Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coachella Festival expands to two weekends

My best friend in San Diego (who happens to be a former Observer employee) sent me a post from www.coachella.com this morning that states the Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California is expanding its schedule from one three-day weekend in April to two next year.

Identical line-ups will perform April 13-15 and April 20-22, 2012 to accommodate more concert goers.

"COACHELLA 2012 will be two separate events, held over two consecutive weekends. We will attempt to produce two identical festival weekends. That means same lineup, same art, same place, different people.

We know many of you were unable to attend this year's festival because passes sold out much sooner than anticipated...We also know some of you purchased through non legitimate sources and were inconvenienced, gouged or totally scammed."

I can completely understand the reasons behind expanding the successful festival and the change could possibly make traffic and the logistics of finding accommodations, camping, or even just a spot to stand while watching a band in a tent much easier. But it also removes a bit of the magic of attending a "one time event" assuming the organizers can get acts to commit to two weekends in a row.

My husband and I attended Coachella in 2004, 2005, and 2007. It holds a special place for us because we were married en route to the festival in 2005 and named our second son after the town where the event is held. I can't imagine duplicating the first time the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne sailed across the crowd in his giant plastic bubble (though he now does it every night) or the sight of Peter Murphy dangling by his feet as Bauhaus opened with "Bela Lugosi's Dead," or the Arcade Fire's phenomenal second stage performance in 2005 (pictured above) before graduating to headliner status. At Coachella I often feel like I'm witnessing rock n' roll history (while I enjoy Bonnaroo too, I don't feel the same way. Maybe because Coachella is one of the first festivals of the year). We haven't attended since crowds swelled, but I worry that with two festivals some of that may be lost. That's not to say we wouldn't try to attend if we had the money for another cross country trip.

Advance passes for 2012 (the only way to use the discounted monthly payment plan) will be on sale Friday, June 3rd, 2011, at 10am PST until the following Friday June 10th, 2011, at 10pm PST. According to http://www.coachella.com/ the price of three-day passes remains at $269 plus fees for the sixth consecutive year.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mark McGrath and Sugar Ray to play Epicenter

Sugar Ray, the pop machine fronted by "Don't Forget the Lyrics" host and "Celebrity Apprentice 4" contestant Mark McGrath, is set to play the Bud Light Summer Concert Series at the Epicenter's (210 E. Trade St.) outdoor Pavilion June 25. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. 1-800-594-TIXX.

Sugar Ray burst on to the charts with 1997's inescapable "Fly." It released a string of hits up until the early`00s when McGrath began a second career hosting TV's "Extra" in 2004. The band's hits include "Every Morning," "Falls Apart," "Someday," "When It's Over," and "Mr. Bartender (It's So Easy)."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Local musician part of opening act Tuesday at Fillmore

Second generation Charlotte musician Emily Moore returns home Tuesday as part of indie pop group fun.'s touring band. Fun. (yes, that period looks funny, but it's part of the name) will open for Panic at the Disco Tuesday, May 31, at the Fillmore along with Foxy Shazam.

Local music fans may remember Moore from Seahorses, the Verdict, and the Emily Moore Band. She's the daughter of Les Moore who was sound engineer at The Double Door for a couple of decades and headed up the original Monday Night All Stars. He now lives in Spokane, Washington.

The core of fun. is Nate Ruess (formerly of the Format), Andrew Dost (Anathallo) and Jack Antonoff of Steel Train. Moore joined on as a touring musician two years ago since fun.'s debut album happened to feature a lot of female vocals. She plays piano, guitar, and sings backup.

Moore knew Antonoff through her boyfriend Justin Huey (also of Charlotte, pictured with Moore in the duo Seahorses above). Huey, who like Moore started out as a hired musician, is now a member of Antonoff's New Jersey-based Steel Train. (For those wondering about Steel Train and fun.'s overlapping schedules, Moore says Antonoff is not always on the road with fun.).

Moore, 24, recently spent five months back in Charlotte while fun.'s core trio worked on its next album. It was the most time she's had off the road since starting this adventure.

"I always joke that I feel like I have two different realities. I typically eat better on the road. When I’m at home it feels like I’m on vacation - I don’t need to work out today," she says calling Saturday from a poolside hammock on an off-day in Florida. The Panic at the Disco tour is fun.'s first on a bus which makes it "easier than anything else I've done."

Moore is the only female in the band, but one of two girls on the tour. Fortunately she's got no complaints about sharing such close quarters with a bunch of sweaty dudes. "I got so lucky with this group of guys. Everybody takes care of themselves. They enjoy a hot shower as much as I do."

