SHOW PREVIEW: Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst is coming to town. Love him or hate him, he’ll be playing two nights – May 23rd and May 24th, just a few days after the release of his newest solo work Upside Down Mountain. Produced in Nashville, the record itself features the backing vocals of First Aid Kit’s charming Söderberg sisters. Special guests Dawes are set to open.
As a shrill 12 year old, Conor Oberst played his first show in the musically bountiful Omaha, Nebraska, strumming that guitar hard. His work, now spanning over two decades, is vast: Commander Venus, Desaparecidos, The Faint, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, a slew of solo records, and the most beloved - Bright Eyes. There’s always Bright Eyes, isn’t there?
In addition to Upside Down Mountain, Oberst is deftly making use of Record Store Day this April, with two 7 inches up for grabs. The first features “Hundreds of Ways,” off his upcoming release and “Friends,” which didn’t quite make the cut.  If you’ve got tickets to this show, you will need to pick up the Dawes/Oberst split. The record includes a Dawes recording of “Easy/Lucky/Free” (from Oberst’s 2005 Digital Ash in a Digital Urn), and Oberst covering “Million Dollar Bill” (from Dawes’ 2011 Nothing is Wrong). The Laurel Canyon band, coming off their 2013 Stories Don’t End, has long since played alongside Oberst. Following their set, they will return to the stage as his backing band.
Did the music of Conor Oberst and his buddy, Mike Mogis, get you through high school, as folks often claim? Or maybe Fevers and Mirrors; Lifted…; I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning got you through college. Or this winter. Or yesterday. If you’ve never seen him live, you really should. His performances tend to pack a lot of energy, shifting lights, heat –disproving that sad-bastard repute. There’s almost always a nice cover, too (“The Biggest Lie” -Elliott Smith; “Devil Town” -Robert Johnson; “Walls” -Tom Petty; “Mushaboom” -Feist). Still bummed I missed the 2003 night, in my own home town, when a severely-annoyed Conor climbed atop his band’s van with an acoustic guitar. The power inside had been cut in accordance with some bogus curfew and so he stormed outside to play in the parking lot of the now-disbanded Newport Music Hall. He got through one song before the fuzz shut him down.  
Say what you will about the man. I keep coming back.
-Ren Cooper
Performing live at the 9:30 Club on May 23rd and May 24th.

SHOW PREVIEW: Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst is coming to town. Love him or hate him, he’ll be playing two nights – May 23rd and May 24th, just a few days after the release of his newest solo work Upside Down Mountain. Produced in Nashville, the record itself features the backing vocals of First Aid Kit’s charming Söderberg sisters. Special guests Dawes are set to open.

As a shrill 12 year old, Conor Oberst played his first show in the musically bountiful Omaha, Nebraska, strumming that guitar hard. His work, now spanning over two decades, is vast: Commander Venus, Desaparecidos, The Faint, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, a slew of solo records, and the most beloved - Bright Eyes. There’s always Bright Eyes, isn’t there?

In addition to Upside Down Mountain, Oberst is deftly making use of Record Store Day this April, with two 7 inches up for grabs. The first features “Hundreds of Ways,” off his upcoming release and “Friends,” which didn’t quite make the cut.  If you’ve got tickets to this show, you will need to pick up the Dawes/Oberst split. The record includes a Dawes recording of “Easy/Lucky/Free” (from Oberst’s 2005 Digital Ash in a Digital Urn), and Oberst covering “Million Dollar Bill” (from Dawes’ 2011 Nothing is Wrong). The Laurel Canyon band, coming off their 2013 Stories Don’t End, has long since played alongside Oberst. Following their set, they will return to the stage as his backing band.

Did the music of Conor Oberst and his buddy, Mike Mogis, get you through high school, as folks often claim? Or maybe Fevers and Mirrors; Lifted…; I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning got you through college. Or this winter. Or yesterday. If you’ve never seen him live, you really should. His performances tend to pack a lot of energy, shifting lights, heat –disproving that sad-bastard repute. There’s almost always a nice cover, too (“The Biggest Lie” -Elliott Smith; “Devil Town” -Robert Johnson; “Walls” -Tom Petty; “Mushaboom” -Feist). Still bummed I missed the 2003 night, in my own home town, when a severely-annoyed Conor climbed atop his band’s van with an acoustic guitar. The power inside had been cut in accordance with some bogus curfew and so he stormed outside to play in the parking lot of the now-disbanded Newport Music Hall. He got through one song before the fuzz shut him down.  

