On Wednesday night, Savannah, Georgia metal act Baroness kicked off its fall tour at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C. Living up to their reputation for outstanding live shows, the four-piece brought to the stage nearly every quality that makes Blue Record one of the year’s best metal albums: bone-crunching riffs, anthemic vocals, hushed interludes, driving rhythms, and guitar acrobatics galore. But it was the band’s delivery and onstage chemistry, rather than their technical skill, that won over the packed room. Finger-pulls and pinch harmonics usually seem like hard work, but that wasn’t the case with Baroness. For such serious musicians, it looked like they were having a lot of fun.
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Everything about singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield is both incredibly practiced yet incredibly sincere—a binary that becomes only more compelling in consideration of her 1989 birthday. The maturity of it all would indicate a serious age discrepancy, yet here she is at 19, kicking ass on multiple best-of lists and touring the country well outside her home base of Kent, Ohio. Taken under the wing of fellow Ohio native Dan Auerbach for this current tour (and in the studio for her 2008 full-length With Blasphemy So Heartfelt), she creates stunning folk-rock with lyrics that carry a distinct pent-up weightiness to them.
It has been two weeks since the Voodoo Experience and I finally feel that my life is back in order. As New Orleans’ premiere fall music festival, it’s geared to worship music and showcase New Orleans all while embracing the Halloween spirit. In its 11th year the festival welcomed a plethora of musical greats including, but not limited to: Ween, the Flaming Lips, Parliament Funkadelic, the Black Keys, KISS, Jane’s Addictions and more.
“It’s great to play D.C.,” P.K. 14 frontman Yang Haisong said, “because growing up, we were very influenced by the D.C. hardcore scene.” A lot of bands say this sort of thing when playing the District but few have the privilege of saying it when Ian MacKaye is within earshot. It should come as no surprise, however, that local punk luminaries were in attendance at Govinda Gallery on Saturday night. Word had spread about the revelatory performances delivered the previous night, when two mainstays of Beijing’s burgeoning underground rock scene played to a sold out crowd at the Velvet Lounge. The show was part of a tour organized by American photojournalist Matthew Niederhauser, whose book Sound Kapital documents Beijing’s music scene, which looks to be one of the most vibrant and fertile in the world. As part of the opening for an exhibition of Niederhauser’s photographs, Govinda Gallery in Georgetown hosted repeat performances from P.K. 14 and Xiao He.
Clearly, Cold Cave is a band that appreciates the value of mystique. Nearly all of their releases—of which there have been many—have been available only as extremely limited vinyl and cassette editions. When they perform, they turn off all of the front lights and crank up the smoke machines, so that they appear as dark silhouettes. They rarely utter even a single word to the audience and spend the bulk of their time on stage hunched over synthesizers.