Showing posts from 2009

Lonnie Walker / Schooner / Veelee at the Duke Coffee House - 11/7/2009

Lonnie Walker
with Schooner and Veelee (Troika Festival)
Duke Coffee House

My second night of Troika festivities, and this time with a compatriot. My homeslice from Wilmington was in town for the UNC-Duke football game (he's a Duke fan, but otherwise a good guy), and we decided to meet up for some dinner and a little rockin' out.

After a stopover at the Green Room pool hall where I handed him his ass, we trucked over to the Duke Coffee House to see a band called Veelee on the stage. I had no idea who this band was, but the really wowed me in the couple of songs I saw them play. One track had a Stereolab vibe and the other was shades of Sonic idea if this is indicative of their entire catalog, but I sure hope so. They also reminded me of Bay Area power duo Moggs - most likely because Veelee is also a cute boy/girl duo who like to rock out. They are definitely on my radar now and hopefully I'll see them again very soon. (Side note: download their free t…

Gentleman Jesse & His Men / Dex Romweber Duo at the Trotter Building - 11/6/2009

Gentleman Jesse & His Men
with Dex Romweber Duo (Troika Festival)
Trotter Building

I was excited about the number of good shows being offered at this year's Troika Festival, but the down side of so many high quality entertainment options is you have to miss something. I had completely different plans scheduled this evening - Pipe at the Broad Street Cafe - until I noticed a late addition to the schedule, Atlanta's Gentleman Jesse & His Men. This band of pop savants recorded my favorite record of 2008; this combined with first-hand knowledge that they put on a fantastic performance and there was no way I was going to miss this gig.

Hammer No More the Fingers were finishing their set when I walked in - it was the typical scene for them, the room brimming with a bunch of kids going nuts over every note the band makes. They sound better every time I see them, but I'm not quite at that level of fanaticism. And no sooner than when Hammer finished their set, the …

The King Khan & BBQ Show at the Local 506 - 11/3/2009

The King Khan & BBQ Show
Local 506

I've seen a lot of King Khan & BBQ Show performances over the years, and if you throw in their solo outings it probably doubles the number. They've never failed to entertain me, and this gig was no exception...only in a slightly different way than normal. Most of the times I've seen them, the music has been good but it has always taken a backseat to King Khan and his antics, be it as pedestrian as stripping naked on stage to dress like a woman, to more advanced topics like teabagging unsuspecting audience members. But tonight, they were all business. Sure, they still had on some relatively silly outfits - Khan in a fringy dress, BBQ in his trademark turban - but it was clear the music was taking center stage this goofing off, just song after song of catchy goodness.

As always, the doo wop-inspired songs like "Waddlin' Around" are my favorite songs by the band, and this show had plenty of them. …

Built to Spill at the Cat's Cradle - 10/18/2009

Built to Spill
The Cat's Cradle

I've really been firing on all cylinders lately when it comes to getting to the club right when the band I want to see starts playing. I walked in the door just as Built to Spill began their first song, and despite the packed house I was able to nook right in near the front by the side of the stage.

At this point in my life I've seen this band play probably close to twenty times (if not more), and I knew full well what this night had in store for me. As always, BtS played a fantastic mix of songs from across their entire catalog - off the top of my head I can recall "Virginia Reel Around the Fountain", "Carry the Zero", "Stop the Show", "Reasons", "You Were Right", and "The Weather". As always I would have killed to hear more songs from "Perfect from Now On", a statement I have made after every one of their shows...even the shows where they played a lot of those …

Polvo at the Cat's Cradle - 10/17/2009

The Cat's Cradle

So I've seen this newly reformed Polvoa number of times now, and even in my super fanboy status, it's hard to deny they aren't getting more and more awesome with each and every gig. Yes, awesome, that is the technical word for their performance, I saw it in a technical handbook on show descriptions. They've certainly gotten a lot of tighter, what with the touring and the practicing and the recording a new album, tighter than they ever sounded pre-break-up.

