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Greta Kline (second from left) and Frankie Cosmos // Photos: courtesy of Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline Talks Addiction to Newness, Stupid Lyrics and Close It Quietly

When Greta Kline joins the stage with the rest of Frankie Cosmos this Friday at Black Cat, she won’t want to be Greta Kline. Whoa, whoa, that actually sounds harsh, but I promise I’m not writing that in the way you’re reading it so let me clarify:

*clears throat*

What I’m saying is, she’s currently in search of a stage persona, an alter-ego. Think of Corey Taylor putting on one of his several Slipknot masks or Beyonce channeling Sasha Fierce, or even Tyler, the Creator throwing on a silver wig during his IGOR tour. She’s in search of a different outlet, a way to avoid giving all of herself on a nightly basis. Frankly (ha, rhymes with Frankie ((as in Frankie Cosmos)), when she’s describing this to me over the phone before the band’s latest album Close It Quietly has even come out, it sounds like an exhausting position to be in, constantly opening yourself up. Throw in the fact that the band is insanely prolific, three albums in four years prolific, and you being to see how touring so much could become cumbersome. Perhaps this is the real reason why superheroes put on masks and capes. Yeah, they say it’s because they want to protect their loved ones, but maybe it’s actually because being yourself, your true self at home and at work and during your side gig is too much to offer. What if Batman’s cowl and cape is actually just a result of this truth: being Bruce Wayne all the time is a lot of freaking work. I don’t know, and neither does Greta, probably, I mean I didn’t ask her this stuff when we spoke. However, she is an indie rock superhero.

While I didn’t ask her about comics or Batman, I did get a chance to speak to the singer, songwriter before her show at the Black Cat this Friday, ranging from her fascination with marbles and that ability to churn out an incredible amount of songs. Oh, and we of course chatted about the latest record, a 21-song indie rock epic which represented a slight departure from their previous works, but still contained the existential mid-20s drama you’d expect from the group. It’s soothing, powerful and fun. So read on and get excited to see whatever alter-ego Kline comes up for the band’s set at Black Cat.

On Tap: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musician with as many alter egos as you on their Wikipedia page, it’s like that scene in Rocky when they’re reading all of Apollo’s nicknames. Do you have a favorite?


Greta Kline: Ah man, it’s my addiction to newness. I need a new band name all the time. It’s easier than being one person forever. Definitely Frankie Cosmos is the one that stuck, it feels like the band and it feels like me. I relate it to what we’re doing, that’s why I haven’t changed it. I’m still constantly coming up with band names, but you can’t just make a new band, because people will get confused. I just like names, the ideas. When I was doing the bandcamp, and I didn’t have a band, it was just a way to pretend that I have a band. It’s easier than being yourself. 

Even GRETA feels weird, whenever, whenever someone calls me Greta. More often, people come up to me and call me Frankie, I guess. A lot of it’s Frankie Cosmos, I thought it was funny to have other names. It’s fun. It’s like you’re getting to escape yourself. It’s like having a wrestling name. Something that I want to do this album cycle, is be a different person on stage. One of the things that exhausts me on touring is giving my soul in an earnest way, and being purely me. I don’t know, it can be nice, but I want to have an option to be a performer on stage. I want to take on a performer character. Greta isn’t a performer, Greta is shy and anxious, and for awhile “we’re Frankie Cosmos” was enough of a mask, so I don’t know being different in some way might make it easier. I wore some wigs in our latest music video, I don’t know. I haven’t put enough thought into it.

OT: This is your third album in four years, are you exhausted yet? It feels like you might be?
GK: You know, to me it’s not that much. It’s not that much [to be] making albums. What’s exhausting is touring. Getting time to make an album is the break, that’s the fun part, that’s the creative part. [When] we can really do the work, I don’t even think about it. We’re not exhausted by anything at all, it’s so exciting. I have a little bit of an addiction to newness, I always like my newest song the best, and that’s making an album, it’s a way to enjoy that. 

OT: You’re exceptionally prolific, do you find that songwriting come easy to you?
GK: Sometimes, yeah, it definitely something that’s fun for me. I never really force myself to write a song. I think the hard time I have is finishing songs. The idea part of it is something that just happens, and the other part is setting apart time to work on it. When I’m writing songs, it’s when I feel the most in touch with myself and everything. 

OT: You compared this record to changes people make when they rearrange your room or get a flashy haircut, it’s still your stuff or your hair, but it’s different. What sort of spurred this sentiment, and how were you able to turn the record around so quickly? Was this reshuffle something you had in mind already?
Greta Kline: I mean, I guess it does feel easy and natural; we just want to make music. We don’t think about how it’s too soon to put out records. We definitely started thinking about making this album before we put out Vessel (2018). I mean we didn’t record it until this winter, so it feels pretty fresh. Yeah, that line about your hair and rearranging your room, I really like that image, I feel like it makes sense. My bandmate Luke [Pyenson] said we sort of give ourselves room to mess around, even it if doesn’t sound the same. 

I never think about what [the music is] going to sound compared to the other albums. We had more time and more equipment, but it’s still us arranging the songs and me writing them. There are some different tones on it. I keep thinking about the modular synth on a couple tracks, that feels like a big change. Yeah, it feels like a pretty different album to me. 

It’s more organic. We had room to play, so we did. We felt about that on the last album too. We had a marimba on a track, crazy keyboard sounds and it’s in the moment. We’re not thinking about what it’s going to mean in the concept of the album until it’s done. All I think about is what it feels like when I’m singing it or playing it. I know it’s a good take if it feels good, but sometimes it doesn’t sound good even if it does feel good. You have to sort of do it.

The hard part for me is thinking about the album as a whole and talking about it. I always think about this quote, “If I could explain it all, I wouldn’t need the song.” Writing the bio doesn’t come as naturally to me as sitting and making it with my friends. 

OT: How did you all come up with the title Close It Quietly?
GK: It sounds so stupid to say it. It’s kind of meaningless. Every time we make an album, I know the name the whole time. This was different — the album was done and we didn’t know what to call it. I didn’t want it to have a title track and it was a weirdly hard album to name. One day I was like F-it, I was going to name it like I would on my bandcamp demo. It was just going to be something that I say today, then I told someone about my gate, to close it quietly, and that’s the album title. Since thinking about it, it could be a lot of things. It could be a chapter, a relationship and the album sort of closes quietly, we all just fade out. 

OT: So it was kind of profound and universal after the fact?
GK: Never A day goes back that I don’t say something profound [laughs]. I really wanted to call the album I have to do the dishes.

I kind of like that, it’s funny to give a pedestal to stupidity.

OT: The short songs, how do you know when to cap off an idea? I feel like most artists hover around the 2-4 minute range, but you have a ton of songs that are like 45 seconds.
GK: I mean, I guess you just know. If I force it to be longer than it needs to be, it’ll get scrapped. The fun part is coming up with a melody and doing something new, I don’t want to repeat the same lyrics and melodies longer than I have to. Once in awhile, I’ll write a song where it takes more time to say what I want to say, or to explain the feeling. I like short songs, and I think it’s about having a short attention span and liking something that’s new. I like that we play dirty songs instead of thirteen longer songs. I don’t know, sometimes it gets boring. The songs that make it longer have to feel right. 

