Monday, September 30, 2013

Celebrating Antiseen's Antiversary Part 1

This weekend Charlotte’s Antiseen - internationally known originators of “Destructo Rock” - celebrates its 30th anniversary. Each day this week I’ve asked someone who has witnessed the controversial Southern punk stalwarts for much  longer and more intimately than I have to share their thoughts, memories, and impressions of the band (pictured from left Phil Keller, Sir Barry Hannibal, Jeff Clayton and Joe Young).

As you’ll find throughout the week, Antiseen leaves an impression whether it’s the legendary live shows that on many nights include Clayton incorporating hardcore wrestling antics - hurling himself through a flaming table covered in tacks, for instance - or Young’s chainsaw guitars, the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, or the mighty aggressive spirit. I first saw Antiseen open for the Ramones at The Ritz on Independence in 1995. I’d been in Charlotte less than a year and had no clue what I was in for. Much to my Ramones-obsessed 4-year-old’s dismay I remember more about Jeff Clayton waving the Confederate flag and bleeding all over the stage than I do about the Ramones.

Antiseen’s Antiversary show returns to Tremont Music Hall Friday and Saturday. The group headlines Saturday with fellow veterans the Meatmen and Kentucky’s the Hookers. Doors at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $10 Friday and $15 Saturday.

Our first contributor is fellow Charlotte musician Jeff Williams of the Dead Kings and Biggy Stardust and his Wretched Hive. The latter plays Friday's Antiseen Antiversary Pre-show Party with Judas Bullethead, the Chalkies, Lucifer Jones, and Powerball. 

“In the fall of 1998, I accompanied Antiseen to Philadelphia, PA for their 15th anniversary show at the Nicks. At this point in time I was fresh to the camp.  My official reason for going with them was that I had printed a book for their label Baloney Shrapnel Records that celebrated their first 15 years.  I was going to deliver the product and to receive payment.  But honestly I was just excited as hell to be going to Philly and to see a huge event such as an Antiseen anniversary.  The reason they had the show in Philly was, at the time, Charlotte had become an unfriendly place for them to play. But in Philadelphia they have always drawn big, excited crowds.  I remember pulling into town. You could feel the buzz.  As we walked around South Philly, people would come up and talk about it. This kind of vibe didn't exist in Charlotte, and really, still doesn't. So it was new to me. 

By show time, the energy in the room was electric. After being musically assaulted by the great Hellstomper, barely surviving the skinhead onslaught that ensued during Limecell, and being schooled by the late, great Cosmic Commander of Wrestling as he fronted the legendary Rancid Vat....emotions and excitement were at an all-time high as my hometown boys from Charlotte walked on stage to the sound of Joe Young's signature feedback.  I had spent many nights before this night going to punk rock and death metal shows here in town. Nothing had previously prepared me for the whirlwind of beer, blood, busted teeth, and broken glass that I found myself caught in the middle of.  I THOUGHT I knew loud.  I THOUGHT I knew aggressive. I THOUGHT I knew confrontational.  It wasn't until this point that I realized that everything before that I liked was part of a formula, whereas these guys were coming at you straight from the gut - no filler, nothing conceptual, just raw power in its most aggressive form. 

Now, I've seen dozens, if not hundreds of Antiseen shows over the next 15 years. But to this day no memory has stuck with me more vividly than this life changing show in Philly. I blame and credit the dynamic duo of Clayton/Young for raising the bar as high as it is.  And should be!”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Z.Z. Ward
Friday  7 p.m., Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $15-$18.
A petite vocal powerhouse who grew up playing the blues on stage with her father, Ward rides the line between throaty blues singer and pop artist with songs that ache and bleed with emotion, but still appeal to mainstream radio. With Wild Feathers and UK singer James Bay.

Weenie Roast
Saturday  12 p.m., Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $24.50-$68.50.
As buzz builds for a possible Oscar nod, actor Jared Leto’s other award winning day job - 30 Seconds to Mars - headlines WEND’s revived sayonara to summer with AWOLNation, Sublime with Rome, Filter, Airborne Toxic Event, New Politics, Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro, Langhorne Slim, Matrimony, the Unlikely Candidates, and Leogun.

Oh No Fiasco with Ghost Town
Saturday  6 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $12.
The Knoxville pop-rock outfit, who combine new wave synth, hard hitting hooks, glossy choruses, and a female vocalist with a big voice fit for a frontwoman. They play midway through a seven band bill that includes L.A.’s Ghost Town as the night’s headliner.

