The Rumpus (“Busting at Its Seams” edition)

Since Scalzi kind of teed it up for me in his “Meet the Guest Bloggers” post by mentioning (and saying kind words about) the monthly-ish email he gets from me that’s filled with music recommendations, I have chosen to interpret that as encouragement to share one such missive with all of you.  And since I just sent out a new “edition” a few minutes ago, what better time than the present, right?

By way of providing a little background, I’ve been sending the Rumpus out to friends (and, over time, to friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, etc.) for, jeez, I don’t know, well over ten years now.  It started out as an informal means of giving like-minded friends a heads up about upcoming (mostly rock) shows of note, and as the distro grew over time, I realized I couldn’t cater to the individual tastes of specific friends who I knew were already into a given band, and I started adding links and song recommendations, along with some editorial commentary in the hopes that the Rumpus would serve as a means for folks to discover some rockin’ new sounds.

Over the years, many Rumpus readers have encouraged me to turn it into a blog but, for a variety of reasons, I’ve been resistant.  Perhaps by posting the latest edition here will serve as the kick in the pants I’ve needed to finally get over myself and turn it into a blog of its own.  In fact, one friend was so insistent that I turn it into a blog that he created a Posterous account for me/it last year.  So it’s entirely possible that this post will end up serving as the impetus for the Rumpus to, at long last, begin appearing regularly in a blog  of its own.

If you’ll permit me just a few final notes, I promise I’ll get out of the way:  As you’ll see, I shamelessly quoted myself from past Whatever entries in the Moneybrother and Gentleman Jesse and His Men entries.  If you’re wondering if that was done out of sheer laziness, I congratulate you on your perspicacity.  If you’re wondering what’s up with the asterisks that appear next to some of the events, they denote new entries which have been added since the last edition (this one features a lot more new entries than is typical, hence the “busting at its seams” title).  The only other item of note is that while the vast majority of the events listed (all of which are in D.C. or its ‘burbs unless otherwise noted) are bands, there are a couple of author readings in the mix as well, and this is not at all uncommon.  (No SF authors, at least not in this edition, but if William Gibson comes to town on his book tour this fall, he’ll almost certainly be the next SF author to make an appearance.)

OK, enough with the prelude.  Let’s get to the goods, shall we?

*8/21 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, with Teenage Bottlerocket.  I haven’t checked in with the Bosstones in years (and in truth the last time I saw them live was a bit of a letdown), but I still love ‘em, and it could well be time to skank it up with the lads once more.  Listen to “Wasted Summers” at their MySpace.  (For Teenage Bottlerocket commentary, scroll down to the 10/27 entry.)

*8/27 Marah @ RnRH.  After seeing the latest incarnation (v6.0?) of Marah put on a positively electrifying show at Iota last month, it gives me great pleasure to welcome back to the stage the band that was, for several years in the early aughts, my pick for best live band in the world.  They lost the plot for a while there, but they’re back, baby, and you better believe that they’re back with a vengeance.  Listen to “Life is a Problem” from the new album at their MySpace (but trust me, you really need to hear it live).

9/4 The Downtown Fiction @ Jammin’ Java.  In addition to the previously referenced Foxy Shazam piece I wrote for Twangville this year, my other personal favorite piece was a little ditty I called “Indie Pop Rocks SXSW 2010” in which Fairfax’s own Downtown Fiction figure prominently.  Listen to “Living Proof” at their MySpace.  (Damn the luck, I will be on vacation at the time of this show … and it’s their first proper hometown show since I saw them in Austin too!)

*9/7 “An Acoustic Evening” with the Airborne Toxic Event and the Calder Quartet @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.  Some of their strongest TV appearances to date have been performing “Sometime Around Midnight” accompanied by the Calder Quartet on strings, so this show should really be something special.  Listen to “Sometime Around Midnight” and/or “Gasoline” at their MySpace.

*9/9 Jesse Malin and the St. Mark’s Social, with Moneybrother @ Ottobar (Baltimore).  Regular Rumpus readers are well aware of my love of Jesse Malin (who I most recently saw join Alejandro Escovedo in NYC for a killer duet on “Anchor” three weeks ago tonight).  As I wrote last week as a guest blogger on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, Moneybrother are a fantastic blue-eyed soul / rock band out of Sweden that I saw about five or so years ago at SXSW, and have been itching for a chance to see again ever since. Listen to “Burning the Bowery” at Jesse’s MySpace, and “Born Under a Bad Sign” at Moneybrother’s. Missiontix onsale this Friday.

