Sunday, December 8, 2013

Buy me! Read Me! Review Me! Part II

Please go over to Amazon where you can buy "Running From Recognition..." a historical essay I wrote about the United States' involvement in the infamous "scramble for Africa" in the Nineteenth century.

Fans of "King's Leopold's Ghost" by Adam Hochschild will enjoy this further exploration of U.S. involvement in the saga of the Belgian Congo.

If you happen to read it, please leave an Amazon review with your thoughts about it. Cheers!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Buy me! Read me! Review me!

Please go over to Amazon where you can buy "Conflict on the Compass Rose...", a historical essay I wrote about colonial competition in Africa between England and Portugal during the late 19th Century. If you happen to read it, please leave an Amazon review with your thoughts about it. Cheers!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Faith No More @ Mann Music Center 7/3/10

Faith No More @ Mann Music Center 2
courtesy of Marcus Darpino.

As much as I would like it to be, Washington DC is not the live-music center of the universe. Sometimes to see that special show I have to hop on a jet, castaway on a boat, or hit the road as I did this past weekend to catch one of the limited East Coast reunion shows by Faith No More. These shows were limited enough (only 3) and special enough (a hell-froze-over reunion) that we thought some of our DC readers might be interested in reading about the one I attended at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia last Saturday.

When considering Faith No More and the quality of concert they put on, it is the little details that make the difference. The little details like: Mike Patton riding a fan like a horse while singing Michael Jackson's 'Ben'; an unexpected cover of Vangelis' 'Chariots of Fire' theme; song verses done entirely in flawless Portuguese on a whim; and a singing, daredevil, strip-tease atop a 30-foot rope-ladder. In other words, when Faith No More perform live there really are no such things as little details; everything about a Faith No More concert is as huge and in-your-face as it can possibly get. From Mike Patton's epic vocal range and deranged persona; to Roddy Bottum's impenetrable, wall of synth-keyboards; to Billy Gould and Mike Bordin's spastic funk; and Jon Hudson's heroic guitar riffs Faith No More's live sound is so gigantic it is almost absurd. And it would be absurd if they weren't such a tight and overly-talented group of individuals. Saturday night's concert in Philadelphia was a success on every level that treated a few thousand fans to the stellar, albeit brief, return of an old favorite and left us all longing for more from these SF Bay-area originals.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wavves & Cloud Nothings @ RNR Hotel 6/25/10

Wavves @ RNR Hotel 6/25/10
courtesy of Wavves.

While the early-week, DC-music, blogosphere is atwitter with tales of Courtney Love's awful on-stage antics at the 9:30 Club on Sunday night, Friday night's Wavves show seems to be completely off radar. This is interesting to me, because Wavves mastermind, Nathan Williams, is an equally volatile personality known for on-stage meltdowns and fisticuffs of his own. In fact, before the weekend began, the quality of the Friday night Waaves' concert at Rock & Roll Hotel was as much in question as was which Courtney Love would appear at the 9:30 Club on Sunday. When faced with the decision of which concert to attend (there was no way I was going to sandwich my weekend with potential cluster-f*cks) I used a simple calculus to aid my decision making: Courtney Love is a miserable, over-the-hill, waste of space who only ever put out one good album; while Nathan Williams of Wavves is an unpredictable, indie-genius on the rise, who cranks out infectious tunes as frequently as normal people draw breath. For me the decision was easy; both shows had the potential to be spectacular personality-based failures, but only Wavves had the possible upside of also delivering brilliant music.

Nathan Williams did not have a nervous break-down on-stage, nor did he indulge himself as the star of his own iPhone-shot reality-show on Friday night. He did talk quite a bit between songs, but then so did his rhythm section. Their collective antics were less delusional rants and more about bratty fun. Wavves did more than hold it together on Friday night. They showed up with their snotty, punk attitude and tore through an hour of great, noise-wrapped pop-music. They were preceded by another blog buzz-band in Cloud Nothings from Cleveland, who also put on an excellent set of bedroom-recording inspired tunes. Both bands combined to put on an fantastic new music showcase for the nearly sold-out crowd at Rock & Roll Hotel on Friday.

Silversun Pickups @ DAR Constitution Hall 6/23/10

Photo courtesy of
'Silversin Pickups'
courtesy of 'MudflapDC'

This was one of those concerts that make me love my job.

Silversun Pickups played at DAR Constitution Hall last Wednesday night. They delivered an exuberant display of musical joy that put a big ol' smile on my face that lasted the entire show. Silversun Pickups are a band with a great sound and a growing fan-base, and yet every time I see them perform they seem completely amazed that people like their music. It's this "they like us, they really, really like us!" attitude and their genuine appreciation for their fans, that keeps this huge-sounding band grounded and endears them to the listener. When watching Silversun Pickups perform you find yourself rooting for them to succeed while they proceed to melt your face off with their massive, alt-rock attack.

Wednesday's concert was the best of the three times I have seen Silversun Pickups perform, mainly because it was the first time I have seen them as headliners. The headliner spot gave them time to stretch their legs musically which really added another level to their performance on just about every song they played. Add to this the fact that the longer set gave them the opportunity to throw some slower songs into the mix and Silversun Pickups were able to create an atmosphere that was all their own and not merely shared space with other, larger acts. Silversun Pickups were the main event on Wednesday night and they used their moment in the spotlight to truly shine.

Goldfrapp @ 9:30 Club 6/21/10

Goldfrapp @ 9:30 Club 6/21/10
courtesy of Goldfrapp.

Allison Goldfrapp, the fairy godmother of electro-pop, descended from her pink-chiffon cloud to treat us mere mortals to one hell of a concert at the 9:30 Club on Monday night. The performance was one of the first dates on her U.S. tour in support of her fifth album, "Head First", but the concert also served as a reminder to the pop-forgetful that she is the best in the biz when it comes to dreamy-vocals set to retro-chic, electro-beats. This summer is ridiculous with its schedule of electro-pop divas visiting DC. From The Golden Filter, to La Roux, to Robyn, and Dragonette each group owes a huge debt to Goldfrapp for putting the pop polish on the synth and keyboard sound that began its revival as the much harsher electro-clash in the late 90's. Will Gregory and Allison Goldfrapp, the duo that compose Goldfrapp in the studio, have been cranking out great albums since 2000, while Allison and her live band have been putting on terrific live shows full of style and originality that will be hard to forget when seeing their electro-pop descendants perform over the next couple of months. Monday night's Goldfrapp show took a few songs to really get going but once the band got into their groove it was pure escapist, retroactive, pseudo-futuristic bliss.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Golden Filter @ DC9 6/18/10

Photo courtesy of
'The Golden Filter'
courtesy of 'yousayyeah'

On Friday night, DC9 mainstay, Liberation Dance Party brought in New York's The Golden Filter for a special appearance to amp up the already crazy dance party LDP hosts week after week. Unsurprisingly, the result was an even crazier dance party. The Golden Filter delivered a killer set of sexy electro-pop to a packed house eager to dance, dance, dance! And dance they did, taking to the riser boxes, standing on the booths, shaking and grinding while the band delivered on the promise of their amazing debut album, Voluspa, with a live performance that was a delight to watch through the filter of moving bodies.