Thursday, November 3, 2011

The War on Drugs at Kings 10/11/2011

The War on Drugs

Despite my snarkiness with some friends that the new War on Drugs record "Slave Ambient" is the best album Tom Petty has released in years, I was pretty pumped to see them play again.  Cause even if it does sound a whole lot like Petty, it's still a great fuckin' record - and has gotten a ton of spins since I got my sticky little fingers on it.  Kings wasn't packed but it was fairly full, and despite being a partial anti-social shut-in I knew a ton of people there.  No doubt if you polled my local group of friends, this record would come the closest to getting the "record of the year" nod, and across a fairly wide swath of music fans. 

Clearly, the love goes both ways, as the War on Drugs declared their love for the town multiple times...I'm sure it helps that they seem to have friends here, and I'm sure constantly getting smoke blown up your ass is never a bad thing.  Early on they noted they were going to play about 90% of their songs, and they might have even gone over that number.  They played over an hour and a half, definitely playing my two favorite songs "Arms Like Boulders" and "Baby Missles" and pretty much anything else I might possibly want top hear.  At some point about halfway through their set, front man Adam Granduciel asked for a volunteer from the crowd to help with some guitar on one of their songs, and local rocker Andy Holmes (of Old Bricks) joined them not only for the next track but for a few more throughout the night.  There was no encore, just a solid block of rock from one of the best new Tom Petty cover bands out there today. 

Pipe at Motorco - 10/7/2011


Pipe.  PIPE!  PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE!!!!!  Can you tell I was excited to see these guys again?  I couldn't even tell you how many times it's been, but seeing punk rock's version of Guided by Voices never gets old.  The crowd wasn't very large but they were enthusiastic, peppering singer Ron Liberti with beer cans for the duration of the show.  The set list was a typical Pipe set list, including "Ashtray" and "You're Soaking in It" and all the usual suspects - but the real surprise is they played a *new* untitled song.  When the hell was the last time Pipe had a new song?!?  I was both bewildered and excited, fondly daydreaming that there might even be a new seven inch or album in the future...well, maybe a seven inch.  A new album seems about as likely as this band getting the due they've deserved for almost 20 years now. 

Tonk at Kings 10/1/2011


Local classic country purveyors Tonk decided to make an appearance at Kings, and who was I to stay at home and miss that?  After a night of watching football and eating cheeseburgers with friends, it was the best way to end the night.  As per usual they played a wide swath of classic country songs, some known and others not.  A couple of the highlights were "Be Real" by Sir Douglas Quintet and Nick Lowe's "Lately I've Let Things Slide".  Yeah the Nick Lowe song isn't country but it is awesome so who cares.  I know there was a Gary Stewart song played too but my mind fails me on what it was.  There were also a couple of original tracks, with the comically titled "She Likes To Love Me Early and Often" standing out in my hazy brain.  There were quite a few audience members dancing, and i don't mean rock show bobbing-your-head dancing like I've perfected - real dancing, couples dancing.  I don't do that kind of dancing, but appreciate their enthusiasm.  In the event it wasn't already obvious - Tonk were awesome.  If you have any love at all for classic country, you'd be a fool not to go see them live. 

T0W3RS / Naked Gods / Cellar Seas / The Toddlers at Kings & Tir Na Nog 9/29/2011

T0W3RS with Naked Gods
Cellar Seas with The Toddlers
Kings and Tir Na Nog

This was a night of two free shows - one at Kings, the other at Tir Na Nog.  The only thing better than a free show is two of them withing short walking distance of each other. 

First up was Naked Gods at Kings.  I'd heard of these kids for a while, but this was my first time seeing them.  Boone hasn't exactly produced a ton of great bands, and growing up near there you automatically assume most anything leaving that town is going to have a strong hippie stink to it.  Luckily, that was not the case here - to put it in simplest terms, the group reminded me of a southern rock version of the great British band Doves.  The singer had a nice voice, reminding me at different times of David Bazan and Jim James of My Morning Jacket.  I didn't love every single song they played, but I liked enough of their songs to recommend them to others and try to see them again myself. 

I made my way down to Tir Na Nog after that, hoping to catch Cellar Seas, but things seemed to be running behind here and The Toddlers were probably in the middle of their set.  I'd never even heard of this band, but from what I could gather they are a fairly new act out of Chapel Hill.  The singer had a really deep, interesting voice, a voice that colors their songs more than most voices do.  When they played slower songs they had a resemblance to the Doors.  When they played more upbeat songs, they had a Joy Division feel to them.  Now I'm no Doors hater, but I'll let you guess which tracks I found more appealing. 

Cellar Seas closed out Local Bands Local Beers at the Nog.  Now I can try and pretend to write about these guys (and gal) from an objective point of view, but let's be honest - I'm friends with three-quarters of the band and this is being written for my shitty website so I don't see any reason to fake it.  They play a catchy, pleasant brand of country-tinged roots rock, and I like it.  I don't just "friend rock" like it either - songs like "Nightshade" and "Carousel" would be damn fine songs even if I didn't know most of the band (and woulda know all of the band if D-Mike hadn't up and moved to Austin).  Also, they just released a free EP for download that has the two songs mentioned above and a couple of other gems.  Grab it here

I made my way back up the hill to catch most of TOW3RS set.  I'd been hearing about them a little bit, and I'm always game to check out the newest local buzz bands.  Smart decision on my part - this is a young, powerful band.  The songs are catchy, the music is big, the band members are cute and if there were a betting pool I'd put my ten cents on these cats being the next local break out artist.  The best way I could describe their sound is early, pre-disco Of Montreal, a little bit of Lonnie Walker's jangle and a dash of Danielson Famile's quirkiness.  To top it all of the gig was being entirely lit by a showing of the film "Independence Day"...nothing like a little indie pop while Will Smith is being projected on the side of the band.  I will be sing this band again very soon, and very often, hopefully.