Friday, May 27, 2011

This week's hot concerts

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

6 p.m. Friday, May 27, NC Music Factory, 935 N. Graham St. $5. www.ncmusicfactory.com

Probably the biggest thing to come out of the `90s swing revival, BBVD returns to Charlotte to perform at the weekly Friday Live concert series. Performance follows a fashion show at 7:30 p.m.

Super Ape/Cement Stars

8 p.m. Saturday, May 28, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $7-$10. 704-358-9200.

This hip line-up features simultaneously futuristic electronic rock, funk, and cutting edge dance music paired with soundtrack-ready retro synth-rock with DJs the Dirty Drummer, Miami Dice, and George Brazil. Super Ape celebrates its limited edition 7” single release as well.

Ellis Paul

8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $14-$16. 704-376-3737.

Before heading out with buds Sugarland on tour this summer, this veteran singer-songwriter (who’s become a go-to guy for Farrelly Brothers’ soundtracks and co-wrote a third of his latest album with Sugarland’s Kristian Bush) returns for an intimate set.

Spottiswoode & His Enemies

10:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14. 704-376-3737.

The live favorite taps its inner “Magical Mystery Tour” on the fittingly titled eclectic new disc, “Wild Goosechase Expedition,” which finds the hard working Brit-born New York-based band leader at his heady best.

Panic at the Disco

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $35.25. www.livenation.com

Having lost half its founding members, the theatrical rock act returns as a duo without changing directions. Openers Foxy Shazam (a Queen-like force in concert) and fun. (members of the Format, Steel Train, and Anathallo) fill out the bill.

Orange Goblin

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10. www.etix.com

This UK export’s been called the best metal band in England as demonstrated on its five-disc back catalog, which Metal Blade just reissued for its 15th anniversary. Its blues has teeth while it’s metal boasts melody, texture and depth.


8 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $46.70. www.livenation.com

One of the most original, hardest to imitate `90s alt-rock acts reunites for its first album of new music since 1999 (due this summer). Les Claypool and the band behind gems like “My Name is Mud” and the “South Park” theme warm fans up with this pre-release tour.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Opening night of Speed Street cut short by threat of storm

The Food Lion Speed Street Festival closed at 9:45 p.m. Thursday due to expected inclement weather. The three day NASCAR festival, which leads up to the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, will resume regularly scheduled activities at noon on Friday.

Cancelled events include headlining sets by Pat Green and Midnight Star. Friday's headliners are Josh Turner and Everclear. Eddie Money, Starship, and Clay Walker will close out the festival Saturday.

US National Whitewater Center reveals free festival lineup

The US National Whitewater Center will celebrate July 4 in a big way - with a free three day concert. Songwriter Jason Isbell (formerly of Drive-By Truckers) and his band the 400 Unit (pictured above) open the Americana-leaning festival Saturday, July 2. Riley Etheridge, Jr. and Do it to Julia will support. Sunday, July 3 Langhorne Slim, who many local music fans may remember him from his lively performances opening for the Avett Brothers, headlines. Overmountain Men and Holy Ghost Tent Revival open.

For the actual summer holiday on Monday USNWC welcomes blues guitarist Anders Osborne. The New Familiars and Sol Driven Train open the show. Music begins at 4 p.m. each day with fireworks scheduled around nightfall. http://usnwc.org/2011/05/coca-cola-4th-of-july-festival/ for more information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lancaster native celebrates NASCAR with new single

Country singer Julie Roberts debuted her new single "NASCAR Party" this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the All-Star Race. Roberts, who grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina shot the video at the Charlotte track and at Texas Motor Speedway.

The single hopefully marks the beginning of a comeback for Roberts who had a handful of moderate country hits in 2004 and 2005 ("Break Down Here," "Wake Up Older"). Roberts is now an independent artist with a new album that should be available online (both digitally and for physical sale) June 7. She talked recently to ESPN about the new single and getting back on stage. Click here to read more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hard rock acts heading uptown

After quickly selling out the Carolina Rebellion earlier this month, more hard rock acts are heading to Charlotte. The Carnival of Madness Tour brings Theory of a Deadman, Adelita's Way, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, and Emphatic to Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre September 13.

This marks the second Carnival of Madness tour. Shinedown headlined the 2010 tour which hit Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre last July. Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge, and Black Stone Cherry were all part of the 19-band Carolina Rebellion bill May 7.

