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Music & Concerts

FALL ARTS 2019: CONCERTS — Chely, Chaka and (OMG!) Cher

Regional concert stages brimming with queer and ally talent of all genres

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2019 fall concerts, gay news, Washington Blade
Kim Petras is here Nov. 20, Chely Wright is here Oct. 13 and Cher returns to D.C. in early December. (File photos courtesy Fillmore, Birchmere and KC respectively)

This fall sees a number of great acts coming to the District. Country vocalists Carrie Underwood and Chely Wright, DJs Diplo and Martin Garrix, pop acts like The Chainsmokers and Kim Petras, as well as Todrick Hall and Cher(!) are just a few of the acts coming to D.C. in the coming months.

DJ and producer Diplo will perform at Echostage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd., N.E.) this Saturday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $40-50 and are available at eventbrite.com.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17 The B-52s bring their “40th Anniversary Tour” show to the Anthem (901 Wharf St, S.W.) at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at theanthemdc.com, and range between $55-95.

Pop singer Lizzo will be gracing the District with her presence on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at The Anthem. The tickets, ranging from $45-75, are currently sold out.

Out punk pioneer Bob Mould is touring following the release of his most recent album “Sunshine Rock,” and will be making a stop at City Winery (1350 Okie Street, N.W.) on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $35-45 directly from City Winery at citywinery.com.

DJ Martin Garrix is at Echostage Oct. 2-3 at 9 p.m. Tickets are available directly at echostage.com. Prices range from $40-50.

Carrie Underwood will be in town with her “The Cry Pretty Tour 360” at the Capital One Arena (601 F St., N.W.) on Friday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $49-99 and up at ticketmaster.com.

Country music star Phil Vassar plays The Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave.) on Thursday, Oct. 10 in Alexandria, Va. Tickets for the show are $45 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

The acclaimed Chicago-based artist Chance The Rapper will appear at Capital One Arena on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range between $59-129 and up, and can be purchased via ticketmaster.com.

The following evening, on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m., rapper Post Malone is coming to Capital One Arena as part of his “Runaway Tour.” Prices range from $99-503 and can be acquired at ticketmaster.com.

Also on Oct. 12, American rock group The Black Keys will be in town for a show at The Anthem at 7 p.m. Tickets ranging from $125-250 are available at theanthemdc.com

Chely Wright, one of the few out artists in country music, will take the stage at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. E.) in Vienna, Va., on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets for her show are available through ticketmaster.com and range between $37-67.

Also on the 13th, lesbian former gospel singer Jennifer Knapp plays City Winery at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 at citywinery.com

On Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., the pop-rock group Augustana will have a concert at U Street Musical Hall (1115 U St., N.W.). Tickets for general admission can be purchased for $20 and are available at ticketfly.com.

The Chainsmokers will be bringing their “World War Joy Tour” to Capital One Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. They will be joined by the Australian boyband 5 Seconds of Summer and Lennon Stella. Tickets are available for $29-159 and up at ticketmaster.com.

The indie rock group Bon Iver is coming to The Anthem on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. The tickets, which range from $55-75, are available at ticketfly.com.

Country singer Lee Ann Womack is taking her “Solitary Thinkin’ Acoustic Tour” to The Birchmere on Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $35 from ticketmaster.com.

Capital Pride vet/LGBT ally Alessia Cara brings her “The Pains of Growing Tour” to The Anthem on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $40 through ticketmaster.com

“American Idol” winner Fantasia plays EagleBank Arena (4500 Patriot Circle, Fairfax, Va.) on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $59-125 and may be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

Also on the 27th, out twins Tegan and Sara have a sold-out show at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) in Washington for their “Hey, I’m Just Like You Tour.” Tickets may open up later at ticketfly.com

On Saturday, Nov. 2 Logic’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Tour” lands at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and the tickets, ranging from $29-250 and up, can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

Chris Thile of the Punch Brothers and host of the public radio program “Live From Here” plays the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.) on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets, which range from $33-79, are available from Strathmore directly at strathmore.org.

