Monday, December 20, 2010

The Best of 2010

Year's just about over and this is my first official best of list, so enjoy peoples! Go download these now: Check for some other great reviews and free mixtapes!

Best of 2010 (in no particular order)
1. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening
2. The Black Keys: Brothers
3. Yeasayer: Odd Blood
4. Vampire Weekend: Contra
5. Free Energy: Free Energy
6. Klaxons: Surfing the Void
7. Girl Talk: All Day
8. Das Racist: Sit Down Man
9. Das Racist: Shut Up, Dude
0. Surfer Blood: Astro Coast
1. Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
1. Wavves: Post Acid
2. The Black Keys: Tighten Up
3. Deftones: Diamond Eyes
4. Holy Ghost!: I Will Come Back
5. Klaxons: Echoes
6. Sia: You've Changed
7. Neon Indian: Sleep Paralyist
8. LCD Soundsystem: I Can Change
9. Washed Out: Feel It All Around
0. Oh No Ohno: Helplessly Young
1. Smith Westerns: Weekend
2. Cool Kids: Delivery Man
3. Chromeo: Don't Turn the Lights On
4. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.: Bang Bang Bang
5. Duck Sauce: Barbara Streisand
6. Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti: Round and Round
7. Mayer Hawthorne: Maybe So, Maybe No
8. Big Boi: Shutter Bugg
9. Yeasayer: Madder Red
0. Das Racist: Nutmeg
1.Vampire Weekend: Run
2. Surfer Blood: Floating Vibes
3. Local Natives: Sun Hands
4. Major Lazer + La Roux Feat. Gucci Mane: I'm Not Your Lemonade (Heroes & Villians Remix)
Best Shows I Saw 2010
1. Black Keys
2. The Dead Weather
3. Dead Meadow
4. Best Coast
5. Chromeo
6. Neon Indian
7. Phoenix
8. Vampire Weekend
9. Mayer Hawthorne
0. Free Energy

Can't wait for next year's shows and records, looking for Girl Talk and Chromeo to go on tour coming soon!

Las Vegas 11/19-11/23/10

Well I just recovered from Las Vegas. I mean two days ago. Vegas is awesome but I can't handle that place. I've been three times now and this was by far the best and the wildest. The best part was defintely seeing my old pal Diaz and hanging out with the Warren family. I got to go to an Elvis themed wedding and took shots in a bar that was 5 degrees below. That was cold. I got to drink Fat Tire beer all week, in the mall, on the streets, everywhere. I saw O by Cirque Du Soliel and it was quite impressive. The only bad part was the weather: it was real chilly. Being outside the casinos was brutal after hours and the wind was crazy. Hanging out with everyone was great and although I didn't win a lot I had a great time with the group I went with. I love that city and hopefully when I return I'll be ready to handle all the splendors of Las Vegas once again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

DJ Shadow 11/16/10

It's been a while but it's been a busy couple a weeks. Between work and play I've been quite active. In the mean time I went on two adventures, Richmond and NYC. Richmond is pretty good for a weekend and NYC, well it's pretty awesome. So, in the spirit of the great American road trip I spent Tuesday with my buddy Gary in the Big Apple. Without a plan or a place to stay we managed to do some searching en route and found my favorite dj playing a show that night in Brooklyn. We arrived in SOHO/NOHO/NYU to check out Other Music, a record store of course, and just take in the city. I probably was last in NYC in '93 so everything around us was new and exciting. We checked out a few stores then took the subway to Times Square. After getting blinded by the lights we linked up with a fraternity brother in the financial district and had a few drinks. By 2130 we finally arrived at the Brooklyn Bowl to catch the tail end of DJ Shadow's set. I missed him in Baltimore and was more than excited to check him out in a great music town. The venue looked great and it actually had a bowling alley inside. That makes for a great evening, bowling to DJ Shadow. The master dj mixed an incredible finish from my favorite albums ...Endtroducing & The Private Press and the visuals were intense. It was smooth and people were really getting into it. I love that. After the show we went next door to a great whiskey bar and took shots with the bartenders. Great time but now I'm super tired. Big ups to Brooklyn! Next trip: Vegas...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mayer Hawthorne & The County VIP! 10/21/10

