If the epicenter for regional indie rock has indeed migrated a few miles east from Chapel Hill, it's safe to say The Pinhook is partially responsible. The room hosts its fair share of dance parties and karaoke nights, but it's also been a reliable rock club dependent on a calendar habitually stocked with local talent. Tonight, the Main Street venue celebrates four years of business with a de facto tribute to Merge Records, the independent label that, while founded in Chapel Hill, now bases its operations a few blocks away in Downtown Durham.
Both examples of the record label's early, local-heavy roster, Pipe and Shark Quest, now seem ideally suited for The Pinhook. Pipe's ragged bluster of '70s punk and '80s indie makes for potent bar-rock, enhanced by the customary hailstorms of empty beer cans. After breaking up at the turn of the millennium, Pipe has resumed its local-hero status with gigs that have grown increasingly frequent. Foiling Pipe's rambunctious punk with elegant composure, Shark Quest's instrumentals nod to Morricone and Tortoise as they mix twangy folk and lush exotica. Taken as a pair, the bands remark upon the sort of eclecticism and inclusiveness for which The Pinhook's booking has always aimed. —Bryan C. Reed