Saturday  8 p.m., Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $40.85-$52.15.
With an upcoming role on Broadway and three BET Award nominations for her latest R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1 album, “Side Effects of You,” NC’s first “American Idol” winner continues to prove her career longevity and musical individuality which combines classic Tina Turner-style rock with modern R&B diva. This show is rescheduled from August.

Cody Canada & the Departed
Saturday  8 p.m., Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St., $15-$18.
On its second album “Adventus,” the former Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman’s second act with bassist Jeremy Plato and a cast of star red dirt musicians evolve into a hard charging rock n’ roll act infused with ample gospel and soul without leaving the country base behind entirely.

Saturday  10 p.m., Label, 900 NC Music Factory Blvd., $15-$25.
Having built a career on writing and producing award winning tracks for other artists (Kelly Rowland, David Guetta), the sun-kissed, classically-trained Australian twin sister DJ duo keeps some of its most uplifting electronic dance tunes for itself while garnering a massive festival crowd overseas and an opening slot with Britney Spears.

Legendary Pink Dots
Sunday  8 p.m., Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave., $20-$25.
The prolific 33-year-old experimental outfit led by Edward Ka-Spel and Phil Knight (whose musical arsenal includes un-rock instruments like woodwinds, strings, and Hawaiian guitar) brings its trippy psychedelic, avant goth back to Tremont for the first time in nearly a decade.

Surfer Blood
Monday  7 p.m, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave., $16.
The modern Florida surf rock band refines the weirder indie rock tendencies of its debut “Astro Coast” on its poppier follow-up “Pythons,” which solidifies those Pixies comparisons and adds a dose of Weezer while still wallowing in a thin veil of distortion.

The Weeknd
Tuesday  7 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., $59.85.
With a buzz-building, mysterious online identity, a voice that evokes the innocence, soul, and tone of Michael Jackson, and a chilly electronic musical template that samples disparate alternative rock and R&B sources, Canada’s Abel Tesfaye (aka the Weeknd) actually delivers on said buzz with his debut album “Kiss Land.”

Arturo Sandoval
Thursday  7:30 p.m., McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St., $19.50-$74.50.
Before the Grammy and Emmy award winning Cuban trumpeter, pianist, and composer receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom along with Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and Dean Smith, he performs his timeless take on jazz, Latin, classical and tango in an intimate setting.

Mindy Smith
Thursday  8 p.m., Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $15-$18.
Best known early on for the hit “Come To Jesus” and her version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” this Long Island-raised, Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s latest album is draped in haunting spirituality and a soulful mix of country, gritty blues, and adult pop that’s rich in maturity, self-reflection and guts.

Friday, September 20, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Twin Forks/Matrimony
Friday  10 p.m. Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $13.50-$16.
Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba didn’t realize when he started writing joyful, acoustic bootstompers that his latest band would be following an international Grammy winning trend that puts him in league with Mumford and Of Monsters and Men. His new band joins Charlotte’s equally joyful Matrimony. With What’s Eating Gilbert.

Funk Fest
Saturday  5 p.m., Memorial Stadium, 310 N. Kings Dr. $35/VIP $85.
The Gap Band’s beloved Charlie Wilson, who continues to work with contemporary artists like Kanye West as release acclaimed solo material, joins Bell Biv Devoe, Rakim, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, and EU (of “Da Butt!” fame) for a blast of radio-ruling `70s, `80s, and early `90s R&B and hip-hop nostalgia.

Aoife O’Donovan
Saturday, Sunday  8 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Stage Door Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. $25.
Having completed the Goat Road Sessions Tour with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Stuart Duncan, the Crooked Still/Sometymes Why vocalist is back on the road with her debut solo album “Fossils,” which connects her newgrass beginnings, thoughtful songwriting, and the chamber folk company she’s been keeping of late.

Pretty Reckless
Sunday  7 p.m. The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $19.
Imagine if “Gossip Girl’s” Jenny Humphrey had gone into rock n’ roll instead of fashion during her goth phase. Well that’s the direction actress Taylor Momsen took when she left the show. The kicker is the unapologetically sexy young singer can belt it out with the best of them and does so with catchy goth-metal.

Sunday  7 p.m.  Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10.
This Atlanta progressive modern rock band progresses further on its dynamics-driven new album “Disillusion,” which is heavy, yet soft, wringing with angst and grandiosity (think Muse meets Mastodon), and a creepy, psychedelic claustrophobia - but that’s not a bad thing. It plays with frequent tour mates Junior Astronomers, Daylight, and Native.

