as it was among a list that heavily favored new wave, electronic, and industrial artists.
The contrast in genres was apparently notable enough that visitors commented on it more than once. But then my appreciation for Lucinda’s music did in fact arise out of a specific set of circumstances, absent which I might not have discovered her at all.
Amelia Meath sings with Sylvan Esso at All Things Go Fall Classic in DC on Oct. 8, 2016.
The music of Durham, North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso was introduced to me last year by my friend and Spotify buddy Jenny, in the form of a YouTube video for their song “Hey Mami.” Straightaway, I admired singer Amelia Meath’s energy and extro-expressiveness, both on display in a sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Saturday.
James McMurtry performs at the American Music Festival on July 5, 2013. (Photo by seanbirm)
James McMurtry steps on to an unadorned stage at The Birchmere Tuesday night, appropriately understated in his style and unpretentious in his presentation.
Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave sings at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Jan. 25, 2017. (Photo by Paivi)
Cold Cave open their show Wednesday night at DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel with “Love Comes Close,” coincidentally the song that first initiated my interest in the band. For the duration of their opener, the look of the stage is appropriately understated.
The Faint (Photo by Bill Sitzmann)
Taking in the reaction from the crowd attending The Faint’s show at the 9:30 Club Saturday night, it’s clear that I’m amidst a pack of longtime fans.
While the band’s video for “Agenda Suicide” was on my playlist at some point way back, I am otherwise rather pathetically uninitiated with their extensive catalog. It’s evident that the band richly deserves the enthusiastic fan base that surrounds me, though. They let it be known that they have been paying attention for the preceding seventeen years.
Ruby the Rabbitfoot (Photo by Natalie Neal)
Ruby the Rabbitfoot stepped on to the 9:30 Club stage Wednesday night as the opener for Of Montreal, making a striking first impression in her bright blue and red bolero jacket and skirt. As she begins her set with the song “Second Wind,” Ruby’s splashy look and punkish peroxide locks contrast with the subtle introspective nature her sound.
Punctuated with tight electronic rhythms and bright sounding keyboard flourishes, Ruby the Rabbitfoot’s music is nevertheless moody and contemplative. Equally balanced between romantic optimism and cheeky cynicism, this is a sound suited to a Sunday afternoon journal writing session. Yes, it’s very pleasant, as the sunbeams cut through the curl of steam rising from her coffee mug, but the words she commits to the page nevertheless look back on a love affair that could have gone better.
The Residents perform at the 9:30 Club on Friday, April 29, 2016. (Photo by Crystal Dunn – http://www.ladyvile.com)
Prior to their show at the 9:30 Club Friday night, I have previously seen The Residents perform live on only one other occasion. This was at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium back in 1990, and it was for The King and Eye Tour.
I have been a longtime if sporadically engaged fan since the 1980s, having discovered the group through my interest of the Swiss band Yello. The Residents’ record label, Ralph Records, was the source of a lot of wonderfully strange music back in the early 1980s. In addition to the first two Yello LPs, their roster also included releases by Renaldo and the Loaf, Snakefinger, and Tuxedomoon.
The catalog insert inside of my copy of the “Claro Que Si” LP led me straight to Residents fandom. This was a period of near-fanatic record collecting for me, accompanied by some of the most memorable live performance that I have witnessed. It was in that same period of time that Lisner also hosted Laurie Anderson, The The, and an amazingly rare performance by David Sylvian. These were the kind of shows and the kind of creatively unbounded music I saw myself pursuing as I grew with the music scene — intricate, thought-provoking, cinematic, and ambitious. Seeing The Residents at the 9:30 Club this past weekend, a seated show that offered a cerebral experience, helped me reminisce about the heyday of “new music,” prior to grunge and hip hop’s reset of popular sensibility to digestible rock and roll idolatry.