Live Review: Orville Peck @ Union Stage — 9/21/19

OrvillePeck26 Orville Peck croons the night away at Union Stage on Sept. 21, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)

Whether it’s the smooth baritone croon, the old west cowboy veneer, or perhaps the well talked about mystery behind the fringed black mask that draws you in: Once you witness Orville Peck, it’s hard not to be a fan.

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Live Review: Low @ Metro Gallery — 9/11/19

LowMetro7 Low wows a sold-out show at the Metro Gallery on Sept. 11, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)

It may seem strange talking about a band that hails from Duluth, Minnesota, but there’s a feeling I get when I see them perform that makes it feel like they’re from here — Baltimore, that is. Possibly the first time I saw them was right across the street from the Metro Gallery, where they performed to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night.

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Live Review: Luluc @ City Winery — 12/5/18

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Luluc performs at the City Winery on Dec. 5, 2018 (Photo by David LaMason)

Luluc, the Australian duo of Zoë Randell (vocals/guitar) and Steve Hassett (guitar/vocals/keys), visited City Winery on a chilly Wednesday night. But both venue, with its intimate feel — combined with the beautiful sounds of Luluc — warmed up an attentive crowd.

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Music Park: Blitzen Trapper @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 10/5/18

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Blitzen Trapper celebrates the 10th anniversary of Furr at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Oct. 5, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Blitzen Trapper, the five piece from Portland, Oregon, has been going strong for well over 15 years now, but it’s their 2008 album, Furr, where most fans got their start with its experimental Americana and vivid lyrical imagery. Blizten Trapper celebrated the 10th anniversary of that album at Rock and Roll Hotel on Friday.

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Music Park: Wolf Parade @ Ottobar — 8/29/18

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Wolf Parade rocks a sold-out Ottobar on Aug. 29, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Have you ever listened to a song and you swear to yourself you had to see this band to see if they are real? I came to the Wolf Parade party a little late. I had heard their second album, At Mount Zoomer, from a friend who had made a copy for me and I liked it, but for some reason it wasn’t until the follow up, Expo 86, that I really came around to see what amazing musicians and songwriters Wolf Parade are. The band reminded me of that at Ottobar on Aug. 29.

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Music Park: Father John Misty @ The Anthem — 8/2/18

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Father John Misty performs at The Anthem on August 2, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Father John Misty by now needs little introduction. After four critically acclaimed albums in just under six years, Josh Tillman, whose stage moniker is known just as much for his off-stage words as his sarcastic and often self-deprecating lyrics, has made a name for himself. But with his latest album, God’s Favorite Customer, he focused on more personal matters. Delivered in that great Harry Nilsson meets Randy Newman style, the bite was still there, but it was more focused at The Anthem on Thursday.

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Music Park: Fleet Foxes @ The Anthem — 5/18/18

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Fleet Foxes captivates at The Anthem on May 18, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Fleet Foxes made its return last year with the release and subsequent tour for Crack-Up (Nonesuch Records). The record is filled with the same self-reflective lyrics, swelling music, and gorgeous harmonies as the band’s previous two records, but it seems like a more focused record. After six years between Helplessness Blues and the new LP, it’s a refreshed welcome home for this band whose debut album turns 10 years old as of this writing.

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Music Park: Loma @ DC9 — 5/2/18

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Loma captivates at DC9 on May 2, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Back in December 2016, I went to see one of Shearwater’s last shows of the Jet Plane and Oxbow tour at the Ottobar in Baltimore. It was a cold night, and the stage was festooned with large lights as part of Shearwater’s stage set up. The opener that night was a duo called Cross Record. Primarily using keyboards and guitars, the band — made up of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski — created beautiful landscapes of sound.

So it was a joy to hear that over the past year Emily and Dan had started making a record with Jonathan Meiberg of Shearwater in a band that eventually became Loma. Loma performed at DC9 on Wednesday.

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Music Park: The Afghan Whigs @ Rams Head Live — 4/27/18

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The Afghan Whigs rock a packed Rams Head Live on April 27, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

The Afghan Whigs have been playing their brand of rock channeled through a heavy dose of dark soul for over 30 years. In fact, 2018 saw the 30-year anniversary of their debut Big Top Halloween. So, it’s a testament to their longevity that last year they released one of their best albums, In Spades, in their extensive catalog. Maybe it’s due to the steadfast style Greg Dulli (vocals/guitar/keys) and company — which also includes John Curley (bass), Rick G. Nelson (guitar/keys/violin), Jon Skibic (guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums) — haven’t tried to change that unique style.

In a great show at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on Friday, The Afghan Whigs gave that style its due.

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Music Park: Mudhoney @ Black Cat — 7/7/15

 “I Like It Small” by Mudhoney

“What have I done?”, the plaintive call from Mark Arm in “Blinding Sun”, was exactly how I felt after getting blasted by Mudhoney at the Black Cat on July 7, 2015.

The problem, to be precise, involved standing too close to the speakers for an inappropriate amount of time without ear plugs. My ears are still ringing.

Mudhoney gave the expectant crowd (just over half filled) wave after wave of fuzzy and distorted salvos of music, punctuated by lead singer Mark Arm’s howling and often manic vocals. Few heads failed to nod along with the beat.

There is something to be said about heavy music permeating your face and your bones at a live show. This cannot be captured in a recording and it is why grunge is an experience to be had, not merely listened to.

Mudhoney, among the pioneers of the grunge music scene that roared out of Seattle in the early 1990’s, sing angry lyrics. Yet with a wink, like they’re in on the joke. Not really angry, just looking to entertain.

In “1995” they want to know “What are you looking at?”, as if they’re the cool kids and you’re the nerd that accidentally stared a second too long.

In “Touch Me I’m Sick”, their first single in 1988, they embrace the paranoia around living with disease, and dare the woman to go for it anyway. “I Like It Small”, from their latest album Vanishing Point, is an ode to the mantra that bigger isn’t always better in life (and other things).

They introduced the cover of the Angry Samoans’ almost perky break-up song “You Stupid Asshole”, as a “rock ballad for everyone”, but the song still finds a way to acknowledge that they are assholes too.

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