The Eagle

Published in the April 24, 2012 issue of American University’s The Eagle. Found on The Eagle’s website here.

Aspiring librarian-turned-chillwave musician Ernest Greene took the sold-out Black Cat crowd on a loud, dreamy ride on April 18.

Paired with Canadian dream-pop duo and Sub Pop labelmates Memoryhouse as openers, Washed Out was able to transcend the chillwave performance stereotype of a dude and laptop on stage. Backed by Memoryhouse’s guitarist, a drummer with a fantastic porno-mustache, and his wife Blair sharing synth duties, Greene’s good looks and hip-hop-meets-ambient-inspired grooves left fans at Black Cat feeling woozy and warm by the end of the 12-song show.

A drawn-out intro to “Echoes” kicked off Greene’s set, comprised of songs from his 2010 EP “Life of Leisure” and 2011 debut LP “Within and Without.”

Whoever was working sound at the Black Cat that night disappointingly had the vocals set too low for the first few songs. Not that it made much of a difference; Washed Out’s vocals are meant to be more of an added hazy layer of melody than distinguishable words. The sound problems were only a major bummer on “Before,” which ultimately took away from the song’s characteristic cut-up vocal track.

The summery track “Soft” had the fairly lackluster crowd swaying at the set’s midway point, kicking up the vibes for the rest of the night. Greene gave songs off the “Life of Leisure” EP a facelift, most notably on the “Portlandia” theme “Feel It All Around,” opting to not sing the melody and giving the chillwave anthem an even more laid-back feel, while still keeping its groove factor. Greene predictably closed the set with “Amor Fati,” a track that was obviously (and successfully) crafted to be the “Within and Without” single.

The two-song encore was a complete tease. Greene retooled “Hold Out” to be even more danceable and ended the night with spacey album-opener “Eyes Be Closed,” filling up the room with its smooth sound as the speakers were surely turned up to near-top volume.

While lacking the smooth production value of the recording that suits chillwave’s brand of electronic music, few things beat hearing Washed Out live on pumping speakers as the synths swelled to every inch of the Black Cat.


Published in the April 24, 2012 issue of American University’s The Eagle. Found on The Eagle’s website here.

The relaxed Thursday night crowd at the Black Cat was treated to an evening of lovely lady singers in the form of Eleanor Friedberger and Hospitality on April 19.

Brooklyn-based trio Hospitality opened the night, playing tracks off their 2012 debut self-titled album. Highlights include the sassy-and-sweet songs “Friends of Friends,” “The Birthday” and set-closer “All Day Today,” on which the poppy guitar riffs and bouncy bass lines complemented the playful vocals of lead singer Amber Papini.

While Hospitality’s set didn’t lack energy, the band’s performance fell a bit flat. This was impaired by the sound guy’s inability to up the volume on the too-soft vocals, the band didn’t take advantage of their obvious chemistry on stage.

Perhaps Hospitality could learn a thing or two from headliner Eleanor Friedberger; or maybe Friedberger’s mesmerizing stage presence makes all other acts pale in comparison.

One-half of brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces, Friedberger showcased material from her first solo album “Last Summer,” released, well, last summer, and played new songs she said she plans to record in the coming months.

Live, Friedberger’s laidback sound took on a harder, classic rock edge, which added an energetic ‘70s vibe, complete with a fringe jacket and middle-parted, thick-bangs-ed wavy hair. Songs off “Last Summer” became sexier, more passionate and livelier than the lighter recorded versions.

Friedberger’s previous years of live experience were obvious in her commanding stage presence which mixed intensity and energy all while coming off completely down-to-earth. Only a seasoned performer can seamlessly transition into playing a beautiful acoustic while her phenomenal guitarist, who looked all of age “sweet 16” as Friedberger joked, switched and tuned guitars after a string snapped.

Published in the April 3, 2012 issue of The Eagle. This article can be found on The Eagle’s website here.

AU College Republicans and College Democrats are working to improve relations after more than a year of protests, resignations and tension.

College Democrats President-Elect Kathryn Tinker, and AUCR’s presumptive new president Josh Kaib both expressed a desire to collaborate and co-sponsor events, debates, panels and forums in the upcoming year.

“It’s important to work together,” said Kaib, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business. “I look forward to getting the chance to meet with Kathryn and talk about next year.”

