DC Pride is right around the corner. I thought it would make sense to provide a pride guide, if you will, on all the wonderful activities around town over the next week.
Here’s a smattering of events in our area, some of which I’m DJing, to attend during Pride Week.
*Denotes an event at which I’m DJing
Friday, June 5
Out/Spoken* at 9:30 Club, $25
Who doesn’t love a good story? SpeakeasyDC, the District’s true story-telling group presents stories from the LGBT perspective that will be sure to challenge, provoke, inspire, and ignite.
BreakfastClub presents Rainbow-Brite* at 18th & U Duplex Diner, Free
This event celebrates all the colors of the rainbow. Expect your favorite ’80s tracks.
Wednesday, June 10
Hillary for DC, Pride Edition at Howard Theatre, $20.16
This dance party/fundraiser benefits Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Thursday, June 11
Stonewall Sports is celebrating its first five years of fitness and camaraderie by throwing a bash of epic proportions. While the party winds down at 11 p.m., the after-party will keep going at the 18th and U Duplex Diner.
Uncivil Union: Comedy for Equality at Howard Theatre, $24.50 to $98
Uncivil Union, a special benefit concert for The Ally Coalition, will bring together artists and comedians to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community. This event is headlined by W. Kamau Bell, Bridget Everett, Rachel Dratch, Chelsea Shorte and a host of special guests.
Friday, June 12
DC Pride’s kickoff party will feature a litany of talented DJs that include Shea Van Horn, Matt Bailer, Lil E, Ca$$idy and Pearl from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Otter Crossing’s Special Pride Edition at The Green Lantern, $10
The oh-so adorable and cuddly otters are joining forces with CTRL, DC’s electro-mayhem dance party, to bring you disco beats and anthems all night. Be sure to leave your pants at the door, but not your dancing shoes.
Saturday, June 13
The Pride Parade (duh) at Dupont and Logan circles, Free
The parade begins on the corner of 22nd and P NW and culminates on the 14th street corridor. Find your favorite location to watch the festivities. And don’t forget to hydrate.
Paradise Mirage at U Street Music Hall, Free for ages 21+ before 11 p.m.
Paradise Mirage is a tribute to one of America’s most influential LGBT nightclubs, Paradise Garage. U Street Music Hall “will be aesthetically transformed to represent a Paradise Garage-like atmosphere,” says the event page.
Join DJs Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer as they bring their monthly dance party to the 9:30 Club.
Sunday, June 14th
Pride Afterhours at Flash, $10
Fill up your Pride weekend schedule and stay up late with San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem.
DC Pride Liquid Brunch at SAX, $65
Bottomless champagne, mimosas, bloody marys, and vodka drinks. This event features DJ Matt Bailer and live entertainment by the SAX dancers.
During the day, Khelan Bhatia is a campaign manager. But by night, he’s a DJ at the Duplex Diner and other locales, and has performed at ’80s dance party, BreakfastClub, regularly for the last three years.
Photo via Facebook.com/CapitalPrideDC
Borderstan certainly has options when it comes to an expensive night out. From wining and dining at the latest restaurants, to evenings filled with theatre and live music, Borderstan offers a little bit of everything for a top-shelf experience. Hell, even parking (or a parking ticket) will cost you a chunk of your wallet.
However, just because the price tags on some of the neighborhood’s items are higher than you’d like to pay, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great night out at a moderate price.
Often, I put myself on a budget of $20 – but that doesn’t stop me from going to some of the area’s best spots. Here’s what $20 will get you in Borderstan.
- Floriana: Crepes with Meyer lemon, housemade ricotta and mission fig glaze AND a glass of pinot noir. Nothing beats Floriana (1602 17th Street NW) for fantastic Italian food in an intimate setting. And the best news: You don’t need a Benjamin to experience it all. My secret is to order a starter and a good glass of wine. That way, you can enjoy a delicious and seasonal taste (and wine!) for under $20.
