Tag Archives: Indie Rock

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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Deleted Scenes, The Life and Times @ Golden West Tonight

As Walter Sobchak once said: Life does not stop and start at your convenience you miserable piece of shit.”

Such is the case tonight when the Deleted Scenes show will start sometime after 10 whether it’s convenient for you or us or the rest of Baltimore or not. And for most people, we’re guessing that comes down to not.Late Monday night might be a convenient time for people who work in restaurants or second-shift retail, but for the rest of us, it’s quite inconvenient.

The Chop, however, is blissfully funemployed at the moment, so we’ll likely head over to the Avenue tonight, even though we’d rather have it start at 7 and be in bed by 11.

Deleted Scenes brings their new record to the Golden West tonight.

You can’t have everything, after all, and even though we may have to stay up late to see this show, at least we won’t have to fight crowds. In fact, it may be our last chance to see Deleted Scenes with a little elbow room, because if they’re not filling every room they play now, it’s only a matter of time. Their second full length Young People’s Church of the Air is a very solid follow up to the excellent Birdseed Shirt, and is going to bring people out in numbers in the near future. In fact, tonight’s show is the very first chance you have to buy it on vinyl, so if you want to be the first one on your block you have no choice but to turn out.

For those of us who aren’t voracious vinyl collectors, or who can stand to wait 3-5 days, you can simply order it here or stream and purchase the record in convenient digital format.

Deleted Scenes is making their way up and down the coast with The Life and Times which makes for a pretty tempting double bill. We’re not going to front… We’ve never even heard of The Life and Times until just now, but after checking out their site we highly suspect that’s probably our fault and not theirs. Sounding kind of like a cross between Juno and early Jimmy Eat World, their stuff is right up our alley, and we’re looking forward to checking them out.

And really, that’s the whole reason why we bother to go to crummy little restaurant shows on Monday nights, and why we go to so many shows in the first place… to get to know new bands. It’s sometimes less than convenient, but it beats the hell out of sitting around reading Pitchfork.

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Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W 36th Street in Hampden. 10 pm doors.

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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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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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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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Tomorrow: Buffalo Tom @ Black Cat

It’s strange when you grow up punk. Your musical tastes have to evolve eventually. At least a little bit. Three chords alone can’t sustain anyone forever. Over time, even the kid with the spikiest hair or the dirtiest pants will start looking to explore decidedly non-punk records, and those explorations can take people in some very different directions. HR, Daniel Higgs, and Tim Barry were all playing straight-up punk songs when they got their start, yet they’ve ended up scattered widely across the musical spectrum.

For us what came after punk hasn’t been such a long journey, we just went back to the exact same records we liked before we discovered punk rock.

Buffalo Tom *may* look significantly different from this photo when they play the Black Cat tomorrow. 9 pm Doors.

There were a few happy accidents that all occurred right around 1993 which led to our developing really, really good taste in music at a very early age. They were these:

  • CD’s were becoming wildly popular. They’d been around a couple years, but ’93 was when a critical mass of people finally owned CD players and everyone was collecting music voraciously. Programs like Columbia House were very popular nationwide.
  • Because of that, the music industry was actually putting out great records. It’s hard to imagine, but at one point major labels would seek out and sign indie bands and just let them continue to be great bands. It didn’t always work out for the best, but it was a damn sight better for everyone than the way the majors operate today.
  • Tapes were still in too. CD to tape dubbing was sort of revolutionary. People passed mixtapes hand to hand. They were serious business to make too, since they literally took hours to finish. No drag and drop. The quality was a reflection of that.
  • We owned the No Alternative Compilation and the Singles Soundtrack. Imagine being 13 years old and being able to know about all those bands without the benefit of the internet.
  • WHFS Was a thing. Anyone who is old enough to remember listening to HFS still misses it terribly. To this day we have trouble believing that there was a commercial radio station that was just that cool. They played Morrissey. They played Fugazi. They played the Replacements. Not late at night… at noon.
  • MTV Didn’t totally suck yet either. When you’re 12 you can’t really do anything cool. You ride your bike until dark, then watch 120 Minutes with your face about 6 inches from the screen. We never had cable at home, but at friends’ houses that’s exactly what we’d do.
  • We went to a very small school. When the school is that small, you get to hang out with kids who are a year or two older. Without the benefit of an older sibling, this is crucial for the development of musical taste.

Because of all these reasons, the first bands we were ever introduced to were actually some of the most incredible, creative, and influential bands in our lifetime. And as soon as we discovered the Misfits, all of that went out the window and we listened to nothing but punk for the next 10 years. Oi! Oi! Oi!

So once we reached a point in our own musical development where it became kind of absurd to keep listening to Jello Biafra make Ronald Reagan references, it was only natural to look back to some of these bands who, at 13, we knew about, but were ultimately way too young to appreciate fully. The Catherine Wheel, Dinosaur Jr, The Afghan Whigs, Pavement, Love Spit Love, Mazzy Star, American Music Club, The Breeders, The Lemonheads, and of course, Buffalo Tom.

Buffalo Tom is still a band. They’re not just ‘that band from My So-Called Life.‘ They’ve been a working rock band for a quarter century and what’s more, they’re as good as they’ve ever been. Some things never change.

Indeed, some things never change. They play the Black Cat tomorrow, and just like in 1993, we can’t go.

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Black Cat is at 1811 14th Street NW in DC. Mean Creek also plays.

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A Ton of Music in Baltimore Tonight

So, basically, every place that has ever had music is having music tonight. There’s no shortage of choices, and there’s too much to talk about in detail, so we’ll just give you our picks and let you decide what kind of show you want to go see. Still not sure where we’ll end up tonight, but probably at one of these places.

Future Islands headlines Spring Fair tonight, one of may musical options in town.

The Philly Invades Baltimore Fest is kicking off at 3 pm today over at the Charm City Art Space. We went to this last year and had a great time watching bands like Algernon Cadwallader and 1994! who are both returning this year along with a ton of other acts.

The JHU Spring Fair is happening all weekend, but tonight’s music bill is the one to catch, featuring Future Islands and Lands and Peoples, among dozens more. Spring fair is also your best bet for dinner, with offerings like funnel cake and fried Oreos.

Just a few blocks south of the JHU Campus the 2640 Space is hosting the homecoming show for music media darlings Wye Oak with Callers and a favorite of ours, Secret Mountains. Unfortunately, this is a Dry show with no BYOB.

Down at Sonar local label Fan Death Records is having their annual showcase show featuring Pleasure Leftists and Heroin Sucks, a Charm City Suicides tribute band.

If you’re looking for something smaller scale, Dionysus is hosting a rare live show with former Iron Cross frontman and local author Sab Grey along with surf-garage dudes Sal Bando.

And if you want to go even more old school and off the radar than that, you can check out the rockabilly stylings of local pie-man extraordinaire Rodney Henry with local roustabouts Danny Kay and the Nightlifers at Fell’s Point’s 1919.

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