Tuesday, November 9, 2010

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 it...it'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 spread the word far and wide to my old college friends and fellow Bandway aficionados that a new day was soon upon us. Oh how they talked a big game about coming to the show from all ends of the state, but of course when push came to shove the collective lot of them pussed out. Sure they'll claim to have been sick or had a sick child at home, but we all know if this was really important you'd wrap that kid in a nyquil soaked blanket, lock him in his room, and get your ass to the "rockening".

So it was just the wife and I, she needing to witness the band I'd been prattling on about for the entire decade she has known me. Kings was packed, sold out in fact - and the entire crowd was eating it up. While there were a lot of old folks there like myself, I was surprised at how many kids were there, kids who surely weren't going to Bandway shows their first time around. But whatever, a love of the rock knows no age limit. I think it had been seven or eight years since they had last performed, but you'd never know it - they were just as drunken, sloppy and awesome as ever. They played pretty much every song you'd want to hear - "Four Day Weekend", "Balls Out", "Millennium", "King Kong", "I'm a Winner", "Turn to the Bong"...goddamn, they have a lot of awesome songs. Would have been nice to hear "Fayettenam/Futuristic Fuckup" and, well, honestly every single one of their songs, but it was a nice set. On top of that, they played some new songs which bodes well for future performances/recordings; I didn't catch the song names but one was about recycling and it was fantastic.

I'm going to go ahead and pick this as rock show of the year, because it's just not fair to any of the other bands to try and live up to the brilliance of Bandway. Everyone else is trying for second best.

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

The Mountain Goatswith 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 I've grown to love from seeing them live a number of times, but now I finally had something to buy off the band and take home with me. And obviously, the record is fantastic.

There are two kinds of Mountain Goats shows - the ones where he has a backing band, and the (superior) ones where it's just John Darnielle, his guitar, and his witty between song banter. The latter is what we had this evening, and whoo-boy was it goddamn awesome. He played almost entirely old songs, in fact I think the newest track played was probably "No Children" from "Tallahassee", an obvious crowd favorite...and I was damn glad he played it, not just for my enjoyment but also so the annoying girls standing next to me would stop screaming for it between every song. I've loved the Goats for years now, but I'm definitely not a super fan...and there were a bunch of them there. There was one guy in particular that delighted me to no end, standing front and center, clapping with the power of ten men right after each song, screaming and arms raised in the air like it was Beatlemania, and then when he finished he would pull his pocket notebook out and scribble in it for a few seconds, god knows what he was writing. As per usual I'm terrible at remembering song titles, but I know he played my two very favorite songs, the first opening tracks from the perfect album "All Hail West Texas" - "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton" and " The Fall of the Star High School Running Back". The crowd sang along vigorously to both titles, myself joining in despite my general reluctance for such participatory nonsense. It was a grand show, if only he would play his hometown more often...

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

U.S. Christmaswith Black TuskThe 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 gig in Raleigh, and the folks that were there seemed to quite enjoy them, as they should.

I needed to hoof it over to Durham, but I had enough to time to stick around and catch about half of the set by Black Tusk. I read that they refer to their type of metal as "swamp metal", which I guess is a fitting moniker for their style of upbeat southern stoner metal. They're kind of a Georgia version of North Carolina's Weedeater, only there is no one in their band as insane as Dixie. It's aggressive, hard pounding, straight forward metal, like a punch in the face from a drunk friend. I quite enjoyed what I saw of their set and had Nate pick up their record "Taste the Sin" for me - a good record with some great art, definitely worth checking out.

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

Pipewith TonkThe 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 night long. Granted, if you can play that convoluted instrument at all that counts as "killing it" in my book, but he was doing a nice job for the whole gig.

To paraphrase Silky Johnson, what can I say about Pipe that hasn't been said before? They are quite simply the greatest party rock band of my generation. Sure, they're seldom known outside of the Triangle, but as the kids say: "fuck that shit". Off and on for the last 15 years they take the stage and rock the balls off of everyone within earshot...certainly my balls were no longer attached when they finished their set. I'm not entirely sure what that means for the two girls standing front and center going batshit crazy for the entire show, as I'm pretty sure they don't have balls...but perhaps a similar ailment hits their ovaries? I'm not scientist, so who knows. I'm sure some medical professionals can do a study. But anyways, they were awesome like always, with Ron snarling and absorbing abuse while the rest of the group chugs through their catalog raucous material.It's likely been more than a decade since they wrote a new song, but not a single one of us fans care. I can listen to them play "You're Soaking In It" a thousand times in a row and never get tired of it. In fact, I hope they play a show like that at some point...I wouldn't put it past them.