Sunday, October 22, 2017

Charlotte's First Black Alternative Music Festival Rocked Camp North End

Posted By on Sun, Oct 22, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Charlotte singer-songwriter LeAnna Eden's Bla/Alt Music Fest drew hundreds to Camp North End on Statesville Avenue on Saturday, Oct. 21, for a full day of Afropunk, Afro-centric food and other merchandize, and some of the area's top rock bands of all kinds. Bands ranged from the shoegazy dreampop of Winston-Salem's Foxture, to the art-punk of Charlotte musician Lenny Muckle's Lofidels, to the indie-pop of The Business People, the rock-based hip-hop of Nige Hood and the alternative rock of Eden's outfit, LeAnna Eden and the Garden Of.

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Camp North End seemed almost like a Garden of Eden as music lovers danced and sang along to familiar local songs like Eden's "Protest Song" and The Business People's "From NC With Love." Muckle played bass, sang and mixed up electronics during a compelling set of experimental punk, and Chocala blended Latin rhythms and experimental rock into a glorious stew of highly danceable sounds.

Behind the decks between the bands, DJ SPK crafted a dynamic mix that ranged from the sweet sounds of early Santana to the ska-punk of No Doubt's "I'm Just a Girl" to Cardi B's money-moving "Bodak Yellow." And acting as MC — ubiquitous Charlotte poet Bluz kept the crowd pumped and wanting more.

But most exciting was the mix of people — folks of all ages, races and gender identity strolled through the Camp North End corridor dancing, talking to each other, listening to music, and generally having a good time amid good vibes and a gorgeous fall afternoon and evening.

If you missed it, check out this slideshow and pray there will be a Bla/Alt 2 in 2018.



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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Halsey leaps into headliner status

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Halsey
Spectrum Center
Oct. 17, 2017

On Tuesday night, Spectrum Center played host to singer Halsey’s first-ever headlining tour. She’s visited the city in previous years as the opening act for major players like Imagine Dragons, but this was the first chance for diehard Halsey fans to get more than a musical snapshot from the singer. They were treated to a 24-song setlist spanning an already impressive career, some songs of which were voted on by the fans themselves.

Halsey, or Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, got her career start in 2014 after releasing original songs on social media. She was signed by Astralwerks and toured with heavy hitters like The Kooks on the strength of her EP Room 93 and debut album The Badlands. Her young career was rocketed to new heights when she was featured on The Chainsmokers track “Closer” last year.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

AUDIO: Foxture Says Charlotte Music Fest Will Prove Alternative Sounds More 'Relatable' to People of Color

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 2:32 PM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, the Winston-Salem dream-pop band Foxture talks about why they believe more people of color should gravitate to the safe zone of alternative music and culture — and why BLA/ALT can help lead listeners to that space.

But first, listen Foxture's brand new song "Distance" from the band's upcoming EP, E D E N.

"BLA/ALT is important because it helps strengthen the presence of people of color within alternative bands and projects," the band wrote in an email to Creative Loafing. "The representation of PoC  within the alternative genre is fairly slim, and BLA/ALT shines a light on these talented and innovative artists.

"We decided to play BLA/ALT not only because the motive of the festival is astronomically beautiful and artistic, but because festivals such as this one aren't as common," the band wrote, adding that it "promotes the realization that alternative music can be more relatable to listeners of color."
Foxture is (from left) bassist Ross Barnes, drummer Andrew Irving, guitarist Eddie Reynolds and singer and keyboardist Marlon Blackmon. (Photo by Jim Pica)
  • Foxture is (from left) bassist Ross Barnes, drummer Andrew Irving, guitarist Eddie Reynolds and singer and keyboardist Marlon Blackmon. (Photo by Jim Pica)

"We hope to reach out  not only to fans of  alternative music, but people who normally don't listen to alternative music for skepticism of being able to relate," the band wrote. "We are looking forward to the first BLA/ALT festival, opening minds in the beautiful city of Charlotte, and rising up each year to become a staple in North Carolina's history."

Hit up Foxture on Bandcamp (Foxture.bandcamp.com), Facebook (facebook.com/foxture2013/), Instagram (@foxtureband) and Twitter (@foxture). Also, search for the band's releases on Spotify and Apple Music.



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Monday, October 9, 2017

VIDEO: SunQueen Kelcey Says Recent Unrest is Why Now is the Right Time for a Black Alternative Music Festival in Charlotte

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, Greensboro-based SunQueen Kelcey, the front woman of SunQueen Kelcey and the Soular Flares, tells why she believes Charlotte is the right city for North Carolina's first black alternative music festival.

But first, watch Kelcey perform a solo version of her song "Thick Girls Do It Better."


Creative Loafing: Why do you think Bla/Alt is so important right here and right now?
This is the first festival in Charlotte created by a local black alternative musician just for the black arts and music scene. It will show the true variety of talent in the black community, making sure that people know that you cannot put black culture in one box. Black culture spans across many avenues including the social. political, musical, scientific and artistic realms.

