Angus Tarnawsky performs at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, March 27, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Angus Tarnawsky is a drummer, but in performance he’s not a traditional percussionist.
The Australian-born New Yorker takes to the stage with an electronic dashboard, bursting with knobs and wires, as well as a deconstructed drum set — cymbals to his left and a drumhead to his right. As he moves his way from song to song, Angus creates deliberate, focused sound on his drum set, samples it, and then loops it into an electronic selection that can dissolve into ambience or hopscotch into tribal rhythms.
Performing as the opener for UK quartet Savages at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, Angus held the attention of a very full room. The gathering crowd waited politely when the lights dimmed to signal the beginning of his set, not fully knowing what to expect. But soon, concert-goers were pleased to travel along Angus’ experimental sonic landscapes. Angus was a perfect opener for Savages, who handpicked him as the first act for the first three weeks of their US tour, which began Sunday night. (He’ll jump off the bill during the time the band perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in mid-April.)
Operators, headed up by Dan Boeckner, attempted to play in DC twice in the past 18 months, but they were thwarted both times — once due to a water main break and a second time due to visa issues! The third time’s the charm, however, as they are destined to make it on Tuesday, April 19, at DC9.
Dan, who formerly supplied guitar and vocals to Montreal quartet Wolf Parade, puts a big emphasis on dance music and the band released its first offering EP1 in 2014.
For Operators, Boeckner has partnered with keyboardist Devojka, hailing from Macedonia, and drummer Sam Brown (the latter of whom he also worked with in Divine Fits). Their EP1 supplies us with five tracks, including the likes of “True,” a very new wave track with funky vocals and pleasantly pulsating electro.
When Operators finally make it to DC in April, they will come armed with their debut full-length album, Blue Wave, due for release on April 1 via Last Gang Records.
Listen to the latest tracks from Operators via Soundcloud:
Indie rock duo Bogan Via, hailing from Los Angeles, open for Operators. Tickets are available online.
w/ Bogan Via
Monday, Jan. 12
Junior Boys (Photo by Tom Weatherill)
Techno duo Junior Boys released a new album, Big Black Coat, via City Slang on Feb. 5, and they have launched a tour in support of it. That tour stops at the Black Cat on Tuesday, March 29.
The new record is the first Junior Boys album in five years, and on it, Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus meld electropop with techno with a firm hand.
The first single, “Over It,” demonstrates the light, glittery touch the men from Ontario, Canada, bring to the album. Pitchfork’s Cameron Cook really digs the new stuff, saying, “On Big Black Coat, you hear some mid-era Kraftwerk, a big debt to Detroit techno, that sweet spot in the mid-’70s when krautrock met disco, several of Arthur Russell’s many house aliases, and even Prince circa Controversy.”
Watch the official music video for “Over It” by Junior Boys on YouTube:
Jeremy produced the latest effort from alt R&B musician Jessy Lanza, who hails from the Junior Boys hometown, and she comes along as an opener for this show. Dark electronic artist Jason Borys (aka simply Borys) is also along for the ride.
Tickets are available online.
w/ Jessy Lanza and Borys
Tuesday, March 29
Scythian gets the crowd ready at ShamrockFest 2016
Herein lies a look at the music of ShamrockFest 2016.
Celkilt – I entered the ShamrockFest fray in time to see Celkilt, a Celtic rock band, on the Gold stage. The energy of their performance was enough to fire me and the nearby festival goers up for the day of music ahead. Even some of those had drank too much by this point… Celkilt is from Lyon, France and competed on the TV show, France Got Talent. I was intrigued by how much fiddle can be inserted into any given song.
Scythian – Which leads me to the band I most wanted to see (even after having seen them too many times to count). Scythian, a Celtic band led by the Fedoryka brothers (Alexander and Danylo) that started in DC at local Irish pubs like Finn MacCool’s (RIP) and Fado, is a fiddle enthusiasts dream.
They started a bit slowly, easing in to the set, but quickly picked up the thread of dance and fiddle with the foot-stomping, “Hey Mama Ya”. Their St. Patrick Day sing-a-long, “Galway Girl”, won over anyone that hadn’t yet heard of them. While “Dance All Night” and the bare knuckle brawler, “Jack Dempsey”, simply gave the eager masses crowded around the Green stage no quarter and no time to stand still. I will say that this wasn’t the best performance by Scythian (some of their 9:30 Club shows could claim that honor), yet their set imbued the spirit of Celtic music, and is always a joy to experience.
John McEntire of Tortoise plays the drums at Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., on March 14, 2016. (Photo by Greg Scranton)
Tortoise held sway over the attention of a very crowded room at the Black Cat Saturday night, engrossing the audience in waves of progressive jazz and post-rock melodies.
Seriously, for a show that wasn’t technically “sold out,” the Tortoise concert was among the most full I’ve experienced on the mainstage of the Black Cat, which has been proud to be the DC home to Tortoise since the Chicago-based quintet started coming around in the days of the Cat’s original location.
Promoting their new album The Catastrophist, Tortoise delivered a long and winding set that drew heavily from the latest record, technically their seventh studio full-length although the band has released other recordings of live performances and special projects since its formation in 1990.
Angus Tarnawsky (Photo by Gina Garcia)
Tasmanian musician Angus Tarnawsky is a jack of all trades. Dividing his time between Vancouver and Brooklyn, the electronic artist and drummer runs a record label, In Context Music, which explores the intersection of electronic and acoustic music. And he released his first solo EP Pitched via Inner Surface Music in 2014.
Angus is coming to DC to perform some of his music as the opener for Savages at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, March 27. Resident Advisor said of Pitched, “Throughout, Tarnawsky deploys the kind of sound palette you might associate with Raster-Noton—bursts of sculpted static, clear synthetic tones, bass that sounds like amplified ground hum.”
Listen to “Expand Contract” by Angus while watching some hypnotic visuals for the techno track on YouTube:
Angus enjoys improvising, employing heavy bass as well as crystalline ambience, to create a unique performance. He’s sure to deliver an absorbing performance when he’s in town.
Tickets are available online.
Opening for Savages
Sunday, March 27
Tortoise (Photo by Andrew Paynter)
Post-rock quintet Tortoise released a new album, “The Catastrophist,” in January via Thrill Jockey Records, and they are returning to the Black Cat while on tour to support it this Saturday, March 19.
Tortoise have played the Black Cat a few times over the years since their formation in 1990. The band largely has specialized in instrumental numbers, and the new album is no different. However, on “The Catastrophist,” they recruited Georgia Hubley from Yo La Tengo on vocals for a soulful, dreamy single “Yonder Blue.”
Watch the official music video for “Yonder Blue” by Tortoise on YouTube:
“The Catastrophist,” the seventh studio album from Tortoise, garnered generally favorable reviews, according to Metacritic. Heather Phares of AllMusic distilled the essence of the album: “Fittingly, the title track has some of the closest ties to the album’s beginnings, holding together shifts between knotty, busy electro-funk and the kind of brooding post-rock Tortoise helped define in the ’90s with nimble drumming indebted to jazz.” John McEntire, also known for his drumming with The Sea and Cake, again engineers the album. It seems like a good time to catch the gents in action!
Mind Over Mirrors, a meditative music project by Chicago musician Jaime Fennelly, opens for Tortoise. Tickets are available online.
w/ Mind Over Mirrors
Saturday, March 19