That buzz you hear is the sound of cars and planes bringing thousands of politicians, delegates, party leaders and members of the media to the Democratic National Convention. Either that, or it's the sound of thousands of Charlotteans getting the hell outta Dodge. Probably both.
Even though the convention is upon us, parties continue to be announced. Foo Fighters are doing a Rock the Vote gig at the Fillmore in the N.C. Music Factory complex. The Roots are playing at Amos' Southend. Common, Pitbull and the Scissor Sisters are also doing a Fillmore gig and the B-52s are playing on another stage at the Music Factory. John Legend, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and Bono are rumored to be coming, too.
But while plenty of celebrities and musicians will be in town for numerous events and performances across the Queen City, they might as well be playing in Los Angeles. Unless you're one of the political movers and shakers, a donor with deep pockets or happen to be lightning-quick with a mouse pad, chances are you won't see any of those special shows. You have a better chance of becoming the next Democratic nominee for president.
Tickets for the Foo Fighters' concert at the 2,000-capacity Fillmore sold out in less than a minute — leading to more Facebook cries of disappointment than howls of success. The Roots will be performing at an invitation-only event, but don't worry if you can't get in — you can catch them every weeknight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Eminem is rumored to be performing at a private party, but given his recent appearance in Seoul, Korea, on Aug. 20, you won't be missing much. The rapper performed a one-hour set that night, and reportedly checked his watch during the show. If that's what he does for paying fans, you can only imagine what he'll do for a roomful of politicians — maybe call them all "Slim Shady" and tell them to "Lose Themselves" before discouraging defense spending with "Toy Soldiers."
Meanwhile, various sources are reporting that Springsteen and Bono "may or may not be in town." I'll go a step further. Elvis may or may not be in town because he may or may not be dead; a Tupac hologram may or may not be broadcast; and since Dave Grohl is in town, a Nirvana reunion may or may not happen.
One of the only large-scale events open to the public is CarolinaFest, taking place Uptown along Tryon Street between Stonewall and Trade streets on Labor Day. Think of it as a political version of Speed Street, but with a better lineup: Jeff Bridges (OK, the Dude is not the greatest alt-country singer in the world) and James Taylor might actually put some people to sleep, but with an unbelievably eclectic musical arsenal that spans from art-folk to funk, Janelle Monáe is a must-see addition to the lineup who might actually get the politicos out of their seats. (And kudos to the organizers for getting some local and regional bands on a CarolinaFest stage.)
For all of the buildup surrounding the convention in the last several months, there was a growing excitement and curiosity about who would be performing at concerts and parties. As we reach the home stretch, there's some disappointment that the DNC and its related events aren't really for the people of Charlotte. Still, that doesn't mean you have to stay home.
There's a lot going on around town outside of the DNC. Instead of looking to the big-name events you won't get into, you can "Occupy Your Mind" at the Neighborhood Theatre with a mix of rock and folk from Acoustic Syndicate, Dangermuffin and Breaking Laces, if you're into folk rock; see Soul Kahn deliver some sharp underground rap at the Chop Shop or check out some smooth R&B, Kem-style, at Ovens Auditorium. And a variety of local bands are playing free at Snug Harbor.
Be happy that you don't have to drop big bucks for parking or spend hours in traffic for a bunch of political speeches. In the meantime, my fingers are still crossed for a last-minute, free show from Rage Against the Machine.