Music Park: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre — 6/1/15

NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson (at a mere 5′ 7″), told the packed Lincoln Theatre, “Thank you. Straight from my heart, I won’t take this for granted.”

Clearly he didn’t. Despite the themes of lost love and melancholy that permeates many of his songs, he is full of energy and charisma in front of the crowd. He stormed the stage and then ran out into the crowd like a rock star. On stage, he was motion and dancing, switching out guitars after almost every song.

Matsson’s favorite pastime involved throwing down his guitar pick after he finished a song, almost in triumph. The stage was littered with small victories.

Born in Sweden, Matsson began with The Tallest Man on Earth stage name as a solo singer-songwriter for his first three albums. His first album, Shallow Grave, released in 2008, has strong roots in America folk music.

As Matsson made clear, “We only have sad songs, except one song.” The Tallest Man on Earth set forth songs of loss, remembrance and restlessness, weaving through sounds inspired by folk and country music.

For the fourth album, Dark Bird is Home, and latest tour, Matsson has added a full band. There is a clear delineation and complexity between the new album’s songs and the stripped down nature of many of the previous songs.

That delineation is never more apparent than the first single, “Sangres”, which almost seems out-of-place, but yet is clearly part of his overarching theme of lost love. It is also a song that showcases his vocal range, which many have likened to Bob Dylan. This song is a good example of why. His voice seemed fuller and less Dylanesque when live, compared to listening to some of his earlier recorded work. I enjoyed both, but found a deeper appreciation when listening to the songs performed live.

For a change of pace, Matsson performed the quiet “Little Nowhere Towns” on an expanded keyboard. For many songs, he performed solo with just his guitar, while the band took a breather.

Just before the break before the encore, Matsson gave the crowd the wistful title track, “Dark Bird is Home”, with the sad but hopeful line, “and suddenly the day gets you down but this is not the end, no this is fine”. And it was.

Matsson ended the night with “Like the Wheel”, a sad, soulful lament that I like to think is about the long journey to find your place on this Earth.

The Tallest Man on Earth proved to be a great live performer and worthy of the 1-1/2 hour, 21 song, musical journey he and his band lead us through.

The Tallest Man On Earth

Don’t Miss: Hot Chip @ Echostage, 6/5/15

HotChipWeb_Credit Steve Gullick6737
London quintet Hot Chip (Photo by Steve Gullick)

Last month, nu disco juggernauts Hot Chip released their sixth studio album, Why Make Sense?

After five good albums (several of which are outstanding), you might ask, “Where can Hot Chip go from here?” And Hot Chip apparently asked themselves that same question in the making of this album.

Part of the process of finding an answer for the band was to write and record “Huarache Lights,” a musical statement on what the band brings to the table. It’s a classic single for Hot Chip, pairing vocalist Alexis Taylor’s unique voice with pulsating rhythms and thematically addressing people and technology — but most importantly, doing so while being funky.

Watch the video for “Huarache Lights”:

In May, Hot Chip launched a world tour in support of the new album, and they bring the show to Echostage in DC this Friday, June 5.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip several times in the past, and their live show is itself a regular dance party. They have a sound, and surely an accompanying light show, capable of filling the large space of Echostage quite well.

And I daresay that the sound and vision of the live performance tells the other half of the story when asking where do Hot Chip go from here? So it’s well worth your time to get out there, check them out and dance your heart out.

Watch a full Hot Chip set from the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris:

Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab brings his soul quartet Sinkane along to open for Hot Chip. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the 9:30 Club.

Hot Chip
w/ Sinkane
Friday, June 5
Doors @7pm
All ages

Music Park: The Mynabirds @ POV Lounge — 6/1/15

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Laura Burhenn performs in Dallas in 2010.

Laura Burhenn, former DC native transplanted to Omaha, Neb., has done her share of traveling in recent days. The hypnotic chanteuse had been touring with her frequent collaborators Black English, opening for the Psychedelic Furs, when she got the call to open for The Pixies at the 9:30 Club Sunday night.

She flew back to DC Sunday morning, and several members of Black English supported her as her band in The Mynabirds, which also played an intimate show at the POV Lounge at the W Hotel in DC on Monday night.

At the W, The Mynabirds performed a lush 11-song set, half of which roughly consisted of new songs from an upcoming third album, Lovers Know, due on August 7 on well-regarded indie label Saddle Creek.

Monday was my first time catching a performance by Laura and The Mynabirds, and one thing immediately was clear: Laura sings with purpose. Generally her songs are concerned with devoting yourself to something 100 percent –- and when you have to do so, you fight.

