Tag Archives: Charles Village

Tomorrow: Baker Artist Awards Closing, Pissed Jeans

One of the best things about living in Baltimore, and perhaps the major reason we love it so dearly, is the ability to go from something very highbrow and sophisticated to something decidedly lowbrow with absolutely no transition in between.

That’s exactly how our night looks to be shaping up tomorrow, when we’ll be going directly from one of the BMA’s “late night” parties over to the Golden West for an actual late night party. There’s 2 to 1 odds that the phrase “Oh you think you fancy, huh?” will come into play at some point tomorrow.

Pissed Jeans plays the Golden West tomorrow.

If you haven’t been to one of the Baltimore Museum of Art’s late night events yet, you’re absolutely missing out on one of the best things in all of Baltimore. The museum has been throwing Saturday night parties at the close of each of its special exhibitions recently, and each one has been bigger and more fun than the last with food, music, cash bar, and free or very cheap admission. Tomorrow’s event is free, and will have a distinctly Baltimorean feel to it as it marks the closing of the Baker Artist Awards exhibit.

This year’s winners were, of course, Gary Kachadourian, Audrey Chen, and Shodekeh, who will be joined by several more familiar names including Ellen Cherry, Justin Sirois, and the Copycat Theater.

But we can only pretend to be rich and classy and sophisticated for so long. By the time this party is over we’ll be more than ready to hie to the Golden West for Sub Pop’s Pissed Jeans. What’s Pissed Jeans? It’s a big dirty dick that fucks you in the ear. It’s the kind of band that makes beer drip from the ceiling and nice things get broken. It’s the sound of America falling apart at the seams.

It’s also Dana’s birthday. Happy birthday, Dana.

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Strike Anywhere, Copyrights, Younger Years @ Ottobar Tonight

So we’re going to see Strike Anywhere at the Ottobar tonight. Sounds pretty normal, except that we’re not actually going to see Strike Anywhere. Oh we’ll stand there and watch them. We’ll probably even sing along a little. What we mean to say is that even though they’re at the top of the bill, somehow they’re not the draw. If they were playing with different openers, we’d probably sit this one out.

No mistake… Strike Anywhere is still among our favorites, and their place as one of the better punk rock bands of all time is quite secure. It’s just that, well, it’s not 1999 anymore. The last time we saw the band (with Bane in College Park, May ’09) provided a very stark contrast to the shows of 10 years ago. The energy and urgency were very much lacking, not just in their set but up and down the bill. It was one of those shows that reminds you that even the best bands can’t keep getting better, and there’s no shame in moving on.

Yeah. We wish it was 2001 again too.

So we’re actually going to see the opening acts tonight. Specifically the Copyrights and local act Younger Years.

The Copyrights are very very possibly the best pop punk band in the world right now. Think of the Bouncing Souls, Screeching Weasel, and Face to Face all rolled into one. That said, being the best pop punk band in the world in 2011 is kind of like being the world’s best ska band in 2001. It’s not that hard to do because pop punk just isn’t cool anymore and high school kids are all pretentious little fucks these days. We still like pop punk. Some of the ambient dream pop cum shoegaze cum experimental fusion cum fake-ass world music acts that pass for indie rock today could stand to learn something from bands like the Copyrights.

We’re pretty stoked to finally catch Younger Years as well. They’re not exactly a new band anymore, but somehow we’ve managed to miss all of their shows so far. We’ve been hearing good things though, and really how can you say bad things about a band that, when you hear them for the first time you say “Oh, this is a band that sounds like Kid Dynamite and None More Black.” It’s about time somebody picked up that ball and ran with it.

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Ottobar is at 2549 N Howard Street in Charles Village. Tonight’s show is 7 pm doors, all ages. A Wilhelm Scream also plays.

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Lovers @ 2640 Space Tonight

…And now for something completely different. The Chop is on our way to the Red Emma’s Queer Music Explosion! at the 2640 Space tonight. That might surprise some regular readers of this blog, who are more used to us talking about pretty straightforward punk and post-punk bands. We’re not exactly known for being a fan of synth-driven dance music, let alone uber-queer Portland hippie synth-driven dance music, but believe us when we say that Lovers is one of our favorite bands of all time. Seriously. We’re talking like you can only bring five records to a desert island type of favorites. They’re that good.

