Franz Ferdinand blew up the main stage of the Firefly Music Festival on Friday, June 16, igniting a dance riot with their well-recognized favorites but also introducing a few new songs and a few new members.
Rocking Scots Frightened Rabbit are coming around for a handful of US headlining shows in the wake of the release of their fifth studio album Painting of a Panic Attack about a year ago on Atlantic Records. The band perform at 9:30 Club on Wednesday, May 31, and you can win tickets to go with Parklife DC.
In September, Midge Ure returns to the United States after about a year and a half away. The last time this great Scot toured our country, he did so completely solo, equipped with only an acoustic guitar. The resulting Fragile Troubadour Tour was empowering and engrossing.
Well, Midge’s tour this time promises to be electrifying, as he is embarking on a US tour with a full band for the first time since his turn in the Retro Futura Tour in 2014. Joining Midge are drummer BC Taylor and keyboard player Tony Solis, both of whom will also play other instruments for this “Live and Electric” tour.
On this tour, Midge will perform solo material, including songs from his 2014 album Fragile, as well as music from his synthpop bands Ultravox and Visage. Midge played some Ultravox and Visage songs last time as well, but this time he’ll play electric guitar and synthesizer to deliver that New Romantic music in its full glory.
Midge also has been recording new music, such as “Touching Hearts and Skies,” which he contributed to the soundtrack of the movie Eddie the Eagle. Listen to “Touching Hearts and Skies” by Midge Ure on YouTube:
Locally, Midge will visit the DC metro area to perform at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Oct. 4! He was phenomenal when he was there in 2015. (Read our full review here!) I had the pleasure of chatting with Midge in the past, and I know of no other musician with as much integrity, character, charm, and genuine consideration for others. On top of that, Midge simply makes fantastic music! (Read our Parklife DC interview with Midge Ure from 2015.) Don’t miss your chance to see him when he’s in town.
As an added incentive to go, Richard Lloyd, guitarist extraordinaire and founding member of the seminal band Television, is opening for Midge. Tickets are available online.
Glaswegian trio Chvrches announced a fall tour, scheduled a date in DC for Monday, Oct. 17, at Echostage, and promptly sold it out.
Thankfully, the synthpop band announced a second date, Tuesday, Oct. 18, which goes on sale to the public on Friday, August 5 at 10am. If you missed out the first time, don’t pass up this second opportunity to see these fantastic new wavers in our fair city. Echostage holds about 6,000 people, which seems like a lot, but that first night sold out awfully fast!
Remind yourself of why Chvrches are so damn good by watching this animated video for “Bury It,” featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore (well, cartoon Hayley), on YouTube:
I caught Chvrches last in Baltimore on June 12, and frontwoman Lauren Mayberry proved to be an outstanding, hypnotic performer. Here are a few of my observations on what was one of the best shows of the year so far (read my full review here):
“Chvrches carry forward the buoyant, uplifting tone of their show with excellent songs from the new album like ‘Make Them Gold’ and ‘Empty Threat.'”
“The lyrical optimism is reinforced by some fine synthesizer work from the Glaswegian trio, as Iain Cook and Martin Doherty dazzle with some truly soaring synths. Iain occasionally takes up guitar, and Martin occasionally lends vocals, expanding the sound of Chvrches’ synthpop. Together, the three really continue to blaze a trail that was marked by some of my favorite bands in the ’80s like a soulful Bronski Beat or a latter-day Eurythmics.”
“Lauren’s Scottish lilt is absolutely addictive, and it’s remarkable to see how she has grown as a performer since the band first appeared with ‘The Mother We Share’ roughly four years ago. She’s matured into a confident dynamo like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis — and for me, her glam eye makeup reinforces the idea of a butterfly.”
Tickets are available online, starting at 10am on August 5.
Tuesday, Oct. 18
When We Were Promised Jetpacks took to the stage last Friday at Black Cat, they did so on a night that felt as transitional and pushing against it’s own skin as the percussive music of the band. A warm and rainy November night that played against type. An anxious crowd that lined up early for an 11pm show. A not-quite-sold-out crowd that nevertheless pushed and crowded to the stage in order to feel the music as much as hear it.
And feel it they did. WWPJ’s driving post-punk rhythm section is the type that seeps into your skin, into your muscles, into your bones. Speaking personally, I’m a lyrics man, then a guitar man, and then a drums man. But give me enough time with the likes of WWPJ and I’ll forego everything but the drum kit.
Starting from the very opening lines of Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To?”, you could easily imagine the 2005 second album lead single as a classic Sparks song.
“When I woke up tonight, I said I’m…/Gonna make somebody love me!”
Consider songs from Spark’s 1983 opus In Outer Space — songs like “Popularity” and its similar glam/post-punk beats:
“I like you and you like me a lot/And it’s nice to be all alone with you too”
In hindsight, it’s little surprise that indefatigable Franz Ferdinand and the trailblazing Sparks also saw the synergies and combined forces to become the supergroup FFS (which of course is a shorthand for Franz Ferdinand Sparks… and not “for fuck’s sake” as some member of the audience called out on Monday night much to the amusement of singer Alex Kapranos).
FFS struck glam gold in a thunderous performance Monday night at the Lincoln Theatre in DC, charming an ecstatic audience who were clearly hyped to see the smooth blend of old school meets new school and the resulting theatrics.
Legacy glam rockers Sparks love wordplay — they never met a pun they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released a seminal album called Kimona My House. They followed that up with lots of cheekiness in album titles like “Music You Can Dance To” and “Plagiarism,” among others.
Post-punk upstarts Franz Ferdinand also love wordplay — they never met an artistic statement as an allegory for life decisions they didn’t like. They are, after all, a band that released the cheeky “Take Me Out” and the referential “Ulysses.”
Well, a funny thing happened when Sparks met Franz Ferdinand: They discovered that they were two great tastes that taste great together, and so because Franz Ferdinand Sparks is a bit too cumbersome, they became the flash FFS.
The super group released its self-titled debut album as FFS earlier this year on June 8, drawing the sensibilities of the now six-member band somewhere into the middle of two extremes. The result is a hyper-intelligent if quirky new wave monster that really really loves wordplay. After releasing the album, FFS launched a world tour that comes to the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Monday, Oct. 5.
The lead single from FFS — “Johnny Delusional” actually was a familiar nervous pop song, particularly for those of us who grew up listening to the likes of Devo and the Talking Heads in the early ’80s. Watch the video for “Johnny Delusional” on YouTube:
The rest of the FFS songs have a bit more fun with their lyrical ambitions. Is “Call Girl” a wistful note to a distant love or a lascivious expression of sexual desire? “Dictator’s Son” is surely the first song to attempt to explore the soul of a dictator’s son? And “Man Without a Tan” is certainly a Sparksesque lampooning of what people find attractive among or between the sexes.
Tickets are available online. This is going to be great.