Star Struck: My Convo With Neon Trees


It started with a whisper, and ended with a marriage proposal?

I had the honor of interviewing the Neon Trees’ bassist and singer Branden Campbell last Friday. For those of you who don’t know, Neon Trees is coming to D.C. this weekend to perform at the 9:30 Club! Commence freak-out.

Many people remember them from their hits “Animal” and “Everybody Talks,” a.k.a. the classic songs of my teenage years. Well, now the band is back with a more mature sound and even more to love! And yes, their music videos and style are still crazy awesome.

The name “Neon Trees” actually comes from an unlikely source, an In-N-Out Burger sign.

“Looking back, I wish we could change the name,” Campbell said.

You just choose something to call yourself while practicing in your garage, he told me, you never think you are going to see the name on a huge billboard one day. That is the necessary evil of choosing a band name.

Ahhh the “Neon Trees”— finally it makes sense.

The title of their tour, “An Intimate Night with Neon Trees,” gets to the heart of their new sound.

“We stop the show and everyone gets a hug,” Campbell joked.

Hey, 4E would be into that. In reality, the tour is about smaller venues, the music and fans, more than anything else. For a fan, what could be better?!

tumblr_mbz6nyLx5V1rx5p0mo1_500Naturally, I asked Campbell about the band’s hits “Animal” and “Everybody Talks.” You wouldn’t even know that they were huge songs, he acted so casual about them and their popularity.

“A good song is a good song,” he said, as simple as that.

As someone who still sings “Everybody Talks” in the shower, I can completely attest to that.

I made sure to ask Campbell if he would perform at Georgetown and I think he is considering it. So @GPB get on that, ASAP. He did tell me to let everyone at Georgetown know, “Don’t party too hard and stay in school.” You can’t fight with a musical star, so I guess I’ll be sticking to the books from now on (Note: Completely kidding. Forever Coca Loca).

In typical The Hoya fashion, I asked Branden one of the office’s most heated debates, even though he thought I was asking to marry him (Note: He is married so that was out of the question): Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

After going through all levels of confusion, Branden went with 100 duck sized horses, claiming he could go all “zombie slayer” on them and reenact Game of Thrones. Not the way I would have gone, but I’d love to see him try that.


Whether you like his answer or not, you should not miss the opportunity to hug this musical genius. Neon Trees will be in D.C. this Monday at the 9:30 Club. 4E will see you there.


Best Bets — Oct. 17, 2014


On Campus

The Wizard of Oz

Where: McNeir Auditorium
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Price: Free

Georgetown University’s Children’s Theater will be offering a free public performance of its new show “The Wizard of Oz,” directed by Sophia Wood (SFS ’17) and produced by Taylor Oster (COL ’17). While the troupe caters to younger audiences, the performance is meant to be enjoyed by viewers of all ages, so make sure to check out this fun classic.

Improv Show

Where: Bulldog Alley
When: Saturday, 9 p.m.
Price: $6 general, $4 student

The Georgetown Improv Association is ready to show their quick-thinking talent this weekend. Even though the group performs several times throughout the school year, this show in particular is guaranteed to be a standout performance. The actors spin their comedic tales from audience suggestions, so come ready with a few creative ideas.

5k Race Against Homelessness

Where: Red Square
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Price: $20 ages 23+, $10 under 22

The Georgetown Ministry Center is committed to the fight against homelessness in our local community. The race being held this Sunday is an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for this cause. Participants can choose between the 2k walk and the 5k run and can register online in advance or on-site the day of the event.

GU Orchestra Performance

Where: Walsh Building, Spagnuolo Gallery
When: Thursday, 5 p.m.
Price: Free

The Georgetown University Orchestra will be premiering a piece written by GU faculty member Joel Phillip Friedman. Friedman’s music has been lauded  as “beautiful and intelligent” by the New Yorker. The piece was written especially for Benoy Behl’s “Buddhist Heritage Sites” photo exhibit. After the performance, a discussion with the artists will be held. 

Off Campus

Ghost Tour

Where: National Mall
When: Oct. 17, 19, 28
Price: $25

If you’re looking for a new D.C. adventure but you’ve already become too familiar with the National Mall, consider walking four blocks over to the National Building Museum for one of its October Ghost Tours. Led on a lantern-lit journey through the museum, you’ll witness a spookier side to this impressive cultural center.

