Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Nadia Meher Zaman.

Fitz and the Tantrums gave an electrifying performance with ’80s-inspired, heartfelt sound at the 9:30 Club Saturday night, leaving audience members gesturing their love with heart-shaped hands and waving their LED bracelets in the air.

Fitz and the Tantrums. Photo by Flickr user Jametiks under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Fitz and the Tantrums. Photo by Flickr user Jametiks under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

The sold-out show kicked off with electronic music project Big Data, which opened with a humorous robotic-sounding narration that identified itself as NSA.

Big Data producer and lead singer Alan Wilkis, clad in a black suit and horn-rimmed glasses, grooved to the group’s heavily ’80s-influenced sound. The crowd found it easy to sing along to songs like “Business of Emotion,” a social commentary on Facebook, with their repetitive, catchy lyrics.

After a beat of silence, a giant neon pink heart lit up the venue, cuing the entrance of Fitz and the Tantrums.

Lead singers Noelle Scaggs and Michael Fitzpatrick ran onstage to the tune of “Get Away” while audience members screamed, clutching their iPhones to snap photos of the group.

What followed was a vibrant performance with a mix of songs old and new, including “Don’t Gotta Work it Out,” “Break the Walls,” “Tell Me What Ya Here for,” “6am” and “Out of My League.” The setlist struck a balance between somber and fun, leaving the crowd able to connect with heartbreaking lyrics while dancing along to the tune.

And it wasn’t just the audience that felt the urge to dance.

While Scaggs swayed her hips with a blue tambourine in hand, Joseph Karnes head-bopped with his red bass guitar and John Wicks jammed out between drum solos.

After dancing around the stage for more than half the set, Scaggs asked the audience if D.C. could “tone it down a bit” for “Last Raindrop,” a ballad about the insecurities of being in love.

But the crowd’s screams quickly came back when the band went into a passionate rendition of ‘80s group Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” during which James King delivered a strong solo performance on saxophone.

Stage design made up a huge portion of the show’s entertainment. After Fitz gave a funny speech about a man’s day going perfectly until he found another man sleeping in his woman’s bed, the glowing pink neon heart turned fiery orange, and “Fools Gold,” a song about giving up on love, began to play.

Finally, as vibrant pink and orange smiley-faced strobe lights filled the stage, the group performed “L.O.V” with an energizing bass solo from Karnes.

The lights went off at the end of the song, and fans immediately started to cheer for an encore. The group accepted their invitation, reviving the venue’s energy with the hit single “Moneygrabber.”

But the band had one last surprise in store.

Fitz told the crowd that “Fitz and the Tantrums like to get down,” and the entire audience fell to their knees. When fans got back up on their feet, confetti fell from the ceiling, and the group finished off the night with the free-spirited song “The Walker.”

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jeanine Marie.

Photo by Flickr user Tim Sackton. CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by Flickr user Tim Sackton. CC BY-SA 2.0

Life in D.C. is about to get a little sweeter: A chocolate factory with a philanthropic twist will open next summer.

Concept C will make chocolate bars from Brazilian cocoa beans, and its owners, Sarah and Colin Hartman, will donate a portion of their sales to reserves in the region.

The conservation project aims to help restore the rainforest once lush with cocoa plantations by making speciality dark chocolate and using Brazilian fruits like cashew and guava in its products.

Concept C will offer tours, tastings and workshops, as well as classes on chocolate pairings, bonbon-making and cooking savory dishes with chocolate. Yes, that means you’ll get to have a hands-on experience inside the factory, which will be located at 3160 Bladensburg Road NE.

Similar chocolate confectionaries in the area include Schakolad Chocolate Factory and Edward Marc Chocolatier, but Concept C will be the first factory with a Willy Wonka feel.

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Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 3:38 p.m.

Monday Mix and Editors’ Picks

Monday Mix

This week, pay homage to the District music scene with our playlist of D.C.-based artists, from Wale and Ginuwine to Pleasure Curses and Thievery Corporation.