Say what you will about the man. I keep coming back.

-Ren Cooper

Performing live at the 9:30 Club on May 23rd and May 24th.

SHOW PREVIEW: Andrew Bird and Hands Of Glory
As someone who spent most of her life playing violin, I can really get down with Andrew Bird.  The first time I heard of him was when I was 14 and my orchestra teacher posted a video of him playing at Bonnaroo.  He was effortlessly cool, and so, so talented.  Three years ago, he secured his place in my heart when he did a Ted Talk.  That made him perfect.  His music is inventive and catchy.  His most recent release, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, met all of my high expectations.  It was sophisticated and well structured, peppered with the usual loops and whistling that so distinguishes Bird’s work.  Andrew Bird live is a sight to see.  Don’t miss him when he comes to Lincoln Theatre in June!
-Nora Keller

SHOW PREVIEW: Andrew Bird and Hands Of Glory

As someone who spent most of her life playing violin, I can really get down with Andrew Bird.  The first time I heard of him was when I was 14 and my orchestra teacher posted a video of him playing at Bonnaroo.  He was effortlessly cool, and so, so talented.  Three years ago, he secured his place in my heart when he did a Ted Talk.  That made him perfect.  His music is inventive and catchy.  His most recent release, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, met all of my high expectations.  It was sophisticated and well structured, peppered with the usual loops and whistling that so distinguishes Bird’s work.  Andrew Bird live is a sight to see.  Don’t miss him when he comes to Lincoln Theatre in June!

-Nora Keller

HOW DID I MISS THIS?: Eels

My Eels fandom story is sort of weird.  I liked them for a while, just liked.  I was at most a casual listener.  It wasn’t until August 14, 2013 that I really connected with this band.  Why so exact?  Well, dear reader, that is the day that the Futurama episode, “Game of Tones” first aired on television.  Honestly, I can hardly remember the episode itself.  What really struck me was the ending scene.  Without giving away too much, the ending was supposed to be sad.  What made it really poignant was the song, “Manchild,” by Eels playing softly in the background and slowly rising as the scene faded and the credits came up.  After that I became obsessed.  Eels is one of those bands that can really make you feel something.  They know how to set the tone of a song, and that’s what makes a band a great band.

-Nora Keller

Performing Live at Lincoln Theatre on May 31st

SHOW PREVIEW: Dr. Dog

Certified-organic freak folkers Dr. Dog hail from Pennsylvania – probably from a big pink house if you catch our drift. The seasoned road dogs have been making bar rock awash in Americana for over a decade, and their continuing excitement for and innovation in music is refreshing. Their latest album, 2013’s B-Room, features almost 20 distinct instruments and yet their sound is tight and consistent. They have Band-meets-Big Star pop vibes and the warmest bass tone you will ever, ever experience. And yet they can be hard to pin down because they play their influences so well. Their quick wit and instrumental virtuosity can be equal parts Father John Misty and Beatles-esque, anchored by the raspy, tough, loveable vocals of Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman. Bottom line, this is a group of extremely talented, hard-working musical journeymen who are never boring and always worth a ticket.
-Kelsey Butterworth

SHOW PREVIEW: Dr. Dog

Certified-organic freak folkers Dr. Dog hail from Pennsylvania – probably from a big pink house if you catch our drift. The seasoned road dogs have been making bar rock awash in Americana for over a decade, and their continuing excitement for and innovation in music is refreshing. Their latest album, 2013’s B-Room, features almost 20 distinct instruments and yet their sound is tight and consistent. They have Band-meets-Big Star pop vibes and the warmest bass tone you will ever, ever experience. And yet they can be hard to pin down because they play their influences so well. Their quick wit and instrumental virtuosity can be equal parts Father John Misty and Beatles-esque, anchored by the raspy, tough, loveable vocals of Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman. Bottom line, this is a group of extremely talented, hard-working musical journeymen who are never boring and always worth a ticket.

-Kelsey Butterworth

SHOW PREVIEW: Future Islands
There’s this moment when you first listen to Future Island’s “Long Flight” that makes you fall in love. You’re taken in by blinking synth chords, a driving bass, and a strange, gravelly vocal delivered by Sam Herring, and that’s all well and good. Really, it’s just what you expected after hearing your friends describe Future Islands to you last night at the bar. 

