By Alex Tebeleff
Hey everyone, my name is Alex and this column is called DC DIT. I find the DIT mantra of Do It Together exemplifies more of what I hope my participation in the DC music scene will contribute as opposed to Do it Yourself. My goal is to connect people with creative ideas and interests and help grow a scene that features a remarkable amount of intelligent and talented musicians.
So many great shows this week, I’m just going to get straight into it. For those venues and spaces I haven’t mentioned yet, I’ll briefly speak about why I think it’s a place worth checking out.
Tuesday, March 18
Luke Stewart is leaving an indelible mark on the DC music scene with his creative arts series at Union Arts to go along with his work with DC jazz blog Union arts. I’m not sure exactly what Wright/ Drury/ Crossland will sound like live, but listening to the range of experimental and Jazz music that they’ve done in the past, no doubt this will be a set worth your time. There’s also a Large Saxophone Ensemble, following up on the large guitar ensemble that played at Union Arts last Friday night, and Double Date, a quartet featuring serious top-level musical talent, including Sarah Hughes and Brad Linde, two of the best saxophonists originating from the DC area, highly skilled cellist Janel Leppin, and her partner in the group Janel & Anthony, guitarist Anthony Pirog, who I’ll be mentioning in more detail in the next show description.
Wednesday, March 19
Maine’s Arborea makes soulful psychedelic folk that fits perfectly with one of DC’s best songwriters, Marian McLaughlin. Marian will be performing with standup bassist Ethan Foote, who provides very tasteful and focused parts that sometimes venture into the anthropomorphic, as well as a string section. Anthony Pirog is my favorite guitarist from DC, if not the country. Seeing him play solo live is a visceral experience, drifting between loops of ambient soundscapes and blazingly fast lead lines that are still very deliberate. It’s rare to see a guitarist play at his speed and not feel like he’s wasting notes or being self-indulgent; it’s truly soulful shredding.
Another show at Adams Morgan art gallery space Hierarchy. Unfortunately, it’s not all ages, but I wanted to mention it because the bands are really great, and the people behind the show are working hard to grow the local DC music scene. The Sea Life has become one of the strongest emerging young bands in DC, and Foe Destroyer put on a fantastic set at The Paperhaus last summer, I’m particularly excited to see them back in town. The show is being presented by Indie Adams Morgan, who are making a serious concerted push to bring quality local and national music to a part of DC that hasn’t exactly been a good cultural outpost for live bands since the days of Bad Brains playing Madam’s Organ.
Besides having some of the best pizza in a city normally severely lacking in quality in that category, Comet Ping Pong consistently puts on some of the best shows in the city, thanks to good booking bringing in some of the more interesting touring bands that come through DC. Plus, all the shows there are all ages. This particular bill is pretty straight up with touring surf band High Waisted, a new group out of NYC that features former DC resident and Lightfoot singer Jess Dye, and Fire and the Wheel, a solid local staple for quite a while now in DC that nostalgically reminds me of some classic Elephant 6 records. Should be a really fun show.
Another really interesting show from Capital Bop and Union Arts, this time celebrating Women in Jazz. This show in particular features the brilliant avant-garde guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Amy K. Bormet.
Thursday, March 20
Travis Jackson was a really important person for DC music, having run the fantastic garage rock label Windian label since 2009. Tragically, he passed away recently, and this event is in his honor to help raise funds to support his widow and child. I can’t say enough about how healthy this guy’s spirit was for DC music, so all I’ll say is if you didn’t know about Travis or Windian, go to this event and see what an impact he had on so many people’s lives in DC. You can also donate to a fund for his family here.
Friday, March 21
Ava Luna is one of the best bands leading the creative charge from Brooklyn right now, and you could say the same thing about DC’ Laughing Man (which also features the previously mentioned Luke Stewart from Union Arts and Capital Bop on bass), and Boston Pop-Rockers Krill for their respective cities. Besides a fantastic new record, Ava Luna puts on an incredibly engaging live show through vocal harmonies and dynamic instrumentation that can be as angular as it can be funky. This is going to be one hell of an interesting show.
Saturday, March 22
I love what the Tenley Empire guys are doing over at Casa Fiesta in Tenley Town, yet another group of hard working guys trying to help build something in a part of town that is not know for exactly being a culturally interesting part of DC in recent years (aside from Fort Reno of course). They turn this Mexican restaurant’s upstairs into one of the best punk venues in DC. New Orleans’ Mystic Inane sounds like classic punk with just enough dissonance and drive to get me really interested in the songs. Gouge Away is another great punk band from DC, while San Franscisco’s Crabapple brings a little diversity to the bill with a more straight up Pop-Rock sound.
Sunday, March 23
The Dugout is one of my favorite places to see a show in DC. It’s a small basement in Northeast where they are consistently booking really fun rock shows with a punk focus. The DC bands on this bill play nasty punk, with a touch of stoner metal sludge being added to mix from Florida’s Holly Hunt and Hollow Leg. Bring your earplugs and don’t even think about going if you are the type of person who is scared to move around at a show (Or just don’t be afraid start to move! Shows are way more fun for everyone that way).
This is a really interesting house show with mostly experimental music. Note the 4PM start time!
Select DC is one of the most interesting recent developments in the DC music scene. They put on experimental noise and electronic focused shows at houses and some bars like Zeba, Flash, and Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar. Although unfortunately this show is not all ages, it’s definitely worth your time, like the Long Branch house show, if you want to see more of the experimental side of music, with this particular show focusing more on synthesizers and other electronic based instruments and tools to make their music.
For all you fans of late 70’s, early 80’s quirky & catchy art-punk (think XTC & Talking Heads) Golden Looks is the band for you. Great musicianship and great songs, no doubt these guys have become on of my favorite bands in DC. Nestor Diaz in particular is quickly becoming of one of my favorite guitarists in DC. Galaxy Hut is a live music staple in the DC area, putting on shows every Sunday and Monday night for years. If you haven’t been before, this show is a great one to go to.