I hit up two great concerts in DC last week. First up was Ash’s 20th Anniversary Tour on Tuesday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel. They were playing their debut album 1977 in its entirety. That’s a stellar album and Ash is fun live, so clearly I wasn’t going to skip this.
Several Weezer Cruisers were in attendance (and in the front row with me). Considering that Tim, Mark, and Rick were easily three of the most fun guys on the cruise, it’s no wonder they get a lot of love from Weezer diehards. Tim embraced all of the theme night parties and was pretty much the only member of a band (other than Rivers) who wore costumes. When he realized we were both wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts on rock star night, he was basically as excited as a small child that was just given a lot of candy. Meanwhile Mark and Rick were always to be found at the casino bar circa 4am, Rick playing drums in a makeshift cover band with random musicians on the cruise ship and Mark teaching my friend Jessica how to do his trademark stage lunges while playing bass (which in this case were inflatable guitars brought onboard by my other friend Andrew). In short, they are nice, fun, generally awesome people.
1977 stands up well over time. It features several songs that I still listen to regularly (“Goldfinger” “Kung Fu” “Angel Interceptor” etc.) and the non-singles are all enjoyable. There really isn’t a weak spot on the album. After rolling through the album live, Ash played a few more songs in their main set – their first single “Jack Names the Planets” (off the pre-1977 mini album Trailer) and several 1977 b-sides including T. Rex. The four song encore was solid: “Orpheus” “Let’s Ride” “Shining Light” and “Burn Baby Burn.” This was pretty much my ideal setlist from Ash. Plus, I got the joy of standing right in front of Mark Hamilton, who is easily my favorite bassist to watch live. He’s constantly lunging and contorting his body into weird positions. Boring bass player, he is not.
Next up was the Black Lips on Thursday. This was a free show sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery as part of some promo thing they were doing all week in DC. The opening bands were also solid, especially the Sea Life (who I have been meaning to see for a while). The venue was the Howard Theatre. They’ve booked a few punk shows this fall (I’m going to see FIDLAR there next month) that are uncharacteristic for the venue in recent years. I wonder if they got a new booking agent or something (or are trying to return to the history of DC DIY when groups like Bad Brains and Minor Threat would regularly play with go go bands like Trouble Funk). They are getting shows that would almost certainly usually go to the Black Cat. Regardless, I’m not one to complain about seeing a good band for free (and with better, cheaper beer available at the bar than normal!).
Shout out to Brooklyn Brewery for all sorts of free swag at the event. With pockets full of buttons and koozies, I snagged a spot in the front row stage-right. I stayed up there for a few songs, including my favorite “Modern Art” but the sound wasn’t that great with the way that they had the monitors set up. So I retreated the elevated bar area in hopes of better sound and to be closer to the $3 drafts of Brooklyn Oktoberfest. Sound was noticeably better, but still a little echo-y since the venue wasn’t full. But the view was still great (this will have to be my go-to spot for future Howard shows) despite being a little far back – perfect for a short person like me.
The band was as energetic and fun as the last time I saw them at Burgerama. The three guys on guitar or bass switch up lead vocals a lot, so their set has a good deal of variety. Only bummer was that they didn’t play “Bad Kids.”