The Reverend Peyton fronts his Big Damn Band at The Hamilton Live on Nov. 17, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band recently played The Hamilton in DC, and the church of the electric country blues was in session. This was gritty, authentic music with, as the good Reverend declared, “human hands playing real instruments.” It was American roots music at its finest, steeped in traditions brought forward with a modern sensibility, performed with skill and passion.
Loved by audiences across the country, equally loathed (I assume) by a large number of venue cleaning staffs, The Flaming Lips brought their blow up robots and confetti canons to The Anthem recently.
Wayne Coyne and Co. have long been a concert photographers dream (certainly no mid-2000s concert portfolio was complete without a shot of Wayne crowd surfing in his plastic bubble) and the tour behind their 2020 album American Head was no different. The first four songs featured confetti blasts, a blow up rainbow as wide as The Anthem’s stage width and a huge blow up pink robot (for obvious reasons). Not many bands can get away with playing an all-out anthem like “Do You Realize” second in the set but the Lips do things their own way.
One of the shows I had been hoping to see after a year and a half of not having shows was Nada Surf, the New York-based band that’s consistently put out album after album of great guitar heavy gems, whether it be old favorites like “Popular” or “Always Love” or their ninth LP, Never Not Enough, released on Barsuk Records last year which is filled with the kind of hook-filled rock, like opener, “So Much Love,” that grabs your brain and holds on tight. Nada Surf has always had great songs, but I think the songs on this new album are some of the best they’ve created.
Billy Strings gives a fiery performance at The Anthem, Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Billy Strings made a triumphant return to The Anthem on Nov. 13, putting on a blazing hot performance for a sold-out crowd, some of whom had waited in line since 11am to get a good spot inside for an 8pm show. Billy’s only previous appearance at The Anthem was Feb. 1, 2019, as the opener for Greensky Bluegrass.
For nearly 40 years, Dinosaur Jr. has established a reputation as one of the best, most innovative alternative rock bands — and one of the loudest. On Tuesday evening, they lived up to that reputation when they appeared at a sold-out 9:30 Club, with Chicago guitarist Ryley Walker opening.
Wolf Alice performs at Union Stage on Nov. 15, 2021. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)
Ellie Rowsell grabbed the microphone and sang in a manner both hypnotic and snarling. With “Smile,” a recent single and the concert opener at Union Stage on Monday, Ellie declares her intent to do things her way, and she doesn’t give a damn if you don’t like it.
To her side, guitarist Theo Ellis wrapped Ellie’s snapping mission statement in wonderfully layered psychedelia, ad Wolf Alice was officially on the prowl for the first of two-sold out shows in DC.
Surfer Blood performs at DC9 on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath; Words adapted from press materials.)
Over a year ago, Surfer Blood released Carefree Theatre, their fifth studio album, and returned to their first label, Kanine Records. Surfer Blood finally toured behind the record and also returned to DC in a sold-out show at DC9 on Saturday. Ben Eisendrath was there to shoot the show.
As a songwriter and a performer, Brandy Clark straddles the division between contemporary country and Americana music. Touring behind last year’s Your Life Is a Record, she appeared recently at The Birchmere with her band, where she treated the audience to some of the finest songs being made today.