Tag Archives: Sonar

Hipster Parking Lot: Parking Info for Station North and Downtown Clubs

It’s kind of ironic that we’re writing a post about parking now that we’ve resolved to give up our car, but there are two changes in parking at places we go regularly that are worth noting for the rest of you who still have cars.

The first change we noticed was in Station North, at the lot on the corner of 20th and Howard Street. This lot is kind of a minor urban miracle in that it functions as a free community lot where people can park day or night without fear of being towed. A lot of people are quick to denigrate the presence of parking lots, but when they’re free and open to all they’re very much a valuable community resource.

Now, we’ve been parking in this lot for years, and we’ve always kind of wondered who owns it and why they allow free parking, but we never thought it wise to look the free-parking gift horse in the mouth since we’ve never been ticketed, towed, or broken into there.

In this diagram, south is up.

The only difference now is that when we went to Joe Squared last week there was a large poster board with the above graphic lashed to the fence next to the patio. We can only take this to mean that parking in this lot is pretty legit for patrons of all Station North businesses. Who says there’s no such thing as free parking? Now all we gotta do is pass Go and get our $200.

The other parking change is much more substantial and will be of interest to anyone attending shows at Sonar or other clubs near the foot of the JFX.

We’ve always just parked on the street when going to Sonar, Sidebar, etc, since there’s generally not any shortage of street parking near City Hall at night. Going to the Shellac show though, the weather was rainy and since our driver’s side window has been reduced to a pile of Baltimore Diamonds we were looking for sheltered parking.

As it turned out, we were in luck. We’d noticed on Sonar’s website that this show’s listing said parking would be available in the garage above the club for $2. We had always know that there was a garage on top, but had no idea that it was available for show-goers. Not only that, but when we pulled in, there was no one there to take our money. The parking was free.

When we asked the club staff about it at the door, they advised us that nighttime parking in the Farmers’ Market lot under the JFX now costs seven dollars ($7!). They also said that from now on, Sonar patrons can park above the club either for free, or for some rate which will be less than $7.00 depending on the show.

If you zoom in on the embedded map, Sonar itself looks like a parking lot. There are 2 levels of parking on the building, a covered garage, and the exposed rooftop. you can access both levels from Gay Street, passing the church and making a hard left right behind the billboards.

Have any downtown parking tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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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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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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Grant Hart @ Black Cat Tonight

When we went to the Obits show the other day, we mentioned that sometimes we’re too cool for things, and sometimes we’re too old for things. Seldom is it both, but if you thought there was any chance at all we were going to go back there tonight and see Das Racist, well then you don’t know us too well, do you?

The cool kids may eat it up with a spoon, but nope… tonight the Chop is both too old and too cool for school. We’re staying as far away from that as possible. So far, in fact, that we’re leaving Baltimore entirely. You mixtape and DJ set types can keep your Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bells. We’d rather listen to rock and roll.

Grant Hart plays the Black Cat tonight. 9 pm doors.

You don’t need us to tell you who Grant Hart is. Grant Hart is a fucking legend. Once or twice in a generation someone comes along and changes the game entirely… and those people are relatively unimportant. In our book, Grant Hart and Bob Mould invented the game. As far as we’re concerned, they’re right up there with Joe Strummer & Mick Jones, Keith Morris & Greg Ginn, Joey & Johnny Ramone, Brett Gurewitz & Greg Graffin, Ian MacKaye & Guy Picciotto, or Richard Hell & Tom Verlaine.

If any of those guys play within an hour of your house and you don’t go, well, you’re just not that cool. We’re saying that for the record.

Opening up tonight is Chapel Hill power-pop outfit The Venables. Just the fact that we describe them as “power pop” is a good indication that they learned everything they know from guess who… Grant Hart. Their most recent 7 song recording Grab Bag is also available as a free download on their bandcamp site. Two great acts for $12 on the back stage is as cool as it gets for grumpy old rockers on a weeknight.

Now get the hell off of our lawn!

