Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for September 2011

One more week to see '(Un)Lock It' at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions

September 30, 2011 - 01:42 PM
Chuck Brown taking a picture of Thomas Sayers Ellis. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

The first ever gallery exhibition of go-go photographs, Thomas Sayers Ellis' "(Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket," closes next Saturday—with a party.

A closing reception will be held on October, 8, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. And, in keeping with the spirit of the show—a tribute not only to members of go-go bands, but behind-the-scenes folks and show-goers—there will be a go-go community photo taken just before the event, at 1:30 p.m.

Ellis, who in addition to being a photographer, is a poet and assistant professor of creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, will also be reading "The Helicopter"—a piece written for go-go legend Anthony "Lil Benny" Harley, who died last year—and other works.

The Gallery at Vivid Solutions is located at 2208 Martin Luther King Ave., SE.

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Male nudes marching on Washington at Vitruvian Gallery

September 30, 2011 - 12:04 PM

Enough of all these installations and landscapes and conceptual pieces. What the D.C. gallery scene needs are more male nudes!

That’s what Larry Hall and Jack Cox are banking on, anyway. They’re opening Vitruvian Gallery next month, D.C.’s first art space dedicated solely to male figurative art.

Hall, a 49-year-old D.C. resident who works in communications and dabbles in painting, believes male figurative work needs a home in Washington. “It’s an underserved market,” he says. “The fact is that we’ve just left behind male figurative art. We’ve painted pears to death. It’s been around from the beginning, but it’s only recently that it’s been literally stuffed in the closet.”

Both men are aware that opening a gallery with such a narrow focus might strike some as a peculiar business move. “When they hear, people say to me, oh that’s wonderful,” says Cox, a 58-year-old consultant and Arlington resident. “Then they say, are you mad?”

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The month in electronic music: Skrillex, Axwell, Moby

September 30, 2011 - 11:00 AM
Gabriel and Dresden at Tomorrowland, Boom, Belgium. (Facebook, Rutger Geerling)

OCT. 1: Steve Angello at Fur Nightclub

The Greek/Swedish music producer and DJ, and one-third of Swedish House Mafia (Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso) landed on the house music scene with his 2004 remix of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." "Steve is brilliant. He makes great underground tracks, and he has the right soul," British DJ Pete Tong recently told MTV News. $25.

Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin 'Save The World' - Clip by steveangello

OCT. 6: Skrillex Mothership Tour at Fur Nightclub

Skrillex, Sonny Moore, the former singer of the screamo band From First to Last, landed on the electro/dubstep scene with the release of his Scary Monsters, Nice Sprites EP last October. Featuring 12th Planet, Foreign Beggars and Nadastrom (Dave Nada & Matt Nordstrom). 7 p.m.


OCT. 8: Pauly D at Fur Nightclub

If getting down with Paul DelVecchio and a bunch of Jersey Shore-obsessed fans is your thing, I won't judge. Last time Pauly D was in town, he played to a sold-out house. He'll be spinning house, pop, rock and top 40. $25.

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Weekend events: Crafty Bastards, Oktoberfest, Depressed Buttons

September 30, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Crafty Bastards vendor Jennifer Strunge in her studio (Photo by Joshua Yospyn)


Rebirth of the Cool: Poolside BBQ at Capitol Skyline Hotel. Hosted by 30 Americans artist Kehinde Wiley, the event is way for guests to experience the artistic subculture that Wiley describes as "a truer example of my lived life." BBQ + booze the night away as you wistfully contemplate another summer's evaporation.

• Jenny Owen Youngs performs with Hank and Cupcakes at Red Palace. The indie-pop artist whose 2007 single "Fuck Was I" introduced her to the mainstream, talks her new album, Avril Lavigne, and cancer.

Great Big Plans by Jenny Owen Youngs


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Jenny Owen Youngs talks new album, cancer, Avril Lavigne

September 29, 2011 - 05:00 AM

Jenny Owen Youngs, who plays Friday at Red Palace, has the voice of a Norah Jones and the mouth of a sailor. "Fuck Was I," her first song to garner mainstream success, was featured on Weeds. Owen Youngs calls the album it came from, 2005's Batten the Hatches, a "diary album," a largely acoustic and intimately arranged poetry and writings from her college years.

