Friday, July 27, 2012

This week's hot concerts

12 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28. 15305 Black Farms Rd., Huntersville. $25 Friday, $5 Saturday.
Donna the Buffalo headlines Friday’s festival, but the fourth annual fundraiser (which benefits the Davidson Fire Dept., Red Cross and others) also focuses on local artists like Something Clever and WeakerCaptain, who play Friday and Brody and Choch, Blue Fiveone, and Chasing Pedestrians who lead up to Saturday’s headliner, Masterjaxx.

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 27, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $33-$116.30.
Nickelback may be the most polarizing band in rock today, but the return of Gavin Rossdale’s Bush (after other bands and a solo career that never seemed to take off) is cause for curiosity and possibly celebration. While deemed too-Nirvanaesque at the time, Bush did release some grunge era classics.

Childish Gambino
8 p.m. Friday, July 27, Time Warner Cable Uptown Ampitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $32.
Comedic actor-turned-critically acclaimed rapper Donald Glover (of NBC’s “Community”) finally brings his alter-ego to Charlotte after rescheduling his sold out Spring concert and getting bumped to a larger venue.

Gigi Dover & Big Love
9 p.m. Friday, July 27, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $8. 704-376-1446.
Dover and husband Eric Lovell step outside that stylistic umbrella of Americana with a new album (“The Robin Is High & the Mustache is Long”) that sounds like Southerners steeped in folk and soul taking a global journey and exploring African, gypsy, and Latin American styles. They celebrate the album’s release.

Alison Krauss & Union Station with Jerry Douglas
8 p.m. Saturday, July 28, Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $38-$69.
The Grammy winning crooner gets back to her bluegrass roots with the band she’s led since her early teens. The seasoned group includes Dan Tyminski (of “O’Brother Where Art Thou” fame), Ron Block and Barry Bales, and has boasted Dobro master Douglas’ membership since 1998.

8 p.m. Sunday, July 29, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $27.
These two `90s rock hold outs may seem like two different sides of the hard rock spectrum, but the diverse electric guitar work of the Toadies’ heavier, stoner-leaning output melds well with the thick, methodical riffing that Page Hamilton and company built its career on.

Vans Warped Tour
11:30 a.m. Monday, July 30, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $42.
Although it’s gone in a distinctly heavier direction (with more metalcore acts on the bill) bands like Taking Back Sunday, Streetlight Manifesto, Sick of Sarah, Yellowcard, New Found Glory, All Time Low, and Bayside keep the long running festival anchored in punk while acts like Breathe Carolina, Blood on the Dancefloor, Every Time I Die, Tony D’Angelo, and Twin Atlantic allow it to stretch stylistically.

Lindsey Buckingham
7 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $50. 704-358-9298.
Following the recent announcement that Fleetwood Mac will reunite for a 2013 tour, the group’s underrated guitarist (whose playing is often more subtle and fitting to each individual song than showy) brings his intimate “evening with” solo tour to town.

Die Roten Punkte
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, Duke Energy Theater, 345 N. College St. $34.50. 704-372-1000.
What if Jack and Meg White were dysfunctional, German siblings whose relationship breaks down on stage between songs about bananas, robots, and their tragic upbringing? That’s the gist of this uproariously funny, musically rocking concert that’s part theatrical rock show and part comedy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cheap & eclectic, Recess Fest kicks off today

Spanning 14 venues with around 80 bands, the 4th Annual Recess Fest kicks off today with Donald Harris and Bobby Childers playing simultaneous 8:15 sets at Petra's Piano Bar and Common Market, respectively just steps away from each other on Commonwealth Ave. The rest of tonight's lineup includes Omar El-Amin, Your Fuzzy Friends, Derek Blackmon and Just Brazil with the Bear Romantic at Petra's. Serfs, People Person, and Blossoms round out the Common Market lineup.

The great thing about Recess Fest, which features acts in NoDa, Plaza-Midwood, Elizabeth, SouthEnd and West Charlotte, allows music fans to basically bar hop while taking in numerous regional and national acts over four days all for $25. Weekend passes are no longer available online, but many of the participating venues will have them including Tremont, Snug Harbor, and Lunchbox Records. You can also pay per individual show. Some are $7 or $8 while the finale featuring Archers of Loaf on Sunday at Tremont is $18, while others at non-traditional venues are donation only.

The music is eclectic, tickets are cheap, and it gives a great overview of what Charlotte has to offer in realm of underground music. Friday for instance there's the instrumental adventurousness of SC's Pan (a bit like Explosions in the Sky) at Snug Harbor, while Charlotte's own Dirty Drummer spins at Crown Station. Elsewhere garage rock acts Secret Hospital and Homewrecker play Tommy's Pub as The Milestone hosts yet another seven acts.

That's just a sampling. Saturday;s Plaza-Midwood-centered portion starts early with Joint Damage, Mon Frere, and Meat Group at Lunchbox Records. Kickstand (the neighboring burger joint) plays host to everything from the ethereal pop of Cement Stars to the Latin funk, punk, n' ska of Bakalao Stars. And Royal Tinfoil and Pullman Strike bring rocking Americana and country-tinged indie rock to Thomas Street Tavern. There's also music at Snug Harbor, Twenty-Two, Common Market, and Yauhaus.

Bands like Great Architect and Appalucia play earlier in the day Sunday at Dialect and The Rat's Nest in NoDa followed by later shows at Tremont, which will be running both the Casbah and big room stages, and Common Market. There are too many acts to list here, but check out for the complete schedule.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Festival set for Huntersville this weekend

Festival favorite Donna the Buffalo returns to the area Friday to headline Barnstock - a two-day festival that takes place in Huntersville. Aside from the veteran genre hopping Americana act, Barnstock focuses predominantly on local and regional artists covering diverse styles of music.

