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.
No Joy perform at El Sol in Madrid, Spain, on Sept. 10, 2015. (Photo by bSides)
Jasamine White-Gluz hangs her head over her microphone and looks down at her guitar as her hair shades her eyes from view.
It’s 2015, but Jasamine proceeds to party like it’s 1989, emanating waves of perfectly fuzzed out riffs and catchy hooks in a perfect picture of a classic shoegazer.
As lead vocalist of Montreal shoegazers No Joy, she’s been kicking off their sets with a song from their new album “More Faithful,” released in June via Mexican Summer.
The song, “Remember Nothing,” is a perfect apéritif — light and bubbly — whetting your palette for the rest of what is about to follow. No Joy made for perfect openers for DIIV, another shoegazing group, in a tour stop at the Black Cat on Saturday, Nov. 7. The very full room found plenty to nourish their ears in the sonic assault of vibrant reverb delivered by both bands (and indeed first opener Sunflower Bean).
While Jasamine’s airy voice is light and sweet, her bandmates pound out rhythms that are heavy and strong. Guitarist Laura Lloyd keeps a steely focus on her strings as the thunders through the all-too brief “Remember Nothing.”
No Joy (Photo by Allison Staton)
Canadian shoegazers No Joy have released a new album, More Faithful, and the quartet are on tour to promote it, opening for DIIV this Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Black Cat.
Singer and guitarist Jasamine White-Gluz and guitarist Laura Lloyd bring a rush of lush guitars to the album, augmented by the rhythm section of drummer Garland Hastings and bassist Michael Farsky. Jasamine and Laura also are fond of sadly sweet lyrics that set the mood for the ambling guitars. Overall, everything about No Joy could have fallen into our laps from the United Kingdom in 1989 and bands like Lush.
The song “Judith,” for example, combines sadly sweet music with lyrics about aging, and the video, which cleverly depicts a bedroom drama, examines moments in a “joyless” marriage (… they are “No Joy” after all, eh?).
Watch the official video for “Judith” on YouTube:
Overall, No Joy are perfect openers for fellow shoegazers DIIV, who I caught in DC not long ago appropriately opening for RIDE at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 17. This is the perfect show for you if you’re in the mood for an evening of shoegaze, presented with various flavors from female- and male-fronted bands.
Tickets are available online.
By the by, we also have been recommending amazing synthpoppers YACHT that same night at U Street Music Hall. With their doors at 7pm, you easily could roam between the two venues for a very full evening of music, indeed!
(Opening for DIIV)
Saturday, Nov. 7
Froth (Photo by Tony Accosta)
When Mickey first asked me to look into and preview Froth, a band I knew nothing about, I went to Spotify. In my search for the band, I found three albums, and as I often do, I chose the first album dated 2010 as my starting point. What followed was not the indie rock band I had expected as the opener for this coming Monday’s The Drums show at DC9, but rather a doodling, psychedelic jam band. This had to be wrong. And indeed it was one of those weird Spotify mix ups with two bands listed under the same artist name. A bizarre mashup of songs, albums and divergent cover art. And while the 2010 album from the band Froth wasn’t half bad, it wasn’t my assignment, so I moved to Froth’s 2014 album Patterns and their latest 2015 tracks from Bleak.
What I found on these two albums from what NPR’s Robin Hilton calls a “shoegaze” band was an entertaining combination of psych-pop and hard rock, which in stark contrast to my jam band chill prep, had me totally rocking out. While shoegaze emerged from the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, my feel for Froth went to the West Coast with a surfing music vibe, particularly found in the tracks “Lost My Mind” and “Oaxaca.” While these tracks are from Froth’s 2014 album, this distinct multi-layered, beach sound continues into the tracks from 2015’s Bleak, albeit with a much stronger presence of rock, psych-pop, and grunge along the lines of Nirvana and Hole.
In listening to Froth, I was happily reminded of my love for the similarly sounding band — the Smith Westerns whose 2013 album Soft Will and 2014 BlackCat performance blew my mind. If you enjoy a band that plays with complexity and a tight balance between all its members, then definitely show up Monday at DC9 for the opener Froth.
