Friday, May 30, 2008


There's just never enough time to take in all the great shows in DC any given summer concert season (and you thought it was duck season? Or maybe wabbit season??) but here's just a few highlights of the shows coming your way in the next few weeks...stay tuned for more news and the latest additions as they become available, ciao for now, 1600 Nation!

The WACO BROS. ARE COMING! The wild n' wooly Chicago cowboys invade the Rock 'N Roll Hotel in Washington, DC on June 5th! CD RELEASE PARTY for their new disc, Live and Kickin' It at Schuba's Tavern! For tickets, call 1-877-725-8849, or go to

RETURN OF THE (TWANG BAR) KING: THE ADRIAN BELEW POWER TRIO Friday June 6th, Adrian, Julie,and Eric take their sonic barrage to the Ram's Head in Annapolis, MD Tickets available thru

DC's MIGHTY SKA KINGs, THE PIETASTERS!!! Dance all night to the funky soulful sound Friday June 6 at the Rock 'N Roll Hotel in Washington, DC! For ticket info, call 1-877-725-8849, or go to

THE SMITHEREENS KICK IT FOR THE WATERFRONT FESTIVAL! Oronoco Park, Alexandria, VA Saturday June 14th! A benefit for the American Red Cross! Give blood, give donations, enjoy the party, and have a blast with New Jersey's favorite sons!

THE ONE AND ONLY PETER HAMMILL! Solo show on Sunday June 15 Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA
One of only 5 US appearances currently scheduled- legendary Van Der Graaf Generator singer/songwriter/storyteller, one night only! For ticket info call (703) 255-1566 x8 or!

PETER (BAUHAUS) MURPHY! Rockin' the Ram's Head Live, Baltimore MD on a manic Monday June 30th! For ticket info, (410) 244-1131 or look 'em up at

THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE OF YOUR COMMERCIAL-FREE ROCK N' ROLL MADMEN- THE 1600 CREW. Friday night at 10:00 pm on Channel 10 in Fairfax, VA and taking over the airwaves throughout the rest of the DC-MD-VA Metro area before they can stop us!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008


All photos courtesy of Joel Didriksen, Go to his website for more, or drop him a line at And many thanks from the 1600 crew!

"Into each life, a little rain must fall."

Or a lot. At least if you live near Washington DC, and ever have tickets for Radiohead playing at an outdoor venue. You can count on it. Not that it made a lot of the sold out Nissan Pavilion crowd turn around and leave as Mother's Day 2008 slogged on, but they couldn't be blamed if it did. For a show that was supposed to kick off the summer concert season, sunny skies and warm weather couldn't have been farther away.

Our area has seen nearly six inches of rain in the last 4 days, and I swear that Morgan Freeman was in our section wearing a brilliant white cloak, holding a staff, and telling me to start rounding up the animals and to get to work on the ark. It would have come in handy to get through the parking lot...You were soaked walking to the gate, drenched by the time you reached your seat, suffering from hypothermia if you were one of the folks on the lawn that stayed through both encores, dog paddling through the wind driven cascade and the muck. It was bad enough under the Pavilion, where plastic bags for makeshift ponchos were a most valuable commodity. Nearly a week later, and I'm just starting to feel warm and dry again.

The Liars kicked off pretty close to on time, despite the hellacious deluge. If you were there to see them, I suppose you enjoyed the set, but the vast majority of the crowd would have gladly skipped the Liars in exchange for Radiohead getting on a few minutes earlier, and being spared the brutal weather that was driving the crowd away. Frontman Angus Andrew seemed something of a poseur, strutting with grand, dramatic gestures and trying to look like a foppish cross between Mick Jagger and David Bowie in a business suit. I didn't buy it. Jerry, who actually owns their first record and was looking forward to seeing them thought they sounded like a "second-rate Public Image wannabe during their experimental period." If Radiohead must have an opening act next time we see them, I hope it's someone better than this.

