My Weird Musical Week

I just wanted to take a moment to recap the range of musical experiences I had over the long Memorial Day weekend. It started with Toad the Wet Sprocket at National Harbor. Preternaturally youthful Glen Phillips looks and sounds nearly the same as he has for Toad's nearly quarter-century tenure, and Dean Dinning, Randy Guss and Todd Nichols ably complement Phillips' unusual delivery. Although I enjoyed the concert, I have very little in the way of nice things to say about National Harbor or, the local ticketing vendor. Suffice it to say that it's unlikely I will return.

Later that same evening, I wound up drinking at Solly's on U Street when a buddy asked if I wanted to go see a German industrial show across the street. Such was my introduction to Das Ich, one of the founders of Neue Deutsche Todeskunst (New German Death Art), at Club Liv. Never one to turn down the chance at a musical adventure, I set out to Club Liv wearing khaki shorts and red canvas shoes, an oddly preppie free radical in what was otherwise a sea of black and metal. Unlike my reception at National Harbor, the fans and what may have been the management of Das Ich or the club encouraged me to take pictures. More Gothic "dark wave" than mechanistic industrial, Das Ich calls to mind mid-80s Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails moreso than fellow Germans Rammstein. The fans were overwhelmingly gracious, as well. I would very much like to hear this band in a space like the 9:30 Club.

Friday night found me in the Black Cat for a set by St. Vincent. I can't conjure up any words to describe Annie Clark other than otherworldly. A talented guitarist as well as a vocalist, she imbues her live set with an electricity that doesn't necessarily translate to her recordings. Check out NPR's concert archive to listen to the set.

The weekend finally ended with not one, but two, sets by The National at the 9:30 Club Sunday night. This Brooklyn-based, Cincinnati-born quintet proved why they are one of the hottest indie bands on the scene today. Combining the orchestral sensibilities of Tindersticks with the experimental bent and deadpan delivery of the Velvet Underground, The National defy easy (or any) categorization. Vocalist and songwriter Matt Berninger vacillates between his commanding presence when singing or flailing about onstage, and his almost-shy persona in between songs. And I must applaud the band for inserting the oft-requested All the Wine into their first set in an impromptu "audible", and for ending their second set with a new track entitled Blood Buzz Ohio.

Photos courtesy of Brian Flores