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Concert Review: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros @ 9:30 Club

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros,  9:30 Club, Live, Concert

It was a night for dreamers. If you were there, you’re going to remember this show for the rest of your life (especially me, but more on that later). The crowd slowly trickled in to fill the sold out 9:30 club to the rafters. In the stilled moments leading up to Edward Sharpe, it was ass to ankles from bar to bar. You had your spot, your beer(s) and you weren’t going anywhere.

This concert developed with an air of mystery for me. I knew loved the hits and crushed Alex Ebert’s solo album. But beyond that, I was lost. In the end, none of that mattered. Edward Sharpe delivered an energy and sound that it is near impossible to match in a live setting. This can mostly be attributed to the twelve piece band that plays everything. Literally everything.

Together, their sound rose as a deafening crescendo that inherited the energy of everything in its path. My ears are still ringing with their sweet, beautiful melodies. The motion and power of the crowd was merely an extension of the stage itself. And I mean this quite literally. Alex came out into the crowd on multiple occasions to be with his people. The air surrounding Ebert’s performance transformed onlookers instantly.

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Epic Week in Concerts

The music scene literally explodes this week in DC. I have shows lined up Wednesday through Saturday and I might even pick up a Sunday ticket. Bowerbirds! Gotye! Polica! Youth Lagoon!! There is no way I’m going to be able to review all these shows (new job!!) so here’s a quick preview of the upcoming week in music. My favorite part about this week? Four concerts, four different venues all with a best friend in town. I will survive?

Unfortunately most of these are sold out (minus Bowerbirds). If you’re up for joining, snag some last-minute craigslistings, it’s going to be special.

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Concert Review: Bon Iver @ The National

Well, I can cross that one off of the bucket list. You know it’s going to be a good show when you have goosebumps during the three and half hour drive to the concert. Bon Iver has meant so much to me in the development of my musical sense and passion. Finally seeing them was a dream come true. It was only fitting that I returned to see them in my hometown of Richmond at The National.

Watching Bon Iver take the stage as a nine member band (with some serious horns and two drum sets) was quiet the spectacle. The stage was a modest set with about ten light towers that pulsated and flooded the stage with colors of mostly blue and red throughout the show. Immediately upon Justin Vernon taking the stage, you could feel the power of the performer and the crowd was transformed.

bon iver, the national, justin vernon

Bon Iver played from their full arsenal of songs while highlighting the new, self-titled album. Classics from For Emma, Forever Ago were augmented by the full band and the horns were a blazing intensity throughout the night. Re: Stacks was delivered with a deeply personal touch. The entire band exited the stage, leaving just Vernon and his acoustic to lay down a heart wrenching performance to the silent crowd. Blood Bank was a great example of the full band completely enhancing an incredible song. They covered Bjork’s Who Is It, which featured Reggie Pace (RVA! RVA!) killing it with his incredible beat boxing and Colin Stetson taking over on horns. New songs Perth and Holocene showed just how far Bon Iver has come as a band.

The close to this concert (the best show I have ever seen) has changed me. It was a surreal moment that brought together so much of what I was feeling musically. First, the main set was capped by For Emma, which left the crowd in a frenzy calling for the encore (it was damn loud!). The encore did not disappoint. The three song culmination was led off with a rowdy, jammed out performance of Beth/Rest (much better than the album version) and finished with a rousing sing-along of Wolves. Skinny Love sat in the middle and was everything I expected from one of my favorite songs of all time; Veron, his acoustic, and stomp clapping – doesn’t get any better than that.

I cannot remember ever seeing a crowd so utterly transfixed in a state of pure bliss. The sold out theater swayed and sang along through every note. Everyone around me was melting underneath Justin’s voice. Even I have to admit to my moments of eyes closed, head back, fully content with life.

Continue reading for the setlist and links to the live performance at the 9:30 club…

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Concert Pulse Updated

Peeps! My DC/VA concert list has been updated. Navigate to the ‘Concert Pulse’ page to see my recommended shows! Lots and lots of great music coming to the area. Get at me if you want to hit any of these shows.

Chao

The Head and the Heart – Fall Tour

Great news everyone, The Head and the Heart have just released dates for their fall tour in which they will be headlining with support from Thao With the Get Down Stay Down (Thao).