Tinker, a sophomore in the School of International Service, echoed Kaib’s hopes: “I think it’s important that AUCR and AU Dems serve as respectable ambassadors to either party and show that cooperation is indeed possible.”

Clashes between AUCR and AU Dems this year peaked after AUCR brought Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to speak in the University Club Feb. 24.

Brewer spoke for 15 minutes before protestors interrupted the Q&A session. The governor left the stage soon after the “mic-check,” The Eagle previously reported.

Among the protesters was then-AU Dems President Chris Litchfield.

After the governor’s speech, Litchfield, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, resigned as president of the AU Dems in an op-ed in the March 6 edition of The Eagle, explaining his disappointment with AUCR and his own organization.

“I resigned because I didn’t feel like the organization was doing what it should’ve been to stand up for the principles of Democratic Party,” Litchfield said in an interview with The Eagle. “But that’s not a criticism of the people in the organization, but the way the organization has developed.”

Litchfield criticized AUCR’s recent events for being politically insensitive, such as hosting a pig roast on the Quad on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the club’s posting of “Anti-Che Day” fliers posted on the first day of Latino History Month.

“I think it’s unfortunate because a lot of that editorial also attacked the Dems,” Kaib said. “Whenever you see a former president going after their own organization, it’s disappointing to see.”

Kaib also said there were “a lot of factual inaccuracies” about AUCRs in the op-ed.

Litchfield participated in Occupy protests in the fall, including a Nov. 4 incident when Occupy D.C. protesters barricaded a convention center, impeding a woman in a wheelchair from exiting the building, as The Eagle previously reported.

Political communications specialist Ed Frank posted a video on YouTube, in which Litchfield is prominently featured. The video had circulated on The Daily Caller and AU students’ social networks.

“The reason why I stepped back in a lot of ways wasn’t to concede on the things I believe, it’s because we had people busting their asses on things we cared about, and I felt pissed for them because they weren’t getting any recognition,” Litchfield told The Eagle.

The Right Wing targets Litchfield

Litchfield has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny for his involvement in protests on campus and off campus from AUCR and a conservative blog run by members of AUCR, The Right Wing.

Read More

Published in the March 27, 2012 issue of American University’s campus newspaper The Eagle. Found on The Eagle‘s website here.

Clubs received less funding than they expected this month due to a budget miscommunication between AU Club Council and Student Activities.

Karen Gerlach, director of Student Activities, said AUCC misinterpreted their $145,000 total budget as their allocation budget.

AUCC has two main expenses:

  • Allocation budget — money given out to other clubs
  • Operating costs — money spent on AUCC staff salaries, equipment and supplies

AUCC had allocated an average of $29,000 each budget cycle, about every two months, according to AUCC Chair Ki’tay Davidson, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs. However, doing so for each budget cycle caused AUCC to use all $145,000 without paying for its operating costs.

Student Activities holds all of AUCC’s money and distributes the funds into clubs’ accounts based on AUCC’s recommendations.

As a result of the budget misinterpretation, AUCC was unable to give clubs the amount of money they asked for in February and March, according to a March email from AUCC and Student Activities to clubs.

Clubs also asked for more money than expected. Davidson said clubs requested almost $120,000 in funds for February and March allocations.

To fix their misappropriation of funds, AUCC used funds from their restricted account, or money leftover from previous years, to supplement their allocation budget.

AUCC gives out funds for clubs five times an academic year, three times in the fall semester and twice in the spring. Before this school year, AUCC only allocated money to clubs once each semester, according to Gerlach.

The AUCC allocation budget functions as a pool, and each cycle the allocations are pulled from that pool until it is depleted.

“Because they do rolling budgets, it didn’t make an impact until they got close to the end of the money that’s in there,” Gerlach said.

Davidson said AUCC wanted to act strategically and proportionally when allocating funds.

Clubs that did not have money in their accounts before the February and March allocations will receive their requested funds first over clubs that already have money, and smaller clubs with fewer members will received funds proportional to the club’s size and event plans.

“We tried really hard to ensure clubs got what they need,” said Davidson, adding that AUCC met with 30 to 40 clubs for budget hearings.

About seven of AU’s 240 clubs have emailed AUCC to complain about funding, Davidson said. Clubs that experienced issues include AU College Democrats and Relay for Life.