Todrick Hall is coming to Baltimore with his “House Party Tour” on Sunday, Nov. 10. The concert will be held at the Baltimore Soundstage (124 Market Place, Baltimore) at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $30 and meet-and-greet packages for $129 at ticketmaster.com.

Fresh off of her new album “Hello Happiness,” Chaka Khan comes to the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets prices are available at livenation.com and start at $72.

Country music singer Eric Church is bringing his “Double Down Tour” to The Anthem on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are sold out.

German-born trans pop princess Kim Petras’ “The Clarity Tour” arrives in Silver Spring on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the Fillmore (8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, Md.). Tickets start at $38 for general admission and can be found at livenation.com.

Cher is finally bringing the tour spawned by her “Dancing Queen” album of ABBA covers to the District. The beloved singer will be at Capital One Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $67-341 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

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Music & Concerts

Washington Arts Ensemble to host immersive concert

Creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture

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The Washington Arts Ensemble will host an immersive concert experience on Saturday, June 18 at 7 p.m. at Dupont Underground.

This concert will show how distinct genres influence pop culture and articulate the commonality between classical, jazz, and electronic music while creating a dialogue with D.C.’s history and culture.

Some of the works that will be performed include “Switched-On Bach selections” by Wendy Carlos, “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals by Camile Saint-Saens, among other works.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the Washington Arts Ensemble’s website

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Music & Concerts

John Levengood releases anthem “Say Gay!” to protest discrimination

Slated to perform new song at 2022 Capital Pride Festival in June

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Recording artist John Levengood’s latest song ‘Say Gay!’ is out Friday. (Photo courtesy Levengood)

“Say gay! Say gay! Say gay!
“Say what? Say what?
“One little law won’t shut us up!”

Slated for digital release this Friday, recording artist John Levengood’s latest song “Say Gay!” confronts anti-LGBTQ legislation such as the “Don’t Say Gay” law by encouraging others to “profess their queerness loudly, proudly, and never in the shadows,” Levengood said in a press release shared with the Blade on Tuesday.

On June 12, Levengood is set to perform the song’s live debut at the 2022 Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C., to streets teeming with community members, food trucks, and local vendors, according to the press release.

“The rise in oppressive legislation and proposals have many in the LGBTQ+ community alarmed,” the press release says. Levengood “hopes this song can be used as a metaphorical weapon to blast holes in the argument that teaching children about acceptance and diversity is more appropriate at home than school.”

The bill, enacted by the Florida Legislature earlier this year but not yet in force, would limit teachers’ ability to teach LGBTQ topics in some school settings and obligate school officials to disclose students’ sexual orientation and gender identity to their parents upon request.

A D.C. resident himself, Levengood currently works over the weekends as resident host and karaoke emcee at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, Va., an LGBTQ bar and restaurant.

Levengood is no stranger to the music scene, in 2013 moving through multiple rounds of auditions for the third season of “The X Factor” before coming up short of formally appearing on the show, according to the release.

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of rural Virginia, the press release added that music has been an outlet for Levengood to express himself from an early age. The new song marks his seventh musical release.

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Music & Concerts

Tori Amos spins magic at Sunday night D.C.-area concert

First show in the area since ’17 finds Gen X icon vocally subdued but musically energized

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As with many veteran rock stars, it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on how hot or cold Tori Amos’s 30-year-old solo career is at the moment. It sometimes seems like she’s moving past the take-her-for-granted-because-she’s-never-away-for-long phase, and there certainly was that sense in the air Sunday night for her D.C.-area stop of her current “Ocean to Ocean Tour,” her first show here since 2017, which, with COVID, feels like a lifetime ago.

But there are also signs that it’s never been chillier for Amos in the overall pop culture landscape. It’s been a decade since she charted a single on any chart and there were no videos or singles from her “Ocean to Ocean” album last fall. It landed just outside the top 100 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album sales chart altogether, a new low that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago when her “regular” (i.e. non-specialty/concept) albums were almost guaranteed a top 10 debut. 

The slide has been swift, too: 2014’s “Unrepentant Geraldines” hit No. 7, the next album (2017’s polarizing “Native Invader”) only made it to 39, then came “Ocean’s” thud at no. 104. There’s a lot you could point to to explain it — streaming, her aging Gen X fan base, the endless undulations of the music industry itself — but in some ways it has started to feel like she’s getting less and less return on her artistic dollar than one would expect. 

