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June 30, 2011

Charlie Wilson spans the R&B generation gap

On Sunday, Charlie Wilson will headline the African American Festival at M&T Bank Stadium. Al Shipley interviewed Wilson for tomorrow's Live Section.

Here's an excerpt:

Charlie Wilson has been alive for 58 years, and has been singing for nearly all of them — first in his church choir and then in The Gap Band, the pioneering funk group he formed at the age of 14 with his brothers Ronnie and Robert.

That long, remarkable career has reached an unlikely new peak with Wilson's success as a solo artist...[He] credits his continued good fortunate to his instrument.

 "The sound of my voice never went out of style," he said.

The rest of the interview is here

For a full schedule of performances at the festival, click here. Another veteran singer, Chuck Brown, who will also be performing at the festival this weekend, was interviewed in last week's paper. 

Photo: Charlie Wilson (Handout)
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:30 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Live!, Music News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: African American Festival, 4th of July

FindLocal has more weekend events. If you know of good Independence Day specials, add them to the corkboard. Click here for a full schedule of performances at the African American Heritage Festival.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:14 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

IFC show featuring Baltimoreans, including Dan Deacon, to premiere Friday

"Young, Broke and Beautiful," the IFC travel show that filmed an episode in Baltimore in March, will broadcast that episode Friday.

An IFC spokeswoman said that while host Stuart Schuffman - aka Broke-Ass Stuart - was in town, he went  "to see singer Landis Expandis’ boom box collection, gets a taste of crabs, parties with the locals, listens in on a rhyme fest  with Ms Streamz (sic), visits Mink Stole at the American Visionary Museum, attends a live hypnotherapy performance and moves his body at a live show with Dan Deacon."

In March, Schuffman  taped a semi-secret performance at the Bell Foundry that featured Deacon, Jimmy Joe Roche, Ed Schrader, the Santa Dads, and keyboard-and-trumpet duo The Creepers. They also taped a Double Dagger show.

Billed as IFC's answer to Vice's travel series,  the show "infiltrates the underground of American cities to find the hidden, cheap and carefully guarded secrets that aren't in any guidebooks," according to the network, which has ordered six episodes. Upcoming episodes are built around Detroit and Memphis, among others. 

The show has already been criticized for promoting poverty tourism.

The Baltimore episode will air Friday on IFC at 11 p.m.

Photo: Schuffman peddling one of his $15 t-shirts (via)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local music

Review: Baltimore Taphouse, Canton's low-key taps bar

This week's bar review is on Baltimore Taphouse, a low-key Canton bar with 14 rotating drafts and 25 bottled beers.

After spending some time there, I've become a big fan, and will come back soon.

Here's an excerpt from the review:

Baltimore Taphouse in Canton looks just fine when you walk in. It's a long, narrow hall, with plenty of beer on tap and a pool table at the back.

But the first sign that you might be in better hands than you thought is found above the cash register. There, owner John Bates has propped up a dog-eared copy of Michael Jackson's "Great Beer Guide."

Jackson is the elder statesman among beer and whiskey writers — the Julia Child of beer lovers. His place above the bar suggests that the Taphouse serves one master: beer.

The rest of the review is here.  In Canton, there are lots of other beer bars - Mahaffeys's, Hudson Street Stackhouse - which one is your favorite?

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:37 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Power Plant Live offering $1 Miller Lites at new Friday night happy hour

For the summer, Power Plant Live has started a happy hour for all its bars – which include Luckie’s Tavern, country-western bar PBR Baltimore (at right, as if you didn't know already) and Angels Rock Bar.

Called “Downtown is Happy,” Cordish Companies spokesman Chris Furst brags it’s intended to be “Baltimore’s biggest office happy hour.”

A venue-wide promotion is a first for Power Plant, which is just putting finishing touches on a multi-million dollar renovation that will also bring a Joe Squared Pizza and a Leinenkugel's Beer Hall to the Inner Harbor.

The happy hour, which had a successful try-out at Cordish Companies’ Kansas City Power & Light District last summer, started June 3 and is scheduled to run in Baltimore  every Friday this summer.

“It did very well [in Kansas City],” Furst said. “With a lot of the renovations, we decided to add it here as well.”

During the happy hour, which lasts from 4 to 7 p.m., Miller Lites are $1, and at the crush bar by Luckie’s Tavern, refills on flavored-vodka drinks are $2.

The promotion has not scheduled an end date, Furst said.

Photo: Stephaine Rollis (riding backwards) and Krysten Klipa ride the mechanical bull at PBR in Power Plant Live. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 29, 2011

Thanks to new alcohol tax, expect a 25-cent bump on beer Friday

When the first tax hike on alcohol in a generation takes effect Friday, expect some bars to bump the price of beer by at least 25 cents, not the three cents that the lawmakers asked for. 

That's what Annie Linskey reports in today's paper.

"Bar owners, who typically include the sales tax as part of a beverage's advertised price, don't like dealing in pennies, nickels or dimes. Prices, particularly at the local joints, are set in 25-cent increments.

"If you are tending bar, and it is a Saturday night, you can't make change," explained Andrew Burke, the owner of John Steven Ltd., a bar in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood. "The guy at the bar isn't going to count out 86 cents while three more people are waiting for a drink."

 For some bars, like Slainte in Fells Point, it'll be the first time in three years they'll touch prices, and employees aren't happy.

But some drinkers say a 25-cent surcharge is too small to notice. Thoughts?

Photo: Andrew Burke pouring beer at John Steven Ltd. (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:44 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

African-American Festival performance schedule released; Estelle on Saturday, Charlie Wilson on Sunday

aframpic.JPGThe African American Festival, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, has released its performance schedule, posted below in full.

The most well known performers this year are Charlie Wilson, Estelle ("American Boy"), Chrisette Michelle, Paula Campbell and Noel Gourdine.

Performances will take place on two different stages, Culture and Music. Admission to the festival is free. 

On Saturday, performances start at noon and end at 10 p.m. while on Sunday they start at noon and end at 9 p.m. On the music stage Saturday, Gourdine will perform at 5 p.m.; Estelle and Michelle will be on sometime between then and 10 p.m., the schedule does not specify.

Wilson will perform at 7:45 p.m. Sunday on the music stage, preceded by Campbell.  We'll have an interview with Wilson later this week.

Organizers have also released a map of its layout at M&T Bank Stadium.

One of the largest of its kind on the East Coast, the festival attracts some 300,000 people every year, according to the city. 

Map and schedule are posted below:





Posted by Erik Maza at 11:54 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Local music

June 28, 2011

Video: Baltimore reservoir rangers bust more swimmers this summer

You might have missed this story in Saturday's paper about increased enforcement at Baltimore's reservoirs, Loch Raven, Liberty and Prettyboy. The rangers have the highest number of members since they came back from a hiatus three years ago, and fines and warnings - $100 for swimming - have been steadily increasing, peaking last year at over 2,500. A reader commented on the story: "If I get a $200 fine for enjoying nature I'll gladly pay it as 'my dues'.  I will cooperate with Rangers and gladly accept my ticket(s). If I drown, that's OK, I lived life to the fullest." Thoughts? Above, a video of the rangers busting some illegal swimmers.
Posted by Erik Maza at 4:14 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Muggsys' owner Danny Young talks about bar's closing; denies Don't Know Tavern rumor

Muggsys's in South Baltimore will close Thursday, after its owners couldn't agree on a new lease with their landlord.

Danny Young, co-owner, said the disagreement with the landlord was amicable. 

"It was the best possible thing that could have happened," he said. 

Young denied a rumor that he or co-owner Brent Putman would take over Don't Know Tavern, which owner Jason Zink is selling. News of Muggsys's passing was first reported at Beer in Baltimore.

Young and Putman opened Muggsy's three and a half years ago as a Federal Hill haven for beer snobs.

But competition followed.

"When we opened, between us and Metropolitan, we were the only good draft beer bar in the neighborhood," Young said. "Then The Abbey opened. Row House opened and they have good rotating draft beers. Bluegrass opened and they have rotating beers and really amazing food."

Young said their investment capital went into their lease, and there was little left over for "marketing and things that needed to get done."

For the past year, he's been bartending without any other full time employees. His roommate would sometimes help out on weekends. 

When it came time to renew the bar's lease, which still had another year and a half left, Young couldn't agree on a number with the landlord. The building at 1236 Light St. is owned by KM Investments LLC, which bought it in 2000 for $80,000, according to property records. 

Young and Putnam decided to end their agreement and the landlord nullified their financial agreements. "He could have taken us too the cleaners and he didn't. He's a decent guy," Young said.

The bar will close with a quiet celebration for regulars and friends on Thursday.

Young denied a rumor that he and Putnam would take over Don't Know Tavern, which has already been sold, he said. "We are not moving anywhere," he said. "I have nothing to do with the Don't Know deal."

(Beer in Baltimore is also reporting the Don't Know deal has been finalized. Its new managers said on Facebook they'll re-open on Wednesday with samples of new menu items.)

There might be a time to take the Muggsys's name elsewhere, he said, but "probably not  soon." "I learned a lot from the experience but it's nice to have a stretch where I can clock out at the end of the day," he said.

Young, who worked at Ropewalk Tavern for four years before opening Muggsys's, is going back to bartending for the McFaul family. He'll be bartending at Delia Foley's on Saturdays.

(Photo by Shankman)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:21 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: News

Today's Nightlife Photo: Meek Mill at Dubai June 24

dubaiparty.JPGThe Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill performing at Dubai June 24. @destrukshawn sends in this picture. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:27 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Concert news: Black Eyed Peas, Stephen Malkmus, Ani DiFranco

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks will perform at Rams Head Live in September, it was announced today.

The Pavement frontman will release new album "Mirror Traffic," produced by Beck of all people, in August. He performs at Rams Head September 29. Tickets, at $20, are on sale already.

Also performing at Rams Head this Fall will be Ani DiFranco. The singer-songwriter will be in Baltimore October 22. Tickets, at $40, are on sale already.

Announced last week: the Black Eyed Peas, who performed in Baltimore last year,  are coming back this summer.

Their performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion July 30 is so far the only announced show of what is likely an upcoming tour. Tickets are on sale now.

Photo: Black Eyed Peas performing in February at the Superbowl (Getty Images)
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:16 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

June 28 - July 3 in nightlife: R. Kelly, Kid Cudi, African American Festival, tape night at Windup

No U2 this week, which is bad news for some of you and awesome news for others. I know, I know, where we'll we get our Desmond Tutu fix this week? It won't be at the R. Kelly show on Friday. The singer comes back to Baltimore for the first time in two years. Elsewhere: Charlie Wilson performs at the African American Festival, Kid Cudi will be at Merriweather, Ledisi appears at Sound Garden, and Club Hippo hosts Deep in the Game. 

