Some Deadheads saw the Grateful Dead hundreds of times. Today there are diehards that have seen Dave Matthews Band or the Avett Brothers or Widespread Panic so many times they’ve lost count (I know some of 'em). It takes a lot to inspire that sort of repetition. When I moved to Charlotte in 1994 I had seen less than 10 concerts in my entire life (unless you count my dad’s friends’ weekly bluegrass jams, which I did not). Almost 20 years later, my work and much of my life revolves around concerts. Yet after seeing hundreds, there are only a handful of acts that I’ll go see every time they come to Charlotte.
These days I have to consider the cost of a babysitter. So I have to pick and choose. There are what I call the usual suspects - Clutch, Interpol, and the National. My husband and I have seen the former upwards of 50 times - most of those before we met. The latter two we have traveled to see for years.
There are a few newer acts that won me over with bold live shows who I’ll go see again and again. One of those plays Sunday at Tremont Music Hall - a rock duo called IAmDynamite. A publicist sent their album to me a couple years ago and said they thought I’d like it. Publicists say that all the time, but boy was he right. By the time the pair came to the Milestone six months later the album, “Supermegafantastic,” had become a fixture in my car and placed in my Top 10 albums of the year. At the Milestone my husband and I were in the front row tapping our feet with barely 30 people. The drummer Chris Phillips, who lives in the triangle area with his wife, later told me that his musical partner Chris Martin (who still lives in Michigan, where they grew up) had only just flown in and they weren’t well rehearsed. Still, they were great. I saw them again last December opening for Sum 41 at The Fillmore where I was giddy to watch them winning over others.
In March I took my son to see IAmDynamite. It was technically his first rock show (if you don’t count daddy’s band). He knew the entire album. I introduced it to him to help teach him rhythm since he loves drums. Phillips’ drums are pretty direct - meaning you can find the beat, but also not basic. There’s just not a lot to muddle the mix; only vocal harmonies and guitar to compete with. The arrangements aren’t over complicated. It’s a duo that can duplicate it’s albums on stage without the aid of (gasp) backing tracks or laptops (at least not yet).
At the show they signed his poster and posed for pictures with him. Tonight we’re doing it all again. We may even take our younger son - a notorious wild man who may run in circles around the room but who knows the songs too.
I would still see IAmDynamite every single time it plays here even if my kids weren’t into it. The group is that good. I got into this job to champion bands that I felt deserved it. That especially included underground, indie bands that were flying under the radar. Today that means bands like IAmDynamite, David Mayfield, and Valient Thorr - bands that I think should be drawing bigger crowds. The ones they do draw are enthusiastic. But more enthusiastic folks need to know about these bands.
Watching these three acts in particular brings me so much joy. Bouncing my little boy to the beat and singing along with IAmDynamite ranks right up there with my wedding day and the day he was born as one of the happiest moments of my life. Sharing music with him is such a joy. I want to share that joy with other people too (but I won't bounce you on my hip).
IAmDynamite's audience is growing slowly. It has scored high profile opening gigs with Blue October and Sum 41 and received accolades from "The Huffington Post" and "Absolute Punk." But I don’t know how its pop-rock delivered with the humor (just look at that ridiculous photo), harmony and hook-driven charm of Weezer and the ferocity of the Foo Fighters isn’t more well known. It should be the soundtrack to your drive home from work popping out of the car stereo speakers alongside whatever else the alt-rock and pop stations are playing (maybe that's a hurdle - its music doesn't fit into trendy genres really. It's not aggro, not folk-rock. It's straight up rock n' roll).
The first step is seeing it live. Take a chance. If you aren’t smiling by the end of the show, well, I won’t give you your money back. But I will wonder if you have a cold, cold heart. Or maybe I'll think you just don’t like snappy, infectious rock n’ roll.
Tickets are $8-$10. Show starts at 9 p.m. I'll be the woman coming in late - because my kids can't be expected to sit through three bands - with one, possibly two toddlers wearing big blue ear protectors who will undoubtedly be exhausted by the end of the night.