Carnival of Madness tickets go on sale Friday, June 3 at 10 a.m. at www.tickemaster.com, www.livenation.com, 1-800-745-3000 or The Fillmore box office. More information is available at www.carnivalofmadness.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cancer takes a "beating" at annual 24-plus hour marathon Saturday and Sunday

drumSTRONG, the annual marathon drum circle and concert event to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, education, and support for survivors, begins its 29 hour event Saturday, May 21, at noon.

Organizers want to break the world record for longest and possibly largest continuous drum circle. Participants can form teams, register, and gather sponsors and donations as you would for cancer walks or 24 Hours of Booty.

In addition to the drum circle, performers include local artists Chasing Edison, Bubonik Funk, Bunky Moon and Simplified as well as John Kadlecik (Further/Dark Star Orchestra), all-star combo Mu'tet (which includes Jeff Coffin of Dave Matthew Band/Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Jeff Sipe of Leftover Salmon/Aquarium Rescue Unit and others), Sol Driven Train, the CFD Pipe & Drum Corp, the Carolina Panthers Purrcussion Drum Line and many others.

The event takes place four miles South of 485 at Misty Meadow Farms, 455 Providence Rd. S & Ennis Rd., Weddington, NC 28173. Tickets/registration is $25 per person or $50 per family. Event is rain or shine (with tents aplenty). Camping is available with registration. For more information go to http://drumstrong.org

This week's hot concerts

Neon Trees

7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $28. www.livenation.com

The dance-rock foursome behind the runaway hit “Animal,” which was everywhere from a Vegas commercial to “Glee,” makes its Charlotte debut with the Limousines and Eastern Conference Champions.


7 p.m. Friday, May 20, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $10.65-$12. www.etix.com

Prior to the June 21st release of its upcoming album “We All Bleed” the Columbia rockers responsible for top 10 rock tracks “Cold” and “So Far Away” (from its platinum selling 2004 album) is back with a new single “Killing Me Inside.”

Charlotte Femmefest

5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21, NoDa Arts District at 36th and North Davidson Streets, $15-$20. www.charlottefemmefest.org

The annual women’s music benefit features over twenty local and national musicians including Jennifer Knapp, Elizabeth & the Catapult, and Mieka Pauley as well as poets, visual artists, and poets and benefits The Relatives Crisis Assistance Shelter.


6 p.m. Saturday, May 21, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $20-$23. www.etix.com

After a couple summers spent supporting Counting Crows, the San Diego pop outfit hooks up with the Maine on a co-headlining tour following the release of its hot Tom Petty-meets-the-Killers’ single “Steal Your Heart.”

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

8 p.m. Sunday, May 22, Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $52.35-$86.50. www.livenation.com

The actor-comedian proved a crack banjo picker and band leader with his last tour and Grammy winning album. His new one, “Rare Bird Alert,” finds his Brevard-based bluegrass backing band Steep Canyon Rangers take a more prominent role.

The Memorials

8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, The Saloon, 935 N. Graham St. $10-$14. www.ncmusicfactory.com

Former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen and neo-soul/funk vocalist Viveca Hawkins (Goapele, Blackalicious) head up this hard rock outfit that’s progressive and unpredictable while following Bad Brains and Living Colour’s punk and psychedelic-metal footsteps.


7 p.m. Thursday, May 26, Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 Seaboard St. $29.50-$48.50. www.livenation.com

Sidelined by the near fatal 2008 car accident that left bassist Chi Cheng in a “minimally conscious” state, the California hard rock combo made a triumphant and respectful comeback with 2010’s “Diamond Eyes.” This marks its second Charlotte appearance since the album’s release.

Midnight Star

9:45 p.m. Thursday, May 26, Coca-Cola at NASCAR Hall of Fame entranceStage Speed Street Festival. Free.

The funky R&B outfit behind `80s hits like “Freak-a-Zoid,” “No Parking on the Dancefloor,” and “Operator” headlines opening night of NASCAR’s Speed Street Festival with “Car Wash” act Rose Royce and country singer Pat Green.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Flaming Lips at Fillmore

Few acts touring the club level even attempt to compete with the spectacle that is a Flaming Lips’ concert. Both casual (frontman Wayne Coyne stoking the crowd from the stage during set changeover) and over-the-top (massive confetti cannons, balloons, lasers, and a man-size bubble sailing over the crowd), the Lips literally came out shooting both barrels – of confetti that is – when it played The Fillmore Tuesday.