Son Volt
Sunday  8 p.m. Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $23.
Jay Farrar writes another chapter in his move toward an unplugged, rootsier (as if Son Volt could get rootsier with his Midwestern drawl at its heart) sound with the latest album, “Honky Tonk,” which captures the classic Bakersfield sound without sacrificing the band’s signature style of twang.

Sunday  10 p.m., Label, 900 NC Music Factory Blvd., $40/$80 VIP,
As fans await the Atlanta hip-hop emcee/producer and pop songwriter’s third full-length album, the eclectic collaborator (whose biggest hits have been with unhip-hop artists like Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Bruno Mars) is busy unleashing more hip-hop-friendly singles.

City & Colour
Wednesday  7 p.m. Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $30-$32.
Dallas Green - the former guitarist/singer for Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire - took a decidedly different turn with this pretty, quiet acoustic-based pop songs topped with his high, airy vocals that recall a hipper, contemporary Christopher Cross. It’s won him raves from fans like Pink, who took him on tour as an opening act. With Lucy Rose.

Wednesday  8 p.m. Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $20-$25.
Forever tied to the Seattle grunge explosion of the early `90s that its credited with inspiring, Mark Arm and company predated the buzz and live long past it still churning out eclectic angry, funny, muddy, punky, bluesy garage rock that doesn’t really fit the description of what we think of as typical flannel-clad “grunge.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Watch Junior Astronomers' new CLT-set video

Charlotte rock band Junior Astronomers released a video for the track "Before Crimes" from its new album "Dead Nostalgia." Directed by Cory Ring, it features some beautiful shots of the city (particularly the skateboarder shot from above while riding down the spiral parking deck across from the arena). The footage is also layered on top of each other, which adds an artistic twist. The whole thing just has a cool look to it. You'll see local landmarks like the Phat Burrito (which makes it into yet another music video), downtown, and - is that the school bus terminal (why didn't I notice them filming in my neighborhood?) - as well as the "The Charlotte Post" and "The Charlotte Observer."

Junior Astronomers play Sunday with friends from Altanta, O'Brother at Tremont Music Hall. Music starts at 7:30. Admission is $10. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Schneider sets new date, premiers exclusive video

Austin singer-songwriter Bob Schneider was scheduled to play Chop Shop tonight, but the show has instead been moved to December 19. Schneider released the new album, "Burden of Proof" in June and has premiered a video for each track on the record via different websites over the past several weeks. Today we premier the clip for "John Lennon." Check it out above and get tickets to Schneider's pre-holiday show here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Knocturnal's anniversary party; free hip-hop show

Knocturnal - Snug Harbor's weekly hip-hop night - celebrates its first anniversary Monday with a free show featuring acclaimed national headliner Homeboy Sandman. Open Mike Eagle and Random also perform.

Homeboy Sandman is a former Queens, NY public school teacher whose smart lyricism and easy-on-the-ear tunes have garnered accolades from "The Source," "XXL," NPR, and Pitchfork. He's also got a video in rotation on MTV. I dig that I can actually let my kids watch his videos and post one on this blog since they aren't littered with profanity and misogyny and half the words aren't bleeped out so you can't really hear the song in the first place (finding PG videos for the Hot Concerts column can be tough some weeks). .

Monday's show - like all Knocturnals - is also free for those 21 and over; $5 for 18 and up.

Knocturnal is a weekly party featuring bboys, MCs, and deejays demonstrating their skills for a crowd that's more like a party than an audience. I stumbled on the first Knocturnal last year and have since attended a few more. What I found cool about it is there wasn't an exclusive vibe. My husband and I could hang in the back or at the bar watching a circle of people trade breakdancing moves on the cardboard sheets on the dancefloor. There are both male and female dancers too, which is cool to see. 

DJ Justin Aswell of the Mount Holly hip-hop duo Mr. Invisible spins during the bboy cipher as he will between 9 and 10 p.m. Monday as well as during the after-party. They sometimes have open-mic style ciphers where emcees take turns freestyle rapping. I'm particularly interested in what gems the Knocturnal crowd will hurl at the CMPD about Friday's fatal shooting, but that may be saved for another week considering the national anniversary lineup.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Snug Harbor is located in the heart of Plaza-Midwood (1228 Gordon St.) behind Twenty-Two. Performances are from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Swan Mega will be spinning trip house, deep house, and experimental on the back patio. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Radok Fest III premiers concert photo exhibit

Friends, family, and fans of his work pay tribute to former “Creative Loafing” photographer Chris Radok at Tremont Music Hall's Radok Fest III Saturday. The concert features Hated: The G.G. Allin Tribute and the reunions of Semi-Pro and Pigf*****, as well as Saurosiman Alchemy. It also marks the premier of photos taken by Radok during Tremont’s early years, which will continue to grace the club’s walls.