First off I would just like to thank both The Black Cat and Mazda for letting me win a VIP Meet & Greet with Mayer Hawthorne and putting together a great event. It was very cool. I'm always entering contests for anything that comes around but on my birthday I got an email stating that I was going to be meeting Mayer Hawthorne @ The Black Cat. Love this guy and I dig the venue and its neighborhood. I didn't know what to expect going into the VIP since I had never heard of this done at the venue before and was really excited too. Got there on time at 1830 and once inside I received a VIP pass and two drink tickets then was escorted to the Back Bar for some fan interaction with the Mazda people before Mr. Hawthorne made his appearance. They got pizza from the Italian Store and the beer was pretty good too. After about an hour I got my CD signed and my sister got a nice message on a poster, something about Twitter. After hanging in there we got upstairs to check the first band Gordon Voidwell. If you can imagine Matt & Kim where Matt is black and Kim is a white guy and you've got them visually. I was surprised how infectious their sound was, it was electronic keys and drums but very danceable rhythms. They started off with "Heart of Glass" and flowed together the rest of their own material in that same style. Next up was The Heavy. These guys sounded like Sevendust, no joke. A rocking band with an intense black man singing, with a British accent! Ok not so much Sevendust especially with their horn section but they weren't that bad and they played a good long set. After they got done the house DJ played most of "Illmatic" while The County got ready. When they came out the place went nuts. I saw these guys at the Rock And Roll Hotel earlier this year and they killed it. Mayer brought new songs this time with a bigger stage and it worked. It was a genuine Motown band, that's the best way to describe them. I wasn't around for the groups and solo acts back then but all the old footage I've seen was Mayer's perfect homage to some great music. Had to have been in the top five shows I've seen at The Black Cat and that's without the VIP package. Free shows are great but I'd pay hard cash to see this guy, next time he's in town I won't miss it. Great night for sure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oktoberfest Shirlington 10/2/10

Kicking off the best month of the year in style heading out to good ole Shirlington for the season's first Oktoberfest. The weather was incredible, even hot at times, and the crowd was large. I like Shirlington's downtown outdoorsy set up and it was great Saturday event. The only bummer was the fact that you couldn't buy advance tickets which led to one hell of a line to get inside the area. The beers were good and the tents wrapped around but honestly I kinda used my ten measly tickets for beers 1. I never heard of and 2. had no line. With a great slate of college football games on later that day it didn't matter that the tickets ran fast as my gang ended up in Baileys Ballston to close out the best 3:30 games. Saw a lot of old friends and even some German dance crews and all in all it was a great time. The DC area is pretty awesome at street festivals and the like. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Black Diamond Skye 9/26/10