Lovers plays 2640 tonight. 7:30 pm.

Our first introduction to Carolyn Berk had nothing to do with synthpop at all. It was in (circa) 2005 when Lovers was a very different band indeed. In fact, that night it was just Berk with a chair and a guitar, down in the basement at the Charm City Art Space. Even on that night, stripped down to the barest of elements, Lovers was a captivating band. We went home that night with a copy of the first record Star Lit Sunken Ship, and were blown away by the added textural layers that made the great songs we’d heard performed even better. It’s since become one of our favorite records, and has remained in heavy rotation here at the Chophouse.

Since then, Carolyn Berk has been one of those artists who spends at least as much time gathering inspiration as she has making and selling records. Moving from New England to Georgia before finally settling in Portland, Lovers’ discography has been as varied as their lineups and geography. A quick look and listen at their Myspace page will reveal not only the differences in style the band has embraced in the last 10 years, but also the similarities in mood, tone, feeling and subject matter. Any band that keeps writing the same record again and again will doom itself to irrelevance and cheapen the value of its earlier work. There is no danger of that here.

In the case of Lovers, the band’s musical growth has mirrored its frontwoman’s personal growth, and not since the Beatles has any band been able to depart so drastically from its starting point while maintaining such a consistent sense of purpose and vision. Berk and her bandmates are every bit as good with synths as they ever were with guitars. It’s this sort of evolution that will, for any band, bring in new fans while rewarding the old ones. Since the move to Portland, Berk and Lovers have been embraced by and immersed in the queer community, and fit very well on a bill like tonight’s, but don’t let that fool you. Carolyn’s lyrics have always been as personal and introspective as it is possible to be, and it’s precisely that which makes them universal. As she told Venus Zine in 2009:

“I am all those things, but I’m so much more,” she says. “I think it’s important to be loud and proud, and there’s a lot of pressure to feel marginalized, which is so old and tired. There are tons of straight, male Lovers fans, and I’m singing to everybody. I like to write about universal things because more than any of that I’m a humanist — I’m beyond humanist. I like animals. I’m a hippie. I’m a lover.”

We hope we can convince a few more of those straight, male fans to say “Dan Who-con? Future What-lands?” and come out to 2640 tonight to see what is without a doubt the best electronic band working today, anywhere.

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Queer Music Explosion also features Silence Kid, Saddle of Centaur, and The Degenerettes. 2640 Saint Paul Street is a dry venue, and this show is no alcohol, no BYOB. 7:30-11pm.

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The Dating Game @ Ottobar Tonight

You read that headline right, Choppers. The Dating Game is at the Ottobar tonight. Not some obscure touring indie rock band called the Dating Game, but, you know, a homegrown version of the old seventies TV show. Their website is short on specifics, but presumably a handful of moderately attractive 20-somethings will get on the stage and answer some corny questions about dating, a girl will pick a guy, and they may or may not go on an actual date some time in the near future.

Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?

We are in full support of the staging of live game shows in local bars. It’s a trend we can get behind. We would have organized punk rock Jeopardy long ago if, you know, we weren’t just plain lazy about organizing stuff. We’ll be the first to come out and watch it though, as we were with the RTV ‘talent’ show and the Chatroulette Knife Throwing Contest.

The Dating Game at the Ottobar seems especially appropriate though since, well, who among us hasn’t met someone there? We’ve been on plenty of dates to the bar itself, and as for running into exes- well, there’s simply no better place in Baltimore for that.

We expect that tonight’s production will fall somewhere in that misty gray area between the dating show from Mallrats and some bona fide real life Hipster Wife Hunting. If nothing else, watching a bunch of awkward contestants stammer through embarrassing sex questions will probably make us feel pretty damn good about being single after 30. That is, as long as we can avoid getting the stinkpalm.

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White Wires, Deep Sleep @ Ottobar Upstairs Tonight

If you ask any punk in town, ‘What’s going on at the Ottobar tonight?’ they’d tell you ‘Reagan Youth, Duh.’

That’s not the right answer though. Well, It’s technically the right answer, but it’s not the best show going on in that particular bar on this particular night. We’ve already made known our feelings about old decrepit bands on this blog, and if we skipped the Buzzcocks and sat out Youth Brigade, then you can bet we don’t give a flying fuck about seeing Reagan Youth.