 

Tue 09/20/11 NEW ORLEANS, LA One Eyed Jacks
Wed 09/21/11 ATLANTA, GA The Variety Playhouse
Thu 09/22/11 CHAPEL HILL, NC Lincoln Theatre
Fri 09/23/11 WASHINGTON, DC 9:30 Club
Mon 09/26/11 BROOKLYN, NY Hall of Williamsburg
Tue 09/27/11 NEW YORK, NY Bowery Ballroom
Mon 10/03/11 GRAND RAPIDS, MI Calvin College
Thu 10/06/11 MILWAUKEE, WI Turner Hall
Fri 10/07/11 MADISON, WI The Majestic
Sun 10/09/11 OMAHA, NE The Waiting Room
Mon 10/10/11 DENVER, CO The Gothic
Tue 10/18/11 EUGENE, OR WOW Hall
Wed 10/19/11 PORTLAND, OR Crystal Ballroom
Thu 10/20/11 VANCOUVER BC The Commodore Ballroom

Unfortunately the DC date falls on the same day as the Fleet Foxes concert at Merriweather. I would love to do both but at least I get see The Head and the Heart in a few weeks opening for the Decemberists. I highly suggest grabbing tickets for this show at the 9:30 club. The small venue will be rocking and Thao is an amazing vocalist that brings the noise.

Listen: Thao – Know Better Learn Faster [audio http://awmusic.ca/1/mp3/thao%20nguyen-know%20better%20learn%20faster.mp3]

Previous Head/Heart Post

Concert Review: Foals

I was held speechless for several hours following this show. To some degree, I am still having trouble articulating what exactly happened that Friday night at the 9:30 club.

The two opening acts, The Naked and Famous & Freelance Whales, were awesome but, in the end, no match for what the Foals did to the 9:30 stage. Check back for songs from the openers after the jump.

The Foals brought it and it was insane. The energy hit the crowd immediately. Where people could openly hold conversations during the opening sets, not a word could be spoken while the Foals were ripping on stage. It was loud, in your throat, infectious energy.

Foals at 9:30 club

The lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, used the entire stage to stomp around and throw every bit of crazy into each song. Actually, there were several instances where the stage wasn’t enough for Yannis. He took a full speed stage dive and followed that by climbing on top of a giant speaker to get to a tiny balcony where he continued to tear into the guitar. Yannis’ microphone helicoptering was the cherry on top of it all.

Foals at 9:30 club

Total Life Forever, got the crowed amped up early on. It was at this point that I realized I was in for something wild.

The highlight of the show was a suspenseful, show-stopper rendition of Spanish Sahara. After lulling the club into mellow non-awareness, the song slowly built up to a raucous pitch that, by the end, had the crowd whipped into an all out frenzy.
Foals – Total Life Forever
Foals – Spanish Sahara

When it was all said and done, the club was completely out of breath. I’ve been to a lot of shows and the Foals are definitely up there with the best I have seen. It’s no wonder they were recently nominated for best live band.

photo credits: Theresa Highsmith

Concert Pulse – 5/13

Concert Pulse will be a weekly updated list of concerts that I think you all should attend. The shows will mostly be in the DC area with some Richmond and Charlottesville dates. PLEASE, let me know if you’re interested in attending any of these concerts as I am always looking for people to go to shows with. If you can’t attend, you should at least check out the bands, they all have my backing.
  • Friday May 13; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Red Palace, DC)
  • Tuesday May 17, The Antlers (Black Cat, DC)
  • Tuesday May 17; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (IOTA Club, Arlington)
  • Wednesday May 18; Damien Jurado w/John Vanderslice (Black Cat, DC)
  • Tuesday May 31; Alexander of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, DC)
  • Friday June 10; Other Lives (Red Palace, DC)
  • Friday June 17; Noah and the Whale (9:30).
  • Wednesday June 22, Foster the People (9:30)
  • Wednesday July 20; Phantogram, Glitch Mob, and Com Truise (9:30); Phantogram is who I really want to see here
  • Wednesday July 27; Eels (9:30)
  • New! Saturday July 30; Bon Iver (The National – Richmond); Tickets on sale TODAY @ 10am for all Bon Iver shows
  • New! Monday August 1; Bon Iver (9:30)
  • New! Tuesday August 2; Bon Iver (9:30)
  • Wednesday August 3; The Decemberists w/ The Head and the Heart (Cville Pavilion); I have tickets
  • Thursday September 29; Mogwai (9:30)
Drop a hot comment if any of these shows tickle your interest. I’d love to make all of these.

