Don’t Miss: Spandau Ballet @ 9:30 Club, 4/28/15

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Spandau Ballet (Photo by Scarlet Page)

They are the most significant band never to perform in Washington, DC.

But against the odds, they are about to rectify that situation in what could be the concert of the year. I say against the odds because the five members of Spandau Ballet notoriously split after a falling out with band leader Gary Kemp for decades, last touring North America in 1983.

Last year, the reunited Spandau Ballet hit their first shows on the U.S. west coast after their hiatus, and this month, they are returning to tour the east coast. The tour includes a stop at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, April 28, and in a video message from London on March 27, lead singer Tony Hadley made it clear, saying on the 9:30 Facebook page: “It’s the first time we’ve ever played in Washington!”

But the most significant band never to perform in DC? Really, Mickey?

Well, yes, I think so. Spandau Ballet came together in 1978 during a tumultuous time in London as the poster band for the New Romantic movement, a group of club savants who valued sexy sophistication and optimism as an antidote to the grit and pessimism of some of the punk bands at the time. The cultural movement and resulting music genre had its roots in the glam rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music, and its flagship bands came to embrace smart suits and synthesizers.

Spandau Ballet started out as the house band for Ground Zero of this movement, The Blitz Club, run by Steve Strange. They quickly got to work on powerful dance albums, the first two of which were produced by Richard James Burgess, who is now a DC-area resident who has taught at the Annapolis Music School and The Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences in addition to serving as director of marketing at Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution.

Of course, Spandau Ballet are most famous in the United States for their third album, True, which produced two U.S. top 40 hits in 1983—“True” (#4) and “Gold” (#27). Here are Spandau Ballet performing “True” on Jimmy Kimmel Live in November 2014:

After years apart, the band reunited in 2009, and I flew to Glasgow to see them at S.E.C.C. on Oct. 27, 2009. They were in fine form and high spirits, and they easily lived up to the hype generated by the legacy of their original six studio albums and resulting cultural dominance. Spandau Ballet are every bit as worth seeing in concert as their friendly rivals Duran Duran, with whom they share the ideals and banner of the New Romantics.

Spandau Ballet’s current world tour is inspired in part by a documentary covering their career and reunion, Soul Boys of the Western World. As the title of this post says, don’t miss this show! (An opening act has yet to be confirmed, but with any luck, we may get DJ Rusty Egan, the world-famous Blitz DJ and drummer for the band Visage, who has been supporting them in Europe recently.)

Spandau Ballet
9:30 Club
Tuesday, April 28
Doors @7pm
$45 (VIP packages, $95/$200)
All ages

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.

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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:

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:

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

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.

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.

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Music Park: Laura Tsaggaris @ 9:30 Club — 2/4/15

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Justin Jones affectionately calls her “L.T.”

And the alt-country crooner recalled playing with her over the years, getting their respective starts at the Grog and Tankard (formerly 2408 Wisconsin Ave NW, DC) in Glover Park.

“We’ve both come a long way,” Justin said Wednesday night at the 9:30 Club. She in question is DC singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris.

For her part, Laura is a hard-charging, dedicated musician whose perseverance pays off in a number of rock-and-roll songs that are at turns a little bit country, a little bit folk or a little bit blues. Her joint show with Justin Wednesday was billed as Laura Tsaggaris vs. Justin Jones and the B-Sides, but it was honestly a mutual musician’s concert of admiration.

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Don’t Miss: Laura Tsaggaris and Justin Jones & The B-Sides @ 9:30 Club, 2/4/15

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Americana singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris takes to the stage at the 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW, DC) Wednesday, Feb. 4, in a co-headlining show with Justin Jones & The B-Sides.

With the show, Laura will mark the release of her fifth CD, Live at the Atlas. The live album was recorded over the weekend of Friday, Sept. 26, and Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE, DC). It features 16 songs from her previous CDs, rearranged acoustically in the footsteps of some of Laura’s favorite live albums (like Nirvana: Unplugged and Ani Difranco: Living in Clip).

Live at Atlas features songs like Laura’s “Dig” from her 2013 album, Everyman.

Laura self-publishes her music through her own DC label Overtime Records, and Live at Atlas was supported by a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised more than $20,000. This is a great chance to see what all of the buzz is about and to catch up with Justin Jones at the same time.

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Laura Tsaggaris
Justin Jones & The B-Sides
9:30 Club
Wednesday, Feb. 4
Doors @7pm
$20
All ages

Music Park: Gang of Four’s New Single (Appearing @ 9:30 Club, 3/3/15)

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Hailing from Leeds, England, Gang of Four pracitically created the blueprint for dynamic post-punk music, and the latest lineup of the band is set to perform at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, March 3.

