Don’t Miss: Back to the 80s Show w/ Jessie’s Girl and Rob Base @ Howard Theatre, 10/16/15

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Jenna O’Gara of Jessie’s Girl killing it at the Canal Room in New York City (Photo by Manish Gosalia)

If there’s one thing my old friends know about me, it’s that I like an ’80s dance party. (Check out my Parklife DC list of 80s parties if you want some evidence!)

And that’s one reason why I absolutely must check out a performance by New York City’s biggest ’80s cover band, Jessie’s Girl, who are visiting DC to perform at the Howard Theatre in a late show tomorrow night, Friday, Oct. 16.

And they are bringing along with them Rob Base, the hip hop artist perhaps best known for the ’80s hit “It Takes Two” with the late DJ E-Z Rock. In concert with Jessie’s Girl, Rob Base has performed his signature songs “It Takes Two” and “Joy & Pain” (…are like sunshine and rain)!

Watch Jessie’s Girl get a little new wave with their cover of “Take on Me” by A-ha on YouTube:

And lest you make the mistake of thinking that Jessie’s Girl are heavy on flash and light on talent, watch this charming acoustic studio cover of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper:

Tickets are available online. This is a great opportunity for all of us to see this fun cover band in our own backyard. See you there for a totally awesome time!

Back to the 80s
Jessie’s Girl
Special Performance by Rob Base
Howard Theatre
Friday, Oct. 16
Show @10pm
$20
21+

Music Park: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo @ Warner Theatre — 7/8/15


A promo for the Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour by American Public TV (above).

Pat Benatar told a lovely little story at the Warner Theatre in the latter half of her set on Wednesday night.

She and her band were on the road supporting their second album with a tour, and their management told them to tune into new cable channel MTV on August 1, 1981.

They tuned in via the television in their “cheap motel” and watched music history being made as their video for “You Better Run” aired as the second video ever shown on MTV, making Pat the first female artist and her husband Neil Giraldo the first guitar player to appear on the fledgling network. (The English electronic act The Buggles debuted with the first-ever MTV video, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and without a guitar in the band, of course.)

With that intro, Pat and Neil launched into “You Better Run,” from the hit record Crimes of Passion, which became her biggest selling album, certified 4X platinum.

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Music Park: Def Leppard @ Jiffy Lube Live — 7/2/15

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Def Leppard (Photo courtesy the band)

There was a remarkable moment in the latter half of the Def Leppard concert at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Thursday.

It was toward the end of the main set of the show, and the famous hard rocking quintet were shaking things up a bit with an instrumental number, “Switch 625” from their second album, High ‘n’ Dry.

The song comes to a close with a stomping drum solo from Rick Allen, who infamously lost his left arm in an auto accident on New Year’s Eve in 1984. It’s one thing to hear the tale of the well-regarded one-armed drummer from Def Leppard, but let me assure you that it’s another entirely to see the man in action.

I wish there were official, or even good quality unofficial, video to show you because it’s a thing of grace to see Rick projected on the big screen as he bangs away at the end of the song with his right arm and his left leg providing fluid drumming throughout the song. To see and hear the flawless piece of work is to admire the symmetry of the human body and to fully appreciate the hard work and pride that Rick puts into his drumming.

Rick’s “Switch 625” drum solo was one of many high points during a solid show from the heavy metal men from Sheffield, England. They performed many perennial favorites including “Foolin’” from hit third album Pyromania, which really first made them a household name in the United States, and “Love Bites” from its powerful follow-up Hysteria.

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Don’t Miss: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo @ Warner Theatre, 7/8/15

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Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar, husband and wife rock gods (Photo courtesy Webster PR)

I was an unabashed MTV kid, and I absorbed as much music as I could through the heydey of the music video channel.

That music came in various stripes, such as the hard rockin’ Pat Benatar, who debuted as the second video ever on MTV with “You Better Run” from her 1980 album Crimes of Passion.

“We now call that album ‘Crimes of Fashion,'” quipped Neil Giraldo, the longtime husband and guitar player of the “Invincible” songbird, holding up the album’s back cover at a concert I attended many moons ago.

