Three songs are never enough. But that's all that publicists and handlers give photographers at the big arena shows. From the moment the lights go out until the security guards usher you away from the stage, the rapid clicking of cameras goes by in a heartbeat. Miss a moment and it's over.
Photographing local bands is easier — rules are relaxed and you can capture an artist throughout his or her show, lying on the stage, jumping in the air, dripping with sweat. During the 100-plus shows I attended over the past 12 months, I took thousands of photos. Trying to whittle those down to these 15 for our fifth annual Year in Live Music photo edition wasn't easy by any means. These are just a handful of the bands you should know about, or the moments you should have seen — from the Charlotte debut of French-Spanish protest singer Manu Chao to the return of My Morning Jacket; from noise-rock band Grids' live swansong to talented local musician Rodney Lanier. who died earlier this month. (On the cover, Actual Proof's Eric Mullis jams into space at the Neighborhood Theatre.) Here are more glimpses at what Charlotte live music looked like in 2011.
In memory of Rodney Lanier
On Dec. 9, 2011, Charlotte lost one of its most talented musicians with the sudden death of Rodney Lanier. The Sea of Cortez/Jolene multi-instrumentalist, 44, had been deep in a battle with esophageal cancer. His subtle musical additions were as warm as his heart, and the friendly smile that greeted patrons of The Evening Muse will be missed.
Lanier also contributed musically to a number of bands in Charlotte, including Pyramid, the Virginia Reel, Sunshone Still, Fence Lions, Gold Coast, Hard Times Family, Elonzo, Lodestar and others.
Although the band started as a solo project of sorts, L.A.'s Dum Dum Girls quickly evolved into a quartet of the latest DIY indie rock darlings. Dee Dee (above) and the girls rock The Milestone on March 9.
Gruff vocals and a scruffy beard are the signature of Charlotte's folk-maker Andy the Doorbum Fenstermaker. Thankfully, his focus these days has gone from being the doorbum to writing intense songs that convey as much in emotion as they do in historical facts.
Britain's Enter Shikari didn't stick out musically at this year's Warped Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on July 28, but the antics of guitarist Rory Clewlow had to be seen to be believed.
Noise-rock outfit Grids hit the Milestone on Feb. 4 for the band's final show. Screaming, moshing, punching, jumping, thrashing — and that was just the crowd. Band members continue performing with the groups NÖ PÖWER and Brain F≠, among others.
The 21st annual Latin American Festival at Symphony Park featured Aterciopelados and their passion for social justice on Oct. 9.
The master of mash-ups, Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk, brought his non-stop party to The Fillmore Charlotte on Jan. 25. His constantly updated set combines everything from Lady Gaga to Fugazi. It's also a chance for dozens of attendees to get up on stage and dance their asses off.
It only took them about eight years to make it back to the Queen City, but My Morning Jacket finally found their way to the Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre stage on Aug. 21 for a show delayed and cut short by rain. Fans, much like the honey badger, didn't give a shit.
Spreading the EDM love, the inaugural Identity Festival featuring The Crystal Method stopped at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Aug. 16.
With a wall of amps behind them, metal outfit Jucifer turned them up beyond 11 at this Milestone gig on Jan. 22.
Just about everyone hit the stage for the 34th & Hudson benefit show at The Evening Muse on Jan. 1 including musicians/artists Grey Brewster, Shana Blake, Deirdre Kroener, Joe Kuhlmann, Allison Modiaferri, Jay Garrigan, Reeve Coobs, Josh Daniel and Justin Fedor — among others.
Tennessee's Those Darlins bring plenty of attitude and amplitude to the Snug Harbor stage for their own take on punk-infused country. The band's Jan. 21 concert focused on material from their latest album, Screws Get Loose.
The multilingual folk-rock artist Manu Chao lived up to every bit of the hype for his high-energy show on Sept. 7 at the Fillmore.
Hot outside? Rapper Lupe Fiasco cooled the crowd down during his Sept. 23 show at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre.
Peelander-Z worked like luchadores to energize the crowd during this year's Warped Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. The group bills itself as a Japanese Action Comic Punk Band — teeth optional.
Charlotte Stephen Warwick performed at the Save Charlotte Music benefit at the Neighborhood Theatre on April 15.
Atlanta's Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun rocked Tremont's Casbah on Aug. 26.
Charleston, S.C., husband-and-wife duo Shovels & Rope opened for Hayes Carll at the Stage Door Theatre on April 17.
There ain't no party like an Iron Cordoba party! The Charlotte band rocked it out during their annual White Trash Party at the Chop Shop on Aug. 27.
Charlotte's Jeremy Current and Baily Cooke celebrated the release of his latest CD at the Neighborhood Theatre on April 22.
Charlotte's The Stellas relaxed for their last show, held at the Evening Muse on April 23.
Mark Lynch sweated it out with Charlotte's Chalkies at The Milestone on Sept. 4.
Man Man performed for a packed house at the Visulite Theatre on April 29.
Nearly half of the tickets to the sold out show by The Civil Wars at the Evening Muse on Feb. 9 were sold before it was officially announced.
Baltimore's J. Roddy Walston is a sight to see during his high-energy live shows, such as this one at the Visulite Theatre on Sept. 8.
Charlotte's Matrimony rocked the mid-day sun during the A.W.O.L. Festival at Symphony Park on April 30.
Electronic rock duo Matt and Kim tore it up at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Sept. 20, opening for Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance.
Taking Back Sunday has a few band members who call Charlotte home. The band played at The Fillmore on July 14.
Charlotte's Jon Lindsay pulled double duty with his own band and The Catch Fire during God Save the Queen City at the Chop Shop on July 16.
David Mayfield got down and dirty at the Evening Muse on Sept. 29.
Charlotte's Funky Geezer combined musicianship with comedy at the Visulite Theatre on March 19.
Yelawolf showed off his rhyming talents during the Vans Warped Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on July 28.
Charlotte's The New Familiars celebrated the release of their latest album at the Visulite Theatre on March 19.
Charlotte blues singer Jill Dineen brought down the house at FemmeFest at the Evening Muse on May 21.
Charlotte rock trio The Chelsea Daggers played their first show at Snug Harbor on May 26.
Blood on the Dance Floor showed more physical flexibility than variety in their misogynistic music/lyrics at the Vans Warped Tour on July 28.
Scott Weaver of Charlotte rock group Babyshaker exhausted himself during the Pup Crawl at the Chop Shop on Oct. 15.
Bruce Hazel and Charlotte's Temperance League got down during the Oso Grande Benefit for Rodney Lanier at the Chop Shop on Oct. 28.
Primus returned to Charlotte to play the Fillmore on June 1.
Skye Paige performed during the Cash Bash at Puckett's Farm Equipment on April 8.
The Avett Brothers returned home this year, performing at the Bojangles Coliseum on April 9.
Unfortunately, there weren't many people there to witness the dream pop of Asobi Seksu at the Visulite Theatre on Nov. 9.
The Whigs jumped into the Neighborhood Theatre on April 14.
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