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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

Photo: www.thelincolndc.com

Jose Gonzalez Talks Bringing The String Theory On Tour

As I prepared to interview Swedish singer-songwriter José González, I played his cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” out loud in the office. One of my coworkers balked at the idea that it was, in fact, a cover and not an original song of his. That’s the magic of his work — he approaches music as a living, breathing thing to be reinvented constantly.

Now, he’s done the same for his own music and taken frequent collaborators The String Theory along for the ride. While on tour throughout Europe, González and the Berlin- and Gothenburg-based orchestra reimagined some of his best work and deep cuts for a compelling double album, released last month. Before González hits DC, orchestra in tow, we talked to him about this ambitious project, working with The String Theory and how he chooses his cover songs.

On Tap: What was the inspiration behind recording this live album and then bringing The String Theory on tour with you?
José González:
We’ve been collaborating for almost 10 years now, and on our first tour together it just sounded so amazing. It was a unique huge project to me at the time, and for weird reasons, both hard drives where we did the backup recordings disappeared — one in Berlin and one in Gothenburg — so since then we’ve been waiting until we got together to record again. When we started, we knew we just had to tour as much as possible and not lose anything ever again. That lead to this double LP that we released. We picked our favorite versions of songs from the European tour in 2017.

OT: A lot of the versions of your songs are a lot different than the studio versions. It definitely feels like your songs are living, breathing things. Why choose the songs you did from this project’s huge catalog?
JG: It started with them choosing which songs to arrange. I never gave them directions, I just let them choose freely. They didn’t know at first if they should choose the more popular songs or if they can chose any song. I wanted to give them that freedom. It’s such a big project to do arrangements for, and I wanted them to be excited, so it was fun to let them choose on their own. They came up with a mixture of songs I was a bit surprised about. Since we started touring we’ve been able to add more arrangements and choose from the songs we’ve been playing live. It feels like a band where I write the songs but they do most of the arrangements and artistic choices.

OT: Even being a bit more hands off with the decisions, what did this overall process look like for you and The String Theory?
JG: Some arrangements they did in great detail before we met, all written down very meticulously. But others were more dreamy and the musicians were asked to improvise. Of course there had been moments were things didn’t work, so I also felt like I was part of this process of making the orchestra more like a band, where people actually say no if they don’t like how we’re doing something — including me. Getting the percussion and beats somewhere I was comfortable with took a long time. My favorite percussionist is in the band, the only one who isn’t from Europe. He’s been touring with my solo band, and I didn’t want to lose that Latino touch since we’re playing with this more Nordic and German orchestra.

OT: Any songs that were particularly tricky to rearrange?
JG: One thing we were battling with for a while was the song “Down the Line.” We had an arrangement where it was very drony and trippy — simple in the arrangement, but heavy so to speak. It’s been changing shape from each concert until last tour when we recorded the album we started to do a Krautrock version, and finally it clicked after a lot of fighting [laughs].

OT: That one definitely struck me as the biggest departure from the original studio version. I can’t imagine coordinating the arrangements with that many people. What’s it been like touring with such a big group?
JG: It’s a lot of fun. When we started touring, many people in the band hadn’t been touring in the way that we were touring, so it was a breath of fresh air to have all these excited and amazing musicians in this trip of their life. For me, it’s been amazing to hang out with them, they’re all so excited to sing and hang out. Its just a very different dynamic than going on tour with just a few people. We’re like a little village, traveling around. It’s 22 musicians and then with crew, it’s nearly 30.

OT: Not a tour-related question, but I know you’ve gained notoriety for your unique covers of songs like “Heartbeats” by The Knife and “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. How do you decide what to cover, and what does your process for putting your own spin on these songs look like?
JG: There’s a lot of gut feelings going on. I know when I first hear a song and read the lyrics I’m on the right track, one other trick has been to do songs that are pretty well-known but maybe not expected as a cover. That’s a trick that I borrowed from Cat Power or Johnny Cash where their thing was to do cover songs in an unexpected way — in their own style. More recently, I guess I stopped doing covers in that style and have been okay with doing songs that are just nice to listen to, like “Blackbird” by The Beatles. So those have been my different, but main, ways of doing covers!

José González and The String Theory play the Lincoln Theatre on March 20. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. For more on the artist, visit jose-gonzalez.com.

Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; 202-888-0050; www.thelincolndc.com

Photo: Mike Kim

Kamasi Washington Gives Us Butterflies

Kamasi Washington played Lincoln Theatre Saturday night and, sitting fat and happy in the audience, I had butterflies before he went on.

The opener, RVA-based Butcher Brown and his band, played a jazz and funk set to open, and they were great, but on either side of the Butcher Brown band drum kit, you could see Washington’s two-kit setup bookending the stage, hinting at what we could look forward to.

Washington released his debut record, The Epic, in 2015 (clocking in at just under three hours!), and has since made himself the face of contemporary jazz whether that’s for his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or for his own solo material, like The Epic, or his subsequent records Harmony of Difference (2017) and Heaven and Earth (2018).

From the titles of his records, you can tell the man doesn’t shy away from high aspirations and that comes across in his live set. Like on his recordings, the live set is both challenging to listeners and lush. Lush in its melodies and instrumentation and challenging because there are no eight-bar solos and there are no three minute songs.