Radok was murdered during a break-in at his home in January 2011. His killer was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

Tremont was the first club I hung out at in Charlotte and Radok’s photos are a trip down memory lane. I didn’t know him, but I saw him hundreds of times clicking away at the front of the stage. Thanks to Radok some of the best concerts I ever saw are captured in black and white long before any of us were snapping blurry nuggets on our cell phones. He was even there the night I watched 7 Year Bitch with 10 people in the big room (ouch!).

Looking at his photos, which are already on display and include shots of the Tremont staff, I found myself thinking: “Oh I have a photo just like that.” I realized that I’d clipped Radok’s photos of Dicky Barrett from Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Frank Black, and Ani Difranco from the pages of “Creative Loafing” back then and placed them in my concert scrapbooks with my tickets, stickers and flyers.

Tremont’s manager Lisa Barr, Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton (who also plays in Hated), and Lori Bilger of The Chris Radok Photography Preservation Brain Trust scoured through what I imagine were thousands of negatives for the project to narrow it down to the best of his photos taken at Tremont. Barr found it interesting that these are some of the same photos that I cut from the paper long ago.

I told Barr they should sell prints.The ones of Iggy Pop and Gwar, for instance, are incredible. The Third Annual Radok Fest is a fundraiser to preserve his work and hopefully one day to publish a book of his photos. That is something I would love to see given that his work for “Creative Loafing” began right around the time I started going to shows here. I’m sure lots of other people feel the same. Maybe a Kickstarter is in order?

You can contribute Saturday at Tremont. The show begins at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. You can visit Radok’s memorial page on Facebook here

Avetts return to CLT; graduate to TWC Arena

After several years spent playing New Year's Eve concerts elsewhere in the Carolinas, the Avett Brothers
return to Charlotte for its first full band hometown concert since April 2011. It also marks its first New Year's Eve in Charlotte since 2008.

The show will be a Carolina affair with SC's Shovels & Rope opening. It also marks the husband and wife duo's first Charlotte concert since their band rose to national notoriety earlier this year with appearances on "Late Show with David Letterman" and at the Coachella Fesitval.

Fan club pre-sale for the NYE show begins September 17 at noon. Tickets go on sale to the public Friday, September 20 at noon at Ticketmaster outlets.

The announcement doesn't come as a huge surprise since Asheville's "Mountain Xpress" spilled the beans earlier this week (someone sent me a screenshot) - before the band or TWC made an official announcement.

The prolific Avett Brothers follow up 2012's Grammy-nominated album, "The Carpenter," with "Magpie and the Dandelion" on October 15.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Roy Ayers
7 p.m. Friday, September 13, Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon St. $30-$59.50.
From “Coffy” to house music, the veteran jazz, funk and R&B vibraphonist has always maintained a connection to cool. The oft sampled Ayers is credited as igniting the neo-soul movement and, at 72, continues to work with much younger R&B and hip-hop artists, many of whom have sampled his work.

BOR Tour with Dubsmith and others
7 p.m. Friday, September 13, Snug Harbor, 1228 Gordon St. $7/Ladies Free.
The Philly dub pioneer heads up a showcase for Banner Elk-based Boom One Records, which features reggae, dub, bass, and electronic artists from around the globe. Friday’s lineup includes Jersey’s B. Davis, Japan’s Hai Tokyo, Chicago’s Higher Ground Movement, NC’s Hope Massive, Bum’s Lie, Boom One Sound System and a cast of guest vocalists.

God Save the Queen City 3
4 p.m. Saturday, September 14, Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St. $15-$20.
The third annual festival boasts Futurebirds, Jessica Lea Mayfield, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, White Violet and Hiss Golden Messenger and a killer lineup of local bands. If you dig Americana, old school soul, psychedelic folk and rock n’ roll or need a primer on local music, this is a fine place to start.

Radok Fest
9 p.m. Saturday, September 14, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10.
The third annual festival honoring slain former “Creative Loafing” photographer Chris Radok, who was murdered by an intruder in January 2011, features Hated: The G.G. Allin tribute, Saurosiman Alchemy, and Semi-Pro, who are one of two groups reunited especially for this tribute. The show marks the opening of Radok’s concert photography on Tremont’s walls.

