LiveDC: Brass Bed/ Giant Cloud/ Frau Eva @ Red Door
Mitchell London | Oct 25, 2010 | 12:20PM |

all words: Mitchell London
photos: b&w Chris Digiamo, color-Mitchell London

If you ever get a chance to go to Goldleaf Studios – either for an art show or a concert at the “Red Door” – do it.  The space might not be the tidiest in DC, but it has more character than a Mr. Show sketch and is overstuffed with bizarre artifacts (A Godfather fanfic painting? A velvet fedora? Yes and yes, please).  So what the venue – a converted band practice space/ hangout – lacked in square footage, it made up for in charm.  It was an apt home for the three bands that played Thursday night.  Each of the three bands’ default position on the indie rock dial was “homesy charm” – and though each one occasionally detoured noisier and harsher roads, they all reliably made their way back home.

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It should also be noted that the show was free, plenty of folks generously brought more beer than they personally could drink, and everyone in the audience seemed to know – at minimum – forty-five percent of the rest of the audience.  And if you can’t pull a good night out of those conditions, you are beyond help.

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Friday 01/27
Justin Willman from Tricked out Tour, Comedy Central and Sleight of Mouth at Drafthouse Comedy in DC (Special Event) @ Drafthouse Comedy DC
$25 / $25
Justin Willman was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 11, 1980. He was fascinated by the art of magic ever since he received a magic kit at the age of five. Soon after, his parents took him to see illusionist David Copperfield. However, the tipping point for young Willman came when he was twelve, after breaking both of his arms trying to ride a bicycle while wearing rollerblades. His orthopedic surgeon recommended he learn card tricks as an alternative to physical therapy. Since then, Willman was hooked on magic for life. He began performing at the age of fourteen. Though magic was his first love, it led him to the world of show business and his second love - comedy. His influences in comedy were rooted in the comedic artistry of Johnny Carson and Steve Martin. Willman, discovering his newfound talent for making people laugh, blended magic and comedy into his repertoire. After he graduated from St. Louis' Ladue High School, he relocated to Bostonwhere he continued his studies at Emerson College. There, he majored in journalism and loved the idea of the power of change that could come out of it, along with the medium of television. In the midst of his studies, he found himself performing seven to eight shows a weekend. He knew that magic was his calling card. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, Willman decided to go all the way with magic. He moved to Los Angeles where he performed for several private events. He also met a group of magicians called "Magic X," and whom were putting together a television show at the time. In 2004, NBC aired "T.H.E.M." (Totally Hidden Extreme Magic) which hosted nine members of Magic X, including Justin Willman and Japanese magician celebrity Cyril Takayama. After a few TV specials under his belt, Willman went on to tour colleges and stadiums with his act across the nation. In 2011, he created "Justin Willman's Magic Meltdown," performed at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. He also developed his "Tricked Out Tour," which garnered him numerous raves around the globe. His one-man comedy and magic show has earned him the vote four years in a row as "Entertainer of the Year" by Campus Activities Magazine. Willman has since toured internationally and appeared in various TV productions, including the "Food Network" series "Cupcake Wars," "Last Cake Standing," "HubWorld" and "Scrabble Showdown" on the Hub Network. Willman is also well-known as the witty correspondent on the Rachael Ray talk show where he has made over 20 appearances. Other television appearances to his credit include "Make Believe," "The Defenders," "The Suite Life on Deck," "Room 401" (produced by Ashton Kutcher) and "The Today Show." In April, 2008, he toured with musician and friend Jason Mraz serving as emcee and ringmaster of the "Music, Magic & Make Peace Tour." The groundbreaking endeavor was a neo-vaudeville, eco-friendly, circus-on-wheels. Justin Willman currently performs internationally with his "Tricked Out Tour"and regularly performs at the "Magic Castle."
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

Giant Cloud
The law of DIY show probabilities states that at least one of the three bands on the bill is going to suck.  Somewhere, there is a bill with two godlessly bad bands on it to make up for the solidity of this lineup.  New Orleans’ Giant Cloud is heavy on sweet, practiced harmonies from the Robin Pecknold school of contemporary indie, but unlike the Foxes, Giant Cloud has no problem stepping on a distortion pedal and lengthening its stride.  Striking an equitable balance between its male and female lead singers, the band sounded loose and comfortable tackling songs that ranged from twee-folk-like numbers to rambling rock.  And despite the amateur sound system – which I think Ben Usie stole from a homeless shelter – Giant Cloud sounded full, together, and in their element.

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Brass Bed
As Svetlana aptly wrote in her Brass Bed Listening Party last week, Brass Bed fits comfortably alongside earnest 70’s left of the dial rock bands like Big Star.  The songs often start in tightly constructed pop structures, but append woolly, distorted monster interludes and codas more often than not.  Obviously tempered by years of grinding on the road and in the studio, Brass Bed is able to change gears with ease.  Like their labelmates Giant Cloud, Brass Bed drinks deeply from the well of vocal harmony.

Brass Bed has been working the small venue circuit for years, churning out solid material on respites from the road.  Like many meat-and-beans, hard-working bands, Brass Bed seems constantly on the verge of breaking through to a wider audience.  Based on the quality of their recently released Melt White and the tightness, the power, and the professionalism of their live act, its highly believable that their sunshine is not far past the horizon.

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Frau Eva
As a personal friend of the band, I’ll recuse myself from a Frau Eva write up, but even the most impartial judge will tell you that they’ve been taking their blend of astral folk jazz rock to the next level.  With the addition of a very capable bassist and steadier rhythms, Frau Eva is moving ever closer to approximating their version of a groove.

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