Transmitter Failure, from 2009, was built on electric guitars and shows a broader lyrical scope: the self-loathing of "Drinking Song," for instance, gives way to the critical, visceral chorus of "Led to the Sea." Owen Youngs recently released a one-off single, "Great Big Plans," and will finish her third album by the end of the year.


I wrote the lyrics for that when four people I knew within a month were all diagnosed with different types of cancer. Everybody except one person is now okay. Three of the four recovered, and one unfortunately passed away. It was a lot to deal with in a very short span of time....I just stopped in my figurative life track and said, Holy crap, this can happen to people I know. This is something I’ve read about. This is something I’ve seen in movies. But this is not something I’ve had in my life before.

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TheatreWashington's first hurdle: Google

September 27, 2011 - 03:11 PM

TheatreWashington, the region's new theater umbrella organization, faces a real 21st-century problem -- its name cuts straight to the point of what it does: It's about Washington theaters, for crying out loud! Unfortunately, plugging that name into search engines delivers showtimes at Washington movie theaters, the websites of some popular Washington theater venues, and DC Theatre Scene, which reviews plenty of Washington theater productions. (Bing — if anyone uses it — is much kinder to the org. Google assumes you mean separate words; forcing the issue gets you a lot closer.)

While it's not a Rick Santorum-level problem, TheatreWashington, which sprouted from the Helen Hayes organization, is acutely aware of the search-engine issue. "It's because our website isn't live yet," says Alli Houseworth, TheatreWashington's director of communications and audience development. The TheatreWashington placeholder site that's up now, Houseworth says, doesn't contain the metadata that searchbots love to chew on.

The permanent site, which will launch soon -- Houseworth is not promising when; there's a lot of testing yet to do -- has been coded "using all of our Helen Hayes stuff," she says. It will have a show-finding function that will send lots of traffic back and forth between the TheatreWashington mothership and its member theaters. "If you think about it," Houseworth says, "there’s going to be a link for every theater, every show, every box office, and that’s not counting any links that we’re gonna put in ourselves."

Google doesn't reveal what's under the hood of its algorithms but says that links are one of the 200-odd metrics it uses to determine where a site lands on its results pages (where the searcher lives counts, which should help). Houseworth says the name is already showing up in her Google news alerts (see you tomorrow morning, Alli!). Keeping track of Twitter mentions, she says, is a lot more involved, something a person who works at a site named for a popular expression for uncertainty understands very well.

"I can't really create a column for 'Theatre-space-Washington,'" says Houseworth, who looks at Twitter via TweetDeck. "It's hard to filter through that."

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Behind the scenes at the Birchmere

September 27, 2011 - 01:51 PM

Have you ever wondered why the music at the Birchmere always sounds so good? Well, the folks over at have, so site founder Kyle Osborne visited the Alexandria club and put together a nice video featuring interviews with the longtime sound and lighting techicians, who  discuss their work in detail. Check it out! Even if you've never visited the venue, the clip serves as a good, basic primer on live show sound.

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New releases: J. Cole, Phonte, Van Hunt, The Bangles

September 27, 2011 - 12:18 PM

J. Cole, Cole World: The Sideline Story

The Internet says: "Cole is a deft rapper, clever but not obsessed with his own cleverness, interested in au courant beats but not fixated on them. There’s nothing particularly dramatic about his debut — it’s simply a better version of albums that get made all the time." (The Washington Post)

Watch: The video for the Trey Songz-assisted high-life-ish track "Can't Get Enough."

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This week's concerts: Enrique Iglesias, Elvis Costello, Chrome Noir Harmonica Summit

September 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM

Tuesday: Enrique Iglesias at the Patriot Center

Remember back in March, when singer Enrique Iglesias pulled the plug on a double-headlining tour with Britney Spears, and most people thought it was a really, really bad idea? Now that everyone is talking about the heartthrob's solo tour, with rapper Pitbull and crooner Prince Royce, it seems that striking out on his own was the right move for Iglesias, eh? 7 p.m. $19.50-89.50.

