Showing posts from 2010

Light Pines at Tir Na Nog - 12/2/2010

Light Pines
Tir Na Nog

I've beat around the bush but my final thought on the matter - Light Pines really remind me of Doves. This show crystallized this thought into my brain, and I don't see it shaking any time soon. I consider this a good thing, for the record - those first two Doves records are quite good and listenable even to this day, and I saw them live a few times - always a great show.

It was kind of a crappy night out but there was still a big crowd at Tir Na Nog for this free gig - was it because of Light Pines, or was it because local pants kings Raleigh Denim were giving away a couple pairs of their really nice (and pricey) pants? It was probably both, cause last I checked everyone loves both awesome music and free pants, or at least everyone with any goddamn sense. And let it be stated that I did not win any pants, but I'm not going to hold that against Raleigh Denim, I hold it against all those other people that showed up for the show. Plus they …

Future Islands / Lonnie Walker at Kings - 11/19/2010

Future Islands
with Lonnie Walker

It had probably been a few months since I'd last seen Lonnie Walker. And going a few months without seeing them is a real feat. A nice problem to have, an awesome local band that plays a lot locally. But I guess they had recently partaken in a tour of some sort (supporting the night's headliners, Future Islands, or at least I think that's the case), and good lord were they tight and together and really kicking ass on stage. I constantly fluctuate on what/who these guys remind me of, but I seem to come back to Modest Mouse more than anyone. But the thing is, I only think this when I'm watching them...when I sit around and write a review, the idea of comparing them to Modest Mouse doesn't really make much sense. Certainly Brian Corum doesn't sound anything vocally like Isaac Brock, but something in their style of singing their delivery...I dunno, it's just a comparison I can't shake.

I'd gone on an…

Gentleman Jesse & His Men / The Barreracudas / Last Year's Men at Kings - 10/27/2010

Gentleman Jesse & His Men
with The Barreracudas & Last Year's Men

Sometimes I just don't know what the fuck is wrong with people...someone awesome like Gentleman Jesse comes to town for the first time (not the first time in the Triangle, just the first time in Raleigh), and hardly anyone shows up to see it. Not that that deterred him or any of the other bands from putting on fantastic shows.

I got there just as Last Year's Men started their set. Folks (or at least Grayson from the Independent) have been opining how fantastic their new record is, so I was glad to finally check them out. Sadly, we don't really have any sort of power pop scene locally (which might partially explain the turnout), but these Chapel Hillians did their best to fit in. They play a more prototypical "jangle pop" style as has been popular in the area for as long as I can remember, and combine it with the pop-punk catchiness of Superchunk and smidge of the Replac…

Built to Spill at The Cat's Cradle - 10/10/2010

Built to Spill
The Cat's Cradle

At this point in my life, a Built to Spill show is like your favorite well worn t-shirt - it might not be new or shiny, but it feels so good, so comfortable, so enjoyable. I've seen them perform live dozens of times, and while some outings are better than others, not a single one of those times have been anything less than really damn good.

The set list was pretty typical of BtS, spanning their catalog nicely but never hanging out to long on any one album...though if they wanted to play "Perfect from Now On" in it's entirety it would hurt my feelings - as it was, they only played "Untrustable" from that release. They really hit "There's Nothing Wrong with Love" pretty heavy though - "In the Morning", "Twin Falls", "Car", heck probably half of that record made the list. Of course it's not a Built to Spill show without some cover songs, and this time it was the Grat…

Gayngs at the Cat's Cradle - 10/6/2010

The Cat's Cradle

It seemed like a nice night for a little dance music, so it was off to see the hipster superstar band, Gayngs. They weren't originally scheduled to play Chapel Hill, but they moved their Virginia show down here to give the locals a little taste of their semi-homegrown talent. Sure, the band is technically from Wisconsin or Minnesota or one of those Midwestern cheese-making states, but a bunch of our local kids also participate in this orgy of musical mayhem - including Ivan from the Rosebuds, the bulk of Megafaun, and a chunk of Bon Iver (who once took up residence here). So really, it only made sense that they would make a show happen here. Who gives a holy hell about Virginia anyways...well, except lovers obviously. Virginia is for lovers, after all.

