Mickey McCarter was *thrilled* to see the classic lineup of Berlin reunite. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)
Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2019 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.
Many of our bloggers work as one-man bands. They travel to a show, shoot it, and write it up. But as Parklife DC editor, I frequently work in collaboration with others. And so I have the opportunity to travel to shows I might otherwise not see in support of bloggers who are there to shoot (usually) or write (occasionally) about the program.
Steve Kilbey fronts The Church at The Birchmere on April 18, 2019. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)
Steve Kilbey paused and invited the audience to imagine flipping over a record. Of course, he told The Birchmere, you would have to walk over to it, gently lift it from the turntable, wipe the static away, turn the record over, wipe that pesky static some more, and carefully place your vinyl just so.
In this case, the reward is “Spark,” the first song on Side 2 of Starfish, the hit album by The Church, which Steve has fronted for nearly 40 years. And so, Steve, guitarist Peter Koppes, and the rest of The Church performed Starfish in its entirety for an appreciative sold-out room at The Birchmere recently.
The Church (Photo courtesy Erika Tooker)
The Church return for a US tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their seminal album Starfish. Steve Kilby and company will perform at The Birchmere on Thursday, April 18, and you can win tickets to go with Parklife DC.
The Church perform at 9:30 Club on Oct. 1, 2017. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Steve Kilbey was a little bit cantankerous at 9:30 Club on Sunday. He weathered numerous calls for the best-known singles by his band The Church. One enthusiastic audience member for example bellowed for “Under the Milky Way,” prompting Steve to shout, “No!” — right before playing the wonderfully forlorn hit toward the end of his main set.
On Oct. 6, legendary Australian psych rockers The Church will release their 26th studio album, Man Woman Life Death Infinity, via Unorthodox Recordings. To mark the occasion, The Church embarked on a 29-date North American Tour, and frontman Steve Kilbey and company will perform at 9:30 Club on Sunday, Oct. 1. You can win tickets to go with Parklife DC.
Echo & The Bunnymen, Clapham Common, Calling Festival, London, on July 4, 2015. (Photo by Drew de F Fawkes)
Last month’s edition of Careless Memories: A New Wave Party at Dodge City was a hit! And it also had a theme: the songs of early MTV.
Well, this month I return with a fresh theme: A Salute to Psych. You see, I’m inspired that Echo & The Bunnymen perform at the 9:30 Club on Friday, Sept. 9! And so Careless Memories (A New Wave Party) salutes the neo-psychedelic artists that had great crossover hits between the parallel lines of new wave and neo-psychedelia.
Watch the official music video for “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo & The Bunnymen on YouTube:
Turn up at Dodge City on Thursday, Sept. 8 (the night before The Bunnymen perform) for an extra dose of The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Church, The Psychedelic Furs, XTC, probably even The Bangles, and other bands that produced hazy electronic cool.
You can RSVP on Facebook or simply join us — admission is free! And let me give you an early word for reading this: We’re giving away a pair of tickets to see the sold-out Echo & The Bunnymen show at the 9:30 Club! Check back here tomorrow for details.
A New Wave Party
Thursday, Sept. 8
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.
The Church (Photo courtesy the band)
Somewhere in the midst of “Toy Head,” a new song by The Church from their latest album, I am struck how lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey has really gotten into his zone.
It’s kind of a song about finding yourself, which is interesting given that the man in the center of it seems to be the most together man ever to step on stage at the 9:30 Club, where The Church performed for a very nearly sold-out audience Monday night.
Kilbey is calm, gracious and sharply self-aware. As he goes into the final few minutes of “Toy Head,” his bass reverberates with a distinctive psychedelic vibe that belies his own clipped, professional demeanor. He stands still, hypnotized into the zone of the music as he winds the song down.
But when Kilbey walks across the stage, he strides with swagger — like a rock god from distant shores who may be slumming in the States. The Australian quartet, which Kilbey cofounded with guitarist Peter Koppes, falls into a groove around him, along with a fifth touring member, as they come together for the next song, “Vanishing Man,” a single also from the new album, Further/Deeper, released in October of last year.
Steve Kilbey of The Church performs at the Aladdin Theater on Feb. 25, 2015. (Photo by Eric Evans)
Australian psych rockers The Church released their 25th (!) album in October 2014. The album, Further/Deeper, was produced and engineered by longtime member Tim Powles, who joined the band in 1994.
In support of the album, founders Steve Kilbey (vocalist and bass) and Peter Koppes (guitarist) bring their latest quartet, which includes new guitarist Ian Haug (also of Powderfinger), to the 9:30 Club tonight as a stop on their U.S. tour.
The addition of Haug apparently has reignited the band, which garnered quite positive reviews for the latest album. Listen to “Vanishing Man,” a track from the new album Further/Deeper from The Church:
Still, here in the United States, The Church are forever best known for the banner single from their fifth album Starfish: Under the Milky Way.
Here are The Church playing the song live in Sydney in 2013:
Given that The Church may have been on the verge of breaking up a few years ago, before finding new life, new energy and a new guitarist, this is an excellent opportunity to see them in a rare DC appearance.
New York City-based chamber pop collective The Sharp Things open for The Church. Tickets are available online and at the door.
w/ The Sharp Things
Monday, March 9