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Back in Black 

The New Blacks revive glam. . . yet again

There's not a whole lot of "new" in the New Blacks' music -- and not all that much "black" either, unless you count their clothing -- but the band does have a lot going on. The New Blacks really know their audience. They aggressively market themselves. They look the part. Oh, and they know how to rock.

In just a few years, the Blacks have shared the stage with a number of big-time "radio alternative" acts, including Lill Hannah, Staind, Eve Six and Sevendust. To boot, they seem equally comfortable playing gigs with the more Aqua Net-inclined: see Warrant, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Quiet Riot and Skid Row.

Frankly, when you break it down, there's not a huge difference between the first bunch listed and the hair bands -- both stay within a rigid formula (think genre fiction like mysteries), but do it up to the hilt, providing their particular fans with what they came to see. The New Blacks seem to know this, taking a little from each style to create a catch-all. There's enough rawk for the WEND listener and enough panache and devil-may-care good times for the Breakfast Club.

Looking like they walked straight outta LA's famed hair-rock hangout the Rainbow, the Blacks are the kind of band that keeps highlights and tight leathers forever on the cusp of fashion. They have a snarl, a bit of a wild streak. There's plenty of bark, and just enough bite. And they're tight, too, knowing that the less a band branches out, the more it must master what it does do well.

It's glam, really -- with song titles like "Working for the Machine, "Diamond Dust" and "Billboard Babies." While not 70s-vintage New York Dolls or Bowie (who is?), the New Blacks paid enough attention in rock school to spit it back out, uber-faithfully, come test time. So they pass with flying colors when they take it to the stage.

The New Blacks play Amos SouthEnd on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 9pm. Parmalee opens. Tickets are $6 (over 21) and $8 (under 21), available at the door or etix.com

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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