Given that they did just record a new album, "In Prism", I was a little surprised that they didn't play more songs from it. It's got to be a tough balance for a band that has been around for a long time that has a large catalog to get the ratio of new songs and older fan favorites down on their set list. Obviously most of the crowd usually wants to hear their favorite song, while the band really wants to play these new tracks they are proud of. I'm almost…

Lonnie Walker at Golden Belt - 10/17/2009

Lonnie Walker
Golden Belt

So there was this "Rock and Shop" event going on during the day in Durham, and what the hell - I like to both rock and shop, so it seemed like a good idea to attend. It helped that two of my favorite local groups were playing - Mount Weather and Lonnie Walker, though when we were walking into the event we passed the Mount Weather guys loading their gear out...bummer on that, I was hoping to see them play again. But Lonnie Walker was still due to play, and after a bit of strolling around with the wife while she gawked and glad handed over a number of small craft tables, the band made with the music and I watched them rock out while the old lady continued to shop. I still struggle to figure out who it is Lonnie Walker remind me of - I know everyone else says Bob Dylan, and I can see where they are coming from, but there is a lot more to it than that. I previously mentioned the Talking Heads and I still get that vibe on some of their tracks…

Annuals / Birds of Avalon / Hammer No More The Fingers at The Cat's Cradle - 8/29/2009

with Birds of Avalon and Hammer No More The Fingers
The Cat's Cradle

It has taken me around a year after moving back to the Triangle, but I've finally been getting into a lot of the "new" local bands lately...and by "new" I'm referring to bands that weren't around when I left for the left coast (and in most of their cases they've only been around a couple of years or so). I bring this up because this particular gig was in conjunction with a local benefit compilation that was just released called "Hear Here", so the bill was all local bands that are part of the CD.

This was my second time seeing Hammer No More The Fingers this summer, and their best of the two outings. I'm not sure if they actually put on a better show or it was just because the sound is so much better at the Cat's Cradle, but either way it was an enjoyable set. The gig further cemented my impression that HNMTF have a real strong lean tow…

Erectus Monotone / The Loners at Tir Na Nog - 8/13/2009

Erectus Monotone
with The Loners
Tir Na Nog

I was pretty excited to find out Erectus Monotone were going to be playing a free show at Tir Na Nog - I'd sadly missed their reunion at Merge Fest XX as it happened one of the nights I didn't have a ticket, and was afraid I would never get another chance. I never managed to catch one of their live shows the first time around - even though I was definitely a fan of their work and had a seven inch or two of theirs. Word on the street was they brought the heat at the Merge Fest gig, setting my hopes on high and ready to rock by the time they took the stage. The verdict: awesome! They definitely did not disappoint, sounding like a band that had been playing together for years instead of one that only recently got back together after a 15 year-ish hiatus. It was a nice concise set, with the band playing "every song we know", and the packed house of old folks like myself reliving the glory years of Chapel Hill …

Kurt Vile at the Soapbox - 8/12/2009

Kurt Vile
The Soapbox

I just happened to be down at the beach and noticed that Kurt Vile was playing at one of Wilmington's clubs, the Soapbox. Honestly, I was rather nonplussed from what I had heard from him but nothing else was going on, so why not see a show?

After a completely terrible local high school band got done playing for a bunch of hot-but-way-too-young jail bait girls, making me feel really old in the process, Kurt Vile took the stage. And when I say Vile took the stage, it was him alone. Acoustic folk rock was not in line with the songs I had previously heard by the dude, but the start of his set was exactly that. He played a three or four songs, just the man and his steel-top was kinda mesmerizing actually, some sort of mellow blues-folk combination that might have gotten old for an entire set but was pretty entertaining for a few tracks.

And then the rest of the band joined him - another guitarist, a drummer...and a lady harpist. Yes, …

The Rosebuds at the Jackpot - 7/20/2009

The Rosebuds
The Jackpot

I'm not sure this was even a show, more of a gathering, but I decided to write it up anyways. As part of the festivities for Merge Fest XX, The Rosebuds sent out a text saying they would be at the Jackpot in a few hours playing some songs and filming it to be used later in a possible DVD commemorating the anniversary. So there was a small gathering of fans at the bar, waiting on the band, many wondering where the hell they were actually going to perform in the place. And then after a bit of standing around, here comes the acoustic two-piece version of the Rosebuds through the front door, already playing a song, with a camera crew tagging along behind them. Ivan & Kelly played a few songs there in the middle of the bar, the crowd gathered around and singing along at all the right parts - it felt like a campfire sing-a-long...minus the camp, and the fire, and the bears trying to get into your food. I know they played "Nice Fox" and…

Blag'ard / Mount Vicious at DIVEbar - 7/12/2009

with Mount Vicious

My friend Conan used to have a band in Oakland called Replicator. I saw them many, many times over my eight years in the Bay Area, and they always brought (a) the rock and (b) the fun. Like most bands, eventually Replicator broke up, but Mount Vicious soon rose from the ashes.

