News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: Information Leafblower

This week, we talk with Kyle Gustafson about the two loves of his life: music and sports.

Kyle Gustafson at Thomas Circle. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Kyle Gustafson started his blog, Information Leafblower, in 2003 while he was living in New York City. He says he was in a dead-end job in the music industry and needed a creative outlet. His blog became a space for him to post concert reviews and share them with a larger audience beyond his e-mail contacts.

When he was laid off from his job, he says he got into the habit of updating his blog every day. He’s since expanded the content to include not only music reviews but also his thoughts on sports and his photography, which includes shots of shows he’s attended. “And cat photos,” he says. “Lots of cat photos.”

To pay the bills, Gustafson, 34, works as a content manager for a publishing company in DC, but he’s also a senior editor at DCist and freelances regularly for other publications and Web sites. Last year, his work—both articles and photographs—appeared on Pitchfork,, and and in Heat magazine, the Sun (UK), the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, and more.

Gustafson lives in Arlington with his wife—whom he took to see his favorite band, Oasis, on their first date—and his cat, Mr. Pink. We caught up with him recently to pick his brain about music and sports. Read on to see what he had to say.

Three albums you can’t live without:
“Only three? Yikes. I’m going to go with Your Arsenal (my favorite Morrissey record), Everything, Everything by Underworld (the best live album ever), and The Masterplan by Oasis (love those B-sides). My apologies to Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys and Icky Mettle by Archers of Loaf.”

Last album you listened to:
“Morrissey’s Years of Refusal. I’m trying to convince myself that I actually like it, but it’s not working. Morrissey tends to put out a stinker every third album, and he certainly stayed true to form. It’s a shame because I loved his last two albums. But I can’t wait to see him in March!”

Last CD you bought:
“I don’t buy CDs anymore. I miss going to the local record store every Tuesday and picking up the latest releases, but these days I get everything over the Internet, legally or otherwise. I acquired a copy of Paul Weller’s Live at the BBC four-disc set over the weekend, and I’ve been spending a lot of time with that. He does the most amazing cover of Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking of You.’ It’s mind-blowingly great. I’m a total sucker for anything that has ‘Live at the BBC’ in the title. I have BBC discs for the Jam, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the La’s that I listen to constantly.”

Number of songs in your iTunes library:
“Just over 7,000. Two hundred sixty-six Oasis songs, 256 Paul Weller songs, 187 Radiohead songs, 163 Super Furry Animals songs, 148 Morrissey songs, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t listen to nearly as much.”

Most-played song in your iTunes library:
“Mylo’s ‘In My Arms,’ which might be the purest pop song ever made. It tops the charts with 112 plays. It’s a dance track that mixes samples from ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ by Kim Carnes and ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ by Boy Meets Girl. And yes, it’s as awesome as you’d imagine. Morrissey’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ is a distant second with 85.”

Best and worst shows you’ve ever seen in Washington:
“Two thousand eight was a pretty great year for concerts in Washington. The best show I saw all year was Underworld’s set at the Virgin Festival at Pimlico Race Course in Laurel. I have two lead feet (not left feet, lead feet), and it reduced me to a dancey, sweaty mess in less than ten minutes. And it went on for another two hours! It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

“As for shows within the DC city limits, the James show at 9:30 Club last year was pretty memorable. I’m a huge fan, and I had only seen them once, back in 1997, at Lollapalooza; they went on right before Korn—it was pretty much a disaster. It was a real treat to get to see them this time around doing a greatest-hits-type set when they toured behind their album Hey Ma (which is pretty great in its own right). Near the end of the set, they played my favorite song, ‘Sometimes (Lester Piggot).’ At the end of the song, Tim Booth let the crowd sing the chorus, which we did with gusto. I’m sure he expected us to peter out at some point, but the entire audience kept singing for the next five minutes or so. The band members were all looking at one another unsure of what to do next. They had already switched out guitars and were ready to play the next song. But we wouldn’t stop singing. So one by one, the band started playing the song again and eventually Tim started singing with us. We kept it going for a few more minutes, and the band brought the song to a proper end. I can’t recall a more spontaneous or fulfilling moment at a rock show. Especially in DC, where the crowds are generally a bit reserved.

