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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Concert Chronicles: Summer 2004

The Curiosa Festival
The Cure, Interpol, Muse, Auf Der Maur, the Rapture, Mogwai

With most dates sold near capacity, the Cure once again proved its ability to unite. But instead of going solo to promote the release of its first self-titled album, the Goth-innovators decided to prop up multiple acts all with one name: Curiosa.

Well-behaved throughout the afternoon, the crowd really listened, showering each song with applause and scurrying between the two stages at Merriweather Post to catch all six performances. Although some of this reverence was clearly out of respect for any act inspired and hand picked by the Cure, that’s not to say each band didn’t deserve the attention.

Perhaps most notable was the Rapture, whose shrill harmonies and merciless pace cornered the crowd into obligatory motion. Whether you were foot tapping or tribal dancing, no one could ignore the mumbles of awe and pleasant surprise immediately preceding the set (not to mention requests for “MORE COWBELL!” referring to the effervescent performance of keyboard/sax/cowbell player Gabriel Andruzzi).

The dramatic ambience of Brit-rockers Muse came later on, flooding the air with tracks off its much-acclaimed third release Absolution. The performance confirmed everything that critics and charts have been saying since the album was released in the U.K. last September. But while comparisons to Radiohead continue to surround front man Matthew Bellamy’s soaring vocals, Muse maintains a consistency unlike that of any of its contemporaries: one of ominous verse and potent, overstated orchestration.

The festival’s roster was solidly reliable. But Curiosa also involved some risks: Khaki-clad soccer dads risked taking a night off from practice, black-eyed non-conformists risked a wicked sunburn and the Cure risked the potential friction that can arise when mixing the old with the new. But the same band that brought dark emotion to the mainstream light 25 years ago showed that certain risks are still worth taking.

Accompanied by the glittering instrumentation of “Plainsong,” lead singer Robert Smith’s frightened passion transfixed fans into a state of impenetrable wonder from the start. Casual fans appeared surprisingly patient during the feature set, which was chocked full of pensive non-singles and improvs. But out of mutual grace (or perhaps all the make-up), diehards didn’t seem to roll their eyes when the band bit the bullet for two encores of solid radio hits. The predictable set drifted further and further into the land of commercial hits, ultimately teetering on the edge of pop status as teenage girls screamed and bopped to the second encore performance of “Boys Don’t Cry.”

The Curiosa Festival was no doubt a smart move for the Cure. In addition to sating the public’s desire for a nostalgic yet novel summer tour, the Cure wisely selected openers who reflect the band’s legacy and resurging relevance.

-Sacha Evans

Ozzfest 2004

Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Slayer, Dimmu Borgya, Superjoint Ritual, Black Label Society, Slipknot, Hatebreed, Lamb Of God, Rotationg, Atreyu, Bleeding Through, Lancuna Coil, Every Time I Die, UnEarth, God Forbid

Picking gravel out of your knees was never as retro as this year. With the two final acts on the main stage each having spanned three decades of metal, 2004 saw a more seasoned lineup than ever before. Simply seeing Black Sabbath and Judas Priest reunite with original lineups was not only awe-inspiring but edifying to my sense of rock and roll history.

These two juggernauts aside, the rest of the day was more of an introduction to up and comers in the metal and hardcore world.?While Otep and Slipknot were mildly disappointing, notable performances on the second stage were turned in by God Forbid, Darkest Hour and an afore completely unknown to me, Throwdown. By far the best sets of the day were put on by Hatebreed and veteran metal-gods Slayer.?And finally, Ozzy and Rob Halford put together some of the most gray-haired but rocking hours of axe-wielding metal virtuosity that have been seen in the U.S. during my lifetime.

-Asa Boy

The Best and Worst at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Best: The String Cheese Incident & The Allman Brothers Band

Expectations ran high as two legendary jam bands convened for two nights of music in one of the world’s most celebrated venues. Fortunately, both bands were able to blow even the most diehard fans out of the water.