Colin Greenwood, laying down the bottom end

But somehow, through the gale winds and nonstop downpour, Radiohead managed to provide another stellar show, playing a wide selection from "The Bends," "OK Computer, "Kid A, "Amnesiac" "Hail to the Thief," and their latest masterpiece, "In Rainbows." With a deceptively simple but unique light show and a screen behind them showing live shots of the band as they played, Thom Yorke was his usual effervescent self, and the band was perhaps the best I've ever seen them. Ed O'Brien's harmonies stood out and added to the mix more than I had remembered, and he, Jonny Greenwood, and Yorke relied mostly on their more guitar driven material. Yorke did play a number of songs on (primarily) upright piano and also some electronic keyboards, as Jonny did as well. But for the most part, it was back to basics, wrapping the crowd in a dense layer of feedback and mining their early catalog with a tremendous set, with all the hooks, grooves, drones, effects, soul, delicacy, crunch, joy, playfulness and sheer beauty that is characteristic of their finest work. They actually raise the bar when they walk onstage to perform, over and above whatever they produce in the studio, a hallmark of any great band. But these guys? Words fail me.

The band opened with an excellent rendition of All I Need, from "In Rainbows," and never let up. They paused only briefly between songs, Yorke making occasional comments, and the band stopping only long enough to applaud the crowd for braving the unforgiving weather. Among the highlights of their 25 song set were Pyramid Song, 15 Step, Idioteque, Paranoid Android, Karma Police, Just, Everything in It's Right Place, and Fake Plastic Trees, which Thom dedicated to the ticket holders that never made it inside for the show, marooned on 66, 29, or in the parking lots. There were a lot of them. And in the second encore, The National Anthem got the crowd all fired up again, bouncing along with the signature guitar lick and squeezing every iota of feedback and energy out of the song. By the end of House of Cards, and giving everything you could expect (and then some!) and after several sincere acknowledgments of the crowd's tenacity by the band, an exhausted- looking Yorke finally told the crowd to get out of the downpour and pleaded for us to "go home." Once again, I had forgotten how wet, cold and miserable it was, the band having transported us away to a different plane. That had to be the shortest 2 hours and ten or so minutes of my life, but equally rewarding. And about as riveting a show as anyone could ever imagine. Did I mention just how incredibly fucking talented these guys are?

Ed O'Brien added solid chops and harmonies

A few words about Nissan Pavilion, the clowns that run it, and their handling of the show under the disastrous conditions that day. No doubt, you've seen rants in the local and national press, as well as online from ticketholders that were turned away, became ill, or who encountered the beyond-abysmal conditions and tried to get out before the 2 hour crush in the parking lot that would follow the show. People were disappointed not by the band (although Radiohead's goal of an eco-conscious tour could not have been undermined more thoroughly by their selection of this venue), who was in rare form. But we all knew this storm was heading our way by no later than Thursday, and the brain trust at Nissan did NOTHING to modify their procedures, make parking and access any easier (the $30 charge for preferred parking nearer to the venue should have been suspended and utilized by early arrivals, which would have also cut down on the delay getting in. Like the $6 ALREADY tacked onto each ticket wasn't enough?!?), or even simply allowing people with seats to cross underneath the Pavilion to get to them, rather than making them walk another 5 or 10 minutes around the perimeter in the typhoon that day so they'd certainly be soggy by the time they reached their destinations. Another friend of mine who made it underneath suggested that handing out (or even selling!) the cheap slickers that were there would have helped, and been a gesture of goodwill by Live Nation to acknowledge the conditions and the dedication of the fans to see this band.

Thom Yorke, in the eye of the storm

But, the incompetent tools missed the boat, as usual. And when the police started turning people away when the road flooded, and were ordering the drenched souls trying to warm up out of their cars in the parking lots, they had a recipe for disaster. It wasn't exactly like they were tailgating, like any other decent venue in civilization allows (yet Nissan will not permit, so we can be gouged an additional $10 for a 24 oz. Miller Lite- thanks again, guys!!) once we get inside their Gestapo- patrolled penal colony. In fact, several released prisoners from Guantanamo who were there complained that being waterboarded was preferable to what we put up with that day! Live Nation, you were seriously fortunate that people didn't riot and start trashing the place. It would have served you right. I saw one stand handing out Hefty trashbags (presumably for people to wear over their soaking wet clothes) as we were leaving. Had someone thought of that about 6:00, it might have been a different story...but that was the ONLY indication of thoughtfulness or charity I saw out of ANYONE on Live Nation's staff all day. It was just business as usual, they already had our money. Well, you won't be getting any more from me!

