Tag Archives: DIY

Double Dagger @ CCAS Tonight

Today is an important day in the city of Baltimore. Double Dagger will play its penultimate Baltimore show tonight at the Charm City Art Space. If you don’t know or care who Double Dagger is, or if you don’t think tonight is important, then you can go look at some fucking cats or something, okay? For the rest of us, Double Dagger frontman Nolen Strals was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions about the last 10 years of his life…

Double Dagger plays CCAS Tonight. Go now or cry later.

So, why did you want to be in a band in the first place?

    In high school I wanted to be in a band just because, you know, I was young, newish to punk and it’s ideas and ideals and I was an angry kid in a small town with a lot to say. Being in a band gave me a chance to say things that were important to me. Sixteen years later I’m still in bands partly for that same reason but with new things to say. As anyone who knows me can attest, I usually have a lot to say. I’m full of ideas and opinions and I’m not afraid to let people hear them.

    Also, it’s just fun as hell to play shows. Double Dagger shows are almost always really fun, interacting with the audience. We’re giving them something, they’re giving us something back. I sometimes feel as if the crowd at the right show is like a fourth member of the band. Seeing people flip out for our music, hearing them sing along… there’s no questioning why I’m in a band when that’s happening. We all feed off that reaction.

What were your goals as a band? Do you feel like all of those goals were met?

    When Double Dagger started I think we just wanted to be a really high energy, smart-ass post punk band… In the middle years, when our original drummer Brian Dubin left and Denny Bowen joined full-time I think we were trying to figure out how to take the Double Dagger formula of spare bass, drums, and vocals and beef it up, fill it out, push that reductive combination further. The band as a whole got more serious, taking more care with our recordings, putting more effort into playing out of town and touring, etc. We definitely met or exceeded all of those goals. Touring-wise we exceeded it by going to Europe for almost a month in 2010.

    I think when we started people didn’t take us too seriously, and I’m really proud to say that I think a lot of people respect the band now. A ton of bands are liked or loved, but respect is harder to come by, and I think we earned that through the music we wrote and the way operated.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

    I wish we’d played more benefit shows, especially ones to help local organizations and causes. We care a lot about Baltimore City and that’s reflected in our songs, but I think our actions could have showed it a little more.

Baltimore could definitely use a bigger act like Fugazi, who played a lot of benefits and encouraged other bands to be more civic-minded and philanthropic.

    Totally agree. Bands who have a big draw have the ability to use that for more than just selling tickets. You can have an impact beyond that especially when playing locally, so there’s no reason not to.

    We’re a band that crosses a lot of the scene barriers in Baltimore. I love that we draw punk and hardcore kids as well as the art school warehouse types, plus high schoolers and old dudes. I think at times we pigeonholed ourselves to certain types of shows. Basically I just we’d played with more hardcore bands in the later years.

This final stuff you’re putting out is your last chance to design one of your own releases. How are you possibly going to top Masks?

    We’re thinking 1/6-scale vinyl toys of all three members with 9 points of articulation (11 for Denny), and when you pop the head off, a USB drive holding the songs is sticking out of the neck. Either that or something more traditional… we’re still hammering out the details.

After 10 years in a band, you'd be tired too.

What advice would you give to someone starting their first band today?

    Think. Practice. Practice. Think. Practice. Practice. We were a part of a generation of local bands who spent a few months figuring out their songs, their sound, and what they wanted to do before ever playing in front of people, because they wanted their first show to be as good as possible. They wanted people to take them seriously. It seems a lot of younger people (but not all) don’t have that mentality. It’s more of ‘Hey let’s just start a band and play our first show next week because we can and it will be cool.’ Those bands don’t last, and unless there’s some accidental genius at work they’re not very good.

    Figure out not just how you want to sound, but why you want to sound that way.

    Don’t accept that just because certain things are done regularly now, that you should do it too. When you first start out, book your own shows. You don’t need an agent, tour manager, or booking agent within your first several years of being a band. You’ll probably never need one. I’ve heard recently about some relatively new, comparatively tiny bands who have publicity agents and tour managers with them while playing only small DIY shows. That’s some rockstar bullshit. Get real/get out.