- 9:30 Club: An evening with Best Coast. The 9:30 Club (815 V Street NW) is one of the best venues on the East Coast to see the nation’s best bands. And thankfully, most tickets are right around (or less than) $20. On June 4, California-based indie band Best Coast is bringing its Los Angeles-inspried rock to (what I like to call) the best coast. Tickets are $20 and include two opening bands.
- Local 16: One personal pizza and three drinks. Local 16 (1602 U Street NW) has one of the best happy hours in the neighborhood – and it lasts until 8 pm, which is arguably the best part. For $20, you can get a pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil) for $5 and three glasses of wine or three featured cocktails ($5 each), like the mojito.
- Local galleries and The Pig: An evening of art, plus lentil and bacon stew and a cocktail. Exposing yourself to culture doesn’t mean you need to expose your bank account to the negative sign. The best thing about having so many art galleries around is that you can browse various exhibits for free. Check out Contemporary Wing (1412 14th Street NW), Gallery plan b (1530 14th Street NW) and Hamiltonian Gallery (1353 U Street NW) for their latest exhibits. Then, head over to The Pig (1320 14th Street NW) for a Lentil and bacon stew with pomegranate reduction and herbed crème fraiche ($10) and the Wilbur cocktail (redemption rye and pineapple-rosemary syrup for $9.50).
- Black Cat: Titus Andronicus and a beer. On Sunday, May 19, catch favorite band Titus Andronicus at the Black Cat (1811 14th Street NW) for $15 and score a beer before the show for $5. Opening band is So So Glos. Enjoy your night!
- Masa 14: Two appetizers and two cocktails. The happy hour at Masa 14 (1825 14th Street NW) is very friendly toward the $20 budget. For less than $20, you can score two mojitos (or margaritas) and two appetizers (like a crunchy shrimp handroll or marinated portobello pao buns). Everything on the happy hour menu is $4 each.
Of course there are many other $20 combinations in and around the neighborhood. What are some of your favorites?
Construction may start in July on the Atlantic Plumbing Building project by JBG Companies and Walton Street Capital. The project will bring three residential buildings and more than 25,000 square feet of retail space to 8th and V Streets NW, near the 9:30 Club.
The project includes retail space dedicated to local artists, luxury “green” amenities and streetscape improvements.
The addresses for the three sites are:
- 807 V Street NW and 2112 8th Street NW
- 2030 8th Street NW
- 933-945 Florida Avenue NW
JBG representatives recently gave an update on the project and expect to receive raze permits for the buildings at 2030 8th Street, 807 V Street and 2112 8th Street next week. They will start demolition as soon as possible. JBG hasn’t yet selected a general contractor but once they have they will be meeting with all surrounding neighbors to discuss construction traffic control plans, construction mobilization and staging-delivery plans, pedestrian pathways, parking, security, etc.
The parking garage access was moved to 8th Street due to pedestrian safety and possible traffic backups mid-block on V Street NW.
The project will tie in with the 9:30 Club and other neighbors, “targeting more artistic/cultural uses including a possible small theater, as well as a café or restaurant,” said James Nozar from JBG Cos. in an interview given to Borderstan last year.
By now you’ve heard about the new exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s, which is lighting up Twitter and Instagram and popping up everywhere in your Facebook feed. Finally, the culture critics say, Washington has an exhibit all its own, featuring the only musical form indigenous to the area — go-go — and attracting tastemakers from all over.
But here’s my advice, Borderstanis, don’t just go to the exhibit. Do the Washington thing and attend a lecture or panel discussion. This month, the Corcoran is offering a series of events to highlight the show, geared at all of the music geeks and amateur music historians out there. Each of these events is full of such cool information, it will no doubt figure prominently as your standard “Did you know…” conversation piece from here on.
The History of Go-Go
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a primer: in the aftermath of the riots of 1968 when neighborhoods across the city were destroyed, Chuck Brown emerged with a new funk sound (go-go), that was hyper-local to each DC neighborhood and “crew.” Around the same time, an underground punk scene was thriving with the 9:30 Club at its heart (it was downtown then).
