Tag Archives: Downtown

Tomorrow: Puddle, Poly/Western @ Sidebar

You probably know by now that this blog is a big fan of local band Poly/Western. We’ve posted about them before and go to see them every chance we get. Luckily, we get another chance tomorrow night at the Sidebar.

We’ve always said that they were a great band who were bound to get better and better, and since the last time we saw them that’s exactly what’s happened. They’ve gone professional. No more giving away 3 song demos for these guys. If you want the Rock now, you’ve gotta get it from a real, bona fide EP which you can download here for the low low price of $5. They’ve even got a genuine band page on Facebook now, where you can stream songs and such. Of course, if you like them “just as friends,” you can still do that here.

Poly/Western plays the Sidebar tomorrow. 9pm doors.

But wait! There’s more! Puddle is headlining tonight’s show. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve seen Puddle? More than 10 years. Clinton was president. Yet they’re still riding the same groove they were back then: too much like a jam band for the cool kids, and too cool for the hippies. The bottom line is that they kind of sound like Landspeedrecord! if LSR had gone to Juliard and knew everything there was to know about composition and arrangement. Just when you think Puddle is starting to sound a little too much like Mededski Martin and Wood or some crap, they’ll play something that kind of reminds you of Jawbox. So you’re just going to have to go and make up your own mind.

While you’re at it, you can also make up your own mind about Muscle Twin, who play reggae for white people, and Goodbye New Plans who don’t.

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Sidebar is at 218 E. Lexington St. Downtown. 18+ 9pm doors.

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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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Awesome Saturday Again in Baltimore Tonight

We’ve talked before on this blog about the Baltimore phenomenon we’ve taken to calling Awesome Saturday. The movers and shakers and event planners in this town who plan things in advance all seem to zero in on the last Saturday of the month to book the really cool stuff, and at least 3 great events will all happen at the exact same time. It’s usually the last Saturday, anyway. Sometimes it’s the third Saturday. This month, after Christmas and New Year’s and all, it’s both.

There are three shows going on tonight that are all worthy of your attention. We still don’t really know which one (or more) we’ll get to, so we’re going to tell you about all of them in a Just the facts, ma’am sort of way.

A visual approximation of Joan of Arc eating dinner at the Golden West.

The Sidebar is drawing first blood with 4:30 pm doors on a huge bill at Incest Fest, the general idea of which is a small-timore style crossover day of bands and friends sharing the stage in common bands and side projects. Highlights include the straight-out-the-garage rockabilly style of Young Jaguars and the one and only TUNNELBIKE!

Up at the Metro Gallery it’s gonna be Sick Sick Birds, who we talked about on Wednesday when they played with the Queers in DC. They’re playing with Squaaks, White Tiger and the Bed of Roses, and former Government Issue frontman John Stabb’s latest band Sleeper Agent, who were one of the subjects of our first post ever.

Finally, the Golden West in Hampden is hosting Joan of Arc. You would think that would be a no-brainer, since we love Joan of Arc and all the bands in tonight’s other shows are local, but they’re also playing Monday at the Black Cat, so there’s your second chance right there. Tonight’s show also features Philly’s Algernon Cadwallader, who’ve made a career out of sounding exactly like Cap’n Jazz, and Soft Circle.

Wherever you or we or any of us end up tonight, it’s bound to be an awesome Saturday.

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Metro Gallery is at 1801 N. Charles Street in Station North.

Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W. 36th Street in Hampden.

Sidebar is at 218 E. Lexington Street Downtown.

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Obits, Sal Bando @ Sonar’s Talking Head Stage Tonight

Sometimes we’re too cool for things. Sometimes we like to pretend we’re too cool for things, when we’re really just too old and jaded for them. This is not one of those times.

We’ve talked before about the right and wrong ways to continue a musical career after some initial success. It’s become increasingly easy to sit at home, especially during the dead of winter, and wait to hear the meh reviews of live sets from bands who were only marginally exciting 15 years ago. That won’t be the case at Sonar’s Talking Head Stage tonight.

Obits plays Talking Head tonight. 8:30 doors.

Rick Froberg is an archetypal model for how to conduct a career. We said as much in the link above about his former bandmate John Reis (Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes), and Froberg’s newest band Obits is putting out exactly the type of music we want to listen to at this point. Late Night Wallflower once described them as Surf Like Jehu, and that’s a good thing. We don’t think we can sum it up any better.