Pointless gibberish aside, it was a great show. There were a bazillion people on stage with a few folks coming and going, but never less than ten members and a high of twelve or so. They see…

Moogfest 2010 at the Asheville Civic Center & Thomas Wolfe Auditorium - 10/29/2010

Moogfest 2010
With Big Boi, MGMT, Van Dyke Parks, Panda Bear and Girl Talk
Asheville Civic Center & Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

So months ago my friend Brian and I jumped on tickets to the opening night of Moogfest because one of very favorite bands, Devo, were slotted to play the festival. Getting these tickets was no small feat in my book - I don't go to big shows or festivals because they're too expensive and I generally don't enjoy them. But this was Devo, and all rules go out the window when it comes to them. Fast-forward to the week before the concert, and Devo gets in a wreck causing the band to miss the gig. We were devastated. But as we were already in the hole 75 bucks, might as well go anyway and make the best of it...

Despite the loss of Devo, the festival offered a pretty good consolation prize - Big Boi. Originally I was bummed as he was scheduled to play on a different stage the same time as Devo, but obviously now that wasn't an issue. S…

Mount Moriah at Tir Na Nog - 10/21/2010

Mount Moriah
Tir Na Nog

There's something I've always found very impressive when a band has a rotating cast of members, especially when all those members are in a bunch of other bands. I'm not entirely sure how they can remember all those songs, but then again I maxed out my memory years ago by memorizing all of the GI Joe character names and members of hair metal bands. Mount Moriah is very much one of those bands, with Heather, the beautiful driving voice behind the act, seemingly the only mainstay. This version of the band featured both of the Cook brothers, best known as two-thirds of Megafaun. I'm pretty sure at least Brad Cook has played with the band before ( I feel like I saw a photo of this somewhere), but this was my first time with either of them performing in the band. Not that it changed anything - they were just as fantastic as they always are, playing one incredibly catchy song after another, songs that would be hits if there was any justice…

Todd Barry at Kings - 10/28/2010

Todd Barry

I've never done a comedy review before - I'm shitty enough at music reviews, and I'm not sure what to say other than he was funny. So that's the review: the comedian Todd Barry was funny. Really, really funny. The old lady and I used to go see a lot of stand-up when we lived in California, but very few good comedians perform around here. I'd never seen Todd Barry, but he always gets named dropped as a favorite from comics I love (Patton Oswalt I know has mentioned him numerous times), so it was worth checking out. Mark it down as money and time well spent. About two-thirds of his material was typical prepared stand-up fare, and the rest of the time he spent riffing on the leftover band set list from the night before and making jokes about the fact that RDU has a direct flight to London. That might not sound good on paper, but it worked.

And let it be known that seeing comedy in a rock club is superior to comedy clubs it can't eve…

Hopscotch Music Fest 2010, Day 3 (night) around downtown Raleigh - 9/11/2010

Hopscotch Music Festival - Day Three
with Motor Skills, U.S. Christmas and Weedeater
Downtown Raleigh (Multiple Venues)

The final night of Hopscotch was here, and for me it was a night of mixed feelings...I was kinda happy it was over because my old ass was worn out, but sad that such a great three days of music and merriment was ending.

My first stop of the night was Tir Na Nog for Motor Skills. This was my second time seeing them as a four piece, and they cemented my opinion that this is one of the best new (or at least newish) local bands playing these days. I had previously noted a comparison to the Notwist, a comparison that still holds for me; but there is some thing else there, something a little more lighthearted and poppy...and that something is a little bit of Erasure in their sound. Some may find a comparison to Erasure to be an insult, but it's certainly not meant to be - those dudes knew their way around a catchy hook from time to time, a trait I wish more ban…

Hopscotch Music Fest 2010, Day 3 (day) at Raleigh Times - 9/11/2010

Hopscotch Music Festival - Day Three (Day Parties)
with Flute Flies and NAPS
(Outside of) Raleigh Times

