Alex Kapranos fronts Franz Ferdinand at 9:30 Club on Aug. 10, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
In a show otherwise as smooth as silk at 9:30 Club, Scots new wavers Franz Ferdinand’s recent concert saw a lone tumultuous moment during the fourth song of the set, “Evil Eye” (which hails from their 2013 album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action).
One troublemaker several rows back from the stage apparently started throwing punches, and Franz frontman Alex Kapranos stopped the show dead to check out the perpetrator’s *wrong* thoughts and wrong action! The house lights came up slightly, and Alex scoffed at the guilty party.
“Really? A fight!” Alex exclaimed. “We’re here for a good time. This is no place to fight.” With the assistance of the lights, 9:30 Club bouncers identified the troublemaker and escorted him out of the venue.
Howard Jones delivered a superb performance at 9:30 Club on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
“I’m going to write the most positive song I’ve ever written in my entire life!” Howard Jones declared to himself when crafting the pandemic-era album, Dialogue, which has released this year. He was inspired to write as “things were getting better,” and the result was worthy!
Now, the British new wave singer-songwriter is known for his share of positive messages, so this was a tall order in deed. The new song, however, “Celebrate It Together,” one of three new tunes performed by Howard in his recent appearance at 9:30 Club, was embraced with enthusiasm by the very full house.
In fact, the entire night was something of a lovefest with the talented Mr. Jones in top shape, commanding a full array of synthesizers, accompanied by his long-time friend Midge Ure as opener.
When she opened for Watchouse at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, Michaela Anne performed at the legendary venue for the first time. But it was also a homecoming of sorts. She comes from a military family — her father was a submarine captain, and her uncle was commandant of the Marine Corps during the Obama Administration — and she lived in Fairfax County while her father was stationed at the Pentagon.
The 9:30 Club encapsulated its upcoming night of highly intellectual dance music perfectly:
“Ah, sophisti-pop: the most elegant genre from music’s most elegant decade, the ’80s. Fusing together all the best parts — both musically and aesthetically — of new wave, soul, and jazz, Howard Jones and Midge Ure (both with Ultravox and as a solo performer) came to define the sound alongside Rough Trade royalty like The Style Council, The Human League, and Scritti Politti.
“Be warned, you may experience the following side effects at a Howard Jones & Midge Ure show: 1) feeling good, 2) dancing great, and 3) looking even better!”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. But I do get to add some dimension to the adroit concert preview by interviewing the one and only Midge Ure himself. Parklife’s Mickey McCarter chatted about his old friend Howard Jones, the resurgent and powerful Kate Bush, and his own experiences in going viral prior to his appearance at 9:30 Club on Tuesday, July 19.
Purity Ring performs at 9:30 Club on June 29, 2022. (Photo by Katherine Gaines)
Canadian dream poppers Purity Ring released Graves, a new EP, earlier this month, then zipped into DC on their USA tour for two dates at 9:30 Club this past week! Katherine Gaines shot the first of the two nights — it was a sold-out show.
American Aquarium (Photo courtesy Red Light Management)
“I hoped this song would become irrelevant when I wrote in 2016,” said BJ Barham, frontman of country-rockers American Aquarium, when he introduced their song “The World Is On Fire” at the 9:30 Club recently. He continued, “It scares me that my daughter has less rights than my mother.”
BJ excoriated the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs, which eliminated the constitutional right to abortion. There was a real flash of anger as he spoke about the tyranny of old, white Christian men imposing their values on the country.
Fantastic Negrito performs at 9:30 Club on June 22, 2022. (Photos by Rashad Polk; Words by Mark Engleson)
Fantastic Negrito’s latest album, White Jesus, Black Problems, is deeply personal. It delves into family history, into the story of his seventh-generation great-grandparents, an enslaved Black man and indentured Scottish servant woman, who came together in Virginia in 1759. That’s not to say his other albums aren’t personal as well: The Last Days of Oakland is very much about the city where he was raised as one of 14 children. But the focus in his recent performance at the 9:30 Club was on telling the story of that interracial union.
“I wasn’t who I thought I was,” Fantastic Negrito explained. “But I’m exactly who I need to be.”
American Aquarium (Photo courtesy Shore Fire Media)
A few weeks ago, American Aquarium released their new studio album Chicamacomico via Thirty Tigers — a heart-wrenching reflection on loss that finds frontman BJ Barham scaling new expressive heights, resulting in the band’s most elemental and emotionally resonant work to date.
For nearly 40 years, Bob Pollard has been leading Guided by Voices from the early lo-fi days to the slick production of major label offerings and then to the current powerhouse of Kevin March on drums, Doug Gilliard and Bobby Bare Jr. on guitar, and Mark Shue on bass.
For the past several years, Guided by Voices has released, on average, two records of new material every year (though now it’s really closer to three albums per year), and they are putting out some of their strongest material perhaps in that entire period. How does this band, who has released six albums just since the start of the Covid pandemic (and seven with July’s Tremblers and Goggles by Rank), keep things fresh? The answer could be seen in Guided by Voices most recent visit to the 9:30 Club.