Photo: Eat Humans

Folksy Faye Webster Plays DC9

Faye Webster is more than a folk artist, though that’s how most websites and music critics classify her. The 21-year old singer-songwriter from Atlanta does indeed strum acoustic guitars and her soft voice comes with a faint Southern accent, but her sound has undoubtedly evolved since her first release, 2013’s Run & Tell. Though traces of that traditional twang is still evident in 2017’s Faye Webster and this year’s Atlanta Millionaire’s Club, it’s clear the young musician is growing exponentially with each release.

There’s little doubt the use of her name on the second record was intentional, acting as a fresh introduction to a new direction she wanted to take her music – trading some of the bluegrass for pop and some of the country for R&B. If Faye Webster was a taste of Webster’s versatility than  Atlanta Millionaire’s Club is a buffet.

While Webster is on the road, we had a chance to chat with her pen pal style, where we asked her about her photography, her Braves, her yo-yos and, of course, her music.

On Tap: The first thing I noticed listening to Atlanta Millionaires Club is how different it is than your self-titled LP and especially Run & Tell. It seems like you’ve sort of reached this point where you’re truly free flowing from R&B to folk to country to wherever else you feel like going, but it all still sounds uniquely you.
Faye Webster: I don’t think about that stuff when I make music, I just write and record and let the song call for whatever it wants or “meant” to sound like.

OT: This album has a seamless flow to it, even as it goes from a song with a tropical sound like “Room Temperature” to a pop-sensible “Right Side of My Neck.” How much work did you put into getting the order right to better tell your story?
FW: It was a lot of back and forth, I probably made five drafts of the track list. When I finally made this order and listened to it front to back, it was just an instant feeling that this was the one.

OT: Before this record, you sang a few hooks on hip hop songs, was there anything learned from the experience of doing features that you brought to Millionaires Club?
FW: Definitely, I learned to let things happen in the moment because when you are there doing a feature and collating with another artist you don’t nit pick lyrics or make revisions, you just let your heart out. With this record, I tried not to go back and touch on songs; I just left them raw and imperfect. Also having Father on this record is really special to me and is kind go a homage to him and Awful Records. They hold a very special place in my heart always.

OT: Speaking of hooks. Being from Atlanta, what hip-hop legend would you most want to do a song with? I know you did a photo shoot with Killer Mike, does this mean we can expect you on RTJ4? (Please say yes!)
FW: He’s not from Atlanta but JPEGMAFIA and I have been talking about doing a song together, and I really want that to happen.

OT: I know you’ve said in other interviews that everything you write is personal, but was this one more difficult because of the subject matter? I think you mention crying approximately 57 times, it’s extremely open and intimate.
FW: Approximately, yes. Singing about my family is always hard, especially when they are there in person listening. I used to have conversations with my brothers about whether or not I should take out something I said about my mom or grandmothers, but it’s how I wrote it and that’s how it should stay.

OT: As a photographer, do your album covers sort of mean more to you than they would other artists, because so far they’ve all been some take on an a portrait of yourself. What was the process of doing the coin photo? Also, how many of the coins did you actually eat? 
FW: Yeah, I try to not just make it an album but a art piece as a whole. It took two days to get that picture and I didn’t eat chocolate for three months after that.

OT: Does your music and photography intersect at all, do you find yourself inspired by the music you for a shoot and vice versa? 

FW: I think it’s just something that I enjoying doing. It definitely shows off in my music videos though.

OT: What was the toughest environmental portrait you’ve done as a photographer? Why was it difficult?
FW: I think the portrait of Killer Mike because we met at his barber shop and that’s all I had to work with. It was just hard transforming the photograph to look like we aren’t in a barber shop.

OT: Switching gears, what is the most expensive yo-yo you own? Is there a difference in quality or is it simply the design/aesthetic that makes it expensive, because I’ve looked some up and prices are WILD.
FW: An $80 Cadence (Kieran Cooper’s signature yo-yo made by SF Yoyos). When yo-yos are metal they start to get fancy and expensive. But that’s what people compete with.


