Vagabon, Sam Evian
2477 18th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20009
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
It's very strange ("Or not strange at all! Hi!" says feminism) that most of the music we funnel into little girls' ears—even music written by former little girls—is about how women are petty, pretty garbage whose only valuable function is to hold perfectly still in men's boudoirs and wait for intercourse. "I wanted to make songs that were the opposite of 'Genie in A Bottle' or 'The Boy Is Mine,'" Sadie Dupuis says of Slugger, her new solo album under the name Sad13. "Songs that put affirmative consent at the heart of the subject matter and emphasize friendship among women and try to deescalate the toxic jealousy and ownership that are often centered in romantic pop songs." What!? Songs for women that actually champion women's autonomy, reflect women's desires, listen to women when they talk, and let women be funny and normal and cool, like women actually are?
After being born, which she totally nailed, Sadie grew up in New York City, toured internationally with a professional children's choir, then bounced around Massachusetts before eventually landing in Philadelphia "like every other feminist punk." She has an MFA in poetry from UMass Amherst, likes comics WITH AN ALL-CAPS PASSION, has written for Nylon and Spin, and is mega-beloved for her rock band Speedy Ortiz. Most recently, finding herself disillusioned with a lifetime of misogynist radio pop and yearning for the megalomaniacal autonomy of a solo project, Sadie/Sad13 churned out Slugger in a two-week fury.
Slugger is a pure solo effort. Sadie didn't just write and sing and play guitar, she recorded and produced the record herself in a subletted bedroom in Fishtown—a not insignificant act of feminist defiance. Despite millennia of evidence to the contrary, women in music are still relentlessly pigeonholed as, essentially, decorative. Sure, you can be a girl singer, or a girl tambourine player, or, once in a while (the height of novelty!), a girl drummer, but a girl producer? A girl engineer? Cool X-File, Mulder! Sadie steers Slugger with a serene sure-footedness, vaporizing that old lie better than any howling polemic ever could. The best revenge is to do your work.
Slugger's musical touchstones are vast and varied: contemporary pop à la Charli XCX, Santigold, Kelela, Grimes; folk songwriters Karen Dalton and Connie Converse; '90s trip-hop; riot grrrl (duh); plus Sad13's feminist indie and punk contemporaries like Tacocat, Waxahatchee, Mitski, and Bully. Slugger shouldn't feel like a revolution, but it does—in both content and execution. This is fun music about real shit.
Vagabon is the project of guitarist and singer Lætitia Tamko, currently accompanied by Elise Okusami on drums and Eva Lawitts on bass. Vagabon's debut EP, Persian Garden, was released late 2014 on Miscreant Records. According to DIY magazine, "Vagabon finds various ways to flood the senses. It'll either come in a harrowing lyric that sticks in the conscience, or it'll arrive from a soft drone that gradually envelops." so it must be true.
Sam Evian, You, Forever
As it has been said: no matter where you go, there you are. With his new album You, Forever, Sam Evian, the project of New York-based musician, songwriter, and producer Sam Owens, is here to add some eternity to that sentiment.
“This is you, forever: deal with yourself,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible, that you are in charge of your actions. Everything that happens to you is because of you; no matter what happens, go there and learn from it.”
It’s a mantra that powers self-starter Owens, a producer and sound engineer by trade who entered the scene with his debut Sam Evian full-length, Premium, in the fall of 2016. The notion takes on a dual meaning that is echoed across You,Forever.
“There’s a ton of romance on the record,” he says. “Maybe it’s all romance.”
You, Forever is Owens’s first foray into a more soul-baring sensibility and places the artist directly in the sightlines and heartlines of his listeners. The album (as well as 2017’s “Need You,” a collaboration with the multi-hyphenate musician Chris Cohen) was written on the heels of his experience touring Premium with his band and was recorded across the latter half of last year. The tours—which included opening shows for bands such as Whitney, Teenage Fanclub, Luna, Nick Hakim and Lucius—taught him much about feel and interaction. Further fueled by a desire to escape from the glow of screens and to embrace a sense of limitation, he quickly developed a new set of instrumental songs written for a band rather than just himself and recorded them on a Tascam four-track cassette recorder in his parents’ house in North Carolina.
“Just like most people, my recording studio day job had me staring at a computer eight hours a day,” he says. “I just needed to get away from the glowing rectangle. The only way to do that was to work on tape. The four-track is so limiting; you’re forced to get only the bones of the song down. You can’t do any overdubs, so it was fun to work on that with the experience of the live band behind me. And something about playing my family’s instruments in the garage where I grew up spurred a set of songs that became the new record.”
Inspired by these limiting techniques, Owens borrowed an eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder from a friend, rented a house in upstate New York, and took his band — Brian Betancourt (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), Adam Brisbin (guitar), and Hannah Cohen (backup vocals) — there to record the new album in July 2017. Focusing on instrumental grooves and the vibe he had achieved on the original four-track recordings, Owens found the process so enlightening he decided to up the ante yet again by banning tuning pedals from the house.
“Tuning pedals make it so easy to sound good together, so when you eliminate them it takes everything back to the ’60s, which is when all my favorite records were born,” he says. “It makes everything more questionable, weird, and unruly in a really simple way.”
Dreamy album opener “IDGAF” explores the notion of embracing one’s passions and pursuing one’s goals no matter the impositions in the path. On one hand a subtle stand against the current political climate and on another a call to be responsible, Owens calls it a romantic song that embodies his act of self-mixing his record: “I had to put myself aside and let the music happen.”
“Health Machine” is a crunchy, slow-burning but deliberate stomper glowing with warm electric guitar noodling, saxophone wailing, and Owens’s reverb-laden lyrics that he says detail an abstract version of how he relates to his own physical form. “It’s about the unattainable health that I would like to imagine for myself on tour. The line ‘We slither out on a Tuesday feeling tired and hopeless’ is such a hilarious picture: four people in a minivan slithering out of Atlanta, Georgia, stopping at a CVS and getting a bunch of Zicam. Health is your job if you’re touring as a musician, although it’s a job I don’t do so well.”
“Country” is a fleet, nimble driving song written after Owens and his girlfriend (Hannah Cohen, who also sings throughout the album) took a cross-country road trip and encountered what they perceived to be a dust storm in rural Nevada. “For a hundred miles we didn’t see a person or even a tree, then all of a sudden this giant dust cloud appeared which turned out to be ten cowboys on horses lassoing cows. It was the most real thing I’ve ever seen.” In fact, Owens wrote every song on the album with the act of driving-while-listening in mind, and says many of the lyrics came together following that life-changing road trip—the only time he has ever driven across America without anyone waiting on him to show up for a soundcheck. But despite the allure of the transient life, his heart belongs to one place.
“The record is about romance, and about my love for living in New York and trying to separate myself from any idea I had previously of living in New York,” he says. “I’ve kind of designed my own world there.”
Whether behind the wheel in the dust bowls of America, navigating the bustle of his adopted home, playing festival stages with rock legends, or getting back to basics in his parents’ garage, no matter where Sam Evian goes, there he is…forever.