Concert Pulse

Concert Pulse will be a weekly updated list of concerts that I think you all should attend. The shows will mostly be in the DC area with some Richmond and Charlottesville dates. PLEASE, let me know if you’re interested in attending any of these concerts as I am always looking for people to go to shows with. If you can’t attend, you should at least check out the bands, they all have my backing.
  • Friday May 6; Foals, Freelance Whales, and the Naked and Famous (9:30 Club, DC)
  • Thursday May 12; Besnard Lakes (Black Cat, DC)
  • Friday May 13; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Red Palace, DC)
  • Tuesday May 17, The Antlers (Black Cat, DC)
  • Tuesday May 17; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (IOTA Club, Arlington)
  • Wednesday May 18; Damien Jurado w/John Vanderslice (Black Cat, DC)
  • Tuesday May 31; Alexander of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, DC)
  • Friday June 10; Other Lives (Red Palace, DC)
  • Friday June 17, Noah and the Whale (9:30).
  • Wednesday June 22, Foster the People (9:30)
  • Wednesday July 20; Phantogram, Glitch Mob, and Com Truise (9:30); Phantogram is who I really want to see here
  • Wednesday July 27; Eels (9:30)
  • Wednesday August 3; The Decemberists w/ The Head and the Heart (Cville Pavilion)
  • Thursday September 29; Mogwai (9:30)
Drop a hot comment if any of these shows tickle your interest. I’d love to make all of these.

Concert Review: Iron & Wine

This past weekend, I had the great privilege of seeing Iron & Wine at the 9:30 Club. I haven’t been this amped for a concert since my last visit to 9:30, where I saw Mumford & Sons. I have referred to the Mumford show as the best concert I have ever been to (and probably the best I will ever experience), but seeing Iron & Wine (Sam Beam) is in its own category.

The entire metro ride there I was getting the “freak out chills” in my state of pure jubilation. Though, looking back, this may have been a product of the slightly sketchy company on DC’s metro lines. Regardless, we got there well before the opening act, Low Anthem, to take our position just feet away from the lead mic.

By the time Sam Beam and his ten piece collaboration arrived on stage, I was slightly losing it. The man is a living legend of the indie music scene; a performer I have admired and followed closely for years. For those of you that have listened to Iron & Wine’s new CD, Kiss Each Other Clean, I understand your apprehension. Upon first listen, it’s different, and seeing Beam up there with ten other musicians (full horns, drums, keyboard, electric guitar, etc.) was a kind of difficult to digest. It took me a few listens of the new album to figure out that this was the same Iron & Wine I know and love, just with something extra (in a good way). Now I’m hooked.

iron and wine 930 club

Beam played a nineteen song show with six songs coming from the new album. Honestly, during the show, it was somewhat difficult for me to distinguish between old and new. This was part of the genius of the night. With the band, something new was added to each classic Iron & Wine song. About a third of the way through the set, it dawned on me that I was witnessing something historic, something life changing. A step-back-and-Wow moment, if you will. Beam was playing old and new, mixed expertly. Walking Far From Home, one of my favorite new songs, led perfectly into Cinder and Smoke, an I&W mainstay. The delicacy at which this was accomplished was something to behold.

Every time Beam threw out an old song, the band would start off playing in full, then, halfway through, the lights would all focus on Beam, center stage, and he would take the song back to its origins. Two of the more memorable songs were Lion’s Mane and Free Until They Cut Me Down, both off of The Creek Drank the Cradle. Just as I was starting to dig the new version of the song, the band went quiet and it was just Beam, belting those beautiful lyrics. Glad Man Singing, a new song, split those two classics. This is where I heard something I never thought possible at an Iron & Wine concert… jamming. An in your face jam session, highlighted by Beam ripping guitar and some guy on sax/trumpet that absolutely killed it. The two of them had the crowd and it was their’s to move.

Beam was constantly engaged with the audience between songs. Granted, much of the back and forth was somewhat annoying because the shout outs were coming from 18 year olds. So, I felt it was my duty to represent the more mature crowd and say hey to the man himself. I shouted; “Your beard inspires me!” to which Beam replied, “That frightens me”. Sam Beam, the king of cool. That right there, made my decade. To put my comment in context, I’m currently wearing a pretty serious beard and Beam is famous for being the bearded man. He even has children that have never seen him bare-faced. Truly inspiring.

To close the night out, Beam came back onto the stage solo for the encore. He proceeded to play a deeply personal rendition of Flightless Bird. He carried out his acoustic but only strummed maybe five chords the entire song. It was mesmerizing. The entire crowd was lost in the song. Not a single person attempted to sing along with the lyrics. The song, and the night, belonged to Beam.

Iron & Wine 930 club

*photo credits to Eric Waters (indeepwaters.tumblr.com
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