I Made This Just For You

Where: D.C. Arts Center
When: Oct. 17 to Nov. 16
Price: Free

Artist Michael Booker mixes a striking blend of past and present inspirations to produce this experimental gallery. He has created vivid oil paintings that draw from his personal experiences and photos of his past. Any type of art lover can visit the D.C. Arts Center to appreciate his bold work and original sense of ingenuity.

You Me at Six with Young Guns and Stars in Stereo

Where: 9:30 Club
When: 7 p.m., Saturday Oct. 18
Price: $20

Join 9:30 club this Saturday for a great concert. You Me at Six and Young Guns are British rock bands making their mark in the United States. Stars in Stereo is an American-based band. The three groups are sure to deliver quality entertainment.

D.C. Dead

Where: The Shop at Fort Fringe
When: 7 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, Oct. 10 to Nov. 1
Price: $35

Relieve midterm stress by grabbing five of your best friends and some “fatal neurotoxin darts.” Explore Fort Fringe and take part in an interactive and thrilling zombie chase game that’s sure to get your Halloween blood flowing.

It’s 3:30 Somewhere

330 ClubHere at Georgetown when the taste of Village A jungle juice and the always unsatisfying ranch to pizza ratio at Eat & Joy begins to take its toll, we looking to switch things up. Although instinctively shouting along to “Get Low” by the widely acclaimed duo of Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz can be an exhilarating experience, sometimes we’d like to hear something different than the typical soundtrack to our Friday night.

Georgetown’s hottest club is…

You may have heard about some stellar shows coming up at the 9:30 Club. It sounds fun to buy a ticket and go dance with your friends at an intimate venue with a live performer. But compared to the glamour and prestige of an often-overlooked club we have on this very campus, the 9:30 Club is second tier. I’m referring to the 3:30 Club, where the cover charge is a flash of your GoCard and the venue is as intimate as the distance your feet are from those of the boy in the cubicle next to you, who has opted to go barefoot. It’s free. It’s convenient. It’s open 24 hours. And you never know what you’re going to get.


Sure, artists at the 9:30 Club might be spontaneous, but here at the 3:30 Club there’s no setlist. It’s 3:30 pm and you’re on Lau 5 and the soundtrack today is a synthesis of a hacking cough, construction and anxious leg shaking. Or maybe there is the faint whisper of muffled tears. Regardless of what the club scene delivers on that day, there is always something organic about the way these noises come together. For those of you who are attracted to the 9:30 Club because it satisfies your desire to go somewhere chiller than Georgetown parties, under the radar and/or so “not mainstream,” what could be more avant-garde than going into the library at 3:30 pm to not do work? What’s more new wave than sitting back in the Pierce Reading Room solely to take in all the vibes?

I know you’re probably skeptical. You’re probably wondering what makes the 3:30 Club more of “the move” on a Friday afternoon than going to a bar on a Saturday night. Going to see your favorite performer in a small setting with a fun crowd and bumping music sounds great in theory, but the 3:30 Club is all about giving you an unpredictable show. It will keep you coming back, wondering if today you’ll get to witness another group project fight, or whether you’ll see the same shady man through the window of one of the fourth floor closets or maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a mental breakdown at the printing station when the paper tray claims it’s empty though it’s actually full. And don’t get me started on what goes down in Gelardin. The clubbing game will never be the same.

It’s 9:30 Time


Sexy. Racy. Somewhat indecent. No, I’m not talking about Kim Kardashian’s new selfies, but about Cherub’s set at 9:30 Club last week. Cherub, consisting of Jordan Kelly and Jason Huber from Nashville, formed in 2010 and has since produced four awesome albums, the latest of which is Year of the Caprese. They are most known for their bouncy single, “Doses and Mimosas”, which topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart this February. In case you can’t tell, this song doesn’t exactly boast the deepest of lyrics, but like all their music it’s catchy and fun to dance to. In my opinion, the lesser-known songs, like “Love You Right” and “Lynndenberries”, are the true crème de la crème of their repertoire.