Soon thereafter Mount Vicious went on a tour across the country, and this tour included a stop at the DIVEbar in Raleigh. Since no one knows them out here, it was a Sunday night, and to be perfectly honest I had no idea there were even shows at this venue, expectations were low across the board.

But low expectations and even lower turnout didn't diminish the rock that Mount Vicious brought this evening. Where Replicator were almost as much about restraint as anything else, the Mounting ones were all about balls-to-the-wall seventies-style rock...loud, anthemic, the sort of songs you want to pump your fist in the air to. And to go with their originals, they inc…

Lonnie Walker / Hammer No More The Fingers at Tir Na Nog - 7/17/2009

Lonnie Walker
with Hammer No More The Fingers
Tir Na Nog

Sometimes you just want to get out of the house. My man Ivan told me about a benefit show at Tir Na Nog - it was only five bucks, I was sitting around the house bored out of my mind, so why not see some local bands? Of course, I got a quick reminder on why it is better to keep your ass at home when I got caught in a speed trap and received my first ticket in over a decade. So my five dollar night out turned into a hundred seventy-five dollar night out. This is obviously more dollars than one should spend on a night out of local music, but what was done was done and might as well have a fun night out, moping don't make a ticket go away.

I think there might have been 463 bands playing that night, but I didn't really start paying attention until Hammer No More The Fingers took the stage. When I look at the music listings it seems like this band plays out eight nights a week, but somehow I'd never seen them be…

T-Model Ford / Shake It Like A Caveman at The Grey Eagle - 7/3/09

T-Model Ford
with Shake It Like A Caveman
The Grey Eagle

I was making a fourth of July holiday weekend visit home, and decided to round up my good man Nate for a last minute show in Asheville. Blues legend T-Model Ford was playing, and how many times do you get a chance to see a true legend?

There was only one opener - a one man band going by the name of Shake It Like A Caveman. Despite that unfortunate choice in name, the guy played some pretty interesting music - he had a simple drum kit he played with his feet while he wailed on his guitar and sang. It had a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion feel to it - sloppy, bluesy, distorted vocals, good time party music what for booty shaking and such. Very enjoyable, all told, and a nice set-up for what was to follow.

T-Model Ford - the man is a national treasure, and that is putting it lightly. 89 years old, and the cat rocks harder than most folks a quarter of his age. This is raw, dirty, pull-no-punches juke-joint delta blues, played by …

Merge Fest XX: Spoon / Pipe / Polvo / Lambchop at the Cat's Cradle - 7/24/2009

Merge Fest XX:
Spoon,Pipe, Polvo and Lambchop
The Cat's Cradle

With the rumor mill swirling previous to this show, I knew this was a ticket I needed to get. Luckily my friend Ivan had an extra band pass he could let me borrow, so by the skin of my teeth I yet again manage to make it into another Merge Fest night.

I missed the first couple of bands, but this was somewhat intentional - I knew the rest of the night was one banger after another, and I wouldn't want to miss a single minute of any one of their sets.

I finally waddled in the club, full of taco truck burrito for the second night in a row, just moments before Lambchopwas about to begin performing. This is a band I've loved since my freshmen year in college (1994, it hurts a little to think about how long ago that was) when I bought their record at Poindexter's in Wilmington just because it was on Merge. I've seen the band perform live a couple of times, with no two shows alike.

