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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Surviving the summer heat with Future Islands

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 12:14 PM

Future Islands took the stage at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, and frontman Sam Herring appeared happy, but tired. The singer seemed overwhelmed by joy, overwhelmed by the heat of the sun that was only now setting, and overwhelmed by the nonstop personal reunions at this, his band's 1,000th show. His speaking voice seemed extra-raspy, though his singing voice did not. And if he was indeed as overwhelmed and wiped out as he initially seemed, the feeling faded quickly. Like him, lots of people had been at Carrboro Town Commons all day, baking in the sun, waiting for Future Islands...

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Bear in Heaven, Young Magic, and the trickiness of good dark synth-pop

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Bear in Heaven, Young Magic, Weeknight Cat's Cradle Back Room, Carrboro Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 Shawn Brackbill Bear in Heaven: synthetic blues Dark synth-pop is a tricky aesthetic. When done right, it's an immersive, fascinating experience blurring electronic and traditional instruments, and it can provide the same mind-altering experience as good sci-fi. When done poorly, though ... well, there's also bad sci-fi. Two bands on Saturday night's Cat's Cradle Back Room bill succeeded at this genre through different, though exciting, methods. And one—opener Weeknight—did not. It was an enlightening contrast. Thematically, Weeknight wasn't that different from Bear in Heaven or...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Live: Richard Buckner makes it rain in Duke Garden

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Richard Buckner Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham Wednesday, July 9, 2014 The last time I saw the enigmatic singer-songwriter Richard Buckner in Durham, it was a misty night. This time, it was misty again, which was even more noticeable in the outdoor setting of Duke Gardens than in the close confines of The Pinhook. As opposed to that intimate, opiated-feeling acoustic set, this was a more voluble electric one. But in both cases, it was easy to imagine that Buckner brought the occluded weather with him, a physical manifestation of the moodiness and mystery that shrouds his songs. On Wednesday, Buckner was performing solo in...

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Live: Audience or not, North Elementary and Some Army put on one hell of a show

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Erik Anderson They're in there somewhere: North Elementary North Elementary, Some Army Kings, Raleigh Friday, May 16, 2014 There weren't many people at King's in Raleigh Friday night for North Elementary's Honcho Poncho LP release show: the 20 or 30 people in attendance largely hugged the walls or hovered at the bar, while the headliner played an unlit stage in front of a projector screen. In local music—hell, in music at all—this happens: Sometimes people don't come out. It's been the source of uncounted "Where the hell was everyone?" Facebook posts or blog entries, and it can be a...

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Live review: John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff turn The Cave into a rainforest

Posted By and on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM

It was hot in The Cave Saturday night; with dozens of people packed into the front room to see both John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff and Magnolia Collective play, the room felt like a rainforest, albeit altered by the smell of beer and mixed drinks. In short, it was the perfect spot to see a country band on a Saturday night. There was even a little dancing. Magnolia Collective's story-oriented Americana-rock inspired a good bit of appreciative bounce in the front of the room. After a quick changeover, Howie and his band kicked off their Everything Except Goodbye LP...

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Winston-Salem's Phuzz Phest Grows in Year Four

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Phuzz PhestVarious Venues, Winston-SalemApril 4-6, 2014 When Philip Pledger arrived at Krankies Coffee in Winston-Salem on Friday night to lead his Estrangers through the second set of last weekend’s Phuzz Phest, he looked exhausted. He was decked in a rumpled T-shirt and comfortably worn jorts, but his stony face clashed with his casual clothing. It had been a rough day for Pledger. Chapel Hill’s Secret Boyfriend, scheduled to play the following day, dropped out, citing allegations of sexual misconduct lobbed at Justin Williams, the frontman of Twelve Thousand Armies, another band on the lineup and the first signee to Pledger's new...