After seeing the electro-funk duo in New York City a couple of years ago, I became a huge fan of their groovy, rather bad-mouthed music and prayed to the sweet Lord that I would be able to see them again live. Luckily, they decided to stop by D.C. on their Champagne Showers tour at the best concert venue in town, 9:30 Club, on the eastern end of U St. corridor.

Always on latino time, I arrived pretty late and only caught the last few songs of the opening act, Ghost Beach. This New York-based twosome sounds like the love child of 1980s pop music and smooth electronica, and the only thing more awesome than their jams was one of the dude’s majestic afro.

The concert was incredibly packed and sold-out since September, with thirsty students scrambling for their beers before Cherub arrived on stage. The last time I saw them, two girls threw their lacy A-cup bras at Jason’s face, so I was excited to see what was in store for them that night. After an eternal 10-minute wait, Jordan and a barefoot Jason came out, dressed with floral bandanas, buttoned-up collars and a whole lot of denim. They started off with less popular songs, like “Jazzercise ‘95” and “Don’t Forget Me” and slowly built up to the hits like “Heartbreaker”, “Monogamy” and “XOXO”. The duo is amazing live not only because they dance like a slightly anesthetized Mick Jagger, but because they add a lot more jazzy, sexy notes to existing songs. Cherub killed it again, playing a funky cover of Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close” and ending, as always, with an extended version of “Doses and Mimosas”.

Although there was no bra-chucking, their new set and sweaty moves definitely made up for it. Cherub’s concert was a great way to unwind after a busy week, so if midterms and White House break-ins have you feeling stressed, know that 9:30 is always a good time.

Upcoming Concerts:
– Sound Remedy – Oct. 10th ($18)
– Citizen Cope – Oct. 12th ($46)
– Julian Casablancas – Oct. 17th ($35)
– Cold War Kids – Oct. 24th ($28)
– RAC – Oct. 26th ($28)
– Smallpools & Magic Man – Oct. 31st ($46)

9:30 Club 815 V St NW, Washington, DC 20001
(202) 265-0930

7 Questions with Stephanie Williams and D.C. Music Download

DCMDIt was a little over two years ago. Stephanie Williams, a Science Channel employee, had just attended a concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel. At the time, she was working on a personal project, building a website that could host her own music podcast, when things suddenly took an interesting turn. While at the Rock & Roll venue, she had fallen in love with a local band called Drop Electric, but, to her surprise, she learned that the band wasn’t being featured in any media publications. “After seeing that show, I realized where the direction of [my project] needed to go,” Williams said. So, instead of hosting her own podcast, Williams’ new website would have a new focus: featuring local D.C. music.

Enter 2014. Williams’ website, D.C. Music Download, now receives over 5,000 hits per week and is the District’s most-read local music publication. It has featured dozens of up-and-coming D.C. musicians and helped kick off the careers of bands such as GEMS and U.S. Royalty. This Saturday, DCMC will be celebrating its two-year anniversary in style, hosting the largest local music showcase ever held at the 9:30 Club. To boot, a portion of the of the show’s profits will be donated to Girls Rock! D.C., a nonprofit organization that aims to empower young women through the power of music.

We got in touch with Williams to get the latest dish on DCMC, the upcoming 9:30 Club showcase and all things local music. Here’s what she had to say:

4E: Two years ago, you were at the Science Channel when this idea came to you. How did you handle building a blog and maintaining a full time job?

SW: The secret is that I don’t really sleep! For the amount of hours I put into DCMD, the website is almost like a full-time job, but I love doing it so much that I usually don’t even realize how much time I’ve invested into it. Usually after my day job I would spend the rest of the night working on my own stuff and editing the staff’s assignments until the early hours of the morning. If I didn’t get all of my stuff done the night before, I would take my lunch breaks to catch up by answering emails and doing interviews with the short amount of time I had.

4E: Did you ever think that your website would ever reach this level of success? 

SW: When I started the website, I had no idea whether the idea would catch on or not. At the time DCMD launched, there weren’t very many blogs like us out there, so I couldn’t set a benchmark on how the site would do. I honestly had no future plans with the website except to live in the moment and highlight bands I thought were interesting. I only purchased my domain for a few months since I really had no idea if the idea would stick or not.