Phil Selway delivered precise percussion

And the half-hearted attempts made by them to appease angry concertgoers (offering lawn seats for Pavilion ticket holders at a Radiohead show this summer in Camden, NJ? or tickets "based on availability at a later Nissan show- you're kidding me, right?) are ludicrous. Most of the people I spoke with after this fiasco swore they would NEVER attend a show at Nissan again. Those who didn't vow to boycott Nissan altogether said they'd only suffer it again for Radiohead, or maybe Led Zeppelin, as Katy suggested, IF they came through there. I'm only going back when the Beatles reunite (all four) and Jimi Hendrix opens. Unless of course, Radiohead plays there again. Because then I'd have to go. But even on a good day, getting to and surviving a visit at Nissan is like Dante's Ninth Circle, with worse accommodations. I'll bet the beers there are colder, and cheaper!

Jonny Greenwood, master of the melodic drone

Which again points out the urgent need for a first class INDOOR arena in the DC metro area, something that is sorely lacking for a part of the country that constantly sees some of the best entertainment in the world coming through. The Verizon Center has some of the worst sound I've ever heard anywhere, you need binoculars if you're not next to the stage, and it only holds about 17,000 people. The GMU Patriot Center is far better, but even smaller. The Crap Center was a big room, but although a few bands managed to deal effectively with the crummy sound (the Grateful Dead, Phish, and Stevie Ray Vaughan all sounded pretty good there), it was marginal at best, remote, had lots of dead spots, and is now a shopping mall owned by Magic Johnson. I guess after his late night show, he can't sink much lower...unless, of course, he owns a piece of the Nissan Pavilion.

I can't imagine why no one has suggested this before, but a lot of people would support a new initiative by the city to build a stadium in town that had public transportation available, and that really would be appropriate for music rain or shine. To our many multi-billionaire philanthropist viewers out there. please take note: A real concert hall with good sound that holds 35,000 or so people will be SOLD OUT every time a good band tours the east coast.
"If you build it, they will come..."

Mr. Gates, Mr. Buffet, Mr. Jobs, Mr. Case, and any other aspiring philanthropists: "Go the distance."

Sorry for the extended rant, but it all needed to be said. My pal Greg, a tough crowd if ever there was one, described the band's music that night as "transcendent." My friend Mike said anywhere, anytime these guys play, he's in, and they're at the top of his list of any bands he's ever seen live. My friend Jon, who scored our tickets during the pre-sale (otherwise we would have been back in 301, even more wet and freezing that night) is seriously considering trying to catch them in San Francisco, while I look at the Toronto, Massachusetts, NY and NJ dates coming in August as being within reach if I can make time for them....

No doubt about it: Radiohead is absolutely phenomenal, and as good as their recordings are, they are one of those bands you really need to see live to "get" entirely. I still maintain they are the best band in the world today, bar none. The sound, even in the deluge, was clear and precise. The stage and light show, although modest, were still unique, well-choreographed, spectacular. Their musicianship defies description, just as their music can't be categorized. Rock, techno, trance, prog, alternative- it is enough to simply say that no one else in the world can do what they do, seemingly without any effort, as if caught up in the droning but harmonious soundscapes they create. Just don't try to see them here. They know they bring out the worst the elements have to offer whenever they set foot near the Nation's capitol.

