Posts by Tyler Sonnichsen

Writer, Comedian, Traveler, Archivist, Journalist... I would love to be able to make enough money to live off of one of these things. For now, I do it all but remain poor yet humble. I enjoy wandering, mainly.

The Cassettes: Steam Punk in a Slow City State of Mind

The The Cassettes photophoto of The Cassettes courtesy and © Shamus Fatzinger

In a world that continues to get smaller, faster, and crueler, some communities around the world, notably at least thirty-three towns through Italy, have initiated an idealistic reactionary movement. Many self-professed “slow cities” are placing cultural priority on the simpler things in life, harkening back to an idyllic time before omnipresent fast food chains and the explosion of information technology.

The Cassettes are a D.C. five-piece that reflects this world view through a completely contemporary lens.

“It’s everything that looks back to a simpler time, about the simpler things in life,” said singer/guitarist Shelby Cinca, “Being with people, having tea, slowing things down in the fast pace of the modern society.”

The current Cassettes lineup is a flagship of the members‚Äô diverse backgrounds and down-to-earth musical foundations. Cinca, for example, was born in Bucharest, came to the US as an infant, and grew up speaking Romanian. He is the only remaining member of his family in the United States (his parents returned after the fall of the Iron Curtain). Percussionist Saadat Awan, a Pakistani by heritage, wears the traditional salwar kameez onstage and sings backup, occasionally in Punjabi or Urdu. Multi-instrumentalist, part-time vocalist, and facial hair impresario Stephen Guidry is a Louisiana native, whose Boncajun accordion was handmade by Larry Miller, one of the biggest names in Cajun music. The band‚Äôs onstage attire is a staple of their image, but they could perform successfully, with nothing lost, no matter how they dress. While ‚Äúvaudevillian‚Äù is a good way to describe the essence of what The Cassettes do, Cinca hates getting labeled with terms like ‚Äúretro.‚Äù Continue reading →

The Alphabetical Order: Arlington’s Thoroughly Modern Milieu

The Alphabetical Order photophoto courtesy The Alphabetical Order

Like most bands from the Arlington area, The Alphabetical Order doesn’t lend itself to any simple description. Their songs mesh atmospheric, bluesy, and angular guitars, their lyrics range from cryptic to self-loathing to ironic, and they’ve written songs with titles like “Krakow Krakow” and “A Constant State of Disconnect.” Given those descriptions superficially, TAO could either be prejudged incredibly pretentious or very dumb. Fortunately, they are neither of those things.

This is not to say, however, that the quartet, under the leadership of singer/guitarist Gavin Dunaway, does not toy with those preconceived notions. It‚Äôs all exceedingly funny to him and his band mates, considering how he and bassist Kate Rears met three years ago playing in a Goth band called Conscious Structure. ‚ÄúI had this friend from high school who‚Äôd always been big into Goth and Industrial music, and he asked me to play with him around the time that I graduated from college,‚Äù said Dunaway, ‚ÄúIt reached a point where it just wasn‚Äôt fun anymore, and Kate and I kind of decided we just wanted to do our own thing.‚Äù Surveying their eclectic musical backgrounds, it made sense. ‚ÄúI seriously think the only kind of band I‚Äôve never played in is a ska band,‚Äù Dunaway added, noting how his experience playing in a couple of blues bands largely informs the melodic structure behind The Alphabetical Order‚Äôs songs. Continue reading →

Pennywise & Sick of It All at the 9:30 Club

Live Review >>

Pennywise photo

What makes a band “quintessential?” Or, to up the ante, “legendary?” Nowadays, the typical so-called “legendary,” active band has not released a relevant piece of music in at least two decades, and is fading away in the world of casinos and state fairs. But not all legendary bands are quintessential, and vice versa. For that reason, DC punk and hardcore fans got a real treat when they got two bands that embody both tags, yet are still very active, still making essential music, and can still fucking tear the roof off of any venue.

Pennywise and Sick of It All did just that on Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club. Both have been in existence for a combined 36 years. Some of the older, faithful fans in the crowd even brought their kids along. But despite this long road behind them, nobody in the bands or the crowd showed a single sign of slowing down.

After a messy and awkward set from Boston’s Lost City Angels left the initially thin crowd bored and impatient. Sick of It All ran onstage, and the crowd seemed to triple in size and went insane the moment they lashed into Good Lookin‚Äô Out. The NYC hardcore quartet did not let up for a split second thereafter. Even when they stopped between songs to provide a bit of banter, the crowd anxiously awaited the next lashing riff out of Peter Koller‚Äôs guitar as if on the verge of a riot. Continue reading →