OT: Lately it feels like a ton of artists are doing this thing with less than 10 tracks, whether that’s because of the listener’s attention span or whatever. Close It Quietly has 21 tracks, and I kind of love that you zigged while a lot of musicians are zagging. Was there any consideration to condense the album? Is it hard to put a track list in order when it’s 20+ songs?
GK: On all the records we cut songs, so this is the condensed version. It is hard to order it, it’s always hard to put in order. I never think about it as an album. I always think of every song as a single. I think the last two albums, Luke has decided what the first track is going to be, that’s the easy part. We think about it like Side A and Side B, which doesn’t translate to Spotify, obviously. It’s a weird process, we all just sat and listened to a first draft of the order, and we made notes. If I put it in whatever order I want, it would be meaningless, so my bandmates are definitely helpful. I have a hard time thinking of an album as a whole, I can’t think of how they relate to one another when I’m in them.  

OT: Let’s talk about marbles since their heavily featured in the album artwork. How many did you own as a kid, are these pictures in the album art just your marbles? What is the significance of them?
GK: I think it’s sort of like, well we almost called the album marbles. It’s just the idea that these are my marbles, and you could lose your marbles. The song “Marbles” is sort of a love song, and I just have a feeling about how marbles have a personal meaning to me. I had this image come to me in the album art, I wanted to take a photo, and I described it to Lauren [Martin], and she drew it as I imagined it, and that became the art.

A marble is this tiny thing and it holds this depth and you could look at it forever. I definitely played with marbles as a kid. It was fun to just get a bunch of marbles, take the photos. It was trippy because I was looking at them with a magnifying glass. They just kind of take you out of the real world for a second. 

OT: Last question, you asked what the stupidest Frankie Cosmos lyric was on Twitter a few months ago, so I’m wondering what your opinion is on that question, and also what’s the stupidest lyric you’ve ever heard? I know, I know, this is on the spot.

GK: I think I tweeted that to be self deprecating, but I got some really funny responses. There are so many stupid ones. Sometimes you hear a lyric and it’s so dumb, but I kind of like that, it’s funny to give a pedestal to stupidity. I really like when songwritiers use cliches in a way that’s moving, and you’re turning it on it’s head by using it, that’s my favorite kind of stupid lyric. In Frankie Cosmos some of them are just stupid and funny. 

I think that there is a lot of emotion in the silly off the cuff sort of thought. One person wrote “I drank bad coffee, I hope that you call me.” First of all that takes me right back to the moment when I wrote it and I know what coffee I was drinking and who I was hoping to call me. There’s a pureness that takes you straight to your stupid emotions. It’s deep, but you don’t have to put it in some poetic way. I think sometimes the best lyrics that i get really excited about come from letting myself spew out. Letting loose and not worrying about being stupid; it represents how you feel. It can mean something bigger than the stupid thing that it says. 

See Great Kline and the rest of Frankie Cosmos at Black Cat DC on Friday, September 27. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. For information on the show, click here.

Black Cat DC: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Christelle Bofale

September Music Picks

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

Benjamin Francis Leftwich
While this young English artist may have landed on your radar for his hauntingly beautiful covers of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies)” and The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” don’t sleep on his original music. Although Leftwich does craft tracks you could easily drift off to, I promise that’s a compliment. Hearing his dreamy, ethereal folk live is the perfect way to usher in the cozy months of fall. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $17. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Jennifer Hudson and the National Symphony Orchestra
Since sweeping America during the third season of American Idol, Jennifer Hudson’s star quality has been undeniable. See the singer and actress in a new light this summer. Led by National Symphony Orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins, this unique take on Hudson’s work will offer listeners the opportunity to enjoy Hudson’s talent and the NSO’s beautiful arrangements against the stunning backdrop of Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis is perhaps best known as part of the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, but her solo career is equally prolific. Lewis comes to The Anthem with songs from this year’s critically acclaimed and all-around excellent On The Line in tow. Her alt-folk tunes and acerbic lyrics have already solidified her as one of the best musicians of a generation. Here’s a fun fact to tide you over until you see Lewis in the flesh: Did you know she starred in the 80s comedy Troop Beverly Hills? Truly a woman of many talents. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40. Show at 8 p.m. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

Queen of Jeans
Underneath the sun-soaked sounds of this trio are some intense, introspective and healing lyrics, making for a listening experience that’s equal parts cathartic and calming. Late last month, the band released their second album If you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid, a continuation of their fresh-but-retro sound. For the ultimate introduction to the group, start with the album’s lead single “Only Obvious to You,” a captivating breakup song, and dive into the rest of their catalogue from there. Doors at 7 p.m. , show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

SG Lewis
You name a successful alt-pop artist from the past several years, and SG Lewis is most likely a collaborator. The likes of AlunaGeorge, Clairo, HONNE and more have turned to the British DJ, songwriter and producer to give them the edgy and atmospheric sound that established his star power. He definitely doesn’t need the help of other artists – it’s more a relationship where they bring out the best in each other – and his solo work is similarly affecting and catching. He’ll appear live in DC, not just as part of a DJ set, which means you’re in for a treat, as Lewis has a gorgeous voice of his own. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets begin at $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;
www.ustreetmusichall.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

Banks
Genre-bending crooner Banks took several years off at the height of her career to truly hone in on writing and recording new music, leading up to the release of this year’s record III. Feeling burnt out from a grueling tour schedule around her first two records, her retreat to solitude and creativity allowed her to perfect her craft and return with what Pitchfork called her “best album to date.” Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

The Messthetics
While The Messthetics were somewhat born of the ashes of the ever-relevant Fugazi (drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally were both members), they’re joined by fellow DC denizen Anthony Pirog on guitar to create a sound that epitomizes the local DIY spirit but still keeps it innovative. To celebrate the release of their forthcoming record Anthropocosmic Nest, they stop by the Black Cat, a venue as important to the local scene as each of Messthetics’ members. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;
www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

Seratones
Rock and motown have always been inextricably linked, but Shreveport, L.A.’s Seratones have perfected the blend for the modern age on their sophomore album, Power. Power is right, as you’re instantly taken in by frontwoman AJ Haynes’ captivating voice, layered perfectly with the rest of the four-piece band’s gritty instrumentation. Wrapped up in production courtesy of Cage the Elephant’s Brad Shultz, the breakout band has entered an exciting new chapter in what’s sure to be a long career. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Bloc Party
Sure, there has been a whole slew of bands announcing anniversary tours around their best albums over the last 10, 15 or even 20 years. But Bloc Party is playing its iconic record Silent Alarm in full on this tour, an album that’s not only the group’s best, but arguably the seminal work in the pantheon of bands producing explosively good records throughout the early 2000s. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $45. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St.
SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