    Play out of town early and often. Playing in-town all the time is too easy. Play for people who aren’t your friends. That’s a better gauge of what you’re doing. Philly, DC, and New York are all close, and all have DIY scenes that are easy to access so play there. You’ll become better playing for strangers than you will for friends.

What are some of the more important things you’ve learned along the way?

    Oooh there might be some bitter replies in this one… The views in this reply are only mine, not speaking for the other dudes here:

    I learned hard work is often trumped by internet hype. Accept this early on. The lesson to be learned here is not to go after blog hype. Not if you want to last at least. Very few music bloggers are music journalists (don’t worry Chop, you wrote better questions than we usually get from music writers). Get ready to be let down and, at times, surprised.

    Don’t trust the words of people whose job title rhymes with the two words “Hooking…” and uh, I can’t finish this joke because nothing rhymes with “Agent.” Doing it the hard way pays off in the long run.

    And if you are going to do something the hard way, be it music or otherwise, you’d better be sure what all the repercussions of that will be in your personal life, and you need to determine if it’s worth it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it ain’t.

    If you eat shitty food on tour, you will play shitty shows on tour. Local, cheap, good restaurants trump any fast food ever. It may take an extra 30-40 minutes, but your body will appreciate it. Ask local folks where to go. Fat Sandwiches in New Brunswick, NJ are the best post-show food ever.

    Pack light, but pack thoroughly.

    Shows in towns that never get shows will always be more fun than selling out huge rooms in big cities. Small town kids will appreciate you going out of your way to play in their no where town more than even the most enthusiastic city dweller. You need to play those shows from time to time. I wouldn’t have gotten into punk rock without that happening for me.

    I realize most of these sound negative, but lessons aren’t always easy. The easy stuff happens the rest of the time, and it outshines all the bad. I learned a lot of amazing things in this band and saw incredible places and made great friends in places I never would have gone otherwise.

    The DIY Punk Community is international, beautiful, and inspiring.

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Charm City Art Space is at 1731 Maryland Ave in Station North. 7 pm doors, all ages.

Tonight’s show also features Holy Tongues and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

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Shellac @ Sonar Tonight

You gotta go see Shellac tonight.

Among the many reasons why you gotta go see Shellac tonight is because you’ve probably never seen them before, and the smart money says you’ll probably never see them again. After all, even though they’ve been around forever, they’re not exactly banging down the door for the title of ‘hardest working band in show business.’ The bio on the Touch & Go website pretty much sums it up:

Band information:
“While there is no specific coordination between Shellac’s record releases and touring schedules, you can expect the band to tour at its usual sporadic and relaxed pace.”

Current:
“Shellac will have a new LP anytime between now and the future.”

A visual approximation of the flying fuck Shellac doesn't give about you.

Now, maybe you’ve never even heard of Shellac. Don’t worry, that is a minor detail and it doesn’t matter in the least. You will still need to go see them though, whether you’ve heard of them or not. In fact, if you’re unfamiliar with the name of Shellac or its frontman Steve Albini, it’s probably because Albini doesn’t give a flying fuck whether you’ve ever heard of him or not. This is punk rock. Steve Albini doesn’t have to fucking impress you.

That said, Albini is actually pretty impressive. He first made a splash along with Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati in the early 80’s when they formed Big Black, which sounded like nothing that had been heard before and like very little that’s been heard since. Although they only put out 2 records and aren’t well-remembered today, Big Black was a band’s band, and went on to be hugely influential to other bands that were hugely influential like Helmet, Clockcleaner, and Baltimore’s own Lungfish.

Although in a lot of ways Shellac is an encore, or a second act, they’ve also been fairly influential in their own right. Their musical DNA can be traced out to acts as disparate as the Dismemberment Plan, Double Dagger, and Sweep the Leg Johnny. It’s almost as if the band’s mission statement was “Hey, we’re not doing this for our fucking health… we’re doing it to show you what music can sound like if you cut the shit. Turns out that when you cut the shit, music sounds pretty good. This is another reason you need to go see Shellac tonight.