Shortly before they visit DC, however, Gang of Four will release its eight studio album, What Happens Next, on Feb. 24 on Metropolis Records. On the upcoming album, the band employs a number of guest vocalists: The Big Pink’s Robbie Furze, German singer/actor Herbert Grönemeyer, and The Kills and The Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart.

Today, Consequence of Sound debuted the two tracks featuring Ms. Mosshart, including the lead single “Broken Talk.”

The full tracklist for What Happens Next:
01. Where The Nightingale Sings
02. Broken Talk (feat. Alison Mosshart)
03. Isle of Dogs
04. England’s In My Bones (feat. Alison Mosshart)
05. Dying Rays (feat. Herbert Grönemeyer) [English version]
06. Obey The Ghost Of The Colony
07. First World Citizen
08. Stranded
09. Graven Image (feat. Robbie Furze)
10. Dead Souls (feat. Hotei)
11. Dying Rays (feat. Herbert Grönemeyer) [German version]

Lead vocals for Gang of Four are now handled by new member John Sterry, formerly of Gaoler’s Daughter, who replaced Jon King, the band’s founding vocalist (who departed after 2011’s Content). The Gang of Four lineup now includes founder and guitarist Andy Gill, bassist Thomas McNeice and singer Sterry.

Gang of Four
w/ Public Access T.V.
9:30 Club
Tuesday, March 3
Doors @7pm
$30
All ages

Music Park: U.S. Royalty Release “More to This” Video

DC indie rock stalwarts U.S. Royalty debuted a new video today for their song “More to This.” The video follows the band as they drive languidly along California highways, exploring Malibu, Venice and Mulholland Drive.

The song “More to This” takes the quartet down for a turn into hazy psychedelic rock, and the result is definitely quite easy on the ears. The song is about wanting out of a relationship where nothing more apparently is going to happen.

Vocalist John Thornley, guitarist Paul Thornley, bassist Jacob Michael and drummer Luke Adams report they have been writing new material. They have a few dates planning, including a stop at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, Jan. 22 with Dr. Dog, and another show in New York City’s Webster hall on Friday, Jan. 23.

Meanwhile, the band is planning to release a limited edition vinyl version of its first album, Mirrors, which is nearly four years old now. (Hard to believe!). Preorders of the vinyl include a digital download of the album and previously unreleased bonus tracks.

I last saw U.S. Royalty perform a little under a year ago after the release of their second album, Blue Sunshine. They were in good form then, and it will be interesting to see where a third self-released album and lingering major label ambitions take them this year.

Wear an Ugly Sweater and Don’t Miss: Scythian @ 9:30 Club, 12/13/14

Group Shot

Unpack and brush off the moth balls from your ugliest Christmas sweater, it’s time for the annual Scythian show at the 9:30 Club.

This Saturday, Dec. 13, the local boys of Scythian will descend on DC once again and play their unique brand of Celtic rock.

If you’re not familiar yet with Scythian, they started playing weekly shows in DC over a decade ago in local Irish bars, like Finn MacCool’s (now Molly Malone’s in Barracks Row) and Fado (Chinatown).

They will be playing new music from their latest album released this past summer, Jump at the Sun, and many of their old classics.

Whomever wears the ugliest sweater to the show, will win VIP tickets to DC’s Shamrockfest held in March at RFK Stadium.

Vintage 80s Mountain Range Tacky Acrylic Ugly Christmas Sweater

Tickets are available here.

Scythian, with Driftwood (opener)
9:30 Club
Saturday, December 13
8pm doors
$17

Music Park: Interpol @ 9:30 Club — 11/30/14

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When a band has gone through some big lineup changes, and releases a fifth album, you don’t necessarily expect the songs from that album to be the most exciting ones played on the next tour.

But then this is Interpol, the post-punk standard-bearers that have been defying expectations since they formed in New York City roughly 17 years ago. And so it seems the band can do little wrong as long as the wall of guitars that make up Interpol’s signature sound includes bandmates Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler behind it.

The band released El Pintor, its latest album, in September and embarked on a tour to support it. In a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, the opened with “Say Hello to the Angels” from their first album, Turn On the Bright Lights — and the first and second albums continued to get quite a bit of love throughout the show.

But the second song, “My Blue Supreme,” is from the new album, and as the band continue with the set, you can see that the new songs symbolize the continued spirit of their collaboration. Interpol could have hit a speed bump without founding bassist Carlos Dengler, who departed after the last album, but instead they embarked on a remarkable distilling of their sound and thematic messages to produce an album as wholly fresh and exciting as their debut.

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