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Birds and Arrows, Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, Veelee, Django Haskins, Midtown Dickens, Valient Thorr, Hog, Double Negative

Troika Music Festival 2010: Thursday, Nov. 4 

Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes are a Thursday highlight.

Photo by D.L. Anderson

Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes are a Thursday highlight.

Start the long weekend in Central Park with Carrboro's BIRDS AND ARROWS at 7 p.m. This trio's elegant indie folk is a country-politan pop delight. The band's couple-core, Pete and Andrea Connolly, harmonize over winding, textured arrangements, built above Josh Starmer's cello. Their metaphors and personal images crisscross in a way that'll leave you wide open and wondering about life and love and such—a perfect headspace for the night of music ahead.

Up next at 8 p.m., MOSADI MUSIC, the groove-centric hip-hop act from Durham led by poet and rhyme-slinger Shirlette Ammons, takes over. Ammons is a relentless presence, channeling a passion for social consciousness into her creative process. Her band stretches out arrangements that dip into funk, jazz and soul, creating a warm, affecting balance with the wordplay.

When you leave the park, a few hard choices lie ahead, but there's little chance of being disappointed. For my money, the 8:30 p.m. stop is JUSTIN ROBINSON AND THE MARY ANNETTES at Fullsteam Brewery. As one-third of the incessantly touring Carolina Chocolate Drops, Robinson's earned his stripes in the old-time set. As bandleader of the Mary Annettes, though, he's given room to roam with idiosyncratic arrangements and to stretch his legs as a songwriter. The band's murky blend of epic indie rock ideas and nestled roots-music charm likely won't be replicated this weekened.

If the magnetic pull coming from The Pinhook isn't indication enough around 10 p.m., take my word that you'll need to head there next to catch Carrboro's VEELEE. Boy/ girl harmonies, chiming guitars, shouted hooks and spiraling melodies collide in Matt Park and Ginger Wagg's charismatic pop. The duo's slim catalog (one EP, 2009's Three Sides, and one full-length, 2010's The Future Sight) boasts an array of musical ideas as stunning in their simplicity as they are in their diversity. Catch them up close while you can.

At 618 Foster Street, The Old Ceremony's DJANGO HASKINS take a solo turn at 10:30 p.m. Haskins' work with The Old Ceremony uses filmic, moody textures and rock 'n' roll ambition. Stripping those stylized arrangements away means sloughing off a lot of layers. Luckily, it doesn't mean losing any sense of songwriting depth or onstage mirth.

Return to Fullsteam at 11 p.m. for MIDTOWN DICKENS, Durham's answer to anti-folk, DIY, string band and whatever else. Led by best friends Kym Register and Catherine Edgerton, the band's as likely to be playing banjos, singing saws or guitars as they are drums, glockenspiels and trumpets. Their sets feel like spontaneous celebrations, complete with ragged harmony, lyrical honesty and engaging eccentricity.

As easy as it would be to end the night there, resist the urge and head up the block to Motorco for VALIENT THORR. With the new blasters of HOG, the hardcore veterans of DOUBLE NEGATIVE and the crash-landed Venusians of Valient Thorr, tonight's entire Motorco bill is a study in brutality. This set, which starts at 11:30 p.m., should blast you into day two with energy.


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