by January 13, 2011 at 5:30 am 3,419 10 Comments

Live music in Borderstan Luis Gomez Photos

Danny reviews the most awesome concerts of 2010. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Danny Shapiro is an avid music lover who has the good fortune to live very close the music scene on the 14th and U Street corridor. A list of his previous reviews is at the bottom of this column. Comments or questions? Send Danny an email.

Hello again music lovers!  Before we turn the page and embark on a new year of amazing shows in the District, it would behoove us to reflect on the year of great live music that was 2010.

After scouring all of my ticket stubs, Facebook updates, and calendar notes to recall my 2010 shows attended, the following is my top 10 list of the best concerts of 2010 as attended by me, Danny. (I apologize for being a bit tardy in getting this up, as everyone else in the world was doing ‘best of’ retrospective lists last month, but better late than never!)


by December 29, 2010 at 7:12 am 1,918 2 Comments

Live music in Borderstan Luis Gomez Photos

Where is Danny going this weekend for live music? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Danny Shapiro

Happy New Year, fellow music lovers! I hope you’re all reflecting on a great year of unforgettable concerts, stellar new bands, and standout albums to keep your iPods chugging along well into 2011.

In case you’re still searching for the perfect way to spend the upcoming weekend, here are some brilliant events happening right here in the Borderstan neighborhood! See you all at the gigs in the New Year!

Friday, January 31 @ the Black Cat

Black Cat New Years Party (Doors 8 pm, $25)

Come celebrate the turn of 2011 with Peaches O’Dell and her Orchestra, offering a smorgasbord of dance tunes from the past: swing dance music, 30s-40s romance, Latin rhumbas and tangos, “jump swing,” and a stop through hits of the 1950s.

For the same entrance fee, you can also check out a second DJ dance party in the backroom with DJ Dredd and Grap Luva. Two parties in one equals a great way to count down to midnight! Twentieth century period costumes optional.

Check out our profile: Music 2010: The Passion of Danny Shapiro. Question for Danny? Send him an email.

Friday, January 31 @ 9:30 Club

Spend New Years Eve with Gogol Bordello

This show is sold out, unfortunately, but if you can find an extra ticket, grab it faster than one can say “Gogol Bordello.”


by December 28, 2010 at 6:00 am 3,416 0

Danny Shapiro

Danny Shapiro covers live music in the neighbhorhood for Borderstan.

We met Danny Shapiro last August at the Dog Days Sidewalk Sale on 14th Street NW. He came by our table and asked whether we’d be interested in a music column for Borderstan. After his first review a week later we knew that Danny was really serious about music. He often attends several concerts/gigs a week and we are fortunate to have his reviews on our site, which are listed below.

Thank you, Danny — we look forward to more of your passionate writing about the local music scene in 2011.


by October 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm 4,264 2 Comments

9:30 Club The XX Danny Shapiro

The XX were at the 9:30 Club on Oct. 5. (Danny Shapiro)

From Danny Shapiro

Welcome back. Yesterday I stopped mid-way through my Oct. 5 double-header review with my take on Glasser at the Black Cat. From there it was on to the 9:30 Club…

Based on reader feedback, I’ve got an accompanying post about shows I think you should get tickets for now: On The Lookout: Danny’s Upcoming Must-See Shows.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

Indie World Double Header! Glasser/Gayngs @ Black Cat, + The XX @ 930 Club

After leaving Glasser at the Black Cat, I raced down U Street to the 930 Club. The XX were about to hit the stage in front of a sold-out (and sardine-like) crowd. I managed to squeeze in among the masses just in time for my spot at the “must-see'”show of the evening.

