Two years ago, Kodaline was the supporting act at a 9:30 Club show. Last week, the Irish rock band returned to the D.C. venue, this time as the headliner. It was an evening of music that was both achingly beautiful and irrepressibly joyful. Check out the photos below and enter for a chance to win tickets to Kodaline’s Los Angeles show on May 5, 2015.
Nine o’clock, Thursday night. Gavin James had finished his soulful opening set, and Kodaline was up next. On the club floor, the crowd was jammed up against the barricade. From the balconies, eager faces looked down.
And I was glad of a chance to rest,And glad of a chance to drink with my friend.We sang to the tune of the wind in the pines,And finished our songs as the star-stream ebbed.
歡言得所憩, 美酒聊共揮. 長歌吟松風, 曲盡河星稀.
-Li Bai (李白)
Every time I attend a Vandaveer show, I feel like I’m witness to such ineffable beauty that it is foolish to try to capture it in words. It seems akin to the struggle of nature writers in describing wilderness and the experience of the sublime – those moments when you feel small and humble before the magnitude of the skies, caught up in an infinite storm of beauty, inextricably intertwined with the ebb and flow of the seas.
Early Spring. Harshness vanished. A sudden softness has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey. Little rivulets of water changed their singing accents. (R.M. Rilke) And while rain pattered against the sidewalks outside, in the dimly-lit 9:30 Club, folk musicians Ólöf Arnalds and José González took the sold-out crowd hopscotching across landscapes and languages.
Icelandic singer/songwriter Ólöf Arnalds played a solo opening set structured around finger-picked guitar. Arnalds’ lyrics alternate between her native tongue and English, her brilliant trill conjuring an otherworldly landscape. Björk describes Arnalds’ voice as “something between a child and an old woman,” and there is indeed a hybrid, unsettling-yet-beguiling quality to Arnalds’ style. Her vocals swirl in dizzying heights, but never sound shrill. Her tone is beautifully saturated and her diction crisp, with consonants taking on a subtle rhythmic, percussive effect.
Winter seems to have a hard time letting go this year, shrouding D.C. in a drizzly gray as the Tidal Basin’s cherry trees hesitantly proffer florets. In the midst of the chill gloom, the shimmering energy and upbeat instrumentation that Young Buffalo brought to the Black Cat on Monday night felt just right for easing into sunnier days. The Oxford, Mississippi-based group offers harmony-rich anthems and rock grooves sprinkled with synth lines, a sort of Delta Spirit-meets-the Strokes sound with an occasional bonus cover of Brian Eno.
Originally a duo, Ben Yarbrough and Jim Barrett started writing music together as teenagers. The band now also features drummer Tim Burkhead, bassist Andrew Guinn, and keyboardist Will Eubanks.
“My Place” — the lead single off their new album, House (Votiv Records), is an buoyant earworm of a song, both a remembrance of home and a measured optimism for what’s ahead: “It’s our life, so let us live…whatever we might encounter, we’ll always have that place to go.”
Earlier this week, Jim Barrett answered a few questions via e-mail about musical influences, favorite authors, and tour life.
First off, I’m really digging the new album. Was this your first time working with Dave Schifmann [Haim, Weezer], and what was that collaboration like? This was, and he was the best! He has such a great sense of pop with the hooks and big choruses, but he wasn’t at all opposed to going off-course a little and trying something strange. He was open to anything and really put us in a beautiful place creatively. We hope we can work with him again in the future (LP2 maybe?).
“Who’s playing tonight?” asked a passerby, eyes widening as he scanned the line that stretched two city blocks before winding down an alley. Across the way, a mural of Duke Ellington gazed on the scene. That juxtaposition must have been as poignant for the evening’s performer as it was for the concertgoers waiting to enter the Lincoln Theatre: the jazz singer and pianist Jamie Cullum was about to play in the historic space where the Duke himself once performed.
After seeing Jamie Cullum at the 9:30 Club last summer, I wrote a post filled with modifiers such as “effervescent” and “scintillating.” On Friday night, I thought: This venue has been graced by the jazz greats – Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald. Will Cullum command this stage in the same way he took the 9:30 Club by storm?
For anyone less passionate about jazz, that might be a tall order – but the English musician packs a fierce one-two punch of verve and versatility. He’s introduced listeners to jazz not only through his electrifying performances but also through his weekly BBC Radio 2 show, featuring interviews with and live performances by the artists he admires. I used up so many superlatives writing about his 9:30 Club show that I’ll just leave it at this: Whether he’s interpreting a Nat King Cole classic, reconceptualizing Radiohead, or delivering rambunctious, original jazz-pop, Cullum radiates pure joy. It can be hard to engage an audience at a seated venue, but by the end of that night, Cullum had everyone at the Lincoln on their feet, jumping and fast-clapping, singing the harmonies, all smiles and bright eyes.
Jamie Cullum is touring on his latest record, Interlude (Blue Note Records). “To get where you want to go, sometimes you have to go back to where it all started,” Cullum explained. He describes Interlude as “a perfect title for the album ’cause this is genuinely my first proper jazz record.” Where 2013’s Momentum (Island Records) showcased his crossover jazz-pop songwriting, Interlude reaches back to early jazz standards: Cullum’s smoldering, slinky, brassy title track was originally performed by Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Paparelli (Night In Tunisia).