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December 17, 1998 - A Roll in the Holly was an acoustic holiday show at the Rhodeside Grill that Smartbomb put together. It was a laid-back, fun evening with a Christmas party feel. Highlights of the evening included Rich Walkling, half of the notorious Kingdom of Leisure. Rich is a very talented acoustic guitarist. He only did a few songs but he finished with a brand-new song that was masterpiece. It was beautifully haunting. He said the song developed while he was trying to learn Smartbomb's unrecorded song "Homecoming". If this is the direction that tKoL is headed in, watch out! Power Lloyd .before the show they passed out their set list. Unusual, yes, but who would've known that there would be a test! Audience participation is a must for this band. They began their set by saying "first we must pay homage to the king" and with that they all turned around and bowed to a black velvet painting of Elvis at the back of the stage. Poole did a wild, impromptu cover of AC/DC's "You Shook Me" and invited Smartbomb's Scott Brotemarkle to join them on vocals. He hesitated not sure he remembered the words, but was incredible! He had the look and sound down as if he did it everyday. Signs Point to Yes, EBO, and 51 Peg all put on stellar acoustic sets. And the "karate rock" Smartbomb guys were just as powerful acoustic. My favorite song of the night, their rendition of "The Grinch"! When it was all over, the guys in Smartbomb said they'd like to see "A Roll in the Holly" become an annual event . a good time for bands to get together and support each other.
Happy New Year everyone! 1999 - can you believe it? So how many times have you heard the Prince cover so far? There were some awesome shows over the holidays, hope you all had a chance to check some of them out despite all the snow and ice! New Year's Eve marked the end of an era with the closing of the Bayou in Georgetown. The Local Music Showcase featured a wide variety of local talent. It was an interesting mix of bands, 16 bands in all .definitely a good time to get a taste of the local scene. There wasn't really a flow in the order of the bands, sometimes mellow jam bands were followed by hip hop bands and alternative by heavy metal. The show started 3 pm with Some Odd Reason followed by Sam Gunderson and Cactus Groove--a very tight, clean electric blues band. Strawman hit the stage with their own brand of in-your-face rock and roll a perfect blend of grunge and Rage. Raincage put on a stellar performance despite the fact that frontman Alexander had been battling a stomach flu all afternoon. The keyboards and vocals really stood out in what I would call their progressive, dark psychedelic sound. Mr. Yuk grabbed the spotlight when the stage went black, smoke began to rise from the stage and all that could be heard was the theme from the X-Files. Obviously they had a lot of fans there because that's when the people finally took to the dance floor and the headbanging began. 51 Peg rocked the house with a hard-edged alternative sound they are an awesome new band worth checking out! Next up was another new band, Signs Point to Yes, featuring former members of Kismet. I can't remember how many people they had on stage but what stood out were the two dancers/back up singers dressed as schoolgirls. They were appropriately followed by Power Lloyd, a high energy band very reminiscent of the Stray Cats. Unfortunately, due to some scheduling conflicts, Jack Potential and EBO weren't able to do their full sets. Overall it was a good party and whether any of the bands had played the Bayou before or not, everyone was psyched to be there.
