Live Review: Wolf Alice @ Union Stage — 11/15/21

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Wolf Alice performs at Union Stage on Nov. 15, 2021. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

Ellie Rowsell grabbed the microphone and sang in a manner both hypnotic and snarling. With “Smile,” a recent single and the concert opener at Union Stage on Monday, Ellie declares her intent to do things her way, and she doesn’t give a damn if you don’t like it.

To her side, guitarist Theo Ellis wrapped Ellie’s snapping mission statement in wonderfully layered psychedelia, ad Wolf Alice was officially on the prowl for the first of two-sold out shows in DC.

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Live Review: Adrianne Lenker @ Lincoln Theater — 11/13/21

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Adrianne Lenker performs at Lincoln Theater in Washington DC on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Adrianne Lenker must have been sent to this planet to share her music, a gift from the universe or whatever Creator might be conducting this whole thing.

The hallowed singer-songwriter has emerged as one of the most profound, indelible voices of our time, a pioneer at the front of the Brooklyn-based indie rock outfit Big Thief.

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Snapshots: Surfer Blood @ DC9 — 11/13/21

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Surfer Blood performs at DC9 on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath; Words adapted from press materials.)

Over a year ago, Surfer Blood released Carefree Theatre, their fifth studio album, and returned to their first label, Kanine Records. Surfer Blood finally toured behind the record and also returned to DC in a sold-out show at DC9 on Saturday. Ben Eisendrath was there to shoot the show.

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Live Review: Sylvan Esso @ The Anthem –11/11/21

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Sylvan Esso shakes out the numb at The Anthem on Nov. 11, 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)


Sylvan Esso, the most prominent electronic duo to emerge from Durham, North Carolina, have been keeping themselves busy in the time I had last seen them (holy cow, has it really been three years?!).

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Live Review: Brandy Clark @ The Birchmere — 11/10/21

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Brandy Clark (Photo by Chris Phelps)

As a songwriter and a performer, Brandy Clark straddles the division between contemporary country and Americana music. Touring behind last year’s Your Life Is a Record, she appeared recently at The Birchmere with her band, where she treated the audience to some of the finest songs being made today.

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Live Review: Buffalo Nichols @ Songbyrd Music House — 11/9/21

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Carl “Buffalo” Nichols performs at Songbyrd Music House in Washington DC on Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

There’s admiration to be had for anyone who sets out to prove a point or to tell an important story with their music.

On a mission that is most certainly catching the ears of astute listeners and those who care about celebrating the history and sounds of traditional music, Buffalo Nichols should be applauded for the progress he’s making and the sound he’s creating. And, making an appearance last week in the nation’s capital at the newly relocated Songbyrd Music House, he showed that he’s emboldened by a workingman’s conviction and possesses a vision for how his songs can make an impact.

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Live Review: The Districts @ Ottobar — 11/7/21

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Rob Grote leads The Districts in a performance at Ottobar in Baltimore on Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

With so many talented, creative indie rock bands offering music to a world that’s hungry for the best of it, it’s not easy to stand out and to keep fans coming back to shows.

The Districts seams to make it look easy though, seemingly always on tour, playing one of the last shows Parklife DC covered in early 2020 before the shutdown, and then as of late playing a couple of shows in the DC/Baltimore region as part of recent tours.

That’s been the way for this group that got its start when its members were just high schoolers up in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Touring relentlessly and honing their sound, The Districts have made a name for themselves around Philly, where they’ve lived for the better part of the last decade and where they received crucial support from local media and music lovers as they strived to find their way.

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Live Review: Sam Evian @ DC9 — 11/6/21

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Sam Evian performs at DC9 nightclub on Nov. 6, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Imagine the predicament — you’re one of indie rock’s very best voices, but you’re also a uniquely skilled multi-instrumentalist and a rising star of a producer.

What do you do with all of that? Sam Evian finds himself in that rare position as a wildly talented guitarist and saxophonist in his early 30s with one of the most distinguishable, enticing voices to speak up in the past five years. And he’s also helped some of his friends bring important music to the world through his gift engineering sound.

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Snapshots: The Psychedelic Furs @ Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center — 11/6/21

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Richard Butler fronts The Psychedelic Furs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6, 2021. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)

In 2020, The Psychedelic Furs released Made of Rain, the band’s first album of new material in nearly 30 years! To the delight of the DMV, frontman Richard Butler and company have dedicated much of their setlist to the new record on their current tour, and they played new songs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Jason Nicholson was there to photograph the Furs’ extraordinary return.

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Live Review: Shovels & Rope @ Rams Head on Stage — 11/3/21

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Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent perform as Shovels & Rope at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis on Nov. 3, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)

So much of the best music has been the result of human relationships gone wrong, gone right or our infinite quest to understand our own needs and desires.

Still, it’s rare to actually behold a successfully intimate relationship through music, one put on display for the sake of the songs and emotions that it can yield.

But at a recent stop in Annapolis at Rams Head on Stage, Shovels & Rope showed that it is indeed that kind of outfit, the result of a man — Michael Trent — and a woman — Cary Ann Hearst — who met almost 20 years ago and ignited a flame for one another and for making music together.

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