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Music & Concerts

FALL ARTS 2016: Albums

Against Me!, Idina, Etheridge and more have fall albums ready




new music, gay news, Washington Blade

Out singer Rachael Sage releases ‘Choreographic’ on Oct. 28. (Photo courtesy Matrix Management)

New music releases are generally sparse during the summer and then pick up dramatically during the fall months when record labels traditionally unleash some of the year’s most exciting offerings. This year proves no exception, as the calendar is jammed with a great roster of diverse new releases that should generate plenty of anticipation for fans of just about any musical genre.

The latest from Against Me!, featuring transgender vocalist Laura Jane Grace, is “Shape Shift With Me,” due today (Sept. 16). Look for her memoir “Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout” Nov. 15.

Today also brings new releases by British electronic duo AlunaGeorge, “I Remember”; South-African hip-hop combo Die Antwoord’s ‘Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid”; Mac Miller with “The Divine Feminine” and the latest by R&B superstar Usher, “Hard II Love.”

Vocalist extraordinaire Idina Menzel will release her first non-holiday studio album since 2008 when “Idina” drops on Sept. 23. The same date brings a new album by Kristin Chenoweth, “The Art of Elegance”; “Natural Causes” by the talented pop vocalist Skylar Grey and the second album by 18-year-old Canadian sensation Shawn Mendes, “Illuminate.”

September 30 brings the long-awaited new album by the quirky and amazingly gifted pianist/singer/songwriter Regina Spektor, “Remember Us to Life.” Also due on the 30th is the latest from Bon Iver, one of the critics’ favorite artists of recent years, who returns with “22, A Million”; alternative icons Pixies’ second post-reunion studio album, ‘Head Carrier” and fast-rising singer/songwriter Banks with “The Altar,” featuring the single “Fuck With Myself.”

Some of the key new albums due in October include the latest by the long enduring punk-pop trio Green Day, who return Oct. 7 with “Revolution Radio,” the band’s first album in four years. Due the same day is the latest from LGBT icon and musical legend Melissa Etheridge, “Memphis Rock and Soul,” a tribute to the Stax record label. Also slated for Oct. 7 are new releases by acclaimed electro-indie duo Phantogram, OneRepublic, Norah Jones and a 20-year retrospective collection by influential British alternative rockers Placebo, “Place for Us to Dream.”

Electro pioneers the Orb are back on Oct. 14 with “Chill Out, World”, along with the latest by the Naked and Famous, “Simple Forms”; pop vocalist JoJo’s “Mad Love” and the extraordinary jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin with “Beyond Now.”

Superstar crooner Michael Bublé is back with “Nobody But Me” on Oct. 21, which will feature a duet with pop star Meghan Trainor. Hair-metal survivors Bon Jovi, still a massive global concert draw, is back on the 21st with “This House is Not For Sale.” Also that day, gay-friendly gospel singer Amy Grant will release “Tennessee Christmas.” Despite the title cut (a song from her first holiday record in 1983), this is an all-new collection of recordings, her first such effort since 1999.

Pop sensation Tove Lo will unleash “Lady Wood” on Oct. 28, along with the latest by acclaimed lesbian artist and OUTmusic Award winner Rachael Sage, “Choreographic” and Australian electronic pop duo Empire of the Sun with “Two Vines.”

Upcoming releases already announced so far for November include the latest by Danish indie-popsters Efterklang, “Leaves — the Colour of Falling,” Nathan Sykes, former member of British boyband the Wanted, with “Unfinished Business,” trippy electronic pioneers Enigma with their first album in eight years, “The Fall of a Rebel Angel,” the first new rock album by Sting in 13 years, “57th and 9th” and the veteran heavy metal supergroup Metallica with “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct.”

There are plenty of other upcoming releases widely expected to land sometime this fall but without official release dates. The big one is the first solo studio album by Lady Gaga since her largely panned 2013 release “Artpop.”

Others include rapper 50 Cent with “Street King Immortal,” Azealia Banks with “Business and Pleasure,” a new studio album by pop/hip-hop hit makers Black Eyed Peas, the latest by iconic pop diva Christina Aguilera, a new batch of harmonic California pop from Haim, “Digital Distortion” by Iggy Azalea, a new release by dance/pop legend Kylie Minogue, the latest by rapper Wiz Khalifa and a string of new rock albums by heavy-hitters such as U2, Soundgarden, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, the Offspring, Nine Inch Nails, Modest Mouse, Metric, Lush, Incubus, Guns N’ Roses, Brand New, Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park.