Over the past 12 months, The XX were the indie band that caught everyone’s attention. If you don’t have their eponymous debut, ask any of your close friends and I guarantee that at least 6 of them can lend it to you. Simplistic in structure, the band is a trio of male/female lead vocals, and accompanying electronic rhythm section, helmed by Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith.


by October 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm 4,244 1 Comment

Black Cat Danny Shapiro

Tuesday sound check at Black Cat. (Danny Shapiro)

From Danny Shapiro

Last week I entered a parallel dimension, an overdrive of the concert life of Danny (yes, that is possible). For 4 nights in a row, I bombarded 5 of the best gigs around town. My life revolved around the night; daytime hours only served as filler in advance of the next gig, and (minimal) sleep was but a stopping point in between the rush of it all.

Fully recovered, I can now rehash what was an incredible non-stop journey through inspiring live music.

For my fellow music lovers out there, I can only say this: however omnipresent music can be in your life – iPod, radio, TV – nothing compares to the purest energy and connection that exists between a live stage and its audience.

And last week was no exception. So, get ready for the recap in best moments from last week’s live music offerings.

Based on reader feedback, I’ve got an accompanying post about shows I think you should get tickets for now: On The Lookout: Danny’s Upcoming Must-See Shows.

Sunday, Oct. 3

English Gentleman, Minus the ‘Gentle’ – Foals @ the Black Cat

Foals rock. Plain and simple. Their groovy electric guitar riffs and lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ badass energy makes this Oxford, England-based band totally cool.


by October 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm 5,963 3 Comments

Luis Gomez Photos 14th Street NW U Street NW Borderstan

Get information and listings for live music at 10 venues in Borderstan. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Danny Shapiro

Take my advice, and get your tickets now to see these upcoming gigs later this month and in November – all of which will be stellar shows. Please note that I’ve only included the main acts in this list. This weekend’s regular music listing is below the fold.

  • Thursday, October 21 @ Black Cat: Mayer Hawthorne & The County ($20)
  • Also Thursday, October 21 @ Rock and Roll Hotel: School of Seven Bells ($12/$14)
  • Sunday, October 24 @ Rock and Roll Hotel: Eisley ($15)
  • Also Sunday, October 24 @ DC9: Matthew Dear ($12/$14)
  • Thursday, October 28 @ 9:30 Club: Local Natives ($16)
  • Sunday, October 31 @ 9:30 Club: Blonde Redhead ($25)
  • Monday, November 1 @ 9:30 Club: Freightened Rabbit ($20)
  • Tuesday, November 2 @ 9:30 Club: The Script ($25)
  • Thursday, November 4 @ Rock and Roll Hotel: Bedouin Soundclash ($13/$15)
  • Friday, November 5 @ 9:30 Club: Ra Ra Riot ($18)
  • Saturday, November 6 @ Black Cat: Freelance Whales ($12)
  • Monday & Tuesday, November 8 & 9 @ 9:30 Club: Jonsi (of Sigur Ros) ($35)
  • Monday, November 15 @ Black Cat: Glasser ($10/$12)
  • Tuesday, November 16 @ Black Cat: Tame Impala ($15)
  • Also Tuesday, November 16 @ DC9: Jenny Owens Youngs ($10/$12)
  • Tuesday, November 23 @ Black Cat (JUNIP – Jose Gonzalez, Elias Araya, Tobias Winterkorn) ($15)

Tickets for the 9:30 Club and Black Cat can be purchased at the box office (avoiding those pesky service charges!). Black Cat only takes cash, fyi, and make sure you call ahead at the 9:30 Club to ensure that the box office is open when you want to go.

The weekly music listing for 10 venues in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area is below the fold.


by September 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm 5,103 6 Comments

9:30 Club Janelle Monae Danny Shapiro

September 14 at the 9:30 Club: Janelle Monae. (Danny Shapiro)

From Danny Shapiro

Attention music lovers: It’s time to rehash what has been an unforgettable week in the life that is “Danny’s Endless Quest for the Next Best Gig.”