On Tuesday, Mason Ross hosts another Wham City comedy night at the Zodiac, 1726 N Charles St. No cover listed. 8 p.m. Also: Matt & Kim perform at a sold-out 9:30 Club. 7 p.m.

On Wednesday,  Cyclops bookstore hosts a bluegrass jam and open mic night. 30 W. North Ave. No cover listed. Starts at 8 p.m.

On Thursday, R&B singer Ledisi, who released a new album last week, performs at Sound Garden,  1616 Thames St. Free. 7 p.m. Also: bring your cassette tapes and jam at the Windup Space's tape night, Compact. 12 W North Ave. Free. 9 p.m. 

On Friday, Schwarz' summer takeover culminates at his - and Mark Brown and Cexman's - monthly Deep in the Game party at Club Hippo, 1 West Eager St. Also spinning: Say Wut and King Tutt. $5. 10 p.m. Also: R. Kelly performs at 1st Mariner Arena. Expect a review afterward. Tickets start at $49.50. 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Kid Cudi performs at Merriweather Post Pavilion. It's his first concert in the area in a while. $35. 6:30 p.m. Also: The African American Festival begins at noon at M&T Bank Stadium. Chuck Brown, Estelle and others are scheduled to perform. Free.

On Sunday, Charlie Wilson performs at 7 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium for Afram.  Expect a preview of that show in Friday's paper.

Photo: R. Kelly performing at the Grammy Awards in February. (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

June 25, 2011

June 20 - 24 reviewed: U2, Roots Festival, Barfly's Pub, Rap Round Robin

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared June 22 U2 day. I'm sure for some readers it felt more like a month. There was wall-to-wall coverage, including on this blog: There were the fans sharing their favorite memories before the show.  A preview of the four-legged stage. Tour director Craig Evans discussing how the massive stage was set up. Behind-the-scenes video of the stage at M&T. Talk of tailgating. Maryland pols talking about how giddy they were about the show. Concerns about the weather disrupting the show, and what fans were not allowed to bring. Celebrity sightings at the show. But the weather did not mess up what ended up being a technological feat of a concert. Here's our review. At least 75,000 people attended. The attention devoted to the show is part due because the band hadn't played Baltimore in what seems like a decade; their last regional show was two years. Fans demanded their U2 fix. But also, this U2 show might be the last stadium concert we might see for a while. There were other news of course: today is the start of the music side of the Roots Festival. The schedule is here. In an interview, festival headliner Chuck Brown said he has no intention to retire. The Rap Round Robin announced this year's line-up, which includes Height and Rapdragons. Barfly's Pub was reviewed. Stevie Nicks and Erasure both announced local shows. Still wondering what to do this weekend? We've got you covered.  One night you might want to avoid is swimming at one of Baltimore's reservoirs. Rangers are stepping up enforcement, and a fine could be as much as a $1,000.

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

June 24, 2011

Roots Festival headliner Chuck Brown scoffs at retirement

Chuck Brown has been making music now for over 50 years. On Saturday, he'll be one of the headliners at the inaugural Roots Festival. In an interview, Brown said he's not interested in retiring and still has new ideas to try out.

Here's an excerpt from that interview:

"I don't feel like retiring. I don't get any questions as to why I should retire," he said in his blustery baritone. "Music is just something I still want to do. I still enjoy it. The older I get, the more I want to play."

Brown picked up music when he was around 6 or 7, playing piano at his church and singing gospel songs.

"Run Joe," one of the songs in "We Got This," goes back to his youth. "I used to sing it when I was shining shoes," he remembered. "I knew if one day I was a musician, I would sing it."

The rest of the interview is here.  The schedule for Roots Fest is here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Barfly's Pub, the new Rafters, is reviewed

We've been keeping a close eye on Barfly's Pub since owner Mike Leeds first mentioned it. It's finally open, and reviewed in today's paper.

Here's an excerpt:

"[Rafters] has been remade as a casual neighborhood bar with an ample beer menu and several wine options. Already, it's drawing small crowds, even on the Monday night I went.

Owner Michael Leeds bills it as an "upscale dive bar," but Barfly's still needs some time to develop the personality of a dive and spruce itself up to be "upscale."

This might be a question of time, and since the project is clearly a work of love for Leeds, Barfly's could eventually reach that goal."

The rest of the review is here

Photo: Barfly's Pub (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:14 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 23, 2011

U2 draws 75,000 to M&T Bank Stadium, Live Nation says

Ok, one last U2 post. The official count for Wednesday night's U2 show is 75,000 people, according to Live Nation. The number is 5,000 shy of the crowd stadium officials had predicted earlier this week. But it matches the house record of 75,000 who attended the 1999 HFStival.

A spokeswoman for M&T Bank Stadium confirmed Live Nation's number, but could not confirm where the audience ranked in the venue's history.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:52 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Music News

Did Nancy Pelosi break bread with Matt Damon at U2 show? More celebity sightings at the Baltimore show

In what is likely my last post on U2 in a while, I bring you the celebrity sightings at the show, for those of you who care about this stuff. A source at Live Nation spotted Matt Damon and John Krasinski, "The Office's" Jim, at the VIP Riser hanging out with show opener Florence Welch.

And while the Guv could not make it to the show, he did send an envoy. His wife Katie made an appearance.

From late last night: "Our Head of Digital Trif Alatzas spotted House Minority Leader and Baltimore native Nancy Pelosi in the audience. Apparently the California Democrat decided to watch U2 rather than President Obama's speech on Afghanistan."

Photo: Nancy Pelosi at M&T (@trifalatzas)

Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Random stuff

Review: U2 at M&T Bank Stadium June 22

The next time the Ravens win a game at M&T Bank Stadium, they should be so lucky to get the kind of response four 50-something Irish guys got there Wednesday night.

Thousands of fans - the stadium estimated some 80,000 - welcomed U2 for their first regional show in two years like Bono and company had just ended the N.F.L lockout.

Billed as the record-setting spectacular to beat all concert spectaculars, U2’s 360-degree tour employs the latest advancements in live entertainment, including a moving, four-legged stage that looked ripped from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

It's been joked that for a band as bombastic as this one, a stage that big was needed to contain all of their egos, mostly Bono's. But the spacious arena, as big as a small club, allowed for maximum showboating, and for the band members to pull off pyrotechnics that would have been difficult at 1st Mariner Arena, where they played the last time they were in Baltimore in 2001.

Over two hours, The Edge got to sing directly above fans, thanks to the moving stage; other band members strolled the circular stage within reaching distance of the spastic crowd; got the stadium to sing along several times - most memorably on "I Will Follow" - and Bono got to show off some favorite Bono-isms, grunting, wearing a glow-in-the-dark jacket, and plugging his favorite political causes.

An ambitious show to say the least, it also featured cameos from, incongruously, Desmond Tutu and Gabrielle Giffords' husband. Now on its second year, the 360-degree tour confirmed why U2 is still among the few headliners that can sell out stadiums.

The setlist stayed close to what the band's been playing at other recent concerts, straying only at a few key moments. Over all they played some 24 songs, with all but a couple of their albums represented, going as far back as "Boy" and up to their most recent outing, "No Line on the Horizon." "Achtung Baby," "The Joshua Tree," and "No Line" had the most numbers in the show. The British band Florence and the Machine opened the show.

The wolf pack walked on stage at 8:56 p.m. to David Bowie's "Space Oddity," strutting out from underneath the stadium like a bunch of gladiators in tight jeans. Though they looked huge on the video screens, from where I was sitting on row 11, section 151, they looked like bendable action figures. At least one woman near me brought binoculars.

As everyone pulled out their phones to take pictures, a clad-in-black Bono barreled through "Even Better than the Real Thing," from 1991's "Achtung Baby." He kept going with six more songs that were each over 20 years old. Undercutting the solemnity of the first few songs was a helicopter flying overhead advertising strip club Scores.

Bono strapped on a guitar on a muscularly remade "The Fly," which also featured some of The Edge's shredding and vocal accompaniment. At that point, it was hard not to be envious of the crowd directly in front of the the stage, who looked ecstatic.

The rest of the stadium only nodded along politely, but they started to move on "Mysterious Ways," a love song that was blown up here into a stadium anthem, and where Bono and The Edge took their first stroll around the circular stage and walked over the moving bridges.

By fifth song "I Will Follow," it was already nightfall and the enormous stage was the only source of light in the stadium, surrounded like a supernova by the thousands of flickers of light from peoples' cell phones. On "Get On Your Boots," Bono showed how, despite his self-serious star-with-a-conscience public persona, he knows how to play the role of rock star with all the panache it demands. He never did take off his tinted sunglasses at all.

Bono introduced the next song by saying The Edge would be channeling Frank Sinatra, which suggested perhaps they'd do Bono's remake of "That's Life." But instead they sang "Stay" as a slow, almost acoustic song.  The band got Mark E. Kelly to introduce "Beautiful Day," which, tailor-made for this kind of setting, sounded excellent.

"Elevation" had the crowd near the front practically moshing. "Miss Sarajevo" showed off another genre where U2 is unassailable, the heartfelt power ballad.

The concert hit its stride around 10 p.m., when the band played "Vertigo," maybe because it's one of their most recognizable recent songs and maybe because the alcohol from the afternoon tailgaiting was finally making a difference. "Sunday Bloody Sunday," was certainly the night's emotional peak, milked here for all its possible relevance by being played over news images of the Arab Spring.

The Bono-isms started to rear their ugly head by then. He dedicated "Scarlet" to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese political dissident, a gesture that was only politely applauded for the crowd. Maybe they didn't know who she was? Not to worry. U2 helpfully provided an introductory blurb. "One" was introduced by Desmond Tutu. During the encore Bono both sang "Amazing Grace" and later thanked another kind of god, Live Nation, for organizing the show.  Fifty-year-old Bono also sprayed the audience with water and wore a jacket that shot off lasers on "Ultraviolet."

But there were great moments to compensate for those that were cringe-worthy.  "Moment of Surrender," dedicated to Clarence Clemons, was moving and "Where the Streets Have No Name" was undeniably beautiful; without a doubt, the concert's highlight.

Bono's stated goal was to shrink the stadium and turn it into a little club, a difficult task when you're singing from a metal, 200-ton arachnid. But for the Baltimore crowd, a majority of whom had likely not seen them in years, a stadium packed with thousands of like-minded fan did just fine.

