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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Live review: Twenty One Pilots, CMCU Amphitheatre (6/28/2016)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 3:50 PM

Twenty One Pilots, Mutemath, Chef'Special
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
June 28, 2016

The Twenty One Pilots show was the hottest ticket in town on Tuesday night. For those hopefuls trying to snag an extra ticket outside of the amphitheater at Music Factory to no avail: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this show was definitely worth the hype.

Twenty One Pilots showed proved themselves as an epic force to be reckoned with. They are a band that has earned its newly minted big-timer status. What’s funny? The group couldn’t be smaller, numerically: there are only two dudes in the band. Yet those two dudes, singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun, manage to put on a two hour show that could rock even bigger arenas.
Twenty One Pilots - PHOTO BY JEFF HAHNE
  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • Twenty One Pilots
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre was packed.

The crowd was an odd mixture of little kids in makeup to parents that looked just as excited to see the duo. Seats completely sold out, right down to the last blade of grass on the lawn. You really can’t blame hopefuls who were pursuing scalpers months in advance and hoping to get in on the action. Twenty One Pilots tore through a 22 song set that was full of surprises, including a giant hamster ball. Yes, I said, a giant hamster ball. But we’ll get to that later.

For some background, Joseph and Dun hail from Columbus, Ohio. They started the musical duo in 2009 (with a few former members). They self-released two albums before being signed by Fueled By Ramen in 2012, and their most recent release Blurryface hit number one on the Billboard 200, spawning two massive radio hits "Stressed Out" and "Ride." Now, they’re going from city to city selling out shows on their aptly named "Emotional Roadshow" world tour. This whole production is a dream come to life for them and they’re very open about it. That, along with some musical genius and multi-talented musicians, is why they inspire such a passionate following of fans.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Live review: Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, more (6/21/2016)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 10:50 AM

Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saosin and The Early November
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater
June 21, 2016

The Charlotte stop of The Taste of Chaos Tour hit the Music Factory on Tuesday night to a packed house. Everyone was more than willing to wait in 90-degree heat to see a this year's lineup with a nostalgic theme. With headliners like Dashboard Confessional and Charlotte’s own Taking Back Sunday, it’s no surprise the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Uptown Amphitheatre was filled.

As the sun slowly sank, Saosin and The Early November opened up with solid half hour sets (Saosin missing Anthony Green due to a delay at the airport). What crowd there was at that point milled about, taking in the show but clearly biding their time until the headliners. The amphitheater wasn’t even half full until Taking Back Sunday really hit their stride, suddenly bursting at the seams as they screamed along to the band that voiced their high school experience.

Taking Back Sunday played a 13-song set to the roaring crowd. They received the kind of welcome only a hometown can give you (frontman Adam Lazzara lives right around the corner in NoDa, as does guitarist Nathan Cogan). They started with a few throwbacks, fan favorites like “Cute Without the E (Cut from the team)” and “Liar (It takes one to know one).”

Seeing them onstage, it’s clear that these guys have been doing this for the past 17 odd years—they really have a handle on how to work a stage and a crowd, especially Lazzara. “I understand a lot of you probably came out this evening for nostalgic purposes,” Lazzara said between songs. “There ain’t nothing wrong with that ladies and gentleman…. But you do know what that means, yeah? That means we’ve been doing this together, we’ve been growing together! I was there when you were smoking cigarettes out behind your high school. I was there when you got your driver’s license…and all that to say here I am, in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’m still here today.”

Lazzara in person is like an evangelical preacher, bending the crowd to his every whim. The five-piece band roared through a set consisting of fan favorites and a few newer songs, including a brand-new track from their upcoming album called “Tidal Wave” that, as Lazzara said, “Is too damn good not to play.”

Dashboard Confessional got a few more songs in as they took the stage around 10, opening with “Vindicated” as the impressive LED display illuminated the foursome. The band is much less interactive and talkative than Taking Back Sunday, but it’s clear why they were the evening’s frontrunners.

Every single person in the crowd sang along to what seemed to be the soundtrack to their high school and college years. Taking Back Sunday may command the stage with their presence, but Dashboard Confessional manages to do it through two guitars, a bass and drum kit, and the insane vocals of Chris Carrabba. He barely had to speak to get the crowd amped up; all he had to do was launch into the opening verses of fan favorites like “Screaming Infidelities” or “As Lovers Go,” and they were eating out of the palm of his hand.