You might be surprised to find what artists have their roots in the city.

Editors’ Picks

Film | Emily Holland, Culture Editor

This week’s pick: “Rosewater”

Jon Stewart’s film project about a journalist detained in Iran is generating buzz before its Friday release and with good reason. Just watch the trailer.

Music | Morgan Baskin, Assistant Culture Editor

This week’s pick: “Broke With Expensive Taste” by Azaelia Banks

Check out Stream Banks’ newest album, which features her mega-hit “212,” on Spotify.

Lit | Tatiana Cirisano, Contributing Culture Editor

This week’s pick: “What Is Not Missing Is Light” by Bridgette Bates

I’ve read the work of Bates before, but the poetry in her recently published debut collection, “What Is Not Missing Is Light,” really solidifies her position as a masterful poet. In the collection, she muses on museum statues of women.

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Interview by Hatchet reporter Nadia Meher Zaman.

Fitz and the Tantrums. Photo by Flickr user goatling under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Fitz and the Tantrums. Photo by Flickr user goatling under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Fitz and the Tantrums has been on the rise since the indie pop group released its second album “More Than Just a Dream” in 2013,

The band is now back on tour and made a stop at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, energizing the crowd with a soulful and contemporary sound.

The Hatchet spoke with Joseph Barnes, the group’s bassist, about Fitz and the Tantrums’ new album, playing in D.C. and his favorite dance moves to pull while performing.

Your first album “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” is known for not having much of a guitar sound. As a bassist, how has your role changed in the band from the first album to the second?

Joseph Barnes: More stylistically, the first record is more motown influenced, and now I can have more of an active bassline. It’s a lot more part and less open-ended. There are more bass synths coupled with electric bass.

What’s the process of recording like for you?

JB: Well, every song is different. Really, you just put the drums and the bass and then you layer them together. In this record though, so many things are templates from the demos we’ve made together.

You’ve done many music collaborations and projects. What is it like going from being a bassist and working with Colin Hay to being a bassist in Fitz and the Tantrums?

JB: My approach is very similar. I got to co-write some of the songs. I like to do other projects because it’s a fantastic opportunity, but you leave more of your ego behind because you’re trying to serve the song. The big difference is having a personal interest. With Fitz and the Tantrums, it’s the song and working together with everyone to be satisfied.

Last year, you went on tour and performed a sold-out show with Capital Cities at the 9:30 Club. Now you’re coming back to do another sold-out show. How does that feel?

JB: We love it. We love D.C. and we love the 9:30 Club. It’s a club that took a chance on us when we weren’t that big, and we have a special bond with them.

This past summer, you played at a lot of big music festivals. What’s it like playing at a place like the 9:30 Club compared to those festivals?

JB: There’s just more immediacy. The fact there’s a ceiling and a room and that all that energy is focused, and there you can make that connection by seeing someone in an audience. You feel a different kind of energy but you need to project that energy further at a big music festival.

Any hints about the setlist you’re playing for this tour?

JB: Just a nice blend of new and old songs but probably a bit heavier on the new record. We want to up our game on lighting and the staging. It’s probably best to just come out and see for yourself (laughs).

Do you have special dance moves that you like to do on stage?

JB: I do the pogo and the two-step. And I do the occasional head bang (laughs).

How do you feel about college kids having dance parties to your music?

JB: That’s the entire point of Fitz and the Tantrums. It makes us all so incredibly happy, and we want people to lose their inhibitions on the dance floor. The audience is the seventh member of the band. It’s all about crowd participation.

What does it mean to be a Tantrum?

JB: It just means to realize all my dreams to be a musician. Every musician has the dream to have your band make it big, and being able to do that is amazing. Also, I love being on stage. We have a great synchronicity.

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Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 2:15 p.m.

What We’re Watching: ‘Birdman’

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jarrod Carman.

“Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

★★★★✰

As a Hollywood satire from a director who’s known for his bleak films, “Birdman” could have been a laborious exercise in despair.