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 15, The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $52.50.
On his latest collaboration eclectic songwriter and guitarist Ben Harper recruits the legendary blues harmonica player for a journey through the many shades of blues from funk and gospel to rock and soul. It also marks what Harper thinks may be his first headlining show in Charlotte.

Christian Death
9 p.m. Sunday, September 15, Tremont, 400 W. Tremont Ave. $15. 704-343-9494.
Before there were multiple touring Black Flags and Motown groups sharing one name, provocative goths Christian Death were confusing fans with two touring and recording versions from the late `80s until founder Rozz Williams’ 1998 suicide. Guitarist Valor Kand continues to captain his version of the 34-year-old band.

J. Cole/Wale
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 17. Halton Arena at UNCC, 9201 University City Blvd. 704-687-4949.
Fayetteville’s favorite son follows June’s groundbreaking Dollar & Dream Tour ($1 tickets, day-of venue announcements) and 10 recent BET Hip-Hop Award nominations by teaming with D.C.’s subtler, go-go-influenced emcee Wale - a good match for two oft compared rappers.  

North Mississippi Allstars
8:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 17, Visulite, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $22-$25.
The prolific Dickinson brothers have such deep connections to so many facets of American music, it’s no wonder their ambitious, all-star new album is called “World Boogie is Coming.” That might be a fitting description for their cohesive, but funky, Southern kitchen-sink style of blues-rock.

Queens of the Stone Age
8 p.m. Thursday, September 19, Uptown Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $34-$62.50.
The most mainstream of desert stoner rockers has reached an arguable career peak with the new album “…Like Clockwork” widely being considered a career best, epic comeback, and one of 2013's top albums. Agree or not, their first Charlotte show in over a decade should quake with fuzz and distortion.  

JP Soars
9 p.m. Thursday, September 19, Double Door. 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10-$12.
The hopping award winning blues guitarist and cigar box guitar builder is a favorite of Little Steven’s Underground Garage for his meaty, funky playing and demonstrative vocals. His latest collaboration with Damon Fowler and Victor Wainwright - Southern Hospitality - has received raves.

Construction won't derail CFS concert Friday

Street car rail construction on Elizabeth Avenue is currently impeding entrance into the Great Aunt Stella Center's parking lot, but the Charlotte Folk Society, who hosts concerts there, reports that shows will go on. CFS hosts a free concert with the Whitetop Mountaineers (pictured) - a harmony-driven duo from Virginia who touch on bluegrass, gospel, old-time and country - Friday at Great Aunt Stella.

Attendees will enter through the County Park Deck on 4th Street. Wanda Hubicki of CFS says it is free to exit the parking deck after 8 p.m. and many concert goers already park there.

"Or, if they have passengers who need accessible entry and need to be dropped at the ground level entrance, they could exit the parking deck into the ground lot next to GASC, drop their passengers, and go back and park in the deck," she explains.

She hopes the parking situation will be resolved by October when Charlotte-based veteran folk artist Si Kahn and German bluegrass band the Looping Brothers play the October 11 CFS gathering. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An unprecedented week of favorites awaits me

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. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Celebrate gay unicorns at Snug Saturday

Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that say "Keep Austin Weird?" Charlotte has its share of strange and unusual entertainers and artists as well. Certainly nowhere near as many per capita as Austin, but thank goodness for those oddballs that keep the local arts and music scene rich and interesting. 

One such artist is Your Fuzzy Friends - the new wave-schooled, stuffed animal synth project from Lee Grutman who performs surrounded by and even through stuffed animals and puppets. Hence the name. 

Saturday Your Fuzzy Friends celebrates the release of a new four track EP that is available for free on Bandcamp, NoiseTrade, and Soundcloud

As you might expect from someone that performs with plush toys, "Some of My Best Friends are Gay Unicorns" (which includes songs like "Banana Hammock" and "Don't Touch My Mustache") is silly, funny, and potentially offensive. It also has a good beat and you can dance to it. But seriously, if you're easily offended or homophobic, you might not want to click. Your Fuzzy Friends follows that comedic, sexually aware dance music subset that includes folks like Peaches, Leslie and the Lys, and some of the avant garde artists that Shiprocked has hosted over the years. 

A Soundcloud listener whose comment was included in the email alert advertising the show summed it up best as "What did I just listen to?" Ha!

The EP release party takes place at Snug Harbor and includes performances from Girls Dressed as Girls, Secret Hospital, and Dave and the Strange. Admission is $5. 

Three acts with ties, new albums, two CLT shows.