KAG + Sir E.U
Katie Alice Greer, of local post-punk outfit Priests and Sister Polygon Records, has stated on Twitter that she plans to debut new solo material at this show. While Greer has released work outside of Priests as far back as 2015 (including recording her own take on The Dixie Chicks’ Fly), anyone itching to hear what’s next to come from Greer’s ever-expanding body of work won’t want to miss this show in the Black Cat’s Red Room. Greer is joined by another notable name in the DC music world, Sir E.U, whose transcendental take on rap is not to be overlooked. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Marina
You might know this Greek-English singer from when she still recorded under the name Marina and the Diamonds. Now that she’s dropped the diamonds from the stage name, the pop star born Marina Diamandis has ushered in a new era for herself as an artist. She’s touring around not one but two albums she released this year (Love and Fear, respectively) and although one can hope for some old bops to be thrown into the mix, I’m excited to see what this new name and era looks like for one of the most interesting musicians of the decade. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show’s at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $40. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Ride
After a notable split at the height of the UK’s shoegaze scene in the 90s saw each member of Ride off to their own endeavors (most notably, bassist Andy Bell joining Brit-pop legends Oasis), it was unclear if the group would ever produce new work in the future. Two reunions and many years later, they’re not only back together, but releasing new music as well. Perhaps their reunion could be credited to the increased interest in shoegaze from modern artists, or maybe Ride has just been itching to release new music. No matter the reason, don’t miss some of the pioneers of the genre live. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $35. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC: www.930.com

Tasha + Christelle Bofale
Two of Father Daughter Records’ finest signees on the same bill? I can hardly think of a better way to spend your Sunday. Tasha is a musician and poet from Chicago who crafts warm, dreamy songs about the beauty of black love. Christelle Bofale, who is Congolese and hails from Austin, Texas uses her rich family heritage to inform her guitar driven songs. Here, you’re presented with the opportunity to hear two voices who will inevitably do even bigger things in the coming years, so clear your schedule. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Cosmo Sheldrake
Cosmo Sheldrake is an incredibly whimsical artist. So whimsical, in fact, that I’d be willing to bet if a quirky sort of for kids, but mostly for adults movie like Where The Wild Things Are were made today, he’d be the first choice to score the film. Case in point: his most popular song, “Come Along,” unironically refers to a “heffalump,” of Winnie the Pooh fame. Because of all this, Sheldrake’s electro-folk sensibilities and nonsensical, improvisational style provide the perfect music to get lost in. Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Whitney
Generating from the dissolution of garage rockers Smith Westerns, Whitney takes some of those same influences but spins their sound into something completely their own. Add some blues and folk sounds to the aforementioned jangly nature of rock they’ve been known to play, and you have the makings of a sound that may not make sense on paper but is incredible in practice. The band tours around their new album Forever Turned Around, released last month, which they’ve been quoted as saying to DIY Magazine deals with topics “fear, confusion, and substance abuse.” Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $30. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC: www.930.com

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

Ezra Bell
Portland’s Ezra Bell sounds very much like they are from Portland. While their musicianship is masterful, their devil-may-care ethos of combining almost every genre under the sun is something that could most certainly only have generated from the cool and carefree Pacific Northwest. If your music taste skews to the classics of the 60s and 70s, this is not a band to sleep on. Instead, head to Gypsy Sally’s and dance through your Wednesday night. Doors at
8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

Oh Land
Nanna Øland Fabricius takes her stage name, Oh Land, as a variant of her middle name. The Danish musician contributes to the brand of icy pop that the region is known for. Her 2019 album Family Tree marks her first album in five years. She’s been busy in the interim, though, starring alongside Mads Mikkelsen in the Danish Western movie The Salvation, composed music for ballet and became a mom. With a background in dance and stage performance, her live show is sure to be a vibrantly good time. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

Frankie Cosmos
Earlier this month, Frankie Cosmos (née Greta Kline) released the whopping 21 track long Close It Quietly, a welcome continuation of the confessional, poem like songwriting that’s made her a go-to voice in the indie rock scene. While I couldn’t complain if Kline played all 21 new songs on this tour, here’s to hoping we hear the old stuff that put Kline on the map, too. For more on Close It Quietly, read assistant editor Trent Johnson’s interview with Kline at ontaponline.com. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

Generationals
Even if you’ve never heard of Generationals, you’ve probably heard their retro pop sound in a commercial or soundtrack without even realizing it. Sleeper hits like “TenTwentyTen” and “Put a Light On” certainly have a cinematic quality about them. The duo’s new record, Reader as Detective, shows off their evolving sweet but jangly sound into something still modern, always exciting and ready to soundtrack at least the next several year’s worth of movies and TV shows. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Sir Babygirl
I became familiar with Sir Babygirl, AKA Kelsie Hogue, as an incredibly hilarious and endearing comedic personality on the internet before I ever even heard her music. When I realized she was making music born out of my early 90s, Lisa Frank power-pop fever dreams, in addition to being the funniest queer person on the web, I was fully indoctrinated into the cult of Sir Babygirl. You should join this fun and fluid pop revolution. Consider her live show your baptism. Doors at 7 p.m. Show’s at 8 pm. Tickets start at $12. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Ohsun

Music Picks: August 2019

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6

21 Savage
Since his controversial arrest with ICE in early February, there has been a lot of uncertainty in 21 Savage’s music career. He’s had a lot of challenges coming back into the music industry; however, he used his experience to give back to his community. His sophomore album i am> i was, is a testament to that. Savage approached this album with more sentimental songs: “A Lot,” “Letter 2 My Momma” and “All My Friends” progressed his artistic expression. His duality of gangster rap and emotions exemplifies through this album, which allows his listeners to be completely captivated. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7

Hibou
Peter Michel began his career at the early age of 17, touring with his band at night and finishing his studies during the day. Developing a love for classical music in early adolescence, he expanded his creativity by crossing over to the guitar and songwriting, which led him to form the band Hibou. The Seattle-based musician has released four studio albums leading him around the world, reaching audiences far and wide that ultimately put him in his position today. Michel’s vocals play on 80s indie pop, fueled by guitar melodies and flux arrangements. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets $12. Pie Shop: 1339 H St. NE, DC; www.pieshopdc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8

Copper Chief
Copper Chief brings a spunky twist to country music. Deep in Texas influence and even deeper in brotherhood, Chief has been gracing stages nationwide to give you a taste of country-infused rock ‘n’ roll. The group, made up of Mike Vallerie, Rio Tripiano, Justin Lusk and John Jammall II, has created more of a music family than an ensemble. The momentum of this band is promising, after winning at the 2019 Texas Regional Radio Music Awards and becoming USA Network’s fan favorite. Their boundary crossing sound is influenced by soul, psychedelic and blues. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $12. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC; www.gypsysallys.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9

Nalani & Sarina
Identical sisters Nalani & Sarina have utilized their musical inclinations to create a savvy approach to pop music. Their spunk brings new energy back to music and their pop-soul approach drives this kind of music forward. With such a free ambiance, they touch on subjects including individuality, subjectivity and inclusivity while empowering women. Each set is different, and they always play on improvisation, so it’s no telling what they have in store for their fans. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11

