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Music & Concerts

‘Heart’ palpitations

New Madonna tour DVD and live album stronger than source material that inspired it



Rebel Heart Tour, gay news, Washington Blade

Madonna performs in Stockholm on her massive ‘Rebel Heart Tour.’ (Photo by Christian Weger; courtesy Flickr)

Madonna’s last studio album, 2015’s “Rebel Heart,” was far from her best work, but when it comes to the tour that it launched — finally out on DVD and live album a year and a half after wrapping — the album itself hardly matters.

“The Rebel Heart Tour” was another triumph for the pop icon, who has never disappointed as a live performer. The worldwide trek stretched for 82 shows and 55 cities, raked in a cool $169.8 million and was viewed by more than a million lucky fans.

Madonna’s continued strength and perseverance is inspiring to her fans and should be even to those who don’t care for her music. Even her detractors cannot deny that she has put in the work. She is tireless, working hard to make sure her fans get the most for their money and to make it an experience they will never forget.

The just-released live CD and DVD were filmed at the Allphones Arena on March 19–20, 2016 in Sydney. The double CD spans 22 songs and 100 minutes and for the most parts it’s thoroughly entertaining. The weakest aspect of the collection are the nine songs from the “Rebel Heart” album, although they do work marginally better in a live setting than their underwhelming studio versions. It’s understandable that she would highlight her most recent album, but these songs will never stand up along her best work and most of her classic singles.

Of course, Madonna doesn’t neglect those hits and it’s fascinating as always to hear which ones she decides to highlight. She obviously can’t play them all (unless it’s gonna be an all-night show), so she picks and chooses carefully, including songs that haven’t appeared frequently on prior tours. Madonna typically splashes them with a modern sheen and different arrangements, keeping the much-played tunes fresh and keeping the audiences guessing.

She cleverly adapts the ‘60s pop pastiche “True Blue” into an acoustic singalong and her early new wave dance classic “Burning Up” features a blistering guitar solo. The retro disco groove of “Deeper and Deeper” is updated in electrifying fashion while her sometimes overlooked classic “La Isla Bonita” is kept more faithful to the original but is still a highlight.

Madonna has reinvented “Like a Virgin” numerous times over the years and this time she goes with a minimalist club beat so the audience can sing along exuberantly. “Dress You Up” and “Into the Groove” were both popular around the same timeframe so it makes sense that they are appended together in a medley. She delivers a sizzling take on her final no. 1 single, 2000’s “Music,” with a flirty throwback jazz intro that might have been an interesting approach for the entire song. The biggest surprise is “Candy Shop,” the funky lead track from her underrated 2008 album “Hard Candy” — it holds up nicely wedged between much bigger hits.

Less effective is the modern take on “Material Girl,” which saps the cheeky charm of the original while accenting its more annoying aspects (especially those wretched background vocals). Her take on the Édith Piaf standard “La Vie en Rose” doesn’t quite get off the ground, and a gruelingly long take on her recent “Unapologetic Bitch” is eminently skippable. The finale, though, is a strong one-two punch of her first major hit “Holiday” and arguably her greatest single “Like a Prayer,” which retains its dramatic grandeur.

Of course, a CD and DVD will not replace seeing the actual show in person, but like all of the live album releases Madonna has issued over the years (this is her fifth), they are excellent souvenirs.


Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months



Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel



Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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