From Danny Shapiro
It’s time, music lovers, to recap the weekend in great live music. For those who are keen on doing nothing but seeing gigs from start-to-finish (i.e., myself), this past weekend’s mid-August offerings were second-to-none.
Friday, August 13: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at the 930 Club
All of last week’s occupational stresses, deadlines, and hazards were but a distant memory once Trombone Shorty and his thrilling New Orleans funk/hip-hop/soul /big band sound hit the stage on Friday night at the 930 Club. A virtuoso on both the trumpet and trombone, Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) and his full backing band of equally jaw-dropping caliber brought the audience on a trip through Tremé–and the entire heart of Louisiana.
Replete with soul-shattering jams from his new album ‘Backatown’ and getting the crowd riled up with a seductive cover of ‘Let’s Get It On’ plus the ever-rousing ‘When The Saints Go Marching In,’ Trombone Shorty didn’t let the audience stop dancing for almost 2 hours, dropping us back off in the District with just enough time for the crowd to spill out and rejoin U Street’s waning party hours.
Saturday, August 14: MGMT at Merriweather Post Pavilion
Teenage hipsters, come one come all! Apparently, this Brooklyn-based indie band has reached the zeitgeist among the high school locker chatrooms, as the lawn was flooded with girls and boys who just wanna have fun… until their parents pick them up afterwards. Regardless, the evening was pure indie pop bliss.
The bill opened with Devandra Banhart, whose quirky dance moves only seemed to enhance his greater attention-grabbing set of download-worthy tracks. The stage was then set for MGMT, who showcased their catalog of hits from their 2008 breakout smash ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and their recent 2010 follow-up ‘Congratulations.’ (Nice addition: the psychedelic-inspired backdrop screen…stage set money well spent).
The puerile and non-puerile crowd alike were nonstop on their feet to the anthemic hits ‘Electric Feel’ and ‘Kids’, although I now am a bit more smitten with the new album’s more nuanced offerings ‘Flash Delirium,’ ‘Brian Eno,’ and ‘Someone’s Missing.’ All in all, I left Merriweather longing for the days when Saturday night’s brilliant concert was the topic du jour in Monday’s homeroom.
Sunday, August 15: Ray LaMontagne & David Gray at Merriweather Post Pavilion
The weekend triumvirate reached a pinnacle with Sunday’s (soggy yet undeterred) return trip to Merriweather. Ray LaMontagne can sing from the back of a Ford pick-up truck in the middle of a briar patch and I’d still be first in line to hear his heartwrenchingly beautiful music. His husky yet smooth-as-silk voice has had me captivated since his 2004 debut album ‘Trouble,’ and last night was my first listen of the brand new gorgeous album (trust me, Ray is now 4-for-4 in album releases), ‘God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise’, with the newly acquired outfit moniker, ‘Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs.’
Be sure to pick up the record upon its release Tuesday August 17. Playing the classics ‘Trouble,’ ‘Shelter,’ (the set’s welcomed encore) as well as newer hits ‘Let It Be Me,’ and ‘You’re The Best Thing,’ the crowd showered Ray with screams of love and affection with every final note. Despite his shy demure, Ray returned the affection to the crowd between songs, speaking (and laughing!) more than most other times I’ve seen him.
The crowd actually appeared to be there for Ray moreso than David, which was certainly the case for me. But, Mr. Gray was the final performer of the night, showcasing new and old hits in support of his new album ‘Foundling,’ also released (coincidentally) Tuesday August 17.
Anyone who has been a fan of David since the breakout 1999 smash ‘White Ladder’ and his staple classics ‘Babylon,’ ‘Sail Away,’ and ‘This Year’s Love’ left satiated, if not longing for more Welsh star power. The new tunes are definitely worthy of adding to your record collection. The night succeeded in providing folk/soul/pop sonorous crooning, by two men who have proven that perhaps the best is still yet to come in the longstanding and inspired careers of both talents.
At the close of Sunday, I was glad to have capitalized on the non-stop tripartite concert itinerary… if only every weekend could be like this.
Danny Shapiro is an avid music lover who has the good fortune to live very close the music scene on the 14th and U corridor.