OT: Do you ever sing and yo-yo at the same time? Is it like brain gymnastics, like does it help spark ideas when you’re stagnant?
FW: No, but I have a whole playlist to yo-yo to.

OT: Lastly, what happens first: 1.) You sing the National Anthem at an Atlanta Braves Game? or 2.) You throw out the first pitch at an Atlanta Braves Game?
FW: First pitch. I would forget every word to the National Anthem, it would be terrifying.

Faye Webster will play in front of a sold-out DC9 tonight. For more information on her, her music and her yo-yo exploits, follow her on Twitter @fayewebsters.

DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 202-483-5000; www.dc9.club

Billie Eilish at The Anthem

Halfway through her set at The Anthem, Billie Eilish asks everyone to put their phones down and yells “I want you to live in that feeling. Whether it’s a good feeling or a bad feeling. It’s the only feeling you can get to live right now. So live in that s*** right now!” Eilish, aka William Eyelash, is only two months into her When We All Fall Asleep tour and is already the biggest pop star in the world.

What started out as a small indie pop hit with her debut EP, Don’t Smile At Me, has turned her into a megastar in a span of one year, defining a new generation of music fans. Eilish is reaching out to Gen Z listeners like no artist before with lyrics often focused on loneliness and heart break. Growing up is hard and for Gen Z, it’s full of pressure from social media and the world’s constant desire for instant gratification.

Her performance was almost like a movie. Sold out fans screaming chanting “Bill-ie,” and a huge electric modern stage. When Eilish’s brother and producer Finneas O’Connell makes it onto the stage, the crowd is ready. A projector of a graveyard appears, and in the center comes the one and only Eilish. Kicking it off with her single, “Bad Guy,” an instant personal connection forms between the fans and the musician. It’s not that they simply know the lyrics, they also recognize the emotions.

Performing her hits out of her debut album such as “You Should See Me in a Crown,” “idontwannabeyouanymore,” and “Wish You Were Gay,” her set was electrifying and intimate at once. Perhaps the most touching part of the show was when Eilish and O’Connell sat together on a bed similar to the album cover. Billie recalls that she often had trouble sleeping during the writing process, saying she would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night and wrote songs with her brother. This is how “I Love You,” was written.

The night ended in the most haunting way as possible. Out of nowhere, a devilish voice whispers “Billie” and the crowd screams as loud as they can. Billie jumps off the stage and runs into the audience to give her thanks one last time. Before saying goodbye, she covers her face as if this was all a dream, gently waving as she walks off stage. Photos and write-up: Kimchi Photography

Fridays at Fort Totten: The Jarreau Williams Xperience

The Fridays at Fort Totten summer concerts in partnership with The Modern at Art Place are every week, 6-8 p.m. On June 14, residents enjoyed the Jarreau Williams Xperience and tasty bites from the CapMac food truck. Photos: Julia Goldberg

Budweiser Music Series at Nationals Park: Dr. FU

For every Friday night home game at Nationals Park, the best place to pregame is on the Budweiser Terrace. As the Nationals warmed up to play the Braves on June 21, fans enjoyed dynamic rock covers from Dr. FU. Photos: Kimchi Photography

Photo: Firefly Music Festival

Stars Shine Bright at Eighth Firefly Music Festival

The eighth edition of the Firefly Music Festival, from June 21-23, proved to be its best ever, with the three-day event in The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway Dover seeing great headlining acts from the likes of Panic! At The Disco, Travis Scott and Post Malone

Brendon Urie and his Panic! At The Disco bandmates truly lit up the night on Friday. Coming off his successful Broadway run in Kinky Boots, Urie revamped old classics with amazing belting, wowing the crowd in the process. They brought out real instruments to replicate the synth sounds on various songs, and the energy they put forth and received from the crowd was incredible. 

Urie recounted how “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” was released 15 years ago and talked about how the song launched the band into the “amazing ride that been developing” since. 

An earlier act on the day was Max Frost, who even though was performing to a smaller crowd, definitely made a new collection of fans hearing his music for the first time. Alison Wonderland was another who earned cred from the Firefly crowd with killer female energy coming from her DJ spectacle. 