And none of …

Merge Fest XX: Superchunk / Versus / Richard Buckner at the Cat's Cradle - 7/23/2009

Merge Fest XX:
Superchunk,Versus & Richard Buckner
The Cat's Cradle

Going into the week of Merge Fest, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it to any of the shows. I was too broke for one of the five day passes, and the single day tickets sold out so fast that my slow ass didn't manage to score even one. But as I was hanging out at the Jackpot during the Rosebuds impromptu acoustic performance, the chance arose to purchase a ticket to the second night's festivities at the Cradle. Let's hear it for getting lucky!

One of the more frustrating/entertaining functions of Merge Fest this time around was the label's decision not to release the line-ups for any given night. This could be a problem when you're eager to see a specific band, but luckily for me I like most of their artists so I knew I was guaranteed a good show. And not to tell tales outside of school, but since I know a couple of folks in bands on the label, they gave me the ins…

Camera Obscura at the Cat's Cradle - 6/20/2009

Camera Obscura
The Cat's Cradle

Sometimes the best shows are the ones you have no intention of going to. I was hanging with some friends, a guest list spot was offered, and the idea of combining a visit to Carburitos with some sweet pop music seemed a good reason to get out of the house.

I've seen Camera Obscura a few times and they've always put on a good show, but this was by far the best I've seen them perform. Amongst other reasons, I think this show stood out because they kept it a very "upbeat" affair, not playing as many of their mellow tracks and instead focusing on their bouncy songs, which honestly are always my favorite songs of theirs. The band seemed extremely tight even though this was the first show with a new bassist (the regular guy had to fly back to Scotland to attend to some family matters). The band did a nice job of playing songs from all their albums, not just hitting the new release heavy (an act that generally annoys me...lo…

Sunset Rubdown at the Local 506 - 6/15/2009

Sunset Rubdown
The Local 506

If you're going to go to a show at the Local 506 on a hot summer night, you better really love the band or really love sweating, cause if it is a popular, crowded show you're destined to lose a few pounds in that sweat lodge. I know I sweat a lot more than your average joe, but I certainly wasn't the only one in the place who was "glistening".

But enough about my body chemistry issues, I was there to see a rock show dammit. And a I saw a damn good one courtesy of Sunset Rubdown. Oh you Canadians, you like your hockey, you like your Molson, and you know how to write some damn fine indie pop. Spencer Krug and company did a fine job channeling their manic, anxious keyboard-heavy songs into a live setting, and the crowd seemed to really appreciate it. A lot of the set played heavily from their newest album "Dragonslayer", a fantastic record but one I haven't listened to very much yet. Luckily, the new record is s…

The Rosebuds at the Duke Gardens - 6/10/2009

The Rosebuds
Duke Gardens

One thing I've really been enjoying since I moved back to the Triangle are all of the different venues used for live shows - it's not just locked in to the nightclub-or-houseparty only line of thinking, which seemed to generally be the case with most shows I attended out in the Bay Area.

They held a couple of interesting shows in the Duke Gardens last summer but I never got my ass motivated enough to get out there, but local favorites The Rosebuds were the final straw that got me to actually put on pants and leave the house. Er, well shorts really, it's hot as shit out here these days. It didn't hurt that the show was at 7 PM either, allowing for a musical good time and still home early enough to watch Law & Order reruns.

I've reviewed a thousand Rosebuds shows at this point, it's well documented I love the band, and honestly I don't know what to say that I haven't said so many times already. For an outdoor show, …

Summer Set at the Whiskey - 6/27/2009

Summer Set
The Whiskey

Full disclosure - the brains behind this band, Brian Weeks, has been one of my best friends for close to 15 years now. We even moved to California together after college. But none of that changes the fact that he makes some good music.

I spent most of my college years seing Brian play in a couple of now-defunct bands. And I'd heard some of his "new" songs as he wrote them in his teal-carpeted bedroom, moping about how things were not going his way on the west coast. And it was this moping (plus a girl) that led him to move back to his college stomping grounds of Wilmington only a year after our move out to SF, formally signaling the beginning of Summer Set.