Even Better Than The Real Thing
The Fly
Mysterious Ways
Until The End Of The World
I Will Follow
 Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
 Beautiful Day
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
 Miss Sarajevo
City Of Blinding Lights
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On

Where The Streets Have No Name
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Photos: U2 performing at M&T Bank Stadium June 22 (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:20 AM | | Comments (67)
Categories: Concert reviews

June 22, 2011

Nancy Pelosi rocks out with U2

So U2 went on about 20 minutes ago, and we're starting to get some reports about notable fans at M&T Bank Stadium.

Our Head of Digital Trif Alatzas spotted House Minority Leader and Baltimore native Nancy Pelosi in the audience. Apparently the California Democrat decided to watch U2 rather than President Obama's speech on Afghanistan.

And while Erik reported earlier that Gov. Martin O'Malley wasn't coming, Maryland's first lady, Katie O'Malley, did make it to the concert.

Posted by Tim Swift at 9:20 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

U2 show will go on "rain or shine," Live Nation says

With a 60 percent chance of rain this evening, there was some concern lightning would prevent the show from going forward.

Live Nation released a statement this afternoon, via spokesman Jeremiah Xenakis:

“Fans should wear their raingear.  The concert will proceed rain or shine.  If due to weather, it is deemed dangerous to the fans, then a decision would be made at that time.”

Earlier: what fans are allowed to bring to the stadium. 

A source at M&T also said the stadium has an emergency plan for shelter in case of lightning.

Photo: U2 fans at M&T Bank Stadium (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

No umbrellas or 'signs on sticks' at U2 show, M&T Bank Stadium says

IMG00172-20110622-1252.jpgForecasters are predicting a 60 percent chance of rain tonight after 4 p.m., but M&T Bank Stadium says U2 fans are not allowed to bring umbrellas with them to the band's concert.

Fans are also not allowed to bring "signs on sticks," wrote M&T Stadium spokeswoman Megan Collins.

The show will not be exempt from the stadium's usual rules, which also bans "fireworks, laser pointers, banners, flashlights, glow sticks, inflatable balloons, beach balls, etc."

Also prohibited: cameras with anything larger than a 3-inch lens; video cameras and audio recording equipment.

Not that you'd want to have any of that with all the lightning that's expected.  

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:07 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Music News

Ulman, Rawlings-Blake to join plebes at U2 show; O'Malley, shockingly, missing out

Expect to see some familiar faces among the seventy five thousand or gazillion people who’ll be at U2 tonight.

Just from the number of politicians going, you’d think we were entering a second week of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Howard County executive and Katy Perry fan Ken Ulman doesn’t go to many shows outside of the music venue in his county, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

But he’s a big fan of the composers of “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark.”

“My wife and I are going. It’s pretty exciting for Baltimore and the region,” he said.

Ulman, who last saw U2 live at RFK stadium some years ago, is getting a mid-afternoon presentation on how the tour organizers mitigate the carbon footprint on a show this big. Though he’s campaigned on green issues, Ulman said he still doesn’t know how he got invited.

“I’m supposed to be there at 4 p.m. or something,” he said. “Then im going to enjoy the show like a fan.” You can rest assured, he said, the kids are staying home for this one.

Shockingly, Martin O’Malley, a self-confessed U2 mega-dork, won’t be going, said spokeswoman Raquel Guillory over e-mail.

“I know, I know...impossible to believe, isn't it? He's fishing with his boys.” Katie O'Malley, Guillory said, might be in the audience, but she isn't sure yet. No word on whether the other guys in O'Malley's March are attending.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who announced the band would be coming to Baltimore back in November, will also be at the show, spokesman Ryan O’Doherty said without elaborating. Funny, we always took her for a Phish fan.

Not going are Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Kevin Kamenetz. Said Kamenetz’ spokesman Don Mohler, “Sounds like he may be the only one in the metro area who won't be there.”

Photo: O'Malley rocking out at his second inauguration (Photo: Kenneth Lam/Baltimore Sun)  

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Tailgaiting at M&T Bank Stadium for U2?

The parking lots at M&T Bank Stadium will swell up with people this afternoon as if the Ravens were back in season.

They'll be there in anticipation of the U2 show. Tailgating parties are supposedly starting around 3 p.m., according to my super informal twitter survey.

WNST is at least throwing a slightly more organized party starting at noon at the Tiki Barge. They're planning on moving to Stalking Horse at 4 p.m. and then making their way to the stadium. 

Who else has tailgaiting plans for U2?

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:34 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

June 21, 2011

U2 stage being assembled at M&T Bank Stadium

A dispatch from the press conference is here, and a photo gallery is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

U2 show at M&T Bank Stadium previewed at Tuesday press conference

Live Nation and M&T Bank Stadium gave local media a preview of the massive, four-legged stage the band will use Wednesday night. Jennifer Davis was there and reports:

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, tour director Craig Evans discussed the size of U2's stage on the 360-degree tour and how it was installed. 

He also confirmed that 1,500 extra tickets were released to Ticketmaster for the show. 

U2's stage consists of a four-legged steel structure that is 90 feet tall, with its central pylon reaching 150 feet tall. It is clad in "a Formula 1 motor racing fabric" that appears green in daylight, and changes colors at night.

The set also features a cylindrical video screen that, when open, encompasses 14,000 square feet. It weighs close to 54 tons and is made up of 1 million pieces.

Evans said the stage is so big it's actually installed days before the concert takes place. The first day is dedicated to installing the steel flooring system on the field, which is needed to support the rest of the structure.  And the steel structure requires an additional four days to build. A production day follows, where the screen, stage and production equipment are brought in.

On average, the size of the tour crew is anywhere between 380 to 520 people. For this event, Evans hired about 1,500 local workers to control security, act as stagehands, and work the concessions. Once the show date has come and passed, it requires two full days to dismantle the set.

Evans said the band came up with the stage concept at the end of their Vertigo tour in 2006. The four band members and their longtime show director Willie Williams were out at dinner one night when they first discussed a vision for a 360-degree stadium. They sketched it out, and using their dinner forks, made a model.

The entire design and process is “very ambitious,” Evans said, but the band wanted to “make [the set] so big to make the stadium feel smaller” and the concert more intimate. He also said the runway will sliver around the audience so that the band can interact with eager fans.

Larry Rosen, vice president of broadcasting for the Baltimore Ravens, said his staff actually has very little control of the concert. Because of piracy fears, the band and its management chose to control most everything concerning the performance. Rosen said his team takes care of logistics unrelated to the actual performance, such as restrooms, traffic, weather and advertisements.

U2 should be proud to know that five fans are already waiting in line for Wednesday’s performance.

Beth Nabi of Florida and Casey Frary made their way to Baltimore from Washington just for the concert. They have been waiting in line since 9 a.m. and plan on taking turns guarding their spot until the show with sandwiches from Jimmy John’s and burgers from Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

Nabi says she discovered her love for U2 more than twenty years ago. On her endearingly named blog,, she writes, “Sure, going to eight concerts spanning the continent sounds a little ridiculous, but the right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear."

Photo: Workers finish assembling the massive stage for the June 22 U2 360-Degree concert at M&T (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun) See more photos here.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Today's Nightlife Photo: A preview of U2's stage at M&T Bank Stadium

Live Nation and M&T Bank Stadium today gave local media a preview of U2's massive, four-legged stage. At a press conference, tour director Craig Evans also said 1,500 extra tickets have been released for the Wednesday show and are already available on Ticketmaster. Our photo gallery has more pictures from the preview.
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:46 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Rapdragons, Height with Friends, AK Slaughter to perform at fifth Rap Round Robin

This year's Rap Round Robin has a line-up, and it includes Rapdragons, Height with Friends, AK Slaughter and Mickey Free.

The show, now in its fifth year, will take place August 19 at the Floristree.

One of the organizers sent me the full bill, which was finished late last week.

Performers at the Fifth Annual All Rap Round Robin:

Mania Music Group
Height With Friends
Soul Cannon
The Plural MC
PT Burnem
Disturbed Individuals w/ Ricky Rabbit
King Rhythm
Mickey Free and Secret Weapon Dave
AK Slaughter
Ooh of Brown Fish with seeWEED

Tickets, at $7, will be sold at the door.

Photo:  Height, from second left, and Emily Slaughter, Mickey Freeland and musician Travis Allen, left. (Kenneth Lam/Baltimore Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Concert news: Stevie Nicks, Toby Keith, Jeff Mangum, Erasure, Martin Lawrence

Stevie Nicks is thankfully back on tour.

She has a new album out, "In Your Dreams," and will kick off the new tour in Denver August 9. 

Nicks, who last toured with Rod Stewart, was one of the first performers to embrace the double-bill model Live Nation, some independent promoters and many artists are pushing this year. 

Nicks will perform at Jiffy Lube Live September 3. Tickets, starting at $26, go on sale Friday. 

Jiffy Lube, which just hosted Jason Aldean, will host another country superstar September 10. 

Toby Keith will perform there as part of his "Locked & Loaded" tour, which sounds very ominous for a concert. Tickets, starting at $29, go on sale Friday. 

Jeff Mangum announced Monday five new shows in the United States, and Baltimore has two of them. Mangum will be at 2640 Space September 26 and 27. Tickets, at $27, go on sale Wednesday.

Erasure will go on tour for the first time in five years in August. The tour, which promotes new album "Tomorrow's World," stops by the 9:30 Club September 6 and 7. Ticket information is not available yet. 

Martin Lawrence will perform at 1st Mariner Arena August 21. The venue and promoter have not sent out any press releases about the show with ticket information. I saw a flier about it last week while at the Sade concert.

Incubus will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion September 11. Tickets, which start at $40, go on sale June 17. 

Photo: Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift performing at the Grammys last year (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News

June 20, 2011

Share your favorite U2 memory

"I literally cry at every U2 concert. There is a powerful energy that you cannot help but feel."

That's how much U2 fan Jason Siemer loves U2.

The band's fans are many and extremely devoted. When I asked for superfans last week for a story previewing the concert, I didn't anticipate all the e-mails I'd be flooded with. I'm still getting some of them. Thanks!

Some of those fans, like Siemer, are quoted in today's story about the show.

But if you weren't, here's your space to tell us why you love U2, where you're coming from to see the show, how many times you've seen them live, and your favorite U2 concert memory.

The comments are yours. 

The show is likely to be special for another reason: it may be one of the last music concerts M&T Bank Stadium gets to host. The stadium concert as a concept is on the wane, as we reported last year when the U2 show was announced. 

Photo: Jason Siemer poses with U2 memorabilia. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:48 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Random stuff

Roots Festival schedule released; Talib Kweli to close festival Saturday night

Talib Kweli, Chuck Brown and Anthony David will perform Saturday at Baltimore's first Roots Festival.

The multi-faceted event, which started June 22 and also includes an outdoor festival and workshops at community centers in West Baltimore and MICA, is meant to draw attention to the area in West Baltimore affected by the unsuccessful "Highway to Nowhere" project. 