Over the last seven days, I’ve seen three incredible shows, two at the 9:30 Club and one at the Black Cat, and I was blown away by the artists’ true talent and ability to deeply connect with their audience. But the artists once again re-instilled my belief that great live music is the source of my well being… and the foundation of my soul.

It’s also gratifying and relieving to know that there is such amazing music to discover out there, as compared to the omnipresent uninspiring drivel that so aptly manages to permeate the pores of corporate radio America.

9:30 Club Jamie Lidell Danny Shapiro

September 20 at the 9:30 Club: Jamie Lidell. (Danny Shapiro)

Ok, then… here we go:

Tuesday, September 14

A Diva Returns From The Future; Nothing Will Ever Be The Same: Janelle Monae @ the 9:30 Club.

I must admit that I attended this show solely to see Janelle (the show’s opener), rather than the main act Of Montreal. I also must admit that it seems like most of the audience was in agreement with me. (Apologies to all of you OM fans out there; I enjoyed them a lot, but Janelle was the true star of the night).

Put bluntly, Janelle Monae is the Lauryn Hill for the 21st century–or rather, for the 28th Century since her futuristic-themed alter ego Cindi Mayweather has teleported Janelle from the year 2719 to grace us with her presence today (Are you following?). The result is the nonstop opus that is her 2009 album, “The ArchAndroid”–a full-on hip hop/dance party/soul reinvention.

On top of the exciting robotic/futuristic shtick upon which she builds a unique and visually-alluring video-enhanced set, you can’t take your eyes off Janelle. Her beauty is mesmerizing–she dares you to look anywhere but at her.

The girl can SANG–ranging from operatic soprano heights to bombastic bellows, her energy is comparable to the anthemic bounce of Outkast (a la the irresistible “Tightrope” Featuring Big Boi), her rhyming flow puts her among hip hop’s women elite (the album’s opener “Dance or Die” will put your doubts to rest), and her voice is as graceful and emotional as Roberta Flak (was there a dry eye in the crowd when she belted out the Charlie Chaplin’s hauntingly beautiful “Smile”?).

Reminiscent of Lauryn Hill’s standout title track (#14) “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” from that breakthrough 1997 record, Janelle embodies the same controlled yet acrobatic vocal melisma that Lauryn gave us way back when, leaving the audience hanging onto each soaring note.

Needless to say, I haven’t felt a crowd so enthusiastically in awe of an opening artist… ever. Assuming she sticks around before returning back to the future, be sure to pick up the album (in addition to her 2007 debut EP, “Metropolis: The Chase Suite”) and catch her when she’s back in town!

Thursday, September 16

A Match Made in Indie Rock Heaven: Jenny & Johnny @ the Black Cat.

I saw this same show a few weeks’ back on vacation in Portland, Oregon at the Doug Fir, (a GREAT small indie venue), so I was interested in adding a bit of perspective on what two weeks of touring could do to enhance a newly-outfitted recording and touring duo: Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley/half of Postal Service/Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins fame) and (singer-songwriter/moody heartthrob) Johnathan Rice.

The results were stellar: it was like seeing a brand new show–the two were musically tighter and stronger sounding, appearing relaxed and comfortable with the crowd, as if realizing this juncture in their respective respected careers is, more than anything, a gift.

Jenny Lewis is the kind of girl you want to hang out with at a party: the sweet-natured, gorgeous-locked beauty whose country-tinged somber crooning vocals are crisp and usually carry high above Johnathan Rice’s gruff-toned moody blues vocals. Together, the pair (along with a well-fitted electric guitarist and drummer) delighted the crowd with a slew of tracks from their 2010 album “I’m Having Fun Now,” in addition to reaching into Jenny’s back catalog, including the crowd favorite “Acid Tongue.”

Bringing four lucky fans on stage to support Johnny as the backing choir to Jenny’s lead on another one of her singles, the Black Cat was the site of yet another rare live music moment where everything seemed almost too good to be true: the audience followed in tune (well, almost in tune), singing along as if alone in their shower, and Jenny & Johnny gratefully recognized that such a moment of solidarity is not a nightly occurrence.