The big upcoming archival release this fall is coming from the massive catalogue of the late David Bowie. Last year Bowie announced a series of career-defining box sets that will ultimately represent the definitive library of his amazing and historic catalog, all remastered and presented with top-notch quality and attention to detail. “Five Years: 1969/1973” hit last fall and covered his albums from “Space Oddity” through “Pin-Ups,” along with live albums and a batch of rarities.

The highly anticipated second in the series hits on Sept. 23. “Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976)” is the first posthumous set in the series, as the legendary superstar died in January shortly after his 69th birthday. The new set will start where the last one left off, including deluxe remastered versions of classic albums like “Young Americans,” “Diamond Dogs,” and “Station to Station.” Perhaps most intriguing is the previously unreleased studio album “The Gouster,” which Bowie eventually shelved. After extensive reworking it morphed into “Young Americans.”

new music, gay news, Washington Blade

Laura Jane Grace and her band Against Me! return with ‘Shape Shift With Me,’ their follow-up to 2014’s ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues.’ (Photo by Jason Thrasher)


Music & Concerts

The Atlantis to showcase musical legends of tomorrow

New venue, a near replica of original 9:30 Club, opens next month



A look at the interior of the original 9:30 club. (Photo public domain/Library of Congress)

A new nirvana for music fans opens next month adjacent to the 9:30 Club. Dubbed The Atlantis, this intimate venue embraces a 450-person capacity – and pays homage as a near-replica of the original 9:30 Club.

The $10 million venue comes courtesy of I.M.P., the independent promoter that owns and operates the 9:30 Club and The Anthem, and operates The Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The Foo Fighters will inaugurate The Atlantis on May 30, which is also the 9:30 Club’s anniversary. Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl, during a concert in 2021, kicked off speculation that I.M.P was planning to open a new venue, noting that, “We’ll probably be the band that opens that place, too, right?”

Other big names on the inaugural 44-show run roster: Franz Ferdinand, Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind, Spoon, and Billy Idol.

To thwart scalpers, The Atlantis utilized a request system for the first 44 shows when they went on sale two weeks ago. Within four days of the announcement, fans had requested more than 520,000 tickets, many times more than the total 19,800 available. All tickets have been allocated; fans who were unable to snag tickets can attempt to do so in May, when a fan-to-fan ticket exchange opens.

While I.M.P. oversees multiple larger venues, “We’ve been doing our smallest shows in other peoples’ venues for too many years now,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. “We needed a place that’s ours. This can be the most exciting step in an artist’s career.”

The 9:30 Club holds 1,200 people, while The Anthem has space for up to 6,000.

“This will be where we help introduce new artists to the world… our smallest venue will be treated as important, if not more, than our bigger venues. If the stories are told right, both the artists and the fans begin their hopefully longterm relationship. Its stage will support bourgeoning artists and the legends of tomorrow,” Hurwitz said. Hurwitz and the team developed a tagline for the new venue: The Atlantis, Where Music Begins.

Hurwitz got his start at the original 9:30 Club, originally located at 930 F St., N.W. He was an independent booker of the club for the first six years and then he bought it, and managed the move from its original location to its current location in 1996. The venue first opened in 1980.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, I.M.P. communications director, provides further insight. “We were missing small venues in our umbrella. Big acts don’t start in stadiums. We need a place for emerging artists and for the community to discover new acts. The Atlantis can help new artists grow.”

While design elements are still coming into focus, Schaefer says that the space will be intimate, with almost no separation between the artist and the crowd. “There will be energy on both sides of the stage,” she says.

Although The Atlantis is set to be a replica of the original 9:30, I.M.P. has spared no expense. Schaefer notes that the sound and light systems use the latest available technologies, similar to next door at the current 9:30 Club.

The Atlantis takes over the footprint of now-closed Satellite Room. The venue will have at least two bars flanking the stage; cocktails but no food will be available.