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Live review: Future Islands at the Haw River Ballroom

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM

At the end of last night's sold-out Future Islands show at Saxapahaw's Haw River Ballroom, vocalist Samuel Herring asked to have the house lights turned up—not a lot, just a little—to "strip the artifice for this last one." Then the band played "Little Dreamer," an old and tender song, written, as Herring pointed out, in Backdoor Skate Shop in Greenville, N.C., where the band formed. In his typically melodramatic way, Herring clutched his head and appeared to be either on the verge of tears or deep in desolate contemplation as he sang. There wasn't much to dance to in this last moment of a four-song...

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Live review: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Purling Hiss

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro Monday, March 3 At the end of the first song of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ show at Cat’s Cradle on Monday night, a technician came onstage to aid the former Pavement frontman while the other Jicks began strumming an impromptu version of Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man.” It turned out that the wiring of Malkmus’ guitar was shocking him, traveling through his limbs and torso to leave his lips tingling with the current. But it was Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss that truly seemed electrified. When Purling Hiss took the stage, the venue was a gawping hole occupied...

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Live Review: WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit at Lincoln Theatre

Posted By and on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Mount Moriah, Bombadil, Loamlands, Daniel Bachmann Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh Friday, Feb. 14 On Friday night, N.C. State University radio station WKNC’s bold bookings of popular bands for its 11th annual Double Barrel Benefit paid off for both the station and the artists. With over 600 people crammed into Lincoln Theatre, there was a diverse cross-section of listeners, including many who were years—if not decades—removed from their college years, but still appreciated WKNC’s broadcasts at 88.1 on the FM dial. Bombadil drummer James Phillips was one of them. Midway through his band’s set, Phillips told the story of how he met the rest of the...

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Live: Death by the Pixies

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Pixies, CultsDPAC, DurhamFriday, Jan. 31 At 9:15 on Friday night, The Pixies took the stage at DPAC and proceeded to play what seemed like their entire back catalog. There was hardly a break between songs, with little room for banter as the band charged through a set crowded with Gen X-and-sometimes-Y sing-alongs such as "Here Comes Your Man," "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Where is My Mind?" While it took champion-level stamina on the band's part to play a nonstop, high-energy set for the better part of two hours, the evening took on a surreal, disorienting quality as the partially reunited Pixies (bassist Kim Deal bowed out last...

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Live: Queens of the Stone Age heat up Raleigh

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Queens of the Stone Age, Chelsea Wolfe Thursday, Jan. 30 Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh  The South is notorious for its habit of essentially shutting down (Hey, Atlanta.) after only a few inches of anything wintry. Following a couple days of being cooped indoors, some people in the Raleigh area found the release they needed at Thursday night’s sold-out Queens of the Stone Age concert in Memorial Auditorium. It began with opener Chelsea Wolfe, whose dark, sometimes droning heaviness offered a fittingly slow start to the thaw. Her ghostly vocals wafted through a hazy atmosphere, with barrages of guitar and drums puncturing the...

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Live: NC Opera presents La Bohème in Raleigh's big room

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 1:08 PM

North Carolina Opera presents La Boheme Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh Sunday, Jan. 26 There are two questions I always find myself asking after watching a performance by the North Carolina Opera: Was this a creditable presentation for a second- or third-tier U.S. opera company, and was it something I would recommend to non-opera fans? After seeing NC Opera’s production of Puccini’s La Bohème last weekend, the first question was much easier to answer than the second. We really do have a treasure in the NC Opera company. It regularly brings internationally recognized singers to the Triangle for major roles, while filling...

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Live: Hilliard Ensemble performs in Duke Chapel for the first and last wonderful time

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 3:17 PM

“This is our first and last performance in these beautiful acoustics,” said baritone Gordon Jones before Britain’s Hilliard Ensemble sang its encore, Peter Erskine’s “Romeo and Juliet,” in Duke Chapel on Tuesday night. It was the sole piece of American music on a program that spanned 12th-century France and 21st-century Estonia, all knitted together in the traditions of sacred or courtly polyphony. The chance to hear these four male singers, unaccompanied and relying only on the heavenly natural reverb of the vaulted chapel for amplification, would have been special in any case. It was especially so because Hilliard Ensemble is...