The show’s closing encore, a somber cover of the 1975 Nazareth-recorded anthem “Love Hurts” left everyone hoping that this duo’s musical journey is anything but a short-lived affair.

For those who missed it, the lovely duo will be back in the area at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, on October 25.

Monday, September 20

The Epitome of Versatility: Groovy Musical Genius, Personified – Jamie Lidell @ the 9:30 Club.

Throughout the show last night, I was trying to ascribe a suitable label for Jamie Lidell for those who missed this pinnacle-reaching end of the concert week. I failed, but he does embody the conglomeration of the following comparable artists: Beck, Sam Cooke, Arrested Development, The Commodores, Justin Timberlake.

A soul-baring, beat-boxing, musician grandmaster MC, Jamie Lidell is a hip-hop/funk/soul/get-your-body moving vocal impresario. Drop everything now and get your hands on the 2005 album “Multiply,” as well as his recent 2010 record “Compass.”

A jack-of-all-trades, Jamie can belt out ballads that make you feel like the souls of Otis and Sam have entered the room. Jamie can stand on stage alone and create a beat-box-infused loop that feels like the entire Tribe Called Quest is behind him, and together with his band, can create an early 90s-era “Everyday People” feel-good jam, forcing you to bounce to the rhythm. Moreover, the band is of equal caliber, being able to follow Jamie’s unique vision and improvised direction throughout the 90- minute set requires a certain perfection.

I wish more people were there last night (the place was barely a third-full), but those who were in attendance were soaking up every minute–and every spacious square footage of dance space–of the melodies, the energy, and the rare-form vibes of positivity flowing throughout the room.

Highlights for me were the set’s opener (and new album title track) “Compass,” the upbeat dance jam, “I Wanna Be Your Telephone,” and the brilliant strings-tugging-at-your-heart, Chilly Gonzales/Jamie Lidell-penned, “What Is It This Time”

Jamie, thank you for taking us on a Monday-night journey, far away from the lurking and impending woes that grace us on this Tuesday workday.

Be back next week… thanks for reading.

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.

Previous Posts from Danny

by September 10, 2010 at 4:36 pm 5,504 4 Comments

Black Cat Danny Shapiro 14th Street NW

One of Danny’s three weekend picks is at the Black Cat, to at the 930 Club. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Danny Shapiro

Music lovers, rejoice! The weekend is upon us. However abridged the post-Labor Day schedule has been, the elation is still flying high after these past four hectic days.

I sadly missed sending in my weekly recommendations last week, as I was off to sunny (!) Portland, OR, to take in the local scene: music, beer, and hipster bicyclists (who make us DC folk look like Connecticut prep school girls and boys).

I must say though, Portland rocks. The Doug Fir is a brilliant venue, and I got to see Jenny & Johnny (the show-stopping Jenny Lewis & Jonathan Rice)–who will also be gracing us with their presence at the Black Cat next Thursday, September 16. This upcoming weekend in Portland is MFNW 2010–that’s Music Festival Northwest–which is a badass three days of great gigs, in case anyone decides to skip town last minute. Ah, the Pacific Northwest.

Okay, let’s get to our District offerings for this weekend, September 10-12.

Friday: Carefree Indie Pop, Get Your Hipster Be-Bop On

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ the Black Cat: First off, awesome name. Snaps for bringing a bit of post-Soviet lovin’ into the indie music world. For those of you not in the know with this Springfield, MO, band, take just a quick listen to the ironically cheery and buoyant ‘Think I Wanna Die’ (YouTube video).  Not sure about you, but I think I wanna stay alive and see this infectiously sweet indie rock show.