I cannot believe the years steady rollin' to a close and I finally (FINALLY!) got to a metal show. First and foremost living in Fairfax County doesn't get me any closer to good venues but every now and then someone good comes to George Mason University's very own Patriot Center. Last Sunday I got to see Mastodon, Deftones, and the new revamped Alice In Chains. Titled Black Diamond Skye in reference to the three bands latest album titles. Absolutely blown away at the performances. These guys can flat out play, especially when you are in to metal as much as I am. First up was openers Mastodon, who I have been totally in to since I first heard last year's Crack The Skye. Having missed their Halloween Patriot Center performance last year due to work I was not going to miss out. The band played great songs from their last three albums including "Oblivion", "The Crystal Skull", and closed out with "Blood And Thunder". Very metal and it was great to finally see them live. After a short break Deftones took the stage opening with "Rocket Skates" off their new album "Diamond Eyes". I can honestly say that I have never heard a bad Deftones album nor been to a bad show. They have a great stage presence as lead singer Chino Moreno was all over the stage sweating like he just ran a race. They cranked out my favorite songs from every album and right as the flow was continuing I saw a fan hand Chino a piece of paper during a song that he looked over and after the song was over called for lights and did something totally unexpected. The note was from a guy that had a question from his friend that Chino read: "Will you marry me?" At a Deftones show, a marriage proposal. Never seen one. Ever. I live near the Nation's Capital and I have never seen someone get down on one knee at a monument or a sporting event or at a park but at the Deftones show? Whatever man, and I've been told that I'm not romantic! Anyway, they followed that up with "Change" and the crowd was ecstatic again. After their set we hung out some more and Alice In Chains hit the much larger stage layout. They had a hanging curtain that was lowered as they opened with "Them Bones". These guys came back with a new singer/guitarist that sounds somewhat like the late great Layne Staley. My buddy Palmer said he saw them when it was just Jerry Cantrell fronting the band a few years ago and said they were great then so I was excited. They actually sounded good and they played the two new songs I liked and the rest were songs in their catalog that really defined the bands original early '90s grunge sound. Great way to end the weekend and got home early with my ears still ringing! Long live metal!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virgin Free Fest 9/25/10

It's Virgin Free Fest time and what a festival! Overall great price (free) for the amount of talent there at Merriweather. It was a stellar day with good, if not hot, weather. I was happy to have made it when we did as three bands I really wanted to see all played at or near the 3 o' clock time frame. I heard Yeasayer while in traffic and I liked what I heard so they'll be a separate show for the future. We checked in and to our immediate left sat the dance tent (actually more of a forest) and Neon Indian was playing. They seemed to have an electronic sound on disc but I was surprised to see a guitarist and a drummer. The sound quality was amazing and they played all the songs I knew and even my sister got into it. Very beat driven danceable songs. I would love to see them by themselves, preferably a club setting. Next we walked out and about and saw Joan Jett start and we kept a going. She's kind of outdated with her pop punk and all, just saying. On the way to the outside stage we saw Thievery Corporation begin their set. They had DJs, sitars, and tribal funk that was infectious. I can't dance that hippy jive but I would have liked to! After a few songs we went back to see Matt & Kim on the main stage. One guy singing and playing the keyboard and one super smiley chick banging in the drums. They didn't really make me a believer and their best songs were impromptu jams of old school rap songs you knew the words to faster than their own songs. We caught about five songs from Chromeo next. Very great live band. I would love to hear them play their 80s electro soul vibe anywhere but outside amongst the trees was pretty cool. My sister then insisted we see Ludacris next. He said it was ten years ago he put out his first platinum hits. I saw him then too. Ludacris has a ton of recognizable hits from songs he did solo to that awful new Taio Cruz song. But he performed without all those jokers and kicked ass. I cannot believe they let M.I.A. play after him to close the 2nd stage but I'll get on to that soon. We left Luda early to hear this summers most hyped band Sleigh Bells. Honestly they sound like heavy metal for the cheerleader set, or maybe cheerleader music for heavy metal types. Either way I was ready to be impressed. They had the largest crowd for the dance area and yet they probably played the shortest set. The songs sounded awfully loud as if they would break the speakers yet I only saw one guy playing the guitar sparingly. The lady singing was hot from the distance I was at but she did a lot of "ah ah ah ahhing". It was actually a weak set. More blown speaker sounding guitar mess and the jumpy singing. Not a fan nor did I see what the fuss was about. Maybe I'm getting old cause M.I.A. didn't kill it for me either! She was about ten or so minutes late, big difference since everyone else was on time. Then the DJ played a drone ten minute mess that was followed by M.I.A. staring out at the crowd yelling "DC" and some other unintelligible stuff. She had so many distractions on stage and sang/rapped so sparingly that she lost me after two actual songs. The worst part that after I left I was so tired and dirty that I stayed through only three great LCD Soundsystem songs. I'm probably going to see them again but overall great day of seeing a tons of great bands. And it was free! Next show Black Diamond Skye!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Free Energy/Titus Andronicus 9/24/10

