Don’t Miss: The Cairo Gang (Opening for Mikal Cronin) @ U Street Music Hall, 9/22/2015

The Cairo GangEmmett Kelly of The Cairo Gang

The Cairo Gang is coming to the U Street Music Hall this Tuesday, touring with Mikal Cronin. The band is touring in support of their most recent album, Goes Missing, released June 23rd on God? Records.

The first single off the new record, “Ice Fishing”, continues in The Cairo Gang’s tradition of jangly, Rickenbacker pop with a slightly sharp edge, as if The Byrds had a run-in with The Velvet Underground’s softer side.

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This new album follows on the heels of 2013’s Tiny Rebels, which itself was a long time coming after their self-titled debut in 2006. During those intervening years, Emmett Kelly and the rest of The Cairo Gang have regularly been contributing their sounds to the recorded works and live performances of Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

The Cairo Gang traffics in the type of songs that on the surface, sound like catchy pop tunes that might have drifted out of car windows a half-century ago. But linger just a moment on the voice, on the lyrics, and you’ll find a bit more. More depth, more shades of darkness, more meaning.

In my experience, The Cairo Gang is the type of band that rewards repeat listens and that only improves with time. The U Street Music Hall is thus an ideal venue for new listeners getting acquainted and old friends remembering what this sound is all about.

The Cairo Gang
(Opening for Mikal Cronin)
U Street Music Hall
Tuesday, September 22
Doors @7:00pm
$15
All ages

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FXoHfufnfk]“Tiny Rebels”

Music Park: Alberta Cross @ 9:30 Club — 9/12/15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I3c9YoaWps]“Ghosts of Santa Fe”

A tiny mob crammed near the 9:30 Club front stage to sway and nod to the first few songs from Petter Ericson Stakee, who leads the band, Alberta Cross.

Alberta Cross opened for the Heartless Bastards last Saturday, and as their 8-song set progressed, the crowd steadily grew to almost full capacity by the end. The newcomers, not necessarily there to see Stakee and his band of three, also stood with rapt attention as the performance unfolded. Likely winning over many new fans.

Stakee, who is from Sweden and now lives in New York, ascended the stage with his signature hat and Jesus-like hair and opened with the soaring “Ghosts of Santa Fe”. The first single off their new album, Alberta Cross, it makes good use of the single horn played by the keyboardist. In fact, for most songs the keyboardist kept double-duty, one set of fingers on the trumpet and the other on the keyboard.

The band members that make-up Alberta Cross, besides Stakee, the only currently permanent member, rotates frequently.

The third song, “Get Up High”, fully horn-infused, was reminiscent of something from Band of Horses. I almost thought Ben Bridwell (lead singer of Band of Horses) was singing, so closely matched was Stakee’s voice.

Next came “Western State”, a slow, yearning jam that continued to help the emerging crowd get into the mood.

Stakee didn’t talk much during the set, but expressed his appreciation to be back in DC, they last played in DC in 2012 at the Rock and Roll Hotel. The one time he did open up, was to “take it down a notch” and play a song I didn’t catch the name of (also listed as ‘unknown’ on the online set list).

Next came “Crate of Gold”, a rock song that I can only guess is about paranoia, but since the video features the actress, Drea de Matteo, formerly of The Sopranos, I’m not too paranoid about finding the meaning.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUe20zNYDAE]

Alberta Cross ended their set with the contemplative “Low Man”, fittingly used on the TV show Californication, which may just be about losing a women and being ‘a million miles away’ from life.

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Taken as a whole, the show turned out to be enjoyable, with a good mix of Americana, folk and rock songs. I was among those that crammed up to the front of the stage, and could see every nuance of the performance. Next time Alberta Cross comes to DC, hopefully sooner than three years, make a point to check them out.

Alberta Cross (9:30 Club) 9/12/15

Don’t Miss: DIIV (Opening for Ride) @ 9:30 Club, 9/17/15

unnamed
Zachary Cole Smith (Photo by Sandy Kim)

Brooklyn shoegazers DIIV are opening for Ride tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 17, at the 9:30 Club!

Today, the quintent, led by vocalist Zachary Cole Smith, released a new song “Dopamine” from their upcoming second album, Is the Is Are, which is scheduled for release next month.

Listen to Dopamine on Soundcloud:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/223727290″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

DIIV open for the legendary UK shoegazers Ride, so don’t miss out on a show that is sure to showcase a lot of amazing guitar.

Oh, and by the way, DIIV go out on their own headlining tour after touring with Ride later this fall. In DC, they turn up again at the Black Cat on Saturday, Nov. 7, with No Joy and Sunflower Bean.

Ride
w/ DIIV
9:30 Club
Thursday, Sept. 17
Doors @ 7pm
$35
All ages

Around Town: Vote on the Hilly Awards by 9/20/15

Hilly Awards

Every year, Capitol Hill businesses look forward to being nominated for the Hilly Awards, sponsored by CHAMPS (Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce). This will be the sixth edition of the awards.