On Saturday, it's the music portion of the event, which will take place over the 52 acres of green space that sits atop the "Highway to Nowhere," specifically at Franklin and N. Gilmor streets.

The schedule for the main stage, where the headliners will perform, is below. Organizers recently posted it on the festival's website. 


3 p.m. - Chuck Brown

5 p.m. - Anthony David

7 p.m. - Sunni Patterson

7:30 p.m. - Southern Roots Collective

9 p.m. - Talib Kweli

There will also be two other stages. Organizers have a comprehensive schedule of other acts on their website.

Photo: Talib Kweli performing in 2009 (Reuters)
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:09 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music

June 20 - 26 in Baltimore nightlife: Good Charlotte, U2, Talib Kweli, Roots Festival

Well, it's finally here - the week when U2 plays Baltimore. If you've passed by M&T Stadium, you've no doubt seen part of their massive stage already up. In today's paper, we talk to some of the band's super-fans. And tomorrow, the media will have their first up-close look at the stage as it's been set up. Coming up: a longer Q&A with tour director Craig Evans than the one we did in May, as well as a review of the show itself, which takes place Wednesday. Elsewhere this week: Good Charlotte, Chuck Brown, Talib Kweli and Roots Fest, and Sloan.

On Monday, Good Charlotte performs at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. Benji Madden talked about the making of their new album in an interview last week. 6:30 p.m. $25.

On Tuesday, the Ottobar, at 2549 N.Howard Street, plays the Newlywed Game. 9:30 p.m. No cover. Also: Charm City Art Space hosts some five bands, including Expire and Take Offense. No cover listed. 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, a young, untested Irish band with dreams of Broadway performs at M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell St. 7 p.m. Tickets start at $43.80.

On Thursday, the Matrimonials release their new CD at Golden West Cafe, 1105 W 36th St. The Shackletons will also perform. 10 p.m. $5.

On Friday, Jukebox Zeros and The Ripovs perform at Sidebar Tavern, 218 East Lexington St. 9 p.m. No cover listed.


On Saturday, Talib Kweli, Chuck Brown and Anthony David will perform at Baltimore's 1st Roots Festival at Franklin and N. Gilmor streets. Expect an interview with Chuck Brown later this week. Brown performs at 3 p.m. and Talib Kweli at 9 p.m. Free. Also: Sloan performs at the Ottobar.  8 p.m. $15.

On Sunday,  the second day of Latino Fest ends at Patterson Park, 200 S. Linwood Ave. Starts at noon until 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:29 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

June 17, 2011

Photo gallery: Sade in concert at 1st Mariner Arena June 16

Sade performed at 1st Mariner Arena June 16. A photo gallery of the show is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 8:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert Photo Gallery

Sade kicks off her American tour in spectacular fashion at Baltimore's 1st Mariner

Alright, stop looking. They're not gonna get any better than this. Sade at 1st Mariner, the first show of her new tour's American leg, is the best concert of the year.

Rihanna's was good, but it was amateur hour in comparison. U2's will be bigger, but it will not exceed the sheer transcendence of the Sade live experience.

The woman performs live rarely; her last major tour was a decade ago. And she's not even an occasional performer on the awards show circuit or singing competition shows. Few profiles of her fail to include the word "reclusive." It was likely that many in the crowd had probably not caught even her last tour. 

Some headliners tour every two years, others - U2, Madonna, Springsteen - loom so large in the culture that it's exciting just to see them in concert. But, Sade's concerts have the makings of natural phenomena that happen once a decade. They come so rarely, she feels like pop's Halley's comet.

At that pace, seeing her perform is itself a privilege, an experience unlikely to be repeated, literally, for another ten years. One of the remarkable moments of the concert happened in the half hour past her announced 9 p.m. entrance time, when the anticipation at 1st Mariner was palpable. It was difficult not to be caught up in the collective euphoria of the impatient crowd.

The singer, however, did not coast on the adulation of a crowd that would have swooned even if she'd sung Creed covers. Her two-hour show was a success because, after all the flashy, gimmicky shows pop stars have been staging this past year, this was a palette cleanser.

There was no DJ on stage. No prop cars made any appearances. She did not wear an LCD dress broadcasting a rainbow screensaver. It was remarkable for the stuff it didn't have. The concert's producers relied on smart, visually engaging stagecraft that otherwise enhanced the band and singer's performance, rather than overwhelm it.

The crowd had been waiting for a while when without any notice, the lights dimmed, everyone stood up, erupted in cheers and Sade emerged from a runway from underneath the stage to sing "Soldier of Love." Her band - which included to drummers, a keyboardist, a saxophone player, two back-up singers, and three guitarists - was also lifted from underneath.

Except for a jumbo-sized screen showing some of her videos, she sang the single and those that followed on a mostly bare stage. Her costume was equally sparse: a black body suit, enormous hoop earrings, and red lipstick.

After she finished the first number, the crowd did not allow her to speak for a full minute of screaming in unison. "I wanna take you back where it all started," she said, and she wasn't kidding. The concert including selections from all her albums, and only a handful, like the first number, from the new one.

An early highlight was "In Another Time," when she sat by the keyboardist and turned the arena into a lounge. 1st Mariner has scarcely felt more intimate. She did somehing similar later on "Jezebel," where she had almost no accompanimrnt except for the saxophonist, the night's other star.  "Kiss of Life," an ultra-romantic ballad, was another early highlight.

For "Smooth Operator," images evoking classic noir were projected on stage, a nice twist that updated a familiar song, at least visually. This was also the first of several costume changes. The band changed into suits and she into a men's suit sans blazer.

She sang "Bring Me Home" behind a translucent scrim, making her look like an apparition, especially when seen on the replay screens. It was a frest effect that gave he performance a spectral quality, fitting for a singer who disappears for as long as she does.  On "Is it a Crime?", red curtains unfurled from the ceiling, setting up a dramatic tableau.

There was ample room for the staging to be dull, a showcase for her catalog of ballads, but the smart production on songs like this one and "Smooth Operator," coupled with elaborate lighting, prevented that from happening. It was visually interesting without having to resort to pyrotechnics or giant hallucinogenic brownies.

"Jezebel" and "Is it a Crime?" were two stand-out performances, both evocative and regretful, and powerfully sung. Taken together, the performances in the noir section of the concert underscored the notion that this might just be one of those shows you'd talk about for years.

Which why it was so remarkable to see the heavy-set man in front of me, clearly reviewing the show, playing Scrabble on Facebook. He stopped at one point, but it was only to play Angry Birds. (Fun game: who was that guy? A hint!)

The last section of the show began with "Morning Bird," a new song, that she sang barefoot in a shiny, white, floor-length gown that stayed as her costume until the encore.  The song came after a couple of pretty but forgettable ballads, and a rousing "Paradise," where her back-up dancers took over the stage and egged the crowd on to sing together.

"Morning Bird" is a somber song, and set the tone for the melancholy numbers that followed, including "The King of Sorrow" and "The Sweetest Taboo." But the section culminated on an incredible moment when Sade was absolutely alone on stage singing "Pearls" and a massive, blazing sun towered over in the video screen behind her.

The crowd gave her a three-minute standing ovation to get her to return for the encore. Her choice, "Cherish the Day," was an apt one. I think everyone left feeling they had just witnessed something to remember.


Soldier Of Love
Your Love Is King
Kiss Of Life
Love Is Found
In Another Time
Smooth Operator
Bring Me Home
Is It A Crime?
Still In Love With You
All About Our Love
Nothing Can Come Between Us
Morning Bird
King Of Sorrow
The Sweetest Taboo
The Moon And The Sky
No Ordinary Love
By Your Side

Cherish The Day

Photo: Sade performing at 1st Mariner Arena June 16. (Gene Sweeney/Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:39 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Concert reviews

June 16, 2011

Flying Dog Ales officially re-starts Frederick brewery tours

Flying Dog Ales will again allow visitors to tour its Frederick brewery starting July 1, the company said today.

It will be the fourth Maryland brewery to hold public tours, after Heavy Seas, DuClaw, and on the smaller side of things, Brewer's Art.

Brewery tours are commonplace in Delaware, which has a website dedicated to its wine and ale trail.

Though Flying Dog had been holding private tours since last Fall, the public tours have been suspended for over a year and a half.

The company originally ended the tours over a Maryland sampling law that many brewers disliked and lobbied to change.

That law was eventually amended by Governor Martin O'Malley and will go into effect on July 1. The new law allows brewery visitors to purchase up to 288 ounces of beer to go, a statement from Flying Dog said. 

Tours at Flying Dog will be offered Thursday and Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. along with two sessions on Saturday.

The brewery will start taking reservations by phone on June 16.

Photo: Flying Dog's Frederick brewery, via The Lagerheads' Facebook.

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:09 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Brewing News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Baltimore Pride, Green Lantern, Summer outdoor movies

FindLocal lists other weekend events.
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:48 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

Update: Jason Zink sells Don't Know Tavern following lawsuit loss

Jason Zink has sold Don't Know Tavern, the South Baltimore bar he's owned for four years, likely the result of the financial burden of a lawsuit he lost in March.

A federal judge ruled then Zink was in violation of federal labor law by participating in the tip pool of his employees at Don't Know and No Idea, Zink's other bar. 

Zink told the Daily Record at the time attorneys' fees on the lawsuit could exceed $100,000. 

Writing on Facebook, Zink said June 26 will be his last shift at the bar. 

"As many of you have already heard, I have sold Don't Know Tavern. I want to personally invite you to my last shift there and to have a drink with me," he said.

He did not mention the lawsuit. Zink has not responded to requests for comment. It is not clear who's Don't Know's new owner, or if the bar will close temporarily.

(Update: Contrary to what he wrote on Facebook, Zink clarified via e-mail the bar's sale is not yet final, and that he will have more to say about its future and the lawsuit next week.)

Three of Zink's employees filed suit in 2009, charging Zink's participation in the pool meant they were owed $10,000 together.

Federal judge Richard Bennett ruled in their favor in March, saying the Fair Labor Standards Act allows bar owners to pay their staff less than minimum wage as long as employees collect tips. Owners like Zink, Bennett said, are not allowed to be part of that pool even if he worked as a bartender. 

The lawsuit could have ramifications for other bars and restaurants since the labor rights of an owner who also works as an employee had not been previously addressed in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Bennett said in his opinion. Damages on the Zink lawsuit have not been settled yet.

On his last day as an owner, Zink is making at least one magnanimous gesture. A free buffet will be provided for guests.

Photo: Don't Know Tavern (600block)  
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:39 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Katy Perry with Robyn, Rye Rye at Merriweather Post Pavilion June 16

Katy Perry, Robyn and Rye Rye performed at Merriweather Post Pavilion Wednesday night. Reporter John John Williams IV reviews the show.