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Music Park: The Mynabirds @ POV Live, 6/1/15 (Tonight!)

The Mynabirds (Photo by Bliss Braoudakis)

The Mynabirds, aka DC’s own Laura Burhenn, will play a surprise set at POV Live at the W Hotel (515 15th St. NW, DC) in a free concert performance tonight!

A new album, Lovers Know, is due from the Mynabirds on August 7, via Saddle Creek, and Laura will play some of the new songs tonight at the W Hotel’s rooftop POV Lounge.

Check out “Semantics,” the first single from the new album, Lovers Know:

Although not necessary to enter, the W Hotel encourages those planning to go to RSVP via an Eventbrite page at

RSVP’ing also does not guarantee entry.

The Mynabirds
W Hotel DC
Monday, June 1
Doors @7pm
All ages

Don’t Miss: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre, 6/1/15


Kristian Matsson, known as The Tallest Man on Earth, has sold out two shows at the Lincoln Theatre.

The Tallest Man on Earth is touring in support of his fourth album, Dark Bird is Home. After DC, he plays two shows in New York before continuing the tour in Europe through October. If you want to see him in the US, you should look for resale tickets to tonight’s show.

The new tour includes a full band for the first time. Now he can add new instruments to his repertoire, including the French horn, keyboard and viola.

Some have likened his vocal style to Bob Dylan, and I can hear the similarities after a listening to a number of songs off his latest album.

This will be my first live exposure to The Tallest Man on Earth, and look forward to hearing how he sounds in a live setting.

The title track, “Dark Bird is Home” is a melancholy affair about heartbreak, but with hope on the horizon.


The Tallest Man on Earth
w/Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear
Lincoln Theatre
Monday, June 1
Doors @6:30pm (Show @8pm)
$35 (Sold Out)
All ages

Don’t Miss: Basement Jaxx @ 9:30 Club, 6/30/15


In 2014, dance duo Basement Jaxx appeared at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, performing live in the United States for the first time since 2006.

This summer, they are about to truly break that streak by headlining their first U.S. concerts in nearly 10 years, and they only have three live appearances scheduled. One of those is at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, June 30.

Basement Jaxx returned to the national spotlight in the United States last year when their song “Never Say Never,” which came along with a clever video featuring the manufacture of a TWERKbot (or rather “TW3RK-BOT 1.0”), hit #1 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Dance Club Chart. (Basement Jaxx were also nominated for a Grammy thanks to the song!)

Here’s that video:

The live show consists of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, aka “The Jaxx,” and perhaps another 10 performers in a dynamic performance. The show supports the release of their seventh studio album Junto, which was released in August 2014 and includes “Never Say Never.”

The Los Angles Times praised the latest album upon its release, saying, “Thirteen songs that strive for peaks as high as a flooded dance-floor rocking ‘Where’s Your Head At’ at full volume, Junto hits with heated bangers while also stepping away from the steam to cool off.”

Watch “Where’s Your Head At” live At Kendall Calling 2013 in the United Kingdom:

Tickets are available online and at the 9:30 Club box office.

Basement Jaxx
9:30 Club
Tuesday, June 30
Doors @7pm
All ages

Music Park: Checking in with Technophobia (DC Show: 6/11/15)

Katie Petix and Steve EP are Technophobia

Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers, says Merriam-Webster.

Technophobia is also a DC-based synth duo, husband and wife Steve and Katie Petix, who are hitting some stages this season after retooling a bit this year. They are less afraid of technology than Merriam-Webster would suggest.

Gone is former lead singer Denman Anderson (who amicably relocated to New York City) as well as the band’s catalog of songs. With Katie now taking over on vocals, Technophobia recast and made their first local appearance as a duo rather than a trio as the opening act for Laibach at the Black Cat on May 11.

I wasn’t there, but by all accounts, the show went well and our darkly dynamic duo made a splash with their new debut. They are recording new songs with intent on releasing them commercially in the near future.

Meanwhile, the next DC performance by Technophobia is slated for Thursday, June 11 at DC9, where they open for Richmond’s Ki:Theory. They share opening act responsibilities with nu disco acolytes Pleasure Curses. These are three different flavors of synth acts that I suspect should blend well together.

If you prefer your electronic music thoroughly darker, Technophobia are happy to oblige you there as well with a show at the Black Cat on Sunday, August 9, when they join doom and gloom electronic bands Citadel from DC and Curse from Baltimore.

Technophobia haven’t posted any of their new music online yet (Spotify has confused them with a similarly named ambient techno band Techno Phobia, it seems), but we’ll point you to some places where you can check out the band’s retooled sound when some songs come online.