Nappy Roots
Nappy Roots is back to grace the stage after years of retirement. Rooted in southern Kentucky influences, the hip-hop group took the industry by storm. Intertwining folk and rap and bringing a new perspective to music. Collaborating with renowned artists like Anthony Hamilton, Greg Nice and more, their unique sound drew fans in and ultimately led them to sold more than 3 million albums. Nappy Roots managed to go out on their own and create a new wave of music. With the release of their tenth mixtape Sh!t’s Beautiful, they have built a 20-year career that continues to surprise the music world. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $25. City Winery: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.citywinery.com

Yeek
Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and producer Yeek brings back the nostalgia of artists like N.E.R.D and No Doubt while also creating a unique sound. His mix of hip-hop and punk rock allows the listener to be completely captivated and experience a new age of music. In 2017, he released his debut album Sebastian, turning heads and pushing his stardom forward. Yeek’s most recent releases analyzes his progression as an artist, yet still pays tribute to his old works. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14

Common
Coated in poetry and slick in rhyme, Common has a career spanning over 30 years. He has challenged the ideal rap artist by preaching nothing but authentic life and social experiences – and his upcoming tour is no different. The Let Love tour is the result of the release of his memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, where he exclusively talks about his trials and tribulations as a black man growing up in Chicago. His vulnerability not only in his book as well his tour opens up a completely different side of Common his fans have never seen before. The melodic tone that renders your attention will leave you captivated and also as vulnerable as he is. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $32. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com

Purple Mountains

Resurfacing after almost a decade, David Berman shocked the public with his return of four new singles and a different band: Purple Mountains. It was surprising that after dismantling Silver Jews, Berman didn’t return right away for a solo career – but he’s back with a new sound that all his fans will enjoy. Stricken with loss and self-reflection, his music narrates the disintegration of friends, family and fans that were once dear to him. His sensitivity throughout “All My Happiness is Gone” may scare his fans due to the interpretations of addiction and suicide, but it examines his growth as an artist almost a decade later. His psychedelic approach to each song may seem overdramatized, but in a sense, that’s what makes it beautiful. There is no perfect song, which circles back to his reality. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15

Catching Flies
This London-based DJ and producer has a way of quenching the thirst of all those who listen to him. Catching Flies reaches right into your soul to the deepest depths through his melodic, percussive beats. He uses all genres – hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, pop and more – to create this unique experience. Earning a fan base of some of the greats including Giles Peterson, Annie Mac and Huw Stephens, he has built a musical platform that’s uniquely diverse and dynamic. His new album Silver Linings, released in early July, is naturally moving and emotionally structured. Show at 10 p.m. Tickets $10. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

The Jonas Brothers
After years of anticipation, The Jonas Brothers have returned – and they’re all grown up. After crushing millions of young teen hearts in 2013 when they announced their split, Nick, Joe and Kevin went their separate ways. But after years of longing, our prayers have been answered. Their comeback single “Sucker” brings a more seductive, edgy vibe to this heartthrob band. We all love the classics – “Burnin’ Up,” “LoveBug,” “Year 3000” – but Happiness Begins examines their progression as artists. The brothers have always been a force, but their individual artistry shines throughout this album. Additionally, it examines the diligence and work ethic they all acquired driving the boy band industry after years of separation. This tour is something we’ve all been waiting for, and The Jonas Brothers aren’t going to disappoint. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $115. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.com

Tessa Violet
First known for her YouTube channel, Tessa Violet found stardom by gaining a million subscribers for her quirky videos and vlogs. She garnered national attention with her hit single “Crush,” released in June of last year. It surprised all of her fans and subscribers that her musical talents went beyond the kid-like videos she made for her channel, earning her respect in the music industry with this more mature take on pop music. She later released numerous singles that her fans seem to love, and now Violet is taking a break from YouTube and hitting the road on this tour to really embrace the lifestyle of pop music. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 20

Tab Benoit
Born in the Bayou, Tab Benoit has crafted a career rooted in soul. The Louisiana native has used his guitar to paint a picture of the Delta Blues that lies deep within him. Benoit started playing the guitar at an early age, learning from blues legends Raful Neal and Tabby Thomas, and has since taken his skills to the next level. Benoit was destined to become the phenomenon that he is today, bringing the Bayou to the DMV for a can’t-miss performance. Show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35. The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria VA; www.birchmere.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23

Brittany Howard
Brittany Howard is taking a break from her Grammy winning band Alabama Shakes and strutting out for her solo career. Her debut album Jaime brings a modern twist to this once country artist’s sound. Her album, set to debut in early September, brings a psychedelic funk, soul-defined and hip-hop accented sound that highlight her past. Howard goes into depth with sexuality, family tragedy, religious indifference and much more. She is finally stepping out on her own two feet and is definitely a solo artist to watch. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $55. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

RL Grime
King of electronic trap production RL Grime has brought a vibrant twist to the dance music scene. Working with artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Kanye West, Miguel and more helped him revamp his sound into something completely unique. There is no holding back – Grime’s continuously released hit after hit. His deep and aggressive chord progressions won’t allow your feet to stop moving, and the artist’s high octaves and percussive bass are captivating. His fans have traveled far and wide to see what he’ll come up with next, so don’t miss him at Echostage this month. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24

The Beach Boys
The boys are back. The Beach Boys are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a reunion tour. Music spanning multiple generations will bring people from all walks of life – creating an almost religious experience. Coming almost full circle, Mike Love and the boys have relished in the opportunity to come together again and this reunion is the perfect excuse. They’re also creating a new studio album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, that examines the fruition of their iconic sound over a 50-year period. All-American classics like “Surfin’ USA,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “California Girls” return to the main stage as The Beach Boys brings us back to this magical time of music. Doors at 1:30 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 25

Tame Impala
There is no one quite like Tame Impala in the industry today. The psychedelic pop stars have created a sound that is unmatched, as the Australian natives have brought the 60s into modern music. With the emergence of color, root of pop-rock and accents of soul, they challenge the typical take on pop music. Stepping onto the scene in 2010, Kevin Parker and his band released their debut album Innerspeaker, which gained worldwide praise for creating an entirely different entity in pop music. They went on to release multi-platinum studio albums that garnered national attention, leading to sold-out stadium shows across the globe. Their influence on the sonic universe will take you on an experience that’s out of this world. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 29

Kindo

Rooted in contemporary jazz with accents of rock and pop, Kindo is an unlikely success story. Since releasing their debut EP almost a decade ago, they’ve sold 30,000 records worldwide and have 2.5 million Spotify plays and 3 million views on YouTube. But that is just the beginning to their success. From their humble beginnings in Buffalo, New York, they created their unique sound via the influences of Radiohead, Robert Glasper and Justin Timberlake. With R&B and Latin accents conjoined with sophisticated lyrics, they keep their fans moving. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31

