Snapshots: John Congleton and The Nighty Nite @ DC9 — 4/27/16

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John Congleton and The Nighty Nite perform at DC9 on April 27, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Renowned producer John Congleton won a Grammy for producing the fourth studio album by St. Vincent in 2014, and he also produced the latest effort from Suuns, a dark neo-psych group from Montreal. Suuns launched a tour, and John jumped onboard as the opening act, including a stop at DC9 on Wednesday.

Not one to stick to any one thing, John also has been a recording artist, notably as a musician in the Texas band The Paper Chase. He has a new project with his former The Paper Chase bandmate Jason Garner called John Congleton and The Nighty Nite, and the duo released an album, Until the Horror Goes, on April 1 via Fat Possum Records. In concert on Wednesday, they performed songs from the album with John on vocals and guitar and Jason on synthesizer.

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Don’t Miss: Parquet Courts @ 9:30 Club, 5/12/16

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Parquet Courts (Photo by Ben Rayner)

Parquet Courts clearly feel the creative urge to be on the move and make new music—and that shows through in the immediacy of the band’s live performances.

In 2014, the New York post-punk quartet released two albums in a single year. Hardly pausing to take a breath, Parquet Courts released their latest, Human Performance, on April 8 via Rough Trade. Upon the album’s release, Parquet Courts immediately launched a tour, and they are coming to the 9:30 Club on Thursday, May 12 to play a show for us!

The band have issued singles from the album like “Berlin Got Blurry” and “Dust” like challenges set to the beat of a punk Western. The songs on the album are insanely catchy.

Watch the official music video for “Berlin Got Blurry” on YouTube:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv0bBjMc6FY]

Vocalists and guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, along with bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage, call Human Performance “their finest record,” and critics agree.

“Human Performance is the moment where they jump to another level, where they find powerful and particular ways to express weirdly universal sentiments that you don’t often hear in music,” said Stereogum.

New York punk rock quartet B Boys open for Parquet Courts. Tickets are available online!

Note this is an early show. Man, 9:30 Club has been busy lately with the doubling up of early shows and late shows lately!

Parquet Courts
w/ B Boys
9:30 Club
Thursday, May 12
Doors @6pm
$20
All ages

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

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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:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212246903″ params=”color=ff5500&show_artwork=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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
$15
All ages

Music Park: VIDEO @ DC9 — 2/17/16

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TV’s Daniel of VIDEO (Photo by Jon Chamberlain)

“You don’t deserve VIDEO,” spits frontman Daniel Fried as he gazes out over the audience. “We’re too good for you. But we’re going to do you a solid and give you the best damn show of your life.”

Daniel’s band VIDEO threw down some amazingly raucous garage punk rock at DC9 on Wednesday night as part of a traveling showcase from Third Man Records. Detroit rock-n-rollers Timmy’s Organism were the headliners of the Audio Social Dissent Tour but VIDEO, zipping into the middle set of three bands, certainly captured the room to my ears.

The frontman (who goes by “TV’s Daniel” in the band) began the show with his back turned to the audience as he knelt before the drums. His bandmates — Payton Green, Harpal Assi, and Gregory Rutherford — played a pleasing post-punk instrumental while Daniel meditated, perhaps gathering his strength. Then he stands to sing a smoky punk tune, “I Will Wait.”

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Don’t Miss: Time Is Fire @ DC9, 1/28/16 @ Comet Ping Pong, 3/5/16

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Time Is Fire perform at The Howard Theatre on April 20, 2015. (Photo by Kay Said/Courtesy Time Is Fire)

Back in July, I went to the Black Cat to check out the noir cinema pop of Brooklyn band KATIEE. However, like everyone else there, I was rather stunned by the opening act, DC psych quartet Time Is Fire.

The four men in Time Is Fire cite DC punk as an influence on their band, and occasionally they marry some post-punk guitar structures to their upbeat musical style. However, when they really get rolling, they become a full-blown psychedelic jam ready to enthusiastically throw down as a wandering dance party all by themselves.

