Unknown Mortal Orchestra at 9:30 Club

Photo By (Jesse Benitez/WGMU).

Photo By (Jesse Benitez/WGMU).

Right off the bat, I could sense that this wasn’t going to be just like any ordinary show.

By: Jesse Benitez

Following the release of their fourth studio album, Sex & Food (2018), New Zealand-American psychedelic rock band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO for short), embarked on a full-length international tour with London-based, electro-dance artist, Makeness. On Friday, April 27th, the musicians stopped in the nation’s capital to play an electrifying show at the iconic 9:30 Club. Right off the bat, I could sense that this wasn’t going to be just like any ordinary show. My anticipation for their performance stemmed from my previous experience back in 2016 during their Multi-Love (2015) tour, and let me just tell you, these guys don’t fool around when it comes to stage presence. Every euphonic melody makes an impressive statement on its own, but along with the band’s magnetizing energy, Unknown Mortal Orchestra is indisputably remarkable.

A feature that’s worth noting about UMO’s takeover of the club Friday night was how they managed to visually encompass the whole aesthetic of their latest album. The venue’s stage was constructed to have a personality of its own, complete with white faux fur rugs, a mod plastic swivel chair for frontman Ruban Nielson, and a minimalistic, achromatic turntable sitting atop a sleek, coffee table. Beneath a couple of bookshelf speakers sat one of their long-play, instrumental SB-01/SB-02 vinyl records, ready for a spin on the groovy player. The stage itself embraced all the good things of my low-key fascination with modern/retro-inspired living space fusions, and my slightly pretentious dream of hanging in a contemporary abode listening to strictly analog recordings-

Good thing the song that started it all, “Ffunny Ffriends,” off their first and self-titled album, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011), snapped me right out of my grandiose daydreams and back into the nostalgia of UMO’s humbly memorable beginnings. The band continued with some fan favorites, featuring delicate tunes like “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark),” from their second studio album, II (2013), and “Necessary Evil,” the eighth track from their critically acclaimed, third studio album, Multi-Love. I have to give credit to the amped crowd as well, for just flat out being incredible and going wild for Ruban when he produced shrilling riffs along the neck of his guitar. The electric lo-fi solos were notable in “From the Sun,” and “So Good at Being in Trouble,” both of which are featured in II (2013). From there on, the band continued with blasting energy, powering through “Nerve Damage!” off their self-titled album, and into a personal favorite of mine, “American Guilt,” the sixth track off Sex & Food (2018) that was released as a single prior to the official album release. The illumination on stage went from kaleidoscopic to fiery, misty reds, thematically appropriate for “American Guilt” and reminiscent of the cover art on the single itself.

I still cannot believe how engaging UMO was with the audience. Drummer Kody Nielson revved up the fans during their performance of “Not in Love We’re Just High,” the eleventh track from Sex & Food (2018), while frontman Ruban Nielson sang the song from within the crowd- all while perched on a fan’s shoulders! The sense of community and love in the crowd manifested itself even more so in tender tunes of the night such as, “Chronos Feasts on His Children,” and “If You’re Going to Break Yourself,” the final track from their latest album. The show could not have been complete without an opalescent version of “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” a hypnotically dance-inducing jam off Multi-Love (2015). I looked around hoping nobody was actually checking their phone because not only would that be painfully ironic, but Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the one band you wouldn’t want to miss a second of.


Lit&Live with Mason Day Performers

WGMU’s deejays interviewed 2018’s Mason Day performers prior to their shows on April 27.

By: Jesse BenitezChristian Hernandez, Jonathan Ibarra, Kate Klajbor, Saige MacLeod, Jackie Reed, and Fielder Wise

WGMU’s deejays interviewed 2018’s Mason Day performers prior to their shows on April 27.

Mason Some Noise: masonsomenoise.com/
Rare Fruit: @rarefruitmusic
WusGoodTJ: www.youtube.com/channel/UCbhMuvxc-rvQ3b1SatMqVVA
Chud Music: @chudmusic
A.S.K. (King Khalafalla): @kingkhalafalla
Ray Maj: @callmemaj
ÁVON DESÍAR: @avondesiar
Apprehension Engine: apprehensionengine11105.bandcamp.com/
StormmxTony: stormmxtony.bandcamp.com/releases
Timberbrooke: timberbrooke.bandcamp.com/

More information can be found at si.gmu.edu/masonday/. Feature Photo By (Student Involvement/Official Website).

Lit&Local with Twin Shadow

Dominican-American singer and producer George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow) talked with WGMU’s Jesse Benitez to share insight about his most album Caer (2018), out April 27.

By: Jesse Benitez

Dominican-American singer and producer George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow) talked with WGMU’s Jesse Benitez to share insight about his most album Caer (2018), out April 27. He will be performing at U Street Music Hall on April 27.