David Mayfield’s sophomore album, “Good Man Down,” is one of my favorite records of the year. It goes beyond the bluegrass, folk, and old-time honky-tonk n’ roll that colored his impressive solo debut, “The Parade,” and what he did as a sideman with sister Jessica Lea Mayfield and forward thinking bluegrassers Cadillac Sky. 

On “Good Man Down” a reinvention of Cadillac Sky’s “Trapped Under Ice” rumbles with rock n’ roll thunder, while “Was It Only Me” is one of the most moving tracks I’ve heard in years. Mayfield ups the ante on the intimate song by shifting from beautiful strings to a heavy psychedelic freak-out finale. “Human Cannonball,” which I believe Mayfield played during last winter’s tour with his sister Jessica Lea, swells into a heartbreaking, grand love story.

There’s still plenty anchored in his bluegrass roots. “Another Year,” which features harmony from bluegrass legends Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the fiddle-driven opener “Love Will Only Break Your Heart,” which features Seth Avett on guest vocals, are both classic folk-grass centerpieces. “The Willow and the Babe” reminds me of the progressive newgrass my dad listened to when I was a kid. It’s positive, wide in scope, and full of interesting instrumental phrasing, but doesn’t leave catchy, pop sensibilities behind. What’s more these different sides of Mayfield’s musical personality gel and make for a diverse yet cohesive record.
Mayfield plays Double Door Inn Saturday. 

Coincidentally two artists that recently worked with the Ohio based producer/musician share the stage at Jam for Cam at NC Music Factory’s The Saloon that very same night. Mayfield produced new albums by Greenville cellist and singer-songwriter Sarah Clanton Schaffer and Bristol, Virginia’s Annabelle’s Curse. Schaffer and Annabelle’s Curse actually met at Suma Studios in Ohio where both recorded with Mayfield.

Both acts fall under that broad umbrella known as Americana, but, like Mayfield, roots music doesn’t entirely cover what either act does.

Schaffer’s album, “Chasin’ a Feeling,” isn’t predictable cello rock (not that cello rock is all that common). Her songs are textured, fully-formed entities that happen to feature cello as well as several other instruments including her versatile and gutsy voice. She demonstrates Fiona Apple-style sass on “Dragons in the Kitchen” (which you can hear in the above clip) and plays with jazz and blues melodies on “Not Cool” and the title track. She’s a playful lyricist on “Banana Song,” a quality that probably served her well when she was on the road touring with Mayfield.

She’s hard to pin down as an arranger and vocalist. Her phrasing sometimes hints at Beth Gibbons from Portishead whereas “Just One Kiss” - a really beautiful classic country-rooted love song - could’ve been a hit for Anne Murray or Olivia Newton John circa 1975. At times Schaffer channels that positive country and rock straddling AM pop.

Annabelle’s Curse’s “Hollow Creature” begins like a mix of `90s pop-rock radio and the harmony-driven contemporary folk-rock that’s so hot right now. It’s like Death Cab for Cutie and Arcade Fire raised in the valleys of Virginia singing harmonies and soaking up weekend pickin’ parties. Annabelle’s Curse certainly shares qualities with what I think of “Hey!” bands like Of Monsters and Men and the Last Bison - bands that raise spirits and create gospel-like revivals with group-shouts and bouncing acoustic boot-stompers. “Regret, VA” contains shouts of “Hey!”, but Annabelle’s Curse differentiates itself with that aforementioned Death Cab-like undercurrent and by keeping that uplifting spirit to a minimum. It delves into trippy, dramatic psychedelia on the heavier title track, for instance, demonstrating its own broad pallet while remaining tied to bluegrass and roots music through nimble picking and rich harmonies. 

As with Mayfield, neither group is a one trick (or style) pony. And as with “Good Man Down,” both albums are diverse and eclectic and impressive on several levels. While the coincidence of them playing the same night as their producer is kind of neat, it also makes it difficult to be at two shows at once. Maybe there will be an after show jam somewhere between Elizabeth and Graham St. Cross your fingers.