I barely made it to this...having the Flute Flies play at 11 AM the day after late night shenanigans is no recipe for guaranteed attendance. I felt like crap and I don't even drink, so I can only imagine how everyone else there felt. Things might have looked grim, but the Flies were putting on a hell of a show on the stage set up in the middle of the blocked off Hargett Street in front of Raleigh Times. For those not aware, this local "all star" band is made up of Ivan from the Rosebuds, Reid from Schooner, Zeno of the Sames, and what appears to be a revolving cast of support players. The driving force behind this band was to create some original music for CyTunes to help raise money for brain cancer. I saw them their first time playing live and while quite sloppy, it was fun and there were enough catchy hooks there to draw in fans of the member's main b…

Hopscotch Music Fest 2010, Day 2 around downtown Raleigh - 9/10/2010

Hopscotch Music Festival - Day Two
with Harlem, The Golden Boys, Kingsbury Manx and Americans in France
Downtown Raleigh (Multiple Venues)

Not feeling the day parties, what with having to work my job and all, I rolled into downtown for this second night of Hopscotch festivities in time to buy some cheap shirts at the Kung Fu pop-up store and then made my way to the Busy Bee to check out Americans in France. I'd heard good things about these guys (and gal) and had been meaning to see them play live, so why not now? At their best they reminded me of a combo of The Fall and Pavement circa "Westing (By Musket and Sextant)", two great things of which to remind me, or anyone for that matter. As I've never seen Americans in France before I can't speak to the frequency of the act, but they had an older black dude (who I'm pretty sure I've seen a bunch of times hanging around Slims) play some extra drums on a couple of their songs. He could play a little…

Hopscotch Music Fest 2010, Day 1 around downtown Raleigh - 9/9/2010

Hopscotch Music Festival - Day One
with Lucero, Best Coast, Cults, Old Bricks and No Tomorrow
Downtown Raleigh (Multiple Venues)

The First night of the new, highly anticipated music festival known as Hopscotch. I got out in the streets nice and early to get my wristband (which I put on too tight and drove me nearly insane) and promptly went on the hunt for some music. My first destination was the Busy Bee to see Old Bricks, but en route I heard some music coming out of Slims so I went in to see what was happening. Turns out it was a band called No Tomorrow, an outfit hailing from Wilmington that sounded like The Cro-Mags or NYC hardcore crossed with metal. It was fun enough for a few songs, a decent unplanned diversion en route to other endeavors.

And that other endeavor was literally right next door at the Busy Bee. One of the best parts of this festival is how walkable the whole thing is. Old Bricks were still setting up when I walked in, so I entertained myself watchin…

Bandway at Kings - 8/28/2010


All hail the return of Kings, the greatest music venue that Raleigh has ever known! All hail the return of Bandway, the greatest party rock band to exist on this Earth! Obviously it was no coincidence that both the re-opening of one of the greatest rock clubs Raleigh has ever known and the return of musical saviors Bandway would happen at the same time, as it foretold from the heavens that one cannot happen without the other. And thus, a miracle was granted to us lowly local denizens.

I love Bandway so much I've considered getting a tattoo of the band's logo, only I'm afraid I'm not worthy of such an honor. Instead, almost every email address I've ever created was an homage to the band, which is kinda like an internet nerd tattoo when you think about's always there for everyone to see. Paul (one of the dude's behind Kings) told me quite a while back that he was working on having Bandway play their opening weekend, and I spre…

Pipe / Tonk at The Cave - 8/27/2010

with Tonk
The Cave

This was the beginning of my "relive the nineties" weekend, with this Pipe gig and then Bandway the following day. And speaking of Bandway, this was my first time seeing Tonk, a classic country band featuring Bo Taylor of Bandway on drums. They played a mix of covers and originals, or maybe those originals were just obscure covers cause I'm not a super nerd when it comes to classic country. Of note they performed "Let the Sad Times Roll On" by Buck, "Mendocino" by the Sir Douglas Quintet, and the one and only "Satin Sheets" by Jeanne Pruett. The last song was particularly noteworthy because the band was cracking up the entire time they played it while the crowd sang along. Seeing Tonk play live is like traveling back in time 50 years and watching the house band from Buck Owen's Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California. Of particular note was their pedal steel player, who was absolutely killing it all …