Sometimes frontman Kamyar Arsani sings in English and sometimes Farsi, and the instruments in the band tend to move with him from more traditional rock to hazy Middle Eastern rhythms. It’s totally appropriate given that Kamyar is a daf player and Sufi poet who grew up in Tehran, where he absorbed both Western and Persian music. He is joined by drummer Jim Thomson (CSC Funk Band, Bio Ritmo, GWAR, Alter Natives), guitarist Matt Perrone (Alma Tropicalia), and bassist Ashish Vyas (Thievery Corporation, GoGoGo Airheart).

In November 2015, Time Is Fire released their self-titled debut EP, produced by Fugazi’s Brendan Canty, via Electric Cowbell. You can listen to the EP, and buy it, on Bandcamp:

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=300841830 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Time Is Fire really come alive in concert. When they play, they are fully in their own world, weaving a sort of hypnotic field, but they also enjoying themselves so fully that it’s downright infectious.

Watch the official music video for “Fetneh,” which really manages to capture the energy of Time Is Fire in performance:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8schvqYAq7Q]

The band have announced two shows in the coming months. They open for Social Station at DC9 on Thursday Jan. 28, and then they appear with Prince Rama and SISTR MD9IGHT in a lineup at Comet Ping Pong on Saturday, March 5. Tix for the DC9 show are available at the door; tix for the Comet Ping Pong show are available online.

It’s well worth your time to check them out!

Time Is Fire
Opening for Social Station
DC9
Thursday, Jan. 28
Doors @8pm
$8
All ages

Time Is Fire
w/ Prince Rama and SISTR MD9IGHT
Saturday, March 5
Doors @10pm
$12
All ages

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

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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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Music Park: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat @ 9:30 Club — 12/10/15

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Ed Schrader and Devlin Rice of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (Photo courtesy Infinity Cat Recordings)

Ed Schrader was switched on.

“I wanna give it up for Stoli,” he proclaimed at the 9:30 Club Thursday night, raising his glass. He pauses for a beat. “Oh, I mean Crystal Geyser.”

As he continued to have fun with things he’s “not supposed to do,” he flipped off his shirt, noting he was stopped from doing so in Texas, and introduced “a song about joining the military.”

Ed Schrader and his partner in crime Devlin Rice form Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, and the band were in DC to open for hometown heroes Ex Hex. With the lively pace of a human metronome, Ed dove into his songs with gusto, playing 90 second bursts of punk songs that were distinguished by their surprisingly engaging rhythms.

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Tonight! Ex Hex @ 9:30 Club – Go!

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Laura Harris, Betsy Wright, and Mary Timony of Ex Hex. (Photo courtesy Merge Records)

Somehow in mid-’90s, friends of mine were clued into some good female-fronted indie rock bands — quite a few of them from Boston (including the likes of the Blake Babies and Belly).

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Music Park: Gun Outfit @ Café Saint-Ex — 12/7/15

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Gun Outfit at the Northside Fest Pitchfork Showcase (Photo by Samantha Marble)

Dylan Sharp sings with a kind of twang that takes you down empty, open roads.

His band Gun Outfit, which he formed with fellow vocalist and guitarist Carrie Keith, covers some distinct territory as its music rolls down those roads. Gun Outfit play folk music to be sure — but the band’s fourth full-length album, Dream All Over, released in October via Paradise of Bachelors, wanders into the unhurried haziness of psychedelia with an air of Americana.

When Dylan sings on “Matters to a Head,” one of the more rollicking and best tracks on the new album, he sings as a bit of a rambler who has witnessed it all. The song’s bright and lively guitar backs up the concept of a man on the move as he assesses expectations and confrontations.

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Don’t Miss: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (Opening for Ex Hex) @ 9:30 Club, 12/10/15

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat perform at Cause in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 8, 2013. (Photo by Sharyn Morrow)

If you’ve heard DC power pop trio Ex Hex, a favorite band of us here at Parklife DC, you know the ladies occasionally capture an early punk vibe from the mid-’70s a la Blondie. While not a punk band per se, Ex Hex are certainly “punk friendly.”

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