Yeah, that always happens with veteran female pop stars once they hit their 50s and beyond, but Amos and her small but mighty fan base, who for decades exhibited a devotion of Grateful Dead-like proportions, outran the trend for so long, to see it finally catching up is a bit bewildering.

But then you go hear her live at a decent-size venue like The Theater at MGM National Harbor (which seats 3,000 and was about 97 percent full), and it feels nearly like old times. Sure, some of the excitement was just that we’re all gagging at being at concerts at all and having mask restrictions and vaccine requirements paused, but there was an electricity that, while mellower than it was at Amos concerts in the ’90s, still felt magical. I’ve never in my life seen so long a line for the merch table.

The concert itself was, for the most part, sublime. It was the first time since 2009 she’s toured with a band and while her solo shows are great too, there was pent-up yearning to hear her unleash full-on with a solid rhythm section (Jon Evans on bass, Ash Soan on drums) again. Beat-heavy songs like “Raspberry Swirl” and “Cornflake Girl” sounded tepid with canned beats the last few times out, so to hear everything truly live (save a few BGVs and effects) last night was heavenly.

It was Gen X queer night out Sunday night at the Theater at MGM National Harbor for Tori Amos’s first concert here since 2017. (Photo by Desmond Murray; courtesy Girlie Action)

The show had special poignancy too, as Amos grew up in the region. She has written and commented heavily on the immense toll her mother’s 2019 death took on her personally and artistically, so that the date happened to be Mother’s Day gave the proceedings added gravitas. “Mother Revolution” and “Jackie’s Strength” spoke, of course, to the holiday, though (and this is quibbling) I would have vastly preferred “Mother” from “Little Earthquakes,” a deep cut we haven’t heard live in eons. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

Highlights included the slinky, rhythm-loopy opener “Juarez”; “Ocean to Ocean,” one of three cuts performed from the new record, which shimmered with Philip Glass-like piano arpeggios; the vampy, slinky interplay between the three musicians on “Mother Revolution”; and unexpected fan favorite “Spring Haze.” Amos, overall, is varying up the set list quite a bit less than is her norm, so it was one of the few surprises of the evening. 

The lengths of several of the songs were drawn out considerably. At times — “A Sorta Fairytale,” the aforementioned “Revolution” — that worked well and gave the band time to languidly jam. At other points, it felt a bit self-indulgent and even slightly boring — as on “Sweet Sangria” and “Liquid Diamonds.” 

“Russia,” a bonus cut from the last album, sounded just how it did when Amos performed it here in 2017, but took on added resonance because of current events. Closing line “Is Stalin on your shoulder” was chilling.

Overall, the show — lighting, pacing, everything — largely worked. The sound mix, which fans have said has been muddy at some venues recently on the tour, was pristine. Pacing only lagged a few times in some of the mid-tempo cuts from later albums, but just when you felt some were zoning — the flow of those entering and exiting is a good barometer — Amos whipped things back together with a fan favorite like “Past the Mission” or “Spring Haze.”

It all came to a satisfying, audience-friendly climax with “Cornflake Girl,” then the two encore cuts, “Precious Things” and “Tear in Your Hand,” both from the first album. 

Vocally, the range was there and sounded lovely, but the oomph was considerably held back. Vocal preservation for the many dates ahead? Probably. It’s understandable. Amos, at 58, may lack the stamina she had 20 years ago, but it did feel underwhelming in passages that in years past would have been full on, balls out like the “Bliss” bridge or the “nine-inch nails” passage from “Precious Things.” 

Not one acknowledgment or mention by Amos of the female folk duo openers Companion. I’d have invited them out for a few numbers to sing BGVs. I mean, heck, they’re in the house, why not? And other than the welcome, a brief soliloquy on Mother’s Day was the only Amos comment of the entire night. 

Still Amos never came off as aloof. She seemed genuinely excited to be playing live again and the queer-heavy crowd responded in kind. 

Tori Amos (Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)
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