Smartbomb's CD Release Extravaganza on November 20 was the most extravagant and fun CD release party I've been to! Held at the small but classy Metro Café, Smartbomb was celebrating the release of their debut CD "here comes the slapback". And a celebration it was. There were free hors d'oeuvres, an emcee, door prizes, specially mixed Smartbomb Shooters and even a champagne toast. Before the show even started with opener Modern Yesterday, the place was already packed with friends and fans from all over the local music scene. Modern Yesterday, who celebrated the release of their major label debut only a week before, started the night off with an acoustic set. They played a mix old and new material with the highlight being when Chuck Andrada (Smartbomb vocalist and guitarist) joined them on stage for the Modern Yesterday standard, "Tink". At about 11:30 pm Smartbomb exploded into the set with "Beat the Kid" with their no-apologies, in-your-face musical style. A style the band calls "karate rock". A mixture of sounds that pull heavily from early punk rock band's chaotic high energy, main stream rock's hard driving bass, and the guts to scream about problems we all face. And everyone in the crowd seemed to be singing along getting caught up the festive spirit of the night. The band attacked one song after another as they poured all of their energy into the near flawless performance. During the pounding bass lines in "Grey Coffee" Scott snapped a bass string. His face showed that her was surprised when the string came loose but he never missed a beat and kept pounding away. I was impressed with the professional showmanship of the band. Their show relays of the fast pace of the songs and the speed of delivery. With Scott missing a string it seemed that the momentum of the night would be lost. Fortunately, Scott had a back-up bass at the back of the stage and was able to change instruments. If you were in the back of the room and didn't see what had happened you would have never known. Smartbomb played all the music from their debut CD "here comes the slapback" mixed up with 11 other original songs and one cover. Shouts from the crowd could be heard in between the songs requesting their favorites. No one left disappointed. The showstopper (literally) was "Hey Babe". After about 90 minutes the band played this tongue-in-cheek song with no signs of being tired. "Hey Babe! I want to marry you in Vegas and buy you a Porsche. Hey Babe! We'll drive straight back to LA and get a divorce." (Sure to be a favorite of Dennis Rodman!) At the end of the song Chuck was so caught up in the show he decided to end the performance standing on the base drum. It was a great plan that was poorly executed. As he jumped on the drum kit, he slid off the bass drum landed on his back he took the left side of the kit with him. I can't remember if Jawn kept playing but as Scott turned around to see what happened his bass struck a displaced cymbal bringing it to the ground. With the front of the stage cleared Jawn kicked his bass drum away and took a bow as the crowd cheered. The stage looked as if there had been an explosion. And indeed there had been!
From Tourdates.com July '98 - Washington, DC is a very diverse, cultural, historical and yes, political town. It is an interesting place to visit as well as live in. When all the museums close and the tourist traffic thins, there is ample night life in town to satisfy everyone's musical taste.
A recent show at the Metro Cafe saw a line-up of three great local bands - Head from Philly, Smartbomb and Jack Potential from Fairfax, Virginia. Head was a perfect opener for the hard, post-punk Smartbomb and the heavy yet melodic Jack Potential. Head was more alternative, but their sound was fresh and original. The bass player took the lead at during one song creating a funky rhythm with his five-string bass. Head is a young band but very tight. I suggest you watch for them on their next pass through the DC area. It's always a cool experience to see a show at the Metro.
It's located on14th Street NW across from the Studio Theater in the heart of the theater district. The Metro Cafe is not a large club, but it is big on atmosphere. From the outside it looks like an ordinary cafe with lots of tables and chairs to sit at and enjoy a drink with friends. Walking into the club you are immediately taken with the Gothic feel of it, something that the owner Nick Nichols is very proud of, with the high ceilings, deep-red walls draped with red velvet fabric and tin-punched sconces on the walls. You will find a few tables and chairs inside, but it is mostly standing room only. However, there are stools around the semicircle bar if you get there early enough....and I hear they have the best bartender in town.
The Metro Cafe was formerly Dante's, a punk rock cafe. Nichols took over in May '97 and transformed the club into a local hang not catering to one genre. The Metro boasts a nightly line-up of live music, consisting of both national and local acts including hard rock, alternative, pop, hip-hop, ska and acoustic artists. The Metro Cafe has it over the other clubs in the area because in addition to all shows being all ages, they open at 7 p.m. and stay open until 2 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Check out their eventline at 202.518 7900.
In less than one year The Metro Cafe has already made it's mark in the rapidly growing theater district as the neighborhood-style place to be. As they get ready to celebrate their one year anniversary, I see them as a mainstay in the DC nightlife and the local music scene well into the new millennium.
