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Music Park: Pleasure Curses @ DC9 — 3/12/15

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Jahn Alexander and Evan Maxwell of the Pleasure Curses

A couple of cool synth aficionados and a sultry blonde sophisticate are leading bands that are quickly becoming DC’s most reliably entertaining double bill.

I’ve taken the opportunity to write about Furniteur, led by Brittany Sims, not long ago, but I haven’t yet had the chance to spotlight duo Jahn Alexander Teetsov and Evan Maxwell Grice of the Pleasure Curses. The two bands, which are labelmates at Prince George Records, have been pairing up for opportunities like opening for New York’s Vérité on Thursday at DC9 and DC groovemaster Outputmessage on Feb. 12 in a POV Live performance at the W Hotel.

The Pleasure Curses have been leading the charge among DC electronic bands for a few years now, refining their concert performances along the way. Last October, they released the single “Burn,” which kicked off their concert at DC9 Thursday. The song is a smoldering tribute to overcoming desire, and vocalist Jahn Alexander delivers the lyrics with smooth aplomb as he sways along to the beat.

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”

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.

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:
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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

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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.

Sports Park: Capitals Weekly Report Card — 3/2-3/8/15

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Caps Report Card

Weekly Record: 2-1 (4 pts)

Overall: 36-21-10 (82 pts)
+10 pt advantage for playoff spot

The Capitals have 15 games left and a healthy lead for a playoff berth. But they continue to play at a mediocre level.

Until Saturday night when they exploded for six goals, including another for Alex Ovechkin (44). Granted it was against the lowly Sabres, but any win at this point in the season is key.

Will they be good enough to win a playoff series? Let’s get there first.

 

Results

March 2, 2015: Capitals at Blue Jackets – WIN (5-3)

March 5, 2015: Wild at Capitals – LOSS (1-2)

March 7, 2015: Sabres at Capitals – WIN (6-1)

 

March 2-March 8 Weekly Report Card: B

Report Card Archive

 

Around Town: Best of DC Reader’s Poll @ Washington City Paper (Through 3/23/15)

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The Proper Burger from Duke’s Grocery

In an unusually competitive year, the Washington City Paper has extended voting in seven of its categories for its Best of DC Readers’ Poll. The special extended voting on the poll’s highly popular categories will extend through 11:59pm on Monday, March 23.

Said the City Paper, “These seven categories were so competitive, we’re giving you extra time to decide the winners.

The finalists for each category were the top vote-getters in this year’s poll. Vote for your favorite.”

The seven categories and their semi-finalists are below. I’ve included some light commentary to reveal my votes. I’m not suggesting that it should sway your vote, but don’t let it stop you if you’re looking for suggestions!

Don’t Miss: DC United’s Season Opener @ RFK Stadium, 3/7/15

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a fan is born
Time for a new ball and a new season

The beauty of the beautiful game (soccer, as if you didn’t know), is no matter the conditions, you can still play.

Snow, sleet, rain and mud, freezing cold, even sun, it is all good when it comes to kicking the ball around the pitch. As a kid, I played in all these conditions. Snow is the most fun, because it makes the game even harder.

So don’t let DC’s winter get you down, you can catch DC United’s season opener against the Montreal Impact this Saturday, March 7, at 3pm at RFK Stadium.

The weather should even be nice (comparatively), up to the mid-forties. Wear your scarves.

DC United enters the 2015 campaign with something to prove. They excelled in 2014 during the regular season, finishing with the third most points (59), but then fizzled badly versus the New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. Brutal.

Major League Soccer made a few changes for this season, expanding the league to 20 teams. Most notably they contracted Chivas USA (gone!) and added two new teams, Orlando City FC and New York City FC.

Get your tickets and get on the United bandwagon now.

 

DC United MLS Season Opener vs. Montreal Impact
RFK Stadium
March 7, 2015
3pm
$35 and up

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.

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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.