Jacob Allen leads Puma Blue in a performance at the Miracle Theater in DC on Nov. 20, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Musicians have such an arsenal of effective ways to reach potential supporters these days that genres and categorization become afterthoughts. And today’s resources are empowering a tremendous wave of artists who set out with no intention of adhering to any sort of conventions in the pursuit of their own organic sound.
London-bred singer songwriter Jacob Allen found his through making recordings in his bedroom, and he didn’t even need to leave the comfortable space to create a following. Since cutting and sharing a track called “Only Trying 2 Tell U” on SoundCloud back in 2014, he’s been able to steadily build that fanbase via his musical vehicle known as Puma Blue.
Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb performs at Baltimore Soundstage on Nov. 20, 2021. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
“The tour must go on”…
Nitzer Ebb lead singer and cofounder Doug McCarthy was “being admitted to hospital [the previous night in Florida] and is now stable and undergoing continued treatment and observation suffering from complications from a pre-existing, non-Covid medical condition,” according to a press release.
“Doug expressed his wish that the tour continue with Bon [Harris] stepping in to perform lead vocals,” said the release — and that Bon did! Despite Doug’s absence, Nitzer Ebb amazed at Baltimore Soundstage recently.
Deer Tick performs at 9:30 Club on Nov. 19, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
The Friend Ship tour, featuring indie rock bands Deer Tick and Delta Spirit, recently rolled into the 9:30 Club for an early split set. Each band performed an hour-long set before they took the stage together for an encore.
Fronted by John McCauley, Deer Tick hails from Province Rhode Island, and includes guitarist Ian O’Neil and half-brothers Christopher and Dennis Ryan, of neighboring Pawtucket, on drums and bass. The band’s unusual name comes from an experience McCauley, a lifelong outdoorsman, had while hiking in Indiana, when he found one of the titular pests on his scalp.
One of America’s longest-lived and best rock ‘n’ roll bands, Los Lobos, played the first evening of a two-night stand at City Winery on Thursday. Though they like to humbly refer to themselves as “just another band from East L.A.,” Los Lobos have been hailed by rock critics like Steven Hyden as one of America’s most underappreciated and important bands.
The Reverend Peyton fronts his Big Damn Band at The Hamilton Live on Nov. 17, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band recently played The Hamilton in DC, and the church of the electric country blues was in session. This was gritty, authentic music with, as the good Reverend declared, “human hands playing real instruments.” It was American roots music at its finest, steeped in traditions brought forward with a modern sensibility, performed with skill and passion.
Loved by audiences across the country, equally loathed (I assume) by a large number of venue cleaning staffs, The Flaming Lips brought their blow up robots and confetti canons to The Anthem recently.
Wayne Coyne and Co. have long been a concert photographers dream (certainly no mid-2000s concert portfolio was complete without a shot of Wayne crowd surfing in his plastic bubble) and the tour behind their 2020 album American Head was no different. The first four songs featured confetti blasts, a blow up rainbow as wide as The Anthem’s stage width and a huge blow up pink robot (for obvious reasons). Not many bands can get away with playing an all-out anthem like “Do You Realize” second in the set but the Lips do things their own way.
One of the shows I had been hoping to see after a year and a half of not having shows was Nada Surf, the New York-based band that’s consistently put out album after album of great guitar heavy gems, whether it be old favorites like “Popular” or “Always Love” or their ninth LP, Never Not Enough, released on Barsuk Records last year which is filled with the kind of hook-filled rock, like opener, “So Much Love,” that grabs your brain and holds on tight. Nada Surf has always had great songs, but I think the songs on this new album are some of the best they’ve created.
Billy Strings gives a fiery performance at The Anthem, Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Ari Strauss)
Billy Strings made a triumphant return to The Anthem on Nov. 13, putting on a blazing hot performance for a sold-out crowd, some of whom had waited in line since 11am to get a good spot inside for an 8pm show. Billy’s only previous appearance at The Anthem was Feb. 1, 2019, as the opener for Greensky Bluegrass.
For nearly 40 years, Dinosaur Jr. has established a reputation as one of the best, most innovative alternative rock bands — and one of the loudest. On Tuesday evening, they lived up to that reputation when they appeared at a sold-out 9:30 Club, with Chicago guitarist Ryley Walker opening.