Luckily, the film flies high.

Promotional poster for "Birdman."

Promotional poster for “Birdman.”

In this latest film from Alejandro Iñárritu, Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thompson, a washed-up celebrity who used to play a superhero named – you guessed it – Birdman.

Riggan decides to take on a new project: A Broadway adaptation of one of Raymond Carver’s short stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” to prove he’s more than just a man who put on tights for a paycheck.

Along the way, he must deal with his druggie daughter/assistant Sam (Emma Stone), pretentious Broadway star Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), his possibly pregnant girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) and the voice of Birdman in his head.

Did I mention that Riggan might also have telekinetic powers?

The film seeks to satirize both the world of Broadway and the prevalence of superhero movies in today’s day and age, and it succeeds with hilarious results.

Riggan’s play comes off as particularly pretentious, as he’s managed to expand a short (emphasis on short) story into a full-blown, sold-out Broadway show. The addition of a theater critic who sets out to pan Riggan’s show before she even sees it is meant to demonstrate how ridiculous the world of theatre is.

The movie also mocks modern superhero films when we see Birdman, Riggan’s hallucination, follow Riggan around the streets of New York, begging him to sign on for “Birdman 4.”

“Birdman” even takes a jab at Oscar-nominated actors like Jeremy Renner and Michael Fassbender, who have taken roles in superhero films, when Riggan suggests casting them for his play.

This scene is especially ironic, given that Keaton, Stone and Norton have all taken major roles in superhero films in their careers.

Most of the film takes place inside the real St. James Theater on Broadway, which lends Riggan’s play and the movie itself some credibility. The incredible Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”) shoots the film as one large scene without any cuts, allowing the audience to be fully immersed in the action.

The camera occasionally shifts to the first-person perspective of the characters, firmly placing the audience in their heads and showing how they see the world.

The performances are authentic and bring life to characters who would otherwise be caricatures. Keaton gives the best performance of his career, managing to make his character an anchor for the audience despite being incredibly selfish and possibly insane.

Norton is hilarious as Shiner, the actor who can only really live when he’s playing someone else. Norton mocks his own reputation for being difficult on set by creating the most egotistical character possible. In one scene, he demands he drink real alcohol as a prop in the middle of Riggan’s play instead of simply substituting water.

His performance is enhanced by Stone, who brings a real vulnerability to her role as an assistant straight out of rehab who spends all her time performing tasks for a bunch of prima donnas.

The film, however, has a hole at the center: We see the audience rapturously praising Riggan’s play, but we can’t tell whether it is good. Is Iñárritu trying to show Riggan as a genius, or is he mocking the general public for falling in love with something terrible?

Perhaps Iñárritu is laughing at the viewers of the film. We’re calling “Birdman” great and brilliant, but the meaning and conclusion of the film are left ambiguous. Are we applauding something we don’t even understand?

It’s a shame we’ll never get an answer.

Released: Oct. 17
Director: Alejandro Iñárritu (“Babel,” “Biutiful”)
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Cast: Michael Keaton (“Batman”), Emma Stone (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Easy A”), Edward Norton (“Fight Club,” “The Incredible Hulk”), Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”), Naomi Watts (“King Kong,” “The Ring”)

 

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More than 18,000 people gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this weekend for Metro Cooking D.C., a culinary event featuring tasting exhibits and cooking demonstrations hosted by celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri.

With two cooking stages, a tasting pavilion, book signings and cooking workshops, attendees had their choice of what to indulge in.

It was the ninth edition of Metro Cooking D.C.

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The Magna Carta will spend ten weeks at the heart of the Library of Congress. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

The Magna Carta will spend ten weeks at the heart of the Library of Congress. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Regina Park. 

One of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta is finally on display at the Library of Congress after three years of preparation.

The document will celebrate its 800th anniversary in D.C. as the centerpiece of the library’s newest exhibit, “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor,” which opened on Thursday and aims to show the Magna Carta’s influence on democracy and civil liberties in the United States.