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Black Cat is located at 1811 14th Street NW in Washington DC. Metro accessible from green/ yellow lines to U St/ Cardozo Station. Grant Hart’s website is granthart.com

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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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D.R.I, Deep Sleep and More @ Sonar Tonight

For all the complaining we’ve done recently about old bands dragging their carcasses around the country on tours trying to relive their glory days and pay their rent, you’d think we’d be staying as far away from Sonar tonight as possible. To the contrary though… the Chop will be all up in there.

You shouldn’t need the Chop to tell you who D.R.I is. The band that first brought punk and metal together and pretty much invented the circle pit once held a Guinness record for being the fastest band in the world. The way we’ve got it figured, even if they have slowed down with age, they’re still pretty damn fast. Perhaps this is an inherent advantage that speed metal has over punk rock; with its intense focus on musicianship, it holds up better with age, and is usually much more interesting to see live than to hear recorded. With most of their catalog clocking in at or below 2 minutes, the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles have little choice but to stay fast.

D.R.I. plays sonar tonight. 8 pm doors.

In fact, it’s entirely possible that on a six band bill, there may be exactly zero songs hitting that 2 minute mark. As a grumpy old man, we usually balk hard at six band bills. We just haven’t got the patience for that kind of thing anymore. We’ve got a feeling that time is going to fly at this show though. If there was ever a bill where bands might seem to be racing each other to see who can finish a set in the shortest amount of time, this might be it.

Local mainstays Deep Sleep and Triac pair up for support with the new, new, super brand new Radical Discharge, who are, you know… new.

Also lined up tonight is Philly’s Women, who are neither women, nor Canadian but are pretty awesome, and Denmark’s Hjertestop, who sound more Like Los Angeles than Copenhagen (and we mean that in a very good way).

That lineup is so solid that we’d show up even without D.R.I. on the bill. These bands might just make our head explode before the headliner even hits the stage. And we’ll have had our money’s worth too. When you consider the very reasonable $12 advance ticket price and the fact that it’s Sunday, how could you not want to come out for this?

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Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St. Downtown. 8pm Doors, All Ages.

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A Fun Filled Friday at the Old-Punks’ Home

Okay, Baltimore. Today is the last day for you to go over and vote for us in the Mobbies. Go ahead. Click over and do it now. We’ll wait.

Are you back? Okay. Cool. Thanks for that.

Anyway, We’re still hoping to pull out a win in the Music/Nightlife category. We seem to have fallen well behind in the Personal category, which is strange to us, because we continue to think of this first and foremost as a personal blog. It’s solely about the things that we do and think of day in and day out. We just happen to like seeing live music and drinking in bars more than most people.

A visual approximation of dinner at the Chophouse tonight.

Case in point: tonight we will not be attending the Youth Brigade show at the Sidebar. Likewise, we also won’t be going down to DC for the Suicidal Tendencies. And there’s no fucking way we’re going to pay $30 to see Saves the Day at Sonar.

These are all bands we like. At least, we liked them in their time and place. For all of these acts though, their time is well in the past. We’ve already gone on record with our feelings about old bands as well as their aging fanbase, and all of these shows fall squarely into that category. It’s hard to call yourself Youth Brigade when you’re fucking 50, and we’d like to see the fat, aging Mike Muir try to get on a skateboard these days. These bands were about the coolest thing going in the year we were born and if we’re feeling old in 2010, then they must have roadies who are just in charge of Ben Gay, Icy Hot, and prune juice.

Saves the Day gets a bit of a pass, since they’re only about 30, but as a band they have definitely not aged well. Can’t Slow Down was a near perfect post-high school record, but at this point we’re- uhh, very post high school. We used to love seeing this band play in churches, garages, and even a barn, but by the time we saw them in 2005 at the 9:30 Club they were barely recognizable and very disappointing.

So this is not a post about those shows. It’s a post about how the Chop is an old man, and is going to have some of our other old man friends in for dinner tonight. We could post a recipe or two, but we just don’t do that. We might make a risotto or some sort of stuffed peppers. We’re also thinking roasted potatoes and a seasonal salad, and maybe some of the scratch-made corn chowder we’ve still got on hand.

We’re also going to drink brown liquor and talk about how great things used to be and how everything is terrible now, as old men are wont to do.

This is a post about that.

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