Katy Perry probably could flirt her way out of a speeding ticket. She knows how to bat her eyelashes, soften her voice just so, and smile her way out of sticky situations.

She’s loveable. How else do you explain the throngs of parents and their young children prancing around at Merriweather Post Pavilion Wednesday night to songs laced with lyrics about drug use and wanting to see male genitalia.

The fans at Perry’s “California Dreams” tour were clearly able to overlook all the innuendos and obvious adult content because she knows how to put on a show.

Her Candy Land stage designs are crafted to match her fun-loving, sweet, and sultry persona. Her set list includes hit after hit. It's hard not to stand up and dance along with the pop princess—even if she’s tripping on hallucinogenic brownies.

But at the core of her eye-winking gimmicks, and poppy tunes, is legitimate artistry. Her lyrics and song themes are multi-layered. They are both sassy and deep. They also show noticeable growth. And when she’s on stage, Perry fires on all cylinders. Whether it’s with her opening number, the ballad “Teenage Dream” or the fiery sex-charged “I Kissed a Girl,” Perry can switch gears with precision.

The ride was likely an initial shock to a number of parents accompanying their children to the concert. Judging from the horrified looks on their faces when Perry launched into lyrics about losing her virginity or when she  simulated oral sex on a microphone, they clearly did not do their homework on the pop star. Maybe they thought that her cartoonish eyes, and sugary, high-pitched voice meant that her material was meant for elementary school children.

But her video skits filled with mysterious pills, and a lecherous-looking villain should have cemented that this show was geared towards a more mature audience. You can't fault Perry. Her lyrics pretty much spell it out. (She's not talking about the NBC mascot when she sings: “let me see your peacock.”)

But back to the actual merits of the concert - and there were many.

The evening opened with Robyn, the platinum-blond pepper pot, who had the stamina of the Energizer bunny during her slew of dance hits. She was joined by Rye Rye for the rapper's new single, “Never Will Be Mine.” The pair was entertaining. Robyn definitely puts on a show, especially for the dancing thirtysomething gays in the audience trying to pass for 20-year-old twinks.

Perry took the stage shortly after. She immediately made a case that her strongest weapon is her showmanship. Perry simply does a fantastic job entertaining the crowd. Whether it be her dozen or more costume changes, her superb dancers who rocked hip-hop, ball room, and contemporary with ease, or her band who switched from rock to pop to campfire-style guitar strumming, Perry belongs in front of a crowd.

Her songs--no matter how mature--convey universal themes of angst, heart-break, optimism, and good old fashion attraction. She's the definition of pop. Perry performed 21 songs during her near two hour concert.

She included all her hits: “E.T.”, “Waking Up In Vegas,” and “Hot and Cold.” She slowed things down with ballads such as “Pearl” and “Who Am I Living For.” The slower songs allowed her to catch her breath from the fast-paced choreographed numbers that dominated most of her performance. She even threw in renditions from some of her favorite songs by other artists.

It was a real treat to hear Perry put her spin on “Only Girl” by Rihanna, “Big Pimpin' by Jay-z, “Friday” by the God-awful Rebecca Black, and “I Whip My Hair” by Willow Smith. It was touching to hear Perry talk about how grateful she was to be able to attract so many fans to a concert. You can tell that she's appreciative of her rise from obscurity.

Her band cleared the stage when she sang “Thinking of You” while she played a guitar. It was reminiscent of MTV “Unplugged.” Her voice was golden. And she captured the audience, who screamed with approval.

Perry also gave her background dancers and singers an opportunity to show off their skills during a five minute performance that included the background singers belting out the lyrics to “I Want Candy,” and “Milkshake.” Perry’s uber talented dancers charmed the crowd with freestyle dances to “How Many Licks” and “Tootsie Roll.” Perry reappearing wearing a blue wig to sing “Hot and Cold.” It was a high-energy performance where she changed costumes more than half-dozen times on stage. It was pretty amazing. Then launched into “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” which was also a crowd pleasure.

She failed miserably with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. She was out of tune for most of the song, and didn't have the vocal chops to conquer this Houston classic. (Few singers can match Houston's vocal ability when she was at the top of her game.) Perry was able to detract from her vocal shortcomings by allowing more than 30 fans dance with her on stage.

Perry redeemed herself when she nailed “Firework,” which was one of her best songs of the night. Her voice was super strong and clear, and the pyrotechnics on stage made the performance magic. The crowd's cheering was deafening.

For her encore, Perry performed “California Gurls.” Perry, and her dancers shot streams of liquid foam from launchers. The crowd loved it. The poppy song was the perfect song to end the evening. It captured Perry’s light-hearted mood.


Teenage Dream
Hummingbird Heartbeat
 Waking Up in Vegas
 Ur So Gay
 I Kissed a Girl
 Circle the Drain
 Who Am I Living For
 Not Like the Movies
 Only Girl/Big Pimping/Friday/ Whip My Hair
Thinking of You
 Hot n' Cold
 Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
 I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

California Gurls

John John Williams IV is a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He last reviewed Lauryn Hill when she played Rams Head Live.

Photo: Katy Perry performing at the Grammys in February. The singer is not allowing media to photograph the tour. (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:16 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Concert reviews

June 15, 2011

Police arrest 24 at Phish concerts at Merriweather Post Pavilion

phishdrugs.JPGTwenty four people were arrested at a couple of Phish concerts over the weekend, Howard County Police said in a statement today.

In addition, three cars containing drugs, including ecstasy and pot, were seized, as well as $2,000 in cash. Twenty citations for underage drinking were also issued.

There's regular police enforcement at Merriweather during the summer concert season, but, "additional resources were allocated for the Phish concerts, which have historically shown increased drug activity at the venue," police said.

For the concert, police sent  officers from the special ops, vice, narcotics, traffic and patrol divisions.

Phish begun a two-night residency at Merriweather on Saturday. The concert drew more than 19,000 people on Saturday and 16,000 on Sunday, according to police.

Police did not say when the arrests took place, or if the individuals have been released. 

In total, 24 people, ages ranging from 19 to 41, were arrested on drug-related charges. They came from Maryland, South Carolina, Washington D.C., Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and at least one person, from Texas, and another from California.

Police seized marijuana, hashish, ecstasy, nitrous oxide and methamphetamine at the concerts. A 2000 Chevy Truck, a 2000 Saab, and a Honda motorcycle containing drugs were also seized.

Some Midnight Sun readers who were at Merriweather over the weekend commented on the show earlier this week.

Photo: Howard County police search a man's car before a Phish concert Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion (Steve Ruark/Special to The Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:27 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Music News

Seeking U2 superfans

We're working on a story to preview U2's performance at M&T Bank Stadium next week and we're looking for superfans who either live in the area or are traveling in for the show. If you're interested in speaking with us, e-mail me,, or Chris Kaltenbach,
Posted by Erik Maza at 11:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Random stuff

June 14, 2011

Barfly's, the old Rafters, is finally open

Barfly's, the old Rafters, is finally open, a few months after it was originally supposed to debut.

The bar, located in the Fort Avenue-Riverside neighborhood (620 E. Fort Ave), had a soft opening last Friday and will have its grand opening on Friday. 

The bar carries eight drafts, as owner Mike Leeds had promised, 20 bottled beers, and 12 wines. It is also serving food. 

The old Rafters, known for its formstone interior, closed in August. Leeds took it over and started renovating in late December with an eye towards opening in March

He said he gutted the old bar and made it more upscale. Some of the formstone interiors have been covered up with raised wood panels. 

From the outside, Leeds said the bar stayed the same, "your average neighborhood bar," Leeds said. But inside, "It's a complete transformation," he said. "Anyone who was at Rafters won't recognize it."

Leeds opened as soon as he got his liquor license, which was granted last Thursday.

He has 12 wines by the bottle, evenly split between whites and reds. On draft, he has Guinness, Yuengling, Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, Franziskaner (a wheat beer), Pilsner, Stella Artois, and Dale's Pale Ale.

He has 20 brands by the bottle and can, but plans to expand to about 40. Beer ranges in price from $3-$6.

The bar will also have a full working menu by this weekend, that will include fresh-dough gourmet pizza, salads and sandwiches. Price will range between $7 - $12.

Photo: Rafters in 2005 (Elizabeth Malby/Baltimore Sun) 

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:48 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Rye Rye joins Katy Perry tour, including Merriweather stop

Rye Rye will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion Wednesday at Katy Perry's show.

The rapper will duet with opener Robyn, whose "Be Mine," she features in new single "Never Will be Mine."

After the Merriweather show, Rye Rye, whose new album will be out later this summer, will join the tour full time, she wrote on her Facebook page Monday.

Rye Rye's  "Never Will be Mine" is posted below:


Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:32 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

June 13, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Cults at the Ottobar Saturday June 11

Cults, who released their debut self-titled album last week, performed at the Ottobar Saturday. @mariellealexis sends in this picture. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

June 13 - 19 in Baltimore nightlife: Decemberists, Katy Perry, Sade, Baltimore Pride

Did anyone go to Phish over the weekend? Report back in the comments about the band's two nights at Merriweather. Tonight, the venue will be filled out again for a show by the Decemberists. And again on Wednesday for Katy Perry's sold-out show. Also this week: a couple of local bands perform at Golden West. Sade kicks off her first tour in a decade, Baltimore Pride begins and Junior Boys perform in Washington.

On Monday, the Decemberists perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Here, the band talks about its new album and touring. $30. 6 p.m. 

On Tuesday,  Weekends performs at Golden West Cafe, 1105 W 36th St. The band released "Strange Cultures" earlier this year. Idiot Glee and Holiday Shores also perform. 10 p.m. $5.

On Wednesday, Katy Perry performs at Merriweather. Fingers crossed Rebecca Black will also show up to auto-tune here. Expect a review the next day. 6 p.m. The show is sold out. 

On Thursday, Sade kicks off her first tour in over a decade at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. John Legend will open. 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $117. Expect a review the next day. Also: the great electronic duo Junior Boys perform at the Black Cat in Washington. 8 p.m. $18. 

On Friday, Baltimore Pride kicks off, picking up where Capital Pride left off on Sunday. The Baltimore Museum of Art, at 10 Art Museum Drive, hosts the first party at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Thank You performs at Metro Gallery, 1700 North Charles Street. The band released "Golden Worry" earlier this year. Ed Schrader's Music Beast and Holy Ghost Party also perform. 9 p.m. $8.