The historical document joins 76 other pieces as part of a 10-week exhibit in the world’s largest library that will also showcase George Washington’s draft of the Constitution and James Madison’s personal copy of the Bill of Rights.

It isn’t the first time the Magna Carta has graced the library halls: During World War II, the library kept safeguarded the document when war struck its usual home in London.

Now, after 73 years, the Magna Carta has returned.

The exhibit, designed by local firm HealyKohler Design, organizes the documents in a way that encourages visitors to draw links between the Magna Carta and its impact on American law.

Beginning with the Magna Carta’s creation in 1216, the exhibit traces the charter’s impact on documents written by the Founding Fathers and how concepts of the Magna Carta have shown up in past and present-day U.S. Supreme Court cases.

“We look at Magna Carta and those things, those liberties that come down through the Magna Carta — due process of law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and executive power,” Cheryl Regan, the exhibit director, said.

But bringing the “Great Charter” to the Library of Congress was a grueling three-year process.

The federal government needed to secure the document against damage and the library itself had to apply as an institution for indemnification.

“It is a complicated process,” Regan said. “These are national treasures and they’re leaving their country of origin.”

A curator was specifically assigned to the Magna Carta to follow its journey to the U.S., testing the document regularly to prevent the environment, and most importantly exposure to light, from affecting the quality of the paper.

And the document even traveled inside a special case built in the U.K. as an extra measure of protection.

Much of the three years of preparations were also spent fundraising for the exhibit. The Law Library undertook a massive fundraising campaign exclusively for the exhibit, even going beyond the library’s donor list and pulling more donors for a single exhibit than ever before.

Regan said she believes the extra support stems from the Magna Carta’s symbolism for the power of law.

“They appealed to the law community and the Magna Carta is a touchstone for the law community,” Regan said.

The exhibit’s 10-week showing is a short run for the Library of Congres, which tends to run exhibits for six months. The document will then return to England’s Lincoln Cathedral, but an online tour will be available for those who can’t make the visit.

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Channel your creative side with this week’s crafty events, including a D.C. Puppet Slam, a theatre adaptation of a literary classic and a pasta-making workshop.

Monday

American Authors: This four-man alternative rock band is taking their optimistic lyrics and spirited guitar riffs from Brooklyn to D.C. Listen for hits from the band’s latest album “Oh, What a Life” like “The Best Day of My Life,” which you might recognize from a Lowe’s TV ad, and “Hit It,” which is featured in the FIFA 2014 soundtrack. The Mowgli’s and Oh Honey will open.
9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Doors 6:30 p.m. $20

D.C. Puppet Slam: Looking to channel your inner kid? Contrary to its title, this event is adults-only and mixes the art of puppeteering with the high intensity of slam poetry. Hosted by eatery-turned-bookstore-turned-theatre Busboys and Poets, the event will feature performances by local puppeteers, including GW alumnus Schroeder Cherry. Three-time National Poetry Slam champion Regie Cabico, a champion for slam poetry as an avenue for socio-political change, will co-host the night.
Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th St. NW. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Free, registration online.

Tuesday

Visitors browse an exhibit at FotoWeek 2012. Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Visitors browse an exhibit at FotoWeek 2012. Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Young at Heart Photo Show: Meet 17 photographers from D.C.’s online magazine Brightest Young Things at this FotoWeek show showcasing their best work of 2013 and 2014. The photos cover anything and everything D.C., from celebrities to landscape shots to parties. Swing by for a cash bar, music and a slideshow – plus, the chance to meet some of the District’s best young photographers.

FotoWeek Central, 2801 16th St. NW. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free.

Celebrate, Cultivate, Connect at AIGA: The District Architecture Center joins forces with professional design association AIGA to host Su Mathews Hale, the incoming AIGA national president. Hale will speak about her two decades of graphic design experience and her role as co-founder of the AIGA Women’s Leadership Initiative. And stick around for a one-of-a-kind art auction featuring pieces from custom calligraphy and tea towels to a large popsicle sculpture.