Friday's lineup, which begins at noon, includes True Life, Something Clever, Golden Boy, Morning Brigade, WeakerCaptain, the Brett Morton Project, the Rusty Knox Band, and Billy Jones and the Pocket. Saturday's bill features Atlas Road Crew (A.R.C.), D&D Sluggers, Keaton Lange, the Business People, Vanished Frontier, Stoney Creek Boys, Blue Fiveone, War Hands, Sugar Glyder, Chasing Pedestrians, Brody and Choch, and Masterjaxx.

Tickets for Friday's show are $25 and open to those 18 and up. Saturday's installment is $5 and open to those age 15 and over. Click here for tickets. Camping passes are also available. Gates open at 11 a.m. each day and music ends around midnight.

Barnstock is located on four acres on Black Farms Rd. near the intersection of highway 73. Davidson's Miles Brown, 20, started the festival in 2009 with the help of family and friends. The grassroots event is not only a showcase for local and regional artists. Proceeds from the 2012 festival will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, American Red Cross, and the Davidson Fire Department. Organizers have donated over $12,000 for the Fire Department since the festival's inception.

A coed sand volleyball tournament will also be held to raise funds for Queens University student and volleyball player Ashley Winters, who is battling Hodgkins-Lymphoma. It takes place Saturday. Learn more about that event here.

Donna the Buffalo (pictured above) played the US National Whitewater Center in April and is the driving force behind the bi-annual Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival in Silk Hope, NC - the next of which is October 4-7 outside of the Chapel Hill/Durham area.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Return engagements: Why I'd see Clutch 20 more times

Watching Prong rip through a blistering opening set Friday at Amos' I wondered how many times I’d actually seen headliners Clutch. Given that Clutch was the favorite band of both my high school boyfriend, my husband, and a couple friends, my Clutch-count surpassed any other band’s a long time ago. My number hovers around 18 or 19. 

Clutch became more than a boyfriend band once I saw them live for the first time at Tremont Music Hall in 1996. It was the song “Texan Book of the Dead” that won me over. I found singer Neil Fallon’s (pictured above with guitarist Tim Sult and below) ridiculous lyrics “E-I-E-I-O” and “Bee-Bop-A-Loo-Bop….” hilarious. It was heavy and intense, but not lacking a sense of humor.

I bought a copy of the self-titled album at work a couple days later. From then on any time anyone said, “You wanna go see Clutch?” I did. While living what seemed like light years away in Tempe, Arizona in 2001, watching them as I awkwardly huddled beside a steel barrier to avoid the chaos of the pit, I almost teared up when Fallon who was wearing WVU ball cap introduced “Soapmakers” with “This song’s about the great state of West Virginia.” In my desert isolation it was as if old friends had come to visit.

While there are bands you see once and are ok to never see live again, there are others that draw the same faces over and over. I saw many of the same people Friday that I’ve seen at Clutch shows since the late `90s. It seems like a reunion - my babysitter, her ex-boyfriend, her roommate, my husband’s band mates, best friends, and former co-workers. The drummer from that old boyfriend’s band actually brought his 14-year-old from WV while a friend and her ex were seeing Clutch for the first time. The audience is still growing.

Some came to witness veteran metal band Prong who plays again August 2 at The Fillmore with Static X. Leader Tommy Victor led a fiery set that included “Beg to Differ,” “Unconditional,” “Rude Awakening” and the new single “Revenge…Best Served Cold” (from its new disc “Carved Into Stone”). It ended the brief set with the crowd pleaser “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.”

The crowd that gathered at the front of the stage for Clutch hasn’t changed much since the `90s. They sang along intently, arms flailing, pointing and punching the air, jumping up on the barrier while shouting the words to “Escape from the Prison Planet” and “A Shogun Named Marcus” late in the set just as Clutch fans have been doing since 1995.

Even though so many of us have seen them twenty or thirty times, no one seemed disappointed in the hour and a half set. There was a time after that first show that I'd wait impatiently to hear “Texan Book of the Dead” again (six shows before I heard it a second time live!). I'm ok without it now.

I was pleased with “Cypress Grove” and oldies like “The Elephant Riders,” “Prison Planet,” “Spacegrass,” and “Marcus” are always welcome. The show began with “Freakonomics” from its latest (but still not new) album “Strange Cousins from the West.” The mood fittingly escalated on the second song “The Mob Goes Wild.” It, like “Shogun,” “Animal Farm,” and “Book,” sound written specifically for a wildly, thrashing crowd.

“Electric Worry,” which has enjoyed wider appeal due to its use in a commercial for the video game “Left 4 Dead 2,” ended the regular set. For many years Clutch didn’t encore, but Friday it welcomed opening act Lionize’s keyboardist Chris Brooks to the stage to add organ to “Motherless Child” and “10001110101.”

Speaking to friends as the crowd dispersed one said it was his favorite set list since he was a teenager. Another, who was so over Clutch a week before and only decided to attend last minute due to “peer pressure” (ha), was seen frolicking at the front during “Mob” and admitted afterward that he’d be back if just to witness the subtle percussion mastery of Jean Paul Gaster. I know I’ll be back too. There’s something about the combination of that heavy, masculine rock and deep, familiar bluesy grooves - it's hard rock you can dance to. 