On Sunday, Arbouretum, who recently released "The Gathering," performs at Golden West Cafe. The Moaners, Headwounds will open.  9 p.m. $7

Photo: Katy Perry performing at the Grammys in February (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:50 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

New music festival from Rams Head features Sharon Jones, Matt & Kim; plus, Jill Scott concert news

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Trombone Shorty, and Matt & Kim will headline Silopanna, a new music festival this year produced by Rams Head Promotions.

The line-up for the one-day festival, which takes place August 27 at at Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville, was announced today.

It also includes Fitz and the Tantrums, Jimie's Chicken Shack, All Mighty Senators, Grilled Lincolns, Harper Blynn, as well as some regional acts that were not included in today's press release.

Silopanna, if you hadn't caught on, is Annapolis spelled backwards.

Silopanna is joining a crowded festival season, but, in today's press release, 103.1 WRNR DJ Bob Waugh is quoted as saying, “In Silopanna, there finally is a local music festival we can really get behind."

Waugh might want to review all the festivals that have taken place already this year - Scapescape, Starscape, Sweetlife, Deathfest - and those that are coming up - Artscape, African American Fest, HFStival, and Virgin Mobile.

Silopanna is intended to be a family-friendly event; the festival is open to all ages and children under the age of six are admitted for free.

Cost of admission was not included in the press release is $39.50; tickets go on sale June 17.

In other concert news, Jill Scott will perform at the Verizon Center August 7 as part of her Summer Block Party tour. Doug E. Fresh will be hosting the show; Anthony Hamilton and Mint Condition, as well as DJ Jazzy Jeff, will be performing.

Tickets for that show go on sale June 17. Cost of admission has not been announced.

Photo: Sharon Jones (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:47 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music, Music News

June 10, 2011

Hampden's The G-Spot likely to close October 1

Hampden's The G-Spot, which has hosted a variety of performances and events in its ten years in business and most recently the inaugural Scapescape festival, is likely to close October 1.

Its landlord is seeking to transform 2980 and 2981 Falls Road, the two warehouses where Scapescape took place, into a restaurant-condo complex, says venue promoter Dave Underhill, who was also one of the organizers of the festival.

The venue's landlord, Douglas Carroll, first told venue manager Reuben Kroiz that June 1 would be the G-spot's last day before the space was turned over to developers.

Scapescape was supposed to be their farewell concert. 

But Underhill says the eviction date was extended to October when the developers missed a contract  deadline.

Based on the developers' track record, Underhill doesn't know for sure if they'll be pushed out by then, but they've been operating under that assumption since.

Underhill says the only way the venue would stay indefinitely is if staff find someone to buy the buildings, which Kroiz has estimated at nearly $4 million, that wouldn't kick them out. 

The G-Spot is planning another big show for September in anticipation of the eviction deadline. After that, Underhill says manager Kroiz hasn't ruled out taking the name to another location. 

The G-Spot has been at Falls Road since 1999, when Kroiz and Jill Sell opened it as an art and performance space. In that time, it's also hosted Ted Leo, Wye Oak, and Microcinefest.

The G-Spot would follow another performance space, The Hexagon, in closing by just four months.

 Photo: G-Spot in 1999 (Rob Brown/Special to The Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 10:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Scissor Sisters at Rams Head Live June 9

When Jake Shears took the stage at Rams Head Live Thursday night, he wore what looked like the bottom half of a spacesuit and an open-chested leotard.

Later, he wore a skin-tight, rubber wet suit that made him look like a skinny, black prophylactic. He aimed to shock, but his outfits were the only risque moments in an hour-and-a-half show that played mainly to their broadest fan base.

For their first Baltimore show, they kept it tame, as clean and politically correct as a "NOH8" campaign. It is safe to say Robyn pulled in more gays back in February.

One likely reason for the tameness of the show is that it's hard to be a gay flamboyant stage performer these days, when your most outrageous shock tactic can be upstaged by a Lady Gaga. Even Freddie Mercury would have blanched at putting a horny unicorn in a music video (Kesha!).

But, also, Scissor Sisters have always had ambitions to appeal to mainstream, arena-sized audiences. Though they bill themselves as a merry band of filthy transgressors, more often than what they're good is making catchy songs - "Take Your Mama Out," "I Don't Feel like Dancin," - that even Vampire Weekend's mom fans can enjoy.

While their songs had always hinted at sex, it wasn't until their last album, "Night Work" that they took it on with complete abandon, singing about sex without condoms and Foucauldian past-times. It played like a Billy Friedkin movie. It was dark, provocative, unapologetic, a creative peak.

Thursday's show - where they played some 18 songs - was too much like their first two albums - ebullient, sure, but too tame, a show that reined it in for maximum mass appeal; a set list, in fact, meant to play as amuse bouche for a Gaga audience, for whom they've opened on the Monster Tour.

While the cover art of "Night Work" is a Robert Mapplethorpe picture of dancer Peter Reed's behind, Scissor Sister's backdrop here was a nude Olympian woman. "Night Work" was represented, but the kinkiest songs - "Skin Tight," "Whole New Way" - weren't. "Sex and Violence," a ferocious track on the album, was defanged here as an acoustic version.

Shears' idea of showboating included lifting his mic in a show of strength, which made him look more like a twinky Jack Lalanne, and spraying the audience with water twice, an unfortunately posey move. He didn't talk much. It was Ana Matronic, actually, who played the Kiki to his Herb, interacting with the audience, dedicating songs, and yakking it up like a seasoned lounge singer. Though he dressed like a futuristic go go dancer, the stabs Shears and Ana took at choreography consisted of jumping around in place and vamping, which, to be fair, Shears did better than Rihanna.

The show's reticence is logical. This is a much bigger production than what a Robyn would put on - it comes with a three-member band, two back-up singers, elaborate light work - and actually made the small Rams Head look bigger. Playing for larger crowds now, they can't be as uncompromising as they got to be on "Night Work," which is not to say that they weren't sex positive, or that, stealing several pages from Gaga's book, heavy on the self-affirmation platitudes - "Be yourself," and all that junk.

But, it robs them of the candor that distinguished them in the first place. Ana Matronic dedicated "Filthy/Gorgeous" to John Waters because he taught the band the true meaning of trash, apparently. But, on the road, Scissor Sisters is playing more like late-career Waters. Charming as it was, this concert was more "Pecker" than "Mondo Trasho."

There were great moments. "Running Out" showed off another thing they do well, the energetic work-out anthem. Ana Matronic was appropriately gamine on "Skin this Cat."

The night's best moments, though, came only when they stayed close to "Night Work''s degenerate spirit - "Invisible Light," with its Ian McKellen prologue, ended the night on a decadent note; "Comfortably Numb" was made all the more sleazy when Shears performed looking a runaway from a Kenneth Anger movie; "Harder You Get" was in-your-face, and enjoyably off-the-rails.

If the crowd - large, but hardly overwhelming - wanted more than those few moments of recklessness, they didn't show it. They were enthusiastic throughout.

There was one more cute moment off stage when "Take Your Mama Out" came on. On the balcony, where I was sitting, a very big man - think a heftier Eric Stonestreet - sat up from his seat and for the first time danced like no one was watching. It's the kind of unrestraint the best Scissor Sisters songs can provoke.

But after he finished, he didn't get up again until it was time to leave.


Night Work
Any Which Way
She's My Man
Tits on the Radio
Harder You Get
Running Out
Take Your Mama
Kiss You Off
Fire with Fire
Skin This Cat
Comfortably Numb
Paul McCartney
Night Life
Sex and Violence (Acoustic)
I Don't Feel Like Dancin'
Invisible Light

Photo: Scissor Sisters performing in June (Reuters)

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Concert reviews

June 9, 2011

Red House Tavern gets entertainment license, outdoor seating

Red House Tavern, which I reviewed last week, has received its entertainment license from the Baltimore Zoning Board, owner Ron Singer says.

Singer had been waiting for the license, which had already been approved by the liquor board, to start hosting live music and karaoke nights, a tradition at the bar. 

The license was a foregone conclusion, it seems. When I was there, a piano and a microphone already occupied a corner right next to the bar.

The zoning board approved the entertainment license two days ago. Red House also got the greenlight to offer outdoor seating, and the use of the upstairs for catering, pool and dart leagues. 

Singer said the upstairs should open within the next two to three weeks.

A schedule of live performers will be posted by July 1.

Singer didn't say, but a website is hopefully next on the list of additions.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:28 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Concert news: Maryland Deathfest X, Wye Oak, The National, Bryan Ferry

Maryland Deathfest IX ended just a week ago, but organizers have already set a date for the next edition.

It'll start May 24- 28, 2012. On their facebook page, organizers said a line-up will be announced soon. 

Wye Oak will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer. The duo, who released the excellent "Civilian" earlier this year, will open for The National and Yo La Tengo September 6.

Jenn Wasner talked about the making of the album in a Sun story from April.

Tickets for that show, which start at $30, go on sale Friday. 

Bryan Ferry, who released "Olympia" last year, will perform in the area as well. He'll be at Bethesda's Music Center at Strathmore October 3.  Tickets, starting at $55, go on sale Friday.

Photo: Maryland Deathfest IX (Josh Sisk/Special to the Sun). A gallery of other photos from the festival is here.
Posted by Erik Maza at 12:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Update: DuClaw beers now available in 12-ounce six-packs

DuClaw beers are now available in 12-ounce six packs.

The company announced Wednesday the launch of a 12-ounce line, which seems to already be available at liquor stores in the region. 

Sawtooth, Venom, Black Lightning and 13 Degrees are the first brews to be sold in six packs, though others are likely to join them in the future.

The company's press release said the six packs are available in liquor stores throughout Maryland, Washington D.C. and northern Delaware.

We'll have a list of those stores later today, as well as any restaurants that are selling them.

Update: Below are the restaurants that carry the six packs. A list of liquor stores that carry DuClaw is here

De Vino's
Warehouse Theatre
Cheers Bar and Grill
Alonso's Loco Hombre
Bo Brooks
Phoenix Emporium
R.C. Rodgers Inc.
Rips Country Inn
The Laurrapin
Grand Cru
Racers Cafe
The Old Vine
Brooks Tavern
Pauls Homewood Cafe
Max's on Broadway

Photo: DuClaw's Bel Air location

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:40 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Brewing News

Sam Sessa's Weekend Watch: Honfest, St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival, Ocean City restaurant week

FindLocal has more weekend events.
Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Sessa's Weekend Watch

June 8, 2011

Virgin Mobile FreeFest returning to Merriweather Post Pavilion

Virgin Mobile's annual music festival is returning to Merriweather Post Pavilion, says Click Track.

It will be the festival's third year in a row at the venue, and its sixth overall. Before Merriweather, the festival was held at Pimlico Race Track, where festival promoter I.M.P. still organizes the annual Preakness Infield. In other important Virgin Festival news: this year, there will be burritos on sale!