The Tibetan Freedom Concert, Washington, DC June 13-14, 1998
"FREE TIBET NOW!" The words of Live's Ed Kowalczyk rang out like a battle cry, a peaceful battle cry, through DC's RFK Stadium. This two-day concert to raise money and public awareness for Tibet actually turned into a three-day/two night event, culminating with the National Day of Action at the Capitol on Monday, June 15. It was raining Saturday as the throngs of people poured into the stadium. There were two stages set up side by side in one of the end zones, to be used in alternating fashion. A large, colorful Tibetan flag was the backdrop for each stage. It was still cloudy at noon as the right stage filled with Tibetan Monks. Their voices blended together in unity setting the mood for the day. The first sets were by new artists Money Mark and the Jamaican Mutabaruka. Then as Live took the stage, the crowds broke loose from the stands and began jump the railing to get onto the field area. Their set began with "I Alone," during which the sun broke through the clouds and there was a resounding cheer throughout the stadium! They closed with a beautiful version of "Lightning Crashes." Looking back, it is a kind of ironic! The hip hop band KRS-1 came on next. They were there to entertain with some original acrobatics, but they also had a prevailing message in their rhymes....peaceful solutions. Dave Matthews followed. As soon as his first number began, the stands all but emptied and the field became a sea of bodies. The band's unique brand of funky blues even had the people who were still in the stands on their feet. They played several of their popular songs ending with an outstanding cover of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower." Sean Lennon came out on the opposite stage and introduced Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. This was the first show that the original line-up of the Headhunters had played in several years and it was the kick off a national tour for them. It was during their set that clouds began to roll in. Nothing threatening, or so it seemed. There had been no thunder, no rain, and no warning when the lightning struck. There was a bright flash and a loud boom; it sounded like boom after fireworks. The Stadium shook and the skies opened. It was madness as thousands of unnerved music fans tried to get through the exits to the inner sanctuary of the stadium's concourse. Eleven people were injured as a result of the lightning, one seriously. Unfortunately, Herbie Hancock was unaware of the storm and they finished out their set. Then an uneasy quiet filled the arena. Most of the 60+ thousand in attendance found a place to wait out the storm in the dry safety of the stadium's interior. After a long two hour wait, REM's Michael Stipe came out and made an announcement that the rest of the day's shows were going to be canceled due to the weather. There was an obvious disappointment throughout the crowd, but no one really displayed anger at the news. Sunday was a gorgeous day. Mostly sunny with only passing clouds! Most of the bands that didn't play on Saturday were slotted into Sunday's schedule, with the exception of Tracy Chapman, Beck, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (at least that's what we were told). It was an awesome line-up. The day opened with Buffalo Daughter followed by Sean Lennon and then Pulp. It's interesting to watch Sean because he looks so much like his father, but that's where the similarities end. Sean definitely has his own musical style. Sonic Youth were the first band to play from Saturday's line-up. Once again the floor of the stadium became a sea of fleshy bodies. When Tibetan Nawang Khechog came on, he was able to keep the attention of the masses with his blend of new age and modern rock. He incorporated traditional instruments with new music and rhythms. It was beautiful. Radiohead, another Saturday band, upstaged everyone when they came out. The sea of people rushed the stage. They played "Creep," which isn't often included in their set anymore. And just like the night before, they were joined onstage by Stipe, who was wearing what could best be described as a dress. Hip hop Wyclef Jean played next and they actually seemed to rile up the audience more than Radiohead. He told everyone to take off their shirts, and they did! For a few minutes all you could see were shirts be twirled in the air. He also said to the crowd, "I bet you don't think we can play rock and roll." And with that went into a Hendrix rif. The day was building on itself. Blues Traveler played an impressive set, of course. The highlight of it was when they did a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" (too bad Sean didn't join them for this one) with an incredible harp solo in the middle of it. At the end of it, John Popper opened up the pockets in his vest and tossed all the harmonicas out into the crowd. Then he took off his hat and threw it out to the audience as he walked off stage. The Wallflowers really got into it when they did an unlikely cover of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Luscious Jackson did an outstanding set followed by yet another Saturday band, REM. They were excellent. And turnabout is fair play because they were joined on stage by Radiohead's Thom Yorke! Not to be outdone by Stipe's dress, the Beastie