I rarely travel for shows anymore. When I first moved to Charlotte in 1994 I kept the interstate hot driving to Winston, Chapel Hill, Columbia and Atlanta. As the number of local venues and promoters grew it eventually became less necessary to travel quite so much, but there was still one band that I’d drive to see - partly because they never played Charlotte. That band is the National, who plays The Fillmore Wednesday. Charlotte for the first time Wednesday. It marks the band's first Charlotte show and I only have to drive downtown.
That isn’t the only band I don’t have to travel to see this week. During the `90s and early `00s I drove to Atlanta and Chapel Hill multiple times to see Rancid, who plays The Fillmore Tuesday. This is an unprecedented week of favorites. My very favorite contemporary band and what very well be my favorite straight up punk band (not counting riot grrrl) play consecutive days. Those shows are bookended by David Mayfield, who I try to see every time he’s in town, playing the Double Door Saturday and his sister Jessica Lea Mayfield playing the God Save the Queen City festival next Saturday at Chop Shop (with a stellar lineup of local and national artists). And it’s not even my birthday!
I discovered the National while volunteering as an overnight deejay at WNCW in Spindale in 2001. The Brooklyn-based Buckeyes’ (they hail originally from Ohio) self-titled debut was in the radio station's late night playlist. I probably played “Beautiful Head” or “Cold Girl Fever” at every shift. There was something perfect about Matt Berninger’s vague lyrics and deep baritone. I believe I gravitate toward singers that I can sing an octave higher than when I’m singing along, because all of my favorites (Morrissey, Paul Banks from Interpol, Steve Earle...) hover at that lower end.
The National became more than just a band I liked with the release of its third album, “Alligator.” I listened to it over and over painting my house in solitude (along with Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” - it was 2005). I became convinced that “Mr. November,” which closes that record, may be one of the best songs of all time. But when the National played Chapel Hill later that year I couldn’t go. The Rolling Stones opened the new Bobcats Arena that very same night. So I waited until May 2007. My husband, who was warming to them by then, and I witnessed the early "Boxer" tour in a small club in Atlanta where I planted myself in front of the stage before the opening band and didn’t even move to get a drink.
We’ve since seen them in Raleigh (multiple times), Chapel Hill, and Richmond (for our anniversary). “Boxer” won my husband over and they became “our” band.
Rancid headlining Tremont Music Hall on the club’s first anniversary with Rocket From the Crypt and Suicide Machines remains one of my all-time favorite concerts. The poster from that tour hangs over my son’s drum kit (at his request). I saw them with the Lunachicks in Atlanta (those prints hang in our bathroom) and stood next to the stage as a sweaty Tim Armstrong whisked by me the time Rancid played Warped Tour in Charlotte. My friend and I even danced to “Ruby Soho” at her wedding. But traveling to see Rancid stopped years ago partly because they didn’t come within a reasonable distance. I think they played Fayetteville once. Tuesday I’m taking my oldest boy.
Recent setlists indicate that what you’ll hear Tuesday may be very much like what I heard at Tremont 17 years ago. The set is heavy on material from “And Out Come the Wolves.” With that and Tim Armstrong doing his covers-focused project Tim Timebomb and Friends as an opening act, it should be a night full of Rancid-related history. Tim Timebomb does Armstrong's own “Into Action,” NOFX’s “Bob” (which Rancid covered on the “BYO Split Series. Vol 3”), as well as a handful of Operation Ivy songs. With “Radio” being the song Rancid will likely play first, I’ll have to figure out how to get my kid to stick around for the rest of the show. I think M&Ms and "Salvation" later in the set may do the trick.