Cherry Glazerr @ DC9, 1/15/17

I committed the cardinal sin of showing up late to a sold out show and had to stand towards the back. Even so, it was immediately obvious that I would still have a great time. There were vaginas hanging from the ceiling. Three to be exact. They were enlarged from their biological size and in bright playful colors like ones that might be used for educational purposes. The gemlike dot representing the clitoris was a beautiful touch.

Cherry Glazerr took the stage and seemingly started to soundcheck. They ran the gauntlet of their instruments, culminating in a delicious mayhem of noise. Apparently it was a warmup to properly launch into their first song. Properly because they roared into the set louder than the jungle. Breaking the sound barrier in every sense, it set the pace for sixty minutes of almost uninterrupted sonic bliss. Pausing after the second song to “preach to the choir” about “fuck Trump,” the crowd erupted exactly one and a half beats into the third. The downside of not being a superfan of the band one is seeing is missing out on the euphoria of the band playing one’s favorite song, which I am painfully reminded of by the head banging and fist-pumping around me and the flooring shaking beneath me.

The band never made any references to the hanging vaginas in the slightest. At least not verbally, perhaps because actions speak louder. Watching Clem at work is a study in grrl power. Half-singing, half-shouting “in control,” she tore herself away from the mic and pounced wildly around the stage, swinging the guitar as if to spite the words she had just espoused. However, the animalistic veil cannot belie the completely competent control it takes to shred so masterfully.

Mitski @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 6/25/16

Before I dive into my number one show of 2016, I’d like to mention several that made the decision so agonizing.

1/15 The Max Levine Ensemble: When the crowd started moshing, David expressed gratitude at the enthusiasm but asked them to do so in an up and down direction instead of left and right. Enormous respect for choosing to make his show a safe space rather than bask in the rock star aesthetic.

3/13 Le Butcherettes: Terry Genderbender and company rock like no other. Arguably the best musicianship I have ever seen.

4/27 Near Northeast: My favorite music blog hosted this lovely show where I fell in love with these local darlings. Kelly sang her way into my heart while playing the violin and tambourine at the same time!

5/20 Potty Mouth, Dyke Drama: Ally Einbinder and Sadie Switchblade. Enough said.

5/24 Witching Waves: Emma reminds me of my favorite drummer. She plays with a palpable passion.

6/18 The Meltaways, Snail Mail: Snail Mail made #5 so obvious inclusion here but the highlight was
Beck putting superglue over a wound so they could keep playing!

7/15 Heinous Orca: Would anyone expect a band from Tennessee to play Totoro?

10/13 Margot MacDonald, The Seshen: I always had a weakness for one woman bands and Margot has a beautiful voice. The Seshen is simply lovely.

For 2017, I am hoping to see Best Coast, KING, Candy Hearts, In This Moment, Chazzy B, Lung, Didi, Lizzo and Uffie. Anyone I should see? Without further delay, my best show of 2016.

Seeing Mitski changed me.

It started in incremental ways. For as long as I can remember, percussion has always been my favorite so I was delighted to find that the drum kit sat to Mitski’s left instead of behind the band like so many others. I doubt Mitski shares my sentiment on the matter and the gesture is actually a statement. Each member of her band should be given the same appreciation. Callan and Casey certainly deserve it.

That said, Mitski held my attention. She doesn’t so much play the bass but communicate with and through it. She isn’t exactly the only musician capable of this feat except she doesn’t move much. Instead, she’s tenderly poised. In her presence, I felt a peaceful ache. I felt the brilliant introspection of her music coming alive. I felt myself falling in love with the bass like a body from the balcony. And ever since, I found myself studying bass players at shows.

And hundreds of study subjects later, none of them led to an unexpected discovery about my musical taste. Apparently at some point, without my noticing, I started demanding a fuller volume and fuzzier sound in the music I listen to. Watching and listening to Mitski strum the bass was able to evoke the introspective emotions necessary for me to articulate my liking certain bands. Such as local darlings Flowerbomb whom I saw in attendance.

“Fuck Stevey” may be the two most profound words ever uttered.

She was expressing disgust at a character in some TV show at the beginning of a song. I forget which song or what TV show because at the conclusion, before the guitar could fade out, Mitski started to profusely tell the audience “thank you” and “I love you”. She confessed that her earlier remark made her feel terrible throughout the entire song.

The sincerity she showed in her remorse astounded me on multiple levels. For one, no one would have dwelled on such an inconsequential comment. For another, it’s a fictional character, not an actual person. Finally, she reflected on her words essentially instantly while playing. That’s a superlative commitment to self-examination.