I can't wait 'til the next time. But if it's local, I'm gonna borrow the Pope-mobile!

thanks again to Joel Didriksen for permission to use these images! more can be found at

we'll see ya at the next show (maybe we can piggyback on your press passes next time around, 'cause your seats were way better!!)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Elegant, Ethereal Elbow

Elbow: Strings (and Trumpets!) Attached

And speaking of new venues, the 1600 crew ventured downtown and into uncharted territory once again, for an intimate evening with Elbow at the Historic 6th and I Street Synagogue in Northwest DC Sunday night. Joining the band on the tour bus for a lengthy interview we got the lowdown from guitarist Mark Potter, his brother and Elbow keyboardist/producer Craig Potter, and lifelong pal and bassist Pete Turner, our affable hosts who provided us with insights on how the band got together, their earliest incarnations as a funk band (believe it or not), how they compose, where they record, and what's in store from these Manchester, UK natives. See it all on Channel 10, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel- and soon after on this very website....!

Jesca Hoop offered a brief but compelling performance, punctuating the moments between songs with stories and asides, like how she was approached by Elbow singer and frontman Guy Garvey to interview on his syndicated radio show, then spaced on calling in... but it would appear that they managed to work through that inauspicious introduction, with Guy offering his unqualified praise during the band's set of her songwriting and singing abilities, stating they were privileged to share the stage with her- not something often heard from a band describing an opening act!

And apparently, the crowd agreed, snapping up every last copy of her CD debut, "Kismet" (don't even ask, just go get it), or go to her website:, and prepare to be wowwed. Whispering Light, Seed of Wonder, Summertime, Angel Mom and Murder of Birds all showcased her melodic and distinctive voice, and unique guitar style. At times Ms. Hoop showed glimpses of influences as diverse as a Sandy Denny- led Fairport Convention, Renaissance, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Sarah McLachlan, among others- but only fleeting ones, as they merged seamlessly with her own eccentric, poetic, traditional/folk-inspired and accessible sound. She played with and cajoled the crowd and opening a casual dialogue with everyone, and speaking with genuine reverence about playing in a synagogue, apologizing when she cussed (just once!), Jesca said that she was intentionally taking advantage of her somewhat subdued and comfortably "captive" audience to play songs that required active listening. No one complained.

After a short break, Elbow came through the crowd, with all players except drummer Rick Jupp carrying trumpets, and heralding their arrival with the sudden and triumphant flourish of Starlings, the first cut off their latest release, "The Seldom Seen Kid." They followed it with The Bones of You, another haunting, dark and dreamy selection from the new album, and Leaders of the Free World, the title cut (with a great groove) from their last CD, and Great Expectations. Mirrorball was introduced by Guy Garvey as a song about "two people who were married while on a bus...and the bride never knew it." Fittingly the next tune was Grounds for Divorce, among the best tracks on "The Seldom Seen Kid," and the source of its title ("Someday we'll be drinking with the seldom seen kid."), a nickname given by his dad to one of his co-workers that was often inexplicably absent...

By midway through the set, Garvey was certain that synagogues were built for rock bands. He later observed that it was probably "the nicest place we've ever played in," and remarked on how cool it was to have a house of worship open up its doors for musicians to play in. The acoustics were spectacular, the bands performance often intense, and while it was difficult at times to remain seated (the roaring crowd rising to it's feet during Newborn and Station Approach for standing ovations), it was certainly a comfortable alternative to being shoehorned into a small crowded club, crushed against the stage. Like Ms. Hoop, they also played some rarities, such as Switching Off, a song John Cale called "one of the greatest songs ever written," naming it among his personal favorites along with cuts by Dylan, The Beatles, Velvet Underground, and Peter Gabriel in a BBC Radio 4 Interview in 2004 (not shabby company). Other standouts in the set included The Stops, from "Leaders" and Scattered Black and Whites, from "Asleep in the Back," their 2002 debut.

The core of Elbow was augmented by two talented violinist/vocalists, Stella Page and Prabjote ("Jotie") Osahn, who accompanied the band with sweet harmonies and added another facet to the layered sound, helping transform the music into modern symphony. Guy had said his throat had been bothering him and wanted to save it for the show, and his expressive and achingly beautiful tenor came through when it counted, further embellishing every song they performed. He even managed to get the crowd involved in a couple of songs! Pete laid down some unusual bass lines, at times toying with a synth stationed next to his gear, his face usually bearing a satisfied smile. I was again riveted by Rick's drumming, and while not flashy, every lick evinced absolute control and power. Craig Potter applied his atmospheric layer of keyboards tastefully, not overpowering the song or ever drowning out the other instruments. His brother Mark and Guy each played solid but never ostentatious guitar throughout, and only once did either perform a solo of more than a few seconds, the primary rule of this band seeming to be "no wanking." The capable musicianship and song-craft came through quite clearly without the grandstanding.