Wednesday: Chrome Noir Harmonica Summit at Howard University's Blackburn Center

For the third year in a row, professional musicians and Howard University music students come together to celebrate the mouth organ. Enrico Granafei, Allen Holmes, and Chrome Noir will perform. 12 noon. FREE.

Thursday: Elvis Costello & the Imposters at the Warner Theatre

After a series of canceled/postponed shows due to an illness in the family, Costello is back on the road with his Revolver tour, during which audience members help determine the set list with help from the "Spectacular Spinning Songbook," an updated version of the beloved game show-style wheel Costello used on tour in 1986. 8 p.m. $69.50-125.00.

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Weekend shows: Common, Fleet Foxes, Brad Paisley, Project Pat

September 23, 2011 - 01:00 PM
Common: Writer of raps both rugged and sensitive. (publicity photo)

SATURDAY: Common at the Park

Drake gets credit for the current popularity of emo rap, but the Canadian MC owes a huge debt to Common, who can deliver a tough verse with the best of them, but also has regularly penned rap ballads such as "The Light," and "Come Close" long before sensitive, introspective hip-hop became so popular. 8 p.m. doors. Free before 10 p.m. for Going Out Guide readers.

SATURDAY: Brad Paisley/ WMZQ Fest at Jiffy Lube Live

Brad Paisley is on tour, promoting his most recent album, This Is Country Music, and also a book. Diary of a Player—which Paisley co-wrote with Rolling Stone contributor David Wild, and is out Nov. 1—is a music memoir, heavily focused on the country music star's relationship with the guitar. 4 p.m. $25-85.

FRIDAY: Fleet Foxes at Merriweather Post Pavilion

There are just a handful of shows left in the Merriweather Post Pavilion season; hearing the Seattle band's superb sophomore album Helplessness Blues live is a great way to close out the summer. 6 p.m. $25-45.

SATURDAY: Project Pat at Layla Lounge

The Memphis rapper behind such hits as "Don't Call Me No Mo," and "Chickenhead," performs music from his new album, Loud Pack. 9 p.m. doors. $25.

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Signature's Gabriel Mangiante can direct two musicals at once

September 23, 2011 - 11:31 AM

When Gabriel Mangiante moved to Washington in 2005, he expected to spend the next chapter of his adult life sitting behind a computer, not in front of an orchestra. A graduate of the University of South Carolina at Aiken, he held degrees in computer science and mathematics, and had no problem getting hired by a defense contractor.

But he had a problem with getting bored.

And there’s nothing more interesting then what has turned out to be his alternative career: conducting two musicals a day at Signature Theatre.

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Crowd at (e)merge art fair fails to understand idea of lying on a bed

September 23, 2011 - 08:45 AM
An installation by Flashpoint artist Lisa Dillin mimics light shining through a tree canopy. Photo: Joshua Yospyn.

Visitors to the (e)merge art fair opening Thursday night at the Capitol Skyline Hotel were good at lots of things: drinking champagne, wearing cool glasses, and giving air kisses. They were less good at interacting with some of the art.

The exhibit, which sprawled across three floors and dozens of rooms at the hotel, included an installation by Flashpoint artist and Baltimore-based sculptor Lisa Dillin. Dillin designed a dropped-tile ceiling, laser-cut to mimic light shining through a tree canopy, and set it up directly above a blanketed bed in Room 322. But the polished art-lookers floating in and out of Room 322 on Thursday don’t take the bait.

A white-haired, white-bearded professorial pair stand and look at the piece. One beard asks if the pattern is random. Karyn Miller of Flashpoint, who’s running the show in Room 322, tells him it’s based on light shining through a tree canopy. The beard to turns to the other.

“I don’t know if you heard her,” he says, “but it’s based on light shining through a tree canopy.”

“Interesting,” the second beard replies. They do not lie down on the bed.

A man in black pants, black shirt, black shoes, and black belt admires the clean cut of the tiles. She tells him it was cut with a laser. He does not lie down on the bed.