Now more than 35 years on, Pat and Neil Giraldo have become perhaps the happiest couple in show business, and certainly one of the most dynamic, between her indefatigable voice and his irrepressible guitar chops. In fact, the duo launched a 35th anniversary tour in 2014, and they bring that tour to the Warner Theatre on Wednesday, July 8.

Watch these amazing musicians perform a set of three songs — 1979’s “We Live for Love,” 1984’s “We Belong,” and 1981’s “Promises in the Dark” — for an NPR Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 25, 2014.

As you can see, Pat and Neil sound even better with age. The tour setlist promises a lineup of classics, although I’m also an admirer of her last studio album, 2003’s “Go,” which I felt was critically underrated! Anyway, the show certainly will feature many longtime favorites, perhaps including “Shadows of the Night,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Love Is a Battlefield,” and many others.

Speaking of “Love Is a Battlefield,” the song is the subject of the latest in an excellent retrospective series of videos the duo have been doing in honor of their 35th anniversary.

Watch Neil and Pat discuss how the song came to take shape:

And don’t miss them in what is sure to be a terrific show at the Warner Theatre on July 8.

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
Warner Theatre
Wednesday, July 8
Show @8pm
$43-$93
All ages

Music Park: Royal Blood @ 9:30 Club — 6/10/15

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Mike Kerr of Royal Blood at the 9:30 Club on June 10 (Photo by Katerine Gaines/AmbientEye Photography)

Royal Blood are loud. Improbably so, considering it consists of only two members — bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher.

Mike’s vocals recall the spirit of 70s hard rock bands that inspired them, most notably Led Zeppelin, and Mike and Ben’s powerful instruments echo sounds from 90s grunge bands, notably Nirvana.

I realize that I’m repeating things that Jimmy Page and Dave Grohl themselves have said here, but the duo’s top song “Out of the Black” speaks its own case in volumes. At a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, June 10, Royal Blood closed an all too brief 11-song set with the number, thundering their way into the hearts of the excited crowd.

People came to rock out, and Royal Blood gave them that opportunity. “Out of the Black” deals lyrically with a classic theme of the surprise of being rejected by a lover and as a result, “It broke your skin and shook through/Every part of me, every part of you.” In that way, Royal Blood follow in the footsteps of grunge bands who were always eager to sing about the negative emotions in their lives.

But Royal Blood aren’t here to wind down their statements into an empty cacophony of strings and drums. Rather, they are here to rock.

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Music Park: Torche @ DC9 — 3/29/15

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Torche (Photo by Janette Valentine)

Steve Brooks, frontman of Torche, celebrated his birthday Sunday night at DC9. And DC bought him the best gift ever — a very solidly sold out show.

Concert-goers were packed in like sardines for the hard rock quartet’s last night in support of their new album, Restarter.

Although this was Torche’s fourth album, it was my first encounter with the group, formed in Florida more than 10 years ago. So I’m going to focus on talking about the new album and the strong performance Torche brought in support of it.

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Don’t Miss: Torche @ DC9, 3/29/15

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Torche are a metal band that’s not metal. They have a metalesque sound, and they have signed to metal label Relapse, but to hear the band tell it, they are here to rock.

And I have to agree. On first listens to new songs like “Loose Men” from their most recent album Restarter, released in February, the hard rocker quartet — consisting of lead singer and guitarist Steve Brooks, bassist Jonathan Nuñez, drummer Rick Smith, and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstne — are more apt to remind me of Van Halen than they are Avenged Sevenfold. (Although make no mistake, they sound like neither one.)

Press for the band say the band merges “huge infectious melodies with down-tuned, crushing sludgy rock,” which could appeal to those who like Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth or the Melvins.

Pitchfork called Restarter “an absolutely killer rock record — one that’s likely to appeal to listeners into any stripe of heavy music from the past 20 years.”

You have the chance to put this to the test, as Torche hit DC9 on Sunday, March 29 for the last date of their current tour in support of Restarter. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, as Torche bring along opening act Wrong (from their shared hometown of Miami) and local acts Jeff Carey and Black Clouds jump onto the bill as well.

Torche
w/ Wrong, Jeff Carey, Black Clouds
DC9
Sunday, March 29
Doors @7pm
$12
All ages