Graffiti, street music, self-promotion and a do-it-yourself culture connected this local music scene, in a time where many people felt abandoned by a corrupt government and overwhelmed by violence. All of this resulted in something Washingtonians can now be proud of: a unique punk, hardcore, and go-go scene, now being studied by academics and historians the world over.
The Corcoran has collected (on loan from local institutions like the 9:30 Club and Globe printing press) an incredible display of memorabilia, including a huge selection of neon Globe concert posters; old music photos, flyers and record covers; DC political memorabilia (lots of stuff on Mayor-for-life Marion Barry); video footage of shows, riots, graffiti and violence; and newspaper clippings depicting the tragic murders and the rise of drugs in 1980s DC.
The exhibit was curated by Roger Gastman, a Bethesda native, publisher, filmmaker and graffiti connoisseur of “Exit Through the Gift Shop” fame, now also the guy behind the new film “Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan.” In fact, the king of DC graffiti, Cool “Disco” Dan, figures prominently in the storyline, shown tagging DC buses and making a name for himself – long before DC Donutz came around.
Events and Exhibit
Details on the events are below and the exhibit runs through April 7. All events are $10 for non-members, $8 for members, and $5 for students. Register early — you’re not the only academic in town.
- Bustin’ Loose: Stories from D.C.’s Underground Music Scenes, Tuesday, March 12, 7 pm Panel Discussion: Tomorrow, take in this panel featuring homegrown experts of the unique-to-D.C. underground youth culture of go-go and hardcore, just swapping stories: 9:30 Club owner Seth Hurwitz; D.C. Go-Go and hip-hop artist DJ Kool; discographer, writer and DJ Iley Brown, II; and musician Alec MacKaye.
- Go-Go Music: The History and Evolution of DC’s Legendary Beat, Monday, March 18, 7 pm Lecture: Ever heard of ethnomusicology? Of course you have. Expert Kip Lornell, Adjunct Professor of American Music and Ethnomusicology at George Washington University and co-author of The Beat: Go Go Music from Washington, DC, will talk about go-go music’s development and ongoing popularity, including the births of bands such as Rare Essence (RE), Trouble Funk, and Junk Yard Band in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as more recent bands and their modern take.
- DIY DC, Thursday, March 28, 7 pm Panel Discussion: Do-It-Yourself was not invented by Martha Stewart, people. Both go-go and punk subcultures followed a DIY approach, often promoting their own music, making their own posters and creating their own scene outside of a mainstream record label or industry. Discussion will focus on the music and gangs of pre-gentrification DC and panelists include Trouble Funk’s “Big” Tony Fisher, Rare Essence’s Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson, Washington music writer Mark Jenkins, former D.C. Police detective Donald “Goose” Gossage and Gangster George, a former member of the Gangster Chronicles crew.
If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, then look no further. We have your list of the food, music and cultural events going on in (and around) Borderstan March 1, 2 and 3.
Friday, March 1
- You Down With O.P.P.?: Good. Because Naughty by Nature is playing at the Howard Theatre. Tickets are $37 at the door; the show starts at 8 pm.
- Journopalooza: A Benefit for Writopia Lab and Reach Incorporated at Black Cat: Support some local youth reading and writing organizations this Friday at the Black Cat with a show, featuring Cheaper than Therapy, Nobody’s Business, The Stepping Stones, Suspicious Package, Dirty Bomb and Butter. Doors open at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door.
- All the Best Kids at Tropicalia: It’s a no-cover show, featuring an original hip hop band from the District. Formed in early 2012, ATBK weaves elements of hip hop, progressive rock and jazz into its own style of dance music. The show starts at 7 and goes until 10 pm.
- Piano Bar Night at Arena Stage: Did somebody say show tunes? It might be a trip to the SW, but it sure is worth it. Grab a drink and gather ’round the piano for showtunes with host Joshua Morgan in the lobby at 9:30 pm.