Schaefer notes that since its early days, 9:30 Club and I.M.P. “has always been a place where people are welcome. People come and feel safe with us.” 9:30 Club has hosted several LGBTQ Pride parties, the BENT dance party series, and other events for LGBTQ patrons. Particular acts of note during the kickoff run include Tegan & Sarah and Tove Lo.

The Washington Blade was a neighbor to the 9:30 Club at its original F Street location back in the 1980s. Despite their proximity, noise wasn’t an issue for on deadline nights, when Blade staff worked late hours.

“We would of course work later hours back then,” said Phil Rockstroh, a longtime Blade staffer, in a 2016 Blade interview. “Everything was typeset and done by hand without computers and fax machines so getting through deadlines was much more time consuming.”

Rockstroh said the noise wasn’t a distraction.

“It wasn’t too bad as older buildings were constructed more solidly,” Rockstroh said. “There was only one entrance to the building and you entered so far to the elevator that went up to the other floors and then continued down the hall to the entrance to the 9:30 Club. Frequently at night if I was coming or going, there were people spilling out the doors.”

“The Blade has always had a friendly relationship with the 9:30 Club,” he added.

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Music & Concerts

National Philharmonic to perform classical, contemporary works

Violinist Melissa White returns



The National Philharmonic will host “Beethoven’s 7th” on Saturday, April 15 at 8 p.m. at Strathmore.

Past and present will collide in this performance of contemporary works and classical masterpieces. Maestro Piotr Gajewski will direct Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja, Anthem for Unity for Orchestra” Violinist Melissa White will also return to the Philharmonic to perform Florence Price’s sweeping, melodic “Violin Concerto No. 2.”

Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased on the Philharmonic’s website.

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Music & Concerts

Bruce & Janet & John Legend, oh my!

Slew of iconic acts hitting the road after pandemic cancellations



Janet Jackson is among the iconic acts touring this spring.

Pop and rock icons are releasing their pent-up pandemic frustrations by mounting huge tours this spring and summer. After three years of canceled and postponed shows, everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Janet Jackson is hitting the road at long last. But save your coins because the TicketMaster algorithms are driving ticket prices to astronomical highs. Here are a few highlights from D.C.-area venues this spring. Although some of the iconic acts aren’t coming until summer — Beyonce, Madonna, Pink — several others are hitting the road this spring.

Betty Who plays March 10; Keyshia Cole headlines the All Black Extravaganza 20 Year Anniversary tour on March 18; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to town on May 3; Seal brings his world tour to town on May 10; and the beloved Pixies are back on the road with a new North American tour stopping here on June 10.

9:30 CLUB
Don’t miss Gimme Gimme Disco, an Abba dance party on March 18; Inzo arrives on March 31, followed by Bent on April 1; Ruston Kelly brings his The Weakness tour on April 17 along with Purr; The New Pornographers show on May 19 is sold out but there are tickets available for the May 20 show; The Walkmen have added a fourth show on May 23 because the other three shows are sold our;

Living legend Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are back with a vengeance, playing one of four area shows on March 27. (They’re in Baltimore the night before.) If you missed out this time, don’t worry, Bruce is playing Nats Park in September as well as at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. April 1 brings the R&B Music Experience, including Xscape, Monica, Tamar Braxton, and 112. Blink-182 comes to town on May 23. And this summer watch for Sam Smith to continue his hot streak, bringing his “Gloria” tour to town on Aug.4.

Janet Jackson makes her highly anticipated return to the stage this spring, arriving in our area on May 6 along with guest Ludacris. The LGBTQ ally and icon has promised new music on her upcoming “Together Again Tour,” which follows the pandemic-related cancellation of her “Black Diamond Tour.” Jackson also plays Baltimore’s newly renovated CFG Bank Arena on May 13.

John Legend plays two nights at Wolf Trap on June 2 and 3; Charlie Puth follows on June 4. Wolf Trap also hosts the Indigo Girls on June 7 just in time for Pride month. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Smithereens at the Birchmere on March 17. Fans of ‘80s alternative will be lined up for the Church also at the Birchmere at April 4, followed by Suzanne Vega on April 26. Amy Grant returns to the stage this spring and plays the Birchmere on May 2. Echostage plays host to a slew of buzz worthy shows this spring, including Ella Mai on April 8 and Fisher on May 12.

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