Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2016 by Mickey

CHVRCHES 008 Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Echostage on Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

I’ll confess that I’m a man whose taste in music is readily apparent. If you have new wave tunes to play, particularly from 1976-86, I’m going to show up and listen to them. That said, a number of incredible legacy new wave bands happened to travel through the DC metro area over the past year, and I took the opportunity to review them for our humble blog.

That said, a number of younger bands definitely broke through and seized my attention, most notably Canada’s Operators, who were the most exciting new band I’ve seen in some time. As with Operators, many of the best performances I witnessed in 2016 came from bands whose leaders are among the Masters of Synthpop, and so I have dedicated a postscript of really great synthpop shows that may have “missed” the top 10 but otherwise deserve a lot of applause.

Check out my top 10 list of concerts I saw for Parklife DC. (Click on the concert slugline to revisit the full review.)

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Snapshots: GROVES @ Strathmore Music Center — 9/11/16

Groves 11 Groves vocalist Stephen Salisbury sings at Strathmore on Sept. 11, 2016.

LA-based power pop trio Groves opened for Culture Club on Sunday at Strathmore Music Center. Also on Sunday, Parklife DC told you the story of how Groves, named after their hometown in Texas, came hire The Madden Brothers as managers, and then came to the attention of Boy George and Culture Club, who picked the young band as openers for a 38-date US tour.

Revisit our interview with the lead singer of Groves to find out all about it.

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Music Park: Culture Club @ Strathmore Music Center — 9/11/16

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Boy George sings at Strathmore Music Center on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016.

Boy George has embraced a new level of maturity, inspired in part by one of his heroes, funk musician Sly Stone.

Recalling a magazine interview with Sly during a performance by Culture Club on Sunday night, George quoted Sly as saying, “I have many regrets, but none that I can remember right now.”

George discussed personal growth during a show at Strathmore Music Hall in Bethesda, Maryland, in the introduction to new Culture Club song “Different Man,” which will tentatively appear on a new album set for 2017 on Culture Club’s own label, Different Man Music. (There’s a theme for you!) George emphasized that you don’t become a different person like Sly, who may have done some reckless things in his youth, simply by growing older. Wisdom doesn’t simply manifest itself, and people must have the will to change, like Sly — or like George.

“You have to decide to change and become a different man,” George acknowledged. With that, George launches into the soulful song about turning a new leaf. We understand clearly that George is apologizing for his own past behavior, and that he’s here now with his bandmates in Culture Club for the better.

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Don’t Miss: Culture Club @ Strathmore, 9/11/16

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Culture Club (Photo courtesy the band)

Culture Club eyed releasing a new album in 2016, but they seem to have cooled off on it for the time being.

That said, the soulful UK quartet has been hard at work on touring! The original members — including bassist Mikey Craig, guitarist Roy Hay, drummer Jon Moss, and vocalist Boy George — have been traveling the world together in the last few years, and they appear to be having the time of their lives.

As evidence of how good touring has been for the group, Parklife DC gave their live show a very positive review when it stopped by Wolf Trap in 2015, and Boy George himself came around again with his friend Cyndi Lauper (again at Wolf Trap) in June. But the local touring doesn’t end there! The restless band now are planning to hit the Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Watch Culture Club perform their classic hit “Miss Me Blind” for Jimmy Kimmel Live! on June 28, 2016:

Last year, we wrote, “It’s a miracle — that we were able to witness the reformation of these remarkable musicians, and I say that because Culture Club doesn’t work when it’s just the Boy George show. Surely, the flamboyant vocalist is a key ingredient of the act, but he needs his compatriots to pull it off. For their part, the other three were in remarkably good spirits, waving, shaking hands, smiling along with the audience. Their high spirits buoyed a strong performance and fed into making the band seem like a band.”

Tonight, Culture Club perform in San Antonio, Texas, hitting the road on the journey to their DC-area show. Don’t miss them blind — go see them in concert!

Tickets for the DC show are available online. (Check out the VIP package as well for a meet and greet with Culture Club!)

Culture Club
Strathmore Music Center
Sunday, Sept. 11
Show @8pm
$65-$165
All ages

Interview: Cyndi Lauper @ Wolf Trap — 6/1/16

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Cyndi Lauper and Boy George (Photo courtesy True Colors Fund)

Cyndi Lauper performed in a sold-out show Wednesday at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, at times fiery and at times sentimental but always irrepressible!

Nominally, she was touring in support of her new album Detour, a collection of country music covers released last month on Sire Records. But the concert sold out in part because it was the last of seven dates where she shared the spotlight with another ‘80s icon, Boy George.

In performance, Cyndi and George sang three songs together — at the end of George’s set, they covered “Bang a Gong” by T. Rex, a favorite of George. And at the end of Cyndi’s set, they performed “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly,” originally by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, and covered on Cyndi’s new album with Vince Gill. Afterward, Cyndi and George joined forces for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!”

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Interview: Cyndi Lauper (@ Wolf Trap, 6/1/16)

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Cyndi Lauper (Photo by Chapman Baehler)

The inimitable Cyndi Lauper will soon launch a tour in support of her new album, Detour, a collection of covers of country songs, due out this Friday, May 6, via Sire Records.

For seven dates on that tour, including a stop at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., on Wednesday, June 1, Cyndi will share a stage with another icon of pop music in the 1980s — Boy George, lead singer of Culture Club.

Earlier this week, Cyndi held a telephone press conference with several music and arts reporters to chat about her new album and the tour. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and focus.

Q: Can you tell us how you came to record an album of country classics?

Cyndi Lauper: These covers and this time in country music are very closely linked to R&B, which is very closely linked to the birth of rock and roll. So it’s the foundation of everything I sing. When I was a kid, these songs were pop songs — Patsy Cline was on the radio, Loretta Lynn was on the radio. We had three radio stations! They were on the radio.

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Music Park: Culture Club @ Wolf Trap — 8/10/15

Culture Club 2 - 2014 credit Dean Stockings
Culture Club (Photo by Dean Stockings)

Boy George strode onto stage in an elaborate helmet and a black cloak.

The sparkling gold headpiece looked as if he might have nicked it from an expensive Hollywood production of the story of Cleopatra. He grinned mischievously at the audience at Wolf Trap.

“I had to wrestle Lady Gaga for this,” he said of the headpiece. “She lost. She’s backstage, crying, right now.”

With that, the cheeky singer set off into a performance of “Victims,” a show-stopping tune from his band Culture Club.

And it was absolutely thrilling. When the beat dropped in the song, as it famously does shortly after the 2-minute mark, the audience was completely enraptured by the ode to being a thrall to love. You could feel goosebumps.

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