Saturday, March 2
- Free Bacon at U Street Music Hall: Yes, you read that correctly. U Street Music Hall will give away free bacon on Saturday, March 2 before 11 pm. Oh, and there will be music with Tittsworth, Des Mcmahon and Reed Rothchild vs. 814OFCOURSE. It all starts at 10 pm and admission is $10.
- Honey Mahogany from RuPaul’s Drag Race: Voted Best Drag Queen 2011, Honey Mahogany is an international drag performer and budding recording artist. Doors open at 10 pm, the drag show starts at 10:30 pm and there are $3 drinks before 11 pm.
Sunday, March 3
- Grab some brunch: Get your friends and start your day off with some eggs and a mimosa or two. Here are some favorite places the Borderstan contributors like to brunch.
- The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Women’s Suffrage March: This Sunday, March 3 sorority members and supporters will meet on the west front of the U.S. Capitol at 9 am to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the role the 22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority played in the 1913 Women’s Suffrage March. For more information, visit the website.
- Eels at 9:30: Don’t miss Eels, Nicole Atkins and Puddles Pity Party at 7 pm. Tickets are $25.
Ever walked past the 9:30 Club at 10 am on a Saturday morning and heard the sound of 60-plus drums? That’s the drum corps I play with, Batala Washington, having our weekly practice session. You might have seen us otherwise at the Marine Corps marathon, at the AIDS rally with Wyclef Jean, at the annual Cherry Blossom festival or just playing a guerilla show at 14th and U Streets NW.
Most recently, Batala participated in three separate shows in New York and New Jersey as part of the 50th anniversary tour of The Rolling Stones. You read that right, The Rolling Stones. Yep, we were in the same show as Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and The Black Keys!
Batala Washington is an all-women percussion band that empowers women through drumming & promotes Brazil’s dynamic music & culture. Currently, we have over 60 members from the greater DC area, playing Afro-Brazilian / Samba-Reggae rhythms as part of the international collective of Batala bands. Batala Washington was voted by City Paper as DC’s 2012 Best Local Band.
On Saturday, January 12, we will be joined by percussionists from the National Symphony Orchestra in a demonstration and workshop as part of NSO in Your Community. The FREE event, from 11 am to 1 pm at the 9:30 Club will be an interactive workshop with the audience. For you fellow musicians, you are welcome to bring your drums and play with us. If not, just bring yourself, your friends, your kids, and your participation and we will have some spare drums.
Come out and support the NSO, Batala Washington and the community as we fill the U Street Corridor with music! Or, just come out to have a good time!
JBG Companies and Walton Street Capital are currently working on the Atlantic Plumbing development project, which will bring three buildings of residences and more than 25,000 square feet of retail space to 8th and V Streets NW, the area by the 9:30 Club. The project includes retail space dedicated to local artists, luxury “green” amenities and streetscape improvements.
The addresses for the three sites are:
- 807 V Street NW and 2112 8th Street NW
- 2030 8th Street NW
- 933-945 Florida Avenue NW
Construction on the first two sites is expected to start early next year (Spring 2013) and finish in late 2014.
“We have not determined whether the project will deliver as apartments or condos, or split between the two buildings,” said James Nozar of JBG Companies.
“That decision will be based on market conditions as we get closer to delivery. However, we are building both buildings to such a high-level of design that we could make that determination very near the time of delivery of the buildings without impacting the project’s schedule.”
In addition to 375 living units, the Atlantic Plumbing project’s first two sites will also deliver approximately 25,000 square feet of combined ground-floor retail space.
“We’re targeting more artistic/cultural uses including a possible small theater, as well as a café or restaurant,” said Nozar. “There will be approximately eight ground-floor studio spaces of approximately 500 square feet each that will be discounted and targeted to artists and other creative users, subject to them being open during certain hours in order to activate the streetscape and provide a haven for arts-related uses.”
