Monthly Archives: March 2010

Lucero, Desert Boys @ Sonar Tonight

So what kind of music do you listen to? Oh, you know… I like everything. Except Country. So you like alt-country? Ummm? What?

Yes. The correct answer to that question is a resounding yes. Not ‘what?’. Not no. Not a semantic discussion of what ‘alt-country’ means… just yes.

The Chop likes us some sonofabitchin’ alt-country, and we’re about to show you how much down to Sonar tonight when we go holler at Lucero.

Lucero plays Sonar tonight. 8 pm.

The first thing any self-respecting alt-country artist will tell you is, of course, that they are not ‘alt-country’. Like emo and alternative rock before it, those who invented it are the quickest to disown the label. You’ve got to call it something though. It needs a name to set it above the flood of crap that passes for commercial country music. Call it honky-tonk. Call it Midwestern roots rock. Call it down home. Whatever you call it, acts like Drag the River, Tim Barry and Drive-By Truckers are making phenomenal records with the momentum of a bona fide movement. Even Barack Obama loves Wilco.

Lucero is at the forefront of that movement. The Chop has had the great good fortune to see them several times before, and we can personally attest to the fact that they are possibly the hardest working, hardest drinking band in the country. We’re talking about a band who spends 200-250 days a year touring, and makes damn sure every show is a full-on 2 hour extravaganza. That’s 2 hours of stage time. It doesn’t include drinking with fans, glad-handing, and impromptu acoustic or a capella sets in the parking lot- all of which are cornerstones of the Lucero experience.

Tonight’s show marks the first time they’re bringing a full horn section on the road with them, which should be an interesting addition to say the least. They’re also bringing fellow Tennesseans Glossary who, at their best, sound like a country-fied Billy Joel. (We mean that in a good way. Billy Joel was cool like 30 years ago.)

We’re also really anxious to check out the Desert Boys, who are actually not from the desert at all, but are Charm City locals of long standing.

The Desert Boys support Lucero @ Sonar tonight.

You’ll recognize Ryan Shelkett from Blank and Cross My Heart, as well as from Liars’ Academy with fellow DB Matt Smith, who also played guitar in Strike Anywhere. There’s a couple of members of Squaaks. in that photo too. Shelkett ain’t never done no wrong in our opinion, so if he wants to start writing alt-country songs, we have every confidence they’re going to be some of the better alt-country songs you’ve ever heard. Especially if they’re produced by Brian McTernan.

Doors open up at 8. Show up on time, cause these guys have sold out bigger rooms than this.

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Filed under Baltimore Events, shows

Why You Will Never Find The Chop on Foursquare

You would think it would be a natural fit, right? Foursquare lets you know where everyone is and what they’re doing. That’s also the sole purpose of this blog, to talk about the things we do and the places we go every night. But alas, you will not find the Chop on Foursquare any time soon. Instead of complementary, we think it’s more redundant than anything.

That’s not just naysaying. It does seem like sort of a fun game, and as someone who knows Baltimore inside out and has all day free, the Chop could easily check in anywhere at will and be number one in this city. But will that get us paid or get us laid? No. No it will not.

After constant check-ins posted automatically to Facebook and Twitter, we’re all too eager to declare 4sq post-peak and bury it in the mass-grave of internet fads. Unfortunately though, it seems like the cool kids are just getting started. For fuck’s sake.

I'm safe at home. (Ebbet's Field. 55 Sullivan Pl. Brooklyn.)

We’re not going to sit here and gripe about the good old days and the loss of privacy and et cetera. We’re actually very interested in the integration of online and offline life (I mean, when was the last time you had a face to face conversation that didn’t somehow reference the internet?) but we don’t think Foursquare, or any of its competitors are the way forward.

For one… You’re not that interesting. Sorry, Gentle Reader, but it’s true. We wish more than anyone that cool shit was going on all the time, but it’s just not. Yet you’re still compelled to act as though it were, cause you want that badge.