District Architecture Center, 421 7th St. NW. 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. $35

Wednesday

Make hand-rolled pasta from scratch this week with Via Umbria. Photo by Flickr user Chris RubberDragon under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Make hand-rolled pasta from scratch this week with Via Umbria. Photo by Flickr user Chris RubberDragon under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Pasta-Making Workshop with Via Umbria: If you’re looking to get away from microwaved Easy Mac and hoping to hone your cooking skills for more high-brow fare, look no further. Bill Menard, owner of Italian cookware shop Via Umbria, will teach guests how to make hand-rolled pasta of the Tagliatelle, Chitara and Ravioli varieties from scratch. If nothing else, the words “free pasta” should be reason enough to check it out.
Via Umbria, 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Free, registration online.

Blue October at The Fillmore: Alt-rock band Blue October has released seven albums since their debut album “The Answers” came out in 1998. With their most recent release, “Sway,” the band is back to their usual angst-ridden, melancholy tunes that haunt listeners long after the tracks end. Check out popular tunes like “Into the Ocean” and “Hate Me” for a pre-show refresher. Harvard of the South will open.
The Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. 8 p.m. $26.

Thursday

War of the Worlds Reenactment: D.C.’s Picnic Theatre Company is putting on a three-night-only reenactment of H.G. Well’s “War of the Worlds” at the historic Dumbarton House in Georgetown. Arrive early for music and cocktails at the Dumbarton House’s stunning Bellevue ballroom. Proceeds from the event will go towards Dumbarton House historical preservation and to fund education programs, like “Advancing Girls Education in Africa” which collects bicycles, uniforms and school supplies for girls in Malawi.
The Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St. NW. $12 in advance, $13 at the door.

Art Night at Torpedo Factory Art Center: Browse Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Art Center after hours at this monthly event, which includes open studios, galleries and the chance to interact with local artists. This time, you’ll enjoy a public reception of the center’s newest exhibit, “Post-Photography: Beyond the Print,” and get a peek at dance company Jane Franklin Dance, which will perform in open spaces throughout the center’s three floors.
Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St., Alexandria, VA. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Jeanine Marie.

You might have noticed that a gleaming black truck joined the lunchtime food truck brigade on H Street this week, offering up the best of both worlds: doughnuts and fried chicken.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken began serving D.C. via vehicle just two weeks ago, after nearly a year of frying up doughnuts for the Arlington area.

Now, Astro has finally made it on to campus – and thankfully, the truck plans to stay. The operators plan to visit twice a month for the rest of the semester.

The D.C. truck has two meat options: a fried chicken sandwich served on a doughnut bun with lettuce, tomato and sriracha/mayo for $9 and fried chicken fingers with five choices for dipping sauces for $7.25.

But the doughnuts are the real draw. Flavors served on the truck include Brooklyn Blackout (a dark chocolate flavor), Nutella and Maple Bacon. The peanut butter and jelly doughnut is a filling option for a “light” lunch, and all doughnuts cost less than $3.

Astro’s popular carry-out location is at 1308 G St. NW for those who want (OK, need) a doughnut fix more often.

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Amsterdam Falafelshop, a popular Adams Morgan eatery, has just one thing to say to D.C. voters who marked “yes” next to Initiative 71 on Tuesday.

#POTLAFEL.

The falafel stop is urging customers to celebrate the passage of the ballot initiative in the District by ordering up pot-inspired falafels crafted with ingredients that look like the drug.

Amsterdam Falafelshop posted a photo Wednesday of a sandwich it dubbed “Green Crack,” which was stuffed with eggplant, garlic parsley sauce, cucumber and tomato salad.

Talk about munchies.

The eatery’s three locations in Adams Morgan, Clarendon and on 14th Street NW will award weekly prizes to the best “potlafels” posted to Instagram through Dec. 19.

And the grand prize? A free catered meal for 15 guests.

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