Author Archive for Brandon Wu

Photos: Dessa @ Rock & Roll Hotel

Last night's show by Minnesota indie hip-hop luminary Dessa was one of the more improbable shows in recent memory. Dessa was sick, for one thing, to the point of nearly passing out during the show and needing to take a one-song "inhaler break." Also, a few days ago, her band's gear was stolen after a [...]

Photos: The Fans at Virgin Mobile FreeFest

The bands and performers at FreeFest were pretty interesting to look at (here's the evidence), but not nearly as interesting as the fans. To be fair, the fans had an unfair advantage: The bands got to stay dry. As in previous years, this year's FreeFest attracted a lot of neon-clad ravers (Kaskade had a bigger [...]

Photos: Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2013 @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

This year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest felt a bit different from the previous versions. The proliferation of dance acts (like Skrillex last year, DJs Kaskade and Pretty Lights played the West Stage rather than the Dance Forest, which caused multiple mass migrations of EDM fans back and forth across the festival grounds), the lack of a [...]

Photos: Austra @ Black Cat

The genre labels that have been applied to Austra's two studio recordings (electronic, synthpop, dream pop) don't seem to adequately describe the band's music, and this seems doubly true in concert. Using both catchy dance beats and near-ambient drones as backdrops to invariably earwormy melodies, Austra—with Katie Stelmanis' unique and powerful vocals as the ever-present [...]

Photos: Carnival of Madness @ Jiffy Lube Live

A rainy Wednesday night show way out at Jiffy Lube Live is not likely to be a sell-out proposition. Sure enough, yesterday's "Carnival of Madness" featuring a range of hard rock bands—Shinedown, Papa Roach, Skillet (pictured above), In This Moment, and We As Human—was sparsely attended, with the crowd fitting very comfortably in the 10,000-capacity pavilion. [...]

Photos: Mayhem Fest @ Jiffy Lube Live

The Rockstar Mayhem Festival is designed to allow maximum intake of heavy music, ranging from tech metal to hard rock to metalcore to pure schlock. Yesterday, the main stage—Jiffy Lube Live's enormous amphitheater—hosted four relatively big-name bands in the evening: Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon, and Amon Amarth.
Earlier in the day, 11 lesser-known—and in [...]

Photos: Warped Tour @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

The Vans Warped Tour is a bit of a strange beast, with something like 90 bands spread out across seven stages over the course of about seven hours. Catering to a teenage demographic means the tour is now made up largely of pop-punk, hardcore, and metalcore bands, with a few hard-edged EDM and hip-hop acts [...]

Photos: The Postal Service @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

"We're an imaginary band called The Postal Service," said Ben Gibbard by way of introduction after a few songs, garnering more than a few chuckles. For an imaginary band, The Postal Service—Gibbard, Jimmy Tamborello, Jenny Lewis and D.C.'s own Laura Burhenn (of The Mynabirds, Georgie James)—put on quite a good show last night.
They played, of [...]

Photos: Knife Party and BT @ Echostage

A couple months after witnessing a somewhat rocky reopening of the renovated Echostage, I returned for a pair of shows this past weekend and found a much-improved situation. Last Friday night, Glow/Panorama Productions and Steez Promo hosted Australian electro house duo Knife Party, and on Saturday, BADASS (ostensibly "Broke-Ass DJs Association") Raves hosted D.C.-area native [...]

Photos: Kvelertak @ Rock & Roll Hotel

Some metal bands play consistently great live shows simply by virtue of their music's relative simplicity. Unlike the kind of metal that relies on technical complexity and mathematical precision, the straightforward brand of stuff that Kvelertak plays really just comes down to big, catchy riffs. With these guys there's just not a lot of nuance [...]