I will say that following the “Dark Knight Rises” shooting I watched Friday’s show differently than with the sort of carefree mind I saw the Killers with the night before in Asheville. I was reminded of the horrific 2004 murder of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell. More than once Friday I looked around to find the best place to duck if a crazy person started shooting. That’s not something that entered my mind Thursday night. Still, I never really considered not going. It’s sad and scary that you may not even be safe in such a joyful environment as watching your favorite band or being one of the first to see a new blockbuster, but the realization is you never know when you’re truly safe when violence can erupt at school or work or at the grocery store. I guess, as paranoid as events like Thursday’s can make us, we can’t avoid them out of fear. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Killers stage killer comeback in Asheville

Having only performed a handful of times overseas and once in the US since the end of 2009 the Killers made a triumphant return to the stage Thursday for a crowd of around 1100. The Las Vegas quartet stopped at Asheville's The Orange Peel on its way to perform this weekend at Delaware’s Firefly Festival.

Having previously tried and failed to buy tickets online for Smashing Pumpkins' 2007 run at The Peel and the Beastie Boys' 2009 concert, I felt fortunate to score Killers’ tickets given that they rarely, if ever, play the Carolinas. It was also special because Thursday was the first time my husband and I have seen the Killers since stumbling upon the then unknown band performing a late set in one of the smaller tents at Coachella 2004. We'd only been dating a few months and would marry on the way to Coachella the next year. 

I vaguely remember one of the members (singer Brandon Flowers I think) wearing a white blazer and black shirt that looked like something John Travolta wore in “Saturday Night Fever.” This was before the full blown `80s synth resurgence. The band wore nothing as costume-y Thursday. Aside from Flowers’ leather jacket, which he promptly removed after the first song, no one looked too glam. The only set piece hid Flowers’ keyboard - the front of which was a big lightning bolt made of light bulbs in the style of an old-timey sign. It's actually the "E" from the logo of the band's upcoming album "Battle Born," which is due this fall. 

It began with its new single “Runaways.” The crowd sang along even though it’s new. Guitarist Dave Keuning provided ample backing vocals that I never really notice on record. The group then charged into a string of old hits “Somebody Told Me” (which I remember from Coachella as the first one that really caught me) and “Smile Like You Mean It” - another standout from its 2004 debut “Hot Fuss.”

“Spaceman” (from its last full-length “Day & Age”) followed. Monk-like backing vocals signaled 2008’s “This is Your Life.”

Flowers, a father of three looking boyish at 31, worked the stage hopping on and off monitors to momentarily tower above the crowd. He introduced the next song as a new one called “Rising Tide.” It was very much a straight ahead rock song with a chorus that was at once predictable and irresistible. Another new song “Miss Atomic Bomb” (which I heard on Sirius/XM last week) followed. It built slowly highlighting his voice and bridging the Killers’ Springsteenian knack for storytelling with its earlier comparisons to Duran Duran. Near the song's end I swear I heard Keuning referencing the guitar line from “Mr. Brightside,” which made me wonder if this song is the miss to that mister. The titles alone make them an interesting couple.

The band traded instruments for “For Reasons Unknown” with Flowers taking bass and bassist Mark Stoermer adding extra guitar. There was also an additional musician on a couple tracks. 

There were a few surprises in the set. “Bling (Confessions of a King)” (an album track from “Sam’s Town”) and a cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay” (a single from the Killers' b-sides album “Sawdust”) for instance are quirkier than most of the group’s pop-oriented singles. The latter’s `80s electro drum machine and “doohoohooh” intro was met with surprised elation from the crowd who delighted in singing the "oohs" as Keuning recreated that dark, late `70s/early `80s goth-punk guitar tone.

“Human” brought us back to present day (despite a disco-feeling backbeat) followed by “A Dustland Fairytale” and “Read My Mind.” The momentum built gradually with hit after hit then peaked with the band's biggest hit “Mr. Brightside.” That song never gets old to me despite having become a fixture on alt-rock radio. I think it’s the sense of longing it creates, which is something the Killers (like the bands that inspire its sound) do well.

It followed its best known hit with arguably its most inspiring anthem - “All These Things I’ve Done.” Flowers led the crowd in the gospel-like refrain “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” with bright white lights adding to the sort of spiritual rock feel of it all.

After the band left the stage for what seemed like quite a lengthy pre-encore break, the crowd began chanting it again. The group finally appeared. “This is a new song,” Flowers said as drummer Ronnie Vannucci (the most animated member of the band besides Flowers) kicked off “Flesh and Bone.”

As if part of a “Saturday Night Live” skit the guy beside me (who sounded like an extra from “The Sopranos”) bellowed: “Oh no, why would you ever play a new song?” His equally loud girlfriend echoed his frustration. “They got like 30 other songs they could play.” I found this annoying and amusing as the whole point of these intimate pre-record release shows is to get fans excited about the upcoming album and it’s not like at 10 years into its career the Killers is a nostalgia act. 

“Flesh and Bone” turned out to be a great song - maybe the best of the four new ones. That didn’t keep him from moaning until “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” (which opens “Hot Fuss”) began a few minutes later.

The show, which had no low points really, ended on a high one in yet another big rock anthem - “When We Were Young.” It served as a reminder that seeing purveyors of such arena-ready pop-rock in a club in a quaint artsy city in the mountains is a treat and a rarity. But because the town is so inviting and The Peel has positioned itself as a venue that can pull it off with what I hear are really nice accommodations, these events are becoming less rare. 

Clips from the Asheville show have surfaced on YouTube (with links above). The sound quality is pretty rough. Here is another from The Firefly Festival. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This week's hot concerts

7 p.m. Friday, July 20, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $19-$22.
On the heels of its new 7” single Clutch headlines Charlotte for the first time since its 2009 holiday tour with a set list that’s a speckling of its 22-year output, while influential metal vet Prong boasts a well-received new album “Carved Into Stone.”  With Lionize.

