Music Park: Palma Violets @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 5/11/15

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The Palma Violets threw down in an intensely focused and highly energetic show Monday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

The British quartet had few words to share with the audience, but they let their music do the talking for them as they pounded through an hour-long screeching rock symphony, each song often banging along frenetically to dissolve in a din of lights and drums.

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Interview: William Martin Doyle of Palma Violets (@ Rock and Roll Hotel, 5/11/15)

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Palma Violets (Photo courtesy Press Here)

Palma Violets perform at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Monday, May 11, in support of their new album, Danger in the Club, which just came out last week. In anticipation of the show, Mickey McCarter chatted with Palma Violets drummer William Martin Doyle, and he was everything you would expect in a member of the Palma Violets — quick witted, convivial and down to earth! I asked him about the new album, touring and his reputation as part of a great live band.

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Music Park: The Juan MacLean @ U Street Music Hall — 5/1/15

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John MacLean and Nancy Whang of The Juan MacLean

Anticipation. That’s what happens before a The Juan MacLean show.

Doors opened at 10:00pm at the U Street Music Hall for the modest line that had formed outside. Once inside, the sign at the ticket counter hinted the band was scheduled to go on at 11:30pm.

With time to kill, with a drink and a conversation, one could groove to Tommy Cornelis owning the DJ booth. He gave the growing crowd, many fitted with full backpacks, amble reason to dance.

And dance they did, because 11:30 came and went. Tommy kept the momentum going. Finally, just after midnight, the members of The Juan MacLean, including it’s namesake John MacLean, took positions. After building even greater anticipation, Nancy Whang, formerly of the disbanded LCD Soundsystem, appeared on stage and began to sing in earnest.

Yet it was as if the sound was on mute. Singing was evident, but none of the lyrics escaped the stage.

Partway through the second song, something snapped and the sound came alive. The crowd let out a riotous cheer. Dancing took over, and unconvinced head nodding was a thing of the past.

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Music Park: The Wombats @ 9:30 Club — 4/30/15

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Matthew Murphy of The Wombats performs at the 02 Academy in Oxford, England on April 15, 2015.

“We have a roadie named Grossman,” said Matthew Murphy, the lead singer of The Wombats. “He eats four chocolate muffins a day.

“He’s the only man who can eat four chocolate muffins a day and still get thinner!” Matthew declared.

The audience caught and ran with the irreverent banter about Mr. Grossman during the sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Thursday evening. At various points throughout the evening, they would shout, “Grossman!” — both spontaneously at the beginning of a song or at the behest of the lead vocalist.

“Actually, Grossman isn’t even his real name,” Matthew said later. “We keep calling him that in hopes that it will stick — like Reek in Game of Thrones.”

Erudite and entertaining, Matthew had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he led his band through a merry romp of songs from the three albums by The Wombats to date, including the latest Glitterbug, released last month. The new songs were very well received, and much of the audience already knew the words to quite a few of the songs.

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Music Park: Daryl Hall & John Oates @ Warner Theatre — 4/29/15

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Daryl Hall and John Oates during a show in Austin in February 2014.

Because their kiss is on your list, Daryl Hall and John Oates sold out the Warner Theatre again Wednesday night!

The talented gentlemen from Philadelphia brought along a six-man band to play 14 time-honored tunes from their catalog, including “Kiss on My List,” from 1980’s Voices. By the time they hit that number in their second encore, much of the audience in the orchestra had spilled into the aisles and lined up around the stage to dance the rest of the night away. It’s become expected that people will simply dance, regardless of where they are seated, at a Hall & Oates concert, and the folks at the Warner were pretty cool about letting the audience do its own thing.

Hall & Oates did their own thing as well, crooning through a well-received collection of ‘70s and ‘80s songs that everyone in the house loved. When I say they played these songs, I should instead say they emoted them! They jammed the night away. So when you hear they played 14 songs, they made a very respectable 90 minute set out of those 14 songs.

I was excited right away as Hall & Oates and their band walked to the opening notes of “Maneater,” the classic from 1982’s H20. They followed that up with a personal favorite song of mine, “Out of Touch” from my favorite album by the duo — 1984’s Big Bam Boom. Their blue eyed-soul was awash in the rising tide of new wave by 1984, and the blending of styles brought out some remarkably catchy creativity to my welcoming ears.

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Music Park: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club — 4/28/15

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Tony Hadley sings in New York City on May 2, 2015.

Wow, Spandau!

Golden-voiced Tony Hadley jumped to the stage of the 9:30 Club Tuesday night and nailed the lyrics of more than two dozen amazing songs by his band Spandau Ballet into the collective consciousness of everyone within earshot.

In the process, Tony and his bandmates *almost* had more fun than the audience at the very so nearly sold-out show. And they most certainly made certain that after a decades-long absence from the United States that they would not be forgotten here generally or in DC specifically any time soon.

Buoyed by the confidence of a band in the thick of strong friendships and camaraderie and confident in a catalog of songs unmatched in their strength and appeal, Spandau Ballet stormed the 9:30 Club with soulful new wave tunes that left men and women aged 20 to 50 screaming for more.

Spandau Ballet weren’t just good — they were superb.

Tony hit the right note immediately with new song “Soul Boy,” also the title track of a new documentary Soul Boys of the Western World, about the band, premiering tonight, April 29, at the IFC Center in Manhattan with the band’s participation. During the song, the audience gets its first taste of the indefatigable Steve Norman on saxophone.

Steve is everywhere — almost always with his trademark sax in one hand — appearing on bongos in one song, slinging a guitar in another and trading his sax for an oboe in a big finale. The man is a one-man band, and perhaps the strongest player in Spandau Ballet if not the entire history of rock and roll. (If that sounds like glib hyperbole, I dare you to watch him in action and then challenge me on that statement.)

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Music Park: Marrow @ Black Cat — 4/23/15


“She Chose You” and “Mother of Maladies” from Marrow’s Two EP

Marrow, hailing from Chicago, played an inspired show in the Black Cat’s Backstage to a small, but enthused crowd.

Lane Beckstrom, on bass and vocals, chatted with the crowd on whether Bill Cosby’s mural was still displayed at Ben’s Chili Bowl, claiming that he was still going after the show either way. Someone said ‘there will be tears’, to which he quipped ‘Delicious tears’.

That fit the mood of the show as well. An entertaining set, but not nearly enough people to fill out the venue.

They performed a good cover of Mott the Hoople’s, “All the Young Dudes”, noting that they loved David Bowie (who wrote the song) too much not to play it. And they were right.

Marrow’s first full length album, The Gold Standard, will be out soon. The mellow two-song EP they previously released, Two, will be remastered and included in the album. These songs and “Paulson”, the first single from the new album, give the focus to the sultry voice of Macie Stewart, on keyboard and vocals. The pattern of the video for “Paulson” flows like a weird work-out tape, but the song itself is about loss and how relationships don’t always last. Maybe?

All and all, a fine show and worth your time to check out the band when you have the chance.

The Black Cat marked the end of their multi-city East Coast tour, but be on the look out for when they visit DC again. Or if you’re in Chicago.

Phantomweight, a local DC band, started off the night with an infectious bit of funk, showcasing their two-piece horn section with a trombone and a saxophone. They’ve played recent shows at DC9 and Galaxy Hut.