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Live: Solar Halos album release party

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 6:19 AM

We've all heard the meteorological cliché "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." Here's a variant for the Chapel Hill music scene: If you're curious what this bassist and that drummer would sound like together, wait five years. At Saturday night's Solar Halos album release show in the Cat's Cradle Back Room, the bands on the bill all had near-familial ties going back a half-decade or more. Just one example of the intricate web of connections goes that drummer Lauren Fitzpatrick joined Bitter Resolve after her psych-metal duo, The Curtains of Night, split; that band's guitarist, Nora Rogers, now plays...

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Live: Mandolin Orange at Fletcher Opera Theater

Posted By and on Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Fletcher Opera Theater can pack a lot of people into its relatively small space, and Carrboro's Mandolin Orange sold out the 600-capacity room Friday night. The curving rows of seats all but guaranteed an unobstructed view from anywhere in the house, and a respectful silence fell over the room during two sets and an encore, though the theater emptied out almost as the final notes rang. There was none of the dawdling that accompanies club or bar shows; hundreds of attentive eyes and ears very quickly gave way to empty seats. Given the miserable onslaught  of rain and more rain...

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Video: Nick Sanborn's 'Lend Me Your Voice' in Durham

Posted By and on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 3:24 PM

"Lend Me Your Voice" Nelson Music Room, Duke University, Durham November 1, 2013 Premiering Friday, Nick Sanborn's "Lend Me Your Voice" program sought to highlight musicians who often occupy supporting roles. All seven players—Sanborn included and surrounded by guitarist William Tyler, bassist Bradley Cook and many others—have shifted at least some focus to their own pursuits, and the night offered promising glimpses of several upcoming works. But what made the show special was watching them support each other. Each is known for making the sort of subtle gestures—a crisp guitar lick here, a well-timed drum roll there—that can elevate...

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Halloween in Winston: Whatever Brains trick, Thee Oh Sees treat

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Photo by Jordan Lawrence Thee Oh Sees Thee Oh Sees, Whatever Brains Krankies Coffee, Winston-Salem October 31, 2013 About halfway through "I Come From the Mountain," just as Thee Oh Sees' tenacious groove reached a fever pitch that wouldn't break for another hour, two crowd-surfers met in the middle of the room. One of the dudes climbed on top of the other, grabbing his comrade by the shirt and shaking him with blind elation. It lasted only a moment, as their combined weight soon brought them crashing to the ground (happily without injury), but it got after what makes...

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

World of Bluegrass: Saturday's grand finale

Posted By on Sun, Sep 29, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Word began to spread through the throngs of bluegrass fans across downtown Raleigh early Saturday afternoon that plans were afoot for a 2 p.m. "Banjo Flash Mob" at the Sir Walter Raleigh statue in front of the Convention Center. This was high comedy, for anyone attending this week's World of Bluegrass: If you were there, you know that the whole thing was a five-day-long Banjo Flash Mob. From quiet beginnings on Tuesday—just a couple dozen people dotted the pews of the Long View Center for a fest-opening 6 p.m. slot by spirited Austin quartet Wood & Wire—World of Bluegrass gradually...

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Video: Mandolin Orange triumphs at Cat's Cradle

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Mandolin Orange Cat's Cradle, Carrboro Aug. 23, 2013 Friday at the Cat's Cradle, Mandolin Orange packed every square inch of the storied room with a body. Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz were celebrating the release of their third album and their first for Yep Roc Records, This Side of Jordan. Walking into the Cradle early in the evening, there was an electricity in the air as many people bustled around to prepare for the doors to open early. In many ways, the event felt as though it was sponsored by the entire community of Carrboro. From local businesses like...