4E: How does it feel to be the starting place for several D.C. bands receiving national attention?

SW: As time went on, I was honestly shocked by how many people were following us on social media. When we first launched, we didn’t get any coverage about it and we had no advertising behind the site. It’s amazing how much word-of-mouth attention we’ve gotten over the last few years.

4E: Have more local bands reached out to the site to build their careers? 

SW: The most interesting thing is that on top of all the local submissions we get, we also get a ton of out-of-town bands wanting to post music on the site. It surprises me when I hear from bands overseas looking to post music on DCMD, and I’m always thinking: How the heck did you find out about our local blog? It is pretty flattering!

4E: Your upcoming Girls Rock! D.C. benefit is going to bring a large local showcase to the 9:30 Club. How does it feel to host a showcase at such a prominent venue?

SW: It’s not very often that an all-local lineup performs at 9:30 Club (particularly on a coveted weekend timeslot), so this is going to be a huge moment for the music community. The 9:30 Club is as good as it gets; it’s a legendary venue and to even have the opportunity to host a show there is surreal. Having Girls Rock! D.C. attend in addition to my four favorite bands being at the venue is going to be such a special moment.

4E: The Girls Rock! D.C. camp programs and music education initiatives seem line up with DCMC quite nicely! Is that why you decided to donate the show’s to Girls Rock! D.C.?

SW: I’ve been a huge fan of Girls Rock! and its mission for a very long time. When I was thinking of possible organizations that DCMD could help benefit, Girls Rock! immediately came into my mind. It’s refreshing to find an organization that provides music education to young women in the way that Girls Rock! has.

For more about Girls Rock! D.C., click here!

4E: You’re ending your first two years with quite the showcase and celebration. What’s next?

SW: After the 9:30 Club event, DCMD will relaunch a new website that will encompass a few exciting new additions and features. Later during the year we plan on hosting another big event that’s already in the works right now, so stay tuned! I personally believe that now is such an exciting time for the D.C. music community. There is a burgeoning DIY music scene here, with house venues like Paperhaus, Communiverse, The Rocketship and many more serving as staple places to watch a great show. There’s definitely something special brewing here music-wise in D.C., and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens in subsequent years to come.

D.C. Music Download’s Two Year Anniversary Show is happening this Saturday, Jan. 25, at the 9:30 Club and will be emceed by D.C. comedian Jamel Johnson. Headliner Raise Your City (who inspired DCMC over two years ago) will be joined by local acts Drop Electric (who also inspired DCMC over two years ago), Young Rapids, The Sea Life, The Raised By Wolves and DJ Ryan Ulbrich and Van O. Tickets are $16 and doors open at 8 p.m. For all the information about the showcase, click here.

In the meantime, head over to DCMD for all the latest and best of local District music. Happy listening, Hoyas.
Photo: DCMD

Fall Concerts in DC

DC FALL CONCERTS 2013As we leave Columbus Day Weekend in our rearview mirror and snap back into the reality that midterms occur more often than just “mid-term”, the stretch between now and Thanksgiving can seem a little daunting.  Luckily, D.C. provides great opportunities for a weeknight escape or a weekend endeavor that won’t jeopardize your next-day productivity. Here are a couple of the concerts and shows that caught my eye that are coming up in the very near future:

Aaron Carter- Sunday, October 20th, 7:30 PM; Fillmore Silver SpringAC-Wallpaper-aaron-carter-19945930-1600-1218

Do you like Candy? Yes, you read this correctly: the Aaron Carter is not only still touring, but is coming to Silver Spring in a week.  While I would assume his voice is a little deeper since the last time we heard from him, I’m sure it will still be a great show. If not, it’s just time for us washed up ’90s kids to relive our glory days.

Cold War Kids- Friday October 25th, 8:00 PM; 9:30 Club

After selling out the 24th (show starts at 7:00), the 9:30 Club brought back the Cold War Kids for a second night on Friday.  If indie-rock is your thing, then this is a can’t-miss concert.  The only question is, if Cold War Kids keeps getting more popular, can it still be considered indie?

Chance the Rapper- Sunday, October 27th, 7:00 PM; Fillmore Silver Spring

A lesser known, yet still extremely talented rapper, Chance will provide you with some rhymes that rival anything you’ll read in your English textbooks on a Sunday night.