Chosen by you, you can vote for the best of the best local businesses on Capitol Hill. In categories such as: Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Bar/Tavern, etc.

Vote for your favorites here.

The poll closes on Sunday, September 20, 2015.

 

You can also buy tickets to the gala event itself, which is held on November 7, 2015.

2015 Hilly Awards Gala
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Saturday, November 7, 2015
6pm
$75 and up

Music Park: Gin Wigmore @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 9/11/15

In Photos: Gin Wigmore - Black Dice, London 10/06/15
Gin Wigmore performs in London on June 10, 2015 (Photo by The 405)

You could very much appreciate Gin Wigmore as you might Amy Winehouse.

The Los Angeles singer, born in New Zealand, has a sad bluesy voice that simply grabs you. And that voice did indeed grab a sold-out room full of eager listeners at the Rock and Roll Hotel Friday night as the audience marveled at her soulful yet girlish sound and struggled to catch a glimpse of the lithe, tattooed blonde behind it.

Similar to the late, great Ms. Winehouse, Gin often sings of bad love and despair. Her powerful voice belies her small frame, and her striking blue eyes look as if they are peering through you from some otherworldy place while she sings as transfixed as you might be.

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Don’t Miss: Oh Land (Opening for Of Monsters and Men) @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, 9/20/15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW1yf764hiY]“Pyromaniac”

Oh Land (Nanna Øland Fabricius) is coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion this Sunday, touring with Of Monsters and Men. She was born in Denmark, where she released her first album, Fauna, in 2008.

She released her fourth album, Earth Sick, in late 2014. The lead single, “Head Up High”, is a techno-laden song, that speaks to staying positive in the face of your partner’s infidelity. And you can dance to it.

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Many of Oh Land’s newer songs have a very poppy, danceable quality that will no doubt energize a live audience. As an aspiring ballet dancer, an injury caused her to change course. Given her family pedigree (both parents were musicians/performers), and the songs I’ve listened to, a music career seems like the right path.

Some of her earlier songs, especially from her self-titled album, Oh Land, have an airy, almost ethereal, sound. The dance beats are there, but very subtle, waiting to burst forth. There’s an eclectic mix of style and sound throughout her wide range of songs, that all work together.

In the open air of Merriweather, Oh Land is the perfect way to start your evening before Of Monsters and Men perform.

Get there early and enjoy!

Oh Land
(Opening for Of Monsters and Men)
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Sunday, September 20
Doors @6:30pm; Show @8pm
$40-$55
All ages

Oh Land

Music Park: Madonna @ Verizon Center — 9/12/15

madonna
Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour

“The problem with being married is that when you’re married — your husband think you only belong to him!” Madonna exclaimed from the stage at Verizon Center Saturday night. “But I belong to all of you. I’m married to all of you!”

The rapturous applause following Madonna’s proclamations made the not-quite-sold-out show at Verizon Center sound larger than life. Madonna certainly had the crowd eating out of her hand as she delivered a show that was part Cirque du Soleil-style spectacle and part acoustic concert.

Moving from staged set to stage set, Madonna traveled through four different configurations for her concert, kicking off with a string of songs drawn heavily from her latest album, Rebel Heart, which she is touring worldwide through March 2016. DC was her second stop after launching the tour last week in Toronto, Canada.

The show began with a bang to the heavily choreographed Iconic, which introduced a scene where backup dancers masqueraded as a sort of Egyptian-styled religious cult with video that made effective use of guest spoken-word contributor Mike Tyson. This quasi-religious theme would run through a number of songs and fuel a kinetic display that included acrobatics and dancing nuns on stripper poles (as Madonna herself put it, nothing too “provocative,” eh?)

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Around Town: Fourth Beer @ Snallygaster 2015, 9/12/15

American History (After Hours): Brewing Up History
Beer Director Greg Engert of Bluejacket and beer historian Mike Stein of DCBeer.com talk beer at the National Museum of American History on Jan. 23, 2015. (Photo courtesy National Museum of American History)

Now going four years strong, the Snallygaster beer festival returns to The Yards on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Snallygaster 2015 offers revelers choices among more than 300 beers, at least 50 of which are appearing at the festival for the first time. With only one final day left to go until Snallygaster 2015, Jeremy and I spotlight a beer for your tasting pleasure.

Jeremy’s Beer of the Day: Bluejacket Whiskey Barrel-aged Double Mexican Radio, Imperial Sweet Stout, ABV 11.0%
I wanted to include at least one beer from a brewery in the city. There are about 24 beers available from our DC breweries (seven represented in total), but not many of the dark, high ABV beers that I want to partake in. So I picked Bluejacket’s whiskey barrel-aged version of their Mexican Radio, which is an imperial sweet stout with cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and chiles. I may need someone to cart me home if I actually have the fortitude to drink all these beers. Game on. (Editor’s note: Bluejacket, of course, is owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which also produces the Snallygaster Beer Festival.)