Saturday: Soaring Vocals, Amalgamation of All Things Post-Grunge

Honor By August w/ The Bigger Lights, The Kin Doors @ the 9:30 Club: Admittedly, Honor By August are so good they make one recall all the reasons why we love modern rock. The flipside is that they are almost too reminiscent of all things great from the 90s/00s era of Blink 182, Third Eye Blind, Semisonic, Fuel, etc. Tidbit for all of you out there: Honor By August got their big break as the winner of the ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest right here in DC and opened for Hanson at the 930 Club in 2006. Heed the advice, readers: this gig will surely leave a smile on your face and saccharine-induced guitar strings tugging at your heart.

Sunday: No Surfers Were Injured in the Formation of this Band

Surfer Blood w/ The Drums @ the 9:30 Club: Sounding a bit reminiscent of the omnipresent Vampire Weekend’s groovy guitar riffs with a bit of old school Weezer Rivers Cuomo heart & soul mixed in, Surfer Blood are a band on the rise since their 2009 song ‘Swim’ was named among Pitchfork’s top singles of the year (Youtube video). If the drum circles of Meridian Hill aren’t your siren call to end the weekend right, make your way over to the 9:30 Club on the Sunday for a solid performance.

See you all next at the shows!

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.

Previous Posts from Danny

by August 27, 2010 at 11:34 am 5,384 3 Comments

Black Cat Danny Shapiro 14th Street NW Borderstan

Sunday pick: Magic Bullets with Foul Swoops at the Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Danny Shapiro

The last weekend of August is upon us: where did the month go? To celebrate the waning days of summer 2010, and before we all embark on a mass exodus for Labor Day Weekend, why not get out and enjoy the incredible live music on tap for this Friday through Sunday?

Here are three quick picks for you to sink your teeth into for a weekend of fun:

Friday: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

DJ Dredd Presents Michael Jackson Birthday Celebration at the 930 Club Could there be a better reason to throw on your dancing shoes (with white socks, perhaps) and join this ultimate dance party? Come honor the King of Pop’s birthday and his indelible imprint on all of our lives for this nonstop journey through the days of Thriller, Bad, Beat It, Dangerous, and all the other MJ cassettes you know are hiding under your childhood bed.

Saturday: Date Night, and the Music Is Right

Heidi Martin at Bohemian Caverns… Grab a friend or a loved one and make your way over to Bohemian Caverns for a night of jazz vocal elegance with Heidi Martin. Her lyrics bring us on a journey across the American South and all of its beauty, suffering, and resilient grandeur.  Her voice–a mixture of Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, and Anita Baker–is itself a masterful and refined instrument, and honed right here in our own Washington, DC.

The show is sure to allow all of your worries and concerns to drift far away from the District…just don’t forget about the person sitting next to you in the process. Heidi is performing two shows: 8:30pm and 10:30pm, so plan your night accordingly.

Sunday: Morrissey-inspired San Francisco Rock… ‘Nuff Said

Magic Bullets with Foul Swoops at the Black Cat… Just a sample of Magic Bullets’ music online (YouTube video) will send your indie music hearts aflutter. To be a young band with Smiths-like swing beats, vocal angst, and of course, those harmonies to win over any straggling naysayers…this band is on the rise, and a surefire breaking discovery for 2010.

And to cap off the weekend with a PBR in hand… what more could a 14th Street hipster ask for?

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.

Previous Posts from Danny

by August 20, 2010 at 9:13 am 7,174 6 Comments

U Street NW Borderstan

The U Street corridor is home to numerous clubs with live music. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Danny Shapiro

The weekend is upon us. [exhale] And, for those of us who are braving the heat and staying in the District for all its urban glory, there’s actually a lot of great live music to see–especially on the 14th and U corridor.

So, without further ado, here are the weekend’s top picks, if one were to embark on three nights of nonstop melodic mayhem. (Remember to check out Borderstan’s weekly local music listings.)