The game is going to get old. Sooner or later, it will. Even the best of games, like Tetris or Scrabble can wear thin with too many plays. Foursquare isn’t half as good as those games. It’s more like Farmville, or any other crappy facebook app. You collect points and badges in what ultimately amounts to a circular, pointless samsara until one day you drop it like a crazy ex.

But the real thing that bugs us about Foursquare is that it’s self-defeating. Social media is supposed to be social. From what we can tell so far, scores of people are checking in from the same places, but none of them are actually taking the time to introduce themselves to one another. It seems to be mostly competing with (and socializing with) the people you came with, or being alone and burying your face in your smartphone. You don’t need a website for that.

It’s all well and good when the site is full of hip kids and early adopters, but watch out. Everyone from the great-and-powerful Google to your humble little neighborhood cafe owner is now asking themselves the same question about Foursquare, and it’s a question that’s ruined plenty of formerly fun websites before…

So, how can we monetize this?

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Since joining Twitter with this blog, we’re shocked at how many non-people are on there. It seems fully half of all users are entities other than people. And we’re surprised at how efficient some spammers are at finding out what you tweet about. Just yesterday we tweeted about that dude Antonio on HGTV. We didn’t even mention him by name, but the next day he was following us. Same thing has happened with tweets casually mentioning cigars and cufflinks (without #tags). All of a sudden, a new follower wants to sell us cigars or cufflinks. In the coming year, Foursquare is going to function much the same way, with businesses vying to get you in and spend more money. “Special deals for checked-in customers.” Sort of like this, from yesterday.

You won’t even know what hit you.



Filed under Chop Rants!

Support Golden West at the Hampden Community Council Meeting Tonight

Or… maybe tonight’s metal show isn’t your bag. The Chop understands. We might just skip that show ourselves, cause there’s some highly important, patriotic, community action stand up and fight for your right to party shit going on in Hampden at the very same time.

Golden West applies for it's entertainment license tonight at Roosevelt Rec Center. 7 pm.

Basically, the Golden West wants to go legit with the music and comedy they’ve been doing late nights. As you know, the Chop enjoys Golden West events on the regular, and we’d be thrilled to see them go legit. Plus, if you can be bothered to do your civic duty and sit through a community meeting, you get to get shitfaced for real real cheap at Golden West afterward.

Here’s the copy from the facebook event page:

Hello! So we are trying to make the Golden West an official Hampden Music and Entertainment Venue. In doing so we must go before the Hampden Community Council on Monday March 29th at 7pm SHARP.

We are asking our friends in the community to stand beside us that night and pledge support. This does not require money. All we ask is that you come and openly and vocally support The Golden West for receiving an entertainment license.

The Fun Part:

Please help! We’ve had a blast so far, lets keep it going. Tell your friends but keep it secret and keep it safe we don’t folks that might be against this to find out we’re rallying. This is a race to the finish and we need your help!

The Meeting is scheduled from 7 to 10 pm, at the Roosevelt Rec Center, which is located at 1221 W. 36th street, right off the Avenue in the corner of Roosevelt Park. Show up and give ’em hell.

It might also help if you dress well, and don’t show up looking like a dumb fucking hipster, okay?


Filed under Baltimore Events, Politics

Darkest Hour, Dillinger Escape Plan @ Ottobar Tonight

Yep. We did crap out yesterday. Watched cartoons and did laundry and built bookshelves. A typical Sunday, we suppose. And its a good thing too, cause now we’re all rested up and ready to have our ears exploded.

That’s right kids… back to the Ottobar tonight for Darkest Hour and Dillinger Escape Plan.

D.E.P. & Darkest Hour play the Ottobar tonight. 7 pm Doors.

The Chop doesn’t usually go for metal. In fact, we’ve gone on record plenty of times as saying that Anthrax is the only metal band that matters, and while we stand by that, we still heartily recommend this show.