This was my first time getting to see his "new" band Summer Set, and on their home turf of Wilmington. The nice part about going down to the port city for a show in the summer is you can combine a trip to the beach (and Britt's Doughnuts) with a little rockin' out. Yo…

Mastodon at the Cat's Cradle - 5/13/2009

The Cat's Cradle

As per usual, I spent my early evening on this fine Wednesday playing a little basketball with the lads; and not unlike Ice Cube, I messed around and got a triple double (fouls, turnovers, missed shots). I always kinda dread going to shows after I've played ball because my legs are shot, but I assumed I would have a couple of hours to recover and get ready for the rock. The problem is, when I logged on to the Cat's Cradle website to check the start time, it was listed as doors at 6:30, show at 7:30!!! What in the holy hell is this, a Yanni concert?!? Who starts a metal show this early? I was completely confused and bewildered as to what was going on, but the bottom line I was going to have to get on my horse and get to getting if I wanted to see this show.

I finally got to the club around 9:15 or so, only to see a crew of surly types setting up the stage for Mastodon. I was hoping to see at least the end of Kylesa's set, but I'…

Superchunk at the Cat's Cradle - 4/15/2009

The Cat's Cradle

Like any other Superchunk show, I was standing there doing my ridiculous version of dancing, singing along quietly and gawking at Laura Balance, when it occurred to me that I have had a crush on her for around 18 years now. 18 years!!! That means I've spent more of my life fawning over her than I haven't. I'm getting old. Laura Balance is getting old. And Superchunk, yeah they are getting old too.

This Wednesday night gig was intended as a warm-up for their impending weekend outing to the enormous music festival Coachella. As per usual, the fans were very receptive and excitable getting to see the hometown heroes; though the Cradle was surprisingly not packed and sweaty as I'm used to for a Chunk show - it was crowded, but not uncomfortably so.

I was expecting some songs off of their new EP "Leaves in the Gutter", and there were a couple from that release (a really good EP, in case you were wondering...shows off the…

Morrissey at the House of Blues - 3/6/2009

House of Blues

This was by far the weirdest Morrissey show I have ever seen. I guess that is to be expected when you go see a man this sensitive in a town as ridiculous as Myrtle Beach, where we passed no less than two dozen miniature golf courses and about 400 "Wings" stores en route to the House of Blues.

The man from Manchester had canceled all of his shows in the tour previous to this one because he was "sick", and we were checking the website every day to see if this concert would be canceled as well. Luckily, the show went on as planned even though it was obvious that Morrissey's voice was not 100% healthy.

I'm guessing it was also due to this sickness that he only played for a little over an hour, a very short show by typical Morrissey concert standards (that aren't cut short by him wigging out over stage crashers or being able to smell meat cooking or god knows what else). It was still a good outing, fairly typical for the shows…

Gentleman Jesse & His Men / The Black Lips at The Cat's Cradle - 3/4/09

Gentleman Jesse & His Men
with The Black Lips
The Cat's Cradle

Every once in a while a band comes along that plays pop music the way it is meant to be played...that band is Gentleman Jesse & His Men. This Atlanta group is fronted by a man named, get this, Jesse! Jesse Smith to be exact, a member of the Carbonas, a good punk band that may be broken up now but I'm too lazy to research it. I saw the Carbonas play a few years back in Oakland and they were quite good (even if I did like openers Beat Beat Beat better, the side-project band of another one of the members). I'm not qualified to report on Jesse's gentlemanlyness, but I certainly have no problem noting that he can write some amazing pop songs full of hooks.

They put on a fantastic live show - song after song that I had to restrain myself from singing along to like I do in the car. They played a lot of songs from their self-titled debut album, as well as some new tracks and a King Tuff cover. It …

Polvo / Birds of Avalon at the Pour House - 2/7/2009

with Birds of Avalon
The Pour House

This Polvo reunion basically coincided with my moving back to the Triangle...coincidence? I doubt it. Clearly, they heard I was moving back and the area as a whole wanted to make a good impression to keep me around. An Archers of Loaf reunion would have been nice too, maybe even have Superchunk play out more often, but the real prize was Polvo reforming. So let me take this moment to thank the Triangle, it's peoples and the band Polvo for reforming solely for my behalf - it really means a lot.

This was my second time seeing them since their reformation (technically third time, but since the second time only consisted of a half a song, I'm not sure I'm going to count it). That first show, the official "reunion" I guess, was amazing just because I was getting to see them again, the nostalgia and adrenaline rushing through your body as if you had just reunited with your high school sweetheart. But I guess it wasn&…