Atlantic Plumbing will also have a large setback along V Street NW to allow for a small plaza and outdoor dining uses. This space will also accommodate the evening lines from the project’s neighbor, the 9:30 Club.
According to Nozar, it’s too early to project price-points for the living spaces; these will be set closer to completion of the project. The project plans to include units that range from 500 square-foot junior one bedrooms, to 1,400 square foot two-plus bedroom units.
Atlantic Plumbing will also dedicate approximately 10 percent of the units as affordable housing units to those earning at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, per DC’s Inclusionary Housing policy.
The designers of the project include Morris Adjmi, who will be leading the design of the exterior and interiors. Morris is teamed with local architect Eric Colbert & Associates, the Architect of Record.
Currently planned amenities for the project, include:
- State-of-the art fitness center with stretching and yoga/spin area
- Lounge area with bar, living room and home theater
- Large landscaped garden
- Private rooftop vegetable garden plots
- Rooftop pool with panoramic city views from 110 feet in the air
- Rooftop flume pools
- Rooftop bar and commercial kitchen for food classes and resident use
- Rooftop kitchenettes/BBQs with private seating areas
- Outdoor rooftop movie screening area
- Rooftop living room with fire pit
- Significant green roof and an eight-story vertical garden
- Programming of artist studios at the ground level
- Private bike storage rooms
- Electric car charging stations
- Significant streetscape improvements, including plazas and landscaping along 8th & V Streets
JBG has an email address for those interested in the artist studio spaces: APArtistStudios[AT]jbg.com.
Satellite Room, the latest dining addition to the U Street area, is now up and running, giving concert go-ers a reason to show up before the 9:30 Club’s doors open.
The new restaurant (located directly behind the 9:30 Club) has a menu bursting with diner-style food (think burgers, tacos, meatloaf and pancakes) and even serves booze-laden milkshakes. The decor also sticks with the diner theme, only a bit more rock-and-roll than ’50s prep. Some pictures from Urban Daddy give us a peak at the red booths and the exposed brick.
Satellite Room is at 2047 9th Street NW.
From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com.
Happy Heat Wave, Borderstanis. It’s been a while since I’ve written a music review…mostly because I haven’t been to a concert in over six weeks. (Yes, Borderstan still doesn’t have a regular concert contributor. Yes, the editors are still looking for one. Interested?)
My self-imposed melodic drought came to an end on July 3, when a friend asked me if I’d like to accompany him and a few others to see the Scissor Sisters, part two of their back-to-back concerts at the 9:30 Club. Ok, before I go any further, it’s full disclosure time. I’m not the biggest fan of the Scissor Sisters. Don’t get me wrong, I dig some of their songs, but they’d never crack my top 20 bands/artists list of all time. Not to mention, I’ve already seen them once when they opened for Lady Gaga early last year at the Verizon Center (a non-ideal music venue in my humble opinion). So really, I never intended to see them again.
But I do love the idea of spontaneously going to see live music. (Living in Austin for 10 years will do that to you.) And it was technically a “weekend” night considering that I, like a good portion of the District, had the 4th off from work. So why the hell not. Right?
You know, sometimes, it takes seeing a band in the right place at the right time with the right attitude to become a lifelong fan. At approximately 11:01 pm on Tuesday, July 3rd, I became that lifelong fan. It certainly didn’t hurt that Jake Shears, Ana Matronic and the rest of the gang kicked off the set with one of my favorites, “Any Which Way,” a tribute to its disco forefathers. The rest of the evening felt like an unbelievably fun party scored by a medley of tracks–old and new–including “Comfortably Numb” (yep, the remake of the Pink Floyd song), “Take Your Mama,” “Only the Horses,” “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” (ironic, that the whole place erupted in a dance party), and “Let’s Have a Kiki,” a recent club hit reminiscent of early 90s house tracks by Deee-Lite and Crystal Waters.