DC’s Darkest Hour has always been one of those bands that plays fast enough and melodically enough to attract metalheads and hardcore kids in equal numbers. They must be a hardcore band, cause they were on Victory. They must be a metal band, cause they have a song in Guitar Hero 5. Every time we’ve seen them in the past it hasn’t mattered much. They’ve delivered sets that almost force you to rock out like Beavis on Dust-Off.

Dillinger Escape Plan is the perfect second head to this hydra. Where Darkest Hour fits in hardcore influences, DEP alloys it’s metal with a mathy post-hardcore style. Both of these bands have developed fiercely loyal cult followings since the mid 90’s, and by the time they’re done, both will have carved out an important and permanent place in the history of American Metal.

Advance tickets for the show tonight are $18. If you’re a fan of both these bands, that should seem like a bargain. If you’re more of a casual fan, it is a bit pricey, but at the very least you can offset the cost with Metal Monday at the upstairs bar. Every Monday is $9 all you can drink rail and select beers. Last time we were there, the metal wasn’t too loud, and the select beers included Sam Adams, which can easily be $4.50 each at other places.

Also participating in tonight’s you got metal in my peanut butter festivities are Louisiana’s iwrestledabearonce and the very Orwellian named Animals as Leaders. Doors at 7, show at 7:30. You can even go to work on time on Tuesday morning.


Filed under Baltimore Events, shows

The Chop vs. Ikea

Okay. We admit it. This is a half-assed post. No links or brilliant commentary today.

We’re busy as hell this weekend and don’t have time for a proper post. In fact, we’re so busy we don’t even know what we’re up to today.

We might go to the Senator Theater to catch a free screening of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story at 1pm. But probably not since we’ve already seen it.

We might go to Ottobar for Jello Biafra’s new project, but probably not, because it’s not DK and never will be.

We might even go to the Metro Gallery for the Victoria Vox CD release show. But maybe not.

You know what they say about guys with big bookshelves...

What we’ll probably do is stay at home and open a bottle of wine and attempt to assemble this monster, the Expedit 5 x 5 which is the centerpiece of the Chop’s new home office. We’ve already knocked together two of the smaller ones this week, but this is the big leagues right here.

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Filed under A Day in the Life of the Chop

Tonight: Roller Girls! Vivian Girls!

The Chop will admit it. We were late to the party this time. We remember hearing that they were getting up a roller derby league at the Fullerton Skateland and thinking That’s fucking awesome! It’s like a punk rock show on wheels! Unfortunately, that was around the same time we started traveling abroad extensively, and it took us an insanely long time to actually attend a bout.

Charm City Roller Girls skate tonight @ Du Burns Arena. 6 pm.

By the time we did, Fullerton Skateland was in the distant past and the Charm City Roller Girls had moved down to Du Burns Arena and evolved into something that was part punk-rock show, part family fun-fest, part professional sporting event, and part beer league softball tournament, complete with raging afterparty in the Canton bars.

To put it briefly, CCRG is one of the things that makes Baltimore a great city. If you haven’t been out to a bout yet, you’re missing out on the one of the best events in town. You’re also ‘off the bus’ so to speak, because the league has enjoyed tremendous support from the city (the people that is, not city hall), and deservedly so.

In it’s growth, CCRG has managed to pull off one of the most difficult feats for any organization; remaining truly DIY and fiercely independent, yet putting on a production that is 100% professional from start to finish. Being entirely skater-owned and operated requires an enormous commitment of time and a high level of skill and dedication both on and off the track, and these women not only pull it off, they make it look easy.

So we’ve got our tickets for tonight’s bout, and we’re planning on showing up early, cause that place fills up fast. (Word to the wise: get that beer wristband as soon as you walk in, before the line forms.)

Vivian Girls play the Ottobar tonight. 8:30 pm.

Sad to say we can’t make the afterparty though, cause we’re heading back uptown to the Ottobar to catch Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls with Wet Dog, Happy Birthday, and Weekends.

