Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mini Review: A Wednesday night in Charlotte

Wednesday night I hit three local concerts - Uh Huh Her at Visulite, Hank and Cupcakes at Amos' Southend, and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult at Tremont. Even before I had two kids and could benefit from killing three shows with one babysitter so-to-speak, I've always liked nights where I could drift from venue to venue and see a lot of music during one outing.

I hit Visulite in time to see the four-piece electronic rock outfit led by "The L Word's" Leisha Hailey (bass, synth, vocals) and Camila Grey (vocals, synth, guitar - pictured), who were backed by guitar and drums. I'd describe Uh Huh Her's sound as ethereal rock - pop hooks beneath a wash of synthesizers and female harmonies. I wish I could have heard those harmonies better, but the hazy approach created a sort of electronic atmosphere.

Uh Huh Her drew the best turnout of the three. I imagine that was due to Hailey's popularity from the Showtime series. I only knew her as one half of the defunct alternative duo the Murmurs, who put out a few good albums during the `90s.

The best performance actually drew the smallest crowd. Hank and Cupcakes is a dance-rock duo from Brooklyn whose members originally hail from Tel Aviv. Cupcakes on drums and vocals is a show on her own. She oozes charisma and confidence. Her banter was both informative and funny. With her blonde hair, flailing arms, shimmying moves, and animated soul-pop singing she reminded me of Lady Gaga fronting an indie-punk garage band. The pair is also a testament to what great music can be made with just a handful of instruments and effects. They have no guitar, just Hank (pictured) funkily plunking away at his bass occasionally tapping effects pedals.

There was also something really honest and believable about their lively performance. When she moved from behind her drum kit to smooch the lanky Hank during the finale of "Hit," it seemed like a sweet, natural gesture - as if the audience was witnessing an intimate moment.

My night ended at Tremont where Thrill Kill Kult (pictured) performed in the Casbah. If you had told a 16-year-old me that I'd see a band I watched on "120 Minutes" with less than 100 people in such a small room I wouldn't have believed you. But nearly 20 years later that's the case. Like H&C TKK didn't let the numbers hinder its performance. Those that were there seemed totally into it, but the sound was probably the harshest I've heard anywhere. I rarely use earplugs, but I wouldn't go anywhere near the stage without them. You could clearly hear everything from the walkway outside. Despite the sound, which bordered on debilitating, the show did come off much better than what I'd witnessed on recent YouTube clips.

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