SHOW PREVIEW: Grouplove and Portugal. The Man
Indie rock labelmates Grouplove and Portugal. The Man, both under Atlantic Records, are making their way to Merriweather Post Pavillion this September. Now, in Grouplove’s case, that is rather impressive since, under a year ago, they played a set at U Street Music Hall. For those of you who don’t know, that’s a difference in capacity of almost 19,000 people! Both Grouplove and Portugal. The Man having been hitting festivals across the U.S. the last few summers and growing to play larger venues, such as Merriweather.
Even if you think you’ve never heard of Grouplove, you’ve probably heard Grouplove. Their song, “Tongue Tied,” among others, has been all over TV and other mediums, and is too catchy for you not to remember at least the hook. Lead vocalists Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi wow audiences with their remarkable dynamics that perfectly compliment each other, luring everyone to sing along. You’re sure to be enthralled by their vigorous, energetic live performance.
Portugal. The Man’s latest album, released last June, was produced by Danger Mouse, a Grammy-nominated producer who is a member of Broken Bells, was a past member of Gnarls Barkley, and has produced albums for Beck, Black Keys, and Gorillaz. They are led by their frontman, John Gourley, and there’s usually one thing that people notice about him right off the bat - he is almost always singing in falsetto. What really amazes people about this is how badass he is able to make falsetto sound. Overall, many of their songs are lots of fun and easy to dance to, especially in concert. But also, as they get down into the deeper tracks of any of their seven studio albums, the audience will be blown away by the amount of serious power they can bring.
Catch Grouplove and Portugal. The Man at Merriweather on September 12th.
SHOW PREVIEW: Sir Sly & Wolf Gang
If I told you that you could see two amazingly talented bands co-headline in a super intimate space, would you be pumped? Of course you would be. Well, it just so happens that two super awesome bands, Sir Sly and Wolf Gang, are teaming up for a rad fall tour. Sir Sly is a three-piece indie-pop band from Los Angeles which has found considerable success in its short two years together. The song “Gold” has reached 27th on the US Alt Rock charts and was featured in commercials for the popular video games Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and MLB 14: The Show. Sir Sly’s debut EP Gold is dark but still distinctly pop and singer Landon Jacobs’ unique voice shines. Wolf Gang is a four-piece from London, England and has opened for some of music’s biggest names like Coldplay, Keane, and The Killers. The band’s debut album, Suego Faults, cracked the Top 100 on the UK Charts and singles off the record were featured on hit shows like Gossip Girl. Right now, Wolf Gang’s Black River EP is out everywhere and the second album is set for release this year. Now, seeing either of these bands live would awesome but both on one stage is a once-in-a-lifetime event. So what are you waiting for? Get on these tickets before it’s too late!
Sir Sly & Wolf Gang will perform at U Street Music Hall on September 8.
SHOW PREVIEW: Bryan Ferry
Former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry brings his powerful vocals and finely tailored suits to the Lincoln Theater for performances on September 28 and 29. Expect a dose of infectious ‘80s grooves, paired with a layer of distinguished elder statesman gravitas.
Ferry started Roxy Music in 1971 in England, combining elements of art rock and glam. The group included, among other members, Windows 95 startup sound composer and all-around musical legend Brian Eno. Their debut was 1972’s self-tiled album, which contained the UK hits “Virginia Plain” and “Re-Make/Re-Model.”
1975’s Siren saw the group earn its first US hit with the bouncy “Love is the Drug”. Rolling Stone named Siren one of its 500 greatest albums of all time, calling it a “delicious LP of lounge-lizard ennui”.
In the early ‘80s, Ferry turned to a solo career. His first record in this era, 1985’s Boys and Girls, brought a number of durable tunes. The slinky “Slave to Love,” wistful “Don’t Stop the Dance,” and shimmering “Windswept” all stand out.
Come on out to the show and you’ll get a fair helping of these hits and more. A look at setlists of late indicates that Ferry’s giving his audience the material they know and love. And a glance a recent live sets shows that he’s still giving it his all. Bring yourself back to a time where snare drums had the amount of reverb they deserved and join us for what will be a great experience!
Bryan Ferry will perform at the Lincoln Theatre on September 28 and September 29.