The band entered from a door in a giant screen that arched across the back of the stage as if being beamed in from another dimension while Coyne walked across the crowd (pictured above) inside the giant clear plastic ball that he unveiled at the Coachella Festival in 2004 (the bubble appears to have been downsized from the original to fit indoors). Streamers rained and bigger-than-beach-ball balloons hopped across the crowd bursting with yet more confetti – and this was just the intro.

Women dressed as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” danced stage side (and stayed there grooving in place throughout the show) as the band launched into the psychedelic Black Sabbath-like riffs of “Worm Mountain” followed by another track from 2009’s “Embryonic,” “Silver Trembling Hands.” Surprisingly “Hands” didn’t trigger Coyne to reveal his giant laser-shooting prop hands (which fit like clown gloves, but were about as tall as his torso and head combined). He saved those for much later.

The set list was probably the most consciously crowd-pleasing I’ve seen the Lips do. Its first real hit “She Don’t Use Jelly” (which the band played as guests on the original “90210” in 1995) came early in the show followed by the live favorite “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.” A new song benefited from dancing green laser lights, which were used sparingly throughout the set. As with expected songs, Flaming Lips hit on expected props and gimmicks – the camera projecting Coyne’s pores, hair, and teeth onto the backdrop was another. The crowd went as wild for heavy riffing as it did for more acoustic leaning anthems like “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1,” which seems a testament to Flaming Lips’ musical versatility.

The show bordered on two hours including two encores. While some bands can hit on most of its catalog in that time the Lips only got around to about 13 songs. The ones it played were worth it, especially the encores of “Race for the Prize” and “Do You Realize.” Coyne introduced the latter by addressing a group of fans that held up a sign memorializing a fellow fan that had had leukemia. He explained how her story relates to the song’s lyrics ("everyone you know someday will die/and instead of saying all of your goodbyes/Let them know...you realize the sun doesn’t go down it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round") and how the audience helps give its simple lines weight. As clouds of confetti shot at the crowd as the song kicked in, it made for a poignant, feel-good finale.

Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opened the show with an electric set. The sound was a bit muddy and the crowd a bit chatty for he and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl’s quieter harmonies. “Jardin du Luxembourg” (my favorite track from GOASTT’s “Acoustic Sessions”) provided the vintage carnival feel reflected in the band’s costumes. But the lengthy extended jam that closed its set, while a fitting psychedelic opening to a Flaming Lips’ show, proved a bit excessive especially for an unproven new band. I tend to prefer the intimacy and quiet of the group’s acoustic shows.

Electronic music festival to hit Verizon in August

The IDENTITY Festival kicks off its inaugural amphitheater tour this summer making a stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre August 16. The all electronic festival kicks off in Indiana August 11 and boasts three stages.

Main stage artists include headliner Kaskade (pictured above), Rusko, Booka Shade, Chuckie, Modeselektor, Le Castle Vania, and Jessie and the Toy Boys. Other artists include Steve Aoki, DJ Shadow, the Crystal Method, White Shadow, Steve Lawler, Nero, Holy Ghost!, Datsik, Nervo, Chad Hugo (of N.E.R.D.), Marshall Barnes, Manufactured Superstars, the Eye, and LA Riots.

Tickets for the all day festival go on sale Friday, May 20. General admission tickets are available through Ticketmaster, Music Today, Wanttickets, and Ticketweb. VIP tickets and pit passes are exclusively available through Ticketmaster.

Monday, May 16, 2011

More outdoor uptown concerts announced for summer

LiveNation added to its summer concert calendar Monday. Among the announcements is the long awaited Charlotte appearance of My Morning Jacket. Jim James and company will play Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre August 21. Neko Case, who headlines Knight Theater Thursday, May 19, opens. MMJ tickets go on sale Saturday, May 21. My Morning Jacket's sixth full-length album, "Circuital," is due for release May 31 (and the deluxe box with green vinyl looks pretty sweet).

O.A.R. will also play TWC Uptown Amphitheatre. The live favorite returns to Charlotte July 15th (sandwiched between dates in Raleigh and Charleston) with Soja and Kelley James.

Slightly Stoopid heads up another TWC Uptown Amphitheatre bill with Schwayze and Cisco Adler and Rebelution August 18. Tickets for both O.A.R. and Slightly Stoopid are on sale Friday, May 20.

Instrumental trio's cd release show Tuesday

Charlotte instrumental trio Bunky Moon celebrates the release of its new disc, "Schtuff We Like," Tuesday, May 17 at Evening Muse (3227 N. Davidson St.). If you dig classic rock but hunger for a new approach, Bunky Moon tackles its covers with equal portions gusto and invention. It doesn't chase the usual suspects either. For every "Maybe I'm Amazed" there are several deep cuts or rarely covered tracks like Pink Floyd's "Fat Old Sun," King Crimson's "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two," and The Who's "Boris the Spider."

