Frenchman David Grellier’s electronica project College leapt into full view of U.S. audiences in 2011 when its song “A Real Hero” was used on the soundtrack of the Ryan Gosling film Drive, which smartly and sleekly weaved smooth italo disco sounds into a pulsing yet atmospheric mix that served the elevate the mood and action of the movie.
Grellier has his hands in a number of projects, but College recently released a new EP and an accompanying video for “Save the Day.” The collective is touring with a first stop among some 14 dates at DC9 (1940 9th St. NW, DC) on Wednesday, Nov. 26.
I’m not 100 percent certain if Grellier is touring by himself or if he’s bringing an accompanying vocalist, but he is accompanied by opening act Furniteur, D.C. visual artist and electronic musician Brittany Sims. Furniteur is wonderful accompaniment to College’s sound–synthy, lush, melancholy classic pop. And Sims is a local, so we are super-excited to check out this lineup.
Tickets are available online or at the door.
Wednesday, Nov. 26
Stars (Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media)
Torquil Campbell is a man with something to say.
And the Canadian singer often does so surrounded by the five other members of his chamber-pop band Stars, which recently released a marvelous new disco album, No One Is Lost, last month.
I confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the band’s performance at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, Nov. 13, when I learned why they have amassed a large following over a seven-album tenure. But the standout performer among the band that night was Campbell, who put passion, grit and catharsis to a powerful set of songs, the best of which hailed from the latest album, in my opinion.
First let me say that I caught a performance of Stars only once previously at the Coachella Music Festival in 2013. In that performance, I was thrown a bit by the clear new wave influences in the band’s music, as I tend to anticipate our chamber pop bands to foray more into folk pop.
But Campbell and company weren’t interested in conforming to my preconceived notions. He and co-lead singer Amy Millan poured themselves into a 22-song set that began with the lovely “From the Night” from the new album and closed (before the encore) with the same album’s title track, a musically and lyrically mighty confrontation of loss, grappling with the concepts of loneliness and death — while remaining a stunning dance track.
The winsome Meredith Sheldon opened for Johnny Marr at the 9:30 Club once again earlier this week.
Ms. Sheldon came through with Marr also in April 2013, but then she was performing in a loose band called Alamar with Johnny’s son Nile Marr. A friend compared the sound of the two together to The Sundays.
This time, Sheldon performed alone with her guitar, and she was as dreamy as that comparison would suggest, but her sound definitely smacked of a jangle pop found in other Massachussetts singer-songwriters like Tanya Donnelly and Juliana Hatfield.
Sheldon opened with “Metal Hand,” a song about the strength required to heal. From the start of her set, she had a good rapport with the audience, and it reflected in her easy, comfortable playing. In one segment of her first song, she thumps lightly on the guitar instead of strumming it, creating a unique bridge and providing ample room for her airy voice to fill the space.
Ex Hex (Photo courtesy Merge Records)
Mary Timony’s new band is making a splash on the concert circuit and now also on national television.
Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl
Hundreds of thousands of people came out to the National Mall on Veteran’s Day to experience The Concert for Valor.
From my vantage point (next to the Hirshhorn Museum), far fewer people than expected braved the perfect weather to witness some of the biggest artists and celebrities honor our veterans.
My guess is the pre-concert buzz of hordes of 800,000 to a million concert goers crashing the Mall scared off most people. The reality was…still a lot of people, but the whole affair turned out orderly, civilized and the city of DC proved to be well prepared. My favorite feature was the ‘family reunification’ station.
The Concert kicked off with Jennifer Hudson singing the National Anthem. Underwhelming start, but a number of performances stand out.
Thomas Dolby (Photo courtesy Conqueroo)
Thomas Dolby, the English musician best known for his ubiquitous new wave hit “She Blinded Me With Science,” now lives in Baltimore.
Dolby moved there earlier this year to accept a faculty position from Johns Hopkins University as its first Homewood Professor of the Arts.
The move, undoubtedly an intellectually stimulating endeavor for Dolby, also is proving fruitful for music enthusiasts like myself as he settles into the region and continues to experiment and expand upon his musical repertoire.
The professor makes one of his first appearances as a local tonight as a guest of Amanda Palmer during her The Art of Asking Book Tour at the Sixth&I historical synagogue in DC. Palmer’s book is described as, “Part manifesto, part revelation, The Art of Asking is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet.”
Teri Gender Bender, lead singer of glam-punk trio Le Butcherettes, has put less shock and more seduction into her act these days.
Before I ever saw them, sources like Allmusic.com say the band burst into Los Angeles with shock tactics and depictions of women as slaves. But today, Ms. Gender Bender is all about putting herself into her music, as she demonstrated in a recent show at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
At various times, she might purr or hiss, sway or strut, whisper or howl, depending on the song. The audience, a very nearly sold-out crowd on Nov. 5, was enraptured.
Le Butcherettes (Photo courtesy Speakeasy PR)
Drop into the Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St. NE, DC) tonight to see Le Butcherettes, opening for Antemasque.
Le Butcherettes are a female punk rock duo, formed by frontwoman Teri Gender Bender (born Teresa Suárez). Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, Ms. Gender Bender found a home for her band in Los Angeles–and it’s little wonder once you hear them.
Earlier this year, the band released a new album, Cry Is for the Flies, where Gender Bender sings, sneers and struts in the tradition of some of the glammier punk bands. She plays guitar and synths in addition to singing while bandmate drummer Lia Braswell fills out the sound on drums.
Check out the video for their single, Demon Stuck in Your Eye.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, formerly of The Mars Volta and now of Antemasque, produced both of the full-length albums from Le Butcherettes to date, and he plays bass for the band as well.
Tickets are available online or at the door.
Rock and Roll Hotell
Wednesday, Nov. 5
Doors @7pm; Show @8pm
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Hurst)
To honor our veterans this coming Tuesday (11/11/14), HBO, Starbucks and Chase have teamed together to present a free concert on the National Mall.
The lineup of The Concert for Valor looks impressive. The Black Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Carrie Underwood, Metallica, just to name a few.
There will also be appearances by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and more.
Admission if FREE and it starts at 7pm. The Mall will no doubt be packed and crazy. You might want to get there early. Plan ahead.
Hopefully DC has learned a thing or two about organizing big events on The Mall, especially after 2010’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear brought in far more people than expected.
The Concert for Valor
The National Mall
Tuesday, Nov. 11
Starts @7pm; The Mall opens to all @10am
Smallpools (Photo by Dan Monick)
Smallpools would have you know that their name has nothing to do with killer whales.
Soon after their founding, the indie pop quartet uncovered protests from Internet activists who disapproved of the treatment of killer whales in captivity, decrying their hold in small pools as described in the documentary Blackfish.
In tribute to the concept, they named a new song “Killer Whales,” released in July, eluding to miscommunication with a love, who apparently was out saving killer whales.
The song gave the band a setting through which to demonstrate their high-energy performance at the 9:30 Club on Friday, Oct. 31, particularly as they tossed several prop “killer whales” into the audience — one of which had a saddle intended to carry a passenger through crowdsurfing waves.
Smallpools aren’t afraid to have a little fun with a concept.