Don’t Miss: YACHT @ U Street Music Hall, 11/7/15

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Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans (Photo by Ricky Tompkins)

Disco-punk duo YACHT are about to release a new album, I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, via Downtown Records — their third full-length effort operating as a band rather than as a solo project by founder Jona Bechtolt.

After the new album’s release on Oct. 16, YACHT will appear mystically at U Street Music Hall soon after on Saturday, Nov. 7, in a tour stop to support the album.

The new album finds Jona and his songwriting partner Claire L. Evans concerned about the quality of life and the future of mankind — two themes that preoccupied them in previous albums See Mystery Lights and Shangri-La, which lyrically assessed topics like the lack of an afterlife and utopia, despite mostly being earnest dance records. Aside from being an arresting performer, Claire is also a science journalist, writing and blogging about science for the likes of National Geographic, OMNI and Vice.

The first single from the new album “L.A. Plays Itself” is a love letter to their adopted city, inspired by the 2003 Thom Andersen documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself and incorporating 163 production location signs.

Watch the video for “L.A. Plays Itself” on YouTube:

YACHT cites a mind-boggling array of influences on The Future Would Be Cooler — including 80s Japanese electronic reggae (Sandii & The Sunsetz, Haruomi Hosono), 70s and 80s post-punk and no wave (Family Fodder, The Waitresses, Suburban Lawns, Killing Joke, A Certain Ratio, Devo), Norwegian disco (Todd Terje, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas), and Grand Royal Records-era alternative music (Cibo Matto, Luscious Jackson, Money Mark).

Tickets are available online.

YACHT
w/ Larry Gus
U Street Music Hall
Saturday, Nov. 7
Doors @7pm
$20
All ages

Interview: Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds (@ U Street Music Hall, 9/26/15)

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Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds (Photo by Bliss Braoudakis)

Laura Burhenn’s project The Mynabirds released their third album Lovers Know via Saddle Creek on August 7. Laura once called DC home before she migrated to Los Angeles to start The Mynabirds, and she’s returning for a hometown show at U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of her tour in support of the new album (which starts tonight in San Diego). Parklife DC had the sincere pleasure of chatting with Laura about her new stuff, her DC roots, and subversive pop songs.

[The transcript of this interview has been edited lightly for the sake of brevity in spots.]

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Music Park: Grand Opening @ Soundcheck — 8/20/15

Soundcheck owners address the crowd - by Joy Asico
Soundcheck partners Antonis Karagounis, Pete Kalamoutsos, and Win Sheridan toast the opening of Soundcheck. (Photo courtesy MoKi Media)

The premise of Soundcheck (1420 K St. NW, DC), a stylish new nightspot, is to bring the feel of the recording studio to the club scene. As a person who has spent a fair amount of time around recording studios, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to experience that feel firsthand at their recent grand opening party on Thursday.

From the street level entrance, one descends a staircase to the below ground facility. Few things isolate sound transmission like good old Mother Earth, so this is in keeping with the theme. The walls along the stairway and corridors are lined with Aurelex-type acoustic foam and cork, reminiscent of studio interiors (Dr. Wallace Clement Sabine, creator of the absorption coefficient for sound, would be proud).

Upon entering the main room, one is greeted by a sound system that is neither harsh or overbearing. Line array-type speakers buttress the DJ booth, complemented by a satisfying aggressive low end. Speakers are also part of the decor, inset into the glowing lucite cubes that serve as drink tables. Soundcheck Interior by Joy Asico
The interior of the Soundcheck nightclub (Photo by Joy Asico)

Thankfully the lighting system is not modeled after that of a typical recording studio, as the latter seldom have use for mirror balls. Here, we are treated to a high tech assortment of moving heads and L.E.D. PAR lights. In addition to the huge video display behind the DJ booth, there are numerous other screens lining the walls from the dance floor to the VIP room. Compliments to the people who set up the opening night promotional reel, nicely done!

On the night we attended, the music started out low to allow for conversation and mingling. It was nice to hear a P.A. system that maintains clarity and power even at low levels, such that it doesn’t drown out discussion. Clearly, the DJ was eager to break loose and drive the system a little harder, which he did as the evening progressed. At the higher levels, the system still maintained thick lows and clear high end. I predict it will keep the dancers in motion on many nights to come!
Soundcheck Interior 2 by Joy Asico
The disco balls are a welcome touch. (Photo by Joy Asico)

Parklife DC contributor Neal Keller is a professional sound engineer at Omega Studios as well as DJ of the long-running 80’s Dance Party at Tropicalia! For more on Neal, visit http://www.80sdanceparty.com.

Don’t Miss: Little Boots @ U Street Music Hall, 7/25/15

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Little Boots (Photo courtesy High Rise PR)

I am beyond excited that U Street Music Hall will welcome Little Boots (born Victoria Hesketh) on Saturday, July 25 as she tours in support of her new album, Working Girl, which she released last week on her own label, On Repeat Records.

I first encountered Little Boots back in 2009 with her single “New in Town” from her debut album, Hands, thanks to its regular rotation at Liberation Dance Party at DC9. I continued to be impressed by that album, which featured a duet with The Human League’s Phil Oakey as a bonus to synthpop nerds like me, and its follow-up, Nocturnes.

