All posts in concerts

14Apr

Badflower at Rams Head Live!

It’s simple math really, Josh Katz plus a guitar and a microphone equals emotions. It’s impossible to hear the Los Angeles-based frontman pour his heart and soul into a track and feel nothing. The opportunity to witness the angst, anguish and torment of Katz’s vocals paired with the musical stylings of lead guitarist Joey Morrow, bass guitarist Alex Espiritu and drummer Anthony Sonetti in person was too much to resist.

So when Badflower swung through Baltimore on the heels of their sophomore album, This Is How the World Ends, which dropped last September, I knew I had to be there. And boy am I glad I did. They were fantastic from the moment they took the stage, captivating the packed venue with tracks like “White Noise” and “Fuckboi” as we all strapped in for an emotional journey. Katz could barely strum the opening few notes of “Don’t Hate Me” before the entire building tore into the smash hit.

By the time the band finished the emotional rollercoaster that was their set (and encore), those in attendance had absolutely gotten their money’s worth. Sure, maybe things aren’t always great and all of us our dealing with our own personal adversities as best we can, but on a random Tuesday in April, a packed house got together for one helluva therapy session. And I can’t wait to do it again.

13Apr

’68 at Rams Head Live!

The Black Keys. Royal Blood. cleopatrick. If these dynamic duos have taught us anything, it’s that there is absolutely nowhere to hide when your band only consists of two members.

Just like these other acts, lead singer/guitarist Josh Scogin and drummer Nikko Yamada have embraced a minimalistic approach to music. Everything from the bands name — ’68 — to their preferred instruments (just one cymbal and one tom on Yamaha’s drum kit) to their music videos leans into a “less is more” mindset, and yet, this Atlanta-based act absolutely knows how to command a stage.

Playing a set that featured tracks from their third album, Give One Take One, ’68 quickly won over what could have been a sleepy Tuesday night crowd with their brash, bold and bluesy in-your-face sound. While the band may shy away from excess, Scogin and Yamada don’t cut corners — as was evident by their guitar-tossing, percussion-heavy set that left both dapper-dressed gentlemen drenched in sweat as their time came to an end.

22Mar

Underoath at The Fillmore

Fun fact: Underoath started out as a Christian metalcore band back in the late 90s. While plenty has changed over more than two decades of work, including a roster of 15 musicians who have at various times been members, the Tampa-based band still delivers.

In honor of their ninth studio album, Voyeurist, Underoath hit the road on a 27-city North American tour. Originally, they were supposed to be accompanied by Every Time I Die. But unfortunately, the band broke up in between the time the tour was announced and Underoath was scheduled to hit the road. In their place, Spiritbox and Bad Omens joined the fun and helped set the stage for a wonderfully entertaining evening.

Frontman Spencer Chamberlain, lead guitarist Timothy McTague, bassist Grant Brandell, rhythm guitarist James Smith, drummer Aaron Gillespie and keyboardist Christopher Dudley used absolutely every inch of the stage during an action-packed 15 song set, which included a two-track encore.

By the time they broke into their current single, “Hallelujah,” bedlam had completely overtaken The Fillmore. The sellout crowd clearly fed off of the amazing energy reverberating from the stage and gave back everything they had.

21Mar

Spiritbox at The Fillmore

When husband and wife duo of Mike Stringer and Courtney LaPlante formed Spiritbox in 2017, they absolutely raised the bar for couples everywhere.

The band, comprised of singer LaPlante, guitarist Stringer, as well as bassist Bill Crook and drummer Zev Rose, has quickly ascended up the ranks and is now a mainstay on hard rock charts across the country (and obviously north of the border as well). Their debut full-length album, Eternal Blue, has been universally loved and, if the sellout crowd in Silver Spring, Maryland, was any indication, their fanbase cannot wait to experience these songs live and in person.

Their set kicked off with 2019 single, “Rule Of Nines,” which was a great tone setter. They immediately jumped into “Circle With Me,” which had the entire building singing along and by the time they got to “Blessed Be,” the entire audience was eating out of their hands. It seems inevitable that Spiritbox are destined for big things. Their look. Their sound. Everything about the band garners attention.

20Mar

Bad Omens at The Fillmore

The highest compliment I can give Bad Omens is that my 10-year-old son demands we play their music whenever he wants to get pumped up before one of his travel soccer games. That’s how much my family and I enjoy their work.

Ever since we first heard “Careful What You Wish For,” we’ve been hooked. Needless to say, when I found out the Richmond, Virginia, band was playing locally, I knew I had to be there. Having already purchased a ticket for the show, I was beyond thrilled when I received word that I would be able to cover the show. Singer Noah Sebastian, guitarist Joakim Karlsson, bassist Nicholas Ruffilo and drummer Nick Folio were only on stage for 30 minutes, but they made the most of their allotted time.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Bad Omens, here are links to “Like A Villian” and “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE.” Both are absolutely worth your time.

05Mar

Zero 9:36 at Union Stage

The Monster Energy Outbreak Tour claims to focus on artists at their breakout moment. With alumni such as Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, The Chainsmokers, Logic, Post Malone and 21 Savage, it’s difficult to dispute that notion.

As Zero 9:36 hits the road for the first time as a headliner, courtesy of the tour, fans have every reason to believe the Philadelphia native is next in line for a breakout. Not that he hasn’t accomplished plenty already. Since 2019, Zero 9:36 has amassed more than 66 million streams for his two EPs and rocketed to number one on Mediabase’s active rock airplay chart in 2021.

Additionally, he was named one of SiriusXM’s Future Five for 2021, and his single “Adrenaline” was Octane’s most-played hard rock song in ’21. Basically, while everyone was stuck at home dealing with the pandemic, they were listening to Zero 9:36 on heavy rotation.

On his second night as a headliner, Zero 9:36 was already in a groove, although he did joke that they failed to pack a printer with the rest of the band’s equipment, so they didn’t even have a printed setlist to go off of. That minor snafu aside, the D.C. show was excellent. It even included a surprise cameo from No Love For The Middle Child, who joined Zero 9:36 to perform “Come Thru.”

If Zero 9:36 does come through your town during his current cross-country tour, go see him and share in his breakout moment.

05Mar

Fame on Fire at Union Stage

While Fame on Fire isn’t opposed to performer another band’s songs from time to time, they want you to know — they’re not a cover band. You’ve likely heard their rendition of tracks by Ed Sheeran, Adele, The Weeknd and others, but their 2020 debut album, LEVELS, proved these Florida rockers are fully capable of creating original hits as well.

On this night, the band’s first ever show in Washington, D.C., vocalist Bryan Kuznitz, guitarist Blake Saul, bassist Paul Spirou and drummer Alex Roman treated those in attendance to a high-octane set filled with an abundance of sing-along tracks including “Plastic Heart,” “Headspace” and, yes, a cover of Linkin Park’s “NUMB.” But don’t you dare call them a cover band.

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