Promoter IMP hasn't confirmed the venue news or if 30,000+ tickets will again be given away as they have been for the past two years.

Merriweather has hosted a couple of festivals already this year, M3 Rock, and the second Sweetlife

A line-up for Virgin's festival will likely be announced within the next two months. Here are some of the bands readers would like to see perform. Here is a review of last year's festival.

Update: It is confirmed! I.M.P. spokeswoman Audrey Schaefer says the festival will return to Merriweather and will again be free this year. She does not know when the line-up will be released. 

See pictures, reviews and more Virgin Mobile FreeFest info at The Baltimore Sun's Virgin Mobile FreeFest page.

Posted by Erik Maza at 6:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival

New Mt. Vernon Lounge E-Villa to open this Fall

Red Maple will have some competition this Fall. A new lounge is expected to open in Mt. Vernon in September, said its owner.

E-Villa, located at 917 Cathedral St., a block away from Red Maple and City Cafe, will be "a lounge with dancing," said owner Harold Edwards.

He said it's modeled after Washington's Marvin's. 

The two-floor bar, which Edwards said holds around 150 people, will be open five times a week and have nightly DJs, or at least that's the plan so far. 

It will also have a menu that's a combination of Latin and Ethiopian food.

The property, which Edwards said used to be a bar called Gaslight, has been in disrepair since the 80s. "Horrific" is how Edwards described it.

He said he bought it a couple of years ago, and has been slowly renovating it.

He's stripped the walls, and removed thousands of pounds of plaster and old wood. He also added some woodwork and polished the bar's arched doorways. Some of the architecture in place - like its two bars - is being refurbished.

The plan is to open the first weekend after Labor Day, Edwards said.

Some features are still in the works. For instance, he wants to add four draft lines. The cost of the menu has also not been set. 

Edwards said prices for cocktails are expected to be around $10 and between $3-$5 for beers. During happy hour, he anticipates two-for-one cocktail specials.

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:02 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 7, 2011

Today's Nightlife Photo: Pharrell performing at Sonar in June

N.E.R.D. performed at Sonar June 2 as part of a series of promotional concerts by Coors Light beer. Photographer Shawn Smallwood uploaded this to Midnight Sun's Flickr page. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

Rye Rye releases new single featuring Robyn

It's been a while since we've heard from Rye Rye. Last time, we got the totally shocking news that her album was getting delayed yet again.

Today, her latest single, "Never Will be Mine," was released on iTunes.

It features Robyn, another favorite of the blog, doing an acoustic version of her "Be Mine."

Robyn will next perform in the area on June 15, opening for Katy Perry.

Hear it below:


Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 1:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Concert news: Enrique Iglesias, Blink-182, Arbouretum, Dolly Parton

Arbouretum have returned from an European tour, and will perform two local shows this summer.

The band will perform at Golden West June 19 with Moeaners and Headwounds. And, it will be at the Ottobar July 29 with Disappears and Psychic Paramount. Tickets for that show, at $10, are on sale already.

Label Thrill Jockey says the band's new album, "The Gathering," sold out its initial LP run and is being repressed. The band last performed in the area at Scapescape.

It looks like My Chemical Romance is coming to the area after all. A couple of weeks ago I confused the band with My Morning Jacket, who's playing at Merriweather Post Pavilion in August.

But today it was announced My Chemical Romance will in fact perform at Jiffy Lube Live August 12. The band will open for Blink-182, who are getting ready to release a new album this summer. Tickets, starting at $25 go on sale Friday.

Enrique Iglesias, who canceled as Britney Spear's touring partner a few months ago, has announced a local date for his own headlining tour. He will perform, with the ubiquitous Pitbull, at the Patriot Center September 27. Tickets, starting at $19.50, go on sale Friday. 

Veteran singer-songwriter Jackson Browne will perform in Baltimore also. Now touring on a solo acoustic show, he will play the Lyric October 21 and the Warner Theater October 23. Tickets go on sale Friday. Price was unavailable.

 The legendary Dolly Parton is going on tour again to promote new album, "Better Day." It was announced Monday she will perform at the Wolf Trap File Center in Vienna, Virginia July 31. Ticket information is not yet available.

Free concert: Ok Go and Pomplamoose are performing at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall June 23 for free. It's part of the the venue's celebration of their Millenium Stage. The venue is giving away the tickets on its website.

Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 11:37 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

June 6, 2011

Photo Gallery: Starscape at Fort Armistead Park June 4 - 5

starscaoe.JPGFans of electronic and dance music took over Fort Armistead Park Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday for the 13th Annual Starscape Festival. Above, James Taylor of Boynton Beach, Fla. shows off his glow-in-the-dark glasses. Brian Krista put together this photo gallery. Our preview of the festival highlighted the five acts to watch. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 3:50 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

June 6 - 12 in Baltimore nightlife: Mumford & Sons, Joplin benefit concert, Phish, Raekwon

Phish's Maryland fans should be pleased. The band is only doing a handful of shows this summer, but two of them will be at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer, a venue that's become something of a tradition for them.

We've reviewed them there twice before. Elsewhere this week: Cults, Mumford & Sons, Raekwon, a Joplin benefit concert and Scissor Sisters.

On Monday, not quite suspended, Cullen Stalin and Scottie B's weekly No Rule party at Metro Gallery is taking a break for a while after tonight. 1700 N. Charles St. 10 p.m. Free.

On Tuesday, the Out of Your Head Collective performs at Windup Space for its weekly engagement. 9:30 p.m. Free.*

On Wednesday, Baltimore's The Bridge, out with new album, "National Bohemian," perform at the 8X10, 8-10 E. Cross St. 8 p.m. $15-23

On Thursday,  Mumford & Sons, the band readers most want to see at Virgin Mobile FreeFest this summer, do the next best thing by playing early Merriweather, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. In a shocker, the show is already sold out. 6 p.m. Also: Death Cab for Cutie performs at the 9:30 Club. For a preview, read Doree Shafrir's appreciative review. And: Scissor Sisters, who canceled their March show at the 9:30 Club, are making up for it at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place. No doubt Pocket Gays will rent a party bus just like they did when Robyn played. 7 p.m. $40.

On Friday, Current Gallery hosts a benefit concert to help Joplin relief efforts. All proceeds will be donated to the Joplin public school system, according to the Facebook listing. Event will be held at Current's back yard, at 421 N. Howard St. 8 p.m. $5-10. Also: Thee Katatonix perform at Sidebar. 9 p.m.

On Saturday, Phish kick off a two-night residency at Merriweather. Show starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. Also: Cults, who release their self-titled, great new album Tuesday, will perform at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. 9 p.m. $12.

On Sunday, Raekwon performs at Dubai, 200 E Redwood St. 10 p.m. $25.

Photo: Phish performing at MPP (Baltimore Sun)

*Post previously gave the wrong date for the Scissor Sisters show. They will perform Thursday not Tuesday. 

Posted by Erik Maza at 3:47 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nightlife Pocket Guide

Rihanna at 1st Mariner Arena, first stop of Loud Tour

Rihanna kicked off Loud, her fourth headlining tour, in Baltimore Saturday night, performing for a mostly sold-out 1st Mariner Arena for nearly two hours.

Flitting from hit to hit, over 20 of them overall, the show was a testament to Rihanna's chart dominance over the past five years, when she's become our most reliable manufacturer of arena pop.

It was also one of the best pop concerts so far this year, a visually interesting, well-designed show that moved through sections with none of the clunkiness that bogged down Lady Gaga's Monster Ball Tour, where costume changes and unwieldy set-pieces took up too much time.

Except for a the ballads that almost marred the fourth act, Rihanna's Loud was a seamless stream of upbeat dance music, and she did it without sacrificing impressive stagecraft or pizzazz.

Conscious that, despite having twice as many hits as Gaga (37 to 15 gold and platinum certifications) she is thought of as the less flashy pop star, she made a few stabs at grabbing headlines. On "Darling Nikki," a Prince cover, she played Kyle MacLachlan to a bevy of showgirls. And in  "Skin," she picked a female audience member off the crowd and gave her a lap dance.

Rapper J. Cole opened the show, followed by Cee Lo Green, who took a valedictory lap around 1st Mariner before Rihanna went on, shaking hands with fans and signing autographs. The headliner was late by about a half hour from her previously announced, 9:15 p.m. starting time.

She opened with a kaleidoscopic tableau. Three enormous pods were lowered on stage suggesting she'd emerge out of them, but instead they doubled as enormous, oracle-like video screens. Rihanna was wheeled in singing "Only Girl (in the World)" and wearing an iridescent blue mini-trench, pink heels, and a mane of curly red hair, a crimson, Caribbean Baby Jane.

Four dancers wore matching DayGlo outfits in phosphorescent pinks, greens and traffic-cone oranges. Rihanna undressed into a glow-in-dark bikini for her next number, "Disturbia," where, she unfortunately hit a a few bad notes. Later on - as in "S&M"  - her vocals were drowned out by her backing band, which included two back-up singers, as well as two guitarists, a DJ, and a drummer. But on the whole, her voice was in good shape.

A busted graffiti'ed car was lifted on stage for "Shut Up and Drive," a more logical set-piece here than it was when Gaga did it a few months ago or when Carrie Underwood floated over 1st Mariner in a vintage pick-up truck. Rihanna's dancers during this number were crash-course dummies.

It was one of Loud's several clever moments. Especially for a singer who can be as robotic as Rihanna, you don't expect her to be witty. But she, or whoever designed the show - the press notes did not include credits save for attributing production to Live Nation - put together a show that is  - until the mainly sincere fourth act - tongue in cheek, and full of visual puns.

Her best moment of the night came on the fourth song, "Man Down," a quasi-ballad that should have slowed down the momentum she'd accumulated until then but that was instead an ideal marriage of production and performance. With the stage bathed in red lights, she played up the murder fantasy song's ominousness by slowly increasing its pace. In the end, it sounded like an incantation.

She saw the song through to its logical conclusion into the follow-up, "Darling Nikki," butching it up in a slim penguin suit and an oversized red bow. Straddling a a high-backed throne, she primmed over two female dancers, one squirming while chained to the floor and another dancing suggestively on a pole.

"S&M" was a natural segue. This time, she was chained to the stage, while, from underneath, disembodied arms poked out grabbing her. Eventually, dancers popped out, and the song ended with a pillow fight. It was an inventive and counter intuitive moment that for all the earlier vampiness - even the lap dance during "Skin," the song that followed - shows Rihanna doesn't take her S&M seriously.