Its originals range from bluesy to trippy to jazzy. Bassist Ron Brendle's "Hypermobility" is particularly fun. The group consists of established area musicians Brendle, Chris Garges (drums), and Troy Conn (guitar). Brendle is a jazz bass instructor at Appalachian State University and has performed with Mose Allison and Loonis McGlohon, among others. He lends a bit of jazz flair and plunky upright bass to songs that didn't originally have either.

Garges is familiar for his work at Old House Recording Studio in Gastonia. He has recorded or recorded with Sunshone Still, Belmont Playboys, Don Dixon, Oteil Burbridge, and General Johnson and tours with the Public Good and Mitch Easter.

Conn is a guitar instructor at Providence Day School and Pfeiffer University who has performed with acts as varied as singer-songwriter Jeremy Current to the Charlotte Symphony and Opera Carolina.

If you're a classic rock fan don't let the word "instrumental" or threat of "jazz improvisation" scare you away (I say that because plenty of people ask my husband why his own instrumental, often improvisational trio doesn't have a singer and seem confounded by the idea of not having one). Bunky Moon is still very much rooted in heavy, bluesy rock n' roll.

8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. 704-376-3737. If you miss Tuesday's show the trio will play drumSTRONG in Waxhaw, May 22.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Free concert & extreme sports at Concord Mills Saturday

Emocore outfit Thursday headlines Journeys Backyard BBQ Saturday at Concord Mills. Charlotte rock act Paper Tongues cancelled its scheduled opening slot because singer Aswan North had to undergo emergency throat surgery. Divided By Friday from Laurinburg, NC will fill PT's slot. It is signed to Hopeless Records. Performances also include a battle of the bands featuring locals Carson, Good Day Reflection, and the Local Traumatic (formerly Lyra Shines).

There will also be extreme sports demos throughout the day. BMX and freestyle motocross riders and skateboarders will perform stunts on a 60,000 foot “alternative sport playground." Athletes include big name veterans Tony Alva, Omar Hassan, Bucky Lasek, Dennis McCoy, and Christian Hosoi and younger competitors Alex Perelson, Josh Borden, Jimmy Hill, Andrew Langi and others.

The free event begins at noon and runs until 7 p.m. in the North parking lot outside Concord Mills, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd. For more information and full line-up see www.journeysbbq.com

Thursday, who is touring in support of its well reviewed new album "No Devolucion," will be back in Charlotte July 14th opening for Taking Back Sunday at the Fillmore.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This week's hot concerts

The Lights, Fluorescent

8 p.m. Friday, May 13, The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd. $6-$10. www.themilestoneclub.com

This Charlotte quintet called it quits in August but reunites for one night to celebrate the release of its posthumous self-titled full-length, a bittersweet record of its rare musical chemistry and lyrical depth.

Charlie Wilson/Joe

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Bojangles Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. $48-30-$81.70. www.ticketmaster.com

The follow-up to his Grammy nominated 2009 disc focuses on the ladies, which makes the influential former Gap Band member a good match for sexy younger R&B singer Joe. Charlotte’s own Fantasia makes an appearance on Wilson’s single “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Wonder if she’s busy Saturday?

The Wailers

7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $29. www.livenation.com

Aston “Familyman” Barrett, one half of the Wailers’ original rhythm section, heads up the veteran reggae forerunners who will revisit Bob Marley’s “Uprising” album. The album turned 30 in 2010.

Flaming Lips

8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, Fillmore, 1000 Seaboard St. $52. www.livenation.com

Known for its incredible, unpredictable live shows, Oklahoma’s favorite sons return for the first time since a packed free Camel cigarettes sponsored 2007 concert that had fans clamoring for tickets. Sean Lennon’s duo Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger, who made its Charlotte debut in January, opens.

Xavier Rudd

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20-$22/$35 VIP. 704-358-9298.

The Australian multi-instrumentalist/singer (voted PETA’s World’s Sexiest Vegetarian in 2007) is a favorite at festivals with his combination of socially conscious idealism, unusual instrumentation, folk-rock, soulful singing and world music.


7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12-$14. 704-358-9200.

Jackson Browne recently named this L.A. folk-rock combo one of today’s best up and coming songwriters (along with Charlotte’s Benji Hughes). The band’s sophomore album, “Nothing Is Wrong” is due June 7th.