Following this ten city sweep through the US, Elbow's touring plans for the immediate future include some European dates opening for REM, and summer festivals including Reading, Leeds, and the world-renowned Glastonbury Festival. Pete and Mark also mentioned a collection of B-sides that is nearly ready for release, which allowed the band to expand on some favorite compositions that had been percolating among them for years. We are most appreciative of their cooperation and courtesy in allowing us to join them, and look forward to their next trip to DC. It can't possibly be soon enough! Carry on, fellas...we'll look for that B Sides release in the not too distant future, thanks again for a very memorable day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Happy Anniversary, Mr. President!

Over five years, and an anticipated cost approaching three trillion dollars (that's $3,000,000,000,000.00, at the approximate rate of $12 billion dollars per month currently being pissed away in Iraq alone (factoring in Afghanistan will add another $4 billion per month to the burden), and as of today 4,374 members of the "coalition of the willing" dead, including more than 4,060 Americans and at least an additional 30,000 injured, The War On Terror plods nightmarishly on. Iraqi civilians killed in our glorious crusade to bring democracy to the freedom loving people of Iraq at gunpoint are only "estimated" (because they don't really matter), lowballed at between 83,000 and 90,000 more dead men, women, and children, while some sources peg the total closer to an astronomical 1,200,000 souls.

But wait, wasn't the mission "accomplished?"

Now the story is that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was something that was never properly put in context. See, that was supposed to only apply to the brave sailors stationed off the coast of Iraq, in the Persian Gulf, on the U.S.S. Lincoln. And now, we're finally hearing the true story: that was all their idea, and the seamen put it up. Shame on them, putting poor President Bush in an awkward position like that! And since then, many of those same swabbies have been assigned back there on their third and fourth tours of duty, so maybe that wasn't entirely (or for that matter, remotely) accurate, either. Well, serves 'em right, says Oberfuehrer Dick Cheney, who recently quipped to newsmen "they volunteered."

So, what about the speech that day?

A masterpiece of Bushisms. Hit all the buzz words. Mom, Apple Pie, God, and country. Not a dry eye in the place. President Bush, looking buff and spiffy in his flight suit, (as Chris Matthews looked on, dreamy-eyed and ejaculating over how America wants a tough, manly President!) landing in a vain, triumphant gesture of unabashed grandiose, romanticized chivalry, the likes of which had not been seen since the days of King Arthur and Camelot, said "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country." He later added, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on."

But that's got nothing to do with what was going on in the Persian Gulf, does it?

Well, no. But Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks on September 11th, either. And attacking Iraq never had anything to do with them really being a clear and present danger to the the US, or having any weapons of mass destruction.

And, for that matter, wasn't the oil from Iraq going to pay for all the rebuilding?

Right. Thought so. Didn't happen. In fact, the US has been hemorrhaging cash since this whole debacle began. And it's finally catching up to us. We're in a recession- wait, that is, I mean a slowdown, er- uh, a timeout? Can't we just call this "the pause that refreshes?"

And Wall Street was disappointed today that Exxon didn't record record earnings AGAIN last quarter, so the Dow only went up 189 points today. As crude oil hit $112 a barrel, more than three times what it was when we invaded. But hey- greed is good, isn't that still the mantra? If it's good for business, it's good for America. Even if everything from food to movies, education and insurance costs more than ever. Tell it to the people getting foreclosed on, the families of the kids returning to the US in bodybags, the 250,000 more schnooks put out of work just since the beginning of 2008, and of course, lest we forget- the beneficiaries of our diplomatic largesse, the freedom- loving Iraqi people.

I'm sure both of them would vote for John McCain and another 100 years of American occupation, if only they could read.

And Nero fiddled as Rome burned...