For more information, go to http://www.twinshadow.net/.
Feature Photo By (Twin Shadow/Official Website).

9:30 Presents at U Street Music Hall: Twin Shadow

Featuring Yuno

GA: $30


Fri, Apr 27

Doors 7:00pm // Show 7:00pm

U Street Music Hall // Washington, DC

Thirdstory at 9:30 Club

Photo By (Rhema Johnson/WGMU).

Photo By (Rhema Johnson/WGMU).

“Tell me you want me, tell me you need me to love you. I’ve been searching everywhere!”

By: Rhema Johnson

“Tell me you want me, tell me you need me to love you. I’ve been searching everywhere!” Those memorable lyrics were written by an American band entitled Thirdstory who consists of artists by the name of Ben Lusher, Richard Saunders, and Elliott Skinner.

Thirdstory graced the 9:30 Club on April 12 at 9 p.m., a month after releasing their 11-track debut album Coldheart (2018) on March 9. Thirdstory is almost complete with their latest US tour with six shows remaining! The band is known for their remarkable harmonies and unique, electric blend of different genres which was very much shown throughout their performance that night.

At 8 p.m., the show opened with an artist named Grace Weber out of New York who made a fiery entrance with one of her tracks titled, “Through the Fire”. She was accompanied by her drummer, Alvin and keyboardist, Brandon Butler. Weber was very active with the crowd encouraging everyone to sing along with her while she showcased her dynamic vocal range. In addition, Grace premiered a song from her upcoming album with The Social Experiment called, “Water’s Edge”.  Finally, Grace ended her opening set covering Daniel Caesar’s “We Find Love” and incorporated an epic call and response with the crowd while creating a segue to the headliner of the evening.

Thirdstory began their set with “Hit The Ceiling” which is one of my favorite tracks from the album. The group’s harmonies were truly indescribable, and it is awesome to me how they found one another and their voices blend so well along with their notable instrumentation. Along with performing songs from their album, Thirdstory also took the crowd back to their youtube days by doing an amazing live acoustic rendition of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” which was definitely a crowd favorite. After paying a tribute to one of their inspirations, “Adrienne Lenker” and performing more songs from the album, Thirdstory ended the night with their beautiful song entitled, “Searching For a Feeling” which moved the audience into wanting an encore after they concluded. So, the band returned to the stage and performed their well-known song “Still In Love” ending the show in high spirits.

I recently just started following Thirdstory thanks to a good friend of mine and I cannot stop singing their songs especially after experiencing them live. Their lyrics, their harmonies, and their instrumentation is breathtaking, and I encourage each and every one of you who reads this review to listen to Coldheart and tell your friends!

Dan Auerbach at 9:30 Club

It was a perfect close to possibly one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.

By: Jesse Benitez

Whoever said rock ‘n’ roll is dead is probably unfamiliar with Akronite Dan Auerbach. His contributions in songwriting, record producing, involvement with The Black Keys, The Arcs, and many other musical groups are prime examples of his extensive talent and knowledge when it comes to authentic, modern American rock.

Dan Auerbach rocked the roof off the 9:30 Club during a sold out show alongside the Easy Eye Sound Revue, Robert Finley, and Shannon and the Clams on Thursday, March 22. Shannon and the Clams kicked off the night with “Ozma,” the fourth track from their third studio album, Dreams in the Rat House (2013). Lead singer Shannon Shaw’s profound vocals created naturally sympathetic vibrations through the floorboards of the venue, which carried over into surfy and quirky tunes like “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Boy,” a song from their fifth studio album Onion (2018)- a collaboration with producer Dan Auerbach and the Easy Eye Sound record label. The band’s ear splitting guitar riffs shrilled in pleasant harmony throughout their performance, noticeable in “I Will Miss the Jasmine,” off Gone by the Dawn (2015). They closed their opening set with a mellower jam, “Did You Love Me,” a ballad that made me recognize how unbelievable it felt to watch this band perform directly in front of me at that very moment.

Shannon and the Clams left me so impressed that I was almost questioning whether Auerbach and the Easy Eye Sound Revue would embody the similar energy and allure. It should be a sin to even let that cross your mind, for the Easy Eye Sound Revue is composed of legendary musicians who could not disappoint in the slightest. Lead guitarist Russ Pahl, was an outstanding gem, whose transcendent sliding riffs and sublime guitar solos radiated through tunes like “Stand by My Girl” and “Shine on Me,” from Auerbach’s second studio album, Waiting on a Song (2017). The crowd sang along to a breezy and refreshing melody, “King of a One Horse Town,” before Robert Finley joined the stage for wholesomely soulful anthems. He gracefully sang “Holy Wine” from the top of his lungs and “Medicine Woman,” both from his newest LP, Goin’ Platinum! (2017). Finley brought the audience together to celebrate good ol’ nostalgic blues through vivacious lyrics and crisp, electric chords crackling on stage.