7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18. www.etix.com

On its latest album, “7th Symphony,” the Finnish symphonic metal outfit draws as deeply on its heavy roots (working with Joe Duplantier of brutally heavy French metal act Gojira) as it does from mainstream rock and pop (a single co-written with Diane Warren).

Faster Pussycat

8 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $13-$15. www.etix.com

The glam outfit behind “House of Pain” and “Bathroom Wall” has wisely toned down the hair metal and re-imagined itself as an edgier post-Marilyn Manson glam-goth act that still plays the old hits without sounding too dated.

Neko Case

7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $25.50-$29.50. 704-372-1000.

Fans couldn’t wait for a return engagement after her 2009 Charlotte debut. After cancelling her August 2010 show the golden voiced, Grammy nominated songstress is back to dreamily croon like a modern day Patsy Cline. If you miss her this week, she’ll be back August 21st with My Morning Jacket.

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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LEAF kicks off Thursday in Black Mountain with diverse music line-up

The bi-annual Lake Eden Arts Festival begins Thursday, May 12 at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain. The family-friendly mountain festival, now in its 16th year, features arts & crafts, live music, dancing, poetry, culinary arts, healing arts, and children's activities.

This Spring's diverse live music line-up includes opening night with Josh Phillips Folk Festival and Sol Driven Train; Maceo Parker, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (awesome kid's hip-hop), and Crowfoot Friday; Grammy winning Afropop vocalist Angelique Kidjo, Tab Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands Allstars, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Ferro in the Dark, and Spam Allstars Saturday; and Acoustic Syndicate and Ricky Skaggs Sunday. Some artists perform multiple times. Here's the schedule for additional performers and set times.

If you can't make it to the mountains Voice of the Wetlands appears at Visulite Friday, May 13. The touring group, which Benoit banded together to draw attention to the need for preservation of Louisiana's wetlands, includes Benoit, Cyrille Neville, Anders Osborne, Johnny Vidacovich, Johnny Sansone, Waylon Thibodeaux, and Big Monk Boudreaux.

Single day tickets are $42 adult, $34 youth (ages 10 to 17). Weekend passes range from $124 youth to $174 for adults (camping included). For those non-campers only heading up for the day gates open at 4:30 p.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking is $5. Advance tickets are a must. Tickets go off sale Wednesday, May 11 at 11:59 p.m.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New grass outfit makes Charlotte debut at free show Friday

The Charlotte Folk Society welcomes Virginia-based Americana quartet the Steel Wheels to Great Aunt Stella Center (926 Elizabeth Ave.) Friday, May 13th. The group, who has been praised by "Bluegrass Unlimited" and WNCW morning show host Martin Anderson, makes its Charlotte debut that night.

The Steel Wheels' members have roots in the Midwest and Northeast as well as its home base in the Blue Ridge Mountains and its sound is indicative of those varied geographical influences. It approaches old-time and bluegrass with youthful zeal. Like peers such as Chatham County Line or Old Crow Medicine Show there's an obvious respect for traditionalism without hiding that its players likely grew up listening to as much classic rock as Flatt & Scruggs.

For a sneak peak the band will appear on WCNC TV's "Charlotte Today" Friday at 11 a.m. (channel 36 or Time Warner Cable channel 6). WNCW 88.7 will also record Friday's concert to air at a later date. Doors 7 p.m., Show 7:30 p.m. Free. Donations appreciated.

For more on Steel Wheels click here. For more on the Charlotte Folk Society click here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Charlotte band competing for spot at Billboard awards

Charlotte-based trio Side by Side embarks on tour Wednesday, but the cross country trip isn't your average tour. The band, who plays Snug Harbor Friday, May 6 with Garrigan and Modern Skirts, will be followed by a camera crew as it makes its way to Las Vegas.

It's all part of a "Billboard Magazine" battle of the bands. Once in Vegas Side By Side will compete with five other acts from across the country. Side by Side, which is made up of brothers Joseph and Michael Pepe and vocalist Joelle Kittrell, is representing the Southeast. The winner will perform at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, which will be held May 22.