*9/11 The Bouncing Souls @ the Black Cat.  I’m waaaay late to the Bouncing Souls party, and only have a few scattered tracks to date … anybody want to recommend their most essential album?  Listen to “Gasoline” (not the same “Gasoline” as the Airborne one) at their MySpace.

*9/11-9/12 Small Press Expo (SPX) @ the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center.  For the best showcase of comics in the U.S., forget Comic-con; the cool kids know it’s really all about SPX!  (Note: I love Comic-con, and have been to San Diego more than a few times, but there’s a reason that SPX is the only comics show I’ve never missed attending, and it ain’t just based on geography.)

*9/12 Jesse Malin and the St. Mark’s Social, with Moneybrother @ DC-9.  For commentary on both bands, see the 9/9 entry above.

* 9/12 Surfer Blood, with the Drums @ the 9:30.  Tough call here on 9/12.  I already have early evening SPX-related plans, and now I have to decide between going for a double-shot of the Jesse/Moneybrother show or catching a pair of bands that were on my to-do list this year at South-by but both of which I ended up missing.  (Normally, the fact that I haven’t seen these bands yet would make it an easy decision, but I really can’t stress how great that one Moneybrother show I saw years ago was, and they’re from Sweden, so who knows if/when I’ll get another chance to see ‘em?)  Listen to “Swim (To Reach the End)” at Surfer Blood’s MySpace, and “Down By the Water” at the Drums’.

*9/15 Gentleman Jesse and His Men (opening for Those Darlins) @ the Black Cat.  I swear I didn’t plan in advance to crib from myself, but again, as I wrote the other day on Scalzi’s Whatever, I love me some power pop, and this terrific outfit out of Atlanta serves up some of the best (and hookiest!) I’ve heard in recent years.  If you, too, are a sucker for the power pop, I implore you to hit their MySpace, drop the digital needle on “All I Need Tonight (Is You),” and get ready to be happy.

9/17 Superchunk, with Tommy Keene opening @ the 9:30.  Power pop perfection (that would be Tommy Keene) meets indie rock awesomeness (that would be Superchunk) for a pairing I was powerless to think of as anything other than SuperKeene when I first heard about it (after all, Tommychunk would just sound silly).  His latest record is very fine, but check out the acoustic version of “Back to Zero” that I just discovered on Tommy’s MySpace, and listen to “Art Class” on Superchunk’s MySpace.  Trivia:  I think it’s probably a tossup as to which lead singer, Tommy or Mac, is the bigger Springsteen geek (but I’ve only personally geeked out over Bruce’s music with Tommy, though I’ve witnessed Mac’s bandmates attempt –unsuccessfully– to embarrass him onstage over his love of Bruce.)

*9/18 Hurricane Bells @ DC-9.  Side-project of Longwave frontman Steve Schiltz (whose single South-by appearance I couldn’t make back in March), Hurricane Bells has already been heard by probably at least a million more people than will ever hear Longwave due to the inclusion of “Monsters” on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack.  Hopefully, at least a handful of them will also discover Longwave as a result.  Hurricane Bells is hardly Longwave under another name though, as the sound is more a whisper than a roar, but the quality and craftsmanship of Schiltz’s songs is a constant.  Listen to “Monsters” at their MySpace.

*9/19 Billy Bragg @ the 9:30.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing a Billy Bragg live performance, do yourself a favor and fix that post haste.  You will emerge transformed.  ‘Nuff said.  Billy pulled all of his songs from MySpace, so listen to his gorgeous song “I Keep Faith” from his Mr. Love & Justice album at his page.

*9/20 Fitz and the Tantrums @ the RnRH.  Yet another act from my South-by wish list this year that ultimately went unseen.  The debut album is due out later this month, and lead single “Moneygrabber” is a monster of horns-fueled blue-eyed soul.  Not only can you listen to it at their MySpace but you can also download it there for free.

9/24 Titus Andronicus, with Free Energy @ the RnRH.  This strikes me as a deeply strange pairing, but it’s also one I can’t wait to see since both bands are tremendous.  Listen to the epic indie punk majesty of “A More Perfect Union” on Titus Andronicus’s MySpace, and  listen to “Bang Pop” (or “Free Energy,” or “Dream City,” or “Something in Common,” or…) at Free Energy’s MySpace for some of the most addictive ‘70s throwback power pop around.