JD McPherson
8 p.m. Friday, July 20, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-$15. 704-358-9200.
As if plucked from another era, this Oklahoma vintage soul band leader channels a young Little Richard - similar to the way Amy Winehouse once stoked the embers of girl groups like the Ronettes. He’s gained favor with the UK music press as well.

Charles Walker Band
10 p.m. Friday, July 20, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10. 704-376-1446.
Looking like action heroes from `70s Blaxploitation films, this Milwaukee combo’s retro blend of funk and blues is punctuated by its band leader’s ever present organ and showy saxophone and vocalist Porsche Cameron’s edgy soul delivery.

Summer Music Festival
6 p.m. Saturday, July 21, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $54.25-$144.25.
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and Patti LaBelle head up this multi-generational R&B fest which includes the `60s and `70s soul of the O’Jays, the smooth `80s and `90s grooves of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and the modern hip-hop-tinged R&B of singer Tank.

311/Slightly Stoopid/The Aggrolites
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $32-$61.85.
It’s a bill of feel-good summer-ready tunes when 311’s annual summer Unity Tour returns this time with the beachy Southern California reggae-rock of Slightly Stoopid and the soul-infused old school reggae of the Aggrolites.

A Place to Bury Strangers/Hunters
7 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $15-$18.
Don’t let the “noise rock” tag fool you, NYC’s APTBS make listenable, distorted, dark rock like Jesus & Mary Chain spliced with Joy Division. The punkier Hunters take a similar musical approach, but with female vocals akin to Ting Tings.

Lydia Loveless
8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $10-$12. 704-376-3737.
With her matter-of-fact delivery, a voice that sounds like Neko Case’s spunkier sister, and blatantly honest stage banter this funny Ohioan singer-songwriter is a hidden gem whose lyrics and heart are bound to charm.

Josh Ritter
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $25.50-$29.50. 704-372-1000.
Long revered for literate folk-rock that draws comparisons to Bob Dylan, the songwriter and band leader is equally adept on stage where he is backed by a charging rock combo that creates an atmosphere that’s far from a chill, sit-down singer-songwriter experience (although that's what you get in the above video).

Jason Aldean
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $40.25-$73.
With a new album set for fall (preceded by the new single “Take a Little Ride”), the country headliner continues to host his My Kinda Party Tour with openers Luke Bryan, Rachel Farley and DJ Silver keeping the momentum going once tailgaters enter the venue. 

No Charlotte for Kishi Bashi, but set to play Durham

Of Montreal’s show at the Neighborhood Theatre in June was easily one of the best club shows of the year. The lively, colorful art-rock band elevated the concert with dance, costumes, and performance art. 

Eight musicians on stage felt more like 25. One of those - the Asian guy dressed like an extra from the “Sergeant Pepper” album cover - was K. Ishibashi (pictured) who was scheduled to make his solo Charlotte debut (under his stage name Kishi Bashi) Thursday with Passion Pit. But Passion Pit cancellation means the closest place to catch him is in Durham August 7 with Tall Tall Trees during his first headlining tour.  

Sparked by his participation on of Montreal’s latest tour and album “Paralytic Stalks,” the violinist and vocalist for indie-rock band Jupiter One recently went solo.

“Working with of Montreal jumpstarted my solo project. It’s been inspiring,” Ishibashi says calling from his home in Norfolk.

Kevin Barnes, the mastermind behind of Montreal, tapped Ishibashi and Jupiter One’s Zac Colwell to compose instrumental parts for songs on “Paralytic Stalks.”

“He’d leave me a whole space to fill. I really pushed myself to dig into the sound. He plays every instrument except violin and I used my violin to come up with a bunch of interesting sounds, especially using loops. It helped bring me to a new level in production,” he says.

Ishibashi realized the places he could go with just his violin and a loop pedal - an approach that’s grown in popularity with artists like Andrew Bird.

“My (live) set up is a suitcase and a few pedals. I can do a whole show that’s pretty entertaining that’s just three pedals and violin,” he explains. That set up allows for audiences to see something off the cuff and different from his debut album, “151a.”

“It does change. There’s a certain amount of pre-composition and improvisation and error. It used to be pretty bad,” he says in terms of on stage hiccups. “Like something happens where my pedal freezes up if I kick it too hard.”

He’s tweaked the live show, but thinks it’s his lyrics that could use work (although with its ethereal mix of electronics and classical influences and world music and art-rock, “151a” is lyrically eons beyond “Hangin’ Tough” or “My Humps”).

“I’m not a literary person in general. I was just thinking about it today. I don’t have much respect for the English language. My grammar is the worst - run on sentences, (bad) punctuation. My lyrics are a little shallow. They’re rich in imagery, but as far as actual content I think that’s one of my weaknesses,” he says. “There is a type of person who hears the words first and derives meaning from it and music is just an afterthought. For a lot of musicians, the music is first. I’m exactly that way. That’s a shame. You’re talking about the meaning of the song. To totally ignore the lyrics, which I’ve pretty much done for most of my life?”

Barnes has encouraged him to dig deeper. Adds Ishibashi: “When (Kevin) writes a song he thinks about (something like) how mad he is at his wife and then starts writing a song where the riff is based on the anger. I can’t think like that. I have ideas and music I hear and then words form over them and then I make stories out of the words.” 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Who bring "Quadrophenia" to Carolinas

The Who will play its first North American concerts in four years this fall, including stops at Greenville, SC's Bi-Lo Center November 8 and Greensboro Coliseum November 9. The legendary classic rock band led by surviving founders Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform its 1973 double album "Quadrophenia" in its entirety as well as other Who classics.