Speaking of Kikis (slang of a get-together where the participants dish a little gossip and dirt), the highlight of the evening for yours truly was when Matronic brutally took-down an audience member in the front row for texting or tweeting during the band’s performance. Listen, I’m a social media nut, but sometimes you gotta put down the iPhone and experience life, especially during an amazing concert. Plus, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone elbow their way to the front, then stand there like a mannequin (or, in this case, not pay attention). This is a gift; don’t squander it.
All-in-all, “this kiki was marvelous.” Even though they didn’t play “Filthy/Gorgeous.”
That’s it for me this time, kids. Stay cool!
Borderstan welcomes new contributor From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com
9:30 Club and DC Central Kitchen teamed up recently to host another successful Soundbites DC. Under the groovy guise of a sixties tie-dye, outdoor music festival, DC music lovers and foodies reveled in tastings from the city’s best restaurants. I had the good fortune to be one of them. Tents lined V Street NW outside the 9:30 Club with vendors hawking tasting plates ranging from Shake Shack’s Oatmeal Pie frozen custard, to Indique’s chicken tikka masala, to Pepe the Food Truck’s Spanish ham and cheese. And with all food donated by the local restaurants themselves, ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen.
With my hand finally stamped and my mouth hanging open, I realized fairly quickly after cleareing the gates that I couldn’t simply eat my way from station to station; a Mac Rib slider from Sixth Engine, shrimp polenta from Policy, and a focaccia sandwich from Cork later, my strategy had to change. The sheer volume of samplings gathered in one place imposed a degree of selectivity. My passion for food and appetite to give each dish a chance drove me to literally overstuff myself. Even so, it was physically impossible to taste every single dish. Within the first 45 minutes, I was packed to the gills.
Nevertheless, I managed to sample a few of the dishes I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself for missing. One highlight included the ceviche from Pearl Dive Oyster Palace that otherwise would have required a two-hour wait on a Saturday night. A salty, crunchy tortilla chip was the vehicle for a tender and acidic octopus topped with red onion and cilantro. Mandu represented both East Asian flavors and upper Dupont’s 18th Street with a spicy kimchi and pork taco.
Herbivores, however, flocked to the Mediterranean dish at Room 11, offering one of the few vegetarian dishes at the event, tahini dressing and cayenne complimented the smoky, garlic roasted cauliflower well. Meat eaters rejoiced over the range of sliders offered, but unfortunately those with more classic interpretations often went overlooked in favor of the more exotic renditions. Harry’s Smokehouse provided a favorite, and practically a whole meal–the tasting plates (let alone my stomach) could hardly fit the juicy barbecued pulled pork slider, collard greens and cornbread.
Soundbites DC was the perfect marriage of philanthropy, music, and food, entirely designed and targeted for the active Washingtonian and highly representative of some of Borderstan’s very best. I keep my own bucket list of restaurants I have been meaning to visit, and this event allowed me to cross many of them off (and in quite the cost effective way). Knowing that the proceeds of ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen made the $40 deal even more delicious.
So what’s your strategy? How do you survive the enormity of DC’s food festivals? Let me know and I’ll try it out at DC’s next food event!
If you’re looking for an excuse to listen to some local music, sip cocktails from the city’s most highly-regarded mixologists and sample bites from the District’s hottest restaurants and food trucks, then look no further.
Music at this year’s event is curated by Eric Hilton of the Thievery Corporation, and includes Bone, Fur Feathers, The Archives, and Nappy Riddem, with a DJ Set by Eric Hilton.
Cocktails will be mixed by libation-enlightened employees from Oyamel, The Passenger, Fujimar and The Gibson. Food will be provided by local favorites, including BONMI, Borinquen, Cork, Harry’s Smokehouse, Indique, Policy, Taylor Gourmet and more!
The event starts at 5 pm at the 9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW – tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.
From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com. You can find him at the 9:30 Club, U Street Music Hall, Blackbird, American Ice Company, or dj’ing every other Thursday or so at the Duplex Diner.”
