Don’t Miss: Ought and Priests @ Black Cat, 5/10/16

Ought (Photo by Colin Medley)

For my money, no professional music critic “gets” post-punk more than Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone (the man wrote a heart-breaking autobiographic account of his first marriage and love of music in “Love Is a Mix Tape,” after all).

And as such, it came as absolutely no surprise to me that he would love Ought, a Montreal-based quartet that draw comparisons to the Talking Heads and other bands that Rob has saluted in his various essays. Rob picked Ought’s song “Beautiful Blue Sky” as his #2 song of 2015, praising the song for its lyrical bravery.

Said Rob, “The Montreal postpunk kids lock into a staccato guitar groove and stretch it into a beautiful long marquee moon of a thing. Tim Darcey starts out sneering easy-target buzzwords (‘Warplane! Condo!’) and then the kind of phony clichés people say in cartoons (‘Fancy seeing you here! Beautiful weather today!’) then his own awkward confessions: ‘I am no longer afraid to dance tonight, because that’s all that I have left.'”

The song appears on Ought’s sophomore album, Sun Coming Down, released on Constellation Records in September 2015. Have a listen to it via Soundcloud:

Ought are touring in support of their new album, and the band stops locally at the Black Cat on Tuesday, May 10.

I first discovered Ought when I saw them perform at DC9 on Oct. 16, 2014, touring in support of their debut LP, More Than Any Other Day. At the time, I said, “Ought opened with ‘Today More Than Any Other Day,’ an amazing tribute really to living one’s life. It’s a bit like lyrics by [David] Byrne superimposed over melodies that could have come from Television. Musically, Ought could have sprung straight from 1977 via New York City.”

This show already is amazing enough, but it becomes even more amazing because DC punks Priests join Ought on the bill! In fact, Priests jump onto the Ought tour starting next week in Boston on May 4 and stick with them throughout the month.

Priests have a number of dynamic and great songs — and like Ought, they are a “must see” live band. When I last saw Priests at the Black Cat in February, the band performed a number of new songs they have been honing over the past year or so — songs that sit well with the Priests’ published catalog even if they aren’t always as frenetic.

This is one of my most anticipated shows of 2016. This concert will brim with vitality, intellectualism, and damn good music from both bands in a way that strikes me as if a young Talking Heads and Blondie were to have dropped by about 40 years ago (and that is the highest compliment I can think of!). Tickets are available online.

Ought and Priests
Black Cat
Tuesday, May 10
Doors @730pm
All ages

Music Park: Priests @ Black Cat — 2/14/16

Katie Alice Greer (front) and Taylor M (back) of Priests perform at Fort Reno Park in DC on July 17, 2014. (Photo by Lewis Francis)

Daniele Withonel ignited the show with a rain of drumbeats from the back of the stage as she started belting out the sing-song words to “No Big Bang,” a newer song being played by her band Priests.

Bassist Taylor M. jumps in, and the main stage at the Black Cat on Sunday night is full of deep, driving, urgent beats as Priests begin their set. Guitarist Gideon Jaguar stands to the side, throwing in some sparkly chords here and there. Toward the end of the song, it combusts, and vocalist Katie Greer shrieks into her microphone as Gideon’s guitar explodes with a wave of surf rock.

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Don’t Miss: Protomartyr and Priests @ Black Cat, 2/14/16

Protomartyr (Photo by Zak Bratto)

There are so, so many ways to say, “I love you,” on Valentine’s Day.” And many of them involve music!

But really, if you want to show your companion that you care, don’t make them listen to terrible music. Rather, take them out to hear some really good music! And I have a suggestion for you, of course.

The very excellent post-punk quartet Protomartyr are on tour to support their third album, and they stop in DC at the Black Cat on Sunday, Feb. 14. The band released The Agent Intellect last October via Hardly Art, and it’s a stunner.

Vocalist Joe Casey manages all of the intellectual growling and disaffected gaze of fellow Detroit native son Iggy Pop and the youthful English icon Ian Curtis. His bandmates — guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard, and bassist Scott Davidson — might well be mistaken for Wire if you heard them blind!