The band now consists of half its original lineup. It lost notorious drummer Keith Moon back in 1978 at age 32. Bassist John Entwistle died of a heart attack a decade ago (Townshend recently posted a blog about the anniversary). The current lineup includes Ringo Starr's drummer son Zak Starkey (who has played with the Who since 1996), Entwistle's official replacement bassist Pino Palladino, guitarist/backing vocalist Simon Townshend (Pete's younger brother), and keyboardists Chris Stainton, Loren Gold, and Frank Grimes (who is also the tour's musical director).

Tickets for both shows go on sale to the general public July 27 at 10 a.m. following a fan club pre-sale that starts July 20 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at, venue box offices, select Walmart locations, and by calling 1-800-745-3000.

The tour begins November 1 in Sunrise, Florida. Dates are booked through the end of February 2013.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Passion pits - group cancels tour, Charlotte date

Passion Pit announced Monday that it's cancelled its upcoming tour, which was scheduled to begin today in Nashville and hit The Fillmore in Charlotte on Thursday. The band reportedly dropped off as a headliner at Ohio's Bunbury Music Festival on Sunday. 

The following message from frontman Michael Angelakos was posted on the band's official website this afternoon: "On behalf of the band and myself I would like to greatly apologize for the show cancelations (sic). In order for me to ensure that there will be no further disruptions I am going to take the time to work on improving my mental health. For now, I'd like to thank all of our fans for their understanding. I hope to see all of you very soon in a much different light." 

Tickets for The Fillmore show were selling well. And while this will be a big disappointment for the band's fans it's also disappointing for the support acts, which included Kishi Bashi and Baltimore's Future Islands. Kishi Bashi is the solo project of violinist/vocalist K. Ishibashi from the indie band Jupiter One who has also toured with of Montreal and Regina Spektor. 

I was particularly excited for Future Islands, who has long played the tiny Milestone club, to perform for a bigger crowd. The group got its start at East Carolina University. 

Passion Pit's tour will pick back up August 2 at Lollapalooza. Its new album "Gossamer" will be released next Tuesday, July 24. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This week's hot concerts

8 p.m. Friday, July 13, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10-$12.
Few 73-year-olds are as brazen as Clarence Reid who wrote R&B songs for famous `60s and `70s acts before donning the persona of original X-rated rapper Blowfly. He returns for the first time in six years with the O-Getters (featuring Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton making his soul singing debut) and Groove 8.

8 p.m. Friday, July 13, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. 704-376-3737.
The Charleston transplants celebrate the release of its new album “The Diamond Sessions” which finds them tapping into their pop sensibilities and growing out of its Americana roots for a Southern-steeped sound that fits somewhere between VH1 and CMT. 

Mindy Smith/Rosi Golan
8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $15-$17. 704-376-3737.
Two female singer-songwriters with lilting easy-on-the-ears voices and a knack for thoughtful writing that blurs the lines between mature indie pop, countrified Americana, and orchestral folk.

8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $5-$7.
The quirky, experimental art-rockers behind the annual multi-venue, multi-day Recess Fests make compositions that are beautifully trippy and adventurously hypnotic. The band organized this show as a fundraiser for the upcoming festival, set for July 26-29.
10 p.m. Saturday, July 14, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $8. 704-376-1446.
Two generations of Charlotte rock bands. Crisis creates hummable pop-rock that bridges classic `60s and more-current jangle pop like a cousin of Charlotte’s own Spongetones. The latter and younger makes lo-fi pop-infused post-punk that recalls early Superchunk.

8 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $12-$17.
Though it hasn’t found success on the charts since the early `00s, frontman Jimmy Gnecco has an unbelievable voice (often compared to Jeff Buckley and once rumored to take Scott Weiland's place in Velvet Revolver) that’s truly something to witness live. After a stint as a solo artist he’s back with the band for an intimate headlining tour.

Blitzen Trapper
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$15.
The Portland psychedelic folk-rock combo returns following the 2011 release of what songwriter/frontman Eric Earley considers its most meaningful as it intimately charts the struggle and conflict of the small town American experience.

Passion Pit
8 p.m. Thursday, July 19, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33.
With a new album, “Gossamer,” out July 24th the dancetastic electro-pop outfit headlines a killer electro-rock bill that includes looping violinist Kishi Bashi (who was here as part of of Montreal in June) and dark-rock trio Future Islands, whose members originally hail from NC’s Morehead City.

Valient Thorr
8 p.m. Thursday, July 19, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $12-$15.
The interplanetary globe trotters from NC boast a wild, charismatic leader and make old school hard rock and metal that’s hooky and heavy without (sonically) brutalizing its audience. It deserves a wider audience. 

Classic soul writer turned dirty rapper back in CLT

X-rated rapper Blowfly returns to Charlotte for the first time in six years Friday, July 13, when he and his band play Tremont Music Hall.

Beneath the glittery mask and superhero costume is Miami R&B music legend Clarence Reid who wrote songs for artists like KC & the Sunshine Band and Betty Wright in the `60s and `70s. The above trailer for the 2010 documentary about Reid (which is available on DVD) gives an overview of his history and reveals that there is much more to Blowfly than dirty parodies.

Guitarist Joe Young of the Charlotte band Antiseen is interviewed in the film. Another member of Antiseen, frontman Jeff Clayton, will also appear at Friday's show. He'll unveil his soul singing skills with Charlotte soul/R&B throwback the O'Getters, which sounds as strange as a 73-year-old dirty rapper in a homemade superhero costume.

Blowfly has been working on an EP called "Black in the Sack" that's due this fall. "The Weird World of Blowfly" documentary is also available on Hulu.

