I decided early on this year that I would try to see as many concerts as I possibly could. There was a wealth of great bands coming to DC that I really wanted to see, and I ended up going to 17 concerts in all. Here’s a quick (but still long) review of what I liked and didn’t like.
First up was the Verve Pipe at the Barns at Wolf Trap. I had never been to a show at the Barns, only their outdoor venue in the summer. The Barns was a cool place to see a show, and even though I didn’t know all that many songs, it was still a good performance to start the year.
I was surprisingly impressed with We Were Promised Jetpacks at Jammin Java. They ended up playing a show later in the year at the much larger 9:30 Club, so I felt pretty lucky to see them in a smaller venue.
The most fun show of the year had to be the Legwarmers at the State Theatre. I went with a group of friends for my birthday and we went full on 80s retro garb and just had a blast singing along to every hit.
Black Star was the first of several shows at the Anthem, a venue I still can’t quite get behind. The floor is way too big, and I’d rather go to the 9:30 Club, though I understand the desire to sell more tickets. Everyone was super into this one which made it fun.
I took Lisa to see The Accidentals at Jammin Java. They were great performers, even if the crowd was a little restrained. I’d go see them again for sure.
Probably the biggest surprise for me was going to see HAIM at the Anthem and being more entertained by the opening act, Lizzo. She and her dancers and DJ were on fire, it’s too bad there was too long of a gap between them and HAIM, it might have been my favorite show.
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats always put everything out there for their shows, but again, the Anthem just didn’t seem like the right spot for them to play.
We saw three fun bands at the Nottoway Nights concert series this year. Karikatura was a funky sound from a NY band. The Hot Lanes Big Band played just the kind of music you think they would. And Maybe April will probably be big on the country scene in a few years.
We took the kids to see Barenaked Ladies on the lawn at Wolf Trap. They’ve maybe lost a step lately, but still very entertaining. We’ll probably go see them with Hootie next summer.
Japandroids is my favorite band so it’s no surprise that their show at the tiny Rock and Roll Hotel was my favorite this year. I got there early and enjoyed Bacchae from right next to the stage. I chatted with a guy I recognized from the Pup show there the previous year. And then we got sweaty and loud and it was awesome. I even came away with one of David Prowse’s drumsticks!
Weezer and the Pixies and Sleigh Bells was at Jiffy Lube Live, a venue which I probably will only return to when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately a storm made me miss most of the Sleigh Bells set. The Pixies were pretty blah. But Weezer was so great.
Future Islands was another weird Anthem show. It was fun but I still maintain they should have played at 9:30.
The most frustrating show of all was AJJ/Kimya Dawson/Rozwell Kid at the Black Cat. It didn’t help that I was really tired, but after Rozwell Kid got me rocking, I felt like Kimya Dawson was out of place in this lineup, and since she was technically co-headlining, she played for a lot longer than I wanted, and I ended up leaving in the middle of AJJ’s set. Disappointing.
The year almost wrapped up where it began, back at the Barns for The Lone Bellow and Tiny Desk Contest winner Naia Izumi. Izumi is super talented and the Barns was a great place for his voice and guitar to resonate. The Lone Bellow are also fantastic performers who I would recommend anyone see even if you don’t know their music.
The year did close out with The Menzingers at the Black Cat. After getting to the show a little late, I squeezed up toward the front for some last sweaty, loud action. Super fun and energetic performers as well.
All in all, a good year of concerts. Even though next year won’t have as many concerts, I’m sure that music will continue to have a big place in my life.