Working Girl may be her most exciting offering to date, however, as the bright dance album offers abundantly lovely synths and a decisive theme around which to rally — the corporate work day. All of the videos released for singles from the new album have been quite clever, and feature Little Boots adorned in the best of office fashions, such as with the latest “No Pressure.”

Watch the video for “No Pressure”:

Little Boots isn’t afraid to explore what happens after the workday either, such as with her humorous video for “Better in the Morning,” which takes her on a “walk of shame” after a night of partying too hard.

Watch the video for “Better in the Morning” (and prepare to chuckle and fall in love a little bit):

To my knowledge, this is the first performance of Little Boots ever in DC, although she is a regular visitor to Brooklyn from England, and she nearly made it here on a few previous occasions. Don’t miss what is sure to be a great performance.

Tickets are available online.

Little Boots
w/ Prinze George
U Street Music Hall
Saturday, July 25
Doors @ 7pm
$20
All ages

Don’t Miss: Basement Jaxx @ 9:30 Club, 6/30/15

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In 2014, dance duo Basement Jaxx appeared at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, performing live in the United States for the first time since 2006.

This summer, they are about to truly break that streak by headlining their first U.S. concerts in nearly 10 years, and they only have three live appearances scheduled. One of those is at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday, June 30.

Basement Jaxx returned to the national spotlight in the United States last year when their song “Never Say Never,” which came along with a clever video featuring the manufacture of a TWERKbot (or rather “TW3RK-BOT 1.0”), hit #1 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Dance Club Chart. (Basement Jaxx were also nominated for a Grammy thanks to the song!)

Here’s that video:

The live show consists of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, aka “The Jaxx,” and perhaps another 10 performers in a dynamic performance. The show supports the release of their seventh studio album Junto, which was released in August 2014 and includes “Never Say Never.”

The Los Angles Times praised the latest album upon its release, saying, “Thirteen songs that strive for peaks as high as a flooded dance-floor rocking ‘Where’s Your Head At’ at full volume, Junto hits with heated bangers while also stepping away from the steam to cool off.”

Watch “Where’s Your Head At” live At Kendall Calling 2013 in the United Kingdom:

Tickets are available online and at the 9:30 Club box office.

Basement Jaxx
9:30 Club
Tuesday, June 30
Doors @7pm
$35
All ages

Music Park: The Juan MacLean @ U Street Music Hall — 5/1/15

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John MacLean and Nancy Whang of The Juan MacLean

Anticipation. That’s what happens before a The Juan MacLean show.

Doors opened at 10:00pm at the U Street Music Hall for the modest line that had formed outside. Once inside, the sign at the ticket counter hinted the band was scheduled to go on at 11:30pm.

With time to kill, with a drink and a conversation, one could groove to Tommy Cornelis owning the DJ booth. He gave the growing crowd, many fitted with full backpacks, amble reason to dance.

And dance they did, because 11:30 came and went. Tommy kept the momentum going. Finally, just after midnight, the members of The Juan MacLean, including it’s namesake John MacLean, took positions. After building even greater anticipation, Nancy Whang, formerly of the disbanded LCD Soundsystem, appeared on stage and began to sing in earnest.

Yet it was as if the sound was on mute. Singing was evident, but none of the lyrics escaped the stage.

Partway through the second song, something snapped and the sound came alive. The crowd let out a riotous cheer. Dancing took over, and unconvinced head nodding was a thing of the past.

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Music Park: The Ting Tings @ 9:30 Club — 4/11/15

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The Ting Tings bang the drums at 9:30 Club in 2009

Katie White, in a space age dress with a sweater around the waist, was all about destroying the stage with dance. Nothing was safe from her furious motion. Not the microphone stands or the cords that got twisted and unplugged or the drum, the drum, the drum that fell after repeated banging.

After awhile, she gave the stage hand a shout out for being the hero of the night, repeatedly putting things back in perfect order, until she danced back through.

After a 3-year absence, Katie White and Jules de Martino, who make up The Ting Tings out of Manchester, returned in full dance mode to the 9:30 Club with their new album, Super Critical, and tour. The new songs are part disco and a few, like “Only Love”, are reminiscent of their first album, We Started Nothing.

This marked he fifth time I’ve seen The Ting Tings play live, and this was most certainly their best performance yet. With three albums worth of material to play, they took the packed club on a 13 song odyssey.

They spent much of the night doling out gems from Super Critical and We Started Nothing. They largely skipped their second album except to play “Hang It Up” and “Give It Back” early on in the show.

New songs like “Communication”, takes one back to early 90’s electronic dance, and “Green Poison” gives off a whiff of funk. Katie opened the latter by requesting the light crew to shine the nastiest green lights they can find.

The crowd was constantly in motion, feeding off of Katie’s smooth vocals and the peppy beats from Jules.

The Ting Tings are back. You need to pick up their new album and start your own dance party.

 

KANEHOLLER opened for The Ting Ting’s during this early Saturday show. The electro singing-songwriting duo of Chelsea Tyler and Jon Foster formed in Brooklyn in 2011 under the name “badbad” and are now based in Venice, CA.

This was their first show ever in DC. They seemed pleased to be here and played a number of catchy electro-dance songs like “Paper Games” and “Evermore”. Chelsea Tyler often resembled an electronic version of Alanis Morissette in motion.

A fine set that got the crowd loose and ready for The Ting Tings.

 

The Ting Ting’s Set List

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