AU College Democrats Executive Director Rachel Mariman said College Dems leaders met with Davidson and AUCC to discuss their budget.

College Democrats received $1,000 less than they expected in funding, Mariman said, adding the club was “lucky” that their end of the year banquet is their only major event affected.

Davidson said AUCC found the best solution to meet clubs’ needs.

“I’m proud we did it in such a financially responsible and efficient manner,” Davidson said.

Staff writer Zach C. Cohen contributed to this report.

Published in the March 6, 2012 edition of The EagleFound on The Eagle’s website here.

On the walk north on Massachusetts Avenue toward campus, the sidewalk, grass and bushes are littered with cigarette butts, empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and torn plastic bags.

Scott Berman, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and former president of student sustainability group Eco-Sense, decided to do something about the litter.

Berman organized the AU Community Trash Cleanup on the sunny afternoon of March 1, targeting the areas around Ward Circle and the Department of Homeland Security.

He plans on making the community cleanup a weekly event.

“There are enough AU students that live over this way and that use the shuttle stop that should be identifying with this as sort of their home,” Berman said. “And I don’t think anyone would tolerate somebody going into their backyard and dumping trash there.”

Berman reached out to Student Government and the Community Service Coalition to promote the event and help Eco-Sense in the cleanup. The cleanup will also contribute to AU’s ongoing battle to win Recyclemania, an annual national competition that encourages students to recycle.

AU ranked third in Recylemania in 2010.

“Picking it up by myself won’t change anything, but having people and groups join in can make more of a difference,” Berman said.

SG President Tim McBride and Secretary Kevin Sutherland lent a hand to the cleanup effort.

“This is where we live,” McBride said. “It’s not just for the neighbors, it’s for us.”

After 30 minutes of clean up, the group of seven students collected enough Solo cups, Natural Light cans, soda bottles, chip bags, a margarita mix bottle and more to almost fill two garbage bags.

Eco-Sense often organizes trash cleanups, tree planting and other environmental community service activities off-campus. Berman hopes the trash cleanup will connect the club and its goals directly to AU. Berman said he wants to extend the weekly cleanup’s reach on New Mexico Avenue and possibly on campus.

“As AU students it’s important for us to keep our area clean, and be responsible for our neighborhood,” Jenna Mitchell, a sophomore in CAS said. “And any trash in any sort of environment is not beneficial.”

Mitchell was walking from campus on Massachusetts Avenue when she saw Berman and company picking up trash and decided to help out. Berman said that was the main goal of the cleanup — for other students to notice the cleanup, see the amount of trash on the ground and join in.

“Each week we can do this clean up and hopefully reduce the amount [of trash] there,” Berman said. “But over time if people notice that it’s there and feel that they don’t want to put anything there in the first place, then that would be even more ideal.”

Camille Bogrand, a senior in CAS and a member of Eco-Sense, also joined the trash cleanup efforts to give back to the AU area.

“I can make a difference, even if it’s a small difference,” Bogrand said. “It adds up.”

Published in the February 14, 2012 edition of The Eagle. Found on The Eagle’s website here.

WAMU 88.5’s airwaves will have a new place to call home as soon as early 2013.

AU signed a contract to purchase a new building for the station at 4401 Connecticut Ave. NW last week.

The station is currently located at 4000 Brandywine St. NW in Tenleytown, its headquarters since 1993 when the station had only 60 full- and part-time employees and a budget of $4.1 million.

“The station has experienced tremendous growth – 400-500 percent in the past 19 years – and a major thing holding us back over the last couple of years has been the limitations of our current space, which we’ve outgrown,” WAMU’s General Manager Caryn G. Mathes said in an email.

The noncommercial news and information station hosts NPR’s nationally syndicated “The Diane Rehm Show,” carries multiple frequencies including 88.5-1 WAMU’s Bluegrass Country music programming and holds a local connection with award-winning programming like “Metro Connection” and “The Kojo Nnamdi Show.”

AU Chief of Staff David Taylor said the search for a new space has been in the works for a while.

“This opportunity has been a long time coming,” he said.

He adds the new building is “attractive” and gives WAMU 88.5 the “space to grow into on a major thoroughfare into Washington.”

