All Photos: Alex Anderson
After a successful interview with the highly cool, immensely talented Jamaican Queens, we were treated to an intimate four-song set at a punk bar called Slim’s, a place so awesome that it became home-base for Alex and I over the course of the weekend. Jamaican Queen’s debut album, as ATGer Bryce Harper Rudow has expounded on, is a deeply moving artifact that seamlessly marries sweet, melodic folk/R&B with agitated, hard-hitting trap beats. Lyrically, it ranks among the best collections of recorded music I’ve heard this year. Live, they are a revelation. Flaming Lips fun meets Radiohead artistry. Figure out where they’re performing next, and go.
STREAM: Jamaican Queens – “Water”
I’ve had these Kim Deal-fronted proto-grunge alt-rockers, famously cited by Kurt Cobain as a formative influence on Nevermind, in my iTunes for years. There was a year or two in middle school during which I wore a lot of flannel and decided I should have been born fifteen years earlier, and in Seattle. Though due to their Cobain connection The Breeders tend to get lumped in with everything the Pac-Northwest had going on at that time, they had more in common with Deal’s former band The Pixies and lo-fiers like Guided By Voices; in short, they were a different breed (sorry). The performance was solid; “Cannonball” garnered a big crowd response, as expected. The Breeders song I remember enjoying the most from my grunged-out days, their cover of The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” showed up in the set, too. Hey bands: if you do a Beatles cover, you should play it every show, because why not?
STREAM: The Breeders – “Cannonball (Live)”
We discovered this band/project earlier in the summer when ATG’s Jia Tolentino wrote them up on teh blawg. Helmed by composer and bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the music is pristine orchestral pop, with the ornate yet restrained flourishes of a less indulgent Sufjan. The two lead vocalists, woman and man, sound like a young Florence Welch and a young Matt Berninger (The National) respectively. Let that sink in. This is a young group, and you can tell that they’re excited as hell to be playing to an even vaguely receptive audience. To top it off, they performed in the Duke Energy Center’s Fletcher Opera House, a more compact version of the Memorial Auditorium and a perfect space for this band, tall enough for all the brass and strings and great singing to ring up through the highest heights. Maybe the show of the weekend. Check out the songs “Daedalus (What We Have)” and “Sonsick” right now.
STREAM: San Fermin – “Sonsick”
For this next show, we travelled to King’s Barcade: an extremely cool bar with elaborately illustrated mural walls featuring Dr. Robotnik, Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets, and other ‘90s nostalgia triggers. Houston rapper Fat Tony was highly engaging, energetic, and willing to bring randos on stage to dance alongside him. That’s a winning trifecta, for sure. You’ve heard of the H-Town legends: Scarface, UGK, DJ Screw, Chamillio-just kidding! Just kidding! Anyway, you’ve heard of them, and if you haven’t heard of Fat Tony, he belongs right beside them. Probably. Please don’t hurt me.
DOWNLOAD: Fat Tony – “Hood Party (Ft. Kool A.D. & Despot)”
Kopecky Family Band
This jangly and jovial folk-rock ensemble hails from Nasvhille, Tennessee, and they caught their break when DC’s own Bob Boilen discovered them at the CMJ festival in 2010. Their brand of shimmering, Californicated indie will surely not blow your mind if you’ve stayed relatively current on music these past few years. But listen closely, and you’ll hear the mastery in their meandering Americana road trip music. They do this really well, and it shows when the band digs into songs like the infectious “Heartbeat” and the plaintive “Change.” Might you hear one of their songs in a commercial for a Fiat? Sure. But if you’re lucky enough to hear that same song live, you’ll probably end up buying merch, not to mention falling in love with frontwoman Kelsey Kopecky.
DOWNLOAD: Kopecky Family Band – “A Casualty”