Playing in support tonight is DC’s Shortstack, who are another band currently putting out just what we want to hear. It can be tough to describe their particular brand of rocky-tonk, but if you think the Old 97’s are a little too polished, Ryan Adams is a little too precious, and Uncle Tupelo was just about right, then Shortstack is right up your alley.

The natural choice for a local slot on the bill is Baltimore’s own Sal Bando, who’ve all got their own laudable musical resumés, and their own surf garage band that kind of sounds like the Hold Steady would sound if Craig Finn actually knew how to sing and didn’t just talk over the music in the same annoying manner record after record. Not sure why Sal Bando is waiting around so long to put out an album, but if they’d go ahead and release one we’d definitely buy it.

It’s not all old man music tonight though. Local favorites Double Dagger are also on the bill, and are guaranteed to bring it fast and manic enough to ensure that none of the old codgers coming out of the woodwork (and there will be plenty of them (us) there tonight) don’t fall asleep at the bar. We missed their final show of 2010, which was a crowded round-robin affair with Orphan and Dope Body, so we’re happy to see their first date in 2011 before we split town.

Just informed that Double Dagger is not on the bill. What do we look like, some kind of music journalist or something?

So yeah. We’re excited. You should be too, since we’d bet dollars to Dogfish that even though it’s early yet, this show makes our top ten list for 2011.

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Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St. downtown.

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Fundraiser Show to Benefit Current Gallery Today

Well, we told you that charities, non-profits, and do-gooders of all types were about to come out of the woodwork raising funds as the holidays approach, and we were right. Fortunately, we’re in a giving and generous mood today, so we’re heading down to the new Current Space (421 N. Howard St.) to check out their new (ish) environs and support their endeavors by attending today’s benefit show.

Weekend afternoon shows used to be a pretty regular thing, back before punks and scenesters all started liking football. It’s a tradition we’d love to see reinstated, although today’s bill is more of a mini-Whartscape than a CBGB’s Sunday matinee. If you liked Whartscape this summer, but thought it was entirely too hot and crowded and stinky and confusing to go from place to place, then today’s show should be right up your alley.

Current Gallery holds a fundraiser today. 2-11 pm.

With 9 bands including Thrill Jockey labelmates Double Dagger and Thank You, the festivities also include several craft and rummage tables, as well as beers from the Brewer’s Art (No Natty Boh’s today, Hon.), and a chance to view the gallery’s current exhibition Force: On the Culture of Rape.

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We’re not going to force you to vote for the Chop in the Mobbies, but it is highly encouraged. We’re nominated in the Music/Nightlife, Misfits, and Personal categories, and we’re going to need your vote to push us over the top. You can and should vote daily from now until Nov. 12.

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Puerto Rico Flowers, Pfisters @ Talking Head Stage Tonight

The astute among you will quickly notice that the shape of the graphic below is not Puerto Rico, but is in fact Australia. It’s Australia because that’s where John Sharkey III fucked off to after Clockcleaner. Sharkey returns to the US tonight with his new project Puerto Rico Flowers for their only 2010 US date at Sonar‘s Talking Head stage. Welcoming Sharkey back tonight will be Fan Death Records label-mates and unfuckwithable local trio Pfisters as well as DC’s Screen Vinyl Image.

Puerto Rico Flowers plays the Talking Head stage tonight. 9 pm Doors.

We’ve got the feeling that Puerto Rico Flowers is going to be one of those bands for whom there is no middle ground at all. Anyone unfamiliar can slap on headphones and listen to about ten seconds of their 4 ep and decide instantly whether they want to listen to it on repeat all day, or whether they want to run screaming at its mere mention.

The Chop is squarely in the former camp, and we predict the forthcoming full length will be going into heavy rotation on the iPod for late drives home or nights out on the back deck. Sharkey has always been the sort who makes a very particular sort of music. It’s the sort that he wants to hear, and he makes it precisely because it doesn’t yet exist in the world. Whether anyone else listens or not seems to be irrelevant. PRF represents what has become all too rare in 2010… something entirely new.

That said, the influences are immediately discernible. The 4 ep easily conjures the best work of Joy Division, the Damned, Bauhaus, et al, and will become seminal listening for fans of those stripes.