The Mountain Goats / Mount Moriah at the Pinhook - 7/31/2010

The Mountain Goats
with Mount Moriah
The Pinhook

So after the metal business I rolled over to the Pinhook in Durham to see some lighter fare. It was the release party for Mount Moriah's 12" EP, and they had the good fortune to get local folk superstar John Darnielle aka The Mountain Goats to headline the show for them.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, as when I got there Mount Moriah were just taking the stage. I've made no bones about my love of this band and especially Heather's voice, and as always they did not disappoint. And while they seem to be quite well received everywhere I've seen them in the Triangle, Durham is very much their home crowd and the combination of fans and friends were as loud and vigorous as college lovemaking. And I'm not talking about the sex where you're having to keep quiet cause your roommate is pretending to be asleep in the top bunk either. Anyways, they played pretty much the same songs they always do, songs …

U.S. Christmas / Black Tusk at the Pour House - 7/31/2010

U.S. Christmas
with Black Tusk
The Pour House

It was a double trouble kind of night, with the first gig being the opening acts of the Corrosion of Conformity show at the Pour House. The first act was my man Nate's group U.S. Christmas, a band I'm in no way impartial about due to friendship, and I really don't give a shit. Look, if you like heavy music that isn't necessarily fast music, if you like bands the reference Sam Peckinpah films and Cormac McCarthy novels, if you like the craziest of Neil Young's Crazy Horse moments and especially his soundtrack to the movie "Dead Man"...well, this is the band for you. They played a good set featuring a lot of tracks from their newest album "Run Thick in the Night", a release that will most likely make my top ten of 2010. The sound was fantastic, as it usually is at the Pour House...sadly not enough bands that I want to see take advantage of that. I think this might have been USX's first g…

Motor Skills / Lonnie Walker at Tir Na Nog - 7/3/2010

Motor Skills
with Lonnie Walker
Tir Na Nog

Made it out to the rare show at Tir Na Nog where I actually had to pay to get in, but that was OK since the bands were good. And despite my cheapness, sometimes that's just fine.

Of particular note was the show opener Motor Skills - I'd seen these guys before as a two piece with electronic pop act with a portion of their set dedicated to comedy rap songs. But now they're basically a whole new band, expanded to four members, with an impressively strong set of songs. The best (and most boring) comparison I would make would be to the Notwist, only less German. There were no funny hip hop songs this time either, though it's unclear if they are completely removed from their set or just weren't there on this night. I liked the previous version of this group - I love the current edition.

Lonnie Walker also played and I'm feeling too lazy to review them for 684th time, but worth mentioning is this was the first show b…

9th Annual Lebowski Fest at the Executive Spare & Strike - 7/16/10 to 7/17/10

9th Annual Lebowski Fest
Featuring The Felice Brothers and The Seedy Seeds
Executive Spare & Strike Lawn
7/16/10 to 7/17/10

So me and a couple of my goofball friends loaded into the car and drove to Louisville for the 9th annual Lebowski Fest, celebrating all things "The Big Lebowski". It was bands, games, movie viewings, bowling, and what-have-you.For a slightly more detailed, photo-heavy review of this trip, just look at this here entry from the "Photo Journal" section of this magnificent website.

On the first night, after my partners-in-crime had preloaded for the event with so many White Russians that they each ingested a half-gallon of half and half (would that mean they each had a "quarter and quarter"?), we strolled over to the event and watched a little live music. I forget who the first band was because I was too busy looking at the merch table and marveling over the fact that there were actually good looking girls at the event, but they were s…

Of Montreal at the Cat's Cradle - 6/2/2010

Of Montreal
The Cat's Cradle

So after some Camera Obscura and burrito eating, we waddled over to the Cradle to take in the dance pop band known as Of Montreal. I saw these guys a ton of times back in the late nineties and early aughts, pre-Outback jingle explosion, but haven't followed them a ton over their last couple of records. But Brian wanted to go, he got us some tickets, and there we were.

I often joke about being the old man at shows, but never has that been more obvious than at this gig. So many young kids, all dressed up in ridiculous clothes like it was some catalog shoot for Urban Outfitters and American Apparel at the same time. Some folks were even in costumes - of note I saw a lot of people dressed as "indians" (a look the band employs on occasion), marching band members, and even one dude dressed as The Riddler (there was no Batman to be found).