The Party Pupils were another highlight of the first night, playing the smaller Treehouse Stage. Great fan interaction made for a positive experience for everyone and they vibed well with the audience. The group mixed old classics like “Ms. Jackson” and “Pony” with original songs by one of their creators, Max.

On Saturday, Brockhampton, the American rap collective formed in San Marcos, California had their spotlight members take the stage. They utilized an airplane set, which they used theatrically throughout their songs. The group’s high energy and big movements amped up the crowd.

Longtime favorites Death Cab For Cutie proved they are still a force to be reckoned with on the festival circuit and played some of their biggest hits, including “Northern Lights,” “Transatlanticism” and “Black Sun.”

Travis Scott finished off a long, yet incredible Saturday with a collection of his top songs and plenty of covers, including songs by the likes of 2 Chainz, SZA and Kodak Black. He began his set with “Stargazing” and “Carousel” back to back, and finished with “Goosebumps” and “Sicko Mode.” His set was something to behold, as it was a complete carnival atmosphere, complete with a neon merry-go-round, pyrotechnics and fun everywhere you looked.

Passion Pit served as the post-headliner, closing the night with a mix of indie and dance favorites including “Carried Away,” “Take a Walk” and “Make Light.” The set provided a great end to a busy day of concert-going.

On Sunday, AJR, comprised of multi-instrumentalist brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met, were another highlight for Firefly attendees. The trio made a strong effort to connect with the crowd and their enthusiasm and goofy nature made them very relatable. 

Vampire Weekend started its set with “Bambina” and delivered almost 90-minutes of great music, mixing in old and new favorites including “A-Punk,” “Ya Hey” and an SBTRKT cover of “New Dorp, New York.”

Post Malone, the headliner on Sunday night, had the audience acting as background singers, with a full chorus of vocals singing along to every show. Post’s songs range from sad ballads to party anthems and he had everyone joining him for every single word, playing tunes from both his albums. His energy and soul stayed high all night and his voice and guitar skills absolutely shined. The 23-year-old Malone also told fun backstories behind his songs and gave some sweet inspiration anecdotes. 

The festival also saw some noteworthy performances by a diverse collection of artists, including Kygo, Tyler, the Creator, DJ Snake, ZEDD, Courtney Barnett, TLC, Lykke Li, Bishop Briggs, Lauren Daigle, Alison Wonderland, King Princess, Jessie Reyez and Tank and the Bangas.

And it just wasn’t the music that made this trip to the Woodlands so wonderful. With more than $4 million in upgrades in 2019, attendees were treated to upgraded facilities, top tier entertainment (in addition to festival performances) and creative programming all designed to foster a sense of camaraderie and community during the long weekend of music. 

For information about 2020’s Firefly Festival, visit here.

The National at The Anthem

Brooklyn by way of Cincinnati band The National brought their signature brand of cerebral rock to a sold out stop at The Anthem on June 19. The Grammy winners celebrated the release of their eighth studio album, I Am Easy to Find, which along with an accompanying short film directed by Mike Mills and starring Alicia Vikander, was released earlier this year. Featured album vocalist Kate Stables accompanied the band as they feverishly plowed through a 26 song setlist, complete with frontman Matt Berninger’s frequent visits to the pit to sing along with eager fans. Photos: Alan Kelly

Kishi Bashi at 9:30 Club

Singer, songwriter Kishi Bashi played the 9:30 Club on June 18, touring on his latest release Omoiyari. Photos: Allan Kelly

DC JazzFest at The Wharf

DC JazzFest hit The Wharf on June 15 and 16 featured four main stages with free world class jazz music on the District and Transit Piers, plus Snarky Puppy, Jose James and more at the Anthem. In addition to live music, festival-goers enjoyed the beer and wine gardens and a diverse marketplace experience. Photos: Beauty By Photography

Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers at The Birchmere

One of the most recognized and prolific saxophonists, Grammy nominee Mindi Abair is back with her collaborators The Boneshakers. The famed band played at The Birchemere on June 6. Photos: Mark Raker Photography