Music Park: Slowdive @ Rams Head Live — 11/16/17

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Slowdive brings cosmic bliss to Rams Head Live on Nov. 16, 2017. (Photo by David LaMason)

In the early ’90s, shoegaze had an underground appeal that ended up becoming an influential blueprint for many bands being formed today. And for me, personally, songs by the Catherine Wheel, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive were the soundtrack to relationships, careers, and those ups and downs in life — peaks and valleys like the rhythmic washes of guitar or the lilt of those harmonies buried beneath.

And I still find myself going back to those same sounds, like an old book you’re drawn to again and again, as I did with Slovedive in a live performance at Rams Head Live on Thursday.

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Music Park: Japandroids @ Rams Head Live — 10/30/17

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Japandroids brings down the house at Rams Head Live on Oct. 30, 2017. (Photo by David LaMason

How can so much brilliant sound come from two people? If you’ve heard anything of the thunderous rock of Japandroids — the duo of Brian King (guitars/vocals) and David Prowse (drums/vocals) — you’d have some clue to the answer. One part Bruce Springsteen and two parts Replacements with more than a dash of punk rock thrown in for good measure, Japandroids brought spectacle and inspired energy to Rams Head Live in Baltimore Monday night!

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Music Park: Cloud Nothings @ Rams Head Live — 10/30/17

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Cloud Nothings brings its punk energy to Rams Head Live in Baltimore on Oct. 30, 2017 (Photo by David LaMason)

Originally created as a home recording project, Cloud Nothings, the brainchild of Dylan Baldi (guitar/vocals), is definitely one of the most dynamic bands around. There’s a hard edge to many of their songs, especially after their first, self-titled LP, but they are layered with hooks that were impossible to avoid at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore on Monday.

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Don’t Miss: Cloud Nothings @ Rams Head Live, 10/30/17

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Cloud Nothings (Photo by Jesse Lirola)

Cleveland indie rockers Cloud Nothings are on tour with Japandroids in the wake of releasing Life Without Sound, their fourth studio album, via Carpark Records earlier this year. The tour locally lands at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday, Oct. 30.

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Snapshots: Parklife DC More Best Pictures of 2016

Savages @ 930 Club 26 Savages at 9:30 Club on March 27, 2016 (See the full blog)

As we wrap up 2016 here at Parklife DC, we looked back on our best concert photos of the year, where reviewed our 10 (actually 11) favorite photos on our blog.

But while Paivi and Kristie considerably brightened up our blog with their pictures, Theresa C. Sanchez and myself also have been out there photographing some concerts. So now we are rounding up the best of the rest to present some cool photos that Theresa and I captured over the year as well.

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Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2016 by Mickey

CHVRCHES 008 Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Echostage on Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

I’ll confess that I’m a man whose taste in music is readily apparent. If you have new wave tunes to play, particularly from 1976-86, I’m going to show up and listen to them. That said, a number of incredible legacy new wave bands happened to travel through the DC metro area over the past year, and I took the opportunity to review them for our humble blog.

That said, a number of younger bands definitely broke through and seized my attention, most notably Canada’s Operators, who were the most exciting new band I’ve seen in some time. As with Operators, many of the best performances I witnessed in 2016 came from bands whose leaders are among the Masters of Synthpop, and so I have dedicated a postscript of really great synthpop shows that may have “missed” the top 10 but otherwise deserve a lot of applause.

Check out my top 10 list of concerts I saw for Parklife DC. (Click on the concert slugline to revisit the full review.)

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Snapshots: Violent Femmes @ Rams Head Live! (Baltimore) — 9/30/16

Violent Femmes Perform at Rams Head Live, Baltimore 9/30/16
The Violent Femmes perform at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore, Maryland on Sept. 30, 2016. (Photo by Theresa Sanchez)

The Violent Femmes played to a sold out show at Baltimore’s Rams Head Live, Saturday, September 30, 2016. It was the 5th stop on their 12-city Fall 2016 tour, which promoted their ninth studio album “We Can Do Anything.” It was released 16 years after the trio’s eighth album, “Freak Magnets” — which was published in Feburary 2000.

Bassist Brian Ritchie and drummer Victor DeLorenzo formed the band in 1981 in Wisconsin. Gordon Gano serves as lead singer, guitarist, violinist, and songwriter. Ritchie can be seen playing the xylophone, while a member of the group’s longtime back up band Horns of Dilemma hops on bass. John Sparrow is on drums. Blaise Garza manned the brass.