Danielle Nicole Band

Grammy nominated for best contemporary blues album, Danielle Nicole has taken the blues industry by storm. Once the lead singer of Trampled Under Foot, Nicole has since stepped out on her own and is becoming the blues musician she has always wanted to be. Catering to a younger crowd, she wants the authenticity of music to inspire the next generation. With the strum of her guitar, the brass of the bass and the underline of the drums, she has created something soothing to the ear. She has slowly but surely created a name for herself, and this tour is just a testament to her growth as an artist. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Pearl Street Warehouse: 33 Pearl St. SW, DC; www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com

Oshun
This dynamic duo crosses boundaries of soul and Afrofuturism. They blend the acoustic sounds of guitar and the bass of heavy drums with inspired lyrics to create the beautiful sound that has reached international audiences. Since their debut mixtape in 2015, ASASE YAA, they have created a following that has amassed all over social media and continues to push their career today. Gaining national attention, they’re quickly becoming one of the most prominent soulful groups of our generation. As full-time college students at NYU, they managed to travel all across the world. Now, they have come into their own through their artistry as powerhouses in today’s music industry. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

Labor Day Weekend Music Festival
Lincoln Theatres is rounding out the summer with its Labor Day Weekend Music Festival. Come enjoy a free two-night festival filled with some of the greatest artists to grace our nation’s capital. Musicians, bands, producers and more will grace the stage to give local music lovers a diverse show. So come out to Lincoln Theatre to listen to the soundtrack of DC’s 2019 summer. Show starts at 7 p.m. Free. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; www.thelincolndc.com

Illustration: courtesy of "All Fantasy Everything"

Best Podcast Available All Fantasy Everything Selects DC For Live Tour

Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days. They’re easily created and just as quickly forgotten. Name a comedian, sports writer, author or filmmaker, and they’ve probably dabbled in coordinating a program discussing most anything. There’s plenty of reasons for these folks to give podcasting a shot: there’s money to be made and ears to grab, and it’s a great promotional tool for other types of programming, whether it be a standup special or an opinion column.

The brainpower behind “All Fantasy Everything” agreed with the sentiment. Founded by comedian and television writer Ian Karmel, the podcast is a show of three to four people sitting around fantasy drafting anything and everything: from Tom Hanks films to road trips.

“[Karmel] just wanted a way to interview people,” says cohost and comedian Sean Jordan. “He wanted a podcast where he could talk to his friends. He came up with the idea [and] shopped it around.Originally, people weren’t receptive. We did one together one day and it stuck.”

“All Fantasy Everything” debuted on the Internet in 2016 and is recorded weekly in Portland, Oregon with new episodes populating feeds every Friday. While episodes have featured a roulette of guests, including The Late Late Show host James Corden and NBA writer Zach Harper, the constant staples are Karmel, Jordan and standup comedian David Gborie. On July 13, locals will actually be able to sit in the same room as these folks as they live draft on Black Cat’s stage.

“It’s a very natural feel,” Jordan continues. “If you’re going to listen to people sit and talk, it has to have that real feel. We have running jokes, but I think one of the reasons it’s so good is because it sounds as if we’re just sitting in the living room watching basketball. It makes people feel at ease, as if they’re there.”

The format is predictable, which you’ll know if you’ve ever tinkered with any kind of fantasy draft. The hosts and guests each take turns picking something involving the theme, followed up by an explanation. The true magic of the show is in these unscripted moments where the listener is thrown into a full-fledged discussion either celebrating or dissecting the preceding selection. The ribbing is delightful and sincere and rarely, if ever, nasty or offensive.

“Sometimes there’s that feeling if someone is making a joke and it goes down the wrong road, it’s tricky because we’re three straight dudes,” Jordan says candidly. “We’re quick to wrangle it in. We just like to talk about how cool stuff is and how cool people are, and how often we cry.”

The transition from a studio or couch to a live crowd seems like a surreal thing for a podcast built upon the idea of shooting the shit among friends while debating which villain is more interesting or what fast-food items reign supreme among lit drive-thru menus. And while they do present differences in the flow of a normal show, the comedians aren’t afraid to ratchet it up for the crowd.

“[The live shows] are a lot trickier to rein in because the crowds are very hyped,” Jordan says. “When it’s a live show, I’m so excited and thrilled that anyone cares about anything I’m part of. I’m not sure anyone knows for certain that people will care about what they do, so when a thousand people are there to see them, you try to give them a show.”

Undoubtedly, the most intriguing aspect of the pod is the themes chosen. Jordan says they try to align it with whatever guest they’ll have, but often they opt for a general topic anyone could dive into without a huge amount of research.

“Even if you don’t know anything about it, it’s fun,” Jordan says. “Like vegetables – I hate vegetables. Sometimes, we’ll just decide randomly. It’s pretty easy. You don’t have to prep – just wing it. It’s just an excuse to sit around and bullshit, so it usually works.”

Themes for upcoming live shows – including the one in the District – have yet to be decided, but Jordan says they’ll be figured out beforehand. And though I tried to get the comedian to spill the beans on what it could be, he holds firm and doesn’t budge, only divulging the most generic of information.

“We try to keep it local but broad enough,” Jordan says. “It’s hush-hush for now.”

As of right now, there’s more than 100 episodes available to get listeners hyped for their DC show. So plug in your headphones while you prep for your own upcoming fantasy drafts, and pray we get a theme as wacky as celebrity sex tapes or stuff to do when you’re drunk.

“All Fantasy Everything” comes to Black Cat on July 13. Tickets $20. Stream the podcast at www.headgum.com/all-fantasy-everything.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Jen Dessigner courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

DC Post-Punk Trio Flasher Dishes on Making “Material”

Do you remember that video your older, horrible friends showed you of a car driving through what might as well be the Shire? Soft flute music plays and then out of nowhere you shit your pants.

That video and the rest of the YouTube “k-hole” will come back to you when you watch the video for DC post-punk trio Flasher’sMaterial,” one of the tracks off of their debut album, Constant Image.

The video features the same kind of everything-under-the-sun content you find when go down the YouTube k-hole, from a cappella and conspiracy videos to Adult Swim and Dr. Pimple Popper videos.

The video’s been remarked upon by a few outlets, like NPR and Rolling Stone, but none of the clips actually feature the band, so I called them up to talk about it as they were heading to Madrid. I chatted with Emma and Danny of the trio, and learned that the video-making process isn’t what I thought it’d be, that I wish we were friends and that they have a special release available only at their upcoming Black Cat show on November 30.

The video-making process demystified was actually somewhat straight-forward and obvious. The band’s label, Domino Record, gave them a list of potential directors and then they choose a few they like, and, from there, directors send them treatments.

Flasher chose director Nick Roney, who then sent the band a treatment of his video for “Material.” They found the idea intriguing, plus stopping to shoot in LA worked well with their touring schedule. It was on their drive to the shoot that Emma and Danny realized that the music video was going to be great.

“We got on the phone with him,” Danny says, “and he almost shot-for-shot walked us through it.” That clear storyboarding allowed the band to shoot the video in just two days.

“He has a vision,” Danny adds. “What was such a really manic, disparate idea was ingrained in his head.”