The next section of the show was equally risible. On "Hard," she rode in on a makeshift tank and was flanked by dancers sporting fatigues and pink rifles. At the end of the night, she played for gravitas with several ballads, a setback for a show that had moved until then at a breakneck speed. She over-emoted on "Unfaithful" and "Hate that I Love You," which she sung in a dramatic, canary-yellow floor-length gown.

The crowd lapped it up anyway, singing along as they had for each song throughout the night, even the ballads. While at the Monster Tour, the crowd's excitement ebbed as Gaga played new songs, or some of the more obscure ones, Rihanna seemed almost incapable of losing her audience. It says something about her ubiquity the past several years that almost every song she played Saturday night was instantly recognizable. 

Set list:

Only Girl (In The World)
Shut Up and Drive
Man Down
Darling Nikki (Prince cover)
Let Me
Raining Men
Breaking Dishes
Glamorous Life
Run This Town
Live Your Life
Hate That I Love You
California King Bed
What's My Name?
Rude Boy
Please Don't Stop the Music
Take A Bow
Love The Way You Lie (Part II)

Photo: Rihanna at 1st Mariner Arena (Colby Ware/Special to the Sun)

Posted by Erik Maza at 2:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert reviews

Rihanna performs at 1st Mariner Arena June 4

Rihanna gave the first performance of her new Loud tour at 1st Mariner Arena Saturday night. Cee Lo Green and rapper J. Cole, who we interviewed, opened for her. Photographer Colby Ware put together this photo gallery of the show. A review of the concert will be posted later today. To see your nightlife and music photos on Midnight Sun, join our flickr pool or e-mail me directly.
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Last Night's Photo

June 4, 2011

May 31 - June 3 reviewed: Backstreet Boys, Starscape, Rihanna, senior week, Kenny Chesney

If you're going to Starscape tonight, here's our picks for the five acts you shouldn't miss.  The whole Starscape schedule is posted here. If you're going to see Rihanna instead (or maybe as well!), you might want to read our preview of the show and interview with opener J. Cole. You might also be going to Kenny Chesney, who performs tonight at Fed Ex Field. He talked about the show here. And in a longer interview, on fresh starts, getting older, and Grace Potter. But maybe you're not going because you spent all your money going to the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, who performed at Verizon Center Friday night. Relive the show with our AJ McLean interview, where he talks about the tour, Donnie Wahlberg, and recovering from rehab. In other headlines: Ocean City braces for its yearly influx of 'June bugs.' What do you think about those high-schoolers? Red House Tavern raises the concept of the neighborhood bar, a review. Agree or disagree with Red House review? Free music from Unruly Records' Schwarz every day this month. Concert news: Nas, Damian Marley, Boys Noize, African American Fest. Maryland Deathfest in photos. Wondering where to go in Baltimore to watch the NBA Finals Sunday? Readers have some suggestions on our corkboard. Still don't know what to do this weekend? Check out our nightlife guide.

Posted by Erik Maza at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Roundup

June 3, 2011

Five Acts to Watch at Starscape: Bassnectar, Skrillex, Infected Mushroom, Uncle Jesse, Mux Mool

Lots of cities have electronic music festivals.

Barcelona's had Sonar since 1994. Miami's Ultra, which started as a sideshow to the long-running, industry-heavy Winter Music Conference, is now, after a decade, its own free-standing event. 

New York City only got its own, Electric Zoo, two years ago. 

Maryland has had Starscape now for 13 years.

Celebrated annually at Fort Armistead Park, the festival will host at least 70 of the best up-and-coming and major headliners in electronic and dance this weekend.

The full schedule is here.  Here are five you shouldn’t miss:

Bassnectar: One of the most recognizable names on the bill, Bassnectar has accumulated such clout in the genre since releasing his first album ten years ago, he's now launched his own namesake festival in Colorado. Last year, Dan Deacon was among the performers. 11 p.m. at the main stage.

Infected Mushroom: Among the scores of awesome DJ names — Shugadadde, Tek Subport — these five guys stand out. Started as a duo in Israel, they now feature live instrumentals and vocals in their shows. 1:30 a.m. at the main stage.

Mux Mool: A Brooklynite by way of Minnesota, Brian Lindgren has become well known for his own brand of electronic hip-hop. He’s now touring with his 2010 full-length debut, “Skulltaste," which RCRD LBL described as "the culmination of years of toil and experimentation, gathering Lindgren’s myriad talents and obsessions into one gloriously sprawling document." 4 p.m. on the main stage.

Skrillex: Sonny Moore started as the frontman of California emo band From First to Last, which lasted until last year. At 23, he segued into dubstep and its there he's found his found his niche audience, becoming one of the subgenre's biggest upstarts. At Ultra, he was rightfully given a prime, 5 p.m. spot on the live stage and at Coachella, he played before Odd Future. Midnight at dub nation beach.

Uncle Jesse: Heard regularly at No Rule and TaxLo, Uncle Jesse can be counted to release at least one new remix a month on their soundcloud page. The latest is the housey "Samson." 5:30 p.m. at the Dance Tent.

Photo: via

Posted by Erik Maza at 4:35 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Free music from Unruly Records' Schwarz every day this month

Adam Schwarz, who's DJ'ing tonight at Club Hippo at his monthly Deep in the Game party, is giving away an online-exclusive track every day this month. The first one, "Babes," was posted Wednesday, and the second, "La La La La La," went up yesterday. 

The giveaway is similar to Kanye West's weekly music giveaway, G.O.O.D. Fridays, where he showed off some of the tracks that ended up on "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

Schwarz said his idea was inspired by other rappers who've given away music away online, including Soulja Boy and Lil B.

"Gorilla Zoe released a full mixtape everyday for a month. That blew my mind," he said. 

Some of the summer tracks, 30 in all, could have ended up on Schwarz' upcoming EP on Baltimore club label Unruly Records, "Deep in the Game."

But they didn't because some are sample-based, and the EP doesn't have any samples except for the drum breaks. 

About 20 of the summer tracks are finished already, and the rest will be made over the course of the month, he said. 

They will be released at Unruly Records' blog.  A few have already appeared at some of his DJ sets, but Schwarz said they'll start popping up more often in the future.

The EP, meanwhile, doesn't have a release date yet but is being mastered now and will be sent to be pressed shortly, Schwarz said.

Its vinyl will have five original tracks and a Scottie B remix, and the digital will have remixes from DJs Cex, SHAMs, and Mark Brown, co-founder of the DITG party. The track list is below.

"Deep in the Game" track list:

1. Lose Yr F**** Mindz

2. I Don't Give A F**

3. Let's Get This Paper

4. Girlz Crazy ft DDM


6. Lose Yr F**** Mindz (Jumpin Jack and Scottie B Remix)

Posted by Erik Maza at 12:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

Canton's Red House Tavern is one of 2011's best new bars

It didn't bode well for Red House Tavern when owner Ron Singer described it in a press release as "a Boulder Colorado Ski Lodge."

First of all, that's just uninviting copy.  Secondly, Singer, there aren't ski lodges in Boulder, so the press release didn't just make the bar sound pretentious, it also made it sound imaginary.

But, it turned out that Red House, which re-opened under Singer's management in March after a year closed, is a great bar, and certainly one of the best to have opened so far this year. 

I review it in today's paper. 

Check it out. Try the duck nachos, maybe pour some vinegar on those fries with the caked-on Old Bay.

Singer says the barbecue he hosted a while ago to introduce himself to the neighbors might become a regular thing. Let's see if he sticks to that. 

He's planning on keeping the karaoke nights the bar was known for, pending a final entertainment license approval from the zoning board sometime later this month.

Photo: A couple get cocktails at Red House (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun)
Posted by Erik Maza at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

June 2, 2011

Crowdsourcing: Calling all Baltimore plankers

Reporter Jill Rosen is looking to interview local plankers for a story. The fad, which consists of lying down in random places and being photographed, is big overseas but has apparently popped up recently in Baltimore. Jill can be reached at
Posted by Erik Maza at 2:02 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Random stuff

June 1, 2011

Concert news: Nas, Damian Marley, Boys Noize, African American Fest

PX00249_9.JPGCharlie Wilson, the Grammy-nominated singer, and Noel Gourdine will headline the African American Festival at M&T Bank Stadium July 2 and 3, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced this morning.

At least two more acts will be announced in the coming months, said mayor spokesman Ian Brennan, one "an actor and the other is a Grammy winner."

The festival, funded this year in part through a $75,000 city grant that was approved in early May, is one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast. It attracts some 300,000 people every year, according to the city.

The Summer Spirit Festival, which takes place August 14 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, has already started advertising. The Roots and Chuck Brown, who performed last year alongside Common, Erykah Badu and others, are returning this year.

The headliners are Nas and Damian Marley Jr. Tickets, which start at $44, go on sale Monday. 

Frank Turner will perform at the Ottobar September 23. No, Turner is not one of the guys in Wolfgang Kill; that would be Frank Ocean. He's a skinny British folk singer who just released his fourth studio album. Ticket information has not been announced yet. 
Boys Noize will play Ibiza DC August 5, Steez Promo, the guys responsible for Starscape, announced via Facebook today. If the German DJ's recent shows are any indication, Spank Rock might show up. And if he doesn't, he'll still play the area August 21 on Kesha's Get Sleazy tour. Tickets are on sale at
Posted by Erik Maza at 1:43 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Music News

Kenny Chesney on what to expect Saturday at FedEx Field

Kenny Chesney took a break from touring in 2009. “If I’d toured, I’d have toured with the same songs,” he said. “The whole thing needed a break.”

But, he’s back this year with a new album, “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” that, even by his own admission, is the heaviest and most grown-up he’s done until now. 

(In a story later this week, he talks about how the album came together. Update: The full interview is here.)

Chesney, who performs Saturday at FedEx Field, said his live show has also changed dramatically from what fans remember.

“Last time I played FedEx I had 12 people with me on stage,” he said. Now, he’s downsized to a seven piece.

“Simplifying things out there has made all the difference in the world,” he said. “And in a weird way, it sounds bigger. It’s more concise. It’s more energetic.”

While his set-list will include all the blockbusters, it will also feature more new material than it has in the past, he said. There will be at least six songs off the “Whiskey” album. “That’s a lot for me,” he said. “I still believe people come to shows to sing the songs they sing in their cars or at home.”

He’s also planning on performing songs fans haven’t heard in years, though he declined to say which.

Asked about the length of the show, Chesney said he doesn’t know yet how long FedEx will be. He said it depends on the crowd. “The longest we’ve played is three hours and 15 minutes. The shortest was an hour and a half,” he said.

“It varies. Some crowds are over the top. Some nights it’s an avalanche of people and it makes you want to play forever.”

Guess you’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out what kind of Chesney show you went to.

Photo: Reuters

Posted by Erik Maza at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Music News
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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