The show was good, but like night and day from their older gigs. They used to be a quirky pop b…

Camera Obscura at the Duke Gardens - 6/2/2010

Camera Obscura
Duke Gardens

My good man Brian got permission from the wife to come up to the Triangle and see a little live music. And when a man escaping two kids comes to town, you damn well make the most of it and pack as much fun as you can into that evening...aka go to two shows and eat burritos between them.

We met up with our broham Ivan inside of Duke Gardens just before the show started. It had looked a little stormy early, and seeing as how this gig is outside that is a concern, but it was merely an idle threat and the dark puffys floated away to torment someone else's outdoor plans.

It occurred to me that the last time I saw Camera Obscura play was with this same duo of dudes, which is odd as I tend to go to shows solo. That bit of trivia has little standing with the review of the band, but is merely a piece of information for those scoring at home.

The band was great, but no big surprise there. They breezed through a nice set of their mellow cute pop much to th…

Superchunk / Ryan Gustaffson at the Cat's Cradle - 5/21/2010

with Ryan Gustaffson
Cat's Cradle

SUPERCHUNK! Let the record show that this band was, is and continues to be one the awesomest awesomers of all time. These are indisputable facts, folks.

But first, there was an opener - Ryan Gustafson. I remember back in the day every Superchunk opener was another Merge artist, but now they're tapping the resources of the local hot-shit loose-knit gathering of musicians and bands known as the Drughorse Collective. Not to be confused the pretty awesome metal band from the Bay Area Drunk Horse. All I know is I wouldn't want to be around a drugged horse or a drunk horse, as those fuckers are scary enough sober. And I'm rambling, so this review is going as expected.

As for what Mr. Gustafson sounds like - well, not unlike many of the other Drughorse acts, they walk a fine line between power pop and folky alt-country croonings. The best of his upbeat songs reminded me a lot of Sloan, and the mellower tracks I couldn…

Mount Moriah at Tir Na Nog - 5/20/2010

Mount Moriah
Tir Na Nog

I was told I really needed to see Mount Moriah, so I got off my duff and made it happen. I'd heard Heather McEntire sing with her other band Bellefea - good voice, interesting music, but I didn't get too overly excited about the act. But Mount Moriah is an altogether different beast - beautiful, country-tinged folk with amazing vocals, impressive musicianship and hooks for days. An instant contender for one of my new favorite local bands. Her voice reminds me quite a bit of Shannon Wright, but the songs are of a much higher quality. Quarterstick records should sign this band post haste, assuming they are still around, which I doubt is accurate and I'm too lazy to do the research myself. Hell, while I'm signing them to defunct labels let's but them on Jesus Christ and Teenbeat too. The bottom line is this band needs to be seen or heard or ideally, seen and heard.

The Rosebuds at the Beaufort Music Festival - 5/8/2010

The Rosebuds
Beaufort Music Festival

So yeah, it wasn't long until I got to see the Rosebuds again...two days in fact. The old lady and I decided it might be fun to take a little road trip, see part of the coast we'd never been to before - Beaufort. I used to live in Wilmington and I've been to the Outer Banks a couple of times, but this middle portion of the state's seaside has always escaped me. We spent some time driving the back roads, hitting the depressing towns of Goldsboro and Kinston en route and grabbing lunch in the town known as the birthplace of Pepsi, New Bern. New Bern was mostly not depressing, for the record.

We got into Beaufort early and the festival was already going on, some reggae cover band playing...yup, Bob Marley! Least they could do is throw some Desmond Dekker or Skatalites in their mix. We wandered around town looking at all the old houses, and there are a shit ton of old houses. We're talking we-weren't-even-a-country-…

The Rosebuds / Schooner at Tir Na Nog - 5/6/2010

The Rosebuds
with Schooner
Tir Na Nog

It was a bit of a last minute show at Tir Na Nog as the local leaders of sing-a-long pop, the Rosebuds, decided to play a free gig. I suppose it was to serve as a warm-up for their impending appearance at the Beaufort Music Festival (which I attended, for the record...and I know you're keeping detailed notes so I want your record to be as accurate as possible).

