What is America?

MMS Monday Concert Preview - Nevermind Jetpacks, Where Are the Clones We Were Promised?

Rarely have I wished I could be in two places at one time, and whether that contravention of the laws of physics comes in the form of a blue police box or a clone matters little to me (although the cleverly named and consciousness-sharing quadruplets of Starz' The Rook bring a novel take on the concept). Sci-fi nerdery aside, tomorrow brings an embarrassment of riches in terms of international artists playing in the DC-Baltimore corridor.

First up we have Scotland's We Were Promised Jetpacks, who remain near the top of any list of my favorite band names of all time (as well as that of unrealized predictions for the future). One of the great band debuts of the late aughts, These Four Walls tore the front and back doors off the hinges, punched holes in all the walls, and kicked out the windows for good measure with the band's unbridled energy. Often compared to country- and labelmates Frightened Rabbit, their songs were kinetic and propulsive, electric and extroverted as opposed to the more acoustic and inward-facing compositions of the late Scott Hutchison. "It's Thunder and It's Lightning", the album's opening track, is a perfect example of their songcraft - building from a guitar riff and barely audible opening lyric to the track's near feral crescendo.

You can catch the lads at U Street Music Hall tomorrow night, with Glaswegian guitar quartet Catholic Action opening.




On the stylistic flip side we have J.S. Ondara, the Minneapolis-by-way-of-Nairobi singer-songwriter weaving modern day fables of the experience of America through the lens of someone both black and foreign-born. Transfixed by the songs of Bob Dylan as a child, Ondara left Kenya and settled in the United States, finding himself drawn to the town where his idol began his music career. His songs are quintessential American folk, mining deeply into the music legacy of his black and white predecessors while incorporating the musical legacy of his home country. You can catch him tomorrow night at The 8x10 in Baltimore. I predict that we'll be seeing him in much larger venues, both in the DC area and across the country, in the very near future.


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