As a foursome, they have their live show down pat. Having four talented musicians on a stage together isn’t always enough to have the right chemistry for a rock show, but it’s something that Dashboard Confessional have always managed perfectly, and this year was no exception. Their 16-song set was full of the right mixture of old and new songs that got Charlotte on their feet and swaying to the beat. This is only the third week of Taste of Chaos, so if you missed their Charlotte stop, there’s always the chance to catch them in another city. And you should probably take that chance.

Taking Back Sunday setlist
1. Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team)
2. Liar (It takes one to know one)
3. Flicker, Face
4. What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?
5. A Decade Under the Influence
6. Stood a Chance
7. You’re So Last Summer
8. Holy Water
9. Timberwolves at New Jersey
10. Better Homes and Gardens
11. Error: Operator
12. Tidal Wave
13. MadeDamnSure

Dashboard Confessional setlist
1. Vindicated
2. The Sharp Hint of New Tears
3. The Good Fight
4. Saints and Sailors
5. As Lovers Go
6. The Swiss Army Romance (acoustic)
7. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (acoustic)
8. Remember to Breathe (partially acoustic)
9. Don’t Wait
10. Again I Go Unnoticed
11. The Best Deceptions
12. Heart Beat Here (acoustic)
13. Screaming Infidelities
14. Fix You (Coldplay cover)
15. Stolen

16. Hands Down

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Live photos: Lake Street Dive, The Fillmore (6/17/2016)

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:10 AM

Lake Street Dive, The Lone Bellow
The Fillmore
June 17, 2016
Lake Street Dive
  • Lake Street Dive
Just over three years ago, I caught Lake Street Dive during a sold-out show at the Evening Muse. Since that time, the band has been back in town several times, performing for sold-out crowds at bigger venues along the way. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Live review: Ellie Goulding (6/9/2016)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 4:45 PM

Ellie Goulding w/ Matt and Kim
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
June 9, 2016

Brooklyn-based indie pop duo Matt and Kim opened with an energetic set. If you’ve never seen the pair, they are a sight to behold. Although they display more goofball antics as opposed to true musical talent, they did a good job at entertaining the crowd who jumped along to songs throughout their set. Drummer Kim climbed on her drums between songs and made bad jokes to vocalist/keyboardist, Matt. Their performance of "Daylight" was a highlight. 
  • Photo by David Roemer
  • Ellie Goulding

Needless to say, there was reason to be extra excited when Ellie Goulding finally hit the stage with an entourage of musicians, backup singers and dancers. The EDM pop princess has changed a good bit since I last saw her years back at a show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Part of that change had to do with the extra bodies onstage while the other part had to do more with a diva, sex appeal persona radiating from Goulding throughout the night. On songs like “Something In the Way You Move,” and “Keep on Dancin’” buff male dancers worked their way around Goulding, at times even drawing her closer with ropes in a BDSM fashion.

But Goulding’s sweet side came out on acoustic numbers like “Devotion” and the heartfelt “Army,” a song written about one of her best friends who is currently on the road with her. A slideshow consisting of photos of the besties was flashed on the big screen.

Goulding mostly played songs from 2012’s Halcyon and 2015’s Delirium, but she didn’t forget the song that helped to launch her career, “Lights” from her 2010 album of the same name. She finished her lengthy set with some of her most popular songs to date – “Need Your Love,” “Burn,” “Anything Could Happen,” and “Love Me Like You Do.” During the latter, there was a confetti blast to close the night’s exuberance.

Holding on for life
Goodness Gracious
Something in the Way You Move
Keep on Dancin’
Don’t Need Nobody
Lost and Found
Figure 8
On My Mind
We Can’t Move To This
Need Your Love
Anything Could Happen
Love Me Like You Do

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Live review: DJ Audien, Label (6/11/2016)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 8:00 AM

There are endless options for Saturday night entertainment in Charlotte, but only one venue mattered on June 11. DJ Audien paid the Music Factory a little visit, spinning to a packed house at Label Nightclub from midnight until well into Sunday morning. The place was literally pulsing from the moment he came out, the walls shaking from his energetic performance that kept every single person in the small club bouncing off the walls for the entirety of the two hour set.

Audien, or Connecticut born Nathaniel Rathbun, started producing music as a teenager. He began creating his ‘happy hardcore’ tracks and released them on Only Vibes Recording, a digital label he co-founded with the producer Naggy. After a few transitions both musically and label wise, he’s transformed himself into the DJ with we know and love. Now, he sells out major venues all over the world, headlining EDM festivals with his progressive house music and euphoric sounds, dominating the Billboard dance charts. It's a pretty impressive resume for a 24-year-old.