Then comes the yell. A glorious, primal, almost inhuman roar denouncing love’s destroyer. Remember Wesley’s scream in the pit of despair during the water torture scene in Princess Bride? Welcome to the real life version. 
If hearing that sound doesn’t make you snap up a ticket for Future Islands’ show at the Club on May 1st, I don’t know what will. 
-Spencer Swan 

SHOW PREVIEW: Future Islands

There’s this moment when you first listen to Future Island’s “Long Flight” that makes you fall in love. You’re taken in by blinking synth chords, a driving bass, and a strange, gravelly vocal delivered by Sam Herring, and that’s all well and good. Really, it’s just what you expected after hearing your friends describe Future Islands to you last night at the bar. 

Then comes the yell. A glorious, primal, almost inhuman roar denouncing love’s destroyer. Remember Wesley’s scream in the pit of despair during the water torture scene in Princess Bride? Welcome to the real life version. 

If hearing that sound doesn’t make you snap up a ticket for Future Islands’ show at the Club on May 1st, I don’t know what will. 

-Spencer Swan 

9:30 INTERVIEW: Devin Gallagher, Typhoon
Sydney [9:30]: I know that the big think about Typhoon that you’re probably sick of hearing about is that you guys are so big.  Are there any weird problems that you run into when touring that smaller bands wouldn’t?
Devin [Typhoon]: I don’t really notice the downsides anymore.  It’s really more of an advantage.  Anything that needs doing, there’s twelve people who can do it.   
Do you guys have any rituals that you perform before you get one stage? How do you get everyone all in the same mindset to perform so cohesively as such a big group?
Before we play, we gather in a big huddle and do a group cheer. Sometimes we’ll talk a bit in the huddle before cheering.  We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.  We might all be in different places psychically before hand, but when we cheer we’re all there together.     
Typhoon seems like a big family, and that certainly comes across in your music. Do certain members in the groups play different family-like roles in your group? Who would you title with band mom or band dad?
We joke about that, but it’s probably more like twelve kids who’s parents left them the house while they’re traveling in Europe- brothers and sisters.   
When the lineup of the band is constantly changing, what kind of challenges does that present to the songwriting and touring process?
Since we released “Hunger and Thirst” in 2010, the lineup has been the same, except for the departure of two members (our cellist and a backing vocalist).  The twelve of us have been writing, playing, touring, and living together for over three years, and continue to grow stronger as a band.  
You all are a pleasant departure from the recent trend toward minimalism in indie music.  Where do you draw your influences? What other bands do you identify most with in terms of style and band structure?
Most of us were classically trained in addition to playing in garage bands, and seeing how orchestras and large jazz ensembles function probably gave us a good background for what we do now.  When we were in high school and college, people like Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire,  Broken Social Scene, The Polyphonic Spree, and Sigur Ros were experimenting with larger ensembles as well as utilizing strings and horns and more varied percussion- I think that influenced us quite a bit.   
Plane malfunction takes you down and leaves you all stranded on a desert island together. You can only rescue one of your tour items before you make it to dry land…what would it be?
Probably the whiskey.  
If you could sit down and have a drink and a chat with any musician, living or dead, who would it be? You don’t have to be a fan of their work—maybe you just want to pick their brain.
John Cage.     
We’re super excited to have you guys on our stage in DC.  Being from the west coast, is there anything you’re anxious to see or do when you’re back in the nation’s capital?

DC is just fun to be in.  I have been meaning to check out the James Adkins University campus.    
Typhoon performs LIVE at 9:30 Cub on March 19th!
-Sydney Sanial

9:30 INTERVIEW: Devin Gallagher, Typhoon

Sydney [9:30]: I know that the big think about Typhoon that you’re probably sick of hearing about is that you guys are so big.  Are there any weird problems that you run into when touring that smaller bands wouldn’t?

Devin [Typhoon]: I don’t really notice the downsides anymore.  It’s really more of an advantage.  Anything that needs doing, there’s twelve people who can do it.   

Do you guys have any rituals that you perform before you get one stage? How do you get everyone all in the same mindset to perform so cohesively as such a big group?

Before we play, we gather in a big huddle and do a group cheer. Sometimes we’ll talk a bit in the huddle before cheering.  We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.  We might all be in different places psychically before hand, but when we cheer we’re all there together.     

Typhoon seems like a big family, and that certainly comes across in your music. Do certain members in the groups play different family-like roles in your group? Who would you title with band mom or band dad?

