It’s such a cool feeling to come to a show and find something new, something you didn’t expect to find. And opening for Alicia Keys at Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion recently, David Bowden, known by the stage name Pink Sweats, brought the perfect balance of charm and soul.
Jazmne Sullivan performs at The Anthem in DC on March 20, 2022. (Photo by Will Colbert)
Jazmine Sullivan has never been one to mince words. In 2008, the multi-Grammy nominated R&B singer-songwriter voiced the fury of jilted lovers — and possibly inspired a few felonies — on the revenge anthem “Bust Your Windows.” Sullivan’s latest release is titled “Heaux Tales.” The conceptual project is a collection of perspectives on sex, insecurity, loss, and the power of the P — which doesn’t stand for prude. The Philadelphia soul singer shared these provocative stories during a recent sold-out show at The Anthem in DC.
The Ward on Drugs performs at The Anthem on Feb. 2, 2022. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath for IMP)
From the late ’70s into the ’80s, two of the most vibrant strands of American popular music were heartland rock and the American underground. These two traditions were very distinct, and there was no overlap. The former, the more mainstream of the two, was the domain of rock gods like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, as well as acts like Bruce Hornsby. These artists and bands often employed keys and the saxophone, although they were primarily guitar-driven.
The American Underground evolved from the fast, aggressive, stripped-down attack of punk into the no-wave sound of bands like Sonic Youth and the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. Distortion was a key feature of their sound, and they tended to eschew large arrangements, often sticking to guitar, bass, and drums.
Formed in Philadelphia in the early ‘oughts by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs combines these two disparate traditions, with a heavily guitar-based sound that uses lots of distortion.
That’s been the way for this group that got its start when its members were just high schoolers up in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Touring relentlessly and honing their sound, The Districts have made a name for themselves around Philly, where they’ve lived for the better part of the last decade and where they received crucial support from local media and music lovers as they strived to find their way.
Alex G performs on the second of two sold out nights at Ottobar in Baltimore on Oct. 29, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Do-it-yourself artists obviously have resources at their disposal that simply weren’t there for musicians of the past. But that doesn’t necessarily put success any closer within reach, nor does it grant an artist any listeners.
The fact that Alex Giannascoli recorded his first album as a senior at Haverford High School, even in today’s day and age, is an impressive achievement, and by attracting his initial fan base in organic fashion, he set the course for what would be a remarkable rise to prominence over the course of a decade while staying true to his lo-fi sound and his hands-on approach to creating unreserved songs.
Recently selling out two back-to-back shows at Ottobar in Baltimore as his musical vehicle known as Alex G, previously known as (Sandy) Alex G, showed his momentum hasn’t been slowed by the pandemic.
Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie leads a performance at 9:30 Club in DC on Oct. 13, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
If you’re looking for an emotionally advanced live music experience, you might need to roll up your sleeves to actually enjoy it once you get there. Hell, you might need to just take your shirt right off.
And if you’ve been lucky enough to see the Philadelphia-based sensation Low Cut Connie in the flesh, you know you’ll witness sweaty clothes torn to shreds, scantily clad dancers, spilled drinks, middle fingers pointed at innocent bystanders and cuss words flung in all directions. Sex, drugs, rage, grief, pain, joy, lust, love, jealousy — no topic is off limits, no subject too risqué. That’s the mentality head singer and pianist Adam Weiner brings to the keyboard, and within that kind of environment is where his crew has been groomed to thrive.
Adam and Low Cut Connie brought their best to 9:30 Club recently, delivering a dripping set of music that was uncensored, remorseless, and lasting, even in a venue that hosts as much talent as this one.