But first: Schooner! Otherwise known as the opening band. They were their typical catchy and enjoyable selves, belting out their pleasant blend of timeless pop crossed with shoegaze. They have a new EP out on Cytunes, and a number of the songs they played this night was from that release. OK, I'm kinda making an assumption there cause I didn't recognize the new songs, and I haven't heard the new EP, so I put two and two together cause I got them kind of top notch deductive skills. I would imagine the bulk of local Rosebuds fans (most of the crowd) already are fam…

Future Islands / Lonnie Walker / Lower Dens / Whatever Brains at the Berkeley Cafe - 5/4/2010

Future Islands
with Lonnie Walker, Lower Dens and Whatever Brains
Berkeley Cafe

I couldn't tell you the last time I lasted through a four band night...probably Mergefest. And like those nights, you withstood the discomfort of being fat, old and uncomfortable because the bands were so goddamn awesome.

Right when I walked in Whatever Brains started playing. I wasn't sure if they were going to be there, as they were listed on the bill, and then they were removed, but luckily that information was incorrect. As I've stated before, they remind me a lot of the Fall, if the Fall had a fairly normal singer and not crazy-ass Mark E. Smith. I was watching them with my man Ivan and he seems to think they have a Gang Green thing going on, but I don't really see it. But he's actually a musician so maybe you should take his word for it over mine. It was a short set, but good. They manage to sound tight and unhinged at the same time, a great trait in a band.

I was kind…

Light Pines / Kid Future at Tir Na Nog - 4/22/2010

Light Pines
with Kid Future
Tir Na Nog

The first band this night was Kid Future. Now if I didn't know better and just saw the name listed, I'd assume Kid Future was a DJ playing some sort of electronica music. Do they even still call it electronica music, or is everything specified by it's specific subgenre? House, Downbeat, Jungly, Shitbizzle, Big Poppy, Horse Penis, whatever, I'm not good with those fancy genres. All I know is they didn't sound nothing like that - rather, it was catchy indie pop. The singer had a great, deep voice, which was a little surprising given he was such a small guy. I thought he looked familiar, and it turns out his brother is the singer for another great local band Mount Weather (also apparently I've played basketball with him, which means he probably scored over my shitty defense). And where I compared Mount Weather to the Psychedelic Furs, I'd compare the brother's band to another great group from the 80'…

Midlake / John Grant at The Cat's Cradle - 4/3/2010

with John Grant
The Cat's Cradle

I missed Midlake the last time they rolled through town, and nearly drove to Asheville to see them last time they were in the state but caught a case of the lazies. But this time, there would be no missing them - they were bringing John Grant on tour.

John Grant was the singer for the criminally underrated band the Czars. And when I say "criminally", I mean to say if you haven't listened to them you should be arrested for being an idiot. Their album "The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful People" is easily one of my top ten favorite records of the previous decade, maybe even top five. Sadly, the Czars split up before I ever got a chance to see them play, but I did get to see Grant perform solo soon after the split and at least got to hear him sing a few of those songs live. And now I was going to get to see Grant again, making me as excited as a teenage boy in a adult film superstore.

My previous live experience…

Lonnie Walker / Nuclear Power Pants at Tir Na Nog - 4/1/2010

Lonnie Walker
with Nuclear Power Pants
Tir Na Nog

Even at my advanced age, I still occasionally get surprised by an opening band. Nuclear Power Pants showed up on free night at Tir Na Nog, the rare out-of-town entry (they're from Baltimore according to the stage banter) to an otherwise locals-only event. They were an eight-piece band, with five musicians (drums, bass, two keyboardists and a sax player, but no guitarists), two female back-up singers, and a lead singer wearing a poncho and looking like he could be the brother to Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington. Everyone but the singers were dressed up in these weird pacman/trianglehead costumes covered in day-glo paint, and there were blacklights everywhere, so shit was glowing like crazy. It may take further listening to decide if the excitement was from their live performance, the crazy outfits, the music, or some sort of combination of those elements, but the crowd was absolutely loving it. The music was kind of a pun…