On Friday I went to U Street Music Hall to see Nada Surf. I’d seen a CNN alert on my phone about a shooting in Paris en route to the venue, but I didn’t yet know any details or the extent of the carnage so I wasn’t emotionally crushed yet. Bad stuff happens a lot in the world. It’s always upsetting when you stop and think about it. But the fact that the bulk of the Paris terror happened at a concert (of a band that I was scheduled to see later on their European tour this fall) clearly hit close to home for me, considering the amount of time I spend at concerts. Of course, in an objective sense it shouldn’t matter. Innocent lives lost are tragic regardless of whether it’s a shooting at a theater, a tourist site, or an errant drone strike. But considering that concerts are my happy place, as I’m sure they are for many if not most of the folks in attendance at Friday’s Eagles of Death Metal show, the thought of that joy being turned into terror is crushing. Thankfully the handful of friends that I have in Paris (who are also concert fanatics and Weezer cruise alumni) are safe. But so many other kindred spirits were not so lucky. And that makes me tremendously sad. I hope that the survivors of the show are able to enjoy live music again, as it is one of life’s greatest joys.
But back to happier times. Slothrust opened and was great again (I saw them open for Ben Kweller in DC last year). They played my favorite “7:30 AM” three songs into their set. Other highlights included “Homewreck Wifey” and “Magnets, Part 2.” They are the type of band that is exponentially better live. The songs are crunchier, louder, and generally more interesting. It’s a wall of delicious garage rock sound that just sounds too pristine on a record (at least their recorded work thus far). They played for 45 minutes and I hope that they’ll play a headlining show in DC someday so I can see them do a longer set.
Nada Surf hit the stage late due to a technical problem with the guitar pickup. Thanks to U Street’s insistence on squeezing in two shows a night, this resulted in Nada Surf having to cut three songs from their set list, including one in the planned encore, so that they could hit the time cutoff. They kicked things off with “Whose Authority” and went through a blistering career-covering set that included several songs that I’d never seen live before like “Bacardi” (which they said they hadn’t played live in about 15 years). “Happy Kid” and “Killian’s Red” were the highlights for me. They played several new songs (off a forthcoming album in 2016) and ended with “Bones” before returning for a two set encore ending with the traditional sing-a-long of “Fuck it!"s in “Blankest Year.” They are great live and if you’ve never seen them, you are missing out.
Yeah Right readers will know my distaste for Dave Matthews. His music is my kind of personal hell. But next time I want to make fun of him, I will give him a pass. Why? Until I saw this feature on CBS, I had no idea that he was instrumental in getting Brandi Carlile and her band their big break. I might not like Dave, but I love Brandi's music. So I thank him for that.