When asked what they like best about the video, they mention the nostalgia it evokes for sites like eBaum’s World. When I tell them that I’ve never had any firsthand experience with eBaum’s World, I’m met with incredulity:

“Whoa, whoa, wait,” Danny says, pausing over the phone. “Our references are going over your head. How old are you?”

I’m 24. So sorry, dear.

He compares the video to a pre-hyper-curated YouTube, when a related video really could lead you any which way, if somehow also always to Tycho.

“It took us back to a time when internet videos were a lot more diffuse, videos weren’t quite content but experiences.”

For single moments from the video though, Emma and Danny both mention the culty student film scene for the art shown in it, and the scene of the couple driving in the sun, which we could never imagine as a shot in DC.

After Flasher returns from the European tour, the group will kick off their U.S. tour November 30 at Black Cat. Public Practice and Gong Gong Gong both open for them and will join them for the entire tour. To commemorate the night, look for a flexiglass disc of original music which will only be available at the show.

“It’s going to be a night with bands we really love,” Danny says. “We wanted to consecrate it with a release so we can feel accomplished.”

The music will be more electronic and won’t be available beyond the merch table. “It’s for flashers-only,” Danny says with a laugh.

Welcome these clever, fun, post-punk bbs back home when they play Black Cat on November 30. Don’t miss secret merch and sweet openers either. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. To learn more about Flasher, go to www.flasherdc.bandcamp.com. Watch “Material” here

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

Image: Courtesy of Records Collecting Dust

Records Collecting Dust Sheds Light on Artists From Forgotten Era

Part of the appeal to old metal and punk records is the DIY attitude those bands put into recording the music. Instead of sounding pitch perfect and fresh out of a studio, these tracks could have been blaring live from a nearby garage, and that appeal is part of the authentic edginess.

Jason Blackmore is an integral part of this scene on the West Coast. When searching for a new project to deep dive into a few years ago, he resisted the notion of starting another band from scratch, and instead looked toward the past for inspiration. Though he had zero experience in film making, he embarked on a journey to document pieces of an era that helped shape him into a man. The result was the well received Records Collecting Dust, a collection of interviews with greats from the 1980s hardcore punk scene from the West Coast.

For Part II, Blackmore shifted regional focus and ventured east, highlighting Boston, New York and DC. Tonight at Black Cat, the film will be shown in the District for the first time, and it features 28 interviews with legends of the genre such as Ian MacKaye of Fugazi.

Tonight’s screening will also feature a Q&A with Dave Smalley, Dante Ferrando and Mark Haggerty. Before the play button is pressed, we got a chance to speak with Blackmore about his passion for the project, his DIY filmmaking and whether another one is on the horizon.

On Tap: When did you decide you wanted to make this documentary? And why did you focus on this specific genre of music?
Jason Blackmore: I’ve played in bands since the 80s, and was looking for a different avenue to express myself through music and came up with the film. I figured being located in San Diego, with almost no budget, it was a good place to start. There are a lot of folks from the Southern California area in the punk rock scene. My primary focus was always the 80s hardcore scene.

Yeah, in the future I could see myself covering different genres of music. I’m 48, so the hard core punk rock scene is very significant to me because it was the soundtrack to my adolescence and a lot of things happen when you’re 13, 14, 15. The people I’m talking to changed my life, and it’s my tip of the cap and love letter to those people.

OT: How did you know who you wanted to speak with, and what were some of the first steps with getting in touch with everyone?
JB: With the first film, I already knew some of the people just because of my history in music, and me living in San Diego. At that point in time, I had casually met a lot of the people, and became acquaintances and friends with some of these guys. Naturally, by the time I got to this one, some of the people had seen the first film and were eager to get on board and do an interview for the film, because they were aware of it.

OT: What was the response when you reached out?
JB: Oh yeah, it was great, absolutely. Just bringing up the topic of music, they were more than happy to talk about it, just music. By the time I got to the new one, people were thanking me because people were beginning to forget about this era. I had people thank me for making the film and documenting a period of time being lost; it’s a time capsule sort of thing. Maybe in 30-40 years, some people will see this film and learn something from it.

OT: Do you ever get intimidated talking to these musicians you respect so much?
JB: Honestly, you know, I’m more excited. It’s a little selfish, because I get to sit in these guys’ living rooms and talk about music and records. Who wouldn’t be excited? But yeah, there was a little nervousness at first. I was very honored to speak with all the people I could, and the fact that they opened the doors and allowed me in, I was very honored.  

OT: How many hours of footage did you have to sort through, and how difficult was it to figure out how you would shape the narrative?
JB: The first film was my first film ever and I have no background or education in this kind of thing. If you want to do something, do it, figure it out and go. So the first film was a learning process, and I asked too many questions and had so much footage and it was very painful. I asked 12 questions for the first film and I could only use half of them. For this film I asked less, and interviewed less, so I learned.

OT: Were there any huge differences from making the first and second film?
JB: Not especially. A lot of the people in that age range are speak of the same influences. A lot of Rolling Stones and Beatles, and that kind of stuff. Those bands are talked about a lot, so there are some recurring themes, but I definitely learned how to be more focused and ask less. I interviewed 28 people for the new film, down from 38 in the first. I learned the hard way, because we could have made an eight-hour film for the first one, but who’s going to watch that?

OT: Why decide to make a bonafide documentary, why not a web series or something along those lines?
JB: There’s all these different approaches to it, and it’s probably my age, because instead of making this an online series it seemed more official and more genuine to make a full documentary film. When you make an album, you put a lot of soul and passion into it, and that’s how I felt about making this film. To me, that is more real than watching something on your phone for five minutes. That’s the reason I’m booking in theaters. It will be available online, but for me growing up in the 70s and 80s, you’d go to the theater and see a film and I like that.

OT: Is there a part three on the horizon?
JB: Yeah, Part III would be the Midwest, but this has been the past six years of my life and I definitely want to hang out with my wife and not make a film at the moment. It’s very time-consuming. We’ll see what happens.

Doors for the event open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the screening are available here. For more information about the film, check out the website.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4527; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Joe Dilworth

Algiers Breaks Barriers

“How do we relate that sense of division that’s brought upon us from top down, from people in power who seek every day to divide us and categorize us as human beings and prevent us from collectively coming together?”

Algiers bassist Ryan Mahan poses this question to me over the phone from his home in the UK. Now more than ever, I surely don’t know the answer. But through their genre-smashing catalog, Algiers might be close to finding it.

The four-piece outfit was a sociopolitical force before they were ever a band. Atlanta natives Mahan, vocalist Franklin James Fisher and guitarist Lee Tesche formed in 2007, eventually adding drummer Matt Tong – formerly of Bloc Party – to the fold in 2016.

Over the course of their 11-year career, the band has never been interested in what others call them. They’re more interested in using music as a unifying force, especially at a time when division is more common than ever in so many creative spaces.

“We actually came up with the concept of Algiers before we ever had written a note of music,” Mahan says. “We were focused much more specifically on the social context of the music – how that relates to the actual sound that you’re trying to project and looking at music in spatial ways. That’s where the politics come from too, because there’s a politic to that in and of itself. We deal with issues like appropriation and colonialism within music itself, and exclusionary spaces where you maybe see a particular scene that has been built up.”

