Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A beautifully summery Tuesday night at DC's Black Cat, and a chance to meet with old friends, catch up a bit, and revisit a favorite musical holdover from the seminal days of punk.

We totally missed Electric Frankenstein; I heard they were pretty good, and call me sentimental, but I love that name! The Bellrays were already on by the time we climbed the stairs with our beverages in hand. But we heard some fresh, raw metal/punk tinged with old school R & B, courtesy of vocalist Lisa Kekuala, somewhat reminiscent of Tina Turner fronting Rockpile, or maybe the Stranglers, after a few beers. The result was an unexpectedly pleasant amalgam one might consider almost contradictory, which instead came off as a hearty, raucous blend of disparate but complementary styles.

It was a great warm-up for the high energy performance that followed. The Damned arrived with all the confidence and poise you'd expect from their 30+ year run as one of the first (and best) punk bands ever to cross the Atlantic. Captain Sensible, clad in his ever-present red beret, welcomed an enthusiastic crowd, as Monty Oxy Moron (keyboards), and more recent members Stu West (bass) and Pinch (drums) settled in. Singer Dave Vanian, growling with authority, sprang onto the stage as the band kicked off with Love Song, still looking like an undead matinee idol, his otherwise jet black hair now accented by a shock of gray (one can only assume was natural) in the front, but fresh faced and full of gleeful energy. Soon a solid rendition of Love's Alone Again Or followed (which I never dreamed they'd play!), Vanian, Sensible and Monty substituting for the missing trumpet with a chorus of "bah-bah-bah's," which only added to the intimacy of the performance. More favorites, including Eloise, Antipope, New Rose, Neat Neat Neat (which segued nicely into a jam with the Doors' Break On Through, another rare treat for the faithful. Another highlight was a great rendition of Disco Man (with a great intro from the Captain discussing the 70's London disco scene that spawned them and the punk sound it inspired, a visceral pearl in a leisure-suited oyster choking on hot sand), Eloise, Ignite, Stretcher Case, and Curtain Call were all done in damn fine Damned tradition.

Playing a tasteful selection of some of their best songs from a long and well- documented career, the band kept a pretty frenetic pace throughout the evening. Captain Sensible warned us when songs featured on their most recent release "So, Who's Paranoid?" were coming, emphasizing that it was not an excuse to wander out for a smoke, or use the head, and he was absolutely right. The new material stacks up favorably with classic Damned, darkly moody and marked by the psychedelic nuances that they have displayed in every iteration of the band. Dr. Woofenstein was enjoyable, as were some of the longer (and more spacy) compositions, and featured a percussion jam with Dave holding up a drum for Monty. Of course, the encore ended with a spirited, manic Smash It Up, and we were out the door, and on our way back to the car.

E2 had skillfully copped the set list, which Vanian noticed missing much later, remarking that it was gone at least fifteen minutes after she had returned to our table, her prize proudly in hand! The crowd remained predictably appreciative but benign during the set, with the exception of some flashing boobs, which we missed from our perch in the back...And, somewhat surprisingly, I learned that the bar was admonished by the band not to allow any glass bottles on the second floor (apparently, some moe-rons still haven't figured out that musicians generally do not appreciate being hit with flying glass and don't find it enhances their performances) to prevent any untoward incidents. Do people still do that stuff to bands they expect will come back? Well, not last night, at least. So maybe we won't have to wait for years before their next visit!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UPDATE: 1600 Mach IV

Greetings, Culture Lovers!

It's your audio-obsessed friends at 1600, not heard from since the early days of January, checking in once again! How have you been? What have you been up to? Have you been taking care of yourselves? You never write, we haven't gotten a post card in ages, your mother is very worried, and hopes you're not hanging around with those shows with the delinquent kids from the other side of the tracks!

We've been busy, taping new shows and trying to keep up with everything that's been happening in the manic music world! It's been a busy year already, so rather than waste any more time, we bravely leap into it, headlong:

Summer concert season is nearly upon us, and the clubs and the sheds have announced a number of killer shows coming through the DC/VA/MD metro area. Check our links page, for the schedules at the 9:30 Club, The Birchmere, The State Theater, Jammin' Java, The Black Cat, Wolf Trap, Jaxx, IOTA, The Warner Theater, and the Strathmore!

And don't forget local entertainment spots The Ram's Head (located in both Annapolis and Baltimore), as well as National Harbor, a recently-opened outdoor music arena just across the Wilson Bridge in Prince George's County at National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, MD! Shows already announced include The Wailers, Little Feat, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Gov't Mule, The Derek Trucks Band, and Yes with special guests Asia! For more info, see their official website:


Well, in his latest trial for the murder of B movie starlet Lana Clarkson, the diminutive Mr. Wall of Sound didn't walk away a free man again. Yep, on April 13, a jury of his peers (assuming such a bizarre group is possible!) convicted Phil of second degree murder, punishable by a sentence of fifteen years to life in prison. Sentencing is May 29th, stay tuned for more sordid details...

This year at Celebrate Fairfax, at the Fairfax County Government Center, 1600 will be broadcasting LIVE on Friday June 5, from the Fairfax Public Access tent! We'll be giving stuff away, and hope to have some special guests, so come by and say hello! Who knows? Maybe you'll wind up live on Channel 10, too!

Later this summer, our friend in Arlington, the legendary boss of bass, BILLY HANCOCK is bringing the British invasion sensations THE BRITISH WALKERS to town! They take the stage at Winston, in Rockville, MD on July 10th and 11th and at JV's in Falls Church, VA on July 19th and 20th! These will be their only area appearances so get out and see them while they're here!

Finally, our sincere condolences to the family of the late, great Lux Interior (nee Erick Lee Purkhiser) and especially, his wife Poison Ivy (Kristy Wallace) of the Cramps, who passed away on February 4th. Thanks for the great music, the wild shows, and many happy memories! You are greatly missed.