Music Park: Dragonette @ U Street Music Hall — 11/25/15

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Dragonette (Photo by Mackenzie Duncan)

If your goal was to let loose and enjoy a night on the town before Thanksgiving since you were still in DC anyway, you could have done no better than to start famously at the U Street Music Hall. 

Martina Sorbara and Dan Kurtz, of Dragonette, were on hand to make you dance, in every way possible. With Dan’s keyboards and Martina’s golden voice, they electrified the crowd with a frenzy of their songs played to match the DJ-inspired venue, as house and club beats. 

Dragonette hails from Toronto originally, and also includes Joel Stouffer on the drums.

Let’s call much of the crowd’s response to their infectious songs, the ‘super dance’, bouncing up and down in unison.

The crowd grew to a respectable size (almost full), given that you might expect many potential revelers to be out of town for the holiday.

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Music Park: Born Ruffians @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 11/3/15

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Luke Lalonde sings at NXNE 2015 in Toronto on June 19, 2015. (Photo by Deborah Helena)

Canadian quartet Born Ruffians are really in a damn good moment.

Led by vocalist Luke Lalonde, the band has honed its post-punk melodies to the point where I would argue that they are superior to many other offerings in their genre, even if their music occasionally echoes the sounds of those others — ranging from Vampire Weekend to Interpol.

Yes, I am daring to suggest that Born Ruffians right now, at this moment, are better than Vampire Weekend or Interpol.

But first things first, Luke and his compatriots are touring on a strong new album — their fourth — RUFF, released earlier this year on Yep Rock Records. In support of that tour, they made a stop at the Rock and Roll Hotel Tuesday for a show that was close to being sold out.

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Don’t Miss: Born Ruffians @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 11/3/15

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Born Ruffians (Photo by Maya Fuhr)

Canadian post-punk quartet Born Ruffians released a new album, simply titled RUFF, on Oct. 2 via Yep Roc. The band just wrapped up a tour of Europe, and they are set to start a US tour in support of the new record next week, visiting DC to perform at the Rock and Roll Hotel soon after on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Born Ruffians’ new single, “Don’t Live Up,” has drawn praise from reviewers for its nervous energy and cautionary message. The clever video for the song depicts the band caught in a whirlwind of daily activities as the play gigs/grab drinks/go to bed/eat food/do it again. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Watch the official video for “Don’t Live Up” by Born Ruffians on YouTube:

Lead singer and guitarist Luke Lalonde explained the video’s concept, saying, “The video was meant to represent one version of something that isn’t quite what you might expect. The difference in perception versus reality.”

Although the video is fun, the song comes with a warning, Luke adds, cautioning that sometimes it’s good to take it slow: “The song is about the idea that one’s ideas of what they need to achieve in order to be fulfilled/happy doesn’t always meet the expectations once you get there.”

Indeed, the entire RUFF album has a sense of knowing when to say enough is enough and when to take stock of things, particularly with songs like “Don’t Worry Now,” “When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away,” and “Fuck Feelings.”

Some of the songs have the sense of malaise belied by inquisitiveness found as a theme in the music of the Talking Heads, but Luke and company maintain an immaturity that dodges some of the deeper intellectual assessments of life that underpin the songs of David Byrne and company. That’s okay – maybe sometimes you just want to say “fuck feelings!”

Still, Born Ruffians demonstrate some quality musical chops on their fourth album, and they promise to entertain on the accompanying tour!

Tickets are available online.

Born Ruffians
w/ Young Rival and Boon
Rock and Roll Hotel
Tuesday, Nov. 3
Doors @7pm
$14
All ages

Don’t Miss: Styx @ Music Center at Strathmore, 11/10/15

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Styx with (from left to right) Chuck Panozzo, Ricky Phillips, Todd Sucherman, Tommy Shaw, James “J.Y.” Young, and Lawrence Gowan at Macon City Auditorium on Oct. 4, 2014, in Macon, Ga. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for STYX)

Q&A with Lawrence Gowan of Styx

Lawrence Gowan has taken on vocal duties for the inimitable progressive rock band Styx for the past 17 years after replacing Dennis DeYoung. In that time, Lawrence has made an impression on audiences worldwide and left his own indelible mark on Styx. Styx returns to the DC metropolitan area for a show on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., in a Concert to Benefit Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children. Prior to that show, Parklife DC chats with Lawrence about the music that moves him, performing with Styx, and future plans for the band.

Mickey McCarter: Hey, Lawrence, it’s great to talk to you! You’ve been busy lately. You just got off the BIG Tour with Def Leppard, and now you’re launching into your own tour.

Lawrence Gowan: Yes, we did our first show recently without Def Leppard after four months in Springfield, Mo. We had the big summer blockbuster tour where we could only play a little over an hour a night, so it’s great to get back to a two-hour set. And we’ll be playing in the DC area on Nov. 10 in Bethesda, Md.

MM: So what can people expect? You were here in Virginia on July 2 at Jiffy Lube Live with a shorter set. How are the upcoming shows different?

LG: This is an Evening with Styx. It’s not the fine blend of coffee that people got over the summer. This is the full-on espresso! Maybe a triple-shot!

We’re able to go a lot deeper. It’s more akin to the DVD we put out a couple of years ago — an Evening with Styx. We are playing the entire Grand Illusion and the entire Pieces of Eight. It’s closer to that sort of evening, where we delve a lot deeper into various album tracks, and the show has a wide-ranging emotional arc to it than the onslaught of four hours of classic rock that people saw over the summer with Tesla, Styx, and Def Leppard.

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Music Park: Metric @ Verizon Center — 7/6/15


Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw perform “The Shade” acoustically for the Verge Music Lab at the Music Mansion: SiriusXM Canada on June 2, 2015.

Drummer Joules Scott-Key pounded out those familiar opening notes and vocalist Emily Haines bounded onto stage to open the set with “Stadium Love.”

And so Metric kicked off their performance at the Verizon Center Monday night, opening for Imagine Dragons in that band’s Smoke + Mirrors Tour, devoting a third of their set to their popular fourth album Fantasies.

After “Stadium Love” was appropriately performed for the enthusiastic stadium attendees, Metric introduced new track “Too Bad, So Sad,” a kinetic lament of being stuck in a bad place belied by its cheering chorus. It rings a bit of a traditional Metric song blended with Blur’s “Song 2.”

“Too Bad, So Sad” was the first of three new songs from the forthcoming album Pagans in Vegas, scheduled for release Sept. 18. Those new songs were undoubtedly the highlight of the show for longtime admirers of the Canadian quartet.

The biggest number for Metric in the concert was “Cascades,” which the Toronto new wavers have described as the heart of the upcoming album. “Cascades” is a wholly electronic affair with synths coating Emily’s sweet but sassy vocals to powerful effect — and it’s so deliriously good that it was an instant new favorite for me and also for the thousands gathered early to see them Monday.

The song, about “cascading waves of emotion,” is a welcome tidal wave that involves Emily, guitarist Jimmy Shaw and bassist Joshua Winstead trading off on three synthesizers. There are guitar and bass parts as well, and when Emily isn’t behind her synthesizer, she’s at the front of the stage in a purple cape billowing above a wind machine.

The arrangement, although simple, is extraordinarily memorable.

Give “Cascades” a listen on Soundcloud:

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