Music Park: YACHT @ U Street Music Hall — 11/7/15

YACHT / El Korah Shrine
YACHT perform at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho, on March 28, 2015. (Photo courtesy Treefort Music Fest)

Claire Evans trailed off singing the catchy new song “Hologram” from the new album by YACHT and peered over the audience in mock concern.

“Whose phone is ringing?” she queried.

Turning to her right, she found that her own phone was apparently ringing at U Street Music Hall on Saturday night. She picked up the phone receiver, seated next to a synthesizer of course, and began to explain to the “caller” that she was at a show, so it wasn’t the best time to talk.

“What show? YACHT,” Claire said.

“No, not a boat,” she continued after a pause. “It’s an acronym. [beat] Yes, I’m sure they regret that too.”

Claire and her YACHT bandmates then launched into “Ringtone,” another catchy new album from I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, released last month via Downtown Records.

As Claire intimated, YACHT was conceived as Young Americans Challenging High Technology by Jona Bechtolt some years ago. Jona, who plays synth and guitar, eventually would recruit Claire as full-time vocalist, and most recently Rob Kieswetter on synth and bass. The trio stopped in DC for a show in support of the new album, easily their most accessible and appealing effort yet.

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Music Park: The Drums @ Baby’s All Right (NYC) — 10/28/15

The Drums - 23.11.2014, Razzmatazz 2 (Barcelona)
Jonny Pierce of The Drums sings at Razzmatazz 2 in Barcelona on Nov. 23, 2014. (Photo by ScannerFM)

Revitalized new wavers The Drums wrapped up a successful tour last week with three sold-out shows in their hometown at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, showing the assembled crowds they still dazzle on stage.

The shows closed out extensive performances in support of the band’s third album, Encyclopedia, released in September 2014. The album finds The Drums as only a duo — founding creative forces in vocalist Jonny Pierce and keyboardist Jacob Graham — but as exciting and fresh as ever.

After a three-year break, Jonny and Jacob demonstrated their continued appeal with singles like “I Can’t Pretend,” a popular selection during their recent shows, which also included a stop at DC9 on Monday, Oct. 26.

The song is a terrific combination of elements that make The Drums so great — Jonny’s soothing voice, a synth backbone set down by Jacob, and resonant surf guitars added by the touring band. Interestingly, that surf rock sound often tends to be one of the most distinctive trademarks of a song by The Drums. To my ears, The Drums otherwise owe tremendous debts to two of their influences: The Smiths and New Order.

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Music Park: New Video from YACHT (Appearing @ U Street Music Hall, 11/7/15)

Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans of YACHT (Photo courtesy Downtown Records)

YACHT will perform at U Street Music Hall on Saturday, Nov. 7, after releasing their new album, I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, last Friday. We’ve been recommending that you go!

Today, the L.A.-based art pop collective debuted the video for the album’s title track — clearly in hopes that the future would have turned out cooler than it did. It’s really quite clever in pointing out the silliness of some things of NOW — including selfie sticks, Segways, vaping and Tinder.

Watch the official video for “I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler” by YACHT on YouTube:

Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt of YACHT say, “This is a science fiction video that uses only existing technologies—VR, drones, self-balancing scooters (“hoverboards”), telepresence robots, selfie sticks, Soylent, and vape pens. All of these things have variably been presented as symbols of our futuristic world, but up close, they just feel straight-up comical. Our director, Eugene Kotlyarenko, has a unique perspective on this material, as a filmmaker. His feature film, Zeros and Ones, takes place entirely in computer interfaces. He was a perfect partner. He totally understood what we wanted to do and how to do it—from faux FaceTime to faking scrubbing ahead on YouTube.”

It’s a shame in a way that YACHT are no longer with DFA, as the label that made famous LCD Soundsystem is surely ground zero for a literal peek at now as the future from the reference point of a late ’70s/early ’80s synth-driven idealistic outlook formulated by the new wave sensibilities favored by both LCD and YACHT.

All the same, YACHT clearly are in good form, and you should see them when they are here in a few short weeks.

Tickets are available online.

