This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Dylan Gilbert, Joe Norkus, Pipe, Caltrop, Tom Maxwell, Bustello, The Breaks, Gene Ween, Kooley High, Carolina Chocolate Drops
VS.: Jeff Hart vs. David Quick
VS.: Relient K vs. Madball
INTRODUCING: Wyle Hunter & Cazadores
HONORING: A Tribute to Dave Marzetti
12.10 DYLAN GILBERT, JOE NORKUS @ THE CAVE
Young Charlotte singer-songwriter Dylan Gilbert mines '60s and '70s AM gold and indie rock for inspiration on brilliant nuggets of power pop, characterized by sensitive, introspective storytelling. Whether in three-piece form with new backing unit The Over Easy Breakfast Machine or all alone with only his guitar and loop pedals, Gilbert's songs shine brightly. Joe Norkus—frontman of Chapel Hill indie rockers Embarrassing Fruits—unplugs himself from the trio's riff-focused approach without losing his keen sense of melody on earnest, easygoing solo acoustic tunes. Free/ 7:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
12.10 PIPE, CALTROP @ NIGHTLIGHT
Fair warning: It might get loud. Headlining Pipe traverses an easy bridge between mid-period Black Flag hardcore and Rocket From The Crypt rock 'n' roll. The Chapel Hill outfit's a veteran one, but its music hasn't aged much—imagine the frigid squint of Clint Eastwood right before he pounds your ass for looking at him crosswise. Caltrop's sound is a more patient and wandering type of heavy, more butterfly float than bee sting. But when it hits, the blues-metal sledgehammer falls like Thor's. Tonight, Valient Thorr's Jason Aylward joins Caltrop. $6/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
12.10 TOM MAXWELL, BUSTELLO, THE BREAKS @ LOCAL 506
It's a reunion of old-school Chapel Hill rockers. Bustello's led by ex-Metal Flake Mother frontman Ben Clarke with John Plymale (Sex Police, Pressure Boys) on bass. They play catchy, textured rock that blends the churn of Television with the pointed hooks of Pulp or Blur. Former Squirrel Nut Zipper Tom Maxwell penned their hit "Hell" and has a classic songwriter's disposition—he loves a great pop song, no matter the form. Though he has a predilection for classic '60s fare, he can do anything from Americana to piano or power pop. With The Breaks. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
12.11 GENE WEEN @ CAT'S CRADLE
There are those who might guffaw at equating Ween's Gene Ween with an American Ray Davies. But the laughter wouldn't bother the songwriter born Aaron Freeman, who's been working that angle since Ween's 1986 cassette debut, The Crucial Squeegee Lip. Though he is significantly less estranged with brother Deaner than Ray is from Dave, the 40-year old Freeman's under-appreciated catalogue is no less rich with unexpected and tender pathos. It's just buried deep in narrators that otherwise sound like drunk, funny-voiced spazzes. Nowhere are Freeman's perfect melodies more obvious than in his solo acoustic gigs, starring a kinder, gentler Gener. With Billy Warden and the Floating Children. $17–$20/ 9 p.m. —Jesse Jarnow
12.11 KOOLEY HIGH @ THE POUR HOUSE
Kooley High emcees Charlie Smarts and Tab-One now live in New York. They'll return to Raleigh to find that few things have changed in the hip-hop scene from which they self-graduated last year. They left area hip-hop in a couple of able hands. Having adopted Kooley High's grind theory, our favorite new local spitter, King Mez has stayed busy collaborating with everyone from The Soul Council producer Khrysis to the clothing label Stussy. The brand recently sponsored King Mez's "Hoppin Over Fences" single, featuring the spirited Raleigh emcee waxing ethical over an unreleased Pharrell Williams beat. Songstress Carlitta Durand also performs. $6–$9/ 9 p.m. —Eric Tullis
12.11 CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Durham-based string-band revivalists Carolina Chocolate Drops wrap another whirlwind year. From the five-year anniversary of the original Black Banjo Gathering where the trio first connected to the release of their chart-topping Nonesuch debut and performances at Bonnaroo, the Grand Ole Opry and across the European continent, the Drops continue to expand. Part entertainers and part educators, the Chocolate Drops have achieved a cross-cultural recognition that's well-deserved. If the past half-decade's trend holds true, they will only continue to pick up steam. Catch their refreshing, genre-eluding takes on string-band tradition in a club while you still can. $18–$20/ 8 p.m —Spencer Griffith
SATURDAY, DEC. 11
From: Garner to Raleigh to Durham
Since: Late '80s
Claims to fame: Hanks, Ruins, Brown Mountain Lights, Amps Do Furnish a Room, Kinksmen ...
You can gain a lot of insight into a singer/ songwriter based on the names that are etched on his guitar. Among the signatures adorning Jeff Hart's beloved 12-string are those of Paul Westerburg, Richard Thompson, Peter Buck, John Hiatt, Matthew Sweet, Jeff Buckley, Peter Holsapple, Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey, Roger McGuinn, Richard Lloyd, Robert Earl Keen, Chip Robinson, Carlene Carter, Lyle Lovett, Syd Straw, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, David Enloe and Warren Zevon. (He's still hoping for Ray Davies.) Hart is fronting the longstanding Ruins this night, so expect something in a McGuinn-meets-Hiatt-meets-Westerberg vein. Also on the bill are Tripp and Adrian "Hardkor" Krygowski. 10 p.m. At THE CAVE.
From: Swansboro to New York to Bynum
Since: Early '90s
Claims to fame: Jack Black, Poonhounds, Heavy Rebel Weekender, Hobart Willis' Back Forty, TCB, Swang Brothers ...
You can gain a lot of insight into a singer/ guitarslinger based on the names that are dropped in, well, his rock 'n' roll poetry. Among those cited in David Quick's celebratory epic "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2" are Lonnie Mack, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Dick Dale, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elvis Presley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Slim Harpo, Buddy Holly, Elmore James, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Otis Redding, Danny Gatton, Big Joe Turner, Sleepy LaBeef, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Gene Vincent, Bobby Darin and Ray Charles. That partial list gives you a pretty good idea of what you get with Quick. 9 p.m. At THE CITY TAP. —Rick Cornell
SUNDAY, DEC. 12
From: Canton, Ohio
Claim to fame: Shiny, slightly nerdy Christian pop-punk
Bright melodies and crisp harmonies spring out of Relient K like dancing waters from a sidewalk fountain. Their earnest enthusiasm isn't particularly pie-eyed, but it is exultant, mining the musical fault line that runs from MxPx to Weezer. Their pop-punk sound's recently tended more toward the former, losing some breeziness and immediacy to production and sonic detail. The greater pageantry has cost the quintet some of its mirth, but frontman Matt Thiessen's voice is built for the band's anthemic pop approach. He has a gift for evocative couplets, too. That's plenty to fuel the music's buoyant spirit. With Sherwood and Deas Vail. At CAT'S CRADLE. $15–$18/ 7:30 p.m.
Claim to fame: '80s New York hardcore pioneer; singer's brother leads Agnostic Front
Hopeful and beaming as Relient K's Christian pop-punk is, Madball offers its sonic antithesis in classic old school hardcore. These heavily tatted, locomotive-rhythmed, aggro growlers could make the Washington Monument feel overshadowed. The chugga-chugga-roar's that imposing. For two decades they've moved between thrash, punky four-on-the-floor malevolence and dark metal menace, expressing an inclusive musical mind-set. The rhythmic diversity forestalls the tedium hardcore sometimes invites. Frontman Freddy Cricien, who formed the band when he was 13, is still pretty young, and their latest vibrates the case right off the speaker. Relient K better hope Madball doesn't shatter them; sure, they're not porcelain, but they're a tad precious. With Lionheart and Bitter End. At THE BREWERY. $13/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
12.09 WYLIE HUNTER & THE CAZADORES @ LOCAL 506
A five-piece rock band with an ear for hooks, Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores manage to deliver deeply personal songs while avoiding woe-is-me territory. Failed relationships and an uncertain future fuel reflections that transform into soaring declarations of perseverance and hope. Hunter embodies the youthful exhilaration of his music, having dropped out of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro at age 19 to pursue music after reading biographies of Springsteen, Dylan and Hendrix. "I realized most of the people that I admired had had this place where they basically stepped off the cliff," he says. With that in mind, Hunter moved to Atlanta as an acoustic singer-songwriter and even got signed to a major label, but things didn't pan out.
Disillusioned with his acoustic beginnings, Hunter relocated to Chapel Hill with a new mission: "I wanted to play those rock songs that really grab you—hooks." Piecing together a band through friendships and chance encounters at open-mic nights, The Cazadores were born. With Hunter at the helm, the crescendos and crashes of songs mirror the peaks and valleys of life. In those quiet moments, Hunter says, "People are almost in this fever because they just want to hear something rocking." Then keyboards grow, drums pick up, electric guitar rings out, and everything is right in an unsure world. Crowfield opens. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
12.09 A TRIBUTE TO DAVE MARZETTI @ DEEP SOUTH
Sleep Control singer James Forgey was just dropping in on Dave Marzetti, his friend and the band's drummer, when he found the 27-year-old dead. He couldn't believe it. Apart from back problems, Marzetti had appeared to be in fine health. His sudden, accidental death on Oct. 19 was a complete shock.
"It took two days for it to really sink in," Forgey says. "It just felt like a really bad dream. It didn't seem real."
Marzetti had been playing with Sleep Control since 2006, adding an arresting stomp to the band's modern rock. His talent behind the kit and, more important, his compassionate disposition helped ingrain him in the Triangle music scene. Thursday his friends in that community come together to pay tribute.With a lineup that spans from the richly sung folk of Philip H. Manusco to the slam-glam pop-rock of Sleep Control's friends in A Tin Djinn, six local acts will take the stage in memory of their fallen compatriot.
The proceeds of the night will go to Raleigh's Community Music School. It's a cause that Forgey says would have pleased Marzetti deeply. "He loved music, and he loved helping people out," he says. "It's kind of perfect." $5 donation/ 7:30 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence