This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The Wigg Report, Joy In Red, Heaven vs. Hell Noise Night, Chatham County Line, Justin Robinson & The Mary Annettes, Django Haskins, Leo Kottke, Last Year’s Men, Dan Melchior, El Ten Eleven, It’s Just Vanity, Monoslang, Kurt Vile
VS: Lurch vs. Gray Young
08.05 THE WIGG REPORT, JOY IN RED @ THE CAVE
"I love playing the Cave," says Joy In Red's Matthew Yearout. "When I get on that stage, I think of all the bands that have come and gone, some still around, who have shared that one moment, even if they lack any sonic similarities with one another, and I can't help but feel a sense of pride." Joy in Red, a trio of Durhamites best known for laying banjo rolls over heavy rock rhythms, have been off the radar for most of the summer (thanks to two members' marriage ceremonies), but are gearing up for Fall shows and a brand new record. In a happy bit of symmetry, they'll be sharing the bill with another trio of Bull Citizens who also have a new album on the horizon: The Wigg Report, who are busy finalizing Bicycle Pop. Their anti-folk anthems and belligerent pop force a smile from the most cynical listeners. Donations/ 10 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
08.05 HEAVEN VS. HELL NOISE NIGHT @ NIGHTLIGHT
Oh, how blessed we would be if bipartisanship always worked so well: This quadruple bill combines four artists united by an interest in outbound sound but divided by their religions or ideals. Clang Quartet is the long-running solo project of Scotty Irving, wherein various passages of Christian scripture serve as the scripts for a combination of harsh noise exaltation and allegorical explanation. It's not irony; Irving is indeed a Christian, as is his tag-team partner, Greensboro's Baptizer. Mecanikill and Orgavin stand on the other side of the ideological spread, representing the "Hell" portion of tonight's show. "We all enjoy each others sounds and shows but we come from different viewpoints," explains Irving. How many politicians can Nightlight hold? $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.06 CHATHAM COUNTY LINE, JUSTIN ROBINSON & THE MARY ANNETTES @ CAT’S CRADLE
By the reputations which precede them, both Chatham County Line and Justin Robinson are known for their deference to musical traditions: Chatham County Line began as a ragtag bluegrass band who gathered around a single microphone and in front of a North Carolina flag, singing about bacon in skillets and beautiful women. Meanwhile, Justin Robinson found success (a Grammy win, film appearances, a major-label deal) as a Carolina Chocolate Drop, a group that educated about old-time music as it entertained with it. But both have diligently broadened their sounds and approaches—Chatham County Line with music that's "country-rock" in the least cloying way imaginable, and Robinson with the idiosyncratic pop of his Mary Annettes. $14–$17/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.06 DJANGO HASKINS @ SAXAPAHAW RIVERMILL
By now, Django Haskins should know the ropes of playing the Saxapahaw Rivermill series. "I've actually played the farmers market every year since its inception," explains The Old Ceremony front man. There's really no mystery to what keeps bringing him back, though. "There is a certain charm to performing on the back of a hay wagon, surrounded by fresh produce. The Saxapahaw shows always feel like a backyard concert—casual, grassy, and warm." The show's also an opportunity for a musician who spent years touring solo (and released five solo records) before forming the ambitious Old Ceremony to break out the back catalogue and to try a new take on some of his band's favorites. "It feels good to keep those muscles in use," says Haskins. "I'm freer to dip into really deep cuts in terms of the set list, and to follow potentially bizarre trains of thought in between songs. On a good night, it balances between campfire and vaudeville." Free/ 5 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
08.06 LEO KOTTKE @ N.C. MUSEUM OF ART
Leo Kottke would make a wonderful vocal teacher, judging from the way he makes his acoustic guitar sing. There's an acrobatic flair to the nimble notes that flow out of his guitar, at once soothing and intriguing. Because of the unamplified sound, one naturally thinks folk. Kottke's style isn't very easily pinned, blending everything from fluttering jazz improvisation and rhythmic blues grooves to blistering bluegrass runs and dreamy waft. Kottke only sings rarely, perhaps recognizing it's unnecessary when this playing's capable of communicating the emotion better than words. $13–$25/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.06 LAST YEAR'S MEN, DAN MELCHIOR @ NIGHTLIGHT
Last Year's Men debuted last year with the excellent Sunny Down Snuff, and things have only accelerated since then. Their contribution to a Scion-released split single finds the Men keeping pace with garage legends (and LYM heroes) the Reigning Sound, while their tour itinerary has seen them crisscrossing the country, often with wealthy sponsors footing the bill. Dan Melchior isn't the young upstart of the evening, but the British expat and cult favorite bolsters his wry, sarcastic songs with speaker-shredding volume and bustling arrangements. Leading his band das Menace, Melchior rarely disappoints. With Wild Wild Geese. $7/ 10 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed
08.07 EL TEN ELEVEN @ KINGS
If you hear Los Angeles duo El Ten Eleven referred to as a "post-rock group" and expect them to throw down in a manner similar to Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, you're going to be disappointed. In their case, the oft-abused genre is simply shorthand for "instrumental music." On their most recent album, It's Still Like A Secret, the group offers tunes more in line with the Casio-aided antics of Trans Am and the straightforward professionalism of the Dub Trio. They might not break down any walls, but El Ten Eleven's brand of heady and propulsive non-vocal rock still satisfies. With The Globes and Prussia. $8–$10/ 9:30 p.m. —David Raposa
08.08 IT'S JUST VANITY, MONOSLANG @ SLIM'S
Onetime Chapel Hill troupe It's Just Vanity combine the delicate and difficult sides of math-y post-punk. They're equally adept at atmospheric music forged from intricate latticeworks of guitar and crashing blasts of slashing angularity, though they have more of a preference for the former. The vocals veer between a spoken style reminiscent of early Cursive and keening declamations that recall Braid. Led by Louis Erazo and Kelson Fagan, they initially formed in New Jersey, really came to life while attending school in Chapel Hill, and have now decamped to Chicago, a near-ground-zero for many of their mid-'90s influences. $5/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.09 KURT VILE @ CAT'S CRADLE
It only seems like Kurt Vile plays the Triangle every month. The last time he came through was all the way back in April, when he was opening for another long-haired guitar hero, J Mascis. This time around, he's playing with The Violators, headlining a show with two like-minded openers: local murky troubadours Old Bricks and Austin's slow-and-sludgy True Widow. And as folks that have been grooving to Smoke Ring For My Halo for most of the year already know, it's a cause for celebration when Vile brings his shambling psychedelic blues to town. $12–$15/ 9 p.m. —David Raposa
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6
Lurch is an exercise in concision. Though the band is still operating without a proper release, the Bull City quintet earns its headlining slot tonight with sheer willpower. Drawing momentum from D-beat intensity, heft from Southern sludge and energy from thrash, Lurch crafts surging metal anthems with hardcore's urgency. It's that projected ferocity that lends songs like "People, Places and Things" the force of a crashing wave. Pink Flag, which trades in nervy but predictable post-punk, and Church of Zann, which boasts former members of Thunderlip and Valient Thorr, join the bill, promising a night of varied—if uniformly to-the-point—rock. At CASBAH. $5–$7/ 9 p.m.
Claim to fame: Spacious, hooky post-rock
Gray Young also exercises restraint in its approach to songwriting, though the large-scale sounds the band draws from tend to offer a different impression. The Raleigh trio's attention to British post-punk, arena rock and cinematic post-rock pays off in the form of gently swelling anthems that fill whatever space they're allowed. Even as the band has added more vocals to the songs, they've never lost sight of the textured instrumental arrangements that goad their best work. Asheville's Knives and Daggers bring pensive pacing and clean, strings-led swells; Wilmington's Unholy Tongues offer their own occasionally heavy, insistent brand of instrumental post-rock. At PINHOOK. $5/ 10 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed
08.05 SYRUP @ THE POUR HOUSE
It's a full-circle moment for Triangle trio Syrup, a well-textured, guitar-driven rock act from the mid-'90s who haven't played together in 15 years. The reunion wheels started turning late last year during singer and guitarist David Poole's return to another of his older bands, Slurpeeeee! Syrup drummer Robert Shi had stepped in for Slurpeeeee!'s absent drummer, and idle conversation sparked interest in a Syrup return. When they discovered original bassist Tom Mills (who moved to California a few months after their 1994 formation), was back in town, it just made sense.
"Our kids are at an age where we can play again, have fun and pretend we're young," says Poole. "When we were playing before, everything was so serious and had such grave importance. Now it's so different. You get a better perspective on life. There are no pipe dreams here."
Shortly before they called it quits in 1996, they recorded and mixed their second album, First Aid Kit, with producer Tim Harper (Whiskeytown, Mayflies USA). It never came out, but they've already written three new songs and are finally considering a way to put it into the world.
"Robert and I have talked about getting it mastered and maybe releasing it like it is, or with some of the original recordings, re-record others and the new material we've written," he says. "What we'd like to do initially is get our set together, play out some, then figure out what makes sense." With The Bleeding Hearts and Goner. $5–$8/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker