Last night was surely exciting for the band, and also for plenty of locals who've seen them play smaller venues or even shared a bill with them. Future Islands' performance of "Seasons (Waiting on You)," from forthcoming LP Singles, possessed the same raw, pulsing energy that defines their live shows. Vocalist Sam Herring maximized the three-odd minutes of their performance (Future Islands cut the song's outro, likely due to time constraints) by growling several lines of the second verse, which are crooned on the album version, in his dense, low roar. He ducked and weaved and danced like a prizefighter, as local videographer and INDY blogger Dan Schram noted on Twitter. In what little time they had, Future Islands revealed a raw, slightly dangerous edge, a smart move as performers.
If you watch to the end of the video, you'll notice that Letterman's reaction seems genuinely impressed, even shocked. "How about that?" he exclaims, beaming. "I'll take all of that you got!" Network TV has a hell of a broad audience, and Future Islands' performance may be a first step onto a new level rather than a crowning achievement. That lofty plateau is not a bad place to be for a band that's never been afraid of heights.
Duke Performances' annual summer series, Music in the Gardens, kicked off Wednesday evening as JKutchma & The Five Fifths played a record-release party for Sundown, USA, which Kutchma released in two different versions (with the band and solo). Kutchma and company performed to a full crowd on the lawn of the gardens as, fittingly, the sun went down on a cool late-spring evening. They were joined by members of D-Town Brass and Prypyat as they ran through most of the new album and a few numbers of Kutchma's excellent previous release, Pastoral. Kutchma played a few numbers solo in the middle of the set. For more on the dual release of Sundown, USA, see Peter Blackstock's feature in the June 5 INDY Week.
Below are two clips from Wednesday evening's show.
Mount Moriah, Bowerbirds
Dec. 8, 2012
Saturday brought one of the more anticipated local performances in recent memory to the Cat's Cradle. Mount Moriah — stirring up recent buzz around their signing to Merge Records and the announcement of their next release, Miracle Temple — debuted a handful of rich and powerful new songs. And headlining were the Bowerbirds, fresh off of a nine-month tour and returning to the Cradle for the first time since their CD release for The Clearing in March.
While Mount Moriah played several selections off their new disc, you'll have to see them live to hear those before the Feb. 26 release. One highlight was watching the often unheralded duo of Casey Toll and James Wallace locking in the tight drum and bass sound most noticeable during this driving version of "Social Wedding Rings."
Later in the set and between debuting new songs, the group mixed in a stirring cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight."
The Bowerbirds played a tight hour-long set that featured a few new arrangements and dug deep into their catalog to craft a varied setlist as well as a two-song encore for the hometown crowd. As the group begins to rest from a long year of touring, they've launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next record, Phil's side project and the final phase of construction on their home recording space. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
"In the Yard" is off their latest release, The Clearing.
Phil Cook & His Feat, Sumner James
Tir na nOg
Nov. 15, 2012
Among the advantages of free showcases like the Tir na nOg's Local Band-Local Beer night is the ability to try out new things without much pressure. With no cost to get in and a reliable weekly beer special, the Thursday crowd at the Raleigh Irish pub varies in size, but is always willing to give unfamiliar acts a chance. This week, two Durham talents seized the opportunity to debut new performances that, while occasionally rough, overflowed with promise.
James Phillips opened with what he told the crowd was his first-ever solo performance. This summer, the Bombadil drummer took a break from the band’s eccentric and emotionally potent folk to record an album called 29 Days, which he credited to the moniker Sumner James. The charming collection adds exacting, found-sound details to dubstep-inspired minimalism, a far cry from the work Phillips contributes to in Bombadil.
Playing in a duet format with Elysse Thebner (Some Army, JKutchma & the Five Fifths), Phillips emphasized the electronic end of his aesthetic, weaving ploding, concussive beats with patient keyboard lines and delicate guitar garnishes from Thebner. There were miscues and moments when the duo’s elements felt somewhat out of sync, but the set’s frequent successes resounded with passionate resolve. “Long Life,” a straightforward love song and 29 Days lone acoustic number, was transformed with steely piano and a cold, mechanical beat, making its twee-leaning wish for a long and happy relationship seem like a doomed proposition.
Last night, Kings hosted a sold-out crowd for a touring trifecta that brought varying flavors of heaviness.
Portland's Lord Dying opened with a tough blend of trash and doom, its twin guitar attack relentlessly crushing riffs alongside E. Olson's raspy bark. The band only eased up on the pummeling for guitar solo heroics and a cover of "Forget the Minions" by the now-defunct post-hardcore act Karp, which also makes an appearance on Lord Dying's tour-only EP—oddly enough, only 666 copies were pressed.
Savannah's Black Tusk took the stage next in a uniform of beards and muscle tees that left their sleeves covered in ink rather than cotton. Soon thereafter, the lean, muscular trio led off Set the Dial's "Bring Me Darkness" with a chant of "6! 6! 6!" that, perhaps too predictably, had the dude-dominated crowd pumping the air with cans of Modelo and PBR.
Employing a triple vocal attack—with varying degrees of gruffness—over a more straightforward version of the sludgy metal championed by hometown brethren Kylesa and Baroness, Black Tusk's arrangements shifted without warning. Those punishing tunes—about "skulls, fire and all kinds of other cool shit," as they eloquently put it Thursday night—commanded a modest pit by set's end.
When bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam began the first song of Red Fang's set, it was the first time anyone came closer to singing than growling the entire night, though Durham-born guitarist Bryan Giles offered enough vocal grit to offset his clean delivery. Though the Portland quartet's hard rock is melodic and menacing—Bryan C. Reed's comparison with Queens of the Stone Age is apt—it only gets metallic on the occasional breakdown or dirge-like chug.
But the crowd's reaction to the headliners was far more visceral than earlier in the evening, erupting at the opening notes of each song and violently moshing throughout.
Shonen Knife and The Ghost of Rock split the bill at Durham's Pinhook last night. Indy photographer Jeremy M. Lange was there.
Cage the Elephant, As Tall As Lions
Cat's Cradle, Carrboro
Tuesday, Feb. 23