Auerbach ended the night with an emotional solo he had only played twice before in the nation’s capital, “Goin’ Home,” the last track from his debut solo album titled, Keep It Hid (2009). A personal tune such as this one created the most beautiful and intimate atmosphere that Thursday night. It was a perfect close to possibly one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.

Feature Photo By (9:30 Club/Official Website).

Porches at Black Cat DC

Photo By (Fielder Wise/WGMU).

Porches hit the mark with their beautifully Tumblr-grunge aesthetic.

By: Fielder Wise

On March 22, Porches played at the Black Cat in DC, despite the rancid weather.

The first opener was New York-based band named Palberta. The all-girl rock group were super cute and dorky. It was a weirdly grunge rock style of music. After their performance, I expected another odd set with following acts.

The second opener was London-trio Girl Ray. The lead singer came out confident, with a guitar that taped to its strap. What a total switch compared to the primary opener. Instead of a rock approach, these girls mellowed out. They fused alternative with electronic. They got a stiff crowd to sway, which in ways came to a surprise. I could imagine their music be played at a chill house party. Her vocals beautified an already interesting showcase.

Porches came on last as the headliner. The performance that frontman Aaron Maine gave was euphoric. I had no idea of what to expect from him. Without any predispositions, I was truly stunned. The fan base was supportive. The crowd was interactive. Everyone was jamming to songs off of The House (2018) and dancing in unison. At points, Maine talked with the crowd – something I hadn’t seen in concerts prior.

That was something unique. Typically, I feel like artists are distant to their fans, but this being at an intimate venue, there was greater opportunity for this to happen.

Maine was very appreciate of the crowd he always gave his thanks after each song and repeatedly told the crowd how has was for them to be there. Though he had stage shyness and a quiet aura, the music still managed to shine through. And let’s not forget his signature butt shake.

At the beginning of each song, he’d give the crowd a little show, and everyone would go wild! His vibe was everyone else’s.

I didn’t even know Porches before the concert, but now knowing, I will definitely see him again in concert. It was just a beautiful and memorable night. The music was very chill vibes that got you to dance. Additionally, Maine’s stage dancing and crawling with him singing got me just to love the experience more.


Moose Blood at 9:30 Club

I’ve been following McCafferty’s rise to stardom within the emo scene since they began writing music in 2012, and this tour is without a doubt the largest bill they’ve been on yet in their career.

By: Christian Hernandez

On Sunday March 18, UK based emo/pop punk band Moose Blood played a banger of a set at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. The Hopeless Records band began their North American tour on March 14, hitting the road with Arizona indie rock band Lydia and Ohio based indie punk band McCafferty. The band’s third studio album, I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore (2018), was released on March 9 and has proven to be some of the bands strongest material. The combination of the lead singer’s (Eddy Brewerton) very sharp vocals and the heavy riffs from lead guitarist (Mark Osbourne), this album, in my eye, is proving to be on the best pop punk albums of 2018 so far.

The night started off with McCafferty taking the stage promptly at 8 p.m., playing for a nearly packed house. I’ve been following McCafferty’s rise to stardom within the emo scene since they began writing music in 2012, and this tour is without a doubt the largest bill they’ve been on yet in their career. It was cool to see them playing at the 9:30 Club rather than a small bar like the Strange Matter in Richmond, VA where I first saw them a few months ago. They started the set with their newest single, “Strain,” which got the crowd dancing and warmed up quickly. Crowd favorites such as “Alligator Skin Boots,” and “Yours, Mines, Ours”, were the highlights of the set for me. McCafferty’s second studio album, Yarn, is set to be released on March 23rd through Triple Crown Records.

Photo By (Christian Hernandez/WGMU).

Photo By (Christian Hernandez/WGMU).

Lydia, an indie rock band from Gilbert, Arizona went on next and they were better than I had expected. Before the show I had never heard of Lydia before, despite them being an active band since 2003. Although I didn’t know who they were, it seemed like everyone else in the venue did! They played a very hyped set that was accompanied by nearly everyone singing and dancing along to each song played. My favorite part of their time on stage was the bands surprise cover of OutKast’s song “Ms. Jackson“. Their seventh studio album, Liquor (2018) is set to release July 13 and I will for sure keep my eyes and ears out for that release!