But the last and perhaps most important reason you will go see shellac tonight is because Steve Albini is a genius. Now, we don’t throw that word around lightly, and calling anyone a genius is debatable, but Albini probably is. Odds are, he’s produced your favorite record, having done recording work for acts like the Pixies, Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, Superchunk, Helmet, PJ Harvey, Jawbreaker, Guided By Voices, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and about a thousand others. You can hear him profess musical philosophy here, here, and all over Youtube.

Even if he’s not a genius (and we don’t concede that he’s not) he sure acts like one. Which we mean to say… he’s kind of a dick. You have to be kind of a dick to name one of your bands Rapeman, call one of your records Songs About Fucking or to have a Facebook page called Steve Albini Being A Jerk. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re kind of a dick too, after all.

It says a lot about the state of music and especially the state of the internet that Albini is the first person we’ve ever heard say anything negative about Odd Future. Even NPR is happy to heap praise on them but you know what? Odd Future is terrible and their fans are stupid.

That’s why you’re going to come see Steve Albini and Shellac tonight. Because they’re one of the last real remaining punk bands in America. Because they’ve never been afraid to say what needs to be said and to take the path of most resistance. Because they don’t give a fuck if you come see them or not.

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Sonar is at 407 E Saratoga Street downtown. Tonight’s show is $13 on the main stage, 8 pm doors. Helen Money also plays.

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Secret Mountains, Dangerous Ponies @ Golden West Tonight

We were sad to hear the news a few weeks ago that the Hexagon Space was closing. We’re sad to hear about any venue closing up, even if we don’t go there very often. Fletcher’s, The Supreme Imperial, even Hal Daddy’s; we may have gone there pretty seldom, but any venue is better than no venue in our eyes.

That said, we weren’t exactly losing sleep over it. The law of supply and demand has always governed underground music venues in Baltimore, and sometimes it almost seems as if one space needs to close before someone else will take the initiative to open a new one. Every time we hear about something like this, we’re sorry for it, but more than anything we’re excited to see what new thing the future holds.

Secret Mountains plays Golden West tonight.

So it is with the Hexagon. The way that City Paper article reads, the thing that takes the Hexagon’s place might even literally take its place, and another DIY venue is not out of the question for that address. The room is a great place to watch bands, but Joy Martin is right… there had to be more shows there in order to make the space live up to its potential. The last time we were there was actually more than a year before the closing.

In the meantime though, the shows must go on, and the scene is none the poorer for losing Hexagon. For instance, tonight the Golden West is hosting a show which is nearly the exact same bill as one of the better Hexagon shows in recent memory. Local favorites Secret Mountains are rejoined by their Philly friends and contemporaries Hop Along and Dangerous Ponies.

If you’re the type who likes taping shows or taking photos of them, this one would be a good choice to document. Three great bands for five bucks on a Wednesday, after all the real-job-having nine to five types have packed it in for the night. This show will be one of those little things that makes Summer so Summery, and if you’re serious about getting your Summertime fun on, this one’s not to be missed.

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Chop Style: The 10 Second Shoeshine

Maybe you’re the type that doesn’t dress up a lot. Perhaps you’re a lot more comfortable in a pair of Adidas or Converse than brogues or boots. Style is a matter of taste and lifestyle, and at the end of the day it’s to each his own.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and for a lot of you it will represent one of the two or three times you’ll see the inside of a church this year. Or you may just be getting together with family. Or your girlfriend’s family. For most people, whatever they’re doing, Easter is a prime day for wearing the best pair of shoes you own.

Now go home and get your fucking shinebox.

There’s no substitute for a proper shoeshine, but if you’re the sort who usually takes to shoes that don’t need polishing and has only one pair of dress shoes buried way back in the bottom of the closet and reserved for weddings and funerals, you may be caught out tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when you wake up all hungover and reluctant and pull out your sad sack of a suit and try to remember how to tie a four in hand, you may then notice that your dress shoes have a nice patina of dust, cigarette ashes and beer foam stains, and you’ve got to be out the door in 10 minutes because you hit that snooze button too hard. Even if you had the time to give your shoes a proper shine, you don’t have brushes, cloth or polish, because after all, who the hell keeps that on hand all the time?