Now, you might think that lyrics off new lead single “Why Does It Shake?” might not be that romantic: “False happiness is on the rise/See the victims piled high in a room without a roof.” But hey, I said this was *good* music — and you only want the very best for your Valentine, right?

Protomartyr recently visited NPR for a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 4, 2015. Watch them perform “Why Does It Shake?,” “Devil in His Youth,” and “Three Swallows” on YouTube:

But wait there’s more! For our DC show only  For a run of five shows beginning in Cleveland on Feb. 10 and ending in DC, Protomartyr share the stage with our contemporary high citizens of punk rock — Priests! Vocalist Katie Greer, guitarist Gideon Jaguar, bassist Taylor Mulitz, and drummer Danielle Danielle always deliver a pulse-pounding show as they spit on consumerism, bad relationships, and other cultural ills.

Watch Priests perform “Doctor” from their album Bodies and Control and Money and Power live at the Wilderness Bureau for WAMU 88.5’s Bandwidth on May 28, 2014:

If all of that weren’t enough, Protect-U duo Aaron Leitko and Mike Petillo will open the show from behind the decks with their alluring ambient pop. So much good music, guaranteed to be a Valentine’s Day hit.

Tickets are available online.

Protomartyr and Priests
w/ Protect-U
Black Cat
Sunday, Feb. 14
Doors @7:30pm
All ages

Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2015 by Mickey

Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet was a star player at the 9:30 Club on April 28, 2015. (Photo by Joy Asico)

When I look back upon 2015, I certainly discovered my share of new favorite bands. But I have to confess, the best shows of the year were dominated by legacy bands returning to reclaim their pop thrones. And so the shows I am most excited about in 2015 were generally those shows where a genre-defining artist came back to DC and absolutely mastered their art.

But I’ll add this postscript: 2015 also was the year of the punk rock girl, as several notable bands reminded me of how much I like a woman’s voice over a bit of surf or rockabilly guitar. I’ll explain more after my official list of Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2015.

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Don’t Miss: Shopping @ Black Cat, 11/17/15

Shopping (Photo by Jenna Foxton)

Hey, everyone, at this very moment, I’m in New York City. That’s great because I love visiting New York.

But it’s also bad because I’m missing likely one of the best shows in DC all year! London trio Shopping are holding down a double-bill with our very own Priests! Wow, I wish I could be there. But you can still go because the show is tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Black Cat.

You likely know hometown punk quartet Priests. They are a pretty exciting band that makes some good music. We reviewed them when they were at Black Cat previously.

You may not know UK post-punkers Shopping, who awesomely capture a lot of great things about punk and post-punk music in short ditties of powerful melodic virtue.

Shopping released their second album, Why Choose, via FatCat, in October, and they are touring the United States in support of that release.

Coming together in 2012, guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter, and drummer Andrew Milk do an amazing job of capturing the spirit of The Slits, X-Ray Spex, and a great deal of DEVO (as well as the lighter side of The Gang of Four).

Be blown away by the sardonic vocals and brilliant guitar riffs of single “Straight Lines” from the new album (and try to ignore the naked women) via YouTube:

Shopping are proving prolific with the release of their debut album, Consumer Complaints, only last year! They and Priests are going to make quite a team tonight. Puff Pieces open for the bands.

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Shopping and Priests
w/ Puff Pieces
Black Cat
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Doors @730pm
All ages

Music Park: Priests @ Black Cat — 2/7/15

Gideon Jaguar and Katie Greer do the rock.

Katie Greer’s voice is half kitten purr and half jet engine roar.

Priests took to the stage as an opener for Parquet Courts in a sold-out show at the Black Cat Saturday night, and they blasted out of the gate so rambunctiously, you could be forgiven for forgetting everything that followed them.

Katie and company opened with “New” from their EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power, released in June 2014. The song has all of two lines really — and they are about the sensation of things being “new” when you’re a kid.

But the lyrics matter less in this case than how they are delivered. Katie’s growl grows more powerful as the song goes on while Daniele Daniele pounds away on the drums behind her, yelping out a high-pitched refrain behind her bandmate’s lower register. Taylor Mulitz completes the rhythm section with some deft handling of bass.

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