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Photos: Whartscape 2010 Days 3 & 4 @ Current Space (2010.07.24-25)

Photos by Shantel Mitchell

I have to admit, this was my first year attending Whartscape.  It’s been one of those events that I’ve always wanted to attend, but ended up never making it out.  This year, I vowed that I would go, even if it ended up being 100+ degrees outside!  Saturday was HOT.  There was no other word to describe the day.  However, I left Whartscape  thinking, “Wow, that was really fun!” even though I don’t handle heat well.  I was able to see Double Dagger, Dan Deacon, and Arab on Radar.

I always enjoy Dan Deacon.  His sets are awesome fun, and I LOVE the crowd interaction.  Double Dagger was in the heat of the afternoon, but it didn’t seem to bother the crowd.  One fan after another literally dove from the stage to enjoy crowd surfing atop a very energetic audience.  After the sun went down and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees, Arab on Radar took the stage.  I was up front for this one, but had NO idea how crazy and insane this would be!  Needless to say, I lasted two songs before taking a safer position to the side of the stage.  Although there was a night show planned, I decided to call it a night since I was returning for the day on Sunday.

The next day, I was most anticipating Wye Oak, as I love to see them any chance I can get.  I got there a bit early in time to catch Little Howlin’ Wolf, an improv jazz-style band.  It was a very interesting performance; I appreciated the energy of this band, as well as photographing them.  Just after their set, when Wye Oak began to set up, a huge gust of wind came along and tore up the tarp they had covering the stage.  Spectators rushed to grab it and hold it down, knowing that the black clouds in the sky meant rain was only seconds away.  As the rain began to come down, the mad dash began to cover and protect the equipment.  Some of the crowd hovered under the tarp coverings while others enjoyed the rain until the lightning came and drove anyone remaining inside.  The event was later rescheduled inside Sonar, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it back downtown to catch Wye Oak.  I had a great time despite the heat and unexpected rain and I’m glad that I went, even though I caught Whartscape on it’s last year!  Enjoy the photos!

Photos / Live Review: Shearwater, Wye Oak, Hospital Ships @ Johnny Brenda’s (2010.03.28)

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Despite a horrendously rainy evening, I made the trek up to Philadelphia to see two of my absolute favorite extant artists (Wye Oak and Shearwater) play impressive sets at Johnny Brenda’s. Though a bit oddly shaped, and accordingly awkward for sound, the venue is an absolute charmer. It feels like a back-room, private cabaret with some insane lighting rigs and luxuriously appointed design elements such as buttoned red velvet cushions on the walls. The venue shoots upwards two stories, but is shallow and intimate, making sure you are never more than 10 rows from the stage (which is well-elevated for a venue this size, giving everyone good sightlines).

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Livewire: Small Sur @ the Windup Space (2010.03.01)

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Photo credit: Greg Szeto

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Note: Some tracks not posted by artist request.

MP3: 1. Elder Days (3:28)
MP3: 2. Ohhhhh pt 1 (6:45)
MP3: 3. Ohhhhh pt 2 (3:00)
MP3: 4. Sea Stones (4:48)

Total time: 18:02


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter (carteriffic@gmail.com)

Photos / Live Review: English Beat, Fishbone @ Rams Head Live (2010.02.24)

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Photo credit: Shantel Mitchell

I knew about this show for awhile and I had every intention on going, but the day of the show I was exhausted.  All I wanted to do was curl up on my sofa in my pajamas and watch a movie or something.  However, I grabbed my camera and headed downtown despite my reluctance.  I arrived just shortly before Fishbone was scheduled to go on and was surprised to see an empty Rams Head!  I was shocked for I had heard that the DC show this past Monday was packed!  I grabbed a seat and had a drink at the bar and reflected on the first time I saw Fishbone.  I was in college and remember getting to the 9:30 Club a bit late.  Fishbone was already playing and the place was packed, but even from the back of the club trying to see over heads and arms, I had an awesome time.  English Beat play frequently in the area, but surprisingly I have never seen them perform live, so knowing my Fishbone experience and the fact that English Beat are classic I was anticipating a great evening.

Fishbone took the stage and played for an hour – at least!  I really lost track of time because their performance was dynamic.  Watching these guys play and perform after so many years is just exciting!  I had so much fun during their set that I forgot I was tired and even hesitated going to the show in the first place.  Their set included a great list of classics including “Ma and Pa,” “Cholly,” and “Party at Ground Zero.” We were even treated to a special guest appearance by HR from Bad Brains!  After their set, most of them made their way out to socialize with the fans which was completely awesome.

English Beat was headlining for the evening and took the stage just after 11 PM.  Fishbone had a very relaxed photo policy (I basically shot the whole show from the front), but English Beat had first two and last two songs.  After such an energetic Fishbone set, I must admit I was a bit bored with English Beat.  I really love their music and enjoy listening to them from time to time, but their live performance fell a bit flat and I rolled after about the 4th song.  I did get to hear “Tears of a Clown,” though!  So, whether you are a Fishbone fan, an English Beat fan, or love them both – enjoy the pictures from the show!

Photos: Aural States Fest II (2010.01.30)

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Photos by Josh Sisk

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Photos by Shantel Mitchell

I wanted to take this moment to just briefly thank all who came trudging through the snow for this night, particularly the audience and performers. Apologies for all the technical hiccups, but all things considered, I think the fest overall was fairly successful given extremely extenuating circumstances. Enjoy the photos from the talented and tenacious Shantel Mitchell and Josh Sisk.