Finally, Moose Blood ended the night off by playing 18 of their most popular songs in their discography. Before they began to play any music, lead singer, Eddy Brewerton said to the audience that he had come down with a case of laryngitis and that he would try his best to give us a proper good show. They opened with “Talk in Your Sleep”, the lead single off their newest album. Things really began to amp up when the band transitioned into the song “Bukowski”, which is the perfect sing-a-long to get everyone moving and the momentum continued through the rest of the night. Other notable songs performed that night was “Knuckles” and “Cherry”, which Eddy Brewerton said to the crowd that it was his favorite song the band has ever written because he dedicates it to his wife and daughter whenever they play it live. Although the vocals weren’t the strongest due to illness, the band made up for it with their showmanship and overall putting on a banger of a show.



Coast Modern at 9:30 Club

Photo By (Fielder Wise/WGMU).

Photo By (Fielder Wise/WGMU).

Coast Modern managed to get a still crowd dancing from the very start.

By: Kate Klajbor and Fielder Wise

Weeknights make it difficult to go out into the city, especially when D.C. remains in a weather rut. However, Coast Modern‘s show still went on. The show on March 19, hosted at the 9:30 Club, was an experience unlike any other.

DC-based indie group Dr. Robinson’s Fiasco started the concert. Lead singer Ian Robinson happens to be the cousin of one of the band members in Coast Modern, and had superb vocals. The other instruments were well played, but there was very little stage performance or movement. Not visually appealing for an opener, but they did impress and set an upbeat tone.

Next came another local band, Maryland trio SHAED. A cute girl (vocalist Chelsea Lee) came out with two other guys (twin brothers Spencer Ernst and Max Ernst) – one her fiancé and the other her best friend – which ultimately made for a sort of power group. Songs like “Too Much” and “Perfume” were reminiscent of Disclosure and Lorde, with a touch of ZHU.

Despite faulty equipment, SHAED still sounded wonderful. Their show was heavily driven by technology, especially their computer and a keyboard set up. At first their computer crashed, but that didn’t stop them. They made it up by methodical lighting and a minimalist stage presence. The design allowed for Chelsea to take full control of the stage, without being overlooked by lights and elaborate props. In this case, less was more. Simple stage design, juxtaposed by Chelsea’s vocals and interactivity, and lighting, made for an epic sequel following Dr. Robinson’s Fiasco.

Shortly thereafter, LA-duo (Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp) Coast Modern took the stage. Like the previous artists before them, they also had a minimalist stage. A few LED lights simplified their performance and let their music really show through. California vibes oozed from their setlist, especially singles off their recent self-titled album Coast Modern (2017). Lead vocalist Coleman Trapp used the space to bring songs like “Hollow Life” and “Guru” to life. His stage confidence was reflective of Coast Modern’s upbeat, summery beach sound – quite similar to COIN, Hippo Campus, and BØRNS.

The band managed to get a very still crowd dancing from the very start. Trapp dancing around the stage singing helped enhance the peppiness of the music. Overall, Coast Modern is a great band to listen to if you want to get your dance moves going. Although vocals were shaky and off-key at points, it was still a lively show. Even though the vocals were not the best, Coast Modern was still able to get a crowd dancing and hyped up.


Lit&Live with Luke James Shaffer

By: Kate Klajbor and Jackie Reed

American singer-songwriter Luke James Shaffer stopped by WGMU’s on-air studio to reflect on his experiences making covers and original songs, tour life, living in New York and DC, current projects, and future plans. He will be performing at Volition’s Open Mic on March 8.

Follow Luke James Shaffer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their official website for updates.

To stream/buy Luke James Shaffer’s music, tune in to his iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, and YouTube pages.

Feature Photo By (Luke James Shaffer/Official Website).

Volition Open Mic – Music Industry Night

Featuring Mannywellz, Luke James Shaffer, & Sydney Franklin


Thurs, Mar 8


GMU’s JC Bistro // Fairfax, VA

Lit&Live with Mannywellz

 By: Jackie Reed

Nigerian-born and Maryland-based artist Mannywellz stopped by WGMU’s on-air studio to share insight about his debut album Soulfro (2018), tour life, his DACA experience, and future plans. He will be performing at Union Stage on March 5, and at Volition’s Open Mic on March 8.

For interview and in-studio links, go to https://soundcloud.com/wgmu/sets/litlive-with-mannywellz/.

Follow Mannywellz on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their official website for updates.

To stream/buy Mannywellz’ music, tune in to his iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube pages.

Feature Photo By (Mannywellz/Official Website).

Union Stage & Songbyrd Present: Mannywellz

GA: $15


Mon, Mar 5

Doors 6:00pm

Union Stage // Washington, DC

Volition Open Mic – Music Industry Night

Featuring Mannywellz, Luke James Shaffer, & Sydney Franklin


Thurs, Mar 8


GMU’s JC Bistro // Fairfax, VA

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