Oh, by the way, the show at DC9 on Monday is free to members of Jukely, a new monthly subscription service that gives its members unlimited concerts from a slate of bands every month. Check it out and see what you think!
(Opening for The Drums)
Monday, Oct. 26
Free w/ Jukely Membership
Mark Gardener of Ride performs at WFUV in New York City on Sept. 21, 2015. (Photo by Sabrina Sitton)
The past 25 years have been quite good to the band Ride.
Although the shoegazer quartet disappeared in 1996 after four full-length albums, they returned more powerful than ever with the launch of a new leg of their US reunion tour on Thursday with a very nearly sold-out show at the 9:30 Club.
Now, I’m a latecomer to shoegaze in general and Ride specifically so I can’t claim to know how good the band were in the past. I can tell you now that they are remarkably talented guitarsmiths today, however, and their earliest stuff in particular holds up incredibly well.
Classics like “Vapour Trail” from their first album Nowhere catch the band at their most pensive — four chords awash over the ears of the audience in gentle waves as lead guitarist Andy Bell sings reflectively of the memory of a love “like a vapour trail in a deep blue sky.”
Zachary Cole Smith (Photo by Sandy Kim)
Brooklyn shoegazers DIIV are opening for Ride tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 17, at the 9:30 Club!
Today, the quintent, led by vocalist Zachary Cole Smith, released a new song “Dopamine” from their upcoming second album, Is the Is Are, which is scheduled for release next month.
Listen to Dopamine on Soundcloud:
DIIV open for the legendary UK shoegazers Ride, so don’t miss out on a show that is sure to showcase a lot of amazing guitar.
Oh, and by the way, DIIV go out on their own headlining tour after touring with Ride later this fall. In DC, they turn up again at the Black Cat on Saturday, Nov. 7, with No Joy and Sunflower Bean.
Thursday, Sept. 17
Doors @ 7pm
Bassist Greg Bennett, guitarist Eric Tischler, and drummer Pete Nuwayser of The Jet Age (Photo by D. Wade)
Q&A with Eric Tischler of The Jet Age
This weekend, David Gedge, lead singer of The Wedding Present, will present his annual music festival, At the Edge of the Sea, in Brighton, England.
For most of us in DC, the festival may seem a world away, but to Eric Tischler of The Jet Age, it’s a party he won’t miss. You see, Eric and his DC-based band are friends and tourmates with The Wedding Present, and they have chosen to debut their new record, Destroy. Rebuild, at the UK festival in a performance this Saturday. (The album is officially available this Friday, August 28.) In a way, it’s completely appropriate, given Eric’s love for UK shoegazers and other English bands and how their genres shaped his own band.
Parklife DC caught up with the versatile guitarist and vocalist of The Jet Age to ask him about the influences on his band, how he approaches his craft, and his next DC-area show at Villain & Saint (7141 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Ride (Photo by Piper Ferguson)
Legendary shoegazers Ride reunited and performed a homecoming show at the 02 Academy in London back in April — their first show in almost 20 years!
They followed that up with a few US dates, including stops at the Coachella Music Festival, but now they are returning in force for a proper tour, showcasing material from their beloved four studio albums.
“More than a decade later, the bristling wall of sound was just as brooding, rumbling and heavy as we had remembered,” Rolling Stone said of Ride’s initial shows.
The gents kick off the next leg of their reunion tour at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, Sept. 17, then continue on a string of US dates over the next several weeks.
Watch Ride perform “Leave Them All Behind” at The Warfield in San Francisco on April 13, 2015:
Surely, this was the best possible outcome from the dissolution of Oasis follow-up band Beady Eye. With Oasis and Beady Eye on hold, guitarist Andy Bell was free to reunite with Ride bandmates Mark Gardener, Laurence “Loz” Colbert, and Steve Queralt, reminding fans of what made shoegaze so unique when it blossomed in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
This is a unique opportunity to see a seminal band perform its signature tunes in a first-class show. Tickets are available online!
Thursday, Sept. 17