Music Park: Craft Spells @ Comet Ping Pong — 3/10/15

Craft Spells by Greg Barnes
Craft Spells (Photo by Greg Barnes)

In 2010, Justin Vallesteros released his first song “Party Talk” as Craft Spells, recording the lo-fi single on his own.

The song is pleasing, straightforward number expressing sentiment of a desire for something more out of a chance meeting.

“Is this new? ‘cause I’m falling for you/
This better not be party talk”

The lovelorn lyrics represent an attempt at identification with the rest of humanity in general and a pretty girl in particular. Fast forward to 2014, and Craft Spells have released their second full-length LP, Nausea — the title track of which almost seems to reference the 1938 Jean-Paul Sartre novel of the same name!

“Nausea/
You’ve kept youself away from everyone you used know/
Nausea/
You brought yourself here now everybody’s gonna know”

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Music Park: The Church @ 9:30 Club — 3/9/15

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The Church (Photo courtesy the band)

Somewhere in the midst of “Toy Head,” a new song by The Church from their latest album, I am struck how lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey has really gotten into his zone.

It’s kind of a song about finding yourself, which is interesting given that the man in the center of it seems to be the most together man ever to step on stage at the 9:30 Club, where The Church performed for a very nearly sold-out audience Monday night.

Kilbey is calm, gracious and sharply self-aware. As he goes into the final few minutes of “Toy Head,” his bass reverberates with a distinctive psychedelic vibe that belies his own clipped, professional demeanor. He stands still, hypnotized into the zone of the music as he winds the song down.

But when Kilbey walks across the stage, he strides with swagger — like a rock god from distant shores who may be slumming in the States. The Australian quartet, which Kilbey cofounded with guitarist Peter Koppes, falls into a groove around him, along with a fifth touring member, as they come together for the next song, “Vanishing Man,” a single also from the new album, Further/Deeper, released in October of last year.

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Don’t Miss: The Church @ 9:30 Club, 3/9/15

Steve Kilbey of The Church
Steve Kilbey of The Church performs at the Aladdin Theater on Feb. 25, 2015. (Photo by Eric Evans)

Australian psych rockers The Church released their 25th (!) album in October 2014. The album, Further/Deeper, was produced and engineered by longtime member Tim Powles, who joined the band in 1994.

In support of the album, founders Steve Kilbey (vocalist and bass) and Peter Koppes (guitarist) bring their latest quartet, which includes new guitarist Ian Haug (also of Powderfinger), to the 9:30 Club tonight as a stop on their U.S. tour.

The addition of Haug apparently has reignited the band, which garnered quite positive reviews for the latest album. Listen to “Vanishing Man,” a track from the new album Further/Deeper from The Church:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171277628″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Still, here in the United States, The Church are forever best known for the banner single from their fifth album Starfish: Under the Milky Way.

Here are The Church playing the song live in Sydney in 2013:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8sTa95rJmQ]

Given that The Church may have been on the verge of breaking up a few years ago, before finding new life, new energy and a new guitarist, this is an excellent opportunity to see them in a rare DC appearance.

New York City-based chamber pop collective The Sharp Things open for The Church. Tickets are available online and at the door.

The Church
w/ The Sharp Things
9:30 Club
Monday, March 9
7pm
$35
All ages

Live Review: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz — 3/8/15

Midge Ure
Midge Ure performs a solo acoustic show at Iridium in New York City on Feb. 27, 2015.

When Midge Ure reunited with the other three members of Ultravox in 2008, the band embarked on discussions to tour. To determine the reunion tour setlist, the four band members each voted their preference from a list of potential songs, and those songs that received four votes would definitely be part of the set.

As it turns out only four of those potential songs received four votes. One of those songs, the archly lush and mournful “Lament” also landed on Midge Ure’s solo setlist Sunday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., in the last stop of a tour in support of his 2014 album Fragile.

Although Ultravox attempted to go about its business in as democratic a fashion as possible, Midge faced no such considerations on this tour. He remarkably undertook the U.S. portion of the Fragile tour completely on his own — without any roadies, management or other tour support. He traveled without any support whatsoever, bringing only a single guitar onto stage to powerfully perform more than 20 songs to audiences like that of the supper club, which nearly managed to sell out all of its dining tables to the eloquent Scot.

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ParkLife’s Best of February

Best-of-February

Here’s a sampling of some ParkLife’s notable posts from February and the upcoming ‘Don’t Miss’ events in March.

Review of the band Spirit Animal @ DC9 — 2/25/15

How did we grade the Washington Capitals’ performance this month?

What is a Flashband?

Review of Laura Tsaggaris and Justin Jones @ 9:30 Club — 2/4/15

 

Don’t Miss in March

3/7/15 – DC United’s Season Opener

3/7/15 – Carpark Records 16th Anniversary at DC9

3/8/15 – Midge Ure at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

3/21/15 – DC Craft Beer Festival

3/21/15 – Shamrockfest

3/29/15 – THEALUMRUN 5 and 10K

Music Park: Gang of Four @ 9:30 Club — 3/3/15

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John Sterry, Andy Gill and Thomas McNeice of Gang of Four (Photo by Leo Cackett)

When Andy Gill, guitarist and cofounder of the seminal post-punk band Gang of Four, was very young, he wanted to be a drummer, he said in a chat with Annie Clark of St. Vincent recently for the Talkhouse podcast.