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

Music Park: Jessie’s Girl @ Howard Theatre — 10/16/15

Jenna O’Gara leads the girls on stage for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” at the Howard on Oct. 16, 2015.

“Jessie is a band/
Yeah, I know it’s been a good 80s cover band.”

Usually closely held by denizens of New York City, Jessie’s Girl brought its brightly lit guitar solos to the Howard Theatre on Friday night to an ardent audience happy to dance their hearts out.

The seven-person ensemble rocks out with a wide variety of tunes from the ’80s, ranging from artists like Prince, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, A-ha, Loverboy, and more. Friday, they bound onto the stage with intro music borrowed from “The Final Countdown” by Europe and then proceeded to dive headlong into kinetic tributes to musicians who defined a decade.

Early in the show, the band jumps into “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy, encouraging the crowd to hop around the room, hands raised in celebration. Singers Jenna O’Gara and Mark Rinzel trade off vocal duties for the song, pumping up the shamelessly lyrical fun of the song’s mission statement: Take a few days off to party!

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

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

Don’t Miss: FFS @ Lincoln Theatre, 10/5/15 (That’s Franz Ferdinand + Sparks!)

FFS1892 - photo credit David Edwards- 300dpi
Supergroup FFS combines Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. (Photo by David Edwards)

Legacy glam rockers Sparks love wordplay — they never met a pun they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released a seminal album called Kimona My House. They followed that up with lots of cheekiness in album titles like “Music You Can Dance To” and “Plagiarism,” among others.

Post-punk upstarts Franz Ferdinand also love wordplay — they never met an artistic statement as an allegory for life decisions they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released the cheeky “Take Me Out” and the referential “Ulysses.”

Well, a funny thing happened when Sparks met Franz Ferdinand: They discovered that they were two great tastes that taste great together, and so because Franz Ferdinand Sparks is a bit too cumbersome, they became the flash FFS.

The super group released its self-titled debut album as FFS earlier this year on June 8, drawing the sensibilities of the now six-member band somewhere into the middle of two extremes. The result is a hyper-intelligent if quirky new wave monster that really really loves wordplay. After releasing the album, FFS launched a world tour that comes to the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Monday, Oct. 5.

The lead single from FFS — “Johnny Delusional” actually was a familiar nervous pop song, particularly for those of us who grew up listening to the likes of Devo and the Talking Heads in the early ’80s. Watch the video for “Johnny Delusional” on YouTube:

The rest of the FFS songs have a bit more fun with their lyrical ambitions. Is “Call Girl” a wistful note to a distant love or a lascivious expression of sexual desire? “Dictator’s Son” is surely the first song to attempt to explore the soul of a dictator’s son? And “Man Without a Tan” is certainly a Sparksesque lampooning of what people find attractive among or between the sexes.

Tickets are available online. This is going to be great.

w/ The Intelligence
Lincoln Theatre
Monday, Oct. 5
Doors @6:30pm
All ages

Don’t Miss: Eliot Sumner (Opening for ON AN ON) @ DC9, 9/15/15

Eliot Sumner (Photo courtesy Press Here)

Eliot Sumner was once “I Blame Coco.”

She’s not “Coco” any more, but she’s still the daughter of Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting — and she’s coming to DC9 on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

In 2014, Eliot released an EP, Information, as her first release under her Sting-given name, and she released a second EP, Early Reflections SMPLR, only last week.

Make no mistake: Eliot doesn’t sound like her dad, but I think you can occasionally catch her father’s cadence in some of her songs.

Watch the video for her latest single “Species,” released on August 24, 2015, on You Tube:

On her new songs, Eliot plays guitar, often accompanied by synths, bass and drums, but her distinctive voice serves as the cornerstone of her sound. The low register of her voice lends her songs a certain urgency, and she occasionally sounds trip hop. For her new material, she cites influences like the Bad Seeds, Cluster, Faust, and Kraftwerk.

Listen to the songs from Eliot’s two recent EPs on Soundcloud:

Eliot performs at DC9 as part of a tour where she is opening for experimental Minneapolis trio ON AN ON. Tickets are available online.

Eliot Sumner
(Opening for ON AN ON)
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Doors @8pm
All ages