Chevy is providing the wheels and Billboard is sending the camera crew to document the tour. The popularity of the resulting webisodes factors into the competition as well. The group recently returned from a "Billboard"photo shoot in Los Angeles. You can see an interview with the band and a clip of the shoot here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This week's hot concerts

Talib Kweli
8:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, Amos' Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $20. www.etix.com
The critically acclaimed underground rapper reflects on beauty in blight on his fan-pleasing new album, “Gutter Rainbows,” which showcases his sentimental side and lyrical flow without sacrificing edge.
On the Run
7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $8. 704-358-9200.
The Chicago band relocated to co-founder Tyler Imbrey’s hometown of Charlotte last winter and recast most of its players. It debuts new material and its 7th saxophonist to an (adopted) hometown crowd.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s
7 p.m. Sunday, May 8, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12-$14. www.etix.com
This Indianapolis collective is drumming up support for its next album via www.pledgemusic.com (with incentives), which presumably will result in more of the dreamy melodic, poetic folk-rock that’s the indie band is known for.
Third Eye Blind
7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $27-$30. 704-358-9298.
Still fronted by late `90s pop heartthrob Stephan Jenkins, the rock outfit responsible for inescapable hits “Semi-Charmed Life” and “How’s It Going To Be” return for another intimate NoDa show.

Hank & Cupcakes
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, Amos’ Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. $10-$12. www.etix.com
The Brooklyn-based Israeli/Australian couple approaches dance-rock with the vocal prowess of a soul singer and the musical makeup of arty-cool party starters – think the Gossip meets Adele meets Matt & Kim .

Uh Huh Her
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $13-$15. 704-358-9200.
“The L Word” actress and former Murmurs member Leisha Hailey makes up one half of this duo that juggle quiet ballads with electro-dance. One of its songs was featured in “The Kids are Alright” and its upcoming full-length was produced by the Revolution’s (as in Prince’s) Wendy Melvoin.
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $14-$16. www.etix.com
The industrial outfit stirs up memories on the Sinister Whisperz tour digging out gems like “A Daisy Chain 4 Satan” "Shock of Point 6," and “Kooler than Jesus” from its first three releases to celebrate its recent retrospective disc.
Jim Bianco
8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $8-$10. 704-376-3737.
With his husky, soulful vocals and smart writing the L.A. songwriter combines bits of Springsteen, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello and Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and is drawing accolades from publications such as "The Huggington Post" and from star tweeters like Pink for his new album “Loudmouth.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mini Review: Interpol at the Fillmore

I was a little disappointed by the turnout for Interpol Tuesday at The Fillmore (the NYC band has long sold out the 2,400 capacity Disco Rodeo in Raleigh). But just like the Cure concert at Time Warner Cable Arena three years ago, Interpol played probably the best, most upbeat set I’ve ever seen them play - for a far from sellout crowd.

Before the group has eased into its sets like a slow burn, beginning with near dirges and playing fewer upbeat dance songs in favor of slower moodier pieces throughout the set. That wasn’t the case Tuesday, which I found surprising since its latest disc is brimming with moody pieces. This time Interpol built momentum early on throwing out one rocking track after another (my husband digs the slow stuff, but enjoyed it too). I didn’t even notice the omissions (“Stella,” “PDA”) until someone tweeted and asked me about those songs.

The five-piece band pulled heavily from its first two albums. It played five tracks off “Antics,” (“Evil,” “Take You on a Cruise,” “Length of Love;” encores included “Slow Hands” and “Not Even Jail”) and five from its first album (“Obstacle 1,” which ended the regular set, “NYC,” “Say Hello to the Angels” “The New,” and “Hands Away”). “Specialist” drew on that same era. It appears on an early EP. The new disc was represented by “Summer Well,” “Memory Serves” and the singles “Lights” and “Barricade.” The band’s last album “Our Love to Admire” got “Heinrich Maneuver” and “Rest My Chemistry.”

The atmosphere, while still very much Interpol, wasn’t as static or fog machine cloudy as before. Singer Paul Banks, sporting a part fauxhawk/part mullet, smiled and thanked the crowd frequently. It was as if the whole group was a little looser – maybe not as well oiled and serious as with longtime bassist Carlos D. who left the band before the release of its last album, but a little more fun. My husband said he thought that’s what it might have been like to see the old line-up touring behind its first album.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Veteran underground rapper to play free show Thursday

Since the economy took a nosedive a few years ago local live music clubs have been experimenting with all sorts of alternative booking – from film nights to dodgeball to free shows. The latest of these free concerts brings veteran underground rapper Del the Funky Homosapien to Tremont Music Hall (400 W. Tremont Ave) Thursday. Del, who began his career backing cousin Ice Cube was once hailed “perhaps the best rapper you’ve never heard” by “Rolling Stone.”

I particularly enjoyed Hieroglyphics (especially 2003's "Full Circle"), the Oakland collective which he founded in his hometown. He also collaborated with Kid Koala and Dan the Automator on Deltron3030 and with the animated electronic rock act Gorillaz. It's Del that you hear on the the track “Clint Eastwood.” His solo releases are also critically acclaimed.