Fear not, slovenly friend. The Chop has you covered.

    The 10 Second Shoe Shine

  • Gather 4 paper towels and a can of furniture polish.
  • Spray one towel liberally with furniture polish and coat your shoe leather evenly.
  • Buff it lightly with a dry towel.
  • Repeat both steps on the other shoe.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Your shoes aren’t going to pass Marine Corps muster, but they’re going to look a sight better than they did 10 seconds ago, and probably even be presentable. Furniture polish is all wax based, as is shoe polish, so there’s no need to worry about harming your shoes. If they’re in a very sorry state with quite a bit of dust and dirt present, you’d also do well to wipe them down first with one end of a slightly damp cloth or towel and dry them with the other side.

It may not be ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and more sensible way to clean your shoes than wasting perfectly good Champagne on them.

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Pop-Up Shop and Show @ Charm City Art Space Today

It’s SPRING, Baltimore. You may be thinking that it’s not Spring, that it is in fact monsoon season, but we assure you that Spring has most positively sprung. Do you know what that means? Eh? Eh? Do you? It means that you need t-shirts. But not just any t-shirts will do. You don’t want to be shelling out good money to support some California pervert playing grabass with underlings, or buying a t-shirt which is not the thing that it is a t-shirt of.

No no. Not a bit of it. You want a one of a kind, thoughtfully designed, hand printed t-shirt made by a talented local artist and offered at a fair price. And that’s exactly what you’re going to find today at the Charm City Art Space. Marking the closing of the Rough Language show at the Hexagon, the goods from that show will be offered for sale around the corner at CCAS. We didn’t get a chance to see what was on offer over the last month, but from what we’ve heard just since we got home, it was pretty impressive, and worth your consideration when it goes up for sale today from 1 pm until 6 pm.

Goods from the Rough Language show go on sale at CCAS today. 1-6 pm.

You might think you want to get there early for the best selection, but the smart money says roll in around 5:30 for maximum haggling advantage. You can spend the money you save on a nice round of drinks over at Joe Squared or Club Charles, and walk back around for the 7:00 show. And you will want to stay for the show.

We went to a show there featuring locals Pianos Become the Teeth shortly before we left, and at that time we took the attitude “Meh, let’s go around the corner and watch another band. These guys will play again soon.” Well, soon is now. They’re playing again and we’re not going to take them for granted this time. We’re going to watch them, because they are great at what they do and they deserve a great crowd listening.

Sharing the bill tonight is Connecticut’s Make Do and Mend, who just released their first proper full length this fall. We predict they’ve got a very bright future ahead of them selling songs to video game developers, web-based advertisers, minor filmmakers and the like. See them in a garage now, because in a few years you’re going to be saying “Oh, that band again. Hmm.” They’re on the right track by being on their way to this year’s South By Southwest, no? That’s not to say we approve or disapprove of their sound, it’s just what we see in our crystal ball.

Also sharing the stage tonight are Diamond, Balance and Composure, and Invitational. And you’re invited. See you there.

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Charm City Art Space is at 1731 Maryland Ave in Station North.

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In Praise of the Workbench

We’ve got some wasted space in our bedroom closet.

It’s not much space, really. 31″x21″x20″ About 8 cubic feet we’d guess. In a Baltimore rowhouse though, closet space is a precious commodity, and the waste of any of it is silly and shameful. For one such as the Chop, who shops for clothes regularly and likes the room neat and orderly at all times, maximizing closet space is imperative.

So we went to Home Depot and looked for a shelf. We didn’t expect we’d find one that was exactly 31″x 21″, but we were dismayed to find that we couldn’t even come close. We couldn’t seem to find any shelving broader than about a foot.

You can accomplish a lot with a good workbench. Just ask this guy Edison.

It was then that we strolled over to the lumber aisle and found some really nice planks of maple. ‘This’ll work.’ we thought ‘We can cut this to size, use the cut piece as a shelving front, and attach it to the walls, et voilà, custom shelving. We’ve even already got some antique white paint at home to match the trim, or stain and lacquer to match the furniture.