9/25 Virgin Freefest @ Merriweather Post Pavilion.  It may not be as impressive a lineup as last year’s inaugural Freefest, but a chance to see acts ranging from Pavement and M.I.A. to Jimmy Eat World and LCD Soundsystem on what, odds are, will be a beautiful late-summer afternoon and evening in the D.C. area… for free?  What’s not to love?

*9/27 The Gaslight Anthem @ the National (Richmond).  Returning to their lamentably apparent “F D.C.!” ways, they’re playing Richmond, Baltimore, and Charlottesville all within the span of a week, with no sign of a D.C. show.  Sigh.  Given a combination of prior obligations and venue-preferences, it’s Richmond or bust for me, baby.  Listen to “Boxer” from the new album, American Slang, at their MySpace. Ticketmaster onsale this Friday at 10am.

10/4 David Sedaris @ Lisner.  Tickets are available now as a “comedy package” deal, pairing this Sedaris show with the Sarah Vowell show on 11/13 (see below).  Per TM, “You’ll receive the same great seats for the Monday, October 4th Sedaris event and the Saturday, November 13th Vowell event. Don’t miss your chance to hear and meet both literary and public radio favorites.”  If the packages don’t sell out, singles for each show will be made available at a later date.  Comedy package tickets are available here.  Update: Both Sedaris and Vowell tickets are now available individually.

*10/4 The Hold Steady @ the 9:30.  I’m not crazy about the new album (though that could certainly change over time), but this is their first D.C. show touring behind the new record, and they’re an indisputably great live band.  In other words, David Sedaris had better bring his “A” game, seeing as I already have a ticket to his reading across town the same night!  Listen to “Hurricane J” from the new record at their MySpace; a song which I am crazy about, and which I was crazy about even before I learned that it was inspired by the equally monumental Richard Price novel, Lush Life.

*10/4-10/5 Fountains of Wayne @ the Birchmere.  I’ve never seen these celebrated power pop practitioners live before, so the second night of their two-night stand could well be the night that changes.  I’m powerless to resist recommending that you listen to a song from their magnum opus, Welcome Insterstate Managers, but since you already know (and, I hope, love) “Stacy’s Mom,” listen to “Hey Julie” at their MySpace instead.

*10/9 Hoodoo Gurus @ Iota.  Caught ‘em at a day party at South-by a few years back and was severely underwhelmed (how is it possible that a Hoodoo Gurus set doesn’t include either “What’s My Scene” or “Come Anytime”?), but I’ve got to believe their advisors were confused and had misled them into thinking that by withholding the hits, the day party attendees would come back for more at their official showcase.  “No time for love, Dr. Jones!”  Alas, I will be out of town for this show, so finding out whether a “proper” show features one or both of those classic songs will have to wait.  Listen to “What’s My Scene” at their MySpace and be instantly and happily transported back to your college days (er, if you’re of a certain age, that is…)

*10/18 Nick Lowe @ the Birchmere.  His first full band U.S. tour in a decade.  Since I’ve only seen him solo acoustic, and my heart belongs to the rock, this is pretty much a can’t-miss show for me.  If you’ve never seen the man who brought you such great hits as, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” “Cruel to Be Kind,” and “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll),” don’t you think it’s past time that you did?  Listen to the latter two of those songs at his MySpace.

*10/23 Justin Townes Earle @ the 9:30.  I love the 9:30 (truly, madly, deeply; as a matter of fact, it just occurred to me as I was writing this that our 25th anniversary took place just last week … and such a cad am I, I didn’t even think to send a card!), but the Birchmere, where I saw Justin earlier this year really did feel like the perfect venue for his fearless brand of old-fashioned country/hillbilly/blues tunes, and I admit that I’m a little bit wary of how his show will translate to a rock club … but I might just have to find out.  Listen to “Midnight at the Movies” and/or “The Good Life” at his MySpace.

*10/26 Social Distortion, with Lucero, and Frank Turner @ the 9:30.  OK, this is just an insanely cool triple-bill, and seriously, how often does that happen?  Only know Social D from their early ‘90s hits?  Well, they’re still tearing it up, and the power of the live show is undeniable.  Lucero are their brothers in punk spirit, though rather than aping Social D’s brand of punkabilly, Lucero have carved out their own brand of bourbon-soaked, country-accented rock (and, with their most recent release, have made a latter-day masterpiece of horn-fueled southern soul).  As for Frank Turner, well, just imagine a younger (but just as passionate, just as political, and just as angry) Billy Bragg, and you’ll be in the neighborhood.  Listen to “Far Behind” at Social Distortion’s MySpace, the Love and Rockets-referencing “The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo” at Lucero’s, and “Try This at Home” at Frank Turner’s.

