Kyle Morton at Sixth and I – Kyle Morton’s (of Typhoon) solo album is superb so I was pleased when he did a small, acoustic tour to support it. Appropriately enough, the DC venue was the basement of Sixth and I, which is the same spot where I saw Typhoon for the first time. The dude singer from San Fermin opened (he also has a new solo album). It was a short and sweet opening set. Kyle played a mix of his solo songs and Typhoon songs. Much as I love his solo album, the later were more exciting because it was such a contrast to hear a solo, acoustic version of songs from a band with 11 people in it. Talk about a night and day difference. So that was great, despite him not playing my favorite Typhoon song (cue a sad trombone from the horn section of Typhoon). Kyle’s wife (also a good musician from the band Wild Ones) joined him on stage for a cover of John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves,” which was one of the other highlights of the show.
The Relationship at Valley Bar – I was in Phoenix for work in February and Brian Bell’s side project played a free show two blocks from my hotel. So, that was convenient for me. The set up was random – The Relationship was in the middle of a small tour with Warbly Jets but this show was billed as The Relationship, Warbly Jets, and an indy rock dance party. I figured the dance party would be at the end, but somehow the ordering went dance party, the Relationship, then the Warbly Jets (who I thought was the opening band for the tour). That actually worked out well for me, as I had an early flight the following morning so I left after the Relationship. And I got to witness some awkward, too-early-in-the-night-to-be-having-a-dance-party dancing. I was approx. one of two people in the crowd who seemed to have any idea who the Relationship was. Most people seemed to be there for the dance party. So the vibe all around was weird, but the Relationship’s set was still enjoyable – pretty identical to their two SXSW sets that I caught in Austin. And now they are in the lead for the band that I’ve seen the most in 2017 at 3 shows.
Japandroids at 9:30 Club – Craig Finn opened and was relatively boring, because he’s Craig Finn (sorry not sorry, Hold Steady fans). But Japandroids were the most rollicking two person live show that I’ve seen. They kicked things off with “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” and played most of their last two albums, which is clearly an amazing setlist. Seeing “The House That Heaven Built” live was clearly a highlight of the year so far. Craig Finn was marginally less boring when he joined Japandroids for a cover of the Saints’ “I’m Stranded.”
Flaming Lips at 9:30 Club – The opener Clipping. (yes, with a period despite that not being a sentence) was horrible, though one person near the front was ALL. INTO. IT. So you do you, I guess, lady with bad taste. Wanting a good view of all the mayhem, I took my prized stage left balcony spot. Flaming Lips really went all out with the balloons and confetti on the first song. I guess a band that over the top doesn’t need to build up to that. But it was enough stuff to put most over-the-top finales to shame. Wayne Coyne zorbed to the back of the club during a cover of “Space Oddity.” He also rode a unicorn statue around the club for one of their new songs. Clearly it was all joyous. They are such a ridiculous and fun live band. BYT pictures here.
Priests at Black Cat – Priests are awesome. Priests’ new album is awesome. So, duh, Priests’ record release concert at the Black Cat was awesome. The opening band was a totally different genre, very soulful. It seemed a throwback to the DC DIY heyday when the likes of Minor Threat would play with Trouble Funk. I enjoyed it greatly. I’ll also remember this concert for a while for the following random encounter: I was standing next to some older guys, who were friendly but seemed out of place. I’m pretty sure they were family of the band. And one of the old guys randomly turns to me and says “Do you want to hear a joke?” The answer in this scenario is clearly yes. Then he deadpans: “Yo momma’s so fat, she went to the doctor. And they said that she has serious health problems and only has 10 years to live.” So that is a thing that happened. Pictures from BYT here.
Regina Spektor at DAR – The night before I left for SXSW, I had a warm up show in the form of the fabulous Regina Spektor. I would have flown out to Austin earlier if not for this concert, but I’d never seen her live before and had really good seats. I’m not normally a fan of DAR Constitution Hall for concerts (it’s too stuffy to have everyone seated and people never stand at the venue), but this style of music was acceptable in the circumstances. There wasn’t an opener. Just Regina, who thankfully made it to DC despite the previous night’s snow storm (I was less concerned with her getting into DC as getting out of Philly, as it snowed more up there and it was a joke here). Her set was a nice mix from across her career, with a decent number of tracks off of her new album. She opened with “On the Radio” and closed, obviously, with “Us” before returning for a four song encore. I loved hearing the OITNB theme song (“You’ve Got Time”) in person and another highlight was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2.” Regina’s stage banter was just as endearingly awkward as I hoped it would be. The audience also shouted insane things during the awkward silence throughout the show. Seriously some of the most random stuff I’ve ever heard shouted at a singer, including my favorite: “You are my mother!” This is why we can’t have nice things. I might see her again when she returns to DC this summer with Ben Folds.