Tickets for Friday's concert are $10-$12. Doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Charlotte jazz-funk outfit Groove 8, who just released its new album, also play.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waters' 'Wall' still dazzling, evocative

For Pink Floyd fans that were too young or geographically challenged to ever witness the band live, Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” (or his “Dark Side of the Moon” performance from a few years ago) is likely the closest you can get. But even for non-fans experiencing “The Wall Live” is remarkable, sometimes chilling, though occasionally thematically inconsistent (the juxtaposition of war crimes with Waters leading the crowd in feel-good/we’re-all-in-this-together handclaps during a roof raiser like “Run Like Hell” is a bit odd).

Water’s show Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena began with goosebump-inducing fireworks from above and below the stage as Waters appeared in black with white low top Converse Chuck Taylors before quickly stepping into a long leather military style jacket for the opening of “In the Flesh.”

During “Thin Ice” faces of those killed during wars and by terrorists - from World War II to 9-11 to Iraq and Afghanistan - were projected on “the wall” that was half erected at the start of the show as well as on the giant circular screen above the stage. It was through these faces that Waters began to draw parallels between the original concept of the film and the current state of the world.  In fact the appearance of those photographs as well as birth and death information about each on the fully erected wall during intermission served as one of the most stirring parts of the show (as did footage of children greeting deployed parents later during “Vera”). I could hear the fans around me reading the dead’s short biographies out loud.

There were also parts of the show that were joyful. Early on, Waters beamed when a local children’s choir wearing “Fear Builds Walls” t-shirts marched on stage to sing the famous lines from “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” while an inflatable two-story version of the monster/teacher figure from the film sort of danced on the side of the stage. Those children were more animated in their choreography than some others I’d watched on YouTube. Waters later said the students only had a 20-minute rehearsal a few hours earlier.

A few more inflatable figures from the film found their way on stage during the set, but the actual wall was slowly pieced together by stage hands as Waters and his 10-piece band recreated the songs from the double album. Eventually the band was hidden entirely.

The towering wall created a sort of claustrophobic feeling for those closest to the stage, while it served as a stage-wide projection screen for those toward the back during “Hey You,” which opened the second portion of the show.

Waters was soon back at center stage trading verses with Robbie Wyckoff, who sang David Gilmour’s parts. Wyckoff and the band eventually joined Waters dressed in military wear in front of the wall where they performed the last few songs of the set with Waters in similar garb firing a fake machine gun at the audience (yes, that was a bit disturbing) and maniacally singing songs like “Run.”

With the audience chanting “Tear Down the Wall” it finally fell in a quick crumble with blocks cluttering the front of the stage. That made way for one of the most interesting performances of the night as Waters and the band reappeared in street clothes armed with acoustic instruments like mandolin, banjo, and accordion (with Waters on trumpet) for “Outside the Wall.” As he introduced the stellar band - which included his son Harry, Snowy White (who performed on the original “Wall” shows with Pink Floyd in 1980), and G. E. Smith of “Saturday Night Live” fame - it was as if the wall of the lavish production had also crumbled. 

Younger Earle makes McGlohon debut, produces Jackson

Justin Townes Earle - son of singer-songwriter and activist Steve Earle - returns to Charlotte November 16. He'll play McGlohon Theatre. I believe the upcoming concert marks only his third time playing Charlotte. I saw him with a handful of listeners at the Evening Muse before he released his debut album "The Good Life" in 2008. I was pretty blown away. I told him years later that I felt like I'd gone to school as he unearthed random old blues and vintage country covers (as well as a cover of his father's "Tom Ames' Prayer" - one of my favorite Steve Earle songs). It took almost four years to get him back in Charlotte. He played the US National Whitewater Center last fall and is admittedly taking a different approach now doing original material more in the style of his varied influences than splicing his set lists with material by other artists.

My love of his dad's music is no secret (you can read my review of the elder Earle's latest Charlotte show here), but it's rare that a second or third generation artist displays the musical or writing chops of his or her parent. The prolific Justin Townes Earle is doing that while charting a career that's completely different than his father's while still hovering in that broad genre that is "Americana."

Earle recently produced the upcoming Wanda Jackson album. It marks Earle's debut as a producer and the legendary female singer/guitarist's 31st album. Her last was produced by Jack White. The album titled "Unfinished Business" will feature a duet between Jackson and Earle. There's a making of video at "Rolling Stone" online now. 

Carolinian Tift Merritt serves as the opening act on the November leg of Earle's tour, which ends in Charlotte. Earle's latest album "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now" was released in March. Keep an eye on and for ticket information.

(Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins courtesy of Bloodshot Records)

Coldplay brings "Mylo" to page at Comic-Con

A week after it rocked Charlotte with a brilliant pre-July 4 show, Coldplay announced Tuesday that its "Mylo Xyloto" - the title of the British quartet's latest album - will premier as a comic book character at this week's San Diego Comic-Con International. The six issue series is a collaboration between the band and Oscar nominated writer/director Mark Osborne ("Kung Fu Panda"). Matt Groening's Bongo Comics Group will publish the series. 

The first issue will be available with an exclusive variant cover (previewed above) at Comic-Con, which takes place July 12-15. A panel discussion with some of the series' production team will be held Friday, July 13 followed by an autograph signing. A limited number of the Comic-Con exclusive issue will also be available at's online shop. 

The series will then be released to comic shops and bookstores monthly starting in February 2013. The series will also be available to pre-order at  

"Three years ago we had an idea with our friend Mark Osborne about a character called Mylo Xyloto - "xylo" as in xylophone, "to" as in toe. Gradually Mylo's story and universe came together and this ended up providing the backdrop for the album and tour," the band said via its website. "Now we're proud to announce that early next year the story is going to come out as a six-part comic. We hope you like it. It was fun making it."