Why are you and the Soular Flares playing it?
We are performing to be a part of such a groundbreaking movement. We are based in Greensboro, but we love the Charlotte music Scene. It's always so welcoming and feels like home to us. Given the recent unfortunate events that have occurred in Charlotte, it is everyone's duty to participate in something that uplifts and empowers the people of marginalized and oppressed communities in any way we can.

What are your hopes for the festival?
We want it to extinguish and overcome the negative stereotypes of what society deems as "black culture." In turn, this will provide a safe space for anyone to attend the festival for free and for black/POC artists and business owners to showcase their art, and network and sell their products to the public.

Hit up SunQueen on Instagram and Twitter (@sunqueenkelcey) and Facebook (SunQueen Kelcey).

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

VIDEO: Chócala Brings a Latin Tinge to Charlotte's BLA/ALT Black Alternative Rock Fest on Oct. 21

Posted By on Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 9:00 AM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, Chócala talks about the importance of bringing a Latin tinge to the black alternative rock fest in Charlotte.

But first, watch this live clip of Chócala performing "Rompecabezas."


"We're playing the festival because we believe in the organizers, artists and the values that BLA/ALT stands for," singer Liza Ortiz says. "If we hadn't been asked to join, we would have been attending and supporting anyways. The fact that we're performing is icing on the cake for us. It's also an honor for us to represent the Alt.Latino music genre."

To Chócala, whose members are also involved in expanding the Charlotte audience for Latino musical fusions, BLA/ALT represents the city's changing demographics in a way that directly combats bigotry in the larger world of divisive politics. "We think BLA/ALT is important because it enriches Charlotte's cultural landscape by showcasing everything this city's PoC artists and bands have to offer," Ortiz says. "We're excited because we're seeing independent artists and creators of several different cultures coming together and supporting each other in the music and arts community as a whole in Charlotte, which is invaluable given the current political climate. BLA/ALT is a culmination of all the growth, support and positive energy that LeAnna [Eden, BLA/ALT's organizer] has been able to focus into an entire festival. We think it's amazing."

Like other artists performing at the festival Ortiz says she hopes this will be the first of many BLA/ALT festivals to come over the next several years. "We want to see it grow," Ortiz says. "It would be fantastic to see events like this happen around the state and region. Afropunk only happens in New York and Atlanta, and there is a whole coast of states with independent black and other PoC musicians and artists that deserve being put on blast."

Follow Chócala — which also includes Ortiz's brother Claudio, as well as Michael Anderson and Davey Blackburn on both Instagram and Facebook: @chocalamusic






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Saturday, October 7, 2017

VIDEO PREMIERE: Cuzco Releases New Video Exclusively at 'CL' Vibes

Posted By on Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 5:59 PM

Just before the final song of Cuzco's set Friday night at Snug Harbor, the band did what it had announced it would do: played the brand-new video for its song "Those Are Z's," from the band's 5-song EP A Medicine for Melancholy, released earlier this year. And just as Creative Loafing promised we'd do earlier this week, we're premiering the video exclusively here on the Vibes blog.


The video — directed by Mark Borja, Jake Rothwell and Tori Silinski — is a gentle and serene meditation on nature, melancholy and love set to Will Schoonmaker and Arman Serdarevic's delicate and precise guitar interplay, which often conjures the early-1980s progressive work of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. As the musical and visual narrative unfolds, a love story emerges, and Cuzco's unconventional shifts in tempo follow the story's sometimes jarring twists and turns.

But the transitions flow smoothly and naturally, thanks to the spare yet complex playing of Cuzco's rhythm section, drummer Dylan Robbins and bassist Matt McConomy. And then there are sweet, aching brush strokes of saxophone, from sax player Kevin Washburn, driving home the sense of melancholy at the heart of Cuzco's sound.

Books and balloons serve as signposts in the video's narrative — and as part of the band's performance on stage at Snug Harbor Friday night.

"The atmosphere [at the show] was awesome —  we decked the place in purple balloons," Schoonmaker says. "Before our last song we premiered the video and everyone seemed to love it. It was a magical night and playing Snug is always a medicine to our melancholy."

Washburn, Schoonmaker and Serdarevic get intense at Snug Harbor on Friday. (Photo by Savannah Woodell)
  • Washburn, Schoonmaker and Serdarevic get intense at Snug Harbor on Friday. (Photo by Savannah Woodell)

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VIDEO: Favelas Talk About the Importance of a Black Alternative Rock Fest in Charlotte

Posted By on Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 9:00 AM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, Favelas tell us why a black alternative rock fest in Charlotte is essential.

But first, watch this clip of Favelas doing their song "Weedman."


"BLA/ALT is important to Favelas because we know the importance of making sure that everyone’s voice is heard," the band says.

"It’s imperative that artists get to properly express themselves in an environment like the one that’s been created here, especially for artists of color. We’re more than hopeful that this is the start of something revolutionary in our hometown."

