Live Review: Laura Veirs @ Union Stage — 7/27/22

Laura Veirs
Laura Veirs (Photo by Shelby Brakken)

When Laura Veirs played at Union State recently, it was the second to last date on a tour of the northeast with supporting act Andy Jenkins. Before that, she’d spent four weeks in the UK. Despite receiving critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, she has developed a larger following overseas. That’s a shame, because she makes fantastic music, and she deserves a larger audience here at home.

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Live Review: Wild Hearts Tour: Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker w/ Quinn Christopherson @ Wolf Trap — 7/21/22

Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten performs at Wolf Trap on July 21, 2022. (Photos by Ari Strauss)

Toward the beginning of her set at Wolf Trap Thursday evening, Angel Olsen told the audience, “I know it’s hot, but we love you.”

Later, she remarked, “This heat makes me feel out of tune.” Even though it had rained earlier, the evening of July 21 was still uncomfortably warm at Wolf Trap even as the sun was setting. For those of us in the audience, it wasn’t so bad — though you definitely needed a good amount of water to make it through the show — but I can only imagine what it was like on stage, underneath the bright, intense lights.

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Preview: Wild Hearts Tour: Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker w/ Quinn Christopherson @ Wolf Trap, 7/21/22

Wild Hearts

SHARON VAN ETTEN, ANGEL OLSEN, AND JULIEN BAKER (Photo by Alysse Gafkjen)

One of the most exciting tours of the summer is the Wild Hearts Tour, featuring Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Julien Baker!

Catch the Wild Hearts Tour at Wolf Trap on Thursday, July 21.

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Live Review: Sarah Borges @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 6/28/22

Sarah Borges 16
Sarah Borges performs at Pearl Street Warehouse on June 28, 2022. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)

This one’s “about going home to your house you share with a loved you never want to see again,” Sarah Borges said about “House on a Hill” in her thick, unmistakable Boston accent. Sarah is very real, she writes great songs, she knows how to engage an audience — and that has won her a small but devoted following who gathered recently at the Pearl Street Warehouse in DC.

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Live Review: American Aquarium w/ Caroline Spence @ 9:30 Club — 6/26/22

American AquariumAmerican 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.

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Ticket Giveaway: American Aquarium @ 9:30 Club, 6/26/22

American Aquarium
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.

American Aquarium play at 9:30 Club on Sunday, June 26, and you can win tickets to see them with Parklife DC!

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Live Review: The Bros. Landreth w/ Mariel Buckley @ City Winery — 6/15/22

The Bros. Landreth
The Bros. Landreth (Photo by BnB Studios)

One of my favorite singer-songwriters, Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, likes to say, “The problem with irony is that not everybody gets it.” That’s a damn shame, because irony is all around us. Star Wars posited an invisible Force that surrounds all life and binds it together. Maybe it’s some Ashkenazic connection to Kafka motivating this statement, but I’m partial to the notion that the driving force of the universe might be irony.

One of those ironies surrounds the term “Americana” as a genre of music. You might think, given the word, that it’s specifically to, well, America. But that’s, at the very least, an oversimplification. The Band, who were, with the exception of Arkansas’s Levon Helm, all Canadian, are often considered the founders of Americana. That conversation could also include, reasonably, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, and Neil Young, who is also Canadian. 

Canada has a thriving Americana scene, and when the roots-rock duo The Bros. Landreth appeared at City Winery in DC recently, we get to see some of that in the states.

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Live Review: Fruit Bats @ 9:30 Club — 4/23/22

Fruit Bats - 9:30 Club Washington DC - 04.23.22 Casey Vock 11
Eric D. Johnson leads Fruit Bats in a performance at 9:30 Club on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

The transformation of a songwriting vehicle from an individual endeavor into a full-fledged outfit is one of the more remarkable progressions to behold.

Especially so when the person driving the operation is a genuine, gifted soul with a penchant for crafting songs that can captivate in an intimate setting, but yet can be expanded and embellished into prosperous compositions at the group level to engage a much more active audience in larger venues.

Fruit Bats, the musical motorhome of singer and guitarist Eric D. Johnson, used a red-letter, late-night appearance at 9:30 Club recently to demonstrate the entity’s continued evolution as a sophisticated, dynamic folk rock troupe and, now in its second life, possessing a rare wisdom and imparting spirit.

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Ticket Giveaway: Fruit Bats @ 9:30 Club, 4/23/22

FruitBats
Fruit Bats (Photo courtesy Merge Records)

With support from Merge Records, Fruit Bats released two albums in 2021 — The Pet Parade and Siamese Dream! This year, the band followed those albums with a compilation, Sometimes a Cloud Is Just a Cloud: Slow Growers, Sleeper Hits, and Lost Songs (2001–2021).

Fruit Bats now cap that prolific period with a lot of touring, and they turn up at 9:30 Club on Saturday, April 23.

You can win tickets to see Fruit Bats at 9:30 Club with Parklife DC!

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