A long time ago, an English professor accused my essay of sexism. I dismissed the ridiculous claim. There was no way I could be sexist. I am a decent human being. It took me years to realize my exclusive usage of masculine pronoun is incredibly sexist. Years after that, I would shout out song names at my favorite band during shows. It’s been ages since I last demanded anything from any women on stage yet roughly two years ago when Trophy Wife was going on hiatus, I had emailed expressing my fear that they would eventually disband. At their last show before the hiatus, Katy stated that she and Diane will play for as long as they can. I was exuberant at the time. It wasn’t until over a year later that I realized the inappropriateness of my request. The worst part is that these events occurred years apart.

Each of us believe we are a good person. It’s really easy (read: lazy) not to question it. And in the event we realize a mistake or are called out, we often consider it an isolated incident. It takes enormous courage and humility to examine oneself. I am completely awed by Mitki’s behavior, especially given the urgency in which she reflected. It’s clear she has made a habit of it. How does she do it? More than anything else, it takes forgiveness and this last step may be the hardest. After we recognize and accept our mistake, it can lead to negative, even depressing, thoughts about our character, our intrinsic goodness. So we quickly bury it.

We must forgive ourselves and each other.

This act of self love will encourage us to examine our words and actions, no matter how trivial, more frequently until it becomes second nature as Mitski demonstrated so masterfully. Writing this has been gut-wrenching for me yet she gracefully tackled it on stage before a sold out crowd. Thank you Mitski, for showing me that goodness is a work in progress and for inspiring me to be better and finally lending me the courage and forgiveness to do so.

Pinegrove, Ratboys, Half Waif @ DC9, 6/29/2016


A lot happened the past few days that prompted me to resurrect my blog. Nandi’s tweet after the show was the motivation behind my wanting to see her. It highlights the prevalence of the patriarchy that my favorite band has taught me to undermine or at least, not to perpetuate.  It also helps that Half Waif makes amazing music and seeing it live made a world of difference for me.

You see, three days prior I was at the same venue for another show. I had wanted to see Half Waif over a month ago so I asked to purchase tickets to the show on Wednesday. Two bartenders, ticket guy for Sunday’s show and the bouncer later, I brutally learned that DC9 does not sell tickets on premise. Flabbergasted by this idiocy, I took to twitter where the owner tried to defend the ridiculous policy instead of taking the only sensible action of changing the draconian policy or apologize for keeping it. This was Monday so my week started really grumpy.

It all disappeared shortly after Nandi took the stage.

Her voice is immensely beautiful but then so is, say, Florence’s. I told her after the show that there’s conviction within the beauty and that makes it greater. A day later, I realize I was drawn to her desire to communicate when she sings. When her brows furrow and her throat clenches to hold a certain note, it goes beyond the grandiose of displaying art for admiration. It’s her speaking to the audience, “I have something to say.” Her gorgeous keyboard playing means it’s delivered on a pretty plate.

Ratboys played next and I am sad I am too broke* to purchase their merchandise so now I have nothing to relive the euphoria that is their set. I am also sad I was on the wrong side of stage. Looks can be deceiving and Julia is another proof of that. Relatively small in stature, she instantly dismissed any notion of the word when she turned off the house music along the lines of, “I’m ’bout to blow this out.” Her fierce nature became immediately endearing as its energy transfers from her fingers to the guitar. And it keeps growing.

I am often annoyed by bands who speak or signal to get the audience’s attention. Julia knows her music speaks louder. Amidst the loud chatter present after each song, she barely pauses before launching forward, strumming her guitar and the room would soon quiet down. Even when the other guitarist broke a string and left stage to grab a backup, she started the song while he was still tuning. Big shout out to him for tuning unaided and joining in right on time.

Actually, it’s somewhat inaccurate to say I was on the wrong side of stage with Ktoni right before me. It’s always a treat to see the lungs personified via a trumpet. It added one more layer to the band’s ferocity that propelled the crowd into overdrive.

Practically everyone sang all the words to every Pinegrove song and I am embarrassed that I did not know Nandi plays in said band. While I prefer her band, Pinegrove’s catchy music proved contagious. I am still dismayed, angry and envious that I cannot decipher three guitars but it offers a full soundscape conducive to head banging. This became easily apparent when Evan’s guitar strap came undone despite a lock.

It would be amiss to not mention that both the drummer and Nandi each played their tambourine at the same time. Percussion is my favorite instrument so that was a nice touch as is the drummer’s decision to hold one of his sticks backwards. Zack tells me afterwards that it creates a fatter sound.

Evan stated his plan for four more songs during the set but the crowd held the band hostage to a two song encore where they played older material.

As I walked to my car, I noticed that I am not even upset at the silly policy anymore. Instead I am filled with happiness only lovely music can induce.