“The worst show I saw last year was probably Built to Spill at the 9:30. Doug Martsch seemed very uninterested and took like five minutes to tune his guitar between every song, which killed any type of momentum in the set. Martsch seemed to be the only person more bored by the show than I was.”

Favorite local band:
“Nethers, without a doubt—although I have no idea if they still live in the area anymore. They released a great record last year and then never toured behind it. Shame. Hot on their heels would be Middle Distance Runner and These United States. We booked both of those bands to play a DCist Unbuckled concert back in 2006, and it’s been a real treat to see them improve and grow as musicians. Great guys all around as well.”

Favorite venue:
“There’s no way I could pick between the 9:30 or the Black Cat. I love them both equally for different reasons. The Cat is comfy and cozy, while the 9:30 is expansive but never impersonal. DC is really fortunate to have two world-class venues in town.”

Coldplay or U2?
“I can’t think of two bands I hate more. I liked the first two Coldplay records, but it’s hard to care about anything they’re doing these days. As for U2, I just can’t stand Bono. He’s such a wanker. But then again, my favorite band is Oasis, so take from that what you will.”

Guitar Hero or Garage Band?
“Again, neither. I don’t see the appeal of pushing buttons in time to music. I find it very funny that the loud ‘clack clack clack’ the guitars make in both games don’t seem to make it into any of the commercials. But I just got a Wii, so maybe I’ll try and unleash my inner guitar player sometime in the future.”

Favorite Jonas Brothers brother:
“Following them around town for a full day was a very surreal experience. At one point we had TMZ chasing us through downtown DC. I have nothing but respect for the JoBros. They work incredibly hard when they’re on tour. They did a three-hour meet-and-greet with their fans before their show at Nissan Pavilion, after they had a full day in DC doing various events at the White House and Madame Tussauds. Then they went out and played a kick-ass show to a full house. More power to them.”

Favorite hometown sports team:
“That’s easy—DC United. It has the best front office of all the local teams and also the best fans. It’s hard to beat the atmosphere at RFK when United is playing. I went to my first Caps game this year and was really impressed by the fans. Everyone was wearing red and screaming their heads off. But then again, it was a Flyers game. Everybody hates them.”

Local team with the best uniforms:
“Definitely not the Wizards and their gold uniforms. Those things are hideous. They need to go back to the old red-white-and-blue uniforms from the Jeff Malone and Moses Malone Bullets days.”

Favorite game-time beer:
“Stella Artois. Anything from Belgium, really.”

Favorite postgame or pregame haunt:
“RFD is a good place to go before a game if it’s not too crowded. Postgame, I’m usually at home in front of my computer editing photos. With a Stella.”

Favorite sports bar:
“Summers in Arlington. I hate that it generally shows the soccer matches on the smoking side of the building, but the atmosphere is always great there.”

Sport you most wish you could do professionally:
“Tennis. I played competitively in high school and got to cover the Legg Mason tennis tournament this year for the first time. I absolutely loved it. I’m a huge tennis dork, so it was a big thrill to be sitting on the court taking photos of Andy Roddick, Donald Young, and Tommy Haas. I’d be happy if I could just travel the world photographing the ATP Tour. I don’t ask for much.”

Local athletes you’d most like to see in a band together:
“Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m sure that no matter who was in the band, it’d somehow involve Luciano Emilio singing James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful.’ ”

Favorite local music and sports blogs, besides your own:
“DC has such a robust blogging community, especially for sports. You have DC Sports Bog, Bullets Forever, Soccer Insider, Behind the Badge, Wizz Nutzz, and Mr. Irrelevant. For music, I’d have to go with Instrumental Analysis, Post Rock, and anything Chris Klimek writes. It’s a real shame Jason Linkins is busy covering politics for the HuffPo because his review of Scott Stapp at the 9:30 Club is the pinnacle of DC music blogging as far as I am concerned.”

Speaking of Jason Linkins . . . he’s up next week for the Blogger Beat (how serendipitous!). We’ll be chatting with him about his work on the Huffington Post blog Eat the Press. Gear up for some bests and worsts on the media, and check back next week for the interview.

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