For the first time in four visits I finally went to a sold out Free Energy show. These guys kick ass no doubt but this tour they opened up for fellow indie all stars Titus Andronicus. Very Strong performance and after some good touring enough fans present knew the words to the songs and were dancing and having a great time. The highlight was my favorite live track "Bad Stuff" but most of all when the chick guitarist from Titus came for "Something in Common". But the highlight was when the lead singer from Titus came out to sing a Bruce Springsteen track (I'm going down down down), I heard both bands were doing a Bruce track for obvious influence reasons but it was amazing to hear it live. They said since they loved DC he was going to stay on stage for "Bang Pop." Great performance, after Free Energy's set we ended up hanging out with the rhythm guitarist outside the Hotel. Pretty down to earth guy, my favorite band of the year. Titus Andronicus had everything, three guitars, a violin, and some keys. These guys are like a punked out Bruce Springsteen but they had too much loud/soft fast/slow songs. Some were much longer than others and although the energy was high it was hard to follow up Free Energy's set. But they were still good to rock to. Show two down: today Virgin Free Fest!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Klaxons 9/21/10

Almost three years by a week or so I showed up at the 930 club to hear the Klaxons play their new album, which came out that day as well. First and foremost I have never, ever stood near the stage at any 930 club show as they tend to sell out or I stay closest to the bar. Anyway there was nobody in attendance that night. It was good for me because I got up close and personal and finally was able to take some great pictures from stage left. These guys have a very British new dance/rock sound and the new album had a bit of Bloc Party by way of Pink Floyd/MGMT vibe going on. And where MGMT went all weird then stopped on their latest record The Klaxons pounded an excellent follow up to 2007's "Myths of the Near Future" with "Surfing the Void." From the start to finish they played my favorite songs off disc one: "As a Above, So Below" and "It's Not Over Yet" and rocked out over the new stuff too like the enthralling "Echoes." They played to the crowd with minimal talk. The only strange part happened when they let a wild eyed homeless looking older gentleman up onstage to dance with the peace sign and introduce a girl in a beauty contest. It was a def WTF and no one new what was happening but overall it didn't ruin the show. First of many nights to close out the month in one of four separate venues. It's going to be a good weekend. Tonight: Free Energy/Titus Andronicus

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon 9/19/10

First race in a long time and it was a big race too. Beautifully laid out was the Inaugural Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon running from Mt. Vernon, Alexandria to the new National Harbor in Maryland. Basically it was ten or less miles of the George Washington Parkway plus a bridge then wrapping up around the National Harbor with a grand finish near the relocated Haynes Point Giant "The Awakening". Showed up early with Helga and met up with Stacey and Heather, three chicks that ran me over. I'm not a professional runner by any means but it was good to get passed by my team. Great weather to start and finish and the views were spectacular. I would do this race every year if I am off I like it so much and it was co-sponsored by Pacers! Race went smooth until the middle of the bridge (mile 9) when I got the cramps again. Great pace was all but washed out with some walking/crawling/jogging through the final three miles. Unfortunately the worst part of my race was out in National Harbor amongst all the spectators, including my sister! Oh well, I got a good race in and didn't finish too badly at 2:10:59 but will break two hours next year! As for now, it's time for some rest, ice, and some beer. Word.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Best Coast 9/8/10

Been a while but after a few weeks I'm back and got the first September show in the books. Saw Best Coast last night and if you can imagine Courtney Love's Hole without the coke and crazy and instead of angry songs replace them with teenage love songs. Best Coast even sang a song they dedicated to Love so go figure. They came out with an hours worth of easy to sway to 3 minute or less songs with one singer, two guitars and a drum set. They sold out the Rock and Roll Hotel which I can say I haven't been too for what I can remember. (I did get up close but the pictures I took may be too dark, damn moody lighting!) They played somewhere between 15-20 songs, all good, and despite being so close the sound was good and not too loud which is a plus being in such a small venue. I like them and I hope they come back, but not too soon: It's almost metal time!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Restaurant 3 8/21/10