On any given Algiers song, you’ll hear hints of post-punk, gospel, new wave and more. There are a lot of bands who could have potentially influenced Algiers, but there are no other bands who sound – or think – like Algiers.

When Mahan dissects the conglomeration of sounds that make up his band’s music, he explains, “It might sound a little bit analytical as an approach. But it actually allows us to be quite free with our music and play with our music in very different ways.”

He continues, crediting the culture industry for creating this sense of genre “in its own twisted, distorted way.”

“It almost polices these boundaries and prevents the fluidity of music and us from grasping music in a much more holistic way. We’re obviously engaged with history and our own histories and the history of oppression. How do we relate that sonically?”

Mahan and company explore that question and more on the band’s most recent record, The Underside of Power, released last June. With members now living in the States and the UK, their sophomore effort was influenced by the disarray of politics in both places. Their songs directly deal with everything from police brutality to the 2016 election and the resurfacing of fascist ideals. They seamlessly reference and draw inspiration from the Black Panthers, Che Guevara and Albert Camus, to name a few.

The band does important work using music as their vehicle, and their voices to give rise to others’ voices in turn. Algiers appears on the bill for Black Cat’s 25th anniversary show this month, and the band is looking forward to performing in a city that remains an epicenter for creative resistance. Algiers’ strength lies in their ability to embody the energies of these spaces, no matter the location.

“It’s all about inserting yourself in these spaces, and that’s why playing this 25th anniversary show at the Black Cat is powerful for us,” Mahan says. “Dante [Ferrando, owner] and the people at the Black Cat see us within this scene. We’re playing alongside some of our heroes: Mary Timony in Ex Hex, Mike Watt, Gray Matter and Subhumans. This is all where we see ourselves, and maybe people from the outside – unless they’re fans – don’t really get that. I think that’s kind of a constant battle that we take on.”

And while the band will continue to tackle subjects that very much need light shed on them – Mahan says they’ve recently begun to work on new music – their final goal is to be a unifying force among likeminded people.

“As a band, we just want to connect with people. We really feel like there’s so many people who also feel that way. It’s not through a sense of naiveté. We’re very cynical in our approach, but through that cynicism there is – as we particularly try to reflect on our last album – a sense of light.”

Algiers plays the second night of the Black Cat’s 25th anniversary event on Saturday, September 15. Tickets are $25. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information on Algiers, visit www.algierstheband.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Emily Chow

DC’s Bad Moves Talks Power Pop Ballads & Collaborative Process for New Record

By day, the foursome behind DC-based power pop band Bad Moves span career paths – from labor union organizer to NPR music editor. But by night, bassist Emma Cleveland, drummer Daoud Tyler-Ameen, and guitarists David Combs and Katie Park are focused on their budding music career.

Still beatific from their successful SXSW showcase this spring, the band has been keeping busy with their upcoming LP Tell No One. The record comes out on September 21 via Don Giovanni Records in conjunction with a release party at the Black Cat.

“A lot of the songs on the album deal with themes of having secrets that you keep inside, and the repercussions of either keeping secrets or coming out with them,” Cleveland says.

The band alludes to a few family secrets of their own on Tell No One while still maintaining a degree of mystery. Secrets of sexuality and criminality are woven into the limericks set to the band’s peppy, kinetic beats. Yet the truth is, the album is not about divulging secrets.

Instead, Tyler-Ameen says it’s about “exploring the things that are traditionally considered taboo [that you later realize] are markers of identity, yet you feel when you’re younger you’re not allowed to fully own.”

Tell No One is expected to resonate with all, as did their self-titled EP.

“I don’t know if we necessarily started the band thinking in particular about a demographic,” Combs says. “I don’t know if that’s a word we even used with each other.”

Instead, Bad Moves relies on chance when creating music that sits well with their broad audience – the chance that their personal experiences, or the feelings evoked from those experiences, will be commonly shared.

The bandmates have relied on each other to craft their sound over the past three years, drawing on 90s pop punk and rock sounds that resonate with most older millennials. Combs says he and Park were the main collaborators on Tell No One, and then brought in the rest of the band to “shape it more in our own collective image.” Bad Moves has no lead singer, so the four musicians each share equal vocal responsibility in the band.

“Our intention is to take the focus away from one particular identity as being the central face of the band,” Combs says.

Picking a band name – on a car ride to a recording session at American University – was one of the only items on their ever-growing to-do list that didn’t require too much thought.

“One name I remember pushing for – and now feel relief that we didn’t go with – was Bad Wiz,” Cleveland says. “That would have been bad.”

Combs chimes in, “We also had Wet Hands. It’s hard to know what kind of name will suit your needs early on.”

The process of forming their sound, on the other hand, was a different story. Cleveland says the band made a lengthy playlist of power pop – around 180 songs – that inspired their eclectic sound. The first track on the playlist, which coincidently had the most impact, is “Looking For Magic” by the Dwight Twilley Band.

“You can tell from the lyrics that there’s a sort of desperation,” Combs says of the 1977 classic. “There’s this thing that eludes to magic. There’s a sadness to that sentiment, but the energy of that song is really lifting, inspiring and powerful. It’s a song that’s not ignoring that the world is a hard place to be in, but it’s also something I can put on that will push me through – and that’s what we want our music to do.”

Don’t miss Bad Moves at Black Cat for their record release party on Friday, September 21. The Obsessives and Ultra Beauty will open. Doors are at 7:30, tickets are $10.

Learn more about the band at www.badmoves.bandcamp.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Photo: Courtesy of Black Cat

The 25 Lives of Black Cat

Black Cat has sold out countless shows, with killer acts on regular rotation at the 14th Street music venue. Drawing big names like Radiohead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers and more, the double-level DC mainstay hasn’t quit booking national tours and amplifying local bands since opening its doors in ’93.

But its biggest accomplishment since opening? Owner and founder Dante Ferrando laughs on a recent call with On Tap, offering a blunt reply.

“Managing to stay open for 25 years would be the first [accomplishment] to come to mind,” he says. “It is a tough business. There’s a lot of ups and downs. You have to constantly recreate little bits and pieces to make things work.”

Black Cat is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month with a two-night lineup on September 14 and 15 of some of the venue’s favorite bands to work with. Ferrando seems like he doesn’t want to favor any particular act, but mentions Mike Watt – who’s part of the Friday night lineup – as an example of a musician that means something to the Black Cat team.

“We had a ton of good [musicians] that we asked and a ton of good ones that we got,” Ferrando says of how he culled talent for the anniversary shows. “It’s very tough unless you really want to blow huge amounts of money to get people to change their plans. Everyone’s on tour and has different things that they’re doing.”

As the drummer for local post-hardcore band Gray Matter, opening a music venue might have seemed like an obvious interest for Ferrando – but he’s also a natural entrepreneur. He owned Dante’s, a 14th Street restaurant and emphatic supporter of DC’s music scene, before opening the Black Cat. He says 9:30 Club monopolized the punk and alt-rock scenes at the time, but Ferrando had his own vision.