“Golden Era” is the most recent chapter. ITunes has an exclusive version of the triple album, “Golden Era Extreme,” with four additional bonus tracks that are only available on the digital version.

Thursday's show is free for 21 and up, $8 for those under 21. 7:30 p.m. For more on “Golden Era” and album related contests click here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Great Architect celebrates LP release Monday

Charlotte-based experimental, avant garde outfit Great Architect celebrates its album release Monday at Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St.). "Cultural Games" (its third release including a split 7" with Moenda) is available on vinyl on Kinnikinnik Records.

Saxophone/clarinet player Brent Bagwell (who is behind the avant garde jazz series at Dialect Design) says the Snug Harbor show will feature songs from the album, newer material, and the debut of a long form ("for us") piece.

Great Architect (pictured above) was formed in 2009 as an improvisational outfit and that sort of chaotic improvisational freedom threads through its latest album. There's trippy clashes of sound, expansive expositions, rippling and skipping horn work, and other weirdness. For me it's interesting to see what kind of images these tracks trigger in my mind. The clicking drums and horns of "Ocean," for instance, transport me to a train or subway stop as if I'm waiting for my own transport, which leads me to the next track "Pageturner." It sends my brain to a late `70s mystery movie that I'd watch on HBO as a kid. Others have even more of a soundtrack feel.

Human Pippi Armstrong shares the bill Monday. The 9 p.m. concert is free. You can also purchase the vinyl or download of the album at the band' Bandcamp site. www.great-architect.com or http://greatarchitect.bandcamp.com/

The band is also embarking on a mid-May Midwest tour that'll send it through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. Great Architect features members of Yardwork, Blossoms, Joint Damage, Black Congo NC, US Wildlife and the Eastern Seaboard.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mini Review: A.W.O.L. Benefit debuts

A.W.O.L. (All Walks of Life) the Benefit debuted at South Park’s Symphony Park on Saturday with performances by some of the area’s best local bands (Lucky Five, Sugar Glyder), DJs, and national headliners Mike Posner and Matt & Kim. The event, which raised funds for Camp CARE and Don’t Break the Bond, attracted what looked to be more than a few thousand people spread out on the grass behind South Park Mall. The vibe was somewhere between a sold out show at Verizon and a frat party where, like a lot of outdoor shows, the party and people watching was almost as much of a spectacle as what was happening on stage. Concert goers shotgunned beers during Posner's slower numbers while Matt & Kim’s quirky dance rock provided the soundtrack for flying Frisbees in the walkways.

Charlotte’s Paper Tongues, the dance-rock band that famously signed with “American Idol’s” Randy Jackson as manager after slipping him a link to its website while interrupting his lunch, did its best to elevate the party (and the booze seem to flow even freer after its set). Singer Aswan North traveled deep into the crowd during its finale and could be heard hyping Charlotte from the parking lot.

The dancing, bouncing, drinking group-sing seemed to hit its peak during a lengthy DJ set before Posner hit the stage. The crowd was into his handful of hits and covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and R. Kelly’s “Ignition,” but not nearly as animated as it was for the string of dancefloor hip-hop singles the DJ sprung on them.

Matt & Kim, the Brooklyn duo that consists of Matt Johnson on vocals and synthesizers and Kim Shifino on drums, were a lot of fun. Their onstage banter, burping synth lines, nerdy vocals, and live drumming made for an adorable package (even their photos are cute, above). They stretched tall atop and beside their instruments but were still just two people on a stage that usually holds an entire symphony. I’d love to see them in a smaller venue at some point. The duo’s set was boosted by nightfall and the subsequent lightshow, but oddly the sound seemed much quieter than the openers or DJs. My friend and I had been shouting at each other all evening, but could have a fairly normal conversation during the headliner.

For a first time event, I thought A.W.O.L. was really well executed. Parking involved circling the back of the mall several times, but shuttles from other parts of town were an option (I found a spot under the mall). The crowd was large and appeared to be having a blast. There was a balance of vendors (not all typical festival food either) and BYOB folks dragging coolers. The festival also gave a bunch of local bands the opportunity to play to an audience that might not have caught them at Tremont, Visulite or Evening Muse. I’m also glad to see this very cool outdoor venue being used for more of a rock concert. It’s great for classical pops, but it could be good for other shows that don’t have the drawing power needed to pack Verizon. How ‘bout reviving the Avetts’ Festival Essex there? There’s an idea.