“The new building is a great find,” Taylor said.

Mathes said the new Connecticut Ave property and increased space offer the station opportunities to expand its programming and production on the air and on the Web in order to become a “world-class” radio station.

In the past, WAMU had to turn down opportunities for national programming due to tight space in the Brandywine building.

“Now that limitation has been removed, and we can consider future opportunities purely on the merits, rather than through the prism of logistical constraints of our workspace,” Mathes said.

WAMU will also occupy space on the building’s first floor, allowing for street-level visibility.

“One of the features being planned for the new home is a ‘street peek’ into the newsroom to allow passers-by to see our reporters at work,” Taylor said.

The first floor also opens up potential for live Bluegrass Country concerts and new ways to broadcast popular programs such as “The Diane Rehm Show” or “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” to the community, according to Mathes.

“The possibilities are exciting,” Mathes said.

She and Taylor said they anticipate the new possibilities can only benefit the station and University.

“When WAMU is successful, American University is successful,” Taylor said. “WAMU will be able to achieve even more in their new home, and AU will benefit from that.”

Despite moving farther from AU, Mathes said the station’s connection to the University is “unbreakable” and will not be affected by the move.

AU holds the license for the radio station.

“We rely on our student workforce in just about every department of the station to augment our operations and provide valuable support,” Mathes said.

Mathes also said the management and administration departments often work together, and the station collaborates with AU’s schools and institutions, emphasizing the AU-WAMU connection.

The station celebrated its 50th anniversary last fall and has been broadcasting since 1961.

Version published on April 4, 2011 on The Eagle Online. Original on website here.

NEW YORK — Daft Punk played at James Murphy’s house for the last time Saturday night, April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

A classy affair, frontman Murphy asked concert-goers to wear black and white to celebrate LCD Soundsystem’s “one big last party.” The night kicked off with openers Liquid Liquid, who served as a solid warm-up for the headliners. The band, recently reunited after breaking off in the ‘80s, sounded like a milder, rockier LCD, but their short half-hour set is all but forgettable after experiencing LCD’s mega-show.

Divided into three parts, LCD’s first act featured hits any casual fan would know the words to sing along. “Dance Yrself Clean” was the perfect opening song, sending attendees the message to get ready to not stop dancing for the next three hours — a request to which the crowed eagerly obliged, scanning of the arena revealed a sea of bobbing bodies and raised arms. “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” was given a soulful-twist into a Stevie Wonder-esque jam complete with twangy beats and a featured saxophonist, which introduced the brass section that would accompany LCD through the rest of the show. Closing out the first set was fan-favorite “All My Friends” which exposed the cloud of sentimentality that hovered over MSG with lyrics like “And to tell the truth / This could be the last time / So here we go.”

The second act was larger than life, delving into a funky, space theme. Initially confusing, incredibly odd and totally awesome, LCD took the audience on a journey to outer space, playing “45:33” in full, mixing in the futuristic “Sound of Silver,” complete with a white diamond structure and Reggie Watts in green-lit helmet sitting a spaceship-box. This is presumably part of the “weird experience” Murphy warned about at the beginning of the show.

And so arrived the last act of LCD Soundsystem’s last show. A massive disco ball descended from the rafters and it was the very last chance for Murphy and Co. to pull out all the stops.

Special guests of the night included Grammy-winners Arcade Fire who added to the background vocals on “North American Scum” — appropriate for the Montreal-natives, and a song that LCD hasn’t performed live in years because “I don’t know, we’re f—king idiots,” said Murphy.

Saving their most tremendous songs for last, LCD played favorites like “Yeah,” “Losing My Edge,” “Home,” in the close of the show. The already colossal songs took on a new, full sound and engulfed the crowd as LCD magnified and amplified every beat, consuming every inch of MSG.

In a three-song encore, LCD Soundsystem ended their career with the obvious-and-cheesy-in-a-completely-epic-way with “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” As the beautifully drawn out, swelling rendition of the song ended, thousands of white balloons fell over the crowd, signaling that the show was really over.

“It’s like New Year’s except next year we’re dead,” Murphy joked at the end of the encore, which doesn’t sit well because it’s all too true. Fortunately for the band and fans, LCD’s final show felt nothing like a funeral.

LCD Soundsystem, you were perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.