SHOW PREVIEW: Bleachers
"I Wanna Get Better," the hit single by Bleachers (solo project of Fun.’s Jack Antonoff), seems to be everywhere these days. The track is perfect for summer and is impossible not to sing along to. But, Bleachers’ catchy creations don’t stop there. Antonoff’s recently released album, Strange Desire, is a fun romp through 1980sesque pop that still feels distinctly modern. The album is full of powerful pop anthems like “Shadow,” a love-affirming song that is just begging listeners to dance. Past the Duran Duran vibe and catchy fun, however, Antonoff’s lyrics are one of the most incredible parts of each Bleachers song. He bares his soul on his tracks, letting people see his emotional struggles and find joy in his victories. This combination of soaring pop and intimate lyrics creates an unique musical experience that is both a fun and emotionally affecting. So, even if you’re not a Fun. fan, check out Bleachers on the upcoming Strange Desire Tour and you won’t be disappointed.
Bleachers will perform at 9:30 Club on September 3.
SHOW PREVIEW: The Strypes
So, what were all of you guys doing when you were 17 years old? Were you playing in a rock band, traveling the world, and performing on David Letterman? Didn’t think so. But, for the four members of The Strypes, that is exactly how they’re spending their teenage years. Formed in 2011 in Cavan, Ireland, The Strypes are singer Ross Farrelly, guitarist Josh McClorey, bassist Peter O’Hanlon, and drummer Evan Walsh. Their sound is gritty, fast-paced, and draws inspiration from 1970s rock bands like The Rolling Stones. Their genuine, unvarnished sound is particularly surprising given their young ages. Farrelly’s swagger is mesmerizing and gives the impression he’s been a frontman for much longer than 3 years. The band’s single “What a Shame” is a growling condemnation of major record labels set to a fun, danceable track. The Strypes’ debut album, Snapshot, is a short (only 35 minutes) but incredibly memorable raucous trip that leaves you wanting more.
The Strypes will perform at 9:30 Club on August 19.
SHOW PREVIEW: Passenger
Michael David Rosenberg is a British folk rock genius and you’d be silly not to catch him live when you have the chance. First in a band and now as a solo artist, Rosenberg has participated in six full-length Passenger albums, all of which include quality tracks beyond just the singles. His award winning and arguably best song, “Let Her Go,” pulls at all the feels in an emotionally taxing but poignant way. If you need a frame of reference, Ben Howard fans will love this guy. The most recent Passenger album, Whispers, is now the focus of the live performances and rightly so. Released in 2014, Whispers, embodies Rosenberg’s confidence as a solo artist. The songs are complicated lyrically, yet burst with an upbeat energy that wasn’t always evident in the past albums. For instance, “27” is about running away and regretting the past, but it still compels you to dance anyways. While his voice is soft, the passion behind it is big and that drives the power of Passenger’s music.
SHOW PREVIEW: The Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz
On October 24, the Lincoln Theatre will host a joining of folk forces in the form of the Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz. Guitars will be strummed, mandolins will be plucked, and Prairie Home Companion flashbacks will abound.
The Milk Carton Kids consist of California natives Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan. Their duo setup has echoes of Simon & Garfunkel, though the overall aesthetic is more old-time in nature. In 2011, they debuted with Prologue, which NPR called “a sweet-and-easy summer stroll of an album.” They followed that up with last year’s gorgeous Ash & Clay. In between, indie film auteur Gus van Sant took a liking to them and featured several songs in his 2012 drama Promised Land.
Sarah Jarosz started playing at an early age while growing up in Texas. She signed her first record contract as a high schooler, resulting in 2009’s Song Up in Her Head. Her sound combines a singer-songwriter’s soulfulness with the energy of an Appalachian string band, reminiscent of the recently reunited Nickel Creek. Of 2013’s Build Me Up From Bones, PopMatters said “there is always something strange and wonderful going on.”
The artists met at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2013, prompting the decision to perform as a unit. For a taste, head over to the Austin City Limits Youtube Channel, where you can watch selections from their recent appearance on that program. Since that surely won’t be enough, pencil in October 24 on your calendar and catch them in person!
The Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz will perform at the Lincoln Theatre on October 24.
SHOW PREVIEW: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Deemed the “grand lord of gothic lushness” by NME in their review of 2013’s Push The Sky Away, Nick Cave has been around the block a few times. The Australian post-punk songwriter has worked on numerous projects (beginning in 1973), but it wasn’t until 1984 that he began his most prolific project, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
This latest tour has received only rave reviews, namely the performance at Bonnaroo. Performing in a time slot competing with The Flaming Lips, Frank Ocean, and the Skrillex/Robbie Krieger Superjam, the crowd was small, but the performance was electric. According to this review from American Songwriter, one Cave newbie remarked: “It’s like he’s trying to individually connect with each person in the audience.”
We can only anticipate that his July 23 performance will be just as hypnotizing.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds will perform at DAR Constitution Hall on July 23.
SHOW PREVIEW: Bastille
By now everyone and their grandmother knows the hook to the inescapable Bastille hit “Pompeii.” In 2013, the song quickly became a stateside radio staple, giving the English band their first taste of the US Billboard charts and sold-out shows. It is hard to believe that just a few years ago frontman Dan Smith’s songwriting had been a closely-guarded secret. Smith wrote songs as a way to kill time and procrastinate his university studies; in fact, it was his intention that the music he tinkered away at on his keyboard and computer never leave his bedroom. Eventually, a friend of Smith’s discovered his recordings and entered them in a local songwriting contest. Smith won that contest. The prize was free time at a recording studio, and the rest, as they say, is history. The reluctant lead singer ultimately decided against being a solo act, bringing on board the three other band members (Chris Wood, Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson) to round out Bastille. Their debut album Bad Blood is an eclectic mix of electronic pop numbers, big rock n’ roll moments, and somber autobiographical ballads. Bastille’s first headlining American Tour is currently underway. The band’s live shows bring inspired dance parties with the perfect sprinkling of heavy drums, acoustic guitar, a few interesting covers, and the occasional tease of an as-yet-unreleased track. Bastille’s Bad Blood Tour will stop in Fairfax at the Patriot Center on October 11th. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out this remarkable band, just in case their frontman changes his mind (again) about being a rock star.
Bastille will perform at the GMU Patriot Center on October 11.
SHOW PREVIEW: Route 29 Revue
Fellow folksy foot stompers, brass band junkies, singer songwriter fanatics, and alt rock lovers- it’s time to join together and get psyched for this year’s incredible Route 29 Revue lineup! Here are just some of the great acts you have to look forward to:
Trampled By Turtles: These Minnesotans have become veterans on the festival circuit, released multiple high charting albums, and along the way perfected easy-going bluegrass. With a similar vibe to Old Crow Medicine Show, dancing fervently to the tune of the Ryan Young’s fiddle is compulsory. They also have more mellow songs, such as their excellent cover of Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?” Trampled By Turtles have certainly frequented 9:30 Club before, but it will be a special treat to see them headline at Merriweather.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue: This band is all about the brass, just so much brass. The multi instrumental base is enhanced by some real soulful crooning vocals. The spirit of New Orleans jazz is alive and well in Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and that feeling always resonates no matter what part of the country the show is taking place.
Iron & Wine: Believe me, Samuel Beam’s voice can soothe any and all distress. He’s been at it 10 years and hasn’t missed a beat yet. Beam has the ability to write serene original after original, as well as rendering the energetic Postal Service hit “Such Great Heights” into a chilled out number that could be considered a lullaby. If Nick Drake and Elliot Smith were still alive, they would have been friends with Samuel Beam and likely complimented his beard because it sure is on point.
Hurray for the Riff Raff: It’s hard not to be fascinated by the New Orleans stunner Alynda Lee Segarra and crew. With an americana folk foundation, Hurray for the Riff Raff has quietly but effectively grasped the attention of festival goers and esteemed music press alike since they started out 6 years ago. The songs often have a social activist edge and NPR claims that “Segarra’s morning after alto might be the least showy great voice to hit the national scene.” Take a listen to “The Body Electric” and imagine all the hip swaying and banjo strumming that happens when this song is performed live.
Route 29 Revue will take place at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 13.