“I do think of things in grooves and rhythms and pulses, and I very much think in those terms. I don’t really think in terms of grandiose melodic constructions,” Gill said when discussing his approach to playing guitar.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194182377″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

In performance, Gill uses his guitar much like he uses his voice: He’s direct and sparing when communicating with it. At the 9:30 Club Tuesday night, Gill brought the latest incarnation of Gang of Four on tour to play the very new album What Happens Next, and in so doing demonstrated the power in his approach to songcraft.

First, it has to be said, this is a different incarnation of Gang of Four, in which Gill is the only original member remaining. Vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry has taken over for Jon King — and as a result it’s a different show. But Gill gave the band’s songs a remarkable level of consistency, which the audience warmly embraced. The two-thirds full room approached the new lineup cautiously but applauded very enthusiastically by the end of the performance.

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Don’t Miss: Sweetlife Festival @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, 5/30-5/31/15

kendrick
Kendrick Lamar performs at the Sweetlife Festival in 2013 (Photo courtesy Sweetgreen)

The Sweetlife Festival will expand to two days for the first time in its six-year history on May 30-31, announced organizers Sweetgreen Tuesday.

Sweetgreen, a DC-based chain of salad restaurants, will host the Sweetlife Festival again at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., with an expanded lineup across two stages.

Performers this year include Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris, The Weeknd, Pixies, Charli XCX, Billy Idol, Phantogram, Marina & The Diamonds, San Fermin and others. The festival also promised a “handful of local DC-area artists.”

Tickets go on sale to the public at 10am on Friday, March 6, through Ticketfly. But presales are available for those who use the Sweetgreen rewards app on Wednesday, March 4, and those who follow the salad company on Instagram on Thursday, March 5.

The festival also offers “the best in food and experiences,” according to the organizers with art installations, play areas, and partner chefs like Erik Bruner-Yang, José Andrés and Nick Wiseman. Sweetgreen will publish full details on the food and experience offerings later this spring.

The Sweetlife Festival is produced in partnership with I.M.P., which books concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion and the 9:30 Club, of course. For more information on the festival, visit, http://www.sweetlifefestival.com.

Tickets will be available online or at the box office of the 9:30 Club.

Sweetlife Festival
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Columbia, Md.
Saturday, May 30-Sunday, May 31
Show @12pm both days
$175 (General)-$350 (VIP)
All ages

sweetlife

Music Park: Carpark Records 16th Anniversary @ DC9, 3/7/15

jimmywhispers
Jimmy Whispers is among the acts playing at DC9 on March 7 in an anniversary show for Carpark Records

Carpark Records, based in DC and Brooklyn, is celebrating its 16th anniversary this month with a special series of concerts, including one at DC9 on Saturday, March 7.

The first show actually will take place with nine artists at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right on Friday, March 6. The DC show will feature five bands, including Lexie Mountain Boys, Greys, Chandos, Adventure and Jimmy Whispers. The final anniversary show will be held on March 19 at Saw Dive in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW.

Carpark Records made a trailer to announce the anniversary shows, but it may give you a bit of a headache to watch it:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltikhiOxQu0]

The first 50 guests at each of the anniversary shows will receive a free Carpark Records anniversary T-shirt by American Giant.

tees

The folks at Carpark Records love basketball, and they are excited that they can make “Sweet 16” references to their 16th anniversary. So in addition to the concerts, Carpark Records will mark its anniversary with a Sweet 16 basketball-themed picture disc to be released on May 26.

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Interview: Midge Ure (@ Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 3/8/15)

midgeure
Midge Ure (Photo by Andy Siddens)

Editor’s Note: Midge Ure has announced his return to Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016! (Tickets are available online.)

I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with a great Scotsman, singer-songwriter Midge Ure, best known in the United States as the frontman of Ultravox in the 1980s. Midge is in the midst of a solo acoustic tour at the moment, and he stops by the DC metro area to perform at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, March 8. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Midge was quite generous with his time and shared his perspectives on touring in America, writing hit songs and his history with Ultravox as well as his late friend Steve Strange, his bandmate in Visage. (This may be a lengthy interview, but there was so much wisdom in so many of his answers that I couldn’t bear to cut it!)

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Music Park: Spirit Animal @ DC9 — 2/25/15

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“Who came to dance?” asked vocalist Steve Cooper of Spirit Animal. He was about to play a dance song.

Despite occupying a very full room at DC9 on Wednesday night, the crowd gave a very noncommittal murmur.

“That’s a tepid response!” Steve said. “Then, this is a stand-the-fuck-still song!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The entertaining banter is part of the Spirit Animal stage show, as they bring their party rock and carefree attitude to any stage they play. Spirit Animal then launch into “Party in the Back,” a new song from 2014, and along the way they manage to get the crowd to indeed dance along, starting with the people in the back of the room.

Despite their position as the opening band (for Paper Route in this case), Spirit Animal’s lengthy repertoire and charisma demand co-billing status of any main act. The audience cannot help but unwind when the prolific Brooklyn quartet take the stage with such good chemistry and crowd-pleasing songs. With their infectious enthusiasm and funky anthems, they are kind of like a young New Yorker’s answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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