Music starts at both venues at 9 p.m. Tickets for Mayfield’s show are $12. Jam for Cam, which benefits the National Alliance for Mental Illness, is held in memory of Cameron Shelton, who died at age 23. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is recommended.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This week's hot concerts

Pete Anderson
9 p.m. Friday, September 6, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $10-$12.
With his history as Dwight Yoakam’s musical partner, it’s no surprise that this Tele-slinging, Grammy winning producer (Lucinda Williams, Meat Puppets) can strut like a Stray Cat, pull off tension-filled blues licks, and touch on the many genre he’s worked in with a classic feel on his new album “Birds Above Guitarland.”  
Shannon Whiworth
8 p.m. Saturday, September 7, Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St. $12-$14.
With an aching alto, the Brevard singer-songwriter seamlessly blends country and soul conjuring the genre blurring spirit of musical beauties of the `70s and `80s like Carly Simon, Carlene Carter, and Rita Coolidge.
8 p.m. Saturday, September 7, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$18.
The prolific third generation musician continues to flit between his familial honky-tonk roots and the noisy metal and sludge of his youth with two new releases (out October 1) - a double album of country and second of punk with his new project 3. Expect his live show to demonstrate the same split musical personality.
David Mayfield Parade
9 p.m. Saturday, September 7, Double Door, 1218 Charlottetown Ave. $12.
With a stellar sophomore album the former Cadillac Sky and Jessica Lea Mayfield sideman literally struts his stuff on stage where he’s a comedic frontman, poignant songwriter and nimble picker. You will not leave without a smile glued to your face. If you get to the 1:06 minute mark in the video you'll see what I mean. 
Jam For Cam
9 p.m. Saturday, September 7, The Saloon, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $5.
The second annual Jam for Cam features two artists who have new albums produced by the aforementioned David Mayfield. Greenville's Sarah Clanton Schaffer, who has toured with Mayfield, makes cello rock that’s part roots music, part Fiona Apple while Bristol, Virginia's Annabelle’s Curse is an acoustic act that erases the line between pop and bluegrass.
Kid Rock
6:45 p.m. Tuesday, September 10, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 707 Pavilion Blvd. $29.
The genre-hopping country-rocker abides by his Heartland-loving, everyman-empathizing lyrics by leveling the ticket-buying playing field and making admission actually affordable and equal (all seats are the same price).  He ups the entertainment ante with ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker opening.
7 p.m. Tuesday, September 10, The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $33.
Rancid plays its first Charlotte club headlining show for the first time since 1996. Recent setlists have relied heavily on the veteran punk band’s “And Out Come the Wolves” era. Tim Timebomb and Friends are among the openers. The group is a covers and originals project of Rancid frontman Tim Armonstrong and a revolving cast of musicians.
Wax Tailor
8 p.m. Tuesday, September 10, Amos’, 1423 S. Tryon St. $15-$17.
Narrated by Don McCorkindale (BBC’s “The Avengers”) with delicate female vocals and multi-media collaborations with 20 film directors, this trip-hop adventure from the award winning French electronic hip-hop artists is more like a live scored film and music experience than a typical hip-hop concert.
The National
8 p.m. Wednesday, September 11, The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd. $45.50.
The long running indie rock darlings - a dark, intelligent successor to R.E.M. - makes its Charlotte debut after 14 years and six brilliant, critically-acclaimed albums. The group, whose songs are musically moving, somber, and mysterious with winking lyrical twists, was a standout at Bonnaroo and is the subject of a new documentary.
8 p.m. Thursday, September 12, Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St. $20.
The Oakland-based R&B singer can do sexy, feminist Mary J. Blige-style R&B and classic soul, but there’s also an interesting undercurrent of experimental arrangements, jazz and electronic musical swerves, and a smart, sympathetic lyrical approach that makes her music at once relatable without rattling her striking, cool persona. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Of Montreal, Whigs headline new beer, arts festival

Athens' bands Of Montreal (pictured) and the Whigs will headline Brewz - a new music and arts festival taking place at NC Music Factory October 19. Other acts include Kool A.D. of acclaimed Brooklyn hip-hop trio Das Rascist, Raleigh indie-rock band the Love Language, and Charleston jam rockers Dangermuffin. NC acts Mr. Invisible, the New Familiars, Dirty Art Club, Ancient Cities, Stranger Day, Stereoloud, and Shuhandz round out the eclectic bill.

Brewz features beer on tap from a number of local and regional breweries including Heist Brewery, NoDa Brewing, Olde Mecklenburg, Triple C Brewing, and Birdsong Brewing. Participating regional breweries will be announced at a later date. 

A portion of proceeds will go to The Jimmy V. Foundation - a non-profit organization that raises funds for cancer research in memory of NC State University basketball coach Jim Valvano. Tickets are available in advance online for $25 here. Tickets will be $35 at the door. The 18 and up event runs from noon to 11 p.m. The event is being put on by CLTure, RockHouse Events, NC Music Factory, and the organizers of the annual AWOL music festival. 

