Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Most weeks, David Hintz puts the rest of us local music writers to shame.
So far in 2012, the blogger behind DC Rock Live has gone to 13 shows. He reviewed just shy of 200 in 2011. Since he began the blog three and a half years ago, he’s filed dispatches on 496 concerts.
Hintz does his show reviewing quick and dirty: Every band on the bill gets one paragraph each, with minimal snark, some simple description, some quick context (“This local four-piece is rapidly becoming one of my favorites in the area”), a few handy references (“Maybe Robin Zander, but tougher”), and a good sense of how the music works in the particular room it’s in. Of Fredericksburg, Va., band Ceremony, Hintz recently wrote:
Diamond blades cutting through sheet metal with a rhythm section is how this set begins. Actually it is merely a couple of guitars blazing an urban trail on the downstairs stage of the Black Cat. The dreamy shoegaze vocals are a bit too British, which normally I don’t mind but seems a bit too obvious here. I was expecting them to ‘stop the world and melt with you’ in one song, but they sang in a different direction beyond the melody, thankfully. There is also some really annoying feedback during the quiet moments, few that they were. But with the negatives out of the way, the positives easily won out tonight. Electrifying song structure and amazing sound brought smiles throughout the club and to my face as well. There is a load of talent here and a growing cult following it appears, so it will be interesting to see how they do over a few years.
Every review ends with a quote of the day—-usually some stage banter, but if nothing at the concert entices, Hintz might quote a nugget of wisdom from the website football365.com. (Hey, why not?)
Hintz, who’s retired at 52, spent some time in D.C. in the late ’80s, and moved back here several years ago after returning from Colorado, where he worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He’s a CPA by training, “like Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers,” he says. (He still does some housing consulting.)
Every time Hintz reviews a show, the dispatch usually lands in my RSS feed before 10 a.m.—-which, as anyone who’s tried to write critically about an event ending at midnight knows, isn’t easy. “I’m an early riser and fortunately I don’t need a lot of sleep,” he says.
Next month, Hintz is going into even crazier overdrive. He plans to review one show every night in February. “I’m almost regretting it already,” he laughs, later adding, “I’ve done nine or 10 in a row before, so I know it can be done.” He expects the effort will be exhausting, so he’s planning to include some seated concerts, and acknowledges he’ll probably leave a few early.
Hintz graduated high school in 1977, the year punk rock exploded. “It was really great to be at a key age at such an important time in music,” he says. While attending Miami University of Ohio, he managed a band called Toxic Reasons, promoted shows by hardcore groups like D.O.A., and DJed punk and new wave. In the 1980s, he became fascinated by the psychedelic folk music of the 1960s and ’70s, an obsession he still nurtures by collecting rare records and writing album reviews for the website folkworld.eu. Once, he says, he almost managed a Comus tour of the United States, but the show dates didn’t work out.
He describes his efforts with DC Rock Live as “just going into the new media approach and seeing what happens.” When he started the site, he meant to focus on national bands for the benefit of friends in other cities. But he kept finding local groups he appreciated; plenty of them, meanwhile, started reading the site. Sometimes he’ll get two or three requests for show reviews on a single night. (Hintz pays for some shows and gets comps for others, he says.) “The level of professionalism is really high here,” says Hintz, who lists Presto Bando and Blackberry Belles among his preferred local acts. D.C. bands “might not be able to rival Robert Plant or somebody coming in,” he says, but when you can see three really good bands at Velvet Lounge or Red Palace for $8, maybe that’s OK.
Hintz has plenty of advice for the ambitious but not totally hyperactive concertgoer: It’s better to go to Velvet Lounge during the week, because on Friday and Saturday the shows tend to start and end late. Conversely, Jammin’ Java is a better weekend bet—-no rush hour to slow the drive out to Vienna. The best all-around venue, Hintz says, is the Black Cat.
Need some inspiration? Hintz looks to Michael Musto, the Village Voice nightlife and gossip writer. “I’m always reminded that he would go to seven or 10 parties or events on a weekend night,” says Hintz. “When I see some of these guys that work so hard at this, I’m like yeah, you know. And I see the bands work very hard too. So I try to minimize my complaints.”
Photo courtesy David Hintz