Opener Review: Craft Spells, Juan Wauters, Trump Weeds at the Rock & Roll Hotel

Craft Spells, Juan Wauters
Photos by Juan Wauters, Craft Spells.

Opening for Crystal Stilts at the Rock & Roll Hotel were three bands that brought an interesting and diverse mix of music to the table.

The Rock & Roll Hotel was filled….with all of 10 people to listen to Trump Weeds, a band that has only recorded a single song. Despite the moderately empty room, the band grooved on, not minding the lack of an audience one bit. The young trio was there for the music and no more. You could feel that it was just one of those lets-jam-and-make-some-music-even-if-the-room-is-empty kind of performances–simple and solid.

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An Interview with Jimmy Shaw of Metric

photo credit: Metric
Photo credit: Metric

Canadian indie-rockers, Metric, recently passed through the DMV with Hellogoodbye while supporting Paramore’s self-titled tour. After the release of their latest record, Synthetica, over a year and a half ago, they’ve taken it around the world, including a very special collaborative performance with the late and great Lou Reed at Radio City Music Hall. Since forming in 1998, Metric has won several Juno awards and has been featured on major motion picture soundtracks. Metric co-founder and guitarist, Jimmy Shaw, spoke with me about taking the concepts of Synthetica further, old memories of great shows, and his affinity for analog synths.

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Kodak to Graph, Hundred Waters, and BRAIDS at DC9

photo credit: Hundred Waters
Photo credit: Hundred Waters

On perhaps the coldest night thus far in D.C., Quinn and I walked into DC9, a dimly lit dive bar. With an upstairs show space that fits approximately 60 people, not only are you sure to have an intimate concert experience, but you also have a very high chance of encountering members of the band going up and down the narrow stairway. That’s exactly what happened as we waited in line next to a starry-eyed 14 year old who froze in awe when her idol, Raphaelle Standell-Preston of BRAIDS, walked past us in line.

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DC9: Ivan & Alyosha with The Lone Bellow – New Songs of Summer

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                Last Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of escaping class to make my way over to the heartland of DC music and hipsterness: U St. DC 9, located about a block and a half south of the 9:30 Club, is an intimate and lovely venue with real character, making it perfect for the performances planned for that evening. Ivan & Alyosha (being the fantastic band that they are) sold out their evening show rather expediently, with demand more than high enough to establish an earlier performance beginning at 6pm, which ALSO sold out. If you’re familiar with either Ivan & Alyosha or The Lone Bellow, it isn’t hard to believe that the demand for these performers would be so high; I predict great things for both groups, with The Lone Bellow having the possibility, in my mind, of clinching a Grammy nomination or three for their first album, which is self-titled. Continue reading “DC9: Ivan & Alyosha with The Lone Bellow – New Songs of Summer”

Alt-J At The 9:30 Club, Riding "An Awesome Wave"

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.

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