Don't miss Favelas at BLA/ALT on Oct. 21. You can connect with the band on Instagram (@favelasoffical) or Facebook (Favelas Band).


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Friday, October 6, 2017

VIDEO: 'Long Overdue' is How Nic Robinson of The Business People Describes Charlotte's BLA/ALT Black Alternative Rock Festival

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 9:00 AM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, singer and guitarist Nic Robinson of the terrific Charlotte indie-pop band The Business People tells us that a black alternative rock fest in Charlotte is "long overdue."

But first, watch Nic and the guys do an acoustic version of "From NC With Love,"  the standout track from their EP, Dirty Feelings.



"It's seemed lately to me that if you were black in an alternative band you were viewed as a part of the marketing," Robinson says. "This celebrates black alternative musicians and their band mates, showing the power behind a passion. That nothing matters once the music starts — no race, no gender, no cares except the music you are creating in that instance."

For Robinson, looking at black alternative musicians as "good marketing" is cynical. "For most of our career we've been told our diversity was marketable," he says. "[But] put simply, we are not commodities. We are not the latest fashion to be sold off to masses like new shoes."

And the BLA/ALT Festival, he says, aims to clarify that faulty logic. "We want to support a festival that respects and understands that having PoC members means a different altogether approach to music," Robinson says. "There are bars you can't play, and festivals that won't have you. There will be different standards and treatments for different members. These, and so many more things, happen to bands every day. We just wanna put one tally in the column for the good guys. Boiling down to this: LeAnna [Eden, the organizer of BLA/ALT] is passionate and talented, so we believe in the vision.

"The hopes are that [BLA/ALT] starts a wave of festivals in itS like, as did Afropunk before it," Robinsons says. "To spread and multiply, allowing other musicians who simply don't have the money, resources, or connections to be a part of a festival. One that has the FUBU mentality with a slight difference: Instead of 'for us by us,' it's For All By Us."

Hit up The Business People — which also includes drummer Anthony Pugliese and bassist Hyatt Morrill — on Twitter (@thebusinessppl) or Facebook (@thebusinesspeople).

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mastodon and Eagles of Death Metal give rock a much-needed punch

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 10:12 PM

Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal, Russian Circles
The Fillmore
Oct. 4, 2017

From the opening notes to the final round of applause, a packed Fillmore was hammered with sludgy riffs, thunderous bass and growled vocals. While Mastodon was just here in the spring for Carolina Rebellion, fans were enthralled by the bands lengthy set on Wednesday night. It was the perfect cap on an evening that started with the instrumental metal of Russian Circles. The real meat in the sandwich was Eagles of Death Metal whose vibrant, energetic set was hypnotic. Frontman/singer/guitarist Jesse Hughes is a lightning bolt on stage and never stops moving or preaching the gospel of rock 'n' roll. Don't miss them the next time they're in town.


Mastodon setlist
The Last Baron
Sultans Curse
Divinations
Crystal Skull
Ancient Kingdom
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
Colony of Birchmen
Ember City
Megalodon
Andromeda
Oblivion
Show Yourself
Precious Stones
Roots Remain
Crack the Skye
Chimes at Midnight
Steambreather
Motherpuncher

Eagles of Death Metal setlist
I Only Want You
Make a Bang
Complexity
Whorehoppin
Silverlake
Flames Go Higher
Moonage Daydream
Boys Bad News
Speaking In Tongues

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AUDIO: Lofidels' Lenny Muckle Tells Why He Signed Up For Charlotte's "Unprecedented" Oct. 21 BLA/ALT Black Alternative Rock Fest

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 9:00 AM

In the lead-up to the Black Alternative Rock Festival, or BLA/ALT, at Camp North End on Oct. 21, Creative Loafing has asked some of the artists to talk about why they're playing the event and what it means to them. Today, Lenny Muckle, the sole member of the punk/art project Lofidels, talks about what a black alternative rock fest in Charlotte means to him.

But first, listen to the terrific track "A Staccato Kid, A Missing Man," from Lofidels' 2016 album Glass Canon.


"I feel that the BLA/ALT Music Festival will be a place where artists of color will be able to shine without having to conform to, ironically, norms and requirements tacitly imposed on them for falling within the framework of being independent artists," Muckle says.

"I'm playing BLA/ALT because I want to be part of this new, local, unprecedented event," he says. "The lifting up of typically overlooked work is something we unarguably need more of. It'll be exciting to be part of [the festival] as an artist and as a fan, because the line-up is so wildly varied. My hope is that it's all a bit overwhelming."

What's more, Muckle adds, "I hope that as BLA/ALT grows, year after year, the festival manages to not only awe, but inspire — friends and strangers, former and would-be artists could all feel motivated by the uniqueness of the artists involved with the festival.

"My name is Lenny Muckle, sole member of the project called Lofidels, and I'll be performing at Bla/Alt."

And we'll be there watching Lenny Muckle, as well as following him on Bandcamp (lofidels.bandcamp.com) and Instagram (@lofidels).

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