Got a dinner for the close of restaurant week at Restaurant 3 in Clarendon. Great place, got a table out in the cool patio and ordered some good drinks first. Having never been there before I was relieved that they had a good beer list. As I get older I like the old standards (Bud Light & such) for sports and happy hours but if I want to enjoy myself I want to pair the dish with some quality brew. The calimari appetizer was awesome. Way to big for an app though and I had to take a bulk home. I got the Peach BBQ glazed pork chop with the mashed potatoes and although they acaully put peaches on my food it did taste good (of course I wiped off the peaches first.) The dessert was a warm bread pudding that until recently I had never tried. All in all great resuarant and good way to cap off a great food week in Clarendon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DC Coast 8/19/10

Got in the first restaurant of the year at DC Coast on the corner of K & 14th Streets in the District. Going in for lunch with the twins was pretty easy and the reservations helped because that place was packed. At 1pm during the week! I guess all the K Street heroes gotta get that power lunch in before they go back in to work and screw our country up. Oh well. The food was great and I survived a mushroom soup that was a grayish green color and a baby food texture. It looked like something witches eat but it was surprisingly good. I also got a great jambalaya for the main course. It was a rice based meaty concoction that was hot and spicy and full of flavor. I believe the guys at DC Coast also run Arcadiana up the street that the twins took me to last year. To cap it off I had an Anchor Steam brew, straight from the tap. Great success!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

DC Restaurant/Beer Week

So DC's restaurant week is in full swing and hopefully I'll be making it out to somewhere this week. It's a great event and luckily I'm off in the days so I could probably swing going out somewhere for lunch. I love eating out and drinking beers which leads into next weeks festivities! I have never heard of DC having a beer week or that many bar crawls but since they are having one I better check it out! Hopefully someplace new with good beers that I can add to the good to go list. Also the Washington Post is putting a guide to a few neighborhoods in the area that are worth checking out in August. I got the family out for a trip to one of DC's best areas on the 8th of August to check 14th and U. They call it midcity (I guess not to confuse with midtown) and they even have a web page: It was a good trip, especially for mom because she got to see some cool furniture stores that she's read about. Made for a great day and hopefully I can continue this trend. Until then make sure you hit at least one spot this week and ate least two next!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spoon/Arcade Fire 8/6/10

Well we finally got out to Merriweather this season for an outdoor show and we picked a great night to do so. Thursday's monsoon got me a little nervous for possible rain Friday or at least mud in the lawn but instead it was very nice out. No rain and no mud just two of indie rocks best live acts the last couple years to come to the area and play to kick start a great weekend. After a few Bud Light Limes in the parking grass we got inside the venue to catch Spoon, already in progress. Spoon's a great band from Austin that has put out a number of good albums lately including one earlier this year. They had a good showing and despite being the "opener" they had a large crowd cheering through the whole set. After a break we ventured throughout the place and got reseated on a corner of the lawn and set up chairs and beers for The Arcade Fire to blow our minds. These guys can play and the have a full on sound that reminds me of Bruce & E Street as many players bringing different sounds and showcasing their talents on each song. I've been a fan since "Funeral" came and have continued to follow their careers but I finally got the chance to see them live. The new album sounded good, despite a drum machine problem, their were no interruptions in play. Having just previously played at Madison Square Garden I am glad they continued their awesome wave of power through the DC area. Hopefully more people will want to come and do big festivals here in this area so we can compete with the likes of Chicago, Austin, and hell even NYC. Until then I'll just settle for a free Virgin Fest coming to Merriweather next month. Great show once again and it reaffirmed my affinity for live music. Word.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Black Keys 7/26/10

