Music Park: Gin Wigmore @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 9/11/15

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Gin Wigmore performs in London on June 10, 2015 (Photo by The 405)

You could very much appreciate Gin Wigmore as you might Amy Winehouse.

The Los Angeles singer, born in New Zealand, has a sad bluesy voice that simply grabs you. And that voice did indeed grab a sold-out room full of eager listeners at the Rock and Roll Hotel Friday night as the audience marveled at her soulful yet girlish sound and struggled to catch a glimpse of the lithe, tattooed blonde behind it.

Similar to the late, great Ms. Winehouse, Gin often sings of bad love and despair. Her powerful voice belies her small frame, and her striking blue eyes look as if they are peering through you from some otherworldy place while she sings as transfixed as you might be.

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Music Park: Madonna @ Verizon Center — 9/12/15

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Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour

“The problem with being married is that when you’re married — your husband think you only belong to him!” Madonna exclaimed from the stage at Verizon Center Saturday night. “But I belong to all of you. I’m married to all of you!”

The rapturous applause following Madonna’s proclamations made the not-quite-sold-out show at Verizon Center sound larger than life. Madonna certainly had the crowd eating out of her hand as she delivered a show that was part Cirque du Soleil-style spectacle and part acoustic concert.

Moving from staged set to stage set, Madonna traveled through four different configurations for her concert, kicking off with a string of songs drawn heavily from her latest album, Rebel Heart, which she is touring worldwide through March 2016. DC was her second stop after launching the tour last week in Toronto, Canada.

The show began with a bang to the heavily choreographed Iconic, which introduced a scene where backup dancers masqueraded as a sort of Egyptian-styled religious cult with video that made effective use of guest spoken-word contributor Mike Tyson. This quasi-religious theme would run through a number of songs and fuel a kinetic display that included acrobatics and dancing nuns on stripper poles (as Madonna herself put it, nothing too “provocative,” eh?)

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Don’t Miss: Madonna @ Verizon Center, 9/12/15

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Madonna, still the woman of dreams (Photo by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott)

In the fall of 1983, I bought my very first cassette tape — Madonna’s self-titled debut album.

I had seen the once and future Material Girl on television, most remarkably while listening to her perfect garage disco videos on Night Flight, which then aired on USA Network.

While this may signify that I’m a man of a certain age, Madonna has remained interesting and relevant even as she celebrated her 57th birthday last month. Her latest album, Rebel Heart, manages to capture all of the things that we know and love about Madonna as signified with the new hits “Living for Love” and “Ghosttown” while also catching some modern dance zeitgeist in collaborations with Diplo on house pastiche of “Bitch I’m Madonna” or with Avicii on the reggae vibes of “Devil Pray.”

All the same, it’s a solid album that has begat another incredible tour, and that tour stops at the Verizon Center in DC tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 12. And although this show is tomorrow, it’s not too late to go! Tickets are still available.

Watch Madonna deliver an intimate performance of “Ghosttown” on “Le Grand Journal” on CANAL+ on March 3, 2015:

When Madonna last visited DC three years ago (also at the Verizon Center), I then wrote for the blog We Love DC: “She went through at least four different acts over two hours, which comes to an end with a totally giddy and exuberant celebration of all of the reasons the dance floor has loved her for so long.”

She tirelessly performed a career-spanning set, occasionally addressing the audience directly during moments of downtime and forging connections with her magnetic personality.

In addition to songs from the new album, setlist reports reveal Madonna has been performing an acoustic version of “True Blue” along with other significant songs from previous albums, including “Vogue,” “Like a Virgin,” “Who’s That Girl” and “Music.”

There are still good seats available in prime 100-section seats without paying resale prices. Don’t miss out!

Madonna
Verizon Center
Saturday, Sept. 12
Doors @7pm
$43-$358
All ages

Music Park: SOAK @ DC9 — 7/12/15

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SOAK performs at Rough Trade East in London on March 28, 2015. (Photo by Aurelien Guichard)

When Bridie Monds-Watson was 14-years old, a friend of hers was being bullied by another girl at school in Ireland.

Saddened by the experience, Bridie, now better known as SOAK, took to writing a song in a stream of consciousness manner to deal with the resulting feelings.

“I don’t understand/what her problem is/I think she’s just a fish!” SOAK wrote of her friend’s tormentor in a song that came to be called “Sea Creatures.”

That sort of quirky train of thought runs throughout all of SOAK’s songs, which she writes primarily to deal with things happening in her life. She delivers those songs in a soulful booming voice that belies her diminutive, now 19-year-old, stature. On stage, she’s friendly and warm with a touch of shyness as she strums a guitar that accompanies her haunting voice.

At DC9 on Sunday night, SOAK opened her show with “Explosions,” and the very full room immediately fell silent upon the opening notes of the sad folk pop song.

Watch SOAK perform “Explosions” for The Sunday Sessions, recorded live in The Workman’s Club, Dublin, on Oct. 19, 2014:

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Don’t Miss: SOAK @ DC9, 7/12/15

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An offbeat 19-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has a haunting voice that spins soulful folk pop, and she’s bringing it to DC9 on Sunday, July 12.

Bridie Monds-Watson is known as SOAK, and she released her debut album on Rough Trade Records on June 2. The album, Before We Forget How to Dream, deals with themes of growing up in isolation

Single “Sea Creatures,” released in February, squarely deals with those feelings of loneliness and isolation with its reminder that “they don’t know what love is” in reference to people who may be like the titular sea creatures. Watch the video for the single on YouTube:

“B a Nobody,” another track from the new album, speaks of being a lost teenager, continuing the fragile streak of loneliness and isolation.

Listen via Soundcloud:

DC folk singer Marian McLaughlin opens for SOAK. Tickets are available online and at the door.

SOAK
w/ Marian McLaughlin
DC9
Sunday, July 12
Doors @8:30pm
$12-14
All ages

Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

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Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.

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Don’t Miss: Hot Chip @ Echostage, 6/5/15

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London quintet Hot Chip (Photo by Steve Gullick)

Last month, nu disco juggernauts Hot Chip released their sixth studio album, Why Make Sense?

After five good albums (several of which are outstanding), you might ask, “Where can Hot Chip go from here?” And Hot Chip apparently asked themselves that same question in the making of this album.

Part of the process of finding an answer for the band was to write and record “Huarache Lights,” a musical statement on what the band brings to the table. It’s a classic single for Hot Chip, pairing vocalist Alexis Taylor’s unique voice with pulsating rhythms and thematically addressing people and technology — but most importantly, doing so while being funky.

Watch the video for “Huarache Lights”:

In May, Hot Chip launched a world tour in support of the new album, and they bring the show to Echostage in DC this Friday, June 5.

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip several times in the past, and their live show is itself a regular dance party. They have a sound, and surely an accompanying light show, capable of filling the large space of Echostage quite well.

And I daresay that the sound and vision of the live performance tells the other half of the story when asking where do Hot Chip go from here? So it’s well worth your time to get out there, check them out and dance your heart out.

Watch a full Hot Chip set from the 2014 Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris:

Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab brings his soul quartet Sinkane along to open for Hot Chip. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the 9:30 Club.

Hot Chip
w/ Sinkane
Echostage
Friday, June 5
Doors @7pm
$45
All ages