Hi there, Borderstanis. Yep, still pinch hitting for the music column. Nope, they still haven’t found a regular. BTW, what do we all think of the column name “BorderSound?” Too on-the-nose? Too gauche? Well, it’s a work in progress.
As I mentioned last week, I’m a nut for music (there’s an argument to be made that I’m a nut. Full stop. But that’s neither here nor there). There are few things more elating than listening to a truly magnificent debut album from an up-and-coming artist. Especially when you can feel the raw talent traveling from the speakers (or earbuds) directly to your eardrums. It’s euphoric, really. Conversely, there’s nothing more disappointing than a mediocre (or truly terrible) second album by same artist.
You ask yourself, “This is not my beautiful band? This is not my beautiful sound? How did I get here?” (BTW, if you caught that reference, you’re my soul mate.) You can call it a sophomore-slump. You can call it sequel-itis. I’ll never call it back (or rather, I’ll pass by each track when I have my iPod on shuffle). Don’t get me wrong. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure the second time you come out of the gate. Make it too similar to the first and everyone calls you a one-trick pony. Make it too different and you risk alienating your audience.
And there are the few, wonderful, marvelous times, when an artist (or band you love) just outdoes his or herself. And that’s exactly how I felt when Miike Snow released their second album, “Happy to You” a couple of months ago. When I first discovered them (yes, them, it’s not just one guy, despite the misleading name), I was mesmerized by their ethereal, yet slightly sinister sound. Think of them as an electronic version of a Post-Revolver Beatles, without the Ravi Shankar influence. And then I went to their show back in February or March of 2010. It was one of those moments (well, the moment lasted about 45 minutes) that made me wish I could bottle up exactly what I experienced during their show at the 9:30 Club. It was completely superior to the already-excellent recorded album.
Fast forward a couple of years. I’ve been listening to “Happy to You” for the last few weeks, coming to the conclusion that it’s a worthy, if not slightly better, sophomore effort (IMHO, the percussion on the second album is better than the first). I’m anxiously awaiting their April 28 concert at 9:30, having bought my ticket months in advance. The day of the show arrives and in true OCD fashion, I get there right as the doors open so I can find just the right spot (and, of course, to catch Penguin Prison, the opening act — fantastic BTW). During that period between the end of the opening act’s set and before the main event begins (I affectionately refer to it as the Twilight Zone), a wave of panic passed through me. What if they’re not as good as I remember? What if the new album is a bit shit live?
And then… they come out. And there’s a spaceship on the stage.
It goes without saying that the fear was replaced by a sense of… awesomeness? Is that the right word? Whatever, it was g*ddamn transcendent. Truly. Miike Snowe opened their set with “Enter the Jokers Lair,” the initial track on their second album. What followed was an hour-and-change of a back-and-forth between songs from the new album and the first album. The highlights for this reviewer were “The Wave,” a surreal pop song that begins with a military drum and “Paddling Out,” essentially their response to mid-90’s Mobyesque house music. After the concert finished, I left 9:30 with the realization that I saw lightning strike twice.
I just hope we won’t have to wait another few years before they return to the District. In a spaceship.
Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.
If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from D.C.’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.
A packed crowd of bespeckeled yuppies clapped eagerly as Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, of the IFC hit show, Portlandia, took the stage this past Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club for two sold out performances.
Their “Portlandia Live” tour takes a variety show format, combining clips of not-yet-aired footage from Season Two, musical numbers from the show, other guest appearances (this varies by city — but this week’s DC shows featured Eleanor Friedberger, who ROCKED OUT (but more on that later), with stand up comedy vignettes, a Q&A period, and other general musings shared by Brownstein and Armisen.
It’s immediately clear that Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen are close friends, witty comedians, and talented musicians. Brownstein is well known for her work with indie girl rock band Sleater-Kinney and Armisen is a regular on Saturday Night Live, also with a musical background. But despite all this — and the genius of their cult hit sketch comedy show, as evidenced by the two back-to-back sold out shows– much of the evening fell a bit flat. The variety hour and a half felt meandering, unrehearsed, and even awkward at times.