Mickey’s Beer of the Day: Atlas Wet Hop American Summer (2nd Anniversary Ale), Fresh Hop Pale Ale, 5.1%
If we’re going local, my favorite of the new breweries to open in the city in the past five years has to be Atlas Brew Works. The brewery simply makes some tasty beer. And with Atlas about to celebrate its second anniversary, it’s time to drink their second anniversary pale ale, clearly named in honor of the David Wain/Michael Showater comedy that recently found new life on Netflix. Anyway, I haven’t tried this beer yet, but it’s sure to be a winner following in the footsteps of dependable go-to beers like the District Common and the Rowdy Rye.

Party local? Drink local! Check out the full list of Snallygaster beers.

Advance ticket sales end at midnight tonight! It’s your last chance to buy tix online.

Snallygaster 2015
The Yards
Saturday, Sept. 12
Festival @1-6pm
$35
21+ to drink

Don’t Miss: Madonna @ Verizon Center, 9/12/15

Madonna_Credit-Mert-Alas-and-Marcus-Piggot1-e1437448394368-crop
Madonna, still the woman of dreams (Photo by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott)

In the fall of 1983, I bought my very first cassette tape — Madonna’s self-titled debut album.

I had seen the once and future Material Girl on television, most remarkably while listening to her perfect garage disco videos on Night Flight, which then aired on USA Network.

While this may signify that I’m a man of a certain age, Madonna has remained interesting and relevant even as she celebrated her 57th birthday last month. Her latest album, Rebel Heart, manages to capture all of the things that we know and love about Madonna as signified with the new hits “Living for Love” and “Ghosttown” while also catching some modern dance zeitgeist in collaborations with Diplo on house pastiche of “Bitch I’m Madonna” or with Avicii on the reggae vibes of “Devil Pray.”

All the same, it’s a solid album that has begat another incredible tour, and that tour stops at the Verizon Center in DC tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 12. And although this show is tomorrow, it’s not too late to go! Tickets are still available.

Watch Madonna deliver an intimate performance of “Ghosttown” on “Le Grand Journal” on CANAL+ on March 3, 2015:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5ChLlvkr44]

When Madonna last visited DC three years ago (also at the Verizon Center), I then wrote for the blog We Love DC: “She went through at least four different acts over two hours, which comes to an end with a totally giddy and exuberant celebration of all of the reasons the dance floor has loved her for so long.”

She tirelessly performed a career-spanning set, occasionally addressing the audience directly during moments of downtime and forging connections with her magnetic personality.

In addition to songs from the new album, setlist reports reveal Madonna has been performing an acoustic version of “True Blue” along with other significant songs from previous albums, including “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Who’s That Girl” and “Music.”

There are still good seats available in prime 100-section seats without paying resale prices. Don’t miss out!

Madonna
Verizon Center
Saturday, Sept. 12
Doors @7pm
$43-$358
All ages

Around Town: Third Beer @ Snallygaster 2015, 9/12/15

Schlafly PUMPKIN Ale
It’s that time of year. (Photo by Chris Romer)

Now going four years strong, the Snallygaster beer festival returns to The Yards on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Snallygaster 2015 offers revelers choices among more than 300 beers, roughly 50 of which are appearing at the festival for the first time. With only two days left to go until Snallygaster 2015, Jeremy and I spotlight a beer for your tasting pleasure.

Jeremy’s Beer of the Day: Schlafly Imperial Pumpkin Ale, ABV 8.0%
Part of what I like about Snallygaster is, to me, it signals the beginning of the pumpkin beer season. I know, I know, many breweries are releasing their pumpkin offerings earlier and earlier every year. Well, I haven’t had any yet. This Saturday will kickoff what I trust to be a productive season of imbibing all the pumpkin beers. By my count, there are at least 27 different pumpkin beers set to be available, as of today. I choose Schlafly’s version here, because a) I’m hoping to go to St. Louis in a couple weeks and invade the brewery, and b) it is consistently among the best pumpkin beers out there. I also like the Southern Tier Pumking and am seriously looking at the Avery Rumpkin (Vintage 2014), which has a 18.1% ABV!

Mickey’s Beer of the Day: Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress, ABV 9.5%
I’m sure glad Jeremy punctured the envelope around pumpkin beers first, as I know quite a lot of beer snobs hate them. He and I both love them, however, but I’ll blame him for bring them up first! I first drank a Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress, hailing from Pennsylvania, at Snallygaster 2014. Many of the good pumpkin beers taste quite a bit like pumpkin pie — like Schlafly above, Dogfish Punkin and the lovely Maple Mistress. Cinnamon, honey and of course maple wound out the package for this boozy beer. The Snallygaster beer list also has several pumpkin beers represented twice as they appear alongide their 2014 vintages. (I’m looking at you Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin and Southern Tier Pumking.)

C’mon! You know you want a pumpkin beer (or two).

Tickets are available online.

Snallygaster 2015
The Yards
Saturday, Sept. 12
Festival @1-6pm
$35
21+ to drink