Drake- Thursday, October 31st, 7:00 PM; Verizon Center

Tired of trick-or-treating? Go spend your last night of October with Drizzy Drake himself, and hear all of your favorite party songs live.

Barenaked Ladies- Monday, November 4th, 7:00 PM; Lincoln Theatre

Yet another late-nineties sensation returns to D.C. to break us away from our stressful school schedules, and bring us back to much, much simpler times.

These are just a few of the dozens of shows that you can find in D.C. during the fall.  Be sure to check out the venues schedules (all linked above but this is a video a of cat just because) so you don’t miss your favorite band!

I Wanna Dance And Love And Concert. Not Again

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 12.47.38 AM

Do you like music, dancing, music and dancing, and being around good looking people that also like music and dancing? Chances are, the answer to all of the above is yes, so check out these concerts around town that are guaranteed to more than satisfy.

Avicii @ D.C. Armory — February 1st Rage with Avicii at the D.C. Armory. Sweat included. Read more here!

Luca Bacchetti @ U Street Music Hall — February 2nd Check out this DJ from Barcelona at U Street Music hall. Free for 21+! Information here

Bon Jovi @ Verizon Center – February 10th Rock and Roll? Why not. It’s now or never. Okay, sorry; I had to. More information here

Madeon @ 9:30 Club – February 21st Topping off our international flow is French house/electro/pop producer Madeon. Oui Oui?


Photo: InternetDJ, PopJustice, UserServe-AK, Blog.Stubpass.WP

Guide Grooves: Stars and The Avett Brothers

Guide Grooves from September 7 from thehoya on 8tracks Radio.

In our second installment of Guide Grooves, we’re showing you some amazing new music. First, two tracks from The Avett Brothers’ new album The Carpenter, which will build on their success from 2009’s I and Love and You. Next, a couple of songs from the newly-released album of the Canadian band stars. Also, look forward to a preview of Grizzly Bear’s album, due for release a week from today, and a shout out to the Dutch duo The Raveonettes, whose album The Observator was released today, yet isn’t yet available for download on iTunes. Today is also a great day for music, with the complete release of The xx’s Coexist, mentioned in last week’s edition of Grooves.

Winter in My Heart — The Avett Brothers The Guide’s review of The Carpenter mentioned the incredible feeling with which lead vocalist Scott Avett sings. There is no song on this album in which you can hear raw emotion more than “Winter in My Heart.” It’s just beautiful.

Live and Die — The Avett Brothers This is one of the emotional highs on this album. If you’re looking for an uplifting song to hook you into the album, this is it.

The Loose Ends Will Make Knots — Stars These Canadians are masters at male/female duets, like this one. It’s what made their old songs, like “The Night Starts Here” great, and it’s what makes this song special.

Progress — Stars The Guide’s review didn’t mention this song. But it’s typical Stars. And, since this album “as a whole is too similar to Stars’ previous releases to be memorable,” this song is also typical of the rest of the album. (Side note: I didn’t include “The Theory of Relativity” on this album, but it’s probably my favorite — I didn’t include it because it opens with an audio clip of a radio documentary and thus didn’t fit on a playlist.)

End of the Line — Sleigh Bells I could go on and on about how much I love this duo. Alexis Krauss, marry me, please. Honestly, I love this band so much so that one of the greatest regrets of my life is not driving eight hours from my hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., to Denver, where they played a concert last June. This song is the latest of Sleigh Bells’ musical genius.

Sleep Alone — Two Door Cinema Club The Guide made a serious understatement when they said that this song was “a definite treat to listen to.” It’s great. I which I’d grabbed tickets for either of their performances in D.C. on Oct. 2 or 3.

Yet Again — Grizzly Bear This single makes me so excited for the Sept. 18 release of Grizzly Bear’s first full length album since 2009’s Veckamitest, which was so good it drew Jay-Z and Beyonce to a Grizzly Bear gig that year.

She Owns the Streets — The Raveonettes When I heard this song, fresh off of today’s release of The Observator, I was really excited that I’d found a great new band. Then I discovered this band wasn’t new at all and immediately downloaded like 15 songs from the past decade. It’s a fundamentally uplifting song that will probably make you want to “dance in the streets” as well.