The next time you hear someone staunchly defend Baltimore’s music scene as being better than DC’s and more genuine than Brooklyn’s don’t dismiss it. Shows like this one tonight stand as proof.

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Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga Street downtown. Doors are at 9 pm, all ages.

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The Perfect Fathers’ Day Gifts at the Quinntessential Gentleman

In the heated, noisy, and sometimes treacherous downtown streets, the Quinntessential Gentleman is nothing less than an oasis. The shock of comfort and relief a man feels when crossing their threshold is much the same as what the desert wayfarer feels encountering the shady stream or the drifting sailor feels upon washing up on the shore. We know this firsthand; the QG will not just give you a haircut, but provide you aid and comfort as much as you like, and send you off ultimately feeling like a new man whose been given a fresh start.

We told you earlier this week about Rodney Henry, who built his pie shop from the ground up, virtually creating his own market through a constant attention to quality and tradition. Craig Martin has a similar story, and the QG’s unrivaled skill, attention to detail, and posh environment have made them an invaluable asset to the state of Maryland.

Bosca Tribeca leather messenger briefcase. $300.

Comparing the QG to your average barbershop is something on the order of trying to compare a limousine to a bicycle. One look around will assure you that this is no ordinary barbershop. Not only does their wide range of services outshine other shops, but their lounge is head and shoulders above most downtown bars and restaurants. They’ll hold a bottle of your favorite spirit for you, or float you a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee or espresso to enjoy while you’re shooting pool, brushing up on your putting, or taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

What keeps you coming back though is the service. It’s well nigh impossible to go up South Calvert without double checking the back of your neck or the shine on your shoes. Even if you’re hair is in good shape, it’s hard to beat a chair massage and a glass of whisky on the rocks for a little me time. When those geniuses came up with that ‘Find Your Happy Place’ nonsense, they were probably sitting around inside the QG.

QG Humidor Starter Kit. $60.

No matter what sort of dad you’ve got, the Quinntessential Gentleman has something great for Fathers’ Day. We’d highly recommend sending your old man there with a gift card in hand, and if you’ve been asleep at the switch this week you can even browse the menu and print gift certificates out online, which is incredibly convenient.

Even if dad’s not close to downtown, you’re still in luck, as QG offers an ever-increasing selection of accessories and accouterments from high end shaving and styling products to that most traditional of Fathers’ Day gifts, the necktie.

Stewart Stand Money Clip. $30.

While we’ve got to admit that many of their offerings are a little too novelty-esque for our own personal taste (think sports logo cufflinks and ties printed with little repeating jolly rogers), we did find plenty to like in the way of Fathers’ Day gifts. If the Chop had rugrats running around, we’d be thrilled to receive the Stewart Stand Bi-fold Money Clip which is on offer at half of its original $60 price and is perfect for any time you won’t need a full wallet.

We were also quite taken with the Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. Safety razors have seen quite a resurgence in the last couple of years, and those who use them seem to swear by them. At $45, this thing will likely last forever and pay for itself once you quit buying grocery store cartridges at almost $2 a pop.

Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. $45.

Some of the best looking cuff links in the store are also the most reasonably priced. The Celtic Cross design is a hell of a lot classier than that ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ button the old man likes to break out on St. Paddy’s day. Matching tuxedo studs are also available if you’re sitting down to dinner.

The Chop does not approve of smoking, but if dear old dad is given to enjoy cigars from time to time, the Humidor Starter Kit will look great in any study. It’s a QG original, and the kit can hold up to 50 smokes and includes an incredible amount of value for only $60. They also carry several high-end cigars in the shop.

QG's Celtic Cross Cufflinks. $45.

Finally, the Bosca Tribeca Leather Messenger Briefcase is something of a lavish gift at $300, but good things cost a good sum. The truth is that this is of such quality that you’ll likely inherit it someday, and it’s stylish and beautiful enough that you’ll actually want to.

Additionally, online orders (save gift cards) are now 10% off until Monday, 6/21 when you use the code “dadgift” at checkout, or you can save that 10% in the store by mentioning that you’re a fan of QG on Facebook.

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The Quinntessential Gentleman is located at 31 S. Calvert Street downtown. 410-685-SHAVE. They accept walk-ins and appointments 7 days a week.

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