The lyrics of Colorado-bred String Cheese Incident served as a constant reminder of the splendor surrounding Red Rock’s remarkable setting. The culmination of the S.C.I.’s astonishing musicianship came with a guest appearance from guitarist Warren Haynes (of Gov’t Mule), when the beautifully orchestrated jam “MLT” faded into a cover of “Cheap Sunglasses,” impressing even those who attended solely to witness the Allman Brothers. As the band exited the stage, one couldn’t help but think: This was only one act.

The Allman Brothers’ performance also reflected the majestic Rocky Mountains with hits like “Soulshine” and “Dreams.” The Grateful Dead cover of “Franklin’s Tower” and the encore of The Allman Bros.’ own “Mountain Jam” were both particularly apropos.

As an evening of incredible musicianship was showcased through set lists compiled especially for the Colorado Mountain backdrop, one couldn’t help but think: This was only night one.


The summer tour in support of the new album A Crow Left of Murder attracted eager eyes and ears, particularly for the band’s first performance at the acclaimed outdoor venue. Unfortunately, lead singer Brandon Boyd and his band failed to recognize the significance of Red Rocks to its fans. Although Boyd often said, “it’s so great to be here,” and “you’re too kind, too kind,” he appeared to be enjoying his wine more than his performance. Perhaps that’s because Incubus played the same set two nights prior in Missouri? Or maybe the band knew they would have to repeat the same routine, inaudible Police cover and all, one week later in California.

Every song sounded exactly like versions heard on CD’s, the radio and MTV. As Incubus exited the stage after playing a typical hour-and-a half set, hopes quickly scurried away for anything better to come. The encore was no better, closing with the band’s biggest radio hit “Pardon Me.” When exiting the concert another disappointed fan yelled, “Hurry up! Liquor stores close in 15 minutes.” He was right. It was quarter to 11 and Incubus had already cleared off a stage it might not be welcomed back at again.

-Laura Marchelya

All Good Summer Campout

Medeski Martin & Wood, Keller Williams, The Disco Biscuits, The Greyboy Allstars, Dark Star Orchestra, Leftover Salmon, North Mississippi Allstars, Steve Kimock Band , Jazz Mandolin Project, Ekoostik Hookah, Umphrey’s McGee, Deep Fried, Del McCoury Band, The Hackensaw Boys, Soulive, Ozric Tentacles, The Bridge, Libby Kirkpatrick

Ever been to a music festival on top of a mountain? I hadn’t had the pleasure until this summer when I went to the eighth annual All Good Summer Campout.?Nestled in the lush hills outside of Masontown, W.V., all who went had the delight of experiencing three days of almost 13 hours of jaw-dropping, hip-gyrating music each day.

For?$90 you got to see a variety of well known jam bands as well as some lesser knowns strut their stuff and blow your mind. Most acts played anywhere between one and four hour sets, and?particularly stunning performances were given by Soulive, Keller Williams, The Grey Boy All-stars (fronted by sax virtuoso Karl Denson), Steve Kimock’s Band, and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

The two bands, however, that really took the cake home and rubbed it in your face were the British space hippies Ozric Tentacles and the masters of luscious grooves, the Disco Biscuits. Both these bands played closing sets on Friday and Saturday night with unparalleled fervor and finesse that had you bouncing up and down till the sun came up.

Countless gallons of ink have been used to lambaste and discredit Phish.?An equal amount of ink has been used to crown them as the undisputed demagogues of jam. I love Phish because they have guts.?I respect them immensely for what they do because performing music the way they do is unimaginably difficult.

For me, the greatest reward is just watching them throw it in your face like there is no tomorrow, not whether they can do it flawlessly. And I think that is what they will be known for.?

I am not sad to see them go.?They did their thing and pulled no punches.?There are many who would say that in their last few years Phish was not as good as they were before, but I disagree.?I saw them in 1998, 2003 and one last time on June 19, 2004, a show that made the hair on my arms stand straight up all throughout.

