After a quiet February, March certainly picked up for concerts. Here’s a round-up of the highs (and lows) of the 17 shows I saw:
Best aluminum-necked guitar: It’s a tie!!! Torche rocked two gorgeous EGCs, and Agalloch was of course playing a gorgeous Travis Bean. 20 March @ Jaxx and 21 March @ Sonar.
Worst opening band: No question, Worm Ouroboros. I don’t even want to think about it again to write about it here (so check out the write-up on DCHeavyMetal.com), but it was a serious yawn. And also, really, NO ONE wants to listen to that much head voice. 21 March @ Sonar.
Best church show: Dropdead + Magrudergrind + Wasted Time + Cough + Ilsa. I still wish that this had been in the sanctuary, but it was still pretty awesome even in the rec room. I was surprised that the crowd dispersed so much after Magrudergrind’s awesome set (would’ve thought that Dropdead was the big draw here), but as good as that was, Cough was the real highlight for me. 12 March @ St Stephen’s.
Most offensive band name: Well, I don’t think there’s anything particularly offensive about the name Rotting Christ but some people might. 9 March @ Jaxx.
Most mismatched tour: Whose bright idea was it to stick Helmet as the headliner on a tour full of doom bands? Who knows. 23 March @ Jaxx.
Worst dancing: I know I should just let people enjoy live music in their own way, but it’s just really hard to watch people with absolutely no rhythm whatsoever try to dance and clap along to music, really off-tempo. And this was at an Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed show! Seriously, people, if you can’t find the beat at a soul show, you should just leave your dancing shoes at home. 10 March @ the Rock & Roll Hotel.
Best metal show at a gay bar: Palkoski / Xeukatre / Wolfnuke / Wolventhrone. I’ve heard that the Monday night metal shows out at the So Addictive Lounge in Herndon might be coming to an end, which is a bummer– while it’s certainly a haul for me to get my city-dwelling butt out to soccer-mom country on a Monday night, I’ve always liked the fact that this scene exists. 7 March @ So Addictive.
Best St Patrick’s Day Show: OK, Canadian hyperblast band Kataklysm has absolutely no relation to St Paddy’s day whatsoever. Fine. 17 March @ Jaxx.
Best colors: the Ex. OK, yes, with their solid-color t-shirts, they looked sorta like the Wiggles, and once you get that image in your head, can you really listen to the music seriously? 12 March @ the Black Cat.
Worst club experience: I understand that sometimes things don’t run on schedule. But when a club double-books shows and doesn’t let the bands playing the “late” show even start loading in (and soundchecking) until after the doors were supposed to open for their show, you know things are going to run really late. I enjoyed what I got to see of Dark Sea Dream (note: way more psychedelic/shoegaze than metal), but I may be getting too old for shows where the headlining band is just getting started at 2 AM. 18 March @ the Velvet Lounge.
Best plaid: The trifecta of plaid shirts worn by Mike Watt and his Missingmen. 31 March @ the Black Cat backstage.
Best bells: Admittedly, seeing Virginia Bronze made me kinda sorta miss playing handbells. 20 March @ George Washington National Masonic Memorial Auditorium.
Most covers (outside an a cappella show): Vetiver rocked covers by Townes Van Zandt (“Standin'”), A.R.Kane (“Miles Apart”), and Gene Clark (“Here Tonight”). And those are just the ones I remember. 25 March @ IOTA.
Best a cappella competition: Aca-Idol at SingStrong. Good mix of collegiate and post-collegiate groups. 4 March @ South Lakes High School.
Most panty-throwing at a high school a cappella competition: SingStrong‘s HS competition. Seriously, there’s a group called the “Manchoir”; who can keep panties on during that? 5 March @ South Lakes High School.
Worst a cappella headliner: Street Corner Symphony. Sure, they came in 2nd place on NBC’s Sing-Off. And yes, I can cut them some slack because their percussionist wasn’t able to make it. But that’s really no excuse: this set was sloppy, and that sloppiness had nothing to do with an absent member. (We can all be forgiving of that and even of tinkering with looping equipment to provide VP in absentia. But also: you’re at an a cappella festival! you could’ve found a substitute for the night!) What with inexplicable carrots thrown into the audience, time wasted with sheet music giveaways, and sub-par vocal performances (really, we all know that you sing abbreviated versions of songs on the show. but it wouldn’t kill you to learn those other verses of “Fix You” for a concert), this show was, as I texted a friend that night, a clusterf*ck of a trainwreck. 5 March @ South Lakes High School.
Best a cappella headliner: the Bobs. After the trainwreck of the previous night, it was great to see these seasoned performers (and seriously, Richard Bob = one of my favorite basses of all time) show us how a headlining set should be done. 6 March @ Reston Community Center.