In a way only a Lil B concert could be discovered, I found myself racing through the streets of Northern Virginia, quickly and impatiently making my way to the Empire Nightclub. Thank Based God for Twitter, for if I hadn’t had that I would have never been able to make the elusive and #rare show. After seeing his shout out to Springfield, V.A. and a quick Google search, I called a buddy and went off.
I called the club to make sure there were tickets and to discover when the show would begin. Soon after, we arrived to find a mysterious door next to an Afghan restaurant. People had already been thrown out and a fight was about to break out. But when we cowered inside and heard the sound of The Based God’s voice it was as if all of our problems disappeared.
I’ll be uploading my recordings of “Something Good”, “Matilda”, and “Taro” sometime soon– look for those links here!
With the various distractions ever present in our lives, Alex and I arrived to the show about halfway through the opening performance of the dreamscape-esque band Hundred Waters. With two-part vocal harmonies and a plethora of crescendo-ing tremolos on the part of the lead female singer Nicole Miglis and her counterpart Sam Moss, the 9:30 Club (with the aid of talented light-smiths) appeared to have been transported to a mystical region of our collective consciousness with roving thoughts and endless terrain. With synthetic beats, a live drummer, and occasionally guitar and bass, the entire performance seemed to fluctuate, with the echoes of the bass and drums pumping through veins in the close-knit space that is General Admission at the 9:30 Club. For a first time listener, I would suggest “Boreal,” a true soundscape of a piece played at the end of their set, amplifying their harmonies and the rise and fall of their tones, even including brief moments of flute playing on the part of Ms. Miglis.
Fast forward about half an hour to the act we’d been waiting for: Alt-J. Coolly walking on stage and assuming their stage positions were (left to right): keyboardist & backup vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton, lead vocalist and guitarist Joe Newman, guitarist & bassist Gwil Sainsbury, followed by drummer Thom Green, who was situated oddly on the far right side of the stage rather than comfortably behind Mr. Newman as one would assume. The set began with “Intro”, the tite track on their album An Awesome Wave. Throughout the performance of “Hundred Waters,” there was an intriguing backdrop of interwoven branches and twigs, with the ability to see each tree dependent upon its width and the lighting of the stage; with Alt-J now onstage however, it becomes clear: the hand-painted background was very specially crafted to represent the album cover of An Awesome Wave, with a blast of color adding new dimensions to not only the images themselves, but to the performance as a whole. By the time they dove into a classically foot stomping rendition of “Tessellate”, the crowd was caught under the influence of this visual and auditory transposition. For anyone familiar with the band, its sound and soul varies greatly from that of most bands, failing to truly be categorized and instead merely existing, and being felt.
Last year, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the Punch Brothers perform in front of an almost sold-out show at DC’s 9:30 club. This year, they sold out their first show so quickly that they added a second night in DC to their Winter Tour. It certainly has been a good year for Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers. They were featured on a number of songs for The Hunger Games soundtrack, they released a new EP, and Chris Thile was awarded the McArthur Genius Grant. These achievements have allowed the Punch Brothers to reach the mainstream appreciation that Thile’s first band, Nickel Creek, enjoyed during their heyday. This appreciation became evident to me when the 26-year old girl next to me screamed and nearly fainted like a 14 year old Belieber at a J to the Beebz concert would when Chris Thile took the stage.
Anais Mitchell opened the concert, who had performed with them during the earlier leg of the tour. Her lyrics revolved around story telling and her sound was a mixture of the late, great Amy Winehouse and the incredibly quirky Joanna Newsome (she also has a striking resemblance to Ms. Newsome which may have influenced my analysis).
For those who enjoy a little cheerful pop music, it should be exciting to note that 2013 could be a year full of downloads and UPS packages. My last radio show heavily featured new music from bands with music coming out in 2013.
Let me start off with a rant we can all agree on. Why am I charged so much for ordering tickets online? What is this handling fee? I want to see what this 10 dollars bought me. Does processing my particular order require excessive amounts of expensive coffee? Is every ticket rubbed with diamond dust? I understand that there is a middleman involved (here’s looking at you, Ticketfly), but 10 dollars? I’m in college! Usually I’d mosey on down to 9:30 Club to buy the ticket. Unfortunately I was in the magical land of Miami and was not willing to wait until I was physically present in DC.
Why was I so antsy? This is Red Barraat we’re talking about! They’re incredibly hip. I dare you to search for them in the blogosphere. It’s impossible. They’ve done an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Can you even comprehend this genre? They’re a New Orleans Brass Band and Indian Wedding Band fusion established in Brooklyn. I know…so ridiculously cool.