10/27 Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, with Teenage Bottlerocket @ the Black Cat.  What we have right here is the punk rock double-bill of the season, my friends.  For those not in the know, the Gimme Gimmes are a veritable punk supergroup, and they’re also the World’s Coolest Cover Band.  Their schtick is to take massive hit songs that everybody knows, and puckishly punk ‘em up.  Teenage Bottle rocket kicks a bunch of ass too, so get there early to see them for sure.  Listen to “The Boxer” at the Gimme Gimmes MySpace, and listen to “Radio” at Teenage Bottlerocket’s MySpace.

11/13 Sarah Vowell @ Lisner.  Tickets are available now as a “comedy package” deal, pairing this Vowell show with the David Sedaris show on 10/4 (see above).  Per TM, “You’ll receive the same great seats for the Monday, October 4th Sedaris event and the Saturday, November 13th Vowell event. Don’t miss your chance to hear and meet both literary and public radio favorites.”  If the packages don’t sell out, singles for each show will be made available at a later date.  Comedy package tickets are available here.  Update: Both Vowell and Sedaris tickets are now available individually.

17 Comments on “The Rumpus (“Busting at Its Seams” edition)”

  1. Can I just state for the record how odd it is for me to see Gentlemen Jesse and His Men plugged here in Whatever? Not that they don’t deserve it–they are indeed every bit as awesome as advertised–but it’s not often that I see a band on a list of music recommendations that has me going “Hey, I know those guys!”

  2. Love Gaslight Anthem and Airborne Toxic Event. I live in Boulder, where we get 93.3 out of Denver. They support bands in a way all radio stations should – getting them signed over the years by holding special events, giving new bands a chance at playing huge venues, running a widely supported new music show, playing a few tunes before they’re released nationwide, and listener voting programs (which is how we in Denver were listening to The Fray and Flobots more than a year before the rest of the country). I love live music so I love your list! I say blog it.

  3. Don’t know if Bouncing Souls are playing with Bad Religion down your way, but they’re playing Boston together 10/18 – should be an awesome show.

  4. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are hysterical and fun. Teenage Bottlerockets are this generations version of the Ramones. Their stuff is fast, simple and rocking.

  5. My daughter introduced me to Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s via their Are A Drag album. They are a hoot!

  6. These are great recommendations and commentary, and make me wish that either I lived in DC/Baltimore or you lived in Austin.

    Seems to me that your biggest challenge in ‘going global’ with a blog rather than a relatively local distro is how to please your core constituents while also appealing to a crowd that’s not in the DC area. Good luck!

    I’m sure there’s someone here in Austin that’s providing similarly good insights on bands playing here, but if so I haven’t found it yet.

    Gaslight Anthem FTW! I think they’re playing ACL…

  7. OK, if you’re NOT going to make a blog of this, how do I get on the email distribution? This is GREAT!

  8. Huh – I live in the DC area and go to lots of shows too, but the only overlap I have is FreeFest.

    My next shows are:
    8/19 Erin McKeown Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
    8/22 Great Big Sea Wolf Trap
    8/24 Rodrigo y Gabriela Wolf Trap
    9/05 various Beatles tributes Abbey Road on the River
    9/17 Red Molly Lyceum
    9/18 Rush Jiffy Lube Live
    9/23 Mark Olson Jammin’ Java

  9. A blog, definitely. For years, I’ve been wanting someone to turn me on to the current 10%.

  10. I have to second the recommendations for Billy Bragg and Nick Lowe both. Nick toured here with Ry Cooder earlier this year, and it was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. – two old friends having a great time on stage together.

  11. @12 is that Erin McKeown show free? I’m trying to find ticket info and am getting nothing.

    @9 try have a ball also! I actually like the song Mandy now because of them. which may not be an endorsement, but….

    @John Jammin Java are jerks to performers and customers alike, if you have influence with anyone in the music industry encourage them to boycott.

  12. It’s aliiiiiiiive!

    The Rumpus, as an ongoing blog, that is … including an introductory post explaining just what the heck it is (for newcomers), and including thanks to you all for your kind indulgence with my “test pressing” here on Whatever.

    The blog is over at

    Cheers, all.