But we quickly realized just how impractical this plan is. Why impractical? Because we haven’t got a saw. Buying a circular saw isn’t out of the question, although it is a very small project to justify the purchase. Even if we had a saw though, we’d probably cut a hand off with it- for we have no workbench.

We don’t even have anything even remotely resembling a workbench. No old folding tables, sawhorses, nothing like that. Without a proper workspace, even something as simple as joining two pieces of wood becomes much harder than it should be. Ditto for painting it, so we’re setting aside the shelf idea for now.

When we enumerated our New Year’s resolutions a few weeks ago, there were a few of them we left out for brevity’s sake, and one of those is to build a workbench area in the basement. We’ve been wanting to do this since before we moved in. Even touring the house with our Realtor we thought that sectioning off a part of the basement for a bench was a great idea. Then roommate moved in, and our basement filled up quick with toys, action figures, T shirts, and sundry other junk which should have found its way to eBay or the dump a long time ago.

Having a bench handy will not only enable us to build and repair things around the house, it will also enable us to build up a decent collection of tools as the need for them arises. As it is now, our humble set of tools is in a box. Not a toolbox, mind you, but a cardboard box. They blend in very nicely with the rest of the junk down there, and we’re hesitant to bring home anything for which we don’t have a place.

Aside from all the practical concerns though, we’ve got to admit that we’re also drawn by the sheer goddamn manliness of the workbench. While we’ve been able to knock out every repair or improvement we’ve faced so far, we anticipate many more in the future around here, and having the right tool for the job and getting it done in a space you’ve designed and built yourself has a deep inherent satisfaction, and we suspect that chasing that satisfaction will have us spending more of our Sundays accomplishing home improvements, and fewer of them sulking around, listening to Belle and Sebastian and looking at the sex stories and personal essays on nerve.com.

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Bikes, Bands and Burritos @ Charm City Art Space Today

So, the Baltimore Chop has already gone on record as giving brunch our seal of approval, but if there’s one thing we like more than fancy hotel brunch, it’s gotta be DIY punk rock brunch- which is exactly what we’re doing today.

This is late-breaking developments, Baltimore! We were tentatively planning to do the day-tripping thing today, and check out the DC Record Fair at the Black Cat before taking the metro down to Nationals Park to see our O’s reign victorious in the Battle of the Beltways, but when we suggested this to Roommate he say “No way Jose! Domingo esta los Bicycletas, Mariachis, y Burritos!!!” or something to that effect.

Bikes, Bands and Burritos is at Charm City Art Space today. Doors= too early.

Yes Baltimore, today is the annual celebration of Bikes, Bands, and Burritos at Charm City Art Space. We’re going to treat this as brunch since we’re lazy and won’t be rolling out of bed until noon, but to a lot of other people, it means much more than that.

This week was National Bike to Work Week and as we all know, North Baltimore loves bikes. In addition to being a worthy cause on its own, Bike to Work Week has been endorsed by some of the Chop’s favorite blogs, namely the Magnificent Bastard and Kempt. Although the Chop recommends you follow local custom and throw your bike in the back of a co-worker’s car and go to happy hour on the way home from the office.

In an extra little bit of kismet, today’s show also coincides with the Baltimore Bike Jam and Kelly Cup, and if you pedal fast enough you can even do both.

But down to brass tacks: if you want to buy, sell, or trade a bicycle or some bicycle parts, show up at 10 am. If you want to participate in a punkrock group ride around the city, show up by 10:30. And if you want to do like the Chop does and see Tiny Bombs and Fires and nosh on tasty veggie Mexican food (swap napa cabbage for kale there) show up at noon sharp, because that’s what time they’re playing.

It’s all pot luck, and the Chop loves to wow ’em with the veggie pot luck surprise, so we’re definitely bringing a dish. We even made a trip to the Upper Fells’ Point supermercado the other day, so we’ve got some authentic ingredients cold chillin’ in our fridge.

And if you’re still unsatisfied with that, you can always walk around the corner and get a proper brunch at Joe Squared (who knew?) and go authentico with one of their many tequilas like we just might.

Ole!

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