To say Audien’s performance was energetic is an understatement. He’s known for Grammy nominated remixes and for his trademark sound that can runs the gamut from trap and dubstep to electro house - all of which came together Saturday for an uplifting soundtrack that made everyone want to dance the night away. The transitions were smooth and Audien planned his set perfectly, carefully bringing the sound and energy to a crescendo as he moved through different genres of music.

The energy of both DJ and crowd was amplified throughout the set with an impressive laser lights show and smoke effects from Label. Perfectly timed smoke poured onto the crowd below each time the beat dropped, confetti was released periodically and the sound system was on point. By the end of the night both Audien and the Charlotte crowd left sweaty, energetic and smiling.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Live review: Dead & Company, PNC Music Pavilion (6/10/2016)

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Dead & Company
PNC Music Pavilion
June 10, 2016

Halfway through "Eyes of the World," to kick off the band's second set, Dead & Company hit its stride. Every member of the group — Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti — was finding his groove in the pocket and allowing the song to take flight in every dimension for more than 20 minutes.

Consider the first set a warmup for the group consisting of three members of the Grateful Dead — Weir, Hart and Kreutzmann — alongside pop-rocker John Mayer, bassist Burbridge of the Allman Brothers and keyboardist Chimenti, who has played with various related lineups in the post-Grateful Dead world.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Live review: Selena Gomez, Time Warner Cable Arena (6/7/2016)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:32 AM

Selena Gomez w/ DNCE
Time Warner Cable Arena
June 7, 2016

  • Photo by Jeff Hahne
  • Selena Gomez
The new generation’s pop princess treated Charlotte to a 90-minute set on Tuesday night when Selena Gomez’s Revival Tour rolled into town. Many fans had anxiously awaited this night partially out of anticipation, partially because of anxiety, as they weren’t sure the show would go on.

With so many musical acts and shows pulling out of their Queen City stops thanks to the HB2 bill, Gomez’s fans waited with bated breath until she confirmed she would still be here. “I would never disappoint you,” she told the crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena with her trademark grin.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Live review: Silversun Pickups, The Fillmore (5/12/2016)

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 10:02 AM

Silversun Pickups, Foals, Joywave
The Fillmore
May 12, 2016
Silversun Pickups
  • Silversun Pickups

From the hour-long fury of Foals' set to the driving rock of Silversun Pickups and the solid warmup rock of Joywave, there was rarely a dull moment during Thursday night's concert, which also served as the 21st birthday party for local radio station 106.5 The End. 

Foals offered 60 minutes of intense rock thunder that was relentless for the duration. Halfway through, I kept thinking, "I pity the band that has to follow these guys." While Silversun Pickups sometimes skews more mellow in radio play, the band had no problem holding its own as the headliner, finshing the one-two punch without a problem. 

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Live photos: Carolina Rebellion, Charlotte Motor Speedway (5/6-5/8/2016)

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 12:01 PM

Carolina Rebellion 
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord
May 6-8, 2016
One of the most interesting things about Carolina Rebellion is just how much the festival has changed since it started. What began as a single-day event at Metrolina Expo Fairgrounds in 2011 has now become three days filled with metal mayhem at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

A good number of the acts return to perform on a regular basis, but festival organizers have worked to diversify it a bit, as well. I doubt anyone would have expected acts including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Collective Soul to be included on the bill when Carolina Rebellion first started.

For the festivals sixth year, fans were treated to a wide range of performers as well as fantastic weather and a handful of standout moments. Among the more memorable:

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Live review: Father John Misty, The Fillmore (4/27/2016)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 10:16 AM

Father John Misty
The Fillmore
April 27, 2016

For the majority of his 90-minute set, J. Tillman, aka Father John Misty, played the part of the charismatic Americana troubadour. His vocal-focused folk-rock hinted at elements of soul and country, until he hit the encore. He lulled the audience with a solo acoustic rendition of "I Went to the Store One Day," and then unleashed the fury. 

Perhaps it was all a buildup to this, but in the blink of an eye, Tillman turned into a rock 'n' roll rebel that was free of any Father John Misty persona. "This is one of my favorite love songs," he told the crowd before playing a full-band, charged-up rendition of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer." From there, he closed the night with a blaring "The Ideal Husband." 

It's as if Tillman was slowly sexing up the audience for the majority of his set, giving them plenty of balladry and vocal foreplay. And just when you thought it was going to last all night, the set powered toward a fast and furious rock 'n' roll orgasm that left the audience packing the Fillmore satisfied and exhausted. 

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