One woman asks if the tiles have a pattern. Miller tells her it’s based on a tree canopy. The woman comments that she could almost lie down on that bed!

“Do it!” encourages Miller, who herself has reclined on the white blanket at least three times this hour to demonstrate the ease and permissibility of lying down. “People do it. That’s what it’s there for.” The woman leaves.

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Everything you need to know about Congressional Black Caucus Week events

September 20, 2011 - 11:48 PM

The 41st annual Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference kicked off on Monday, as did the flurry of parties and receptions that typically surrounds the event, also called CBC Week. If you're still trying to figure out which specific events you want to attend, Joi-Marie McKenzie, editor of the Fab Empire family of websites, has you covered. McKenzie and her team have, for the third year in a row, put together the handy "Insider's Guide to Congressional Black Caucus Week."

McKenzie's special event guides (she also puts together a great "Insider's Guide to Howard University Homecoming) are great resources. Need to know about the Paul Wharton-hosted Casino Royale scholarship benefit at the Sahdow Room tonight? (Um, YES!) Or actor Laz Alonzo's appearance at Lux Lounge tomorrow? Then you need to flip through this thing. Peruse the offerings below or at D.C. Fab.

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Wale debates LeBron James with Skip Bayless, shoots vid on ESPN campus

September 20, 2011 - 02:30 PM

It's ESPN day for rapper Wale: The DMV-bred MC visited the Bristol, Connecticut campus of the cable sports network this morning to debate the greatness of LeBron James with ESPN First Take's Skip Bayless (Wale is pro James, Bayless is con), and then shot scenes for the video for the single "Barry Sanders" (from the Eleven One Eleven Theory mixtape) on the ESPN campus.

In the clip below, Wale slams Bayless for refusing to give credit to James, and when Bayless counters that he's more impressed by James' Miami Heat teammate Dwayne Wade, who actually has an NBA Championship ring, Wale responds: "He had Shaq! I could win a ring with Shaq!"

Wale also plugged his album Ambition, set to drop Nov. 1, and said that Bayless represents "anti-ambition." Good television!

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Howard University's Afro Blue kills it on 'The Sing Off'

September 20, 2011 - 11:30 AM

Howard University's Afro Blue continues to elevate the reputation of college vocal groups: Last night, the ensemble performed on the NBC a capella singing competition The Sing Off and absolutely nailed a performance of the Corinne Bailey-Rae's "Put Your Records On."

While judge Ben Folds made a stupid joke about his first band also being named Afro Blue, and Sara Bareilles mostly just remarked on how good-looking the members of the ensemble are, Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman threw a bunch of flattering adjectives at the group: "Class, style, slick, smooth, effortless, and fun."

Over at the Washington City Paper, jazz critic Michael J. West also lauded the group's first showing of the season, saying its "low-key performance of the tune" is what "marked it as special," and that they pulled off the great feat of being "a show band that avoided being too showy." Indeed.

The group, competing to win a recording contract and a $100,000 cash prize, advanced to the second round of competition, so if you missed the show last night, you'll have another chance to see the group perform again in two weeks. You can also check out last night's performance below.

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Fillmore Silver Spring: Better on the second (and third) show?

September 19, 2011 - 12:00 PM

If Twitter is any indication (and when is it not?), the Fillmore Silver Spring, which drew a fair number of complaints on opening night, is already...drawing fewer complaints. People who visited the Fillmore to see John Legend on Saturday and Black Star last night did a lot less angry tweeting than concertgoers at the venue's very first show, a Thursday night Mary J. Blige performance. On Thursday, ticketholders griped about the long wait to enter the venue after the doors opened, and some were surprised to learn the Fillmore is primarily a standing room general admission venue.

There were a few complaints about the venue on Saturday and Sunday, but there was also plenty of praise (apparently the chicken fingers are incredible). 

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Edsel will reissue its albums to prove it existed

September 19, 2011 - 10:49 AM
Edsel. From left, Geoff Sanoff, Steve Raskin, Sohrab Habibion, Nick Pellicciotto.