Boys came out in white shirts with ties and light blue lab coats looking very Devo-esque. The audience went nuts and moshing was taken to a whole new level. Pearl Jam was the last scheduled band to play. Eddie dedicated the song "Better Man" to Bill Clinton and his upcoming trip to China. Their set seemed to end abruptly when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came out totally unannounced. Anyone hearing the crowd from outside the stadium would have thought the 'skins had just scored a winning touchdown! The RHCP went straight into "Give It Away" as Pearl Jam left the stage. They did two more songs and then it was over. It was a memorable weekend, but more than the music we need to remember the words of one of the speakers, "...this is not an anti-China rally, this is not a pro-Tibet rally, this is about justice..." These were the sentiments echoed in Monday's National Day of Action held on the front steps of the capitol. The three hour rally was well attended despite weather forecasts of severe thunderstorms. There were several guest speakers including actor Richard Gere. REM made an appearance and played an acoustic song. Michael Stipe told the audience that he wasn't used to being up so early in the day, let alone singing. David Crosby was asked to perform and he brought Sean Lennon up with him. Anyone old enough to remember David Crosby could appreciate the vision of seeing him onstage with Lennon...two generations of peaceful protesters. The last musician to play was Radiohead's Thom Yorke. He played an acoustic version of "Street Spirit" and reminded the crowd, "The people have the power!" Rallies are nothing new to Washington, DC, but how appropriate that the Tibetan Freedom Concert was held here in conjunction with the rally just before President Clinton's trip to China. Hopefully he got the message.
Last weekend was the biggest party of the year -The HFStival @ RFK Stadium. I couldn't make it to this major league fest, but here is a brief summary of the event by some of my friends that did. We went to Kemp Mill at 3 am on April 18 willing to stand in the cold rain for hours to get tickets for the HFStival. It was great! We passed the time playing cards and having beer can races. On May 16, the day of the festival, we arrived at RFK early, but the line to get in was already very long. We were disappointed to find out that one of our favorite bands, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, wasn't going to be playing. The first band we saw was Fuel; on the outer stage. They were exceptionally great. Two other bands that we saw on the outer stage were Harvey Danger--they sucked, they weren't really into it and Cherry Poppin Daddies--they had a huge amount of energy ended up being one of the days highlights. Walking around the stadium the mood was very relaxed -- people smoking, walking around, and just chillin'. Some of the coolest booths were Kemp Mill (lots of free stickers), Doc Martens, Boxing Ring and of course the water booth! The heat was unbearable. Of the bands we saw on the main stage, Soul Coughing was good. The Barenaked Ladies were funny. Everclear and Foo Fighters were fantastic. The B-52's and Wyclef Jean were okay, but seemed out of place. Green Day kicked ass! They were awesome! When they took the stage the weather had cooled off some and we had more energy. What a great show, especially when Billy Joe took off his pants, revealing his speedo's, and put on a hot dog costume! It was hot and crowded, but overall the music was great. Was it worth standing in the cold rain for seven hours? Definitely! --DB/SS
In recent years Baltimore has become quite a nice place to hang. The city's Inner Harbor offers a wide range of unique shops and restaurants. Throughout the day you will always find people gathered to listen to live music being played along the water front. It is also the home of the National Aquarium, the center piece of the Baltimore skyline, and the brand new Hard Rock Cafe, housed in a restored power plant. There is a hot new club in town called The Ottobar. It has a quaint appearance, set back on a side street in the heart of the city. But appearances can be deceiving! The Ottobar opened in October 1997. It boasts a full schedule of local, regional and national acts. Inside, the club has an open room with an L shaped bar with a very friendly staff. The stage is a good size for a small club. There is plenty of room for a four or five piece band and with a one foot riser you can get very close to your favorite band! Upstairs you can play a game of pool or just hang in a sitting room. On the odd night when there isn't a live band playing at the club, you can find such fun events as The Drunk Talk Show featuring area musicians that drink too much. This takes place about every six weeks. It is a live interview of local musicians...that drink too much...with pre-taped commercial parodies. Other events you may find periodically at The Ottobar are The Death of Vaudeville with conceptual comedy acts, Staring Contests-where the only rule is that you are not allowed to touch your opponent, and once they even had a Cursing Contest. The club definitely has the feel of a neighborhood pub. So if you want to see a band, have some fun, or just hang....head over to 203 E. Davis Street.
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