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At Cat's Cradle, Superchunk give aging the finger

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Photo by Jordan LawrenceSuperchunk Superchunk, The Parting GiftsCat's Cradle, CarrboroAug. 24, 2013 The last few times that Superchunk played Cat's Cradle, the indie rock entrepreneurs picked openers that reinforced their unflagging vitality. Since 2009, surging local rock acts Hammer No More the Fingers and Gross Ghost got their chance to open for the Chapel Hill legends at the club they made famous, as did the nervy but propulsive pop duo Veelee and the rangy folk singer Ryan Gustafson. Performing with these young talents highlighted Superchunk's persistent knack for packing unabashed hooks and screwy guitar lines with triumphant energy. This made...

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Curtains of Night return for a one-off reunion

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Photo by Jordan LawrenceThe Curtains of Night The Curtains of NightChapel Hill Underground, Chapel HillThursday, Aug. 15, 2013 In their prime, The Curtains of Night packed a wallop. The duo of guitarist Nora Rogers and drummer Lauren Fitzpatrick bred metal grandeur with the densest sludge, laying down some of the most intense and satisfying assaults the area has seen these past few years. They played for a while and released one LP—2008's billowing, thunderous Lost Houses—but they hung it up in 2010, each of them moving on to new projects. Photo by Jordan LawrenceThe Curtains of NightTheir current trios—Rogers' hefty...

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Going back in time with The Backstreet Boys

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Growing up in the ’90s meant making choices. There was Tamagotchi and Nano Pet, McDonald’s and Burger King, Game Boy and Game Gear. Each decision brought with it a distinction, a way to anchor yourself in what felt like an endless sea of decisions. But those were paltry picks compared to the most important—and polarizing—line a girl had to cast: Choosing her favorite boy band. There were the heavy-hitters like ’N Sync and 98 Degrees, the long-haired Hanson boys and the brothers Moffatt. For me, though, it went something like this: Good girls like the Backstreet Boys, and bad girls...

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jewels gone wild: Killer Mike and El-P at Cat's Cradle

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Run The Jewels: Killer Mike and El-P Cat's Cradle Friday, Aug. 9, 2013 On Friday night, Run The Jewels—the hip-hop BFF duo of Killer Mike and El-P—alternately took the sweat-soaked Cat's Cradle crowd to church, their hometowns of Atlanta and Brooklyn, and everywhere in between. The evening captured both the unstoppable essence of their self-titled debut and their relatively new friendship, which started when Mike was shopping for beats to create what became one of 2012's best albums, R.A.P. Music. He was so taken by El-P's Bomb Squad-ian instrumentals that he enlisted the former Definitive Jux president to produce...

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Videos: The Love Language and Bombadil play album-release shows

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 6:46 AM

Last month, on the same weekend, two of the Triangle's most popular acts held release shows for their respective new albums. On Friday, July 26, at a packed Cat's Cradle, The Love Language debuted Ruby Red in their retooled format. While it sounded as though the group was still ironing out a few arrangements, what they played from the new album mixed well with their back catalog. A three-piece string section, saxophonist, and vibraphonist Mark Simonsen complemented the band well. The encore included the McLamb brothers and Ben Carr of Last Year's Men performing "Stars" from the center of the...

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Monday, August 12, 2013

At Local 506, KEN mode and Inter Arma offered opposing thrills

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM

KEN mode, Inter Arma Local 506, Chapel Hill Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 KEN mode's Jesse Matthewson is an intense frontman. Even if you're comfortable with the Canadian outfit's sound, a complex and clobbering distillation of hardcore heat and metallic might, his presence will put you on edge. His eyes blaze, glaring through face-shielding bangs with such ardor that if you look at him too long it feels as though he's staring right at you. At one point during the trio's set at Local 506, I left a beer sitting on the lip of the stage for what Matthewson must...

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I'm so happy to see this collaboration, and this affordable way to attend both!

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