Added Osborne: "The comic is the latest expression of a music-driven feature animated film that the band and I started developing several years ago. It is the story of Mylo Xyloto, a young Silencer on the front lines of a war against sound and color in the world of Silencia. Mylo discovers that the enemy he's been trained to hate his whole life might not be the enemy after all. There will hopefully be many, many connections for people who have heard the album. I am beyond thrilled with the way it's turned out."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Contestants wanted for "Sparkle" singing contest Saturday

The Jordin Sparks/Whitney Houston movie musical "Sparkle" doesn't hit theaters until August 17, but Concord Mills Mall will host a "Sparkle" related singing competition Saturday, July 14 at 1 p.m. Contestants are asked to sing a 60 second version of the Sparks/Houston (pictured) duet "Celebrate" or "Something He Can Feel," which Curtis Mayfield wrote for the original 1976 film and Aretha Franklin and later En Vogue made famous. Clips from the songs and contest details are available here.

Contestants ages 13 to 40 can register between 10 a.m. and noon at Concord Mills Mall Saturday, but you can reserve a spot by emailing The winner of Charlotte's "Sparkle Singing Challenge" receives $500, a $25 Bebe's gift certificate, and a chance to compete for the Grand Prize of a trip to New York, an appearance on BET's "106 & Park," and chance to record a track with the Punch Monkeys producing and writing team.

The original 1976 film starred actress/singer Irene Cara of "Fame" and "Flashdance...What a Feeling" fame and "Miami Vice's" Philip Michael Thomas. 

The contest is sponsored by BET, MySpace. and 96.1's Ace & TJ Show. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zac Brown Band returns to Verizon

With its new album "Uncaged" hitting stores and online retailers Tuesday, July 10, the Zac Brown Band announced Monday that it will return to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. That return date is set for Thursday, October 25. Tickets for the outdoor concert (which given the autumn date may be the last of the season at the venue) go on sale Friday, July 13 at 10 a.m. 

The above video for the bluegrass-inspired single "The Wind" debuted on CMT last week. The clip was directed by animator Mike Judge of "Beavis and Butt-head" and "King of the Hill" fame. 

Tickets for October's concert will be available through Ticketmaster and, at select Walmart locations, at the venue's Hardee's Thickburger Box Office, and by calling 1-800-745-3000. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Black Mountain's LEAF festival reveals fall lineup

The annual Lake Eden Arts Festival revealed the performing arts lineup for its 35th installment today. The eclectic bill includes the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and his band, Grammy winning Saharan Desert blues ensemble Tinariwen (featured in the above video), the Tony Rice Unit featuring the renowned bluegrass guitarist, Canadian folk trio the Be Good Tanyas, and New Orleans' funk legend George Porter, Jr. and his band the Runnin' Pardners. Another headliner who will close the festival on Sunday, October 21, will be announced in August.

The festival, which takes place in Black Mountain October 18th through 21, is truly a "world" music focused festival. Other artists include Ireland's the Fighting Jamesons, Uganda's Kinobe and the African Sensation, American folk multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon, Tennessee-based singer-songwriter Darrell Scott, Central Asia's Chirgilchin, and regional acts like Charleston's Sol Driven Train, and Asheville's Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.

Other activities include a plethora of dance styles like salsa, swing, waltz, and late night techno Contra, the LEAFlet's Kid's Village, arts and craft exhibits, and poetry and puppetry slams.

For a current list of performers, events, and additions check Tickets are available here. Both camping and non-camping options are available as well as weekend and day and evening-only passes, but tickets will only be available in advance. Current ticket prices (ranging from $34 for a one-night evening pass to $169 for 3 days and nights) increase September 1. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

This week's hot concerts

Girl Power Fest
8 p.m. Friday, July 6, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. and Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. FREE.
Two NoDa venues within walking distance stage this third annual female-fronted rock showcase. The lineup includes the Local Traumatic, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, Cusses, Shot Silk, Chasing Pedestrians, Joie, Lo Ultimo, Via, Danielle Engle, Sy Arden, and Devon Elizabeth.

Wednesday 13
8 p.m. Friday, July 6, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12-$14.
Before hitting Australia and Europe this fall the globetrotting horror rocker (think a younger, punker Alice Cooper) nears the end of his Summer of Blood US tour as he readies a Halloween EP and his next album for a 2013 (but of course!) release.

8 p.m. Saturday, July 7, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $5-$7. 704-358-9200.
“Shuffle Magazine” presents its most recent issue’s cover models - a Charleston outfit that (like fellow SC-ers Band of Horses) drifts between indie and Americana with subtlety and grace while delivering achingly hypnotic songs.

Supastition/Mr. Invislbe
10 p.m. Saturday, July 7, Crown Station, 1425 Elizabeth Ave. $5.
The critically acclaimed yet commercially underrated Charlotte rapper (and Greenville, NC-native) emerges from a two-year hiatus with Mount Holly hip-hop duo, Mr. I, who celebrates the release of its new EP “It’s On Us.”

7 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $8-$10.
If Snooki had a band it might fall in the ballpark of the electro valley girl hip-hop of this L.A. act that celebrates overindulgence like LMFAO’s little sisters while managing to equal those peers as a guilty pleasure.

Roger Waters
8 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St. $46.65-$221.75.
Without the chance of a Pink Floyd reunion, this may be fans only shot to catch the legendary band’s “The Wall” performed live. The updated state-of-the-art production, which was originally only performed 30 times during the `80s, has received stellar reviews.