Live Review / Photos: The Dutchess and the Duke, Medication, Nerve City, Toy Soldiers @ the Ottobar (2010.01.17)

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All photos: Shantel Mitchell

All words: Shawn Breen

Have you ever seen that ONE band before, that you just totally love and you want to keep them to yourself forever? That feeling of not wanting others to embrace them for fear of losing them to the masses? I feel that way about The Dutchess And The Duke. It’s a love affair, I’ll admit it. This was one of those shows that you go to where there’s 3 openers you’ve never heard of and one headlining act that you love a whole lot and can’t wait to see. In fact, I considered for half a second not even going for selfish reasons but in the end my love of The Dutchess And Duke motivated me. Sometimes you just don’t want to sit through three bands for the payoff. That’s not to slag openers but let’s face it, don’t you ever wish you could just go to a show only to see that ONE band?

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Live Review / Photos: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ First Unitarian Church Basement (2009.12.02)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ First Unitarian Church

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MP3: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Even Heroes Have To Die from the upcoming album The Brutalist Bricks (2010)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have been a staple food in my musical diet for a long time.  His shows are always uplifting, riotously fun affairs jam-packed with killer guitar, resonant lyrics, and an air-tight band.  Whenever he comes into DC (his one-time residence, and essentially second home), he always packs the 9:30 Club or the Black Cat (as he did this past Thursday) to capacity.  I decided to change things up a bit for his recent string of East Coast dates, and made the drive to Philly to catch him last Wednesday at First Unitarian. I’ve been to shows at First Unitarian Church’s Sanctuary before, and was curious to see Ted in a different setting than a standard rock venue.

Odd fate struck when I walked down Chestnut, as I was diverted to the basement for the true DIY cred of a church basement show. Much like the VFW hall centered scenes that dot the suburbs of this country, church basements are a furnace of activity for the underaged showgoer that are blackballed by 18+ and 21+ traditional venues.

As it turns out, this choice of venue over the sanctuary was an inspired one. The crowded, modestly appointed interior perfectly channeled Ted Leo’s exacting DIY ethos and the energy of his effervescent pop punk. Instead of that blockbuster, celebrity rockstar vibe you can get when Ted plays one of the aforementioned venues, you get an altogether different experience, something truer to his spirit and roots.  What’s more, for those of us who still remember youthful adventures in such spaces, Leo’s more sage and introspective repertoire brought on a wave of acute nostalgia, and even that increasingly derided feeling: hope.

In this way, Ted Leo will always be an oasis in relatively bleak times. A unusually apolitical show (particularly after the official escalation of war in Afghanistan), Ted paused only once to acknowledge the state of current affairs as less than desirable. But he followed quickly with an affirmation of purpose: “But let’s not talk about that tonight. Instead, I’ll just continue writing, and singing, songs about it.” I can think of few other callings that could be more important, more rewarding, more necessary.

More photos after the jump.

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Live Review: Pixies @ DAR Constitution Hall (2009.12.01)

Pixies 4

Ed. note: The photos from this review are from the first of two consecutive nights, while the review is based on the second.

All photos: Shantel Mitchell

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MP3: Pixies – Dancing the Manta Ray from Doolittle 20th Anniversary Live Sampler

The whole entire-album-in-one-concert trend has been derided as an attempt by artists to cash in or dumb down the concert experience to something as predictable as pushing play on your iPod. The Pixies had flashes of both at their show in Washington on Tuesday night, where they dusted off Doolittle and its B-sides. But then you remember, “Oh yeah, this is the f-ing Pixies,” and you count your blessings for being able to see what turned out to be an awesome show.

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Live Review / Photos: Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul Revue feat. Syl Johnson, the Notations and Renaldo Domino (2009.11.10)

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound @ 9:30 Club

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MP3: JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound – Baltimore Is the New Brooklyn

Editor’s note: This is fairly late because, well, I’m a busy guy.  But I think it deserves space and praise.

The merits of Numero Group’s mission, the compiling and reissuing of obscure soul, are apparent.  The burning question in my mind, however, is how bright an idea is it to drag these performers out of obscurity, and thrust them into the limelight.  Reports from the label’s first Eccentric Soul Revue performance in Chicago earlier this year garnered rave reports.  But after seeing their show at the 9:30 Club, I’d say the reality is slightly different.

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Live Audio / Photos: Imperial China @ the Hexagon (2009.11.13)

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Imperial China
Baltimore, MD
Nov 13 2009

Brian Porter
Matt Johnson
Patrick Gough

Lineage: Stereo AKG 414s + mono soundboard output -> Zoom H4n -> Cubase (mix + limiting) -> MP3/FLAC
Taper: David Carter (carteriffic@gmail.com)

Download the full set formatted as: MP3 or FLAC

Stream and download individual tracks below.  Another fantastic Imperial China set, sporting a load of tracks off their upcoming 2010 full-length debut (Phosphenes) on Sockets / Ruffian Records.  I can already tell you, it is a winner. Many kudos to relatively new-on-the-scene taper David Carter for catching such an awesome one.

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  1. MP3: Untitled
  2. MP3: Radhus
  3. MP3: Rookie Cop / Mortal Wombat
  4. MP3: Bananamite
  5. MP3: A Modern Life
  6. MP3: All That Is Solid
  7. MP3: Letter of a General
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