We’re a bit late to the party on Vivian Girls too, since the first time we went to see them play was with Fucked Up at the new Talking Head with like 15 other bands. The Chop has no patience anymore for 15 band bills, so we sat at the bar and waited patiently (read: drank heavily) for a long time, not realizing that the show was on 2 stages and we were sitting through the crap end of it. So we missed Vivian Girls entirely.

We were pissed about it too. You know a band is good when their sound is squarely between Sleater-Kinney and the Wipers. Seeing them tonight will go a long way toward making up for what we sat through last time.



Filed under Baltimore Events, Roller Derby, shows

Going All Pro @ CA, Bar Bacon Comedy @ Golden West Tonight

We think we got it now. It’s all starting to make sense. It’s the weekend now, right? Like that time when everybody knocks off work and goes to do fun stuff? That’s howcome you haven’t been around so much, huh? You were waiting for the weekend.

Well it’s here, and there’s no shortage of fun stuff going on this weekend. We don’t know what you’re thinking of (hell, we never do, do we?) but we’ll definitely clue you in on what we’re up to.

First up we’re heading over to the Creative Alliance to catch the premiere of Going All Pro, the latest documentary from Baltimore’s own Charles Cohen. Going All Pro is an up close and personal look at Oriole Park’s Clancy the beer man. If that leaves you scratching your head, then shame on you, Baltimore. It means you haven’t been out to the Yard often enough.

When you go out to your neighborhood bar, you get to know the bartender a little, don’t you? You expect to see him there after a while and he becomes a friendly and familiar face and it wouldn’t be the same without him, right? Well, take it from the Chop, who watches more Oriole baseball than is healthy, and most of it from a sneaked-into box seat in section 12… these guys are just the same. Fancy Clancy is as much a fixture downtown as the Bromo-Seltzer tower.

Going All Pro premieres at CA tonight. 7 pm.

Director Charles Cohen is something of a Baltimore fixture in his own right. You might already be familiar with the Baltimore Community Issues Examiner from his contributions to Citypaper, including one from 2004 about Fancy Clancy and other publications or from any of his other films, including The Last Season, an excellent doc about the closing of Memorial Stadium. The Chop can remember seeing that one premiere, and there was no shortage of grown men crying, to be sure.

A q&a with Clancy and Cohen will follow the film, and lucky for us it’s only 41 minutes in length, which means we can make a 9 o’clock date at nearby Salt. That will leave us just enough time to get back uptown for Bar Bacon.

Bar Bacon hits the Golden West tonight. 11 pm.

It’s Volume III, Book II tonight… whatever that means. We suspect it has something to do with comedy duo Velvet Glovular, Seaton Smith, Sean Jokes, Dorian Grey, and Mike Moran. “A Comedy Tour of Paradise Island” means you can trade in that PBR for a seabreeze. We won’t tell.

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Filed under Baltimore Events, Comedy, Film

Gary B & the Notions, Big Big Bucks @ Hexagon Tonight

Sad to say it Baltimore, but this is another post more about what we’re not doing than what we’re actually getting up to tonight, due to a lot of bad information out there on that interwebs. Sometimes it happens that way, but you know what? That’s the great thing about Baltimore. There’s always a plan B. Or in this case, Gary B.

Gary B, Big Big Bucks play Hexagon tonight. 9 pm.

So we were going to head downtown tonight to check out the Baltimore screening of Jameel Saleem’s Cream Soda, but according to the film’s Facebook page and the Landmark Theaters’ schedule, that’s actually not happening. It’s been postponed for ‘sometime in April.’

We were kind of looking forward to it. As far as independent film goes, anybody can make a documentary these days, but you don’t often see truly independent romantic comedies, so Cream Soda might be worth checking out just for that fact alone. When you take into consideration that it seems to be mostly sex-driven and not actually that romantic at all, that’s twice as much reason to watch.