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Music Park: CHVRCHES @ Rams Head Live! — 6/12/16

CHVRCHES 15 Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Rams Head Live on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Spritely Lauren Mayberry bounds onto the stage at Rams Head Live! on Sunday night, and she looks as buoyant as her music sounds.

As Lauren dashes from side to side of the stage, she seems like she has an urgent message to deliver to the very full house. And the message is a good one! It’s like Lauren has discovered a truth about being yourself, and about being happy, and she is bursting to the edges of the stage to share that message.

Lauren and her bandmates in Chvrches open the show with “Never Ending Circles,” a song about finding freedom through escaping cycles from Chvrches’ album, Every Open Eye, their self-produced second record released last year via Virgin EMI Records and Goodbye Records.

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Music Park: Bands Performing at Firefly Music Festival Playing Nearby, June 2016

The Backyard Stage at night at Firefly Music FestivalThe Backyard Stage at night at Firefly Music Festival (Photo Credit: Danilo Lewis)

We all know the 5th Annual Firefly Music Festival is coming to Dover, Delaware from June 16-19.

We all know you want to go (and there are still passes here).

But for whatever reason, you can’t make it. Well, not to fret, you can still catch many of the artists and bands nearby in the DC area!

 

For those of you going, this also serves as a good list of bands to catch at Firefly.

Two Door Cinema Club
Local show: Black Cat, Tuesday, June 7
Firefly: Thursday, June 16 @ 10:00pm

CHVRCHES (preview)
Local Show: Rams Head Live!, Sunday, June 12
Firefly: Saturday, June 18 @ 6:00pm

Ellie Goulding
Local Show: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Monday, June 13
Firefly: Friday, June 17 @ 8:30pm

Whilk & Misky
Local Show: U Street Music Hall, Wednesday, June 15
Firefly: Thursday, June 16 @ 8:30pm

Tame Impala and M83 (together)
Local Show: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Thursday, June 16
Firefly: Friday, June 17 @ 9:30pm (Tame Impala)
Firefly: Saturday, June 18 @ 9:00pm (M83)

AlunaGeorge
Local show: 9:30 Club, Friday, June 17
Firefly: Thursday, June 16 @ 9:45pm

Fitz & the Tantrums
Local show: 9:30 Club, Saturday, June 18
Firefly: Friday, June 17 @ 6:15pm

Oh Wonder
Local show: 9:30 Club, Tuesday, June 21
Firefly: Thursday, June 16 @ 8:00pm

Silversun Pickups and Blink-182 (together)
Local show: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Kerfluffle), Saturday, June 26
Firefly: Saturday, June 18 @ 8:15pm (Silversun Pickups)
Firefly: Sunday, June 19 @ 6:45pm (Blink-182)

 

If I find others, I’ll add them!

Don’t Miss: CHVRCHES @ Rams Head Live! (Baltimore), 6/12/16

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CHVRCHES (Photo by Danny Clinch)

Synthpop trio CHVRCHES are quite popular on the festival circuit lately, and they are indeed heading to the Firefly Festival in Dover, Del., this month. But on the way, they’ve booked some independent shows, including a newly announced concert at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore on Sunday, June 12.

What a fantastic time and place to see CHVRCHES, who released one of the best albums in 2015 with their sophomore effort, Every Open Eye, on Sept. 25 via Glassnote. With their second album, they accomplished the rare feat of making an album better than their excellent debut, The Bones of What You Believe.

Glasgow’s favorite sons and daughter — Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry — recorded both albums in a hometown studio (their own Alucard Studios), and the second time around they found even more gold in the sparkling synthesizers of the gents and the lilting, pleasing voice of the lady.

Check out the results in the official music video for “Clearest Blue” by CHVRCHES on YouTube:

One of the things I love about CHVRCHES is that they write, record, and produce everything themselves. Not to say there isn’t room for collaboration in the future, in my opinion, but I enjoy their focus and purity of vision.

New songs are about getting over heartbreak (“Leave a Trace”) — and making your own way unapologetically (“Bury It,” “Never Ending Circles,” “Playing Dead”) — and moving on to better things (“Down Side of Me,” “Afterglow,” “Clearest Blue” [above!]).

All in all, it’s fantastic synthpop, very much evocative of New Romantic synthpop from the early ’80s and groups like the Eurythmics, Cocteau Twins, and even Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Tickets are available online.

CHVRCHES
Rams Head Live!
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Show @8pm
$29.50
All ages