The members of Edsel, a D.C.-based indie rock band in the '90s, are reissuing their records. Usually bands take steps like this because they hated the original mastering of their albums, or they want to add bonus material from the recording sessions, or they think they can make their fans buy their music all over again.

Edsel had a different problem: As far as the Internet was concerned, the band barely existed. Its name isn’t exactly Google-friendly, and the band’s knack for choosing record labels that later evaporated means that curious D.C. indie scholars can find only three songs on iTunes and Spotify.

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Bill T. Jones on 'Fela!': Profanity is easy. Cowbells are hard

September 19, 2011 - 05:00 AM
Bill T. Jones
Jones (Photo by Christina Lane, courtesy Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival)

Fela! was a surprise Broadway hit of 2010. Directed and choreographed by modern dance pioneer Bill T. Jones, the musical condenses the colorful life of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian activist and musician, into one night of song, dance, and African politics. After opening off-Broadway, the show ran for 15 months at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. It closed in January after garnering three Tony Awards, 11 nominations, and promises of becoming a global hit.

The show has since traveled to London, Amsterdam, and Nigeria. The American tour officially opened Friday at the Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts (don’t be confused if you saw it there before Friday; theater openings operate on a different space-time continuum from ours). Jones traveled to Washington this week to check on rehearsal and talk with TBD. OK, he talked to a bunch of other journalists, too, but probably no one else got him talking about expletives and cowbells.

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Fillmore Silver Spring stuns patrons with its beauty, ticket prices

September 16, 2011 - 11:30 AM
The Fillmore Silver Spring, on opening night. (Photo: Josh Yospyn/TBD)

The Fillmore Silver Spring, the long-awaited, controversial Live Nation concert venue, opened last night. Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, sang. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett smashed a guitar. People ate apples.

Patrons who showed up on opening night remarked on the building's beauty (chandeliers!), and the great sound. Many even said that getting to downtown Silver Spring during rush hour, from locations around the region, had been bad, but not nearly as bad as they expected. But, they also had gripes.

The well-dressed folks who showed up to see MJB didn't expect to have to wait outside in the cold and rain for an hour or more before getting inside—even ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon complained about the line. But the length of time that it took ticketholders to get inside last night can be chalked up to an opening-night kink. The number-one complaint from patrons last night isn't something that can be easily ironed out: People thought the ticket prices were way too high for a standing, general admission show. Many didn't even realize, until they got to the venue, that they'd paid $89.50 to stand through Mary's set.

In an excellent piece in this week's Washington City Paper, Tom Anderson takes a look at the Fillmore's ticket prices, and the possibility that its relatively pricey ticket costs could force other venues in the area to follow suit. Last night, patrons didn't seem upset by the $90 ticket cost itself, but the fact that their money bought them just a spot at the show, rather than a seat.

"I think it sucks," says a woman named BJ, who didn't know it was a standing show when she bought her tickets. "It didn't say on the website that 'general admission' means standing room only. I mean, what the hell?"

"We didn't know we had to stand until today," says Blige fan Shaunté, who drove to the Fillmore from Tysons Corner, Va.

"I called her today like, 'I hope you have some flat shoes,'" says Shaunté's friend Ronesshia.

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See Wild Flag in New York for free

September 15, 2011 - 03:30 PM
This is Wild Flag. (publicity photo)

Everyone is loving the self-titled debut album from Wild Flag, the group of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Rebecca Cole (The Minders), and D.C. native Mary Timony (Helium).

The Washington Post said the album is "covered in all the sweat and grit and uncertainty that makes great rock-and-roll great." Pitchfork gave it an 8.0. Entertainment Weekly called the effort "rock's first great all-female supergroup album."

Some D.C. folk will get a chance to see the band live on October 20, when the foursome comes to the Black Cat, but the show is completely sold out--and it doesn't involve a road trip. So, you should enter the Merge Records Wild Flag ticket giveaway. Like the label on Facebook, and enter to win a trip for two (including airfare and hotel stay) to New York see the band at the Bowery Ballroom on October 18--that's two whole days before all of your D.C. friends get to see the show! Sure, it's a long shot, but so is finding Wild Flag tickets for less than $50 apiece on craigslist.

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