Onstage, Washington was flanked by vocalist Patrice Quinn, trombonist Ryan Porter, Brandon Coleman on keys, Miles Mosely on upright bass, and drummers Tony Austin and Ronald Bruner Jr, musician Thundercat’s younger brother.

I may have been miffed at first to only see a seven piece band, knowing how orchestral Washington’s recordings can be, but that was soon forgotten. These players are among the very best.

Standouts from the night included a Miles Mosely composition called “Abraham,” which he led on upright bass and soloed over using a bowing technique and a wah-pedal, Brandon Coleman’s solo on “The Space Travelers Lullaby,” Patrice Quinn on “The Rhythm Changes” and the drum “conversation” between Bruner Jr. and Austin.

Onstage, Washington actually referred to “Space Travelers Lullaby” as the “Space Cadets Lullaby” and called Quinn the “queen of all space cadets.”

“To this day, I have no idea how she gets to gigs.”

Watching her onstage, you might have thought the same thing. She only sang on a few tracks and otherwise danced onstage. But her dancing was otherworldly. Imagine an oracle moving and swaying, or imagine a priestess dancing with someone, that someone lacking a body.

Still, my favorite song from the night was “Truth,” the final composition off of Washington’s Harmony of Difference record. One of the things I love about that record is how symphonic it is. The first five tracks feature five different melodies, all of which come back on the final track “Truth” and are played simultaneously. It’s sounds like it could be a cacophony, but it’s so far from it.

“I made Harmony of Difference,” Washington says onstage, “to remind us of just how beautiful we are, and that the difference between us is what makes us great.”

At this point in the set, he really had our ears.

“Diversity among all the people on this planet is not something to be tolerated,” he continued, “it’s something to be celebrated.”

Truth was the metaphor for that message and the night was a celebration of that message. Don’t miss Washington the next time he comes to town.

For more information about Kamasi Washington, go to www.kamasiwashington.com or follow the musician on Instagram at @kamasiwashington, Twitter at @KamasiW or Facebook at @kamasiw.

Phoebe Robinson Finds Truth in the “Trash”

“I write in my own voice, with my own abbreviations. I’m a pop culture junkie, and I fully embrace it. That’s what made her notice me.”

Phoebe Robinson is speaking on the importance of being herself, including her signature comical abbreviations like “soc-meds” for social media, and the operative “her” is none other than Oprah herself. The comedian and author is explaining the MO of her career that eventually led her to pen a New York Times bestseller titled You Can’t Touch My Hair, adding Oprah and thousands of others to her fanbase.

You may also know Robinson as one-half of the 2 Dope Queens podcast, where she and Jessica Williams host and showcase the talents of comedians and actors from diverse backgrounds. And as the host of her own podcast Sooo Many White Guys, Robinson chats with an equally talented array of people from other creative industries. She’s hosted huge names like St. Vincent, Roxane Gay and Gloria Steinem, just to name a few.

In the midst of the runaway success of her first book, hosting two popular podcasts and garnering multiple acting credits, Robinson penned another book: Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, out on October 16. This collection of essays sees Robinson attempting to balance the cosmic scales of the current messes surrounding feminism, dating, politics and more.

“Trying to find the humor in things really helps because right now, things seem really tough,” she explains. “So many people are trying to make things better. On a grand scale, is global warming melting all of us? Yes, 1000 percent. But it is really cool to see people who just had a regular office job and then decide they want to get into politics because they care about education or women’s or trans rights. [That’s] a reminder that not everything is lost. We fully have the potential to take control and right the ship any way that we want to.”

She’ll bring her book to life on October 25 at the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival, organized by Brightest Young Things and curated by comedian Tig Notaro. Lincoln Theatre’s stage will be graced by both Robinson and Notaro at the festival’s opening show as Notaro “laughs at whatever nonsense I’m saying and makes fun of it,” Robinson speculates. She and fellow Dope Queen Williams are no strangers to the Bentzen Ball’s stacked lineup – they made an appearance in 2013 and grew a relationship with Notaro from there.

“When Jess and I were tossing around directors for our 2 Dope Queens HBO specials, we decided that we definitely wanted a woman to direct. We felt like so many times this opportunity goes to a guy. We both immediately thought about Tig and how that could actually work because her style of comedy is very different than ours, so that can enrich the process. That’s how we really got to know Tig and hang out with her. It feels really good to know that someone I admire and respect and think is really talented is becoming a friend.”

A common theme at the Bentzen Ball, and in all of Robinson’s work, is the mutual support and respect amongst creatives that allows voices not always given the mainstream time of day to thrive – and inspire others to do the same. Robinson emphasizes that with any kind of creative work, it’s essential to allow yourself the time to find your voice and create your own path rather than trying to fit in.

“While it’s good to want to do a late-night show or standup, or be mentioned in a magazine or have your book published by a certain publisher, I think there’s also something to trying not just to get a seat at the table but to creating your [own] table – making your own lane and traveling on that. The coolest stuff happens when you create your own lane and stay true to yourself.”

See Robinson open Brightest Young Things’ Bentzen Ball on Thursday, October 25 at Lincoln Theatre. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 and include a copy of Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay.

Learn more about the comedian at www.phoeberobinson.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @dopequeenpheebs. For more on the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival, visit www.bentzenball.com.

Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; 202-888-0050; www.thelincolndc.com