Advance apologies for painting a bleak picture, but in the past few years, City of Raleigh funding for special events presented and paid for by the Raleigh Convention Center has fallen from about $1 million to nearly nothing. Essentially, the Convention Center seems to be working on a facilities-first basis, where it's assumed that if the buildings are built, the crowds will come. By and large this year, at the city-owned Raleigh Amphitheater, they've been right: The booking has been diverse and somewhat interesting, with a regular schedule of hip-hop, electronica and indie rock for around $30 a ticket.
Seeing the success of its building and hoping to expand upon it, the Convention Center decided to become yet another producer and promoter in the amphitheater, teaming with Bud Light to present a five-concert series that mirrors the surprisingly successful free series which ran in Moore Square Park for years. This time, though, they're charging $5 per attendee for the same caliber of acts—frontmen of bands you've tried to forget, such as Live and Skid Row, or non-essential '90s hitmakers like Better Than Ezra—that used to play for free. So, of course, people haven't really responded. Neither of the first two shows have broken an attendance mark of 2,000.
If any of these shows should fare better, it's Rusted Root, a Pennsylvania band whose interest in combining rock tropes and world music lessons presaged lots of the most popular indie rock of the last several years. Sure, they're cheesy, prone to bad segues between predictable covers, but you get the sense they're still working, not just collecting royalties and forgotten loyalties from songs written decades ago. The show starts at 6 p.m., with local opener Milagro Saints.. —Grayson Currin