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Bob Boilen's Week In Live Music, 4/8/17

90 minutes of frenetic guitar playing from, quite literally, way down under. (KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, 9:30 CLUB, WASHINGTON, D.C.)closemore
90 minutes of frenetic guitar playing from, quite literally, way down under. (KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, 9:30 CLUB, WASHINGTON, D.C.)

I've always been an album guy. I love to hear an album in full, uninterrupted. But for the last eight years or so, my love of live music has superseded my love for studio recordings. Small clubs with great sound have propelled that passion. I also love the community small shows create. Thanks to the access my job provides, I see 400 to 600 bands a year.

For the last three years I've been taking photos of the bands I see. These days I use a Sony Alpha 6000 camera — it's lightweight, and in a small bag I can carry three lenses. I can also wirelessly transfer my photographs to my phone and post them to social media — I've been doing that on Instagram under the name @tinydesk.

The loudest thing I've heard all week was a crazy, zany band from Melbourne called King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (above). There are moments when the guitarist, Stu Mackenzie, turns his body upside down and looks completely possessed. The sounds that emanate from his guitar mimic that frenzy.


Peter Silberman of The Antlers and Tim Mislock played their meditative, subdued set with amps set on 1 at a living room show. (PETER SILBERMAN WITH TIM MISLOCK, LIVING ROOM SHOW, WASHINGTON, D.C.)

On the opposite end of the audio spectrum, perhaps the quietest music I've heard in years was from Peter Silberman, whom you might know from the group The Antlers. I recently had a conversation with him about his hearing issues, particularly tinnitus, and these days his amp is basically set to 1, not 10.


Lambchop kept it passionately quiet with songs from FLOTUS (For Love Often Turns Us Still). It was good to hear these pulsing tracks live, though I wanted to hear all the words through the vocal effects, and that wasn't really possible. (LAMBCHOP, 9:30 CLUB, WASHINGTON, D.C.)

This week I was fortunate enough to see Lambchop, the project of Kurt Wagner. It too is quiet music, though these days it's filled with a propulsive beat. Much of that beat was provided by Andy Stack — you might know him from the group Wye Oak.


Half Waif's Nandi Rose Plunkett: dreamy and utterly different from her other band, Pinegrove. (HALF WAIF, DC9, WASHINGTON, D.C.)

Then I saw Half Waif, a band made up of members of the group Pinegrove. The talented singer is Nandi Rose Plunkett, though oddly the rhythm section of this band was the highlight for me. The bass player made sounds that were more like a droning synthesizer at times, yet still held the rhythm together.


Theatrics and a driving pulse were at the heart of Stronger Sex's opening slot for Half Waif. (STRONGER SEX, DC9, WASHINGTON, D.C.)

I see most of my shows in Washington, D.C., and the opening band for Half Waif was a D.C. male-female duo called Stronger Sex. The duo had a good sense of theatrics and driving pulse not unlike Sylvan Esso's. It was a pretty good week.

Copyright NPR 2017.

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