We joke about that, but it’s probably more like twelve kids who’s parents left them the house while they’re traveling in Europe- brothers and sisters.   

When the lineup of the band is constantly changing, what kind of challenges does that present to the songwriting and touring process?

Since we released “Hunger and Thirst” in 2010, the lineup has been the same, except for the departure of two members (our cellist and a backing vocalist).  The twelve of us have been writing, playing, touring, and living together for over three years, and continue to grow stronger as a band.  

You all are a pleasant departure from the recent trend toward minimalism in indie music.  Where do you draw your influences? What other bands do you identify most with in terms of style and band structure?

Most of us were classically trained in addition to playing in garage bands, and seeing how orchestras and large jazz ensembles function probably gave us a good background for what we do now.  When we were in high school and college, people like Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire,  Broken Social Scene, The Polyphonic Spree, and Sigur Ros were experimenting with larger ensembles as well as utilizing strings and horns and more varied percussion- I think that influenced us quite a bit.   

Plane malfunction takes you down and leaves you all stranded on a desert island together. You can only rescue one of your tour items before you make it to dry land…what would it be?

Probably the whiskey.  

If you could sit down and have a drink and a chat with any musician, living or dead, who would it be? You don’t have to be a fan of their work—maybe you just want to pick their brain.

John Cage.     

We’re super excited to have you guys on our stage in DC.  Being from the west coast, is there anything you’re anxious to see or do when you’re back in the nation’s capital?

DC is just fun to be in.  I have been meaning to check out the James Adkins University campus.    

Typhoon performs LIVE at 9:30 Cub on March 19th!

-Sydney Sanial

NEW TRACKS: Conor Oberst, “Hundred of Ways”

Conor Oberst is important.  A lot of people grew up with his music.  He served as the spirit guide through adolescence for teenagers in the 2000s. He understood angst; he understood depression; he understood heartbreak.  He got it.  Well, those teens have for the most part grown up now, and so has he. The last new material Oberst released was Bright Eyes’ 2011 release, The People’s Key. With this single, “Hundreds of Ways,” he announced his new solo album, Upsidedown the Mountain. As soon as the song begins, it becomes very evident that this album is an act of genre-jumping.  It’s easy to pick out that Nashville sound – steel guitars and jaunty slap-back rhythm guitars. The album sounds more country than emo. Sure, Oberst could probably just make albums re-hashing the same concepts in Fevers and Mirrors over and over, and people would probably buy them.  But he’s not doing that.  He’s chosen do something else, explore something new, and that’s pretty cool.

-Nora Keller

Performing LIVE with Dawes at 9:30 Club on May 23rd and 24th!

NEW TRACKS: Wye Oak - ‘The Tower’

With the announcement of a new album, Shriek, and a new tour, including a just announced stop at the 9:30 club on May 6th, we’re really excited to see what these Baltimore natives will do next.

To give us a taste of Shriek, out on April 29th via Merge Records, Wye Oak has released the first single off the album, entitled “The Tower”.  The song has taken Wye Oak’s music in a little bit of a different direction compared to 2011’s Civilian.

“The Tower” still has Jenn Wasner’s beautiful haunting vocals that we have come to love and expect in Wye Oak’s sound.  However, this new single strays a little further from their folk influences towards a different sound.  The use of repeated keyboard chords instead of their usual guitar melodies gives the song a sound that is vaguely reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock horror movie scores.  I suppose that’s fitting considering the title of their upcoming LP is called Shriek.

“The Tower” is a great single that leaves us curious to know what the rest of the album will sound like.

-Sydney Sanial

VOTD: The Orwells - ‘The Righteous One’

While I have already professed my love for The Orwells after discovering them early last year, their new video “The Righteous One” has made me fall under their spell even more. The video is directed by the guitarist’s brother, Eddie O’Keefe and he successfully captures the essence of the band and the song. The layers of all the band members playing their music gives you that crazy feeling of what being front row at one of their concerts is like. (Yes, I have seen them at Lollapalooza, open for FIDLAR and I am ready to see them headline a tour this spring.)

Oh yeah, if you don’t have your tickets to see them on March 8th at U Street Music Hall buy them soon or you’ll miss out on an unforgettable experience.

Their music videos always take a unique approach well-matched to the song’s underlying meaning. It is fun to see the same video director continue to make creative videos that differ greatly, but always grasp the band’s essential adolescent, unadulterated punk sound. I am already looking forward to what they might think of next.

-Lauren Rosalanko