Appearing for the first time in DC in four years, Grace Potter’s date at The Anthem on Saturday went off more smoothly than the last time she was here.
As I was listening to Camper Van Beethoven at the 9:30 Club recently, I was reminded of the title of a Spotify playlist of ’80s alternative rock: Left of the Dial. To the crowd’s delight, the band opened with their delightfully odd cult hit “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” from their 1985 debut LP, Telephone Free Landslide Victory.
Philadelphia artist Son Little (the alias of Aaron Livingston), a sometime collaborator with The Roots and alternative hip-hop artist Rjd2, combines blues, soul, and hip-hop in his unique singer-songwriter style. Playing solo on acoustic and electric guitar, Son Little entertained a post-Thanksgiving crowd of music lovers at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Saturday.
Nashville all-female rock band Thelma and the Sleaze got some well-deserved exposure recently, opening for Brittany Howard at the 9:30 Club for two nights. By turns, they were hilarious, crude, and brash. Led by their charismatic frontwoman LG, the band also includes Whiskers (guitar), Queenie (bass), Cootchie (keys), and Snowflake (drums). Together, they entertained the sold-out house and laid down some heavy jams.
Brittany Howard, lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, absolutely tore down the house in a solo appearance at the 9:30 Club on Friday evening. Following an excellent opening set by the all-female rock band Thelma and the Sleaze, Brittany took to the stage to a deafening chorus of cheers.
Dawes treated a full house at the Lincoln Theatre to an evening of pure rock ’n’ roll magic recently. Their muscular grooves and tender lyrics echoed vestiges of the great Americana and folk-rock tradition, bringing to mind Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Band, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
As Dawes jammed out, traces of the Grateful Dead colored their sonic palette. When bassist Wylie Gelber crossed his ankles and almost leaned into his monitor, his lithe frame and wide shoulders resembled the figure of the Dead’s Phil Lesh.
Dylan-influenced glam rocker (and Evan Peters lookalike) Kyle Craft opened his show at the Pearl Street Warehouse recently by getting political. He came out solo and played Particle Kid’s “Gunshow Loophole Blues,” a searing commentary on the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend. (Particle Kid is the stage name of Kyle’s friend Micah Nelson, the 27-year-old son of the legendary Willie Nelson.)
A reverent crowd sat in hushed admiration for the songs composed by Okkervil River founder and frontman Will Scheff, who praised The Hamilton Live for its feeling of openness and its listening room environment, during a recent stop on the band’s Rarities & Requests Tour.
As in America, vast spaces and haunting, uninhabited vistas define the face of the Australian continent. Perhaps it lies in the nation’s geography and its history of colonization, a pioneer spirit shared with the United States, that explains the disproportionate thriving of country music half a world away from its Appalachian and Delta roots. Broad enough to encompass the country pop of Keith Urban and the Americana of Kasey Chambers, it also includes the singer-songwriter oriented, confessional alternative country rock of Julia Jacklin, who brought her music to Rock and Roll Hotel recently.