White Wires plays upstairs at the Ottobar tonight. Doors at 9 pm.

What we do give a fuck about seeing is the upstairs show. White Wires should be totally scene-famous right now. Like Vivian Girls or Wavves. but they’re not so much. They do okay. We think it’s because they’re Canadians. Don’t hold that against them though. You should go to the show tonight and buy their CD and then play it loudly all Summer long while you drink Natty Boh on your porch. That’s what it’s made for. If ever there was a Summertime fun band for 2011 Hampden kids, this is it.

But as well as White Wires does garage punk, we in Charm City still like to keep our garage and our punk seperate, much like our peanut butter and our chocolate. This is evidenced by the locals on tonight’s upstairs bill. Hollywood made their name by being more garaged than a ’56 Ford, and Deep Sleep’s, straight up west coast punk style is strictly street. Street parking, that is. (How’s that for not mixing a metaphor?)

So we’re gonna go see an excellent free show tonight, maybe drink some drink specials, and as a bonus, get to see what other old fucks turn up for the Reagan Youth show without actually having to sit through the Reagan Youth show.

Correction: this show is not actually free. $7 at the door.

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Ottobar is at 2549 N. Howard Street in Charles Village. Downstairs show is Doors at 7, all ages. Upstairs show is 18+ doors at 9.

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Super Art Fight 10 @ Ottobar Tonight

It’s Super Art Fight night again at the Ottobar. Once again, there’s nothing we can tell you here that hasn’t already been said over on their very thorough and entertaining blog. They’ve got more inside baseball stuff over there than the actual Inside Baseball. Check it out.

SAFX is at the Ottobar tonight. 9 pm doors.

Then again, maybe there is one thing we can tell you that they won’t. Perhaps it’s out of modesty, but they’ve made no mention that they’ve been selling out shows left and right lately, and enjoying incredible popularity throughout the region. The last time they were at Ottobar, 450 people showed up. There was a line down to 25th street. If you’re going, and you should, make sure you show up early.

Like, 7 pm and sit in Charmington’s until the line starts to form early.

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Tonight: Heads for Deleted Scenes, Tales for Vivian Girls

Well, lucky Chop. We’ve got another night with too damn many interesting things going on. We already told you yesterday about the Found Footage Festival at the Creative Alliance tonight, and we can scarcely find room to mention that Madison Smartt Bell is also reading from his new novel and signing copies at Atomic Books tonight.

Sadly though, we’re not quite in the mood for film or literature tonight. We feel like getting drunk and listening to some rock and roll bands. And there’s no shortage of them going around either.

Black Lips play the Ottobar tonight. 9pm.

It’s impossible to go wrong with Deleted Scenes, who have been getting a lot of attention lately as a band to watch. Some of that attention has been from this blog, as we named them among the 10 best shows we blogged last year. Riding that momentum, we expect they’ll be playing a number of songs from their forthcoming record Young People’s Church of the Air, which is bound to be one of the better records coming out in 2011. They’re playing the Metro Gallery tonight with North Carolina’s equally buzzworthy Hammer No More the Fingers, who are set to record a full length in May with J. Robbins, as well as locals Gary B and the Notions and Vinny Vegas.

It’s a show we’d jump on under normal circumstances, but tonight there’s an equally interesting show happening at the Ottobar. A Vivian Girls show is always a good time, and they’ve got a new album of their own, Share the Joy coming out on Tuesday. If you just can’t wait that long, you can click over to NPR’s First Listen and hear the new stuff before the show tonight.

If Cassie Ramone, Kickball Katy, and new drummer Fiona Campbell look noticeably more suntanned than this crummy overcast Spring should allow, it may be because they’re fresh off the Bruise Cruise on the Carnival Imagination. Go ahead and read that link and we think you’ll agree with us that the end of Punk, and Western Civilization is very, very near.

They’re playing tonight with a band we like but have never seen before, the Black Lips who are the heirs apparent to acts like Ween and the Dead Milkmen. It’s a tough call. A trip to the Ottobar tonight may mean a quality John Waters sighting, or it could also mean a few ex-girlfriend sightings. You pays your money and you takes your chances, we guess.

So we’re going to leave it to chance. Not being bothered to try to see both shows, we’re just going to flip a coin. Heads for Deleted Scenes, tales for Vivian Girls. We’ll let the Queen decide via a British pound coin.

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