Rockin' the Suburbs

The new Fillmore venue in Silver Spring has musical acts to appeal to rockers of all ages

September 14, 2011


After nearly a decade of false starts, red tape and controversy, Silver Spring is now ready to rock ‘n’ roll. That is, if you don’t mind doing your rocking across from a Red Lobster in a former J.C. Penney owned by the entertainment behemoth that is Live Nation.

On Thursday, the Fillmore Silver Spring ushers in a new era for music in the D.C. area — and becomes a new competitor against the 9:30 Club, which currently reigns over the mid-size music-venue market. Modeled after the Fillmore East and West (in New York and San Francisco, respectively), the 2,000-person-capacity club joins spin-offs in Detroit, Denver, Miami and Charlotte, N.C.

The space has had a troubled development history. In 2002, it was debated as a second location for Alexandria’s Birchmere. Then, in 2007, county executive Isiah Leggett struck a deal with Live Nation that would help fund the Fillmore venture, with $8 million coming from state and county taxpayers, according to The Washington Post. I.M.P., the Bethesda company that owns the 9:30 Club, tried to put in a competing offer on the space, but the request was denied. It then tried to sue the state to block the funding last year, but nothing went forward.

A look at the venue’s early schedule reveals acts including R&B diva Mary J. Blige (Thursday’s opening night performance) and speed metal legends Anthrax in November. In between, boomers, jam-banders, hip-hop heads and club kids can all get their fix — and maybe a Seaside Shrimp Trio down the block beforehand.

If the First Music You Bought Was on Tape
The Psychedelic Furs (Sept. 30, 8 p.m., $35.)
The Psychedelic Furs had a name that drew you in with its mild, vague drug reference and subtle erotic intimation. What it actually meant was anyone’s guess. The dense, angry music on the band’s 1980 self-titled debut record eventually gave way to the brilliant pop of “Pretty in Pink,” but the Furs’ influence on alternative music endures.

Yngwie Malmsteen (Oct. 15, 7 p.m., $25.)
Yngwie Malmsteen looked like just another poodle-haired metalhead when his 1984 solo debut, “Rising Force,” came out — which is why I, in my New Wave-punk fervor, dismissed him entirely. Now, in my old man New Wave-punk fervor, I appreciate Malmsteen’s neo-classical approach to heavy music and awe-inducing guitar shredding.

If the First Music You Bought Was on Vinyl
Blondie (Sept. 20, 7 p.m., $35.)
My first turntable came with a copy of Blondie’s 1978 record, “Parallel Lines.” I was 8 and so obsessed with hearing “Hanging On the Telephone” over and over that I actually found the patience to learn how to properly use the switches so I could bounce around the room with the song on repeat all afternoon. Debbie Harry is 66 now and still has the voice of a cigarette-smoking angel.

If the First Music You Bought Was on CD
Primus (Sept. 24, 8 p.m., $45.)
If alien historians ever land and require a quick synopsis of American life in the 1990s, throwing 1991′s “Sailing the Seas of Cheese” into a Sony Sport Discman should do the trick: slap bass, weird lyrics about race car drivers, proto-rap-metal heavy guitar freakouts, it’s all there. Wearing a Primus T-shirt under your flannel told the world, “This flannel is for being cool, not for camping.”

Moby (Oct. 26, 7 p.m., $30.)
The onslaught of combat boots and babydoll dresses was so strong during the Clinton years that a person could easily forget there were major musical movements going on that didn’t involve Seattle. All of electronica, for example. With his breakthrough 1995 disc, “Everything Is Wrong,” Moby brought a sound — nay, a lifestyle — to the U.S. that Europe had cornered for years.

If the First Music You Bought Was on MP3
John Legend (Sept. 17, 7 p.m., $69.50.)
John Legend seemed pretty boring when his single “Ordinary People” dropped in 2005. Here was another young guy playing piano-driven R&B in a world that didn’t ask for more young guys playing piano-driven R&B. But then he started collaborating with the Roots, Kanye West and Jay-Z. Flash forward to this year, when Legend dropped a gospel-ized a cappella cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” He’s actually the most exciting thing going for R&B in 2011.

Chromeo (Oct. 29, 8 p.m., $25-$30.)
The best thing about being born in the ’80s is that you’re free to romanticize the power pastels of the decade while screening out its harsh realities, like Reaganomics and feathered bangs. Chromeo’s P-Thugg and Dave-1 were born in 1979 and 1978, respectively, so synthesizers and drum machines are their musical birthright. This means that any given Chromeo song can easily swerve into sounding like the theme to “Ghostbusters,” which is a good thing.

You’re Supposed to Pay for Music?
Joe Jonas (Oct. 5, 7 p.m., $45.)
In the years since the Jonas Brothers first captured the hearts of Millennial tweens, the boys have developed facial hair and solo projects. Joe, left, has a new album and will be touring with Britney Spears come October. As one Express staffer’s 13-year-old baby sitter put it: “His hair and his smile are really cute. I know a lot of girls listen to him, but I think as we’re getting older, we’re not listening to him as much. Maybe if he makes new songs, he’ll have a lot more fans my age than he does right now.”

Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; 301-960-9999. (Silver Spring)

With Shauna Miller and Christopher Porter

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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