Music Park: Styx @ Strathmore Music Center — 11/10/15

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Lawrence Gowan (left), Todd Sucherman, and Tommy Shaw of Styx and Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, chat at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., on July 1, 2015. (Photo courtesy NASA)

Styx lead singer Lawrence Gowan reflected on the band’s previous visit to the DC-metro area in July during a quiet moment at a Styx concert at the Strathmore Music Center last week.

Someone at NASA invited Styx to witness the reconnaissance flyby of Pluto and its moons by the probe New Horizons, which documented a previously unknown fifth moon around the dwarf planet. Researchers at NASA of course dubbed the new moon Styx after the visiting progressive rock band.

This inspired the start of a solo medley Lawrence played while the rest of the band took a brief break during the very full show in Bethesda on Tuesday, Nov. 10, and Lawrence took the opportunity to tip his hat to Elton John with a cover of “Rocket Man.”

The talented keyboardist is a natural showman, and he and Styx founder Tommy Shaw already got the audience to their feet and singing along to many classic Styx songs. Now Lawrence led us through a singalong of “Rocket Man,” followed by a verse of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.

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Don’t Miss: Styx @ Music Center at Strathmore, 11/10/15

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Styx with (from left to right) Chuck Panozzo, Ricky Phillips, Todd Sucherman, Tommy Shaw, James “J.Y.” Young, and Lawrence Gowan at Macon City Auditorium on Oct. 4, 2014, in Macon, Ga. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for STYX)

Q&A with Lawrence Gowan of Styx

Lawrence Gowan has taken on vocal duties for the inimitable progressive rock band Styx for the past 17 years after replacing Dennis DeYoung. In that time, Lawrence has made an impression on audiences worldwide and left his own indelible mark on Styx. Styx returns to the DC metropolitan area for a show on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., in a Concert to Benefit Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children. Prior to that show, Parklife DC chats with Lawrence about the music that moves him, performing with Styx, and future plans for the band.

Mickey McCarter: Hey, Lawrence, it’s great to talk to you! You’ve been busy lately. You just got off the BIG Tour with Def Leppard, and now you’re launching into your own tour.

Lawrence Gowan: Yes, we did our first show recently without Def Leppard after four months in Springfield, Mo. We had the big summer blockbuster tour where we could only play a little over an hour a night, so it’s great to get back to a two-hour set. And we’ll be playing in the DC area on Nov. 10 in Bethesda, Md.

MM: So what can people expect? You were here in Virginia on July 2 at Jiffy Lube Live with a shorter set. How are the upcoming shows different?

LG: This is an Evening with Styx. It’s not the fine blend of coffee that people got over the summer. This is the full-on espresso! Maybe a triple-shot!

We’re able to go a lot deeper. It’s more akin to the DVD we put out a couple of years ago — an Evening with Styx. We are playing the entire Grand Illusion and the entire Pieces of Eight. It’s closer to that sort of evening, where we delve a lot deeper into various album tracks, and the show has a wide-ranging emotional arc to it than the onslaught of four hours of classic rock that people saw over the summer with Tesla, Styx, and Def Leppard.

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Don’t Miss: Electric Six @ Black Cat, 10/11/15

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Electric Six (Photo by Chris Betea)

It’s a long holiday weekend in DC, and many of us have Monday off thanks to Columbus Day. In this case, what better way to spend your Sunday night than seeing a concert?

For our money, your best bet may be Detroit-based collective Electric Six, appearing at the Black Cat on Sunday, Oct. 11. Headed by Dick Valentine, the Electric Six are electric, eclectic, and loud! The official lineup of Electric Six today has only five members: Dick Valentine (vocals), Da Ve (guitar), Johnny Na$hinal (guitar), Tait Nucleus? (synths), and Percussion World (drums). They are still best known perhaps for their 2003 debut album, Fire, which spawned several hits in the United Kingdom — “Danger! High Voltage,” “Gay Bar,” and “Dance Commander.”

As you can see from those three songs alone, Electric Six have a unique way of traversing genres — going from the depths of hard rock to positively new wave. They keep the pace high with their 11th studio album, Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!, released on Oct. 2 via Metropolis Records. They also stay absolutely quirky with song titles like “Slow Motion Man,” “When Cowboys File for Divorce,” and “Kids Are Evil.” If anything on this new album, Electric Six are more than ever crossing the hard rock lyrics of early AC/DC with the sweeping progressiveness of a middle-period Styx.

Electric Six don’t seem to have released a new music video in a while, so let’s revisit “Danger! High Voltage” and recall how damn catchy it is.

Watch the official video for “Danger! High Voltage” on YouTube:

Oh, hey, Baltimore, we see Electric Six had to cancel their show tonight at Metro Gallery due to a personal emergency. Come party with us on Sunday! Tickets are available online and at the door.

Electric Six
w/ Yip Deceiver
Black Cat
Sunday, Oct. 11
Doors @7:30pm
$15
All ages

Don’t Miss: The Zombies @ Lincoln Theatre, 10/8/15

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The Zombies (Photo by Andrew Eccles)

Several years ago, English rockers The Zombies came to DC to play at The Howard Theatre as part of an annual tour the band now undertakes.

Their last show here, on August 9, 2012, was a smashing success. Writing for the blog We Love DC at the time, I observed, “Best known for orchestral arrangements of their classic rock songs, The Zombies played stripped down versions of their own classics, pleasing the audience of roughly 250 or more who came out to see them for a seated show at The Howard. The audience was positively pleased for folks who looked like they had been waiting for the opportunity to see the veteran rockers for some time. They were pleased enough to deliver a standing ovation after ‘Hold Your Head Up’ [originally by Argent] in particular.”

Now organist and vocalist Rod Argent along with lead vocalist Colin Blunstone are coming back to DC to perform at the Lincoln Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 8 with their bandmates guitarist Tom Toomey, Jim Rodford, and Steve Rodford.

At the Lincoln, The Zombies will perform their seminal 1968 album Odessey and Oracle in its entirety! –something they never have done in the United States prior to this tour.

Watch The Zombies perform “Time of the Season,” one of the long-enduring hits from that album, at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin, Texas, during SXSW 2013 on March 16, 2013:

Tickets are available online!

The Zombies
Lincoln Theatre
Thursday, Oct. 8
Doors @6:30pm
$45
All ages

Music Park: Paperhaus @ Black Cat — 12/9/14

Paperhaus is a band in touch with its feelings.

And those feelings often manifest themselves in six-minute songs that project the majesty of a space or an idea — “Mountains are moving high against wide sky,” vocalist Eduardo Rivera sings by way of example on the very new “Untitled.”

In that way, Paperhaus often wear their prog-rock influences on their sleeve. The band’s ethereal and lengthy guitar riffs and often-mystical references certainly *smack* of King Crimson or early YES but its winning formula of two guitars, bass and drums and a love of jamming out feed their self-described psychedelia. Lyrically, Paperhaus explore topics like the joy of being alive or the pain of lost love.

The band debuted some new songs backstage at the Black Cat on Tuesday, Dec. 9, opening for Jamaican Queens. The kicked off with “Untitled,” a selection from their self-titled debut album set for release in February. “Untitled” seems to celebrate being alive with references to a bit of religion and a bit of nature, and the pleasant, ambling guitar work couples well with Eduardo’s airy, soft voice.

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