Thursday Night D.C.

We’re past hump day and its not Friday yet, but you still want to go out. Thirds isn’t what it used to be. Your friends have 8 a.m. Friday labs. So what do you do?

This Thursday, I initially would have suggested seeing Nero, who I missed at Ultra earlier this year, at the 9:30 Club. Unfortunately, like most 9:30 performances recently, the show sold out relatively quickly. For those of you are heartbroken as I am, there are still other great things to do in the city tonight. While it may not be on a crowded dance floor, dancing to music that when the drop comes, you can’t help grinning from ear-to-ear at the options in the District this week.

District Underground doesn’t have a listed event, but you can bet that some of those people that join me in missing the Nero concert will be dancing to some pretty heavy electronic/dub on the crowded dance floor downstairs. The District is in Adams Morgan, so after you’ve worked up an appetite from fist pumps and crazy dance floor antics, there are a lot of great late night options, check out my other post on Adams Morgan.

If you’re in the mood to make music, or want to attempt to perform renditions of your favorite songs, there is always Karaoke. While my knowledge of D.C. Karaoke is limited, I have been to Peyote Café in Adams Morgan and Café Japone, which I’ve mention before in a post about the Dupont Circle area. If you can get past how dingy Peyote Café is, and how expensive their beer is, it really is a great place to hangout on a Thursday night. If you’re looking for cheap drinks though, you really can’t beat Café Japone. Also, what is up with every karaoke establishment calling themselves a cafe?

Black Cat, 1811 14th St Nw, a couple blocks Down from U St, is having what they call, “Drink and a Movie.” If you still want to go out, but don’t feel like dancing or shouting over a crowded bar, this may be a cool change of pace, and with drink specials, it’s totally acceptable to be drunk at a movie.

Hopefully it continues to stay warm outside so you have more incentive to get off campus. There are so many great things happening in D.C. tonight, so these suggestions are by no means the only great things going down. But go forth and experience the city because you’ll regret it if you don’t.


D.C. Ramblings: U Street

In my year off from school, while I was working in the city, I spent a lot of my nights on U Street, and if you’re willing to make the trip it’s well worth it. U Street is farther away from Dupont Circle than Adams Morgan, but if you take the GUTS bus to Dupont, it’s probably faster to just walk instead of taking the metro to Gallery Place, and having to change to the Yellow Line. No matter how you decide to get there, you need to at least check out U Street at least once before you graduate.

Since coming back to Georgetown, I like to think that I’ve become a little more classy in my drinking habits. Of course this is a matter that I question every time I write these posts seeing has how all my anecdotes relate to drinking in some manner, but The Gibson (on 14th St, right up from U St and next to Marvin’s), may be my saving grace. It can be a little tricky to find because the unmarked door looks like it may be locked, but if you dare to venture in you will be greeted by a hostess at the far end of a narrow and dark corridor. It’s a little intimidating at first, but it leads to a dark, smoky speakeasy — one of the last vestiges of prohibition left in the city. Great for intimate dates or small groups of close friends, the dim lighting is perfect for stimulating conversation. If you start to get claustrophobic, there’s also a patio in the back. The drinks tend to be a little on the pricey side, but you’re paying for the experience.

If you’re not feeling that classy, or you woke up on the side of your bed where you keep you non-prescription wayfarers, head up 14th Street from The Gibson, and you’ll find Busboys and Poets. Its a great spot to grab a few drinks, a bite to eat, or check out some eclectic reading material before checking out other places on U St. It’s also a great place to hang out – there are a lot of tables in the front of the bookstore, it has a full bar and of course the occasional poetry reading.

This next place on U Street is one of the best late night nosh spots in the city. Before I explain about this place, I want it put on the record that my mother’s chili is amazing. But, sorry mom, Ben’s Chili Bowl may give your steaming ambrosia of meat and beans a run for its drachmas (and seriously, they have a Chili Burger, what more can you ask for?). It’s also open until four in the morning on Friday and Saturday.

Other worthy mentions: U Street Music Hall and 9:30 Club for dancing and live performances, and Lost Society.