Muse delivers fitting grand, apocalyptic arena show

Readers and music fans often ask why Charlotte doesn’t get certain tours or certain bands. Tuesday night’s phenomenal concert by British arena rock trio Muse is a good example. The entire upper tier balcony was blacked out, although the lower bowl was packed. While I don’t know if those upper seats were ever for sale (certainly they would've been made available had the lower half sold out), it means that thousands missed one of the best rock shows of the year. Muse tickets don’t seem to be selling that well in larger markets either though. Tickets for tonight’s show at Atlanta’s similar size Gwinnett Center, where I saw them play opening night of their 2010 US tour for a sold out crowd, are still available, for instance.
Opening act Cage the Elephant (pictured below) was well paired with Muse. Like Muse early on, the Kentucky-based band doesn’t have a distinct identity which allows it to expand and grow. It riffed on Pixies-style surf guitar on one track, raved through punky abandon the next, and hit on varied genres and inspirations - Brit pop, White Stripes, Southern rock, dark psychedelia, and fidgety garage punk.
Vocalist Matthew Schultz told the crowd it was a special night. His brother, guitarist Brad Schultz, was not with the band but home welcoming his new baby while bassist Daniel Tichenor’s brother Joe handled Brad’s guitar duties.  
Cage the Elephant, who sold out Amos’ not long ago, could possibly steal a headliner’s thunder opening for a lesser band than Muse. The crowd was obviously familiar with tracks like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Shake Me Down,” but Schultz, who strutted like Mick Jagger, worked hard to win them over. During its final song Schultz dove into the audience, his microphone chord trailing behind him from the stage where a tech hurriedly fished him more line. He crawled across throngs of bodies in the general admission section before pulling himself to his feet where he teetered on hands and shoulders as the music paused for a few moments. He basked in the crowd (see above) before falling backward into their arms as the song kicked back in.
Muse hit the stage with all the grandeur and bombast you’d expect from a band whose songs sound like the score to the apocalypse. The stage turned red, smoke shot in tall puffs from the floor, and a cage of screens lowered as the operatic dubstep nod “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” served as Muse’s dramatic entrance music. The trio with additional touring keyboardist Morgan Nicholls appeared on stage as the block of screens rose before the group kicked into the equally futuristic “Supremacy.”
Although Muse’s latest album, “The 2nd Law” plays somewhat like a sci-fi rock opera with orchestral strings and operatic backing vocals, the show didn’t play out like theater. It was very much a rock show with spectacular lights and production that kept the crowd engaged throughout.
Angled screens, which looked like half a small football stadium, encircled the band while graphics, words, lights, and footage danced below, above, and around the group. Vocalist Matthew Bellamy (pumping his first in top photo) channeled Freddie Mercury on the funky Queen-like “Panic Station,” but his falsetto and guitar work often echoed Prince and Eddie Van Halen. He later conjured Hendrix wailing on “The Star Spangled Banner" at the tip of the stage. Muse certainly doesn’t go for mediocrity. The artists it channels through its massive, global anthems are only the biggest in history. And the huge production is a match for the music’s size and scope.
New songs from “The 2nd Law” were met with as much excitement as older ones like “Stockholm Syndrome” and “Super Massive Blackhole” (from 2003 and 2006, respectively). The psychedelic Western “Knights of Cydonia” brought the house down (it was the encore when I saw Muse before) mid-way through the 20-song set. Muse’s evolution through 2003’s “Time is Running Out” (a massive sing-along played late in the set) to 2009’s futuristic “The Resistance” to 2012’s electronic “Follow Me” and methodically trippy “Madness” (another big sing-along) is apparent. Its tracks have gradually become bigger, grander, more complicated, more electronic, and more theatrical.
That apocalyptic feel peaked as a film of people running down the beach from blocky, triangle forms that jutted from the collapsing ground - seemingly the digital world cannibalizes the human one - introduced “Uprising.” As the crowd jumped, fists raised singing “They will not control us/We will be victorious” I felt like it was more than just a song. It was like the local crowd was swept up in the spirit, singing in response to the turnout or to politicians in Raleigh - we won’t go back, we’ll turn out for good music, we’ll show the rest of the country we’re not decades behind!  
Instead of pretending to leave the stage, Bellamy called his bandmates to the stage before the crowd could break into chants of “encore.” As the first notes of “Starlight” hit the African-American man behind me lit into an ear-piercing scream that would’ve been at home at a Justin Bieber concert. In retrospect I guess the show warranted such uninhibited praise. Muse definitely is in the running for best contemporary live rock band.