Music Park: The Arcs @ 9:30 Club — 12/14/15

The ArcsDan Auerbach of The Arcs (Photo Credit: Monelle Chiti)

When a band features two drummers, a keyboardist, a bassist, a chorus line from an all female mariachi band, and a lead singer who shreds his guitar in a state of estatic bliss, you know you’re in for something more. Something alive. Something visceral.

Dan Auerbach’s project, The Arcs, because it is clearly no one else’s, is raucous and funky and unique in ways that are not just about music, but about life. Living to the fullest. Not giving a shit what anyone else thinks. Crying out “this is who I am, thank you coming, but I’ll still enjoy what I do, whether you do or not.”

That The Arcs exist, is a testament to Auerbach’s need to create, to express himself passionately, to find outlets where he can bare his soul, and experiment musically outside of The Black Keys.

And The Black Keys are great. I’ve seen them three times already (unfortunately, most recently at the first Firefly Music Festival), so I was intrigued to discover what The Arcs were all about. What they represented in comparison and in contrast.

The Arcs still have Auerbach’s garage rock and blues sensibility, with his unmistakable voice. It would not be a stretch to mistake The Arcs’ sound for The Black Keys.

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Music Park: Electric Six @ Black Cat — 10/11/15

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Electric Six with Dick Valentine (left) (Photo by Frank Nash)

Much of the appeal of the Electric Six comes from the band’s desire to have fun and to make you dance by any music necessary.

And that sense of fun was on full display Sunday night at the Black Cat, where frontman Dick Valentine (born Tyler Spencer) and company absolutely packed the backstage beyond capacity. To be fair, the band originally were slated to play on the larger mainstage, but were moved backstage for some reason as the DC federal holiday weekend approached.

“The Electric Six were demoted!” Dick proclaimed early in the set. “Write to the Speaker of the House, whoever that may be, and have us remoted!”

I personally have never been in a more crowded show backstage, so I fully embrace Dick’s sentiment. At the end of the day, however, the Electric Six brought everything it had to bear in a genre-bending stampede of music that went from funk to punk to metal and even to country. It was a double-barrel shotgun blast of raucous dance music.

At a midpoint in the concert, Dick declared that it was time to break out the dance music, although 99 percent of the show consisted of dance music, as evidenced by an audience that was actively bopping and hopping. The declaration came as an intro to a medley of the band’s songs “Improper Dancing” and “(Who the Hell Just) Call My Phone,” one song from the band’s popular debut album Fire and another from their 2014 album Human Zoo.

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Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

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Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.

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Don’t Miss: Hot Chip @ Echostage, 6/5/15

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London quintet Hot Chip (Photo by Steve Gullick)

Last month, nu disco juggernauts Hot Chip released their sixth studio album, Why Make Sense?

After five good albums (several of which are outstanding), you might ask, “Where can Hot Chip go from here?” And Hot Chip apparently asked themselves that same question in the making of this album.

Part of the process of finding an answer for the band was to write and record “Huarache Lights,” a musical statement on what the band brings to the table. It’s a classic single for Hot Chip, pairing vocalist Alexis Taylor’s unique voice with pulsating rhythms and thematically addressing people and technology — but most importantly, doing so while being funky.

Watch the video for “Huarache Lights”:

In May, Hot Chip launched a world tour in support of the new album, and they bring the show to Echostage in DC this Friday, June 5.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip several times in the past, and their live show is itself a regular dance party. They have a sound, and surely an accompanying light show, capable of filling the large space of Echostage quite well.

And I daresay that the sound and vision of the live performance tells the other half of the story when asking where do Hot Chip go from here? So it’s well worth your time to get out there, check them out and dance your heart out.

Watch a full Hot Chip set from the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris:

Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab brings his soul quartet Sinkane along to open for Hot Chip. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the 9:30 Club.

Hot Chip
w/ Sinkane
Echostage
Friday, June 5
Doors @7pm
$45
All ages

Music Park: Funk Parade @ U Street, 5/2/15

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Members of Batala Percussion band performing at 2014 Funk Parade in DC on May 3, 2014 (Photo by Pabak Sarkar)

The second annual Funk Parade promises to be even funkier than the first.

The street and music festival certainly impressed enough people in its inaugural year to convince Mayor Muriel Bowser to close U Street NW on Saturday, May 2 for the daylong festival.

“The U Street Funk Parade embodies the spirit of the District,” said Mayor Bowser in a press release on April 3. “It brings our communities together and honors the city’s cultural heritage that we’ve all come to know and love.”

The Funk Parade organizers sought to close down U Street for their parade last year as well, but they were denied by then-Mayor Vince Grey. With this year’s closing, U Street will shut down for the first time in 17 years, according to reports.

“We’re grateful to the city and Mayor Muriel Bowser for acknowledging U Street’s historic significance to the District as the soul of music, culture and celebration, a place that’s unlike anywhere else in the city,” said Justin Rood, co-founder of Funk Parade, in the press release.

Rood and fellow co-founder Chris Naoum of Listen Local First have been running an Indiegogo campaign to raise $15,000 for the Funk Parade. As of this morning, it has raised roughly $9,300 toward that goal with only four days of fundraising remaining.

The organizes estimate last year’s Funk Parade drew more than 25,000 participants with more than 100 hours of music programming from more than four dozen acts in 30 locations throughout the day. The literal Funk Parade marched down V Street NW last year after Grey denied its application to march down U Street.

Funk Parade activities planned for May 2 include a day fair, the parade, and a music festival.

The following info is from the Funk Parade Indiegogo site:

Day Fair (12-5pm): Before the parade, the neighborhood will host a day fair, full of music, dance, art, and spontaneous acts of soul and creativity. It’s a chance to gather and celebrate and prepare for the mighty parade!

The Main Event – Funk Parade (5-7pm): See dancers, your friends and neighbors, a marching band behind them, and a drum corps. See costumes and getups and shiny things. Hear beat-boxers and junkyard drummers. See pot-bangers and clappers and kids on their parents’ shoulders. Horn players wander in and out of the crowd. A thunderous syncopated procession of groove, winding its way through the neighborhood, calling the city to the funk.

Music Festival (7-10pm): After the parade winds down, the U Street neighborhood’s historic venues open their doors for the city to hear some of the best music DC has to offer. One night, one city, one groove: the subatomic particle of love.

The Funk Parade
U Street Corridor
Saturday, May 2
12-10pm
Free
All ages

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Music Park: Spirit Animal @ DC9 — 2/25/15

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“Who came to dance?” asked vocalist Steve Cooper of Spirit Animal. He was about to play a dance song.

Despite occupying a very full room at DC9 on Wednesday night, the crowd gave a very noncommittal murmur.

“That’s a tepid response!” Steve said. “Then, this is a stand-the-fuck-still song!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The entertaining banter is part of the Spirit Animal stage show, as they bring their party rock and carefree attitude to any stage they play. Spirit Animal then launch into “Party in the Back,” a new song from 2014, and along the way they manage to get the crowd to indeed dance along, starting with the people in the back of the room.

Despite their position as the opening band (for Paper Route in this case), Spirit Animal’s lengthy repertoire and charisma demand co-billing status of any main act. The audience cannot help but unwind when the prolific Brooklyn quartet take the stage with such good chemistry and crowd-pleasing songs. With their infectious enthusiasm and funky anthems, they are kind of like a young New Yorker’s answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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