After the Film, we were planning on ditching the afterparty, and heading up to Golden West instead to see J. Robbins’ new project The Office of Future Plans. You probably don’t remember it, but the Chop’s first post ever dealt with OFP, and we were quite pleased. But alas, that show’s not actually happening either.

Fortunately, the Hexagon Space is coming through for us tonight, hosting Gary B and the Notions along with Allston, Mass’ Big Big Bucks, who are touring nationally and are fresh off their SxSW appearance.

These two acts ought to complement each other well, since both are solid, fun to listen to power-pop. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘I’m not the type of person who goes to places like the Hexagon. It’s full of super-indie hipster snobs. I’ll stick to the 8×10 or Power Plant Live.’ then you should definitely come out tonight, because this is going to be one of the most unpretentious, balls-out fun shows you’ll see for a while.

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Filed under Baltimore Events, shows

Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Raise a Glass to Healthcare Edition

It’s gonna be a good one tonight. That’s an understatement. It’s going to be a celebration three years and three generations in the making.

The Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally celebrates its third anniversary tonight at Joe Squared, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Hell, it might even be warm enough to sit out on that nice patio they have there.

Drinking Liberally meets tonight at Joe Squared. 7pm.

As always, DL meetings are very informal, and open to anyone of a liberal bent. New members are encouraged to stop by and become new friends. And judging by what we’ve seen on the Twitter we’ve got a lot of new friends out there. Come on Baltimore… its time to live up to all that tweeting you did on Sunday. Come on out and give us your take on healthcare, the tea-party wingnuts, and the general awesomeness of Nancy Pelosi.

As for the Chop’s take on it, we saw it coming the whole time. A year ago we were telling anyone who would listen that something would get passed. Sure, we wanted that something to be single-payer. We wanted that something to at least have a public option. But when it all came down at the end of last week, with Kucinich coming to Jesus and the whip count steadily increasing, we weren’t at all surprised. The votes have been there the whole time, and if there was ever a day when congress went through the motions just for show, it was Sunday.

That sounds strange to say, but it’s true. They could have had two hours debate and a 20 minute vote and been done.

All in all though, we think its a good deal. We like the bill. Obama promised Change and this bill is full of changes. The Chop has been generally pleased with Barack Obama (don’t ask don’t tell notwithstanding), and we’re even more pleased now.

We also want to share with you this link we were sent (via the DL mailing list) to the SEIU website. They’ve made it incredibly easy to see how your representative voted on the bill, and added a contact form to voice your gratitude or displeasure. (In Maryland only Roscoe Bartlett (R- 6th District) and Frank Kratovil (D- 1st) voted no. If you live there, give them what for.

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Filed under Bi-Weekly Political Roundup

Charles Village Civic Association Meeting Tonight

Here it is… We’re disappointed that there still seems to be no on-the-ground citywide organizing effort to stop the WalMart PUD, even though it’s already been shown that there is citywide interest in such organizing, as demonstrated on Facebook.

After the somewhat embarassing confusion of March 9th in Remington, we decided to do a little actual homework like a grown-up blogger for a change.

CVCA meets at 2801 N. Charles tonight at 7:20 pm. WalMart Will be discussed.

So we sent an email to the Charles Village Civic Association yesterday stating in plain terms that we live near Charles Village, and are specifically interested in stopping WalMart, and asked if it would be worth our while to attend tonight’s meeting.

The prompt and courteous reply we received was short, but indicated that all are welcome. So if you have any interest at all in stopping WalMart from extending it’s insidious tentacles into Remington, we encourage you to come out tonight. The Meeting is at Ss. Philip and James Church at 2801 North Charles St. (map), and starts at 7:20 pm.

We realize this is in direct conflict with tonight’s Drinking Liberally meeting, so you’ll just have to decide what sort of progressive you are. Or run really fast from one to the other, like we’re tempted to do.

If you’ve not yet signed the online petition against WalMart, you can sign it here.

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Filed under Baltimore Events, Politics