So far this year I've been to small venues and big ones, no outdoor ones yet, and heard some powerful live shows. All have been pretty great but Monday night they were completely blown away by The Black Keys. I saw these guys @ 930 in support of their Danger Mouse produced album "Attack & Release". It was so good I made sure I was on a mailing list for when they were coming to DC to play "Brothers". I actually got tickets on the floor at Constitution Hall which was great and the presale tickets also included the new album so I would be prepared for the awesomeness that is a Black Keys show. To my satisfaction they started the night by getting right into the classic older stuff from the first three albums, I thought I even heard a tune off "Chulahoma" too. These guys have some serious power and the tracks were short and full of energy. Besides Josh Homme I would have to say that Dan Auerbach is the best guitar player out there right now. It's hard not notice his heavy bluesy twang that encompasses each song he plays which stand out all the more because it's just his guitar playing. On his right was the strong and steady Patrick Carney whose drumming was always on point whether the song was loud and fast or soft and slow. After about a half hour the two Black Keys were accompanied by a bass and keyboard player to start performing selections from their new album that had some full band elements reminiscent of "Attack & Release". The new players were very subtle and didn't take much away from the original guitar and drum format that is The Black Keys signature sound. Despite the full on production value of the last two albums the majority of the hour and half set belonged to the simple but full sound formula. These guys can flat out play and I can't wait to see them again. Don't miss these guys, you will be blown away.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Virgin Free Fest/Ticket Fly Hot Mess

While I have normally applauded for their great service and ease of getting concert info out there quick and releasing tickets early the Virgin Free Fest was a total disaster. I haven't really hated on much on this blog but this was ridiculous! Usually if I want to see a hot show I have found out about them soon but if I know it'll be seated, or in this case free, I'll get my ass up to a phone or computer to make sure I get in the infinite waiting room of online servers to get my tickets before they sell out in mere minutes. I went to Virgin's first local festival with some friends that cost in the hundreds but it had a slew of great bands playing. I saw Wolfmother, Brazilian Girls, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, and The Racteouers that year. Not bad for the price despite it being played at Baltimore's dirty Pimilico Field infield. Then last year it went free and I was shut out thanks to Ticketmaster. I've been hounding the Virgin Free Fest fan page on Facebook all week to get a head of the pack and they released their presale code the night before the first attempt to made on the tickets. Needless to say I was ready. CRASH!!!!!! System crashed, what a bummer. Nothing worked, no direct links, nothing. I got back on Facebook and the masses were hot. Eventually at around ten after Virgin Free Fest sent a new link up. Still no dice. After ten more minutes they finally stated they got everything all up and working and I finally got in and got tow tickets. I was even able to call a few people to send them the link too. I checked today and tried but nothing got through. They posted later that 75,000 people tried for close to 35,000 tickets. That's ridiculous. Glad I got hooked up because I have been waiting to hear word on when LCD Soundsystem was coming to DC. I am also grateful that Sleigh Bells, Chromeo, and Neon Indian are coming too since I missed their last go round here. Sorry to vent but the ticket situation is crazy but I can't complain since they're free. Thanks Virgin and Ticket Fly, Love Julian.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Starr Hill Cruise 7/16/10

Did you know there is a dock behind Nats Park? There is and the boat behind it, The Patriot II, takes people out on cruises all year round. Brooke and I happened to take a night time cruise last Friday sponsored by On Tap Magazine, my favorite local *FREE* mag, and Charlottesville's own Starr Hill Brewery. We got onto the boat and it had a bar on two floors and a few cheese and cracker bowls. Not the best food but it'll do. It was a good time considering I do like Starr Hill and even have some still in my fridge and the weather wasn't super hot and the scenery was great. We went from Nats Park past the airport and Old Town and turned around past the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to see National Harbor on the way back. The only bummer, well first bummer, was the live music. Two jokers, guitar and violin(?!), played wimpy Dave Matthews covers on full blast in the downstairs bar area. I mean WTF? Total buzz kill having those clowns blaring in the only air conditioned room downstairs. The bar also had only four styles of Starr Hill and no company reps were there. I have been totally spoiled by Hard Times beer tastings in Springfield but overall it was a great ride. Romantic even!