Friday Night, August 20

Jazz Crawl on the 14th & U Streets Corridor. What better way to end the week than with a ‘pub crawl’ through the best selection of DC’s jazz venues–right at our doorstep!? Starting at 14th & Q, check out the first set of the Antonio Parker Quartet at HR-57.

Once the appetite has been whet, head back up to U Street to continue along the evening’s upward trajectory. Grab your favorite drink at Utopia (U Street between 14th and 15th) and enjoy the artistic ambiance while listening to their superb resident Friday night band.

Head on down the 1300-1400 blocks of U and stop by the downstairs Cafe Nema for some local jazz flair and always affable staff, then head up to Twins Jazz for Alan Carr, a jazz saxophone legend in the making. The crawl continues as you join the festivities at Indulj, whose consistent offerings of high quality jazz and vocal talent warrant its steady flow of neighborhood supporters.

Finally, head over to Bohemian Caverns for the final act of the late show Tribute to Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba, two legends whose very existence and influence on musical history have helped forge U Street into the musical landmark it is today. Friday night… complete.

Saturday Night, August 21

We’re Going Back to the ’90s! The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the 930 Club. Oh, if just for the nostalgia of reliving the 1995 Alicia Silverstone classic film Clueless, head over to the 930 Club and partake in what will surely be a feverish Saturday night. Who can forget those blaring trumpets at the start of the hit, “The Impression That I Get,” or even the impression I get of seeing Alicia and Brittany Murphy dancing around the ever-stylish lead singer Dicky Barrett’s larger-than-life charisma and vocal prowess? Their 2009 return-to-form release, ‘Pin Points and Gin Joints’ will surely be on spotlight throughout the night’s set, but who can resist the urge to return to our high school glory days?

Saturday Night, August 21

Hip Hop and R&B Groove for a Good Cause: Tamika Jones, Flex Mathews (to benefit Street Sense) at the Black Cat. Give your feet a rest on Saturday night. Stay in one spot for what will no doubt be a great performance of soaring R&B vocals, inspired rhymes–and a crowd that shows support to not only musical talent but also for DC’s homeless population who pour their heart and soul into the creation and sale of the newspaper Street Sense.

A quick jump over to the MySpace pages of Tamika Jones and Flex Mathews will pique the interest of any dubious and wavering Borderstan readers.

Saturday Night, August 21

Two Bands Reshuffle Into One, Talent Emerges–Admiral Radley (Members of Earlimart and Grandaddy), Hooray for Earth at DC9. I’ve been a fan of the bands Earlimart and Grandaddy for a few years now, but have obviously been off the radar screen since the formation of Admiral Radley, the rock group consisting of members of both aforementioned bands. Now that I’m caught up on this fortuitous pairing, be sure to check out their show at DC9; tickets are still available online. Their upbeat, dreamy, indie pop vocals will leave you humming all the way through the inevitable U Street jumbo slice walk on your way to bed.

Sunday Night, August 22

Get Your Ska On! The English Beat & Bad Manners w/ Chris Murray at the 930 Club. If you wake up every morning in search of the ultimate tour pairing of two 1980s British revival 2-Tone and Ska elite artists, then I am happy to say that your prayers have finally been answered. Check out The English Beat (or, ‘The Beat,’ as they were known in their heyday in the United Kingdom) and Bad Manners to effuse any 11th-hour remaining weekend buzz before that Monday morning alarm bell goes off.

Sunday Night, August 22

If You’re Feeling Adventurous: Juliette Lewis, Dearly Beloved, Jacob Michael (U.S. Royalty) DJ Set at the Rock & Roll Hotel. For those avid rock fans in search of something else, do not pass up the opportunity to see the rock goddess (of Natural Born Killers fame) Juliette Lewis. Why not make it an all-90s movie reinvention weekend and see this unabashedly no-holds-barred musician (and sometimes actress)? The pure energy, raw rock talent, and diehard fans will leave you ready to take on anything… even a Monday morning in the office.

See you all out at the gigs!

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.


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