Sure, that slightly off-kilter and awkwardly self-aware appeal is what hooked many of us on Portlandia‘s particular brand of humor to begin with, but Brownstein and Armisen seemed either bored or nervous to be confronted by a live audience.
They began the night trying to chat up the crowd, asking questions like “What’s DC’s coolest coffee shop” (I CRINGED when someone yelled out a café in Virginia — NO.) and tried making ironic jokes about Georgetown being a hip, Portlandia-esque neighborhood, but the sincerity was missing. Maybe DC’s just not cool enough for them?
Or, more likely, I think, the 9:30 Club venue was just not conducive for the way the evening was designed; it would have been much better-suited to a smaller venue that allowed for more audience interaction, almost like a book tour, not a concert.
Certain bits of the show, like live vocals of “Dream of the 90s” and “She’s Making Jewelry Now,” as well as clips from future episodes (get excited for “Canoe Dance” — it’s Armisen’s physical comedy at its best) were great, and elicited serious applause and laughter from the crowd. Still, Brownstein and Armisen maneuvered clunkily through the different vignettes–video clips, monologues, banter, songs — onstantly marching on and off the stage without looking like they were having a lot of fun.
To this devoted fangirl, their nerdy awkwardness made them even more loveable and endearing. But critically, the whole evening felt haphazard and lacked much enthusiasm. This was strange, because the crowd was simply crazy about Fred and Carrie, applauding loudly, and yelling out already canonized cult lines like “Put a bird on it!;” “We can pickle that!;” and “A-O-RIVER!” Truth be told, I was impressed at how many other diehards were out there. Cacao.
After an uninspired Q&A, where Brownstein and Armisen fielded questions ranging from their favorite characters within the show to whether they are having sex (they decidedly sidestepped this one — lame), Eleanor Friedberger appeared out of nowhere–literally–materializing on stage to perform two of her own songs, including indie hit “Heaven.”
Friedberger’s size and sound dwarfed both Brownstein and Armisen, who slipped into the background to join the rest of the band and play supporting guitar as Friedberger sang. Unexpected, but not unpleasant altogether.
The evening ended abruptly as local artist, Mary Timony, joined the group on stage and strummed away during a cover of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night.” Friedberger clutched papers with the song lyrics, and Brownstein apologetically shared that this was their first time performing the song live. It was weird, but endearing.
After polite applause for the performance, Brownstein and Armisen thanked the audience and promptly fled offstage, ostensibly to go talk shit about the DC audience or slit their wrists at the idea of doing a second show that night. There was no encore.
All that said, I didn’t hate it. I laughed throughout. The performance was quirky and off, but it just made me want to be real life best friends with Fred and Carrie more than ever. They came across as real. They’re sketch comedians and writers, probably too awkward — l ike most of us — to pull off kitschy stand up.
They would have been more in their element with a coffee shop setting and format. So do I still love the TV show? Yes, of course. But was the live show worth my $40 dollars? Not really. Probably should have stayed home, re-watched Season One on Netflix, started an artisan knots collection and made some homemade pickles.
Brightest Young Things announces the news that U Street Music Hall and 9:30 Club formed an alliance. The agreement on paper makes a lot of sense – U Street Music Hall will feature up and coming acts in the 9:30 Club’s Back Bar; 9:30 Club will present up and coming artists and electronic acts at U Street Music Hall.
The alliance provides some revenue and street cred for 9:30 Club and the cache of the 9:30 name for acts over at U Street Music Hall. For the fans, though, it’s a win-win kind of deal. A smaller venue at U Street provides an intimate setting for people to get up close and personal with their favorite acts.
As someone that geeked out over meeting Kim from Los Campesinos! this weekend, I can relate. What is NOT mentioned is any indication this move is to counter the influence of the newly opened Fillmore in Silver Spring (previous coverage at Washingtonian).