Scream It Like You Mean It
12:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $22-$25.
Can’t wait for Warped Tour? This all day 17-band bill may tide hardcore and metal fans over. The lineup includes Attack! Attack!, We Came As Romans, the Acacia Strain, Oceano, Like Moths to Flames, and 12 others.

7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $40.
The superstar DJ returns with what promises to be his most visually ambitious tour. The 50-plus city Freaks of Nature Tour includes a huge LED screen and blazing light show, but it’s the beat that keeps the nonstop party pulsing.

Trevor Hall
8 p.m., Thursday, July 12, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $15. 704-358-9200.
With barefoot performances and a soulful voice this Hilton Head native seamlessly fuses the worlds of idealistic socially conscious reggae and unshakeable pop hooks that can take him into adult pop territory or have him melting teenage hearts. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Charlotte's Jon Lindsay reveals new video

Charlotte singer-songwriter Jon Lindsay, who released his new album "Summer Wilderness Program" last week, has released a video for the song "After Dark" (which appears on said album). Watch it above.

Lindsay recently told me about the late night shoot in Santa Monica where critically acclaim video director Colin Rich had him standing on his tip toes repeatedly and lip syncing in slow motion. You'll see why.

The song has burrowed its way into my brain and the video is clever and different. Lindsay's next Charlotte concert is July 28 at Visulite

Review: Coldplay at Time Warner Cable Arena

Coldplay did its fans a big favor by holding Tuesday’s concert indoors at Time Warner Cable Arena during the hottest week in recent memory. That decision was probably dictated more by the glow-in-the-dark nature of the production than the temperature.

Ticket holders were each given a fabric wrist band with a small hard plastic box attached to it upon entry. When Coldplay hit the stage with the upbeat title track to its latest album “Mylo Xyloto” following sets by London-based rock band, Wolf Gang and Swedish dance pop star Robyn, those bracelets lit up the arena with over 17,000 tiny colored lights. It was one of many ways Coldplay pulled its audience into the festivities and made the crowd feel less like spectators and more a part of the show. Lasers danced through the air and circular screens, including a large LED screen that hung over the stage, displayed dancing lights and stage footage.

Coldplay looked like it just came from a paintball fight. By the number of glow-in-the-dark paint blobs on their loose fitting pants and casual t-shirts, it looked like Martin lost and bassist Guy Berryman won.

Will Champion’s resounding beat signaled “Mylo’s” next track “Hurts Like Heaven.” Confetti burst from cannons as the song’s chorus kicked in.

Coldplay’s use of electronic touches on “Mylo Xyloto” has been both criticized and embraced, but other current influences were on display during those newer tracks as guitarist Jonny Buckland’s intricate finger work echoed lesser known modern bands like instrumental act Explosions in the Sky. “Heaven” ended with Martin in a backbend on the stage, already glistening with sweat. He thanked the crowd and promised the best concert of their lives. While that is a tall order, Coldplay proved again that it’s a phenomenal live band.

The mood escalated as it reached back to 2002’s “In My Place.” That song with its familiar guitar intro was another example of Coldplay making beautiful often subdued albums that play well on radio, but in a live setting those songs become more dynamic and grander. “Major Minus,” “Lovers in Japan” and “The Scientist” followed as the group approached another peak with its earliest hit “Yellow.” Martin began the song quietly on his graffiti-covered piano tinkling against the hum of Buckland’s guitar. Martin switched to his acoustic as the anthem kicked in and yellow light cast over the crowd.

The band gathered at the end of the catwalk for three songs including the Rihanna-aided “Princess of China” (her vocals were piped in as she appeared on screen). It was probably the most electronic feeling segment with Champion clicking time on an electronic drum pad.

The group was off to the finish beginning with the familiar strains of “Viva La Vida.” Champion pummeled kettle drums and thrashed a big Liberty-style bell. That gave way to the Cure-like guitar work of “Charlie Brown” and the anthemic “Paradise,” which closed the set with a giant sing along.

The band appeared in the audience toward the back of the arena where it began its encore with “Us Against the World” and a partly acoustic version of “Speed of Sound” before running back to the stage. There they ended with the one-two-three punch of “Clocks,” the moving fan favorite “Fix You” (probably one of the most well written love songs in recent memory) and ended with the danceable single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”

While glowing bracelets would’ve betrayed anyone attempting an early exit, few dared. Coldplay gave little reason to scoot out early. As with its 2009 concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Coldplay embraced its audience and wouldn’t let it go.

“Thank you for the best job in the world,” Martin said before exiting the stage following “Paradise.” It is easy to imagine that his is just that.  

As for its reputation for booking stellar opening acts, Coldplay didn’t disappoint. Wolf Gang struggled through sound issues rarely seen on a tour of this size, but despite an unresponsive piano the quintet’s bouncy Euro rock and catchy single “The King and All His Men” (currently in rotation on Sirius/XM alternative stations) served it well as an opener.

With her daring fashion (she began her set in a ballooning silver skirt and “Thunderdome”-like vest), futuristic sound and original dance moves, Robyn can be a polarizing performer. She turned in a set that at times felt more club than arena. The robotic vocals of minimalist tracks like “We Dance to the Beat” and “Fembot” (which are probably the coldest songs on her fantastic electro-R&B 2010 dance album “Body Talk”) may have seemed an unusual introduction to those who weren’t familiar with her. She did deliver more popular singles such as 2005’s “Cobrastyle,” and the more current “Dancing on My Own,” “Indestructible” and “Girlfriend” which had girls in our row copping her dance moves and singing the lyrics long after she’d left the stage.

Check out The Observer's Coldplay photo gallery here.