I heard a mix of songs from most of their albums and was treated to the sonic confection of watching them meander through uncharted territory by stretching every song to its limit.?Phish cannot be explained; you can either see the “Picture of Nectar” “Split Open and Melt” into “The Divided Sky” while sipping on “Bathtub Gin” as “You Enjoy Myself,” or not.
-Charles Walsh

The Polyphonic Spree

In an age when the most popular musical performers boast about their Escalades or agonize over the end of a relationship, the rock group The Polyphonic Spree sings about the sun and trees. In a post-9/11 America full of cynicism and fear, The Polyphonic Spree exudes boundless optimism and happiness. And, oh yeah, the 24-member group has a 10-person choir, two drummers and a horn section that puts marching bands to shame.

The Polyphonic Spree is the only act of its kind. At a concert earlier this month at the 9:30 Club, the group’s members, clad in brightly colored robes and standing in front of a huge sign that said “HOPE,” sang simple, silly songs with the exuberance of a kindergarten class. “Hey now it’s the sun, and it makes me shine,” went the main verse of one of its songs; the Spree closed the D.C. show by singing a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday” to a member, although it wasn’t clear that it was his birthday.

The Dallas-based band is in the middle of a U.S. tour following the July release of its second record, “Together We’re Heavy.” The record, which follows the 2001 release “The Beginning Stages of…” has been a well-received debut album. Both recordings feature extended instrumental segments that pulsate with energy and verses that are catchy and uplifting. The Spree’s message is simple: no matter what happened, it was a beautiful day today, and tomorrow will be equally wonderful.

That message, along with the band’s colorful attire and psychedelic energy, has led its detractors to dismiss it as a cult. The Spree’s members are not in a cult. Nor are they a bunch of drugged out tree huggers. The band’s hidden complexity can be seen in the onstage gyrations of its lead singer and founder, Tim DeLaughter.

DeLaughter, a middle-aged man with a pot belly and generation-old Freddie Mercury mannerisms, is the band’s visionary, who looks possessed when he points to the ceiling and exclaims, wide-eyed, “It’s the sun!” But DeLaughter, formerly a front man for the alternative band Tripping Daisy, also casts glances at the audience that says, “Let’s just be ludicrously happy for this moment so we can momentarily forget our pathetic lives.”

Mark Pirro, a bassist in the band, says the Spree’s songs, while full of optimism and hope, have an underlying sadness that often escapes the casual listener.

“The rap on the band is this happy, joyous band. If you really pay attention to the music – yeah, there’s that element in there – but there’s also kind of this underlying beautiful melancholy as well,” Pirro said.

In an interview with The Hatchet before the band’s show at the 9:30 Club, a robe-less Pirro (he wore jeans and a white t-shirt) talked about the band’s unique makeup and the Spree’s collaborative process.

-Michael Barnett

Mum at the Black Cat

While ticket prices for some of this summer’s tours were oppressively high and located at venues in remote suburbia, this left but a few concert-going options for the young and penniless who opted to stay in the District this summer. One could check out the ‘lesser-knowns’ at DC’s clubs, catch bands like Tonic and Better than Ezra at the $5 Live On Penn Series before August when it was cancelled. It was in the exploration of the first option that I caught a gem of a show at the Black Cat.

Icelandic quartet Mum is beyond definition. On 2002’s critically acclaimed album Finally We Are No One, Mum pieces together simple but sprawling melodies over subtle electronic beats and the melancholy childlike vocals of lead singer Kristin Anna Valtysdottir. Its multi-layered, wholly original sound is certainly hard to come by, and this was never more evident than by the volume of antique and home-crafted instruments brought to the Black Cat stage.

Valtysdottir’s stage presence registers somewhere between Jodie Foster’s “Nell” character and the girl who emerges from the well in “The Ring.” But the effect is more powerful than creepy. Her delicate whispering of Mum’s wandering, existential lyrics fit profoundly well in front of the computer bleeps and xylophone tings directly at her back. It’s hard to say whether this show was more enjoyable or enlightening, but it is certain that the unconventional milieu left the crowd with a new perspective on the future of electronic music. Many thanks to Mum for providing a refreshing look at innovative music during a season when good shows can carry a hefty price tag. I owe you one, Nell.

-Jake Weixler

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