In its original location on F Street from 1980 to 1996, 9:30 was a “good, tiny punk-rock dive” for a 200-person show, according to Ferrando. At the time, he saw a need for a DC venue that was more accommodating to both fans and bands performing there, like a dressing room and more space for the audience.

“We did something that was needed in the city at that point in time. It was something we needed to have.”

With some healthy competition, 9:30 Club has since moved and improved – and both venues were able to carve their own identities in the city.

“My route was definitely more of the smoky bar or traditional club, [and 9:30 Club has] more of a concert production vibe,” he says. “I think it ended up balancing nicely in the end.”

Ferrando describes their current spot as a Hail Mary; the Black Cat moved to the larger space, still on 14th Street, in 2001.

“If you came to the area now and tried to get a space this big, I would be terrified to know how much that would cost.”

In the 25 lives of Black Cat, Ferrando has witnessed some shifts in the music scene. He says their first five years were the height of indie rock, with a unified local and regional rise of independent record labels and bands feeding off each other’s energy and style.

“I like times like that. It’s great to just have a great band. But if you have four great bands that all know each other and are bouncing stuff back and forth because they’re seeing each other’s shows, those sort of environments are very exciting to me. I just haven’t seen that to quite the [same] degree recently. I always hoped for those little hotspots to pop up and there’s not much you can do to create them aside from waiting for when they start happening.”

He says the fan-musician dynamic has changed too.

“Something that I kind of miss: there used to be a time where if a band was pretty big, a member of that band [playing] with their new act would draw really well. Nowadays, nobody cares. They might like the band, but the direct relationship to the band isn’t as intense as it used to be.”

But the volume of bands and people coming out is still growing, because new listeners can learn about an up-and-coming band through a few Internet clicks. With more venues popping up, local bands play more often now than they did before – and the venues are doing really well, according to Ferrando.

His Friday night anniversary show lineup includes Des Demonas, Subhumans, Ocampo Ocampo & Watt, Ted Leo, Dagger Moon, Scanners, Honey, and Felix & Sam. Des   Demonas guitarist Mark Cisneros calls the Black Cat an oasis in a changing district with new luxuries drawing people with wealth.

“The Black Cat is a home for everyone who’s still here playing music left in the scene,” Cisneros says. “It’s still a stronghold for the DC punk rock scene. It’s one of the best clubs in the world and it’s a real privilege to play there. We’re all thankful that Dante is still going with it and making a home for us.”

Ferrando’s band is set to play a couple of songs on Saturday night.

“It has nothing to do with Black Cat particularly,” he says of Gray Matter’s mini-reunion. “It’s just an opportunity for me to fly old friends in and do a show, which we haven’t done since the 20th anniversary. I’m particularly psyched about that.”

On Saturday, Ex Hex, Hurry Up featuring Kathy Foster and Westin Glass of The Thermals, Algiers, Hammered Hulls, Wanted Man, and Foul Swoops will share the stage with Ferrando.

“You get to catch some of the best local bands we’ve got and some really cool out-of-town bands too,” he says. “There’s a lot of people who’ve been coming here for a lot of years. It’s good to have just a fun party sometimes.”

Don’t miss the Black Cat’s 25th anniversary shows on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15 on the venue’s mainstage. Doors at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $25 per night. Learn more at www.blackcatdc.com.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival Brings Music and Charity to DC

During the isolating snowstorm of January 2016, Katie and Stephen Petix – the duo behind DC based band Technophobia – reflected on their journey recording and releasing their album. The duo decided their next step needed to work in tandem with their passion to better their community and affect positive change.

“We had given a lot of thought to the music industry and record labels and stuff like that and nothing seemed to connect with our ideologies,” Stephen says. “We had talked previously about doing something with our record where we can donate to charity and it kind of blossomed into ‘let’s start a nonprofit!’”

And thus, Working Order Records was born. The label is 100 percent not for profit, and operates under the motto “music, impact, vinyl, change.” Katie and Stephen first worked with Life Pieces and Masterpieces, a nonprofit providing arts education and mentorship to young African American men in need in Ward 7.

After the success of that campaign and playing various DC area charity shows to benefit charities such as Planned Parenthood and House of Ruth. Inspired by that model and hoping to make an even greater impact on the DC community, Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival came about.

Katie and Stephen chose the Greater DC Diaper Bank as the beneficiaries for Working Order’s first ever festival. The Northeast, DC based charity’s mission is to “empower families and individuals in need throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia by providing an adequate and reliable source for basic baby needs and personal hygiene products.” After communicating with the organization on their greatest needs, the couple settled on two programs to be the direct beneficiaries of Tiny Cat.

“Something that resonated with Katie, and with me, was one of the programs called The Monthly. Feminine healthcare items are taxed as luxury items in many states, and that should be criminal to me. That is one of the programs we are supporting – to provide feminine healthcare products for women in poverty in DC, Maryland and Virginia,” Stephen says. “The other program we’re helping them with is called The Baby Pantry. The Baby Pantry is great, it provides all these extraneous needs for baby care that people don’t usually think about.”

For the festival itself, Stephen called on the DC music community, including longtime friends and partners at the Black Cat, who will host the two-day festival. The lineup features a wide range of styles in the dark music genre: EBM, post punk, minimal electronic and experimental electronic, to name a few, are reflected in the lineup.

“All the bands we approached were really into it and excited about the idea of the proceeds going to charity,” he says. “They were also excited about doing it in DC because things like this don’t really happen in DC. We’ve got a bunch of artists that have never played here.”

As Technophobia, Katie and Stephen have deep roots in the dark music and DC music community. Their band will be playing at the festival, and Stephen says that in addition to the charitable aspects of Tiny Cat, they’re looking forward to sharing the stage with “bands that we’ve always wanted to play with but never had a chance to.”

“Community is important to us,” he continues. “Not just our community in DC but our larger music community. It’s important to have people involved in this positive thing that we’re doing.”

The DC community has definitely rallied behind Working Order and Tiny Cat. Just last month, the organization won a $1,000 grant from The Awesome Foundation’s DC chapter to help with the cost of bringing an amazing pantheon of artists to DC for Tiny Cat.

When asked about playing multiple parts in the production of the festival, Stephen was quick to show how passionate he is about what he’s doing with Working Order.

“Part organizers, part on the bill – that’s what we always do,” he says. “There’s a DIY aesthetic to what we do. It’s definitely a labor of love.”

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival takes place Friday, August 3 (Hante, Kontravoid, Technophobia, Remote/Control and Radiator Greys play) and Saturday, August 4 (Crash Course in Science, Tempers, Void Vision, Twins and Aertex play). Tickets are $35 for a two day pass and $20 for a single day pass. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. All proceeds directly benefit the Greater DC Diaper Bank. For more on Working Order Records, visit www.workingorderrecords.org. For more on the Greater DC Diaper Bank, visit here.

Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; 202-667-4490; www.blackcatdc.com