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WEDNESDAY 7.21
Mastodon -- Infinitely heavy prog-metal masters Mastodon do answer to the "Stoner Rock" label, but this music isn't for the dirt-weed set. No, this is heavy-THC, Oh my God I can't feel my eyeballs music, full of enough fear and loafing (and double-time anvil-dropping breaks) to satisfy an Amsterdam coffeehouse full of Iron Maiden fans. Crystalline yet bludgeoning, and still completely legal. Tremont Music Hall (Davis)

All Astronauts -- Based on the moniker alone, you are forgiven for thinking "space rock" or "space jams." Instead, this Winston-Salem quartet delivers an X-like experience, with singer Kat Lamp and guitarist Kemp Stroble playing the respective roles of Exene Cervenka and John Doe on the AA debut, Navigation Songs. It's often a thin line between citing an influence and Xeroxing one, but the Astronauts add a definite Carolina underground sound and some post-rock noise (think: Come) to the mix to successfully straddle the line. Opening for the Talk. The Room (Schacht)

THURSDAY 7.22
Cub Country -- Best known as the bass player/vocalist in indie faves Jets to Brazil, Jeremy Chatelain's side project Cub Country, a collaboration with three North Carolina musicians (Matt Sumrow, Jeff Clarke and Justin Ansley), might be his most consistently interesting musical outlet. The band's got a new one, Stay Poor/Stay Happy set to come out in late September on future Farmer Records. Recorded over a two-year span in Brooklyn, Salt Lake City and Chapel Hill, the album takes off where 2002's High Uinta High left off: full of low-fi love and loss, low on hipster irony and high on life. With North Elementary and The Sammies. The Room (Davis)

Stockholm Syndrome -- This is a side project of Dave Schools (Widespread Panic bassist) along with singer/songwriter Jerry Joseph (of the Jackmormons) and a posse of superstar jammers and session players. See our story in this issue. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

FRIDAY 7.23
Elefant/Ambulance LTD -- Frontman Diego Garcia and the band's guitar-driven Britpop is nicely sliced up with a sort of shoegazing twist. Think Strokes with swathes of 80s new wave laden with contemporary indie mores. It's quite apparent that if this NYC band can keep it together, they'll evolve into something bigger. (Shukla)

The first full-length, LP, from this Brooklyn quintet, Ambulance LTD, is a delectable slice of swirling guitar-rock, equal parts Swervedriver shoegaze and Brit-pop hooks. But all fancy-pants comparisons and eloquence aside: This record is an ass-kicker. And since they were signed in the first place based on their incendiary live shows -- well, this should be a good one. With Bellglide and The Sammies. Tremont Music Hall (Schacht)

Poprocket/Cari Clara (CD release) -- Because they've been around a while and somewhat inactive of late (at least locally), it's easy to forget how tasty the Rocket of Pop's two EPs, 2003's Indie Rot and 2000's Some Songs really are. Self-styled "thrash 'n' bash," toss in some Queen vocals courtesy of Jay Garrigan, a pinch of the Pixies/Pavement lineage and a dash of Beatles and this is a recipe for fun./Cincinnati's Cari Clara return with their brand new record in tow, Minature American Model Society. With full band this time, Eric Diedrich's ethereal soundscapes should flesh out well (late show). The Evening Muse (Schacht)

SATURDAY 7.24
Dave Matthews Band -- Dave actually put out a rather decent solo offering last year, Silver Tongued Devil, which was bought in relatively large quantities by his hordes of admirers. No word if anyone else actually bought it -- no doubt owing to the usual backlash against, well, his hordes of admirers -- but the record was proof enough that Matthews does actually have the goods. Live, you know what you're getting (especially if you've bought one of his 118 or so live discs): Dave's loopy falsetto, his usual funk/world music inspired jangle, and -- no other way around it -- his hordes of admirers. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Davis)

I See Hawks in L.A. -- A country-rock band from southern Cali that play a Neil Youngish country-folk mixed with a Springsteen-leaning lyrical take. The key word is California here as the laid-back style overrides the ever-present Nashville infestation of country music. The new record Grapevine is filled with a moody vibe and bits of psychedelic flourishes, cryin' fiddles and acoustic and slide guitars. Hell, there's even some rip-roaring bluegrass, replete with soaring harmonies, thrown into the mix. With Two Dollar Pistols. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

Michael Reno Harrell (CD Release) -- The Charlotte fixture celebrates the release of Grit & Wit, a collection of original tales and songs from a show recorded at The Evening Muse in December of last year. Harrell decided it was time to get some of his storytelling attributes on record, which is why this one's a double disc. He'll be playing with his band, No Angels, and should be joined by a host of familiar guests. Neighborhood Theatre (Schacht)

SUNDAY 7.25
3 Doors Down/Nickelback/Puddle of Mudd -- The old Rolling Stone record guide used to rate albums from 1-5 stars. The worst ranking was a bullet, which the magazine described as "Worthless: records that need never (or should never) have been created. Reserved for the most bathetic bathwater." They never used the "bullet" for live shows, but I'm using it here, since using the real thing's illegal: "3 Doors Down/ Nickelback/Puddle of Mudd: music reserved for the most bathetic, Bush-backing backwaters." In the history of recorded rock & roll music, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more derivative, ideas-bankrupt, utterly reprehensible show than this one. At least Limp Bizkit was interesting. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Davis)

TUESDAY 7.27
Ken Stringfellow -- The former leader of 90s power pop proponents The Posies, Dr. Stringfellow has expanded his palette as a solo artist, never more than on his brand new disc, Soft Commands. The record is quite literally all over the map, as it was written and recorded in diverse locales like New York, Senegal, Stockholm and Seattle. It's a travelogue through several styles, too, from reggae and power pop to Phil Spector orchestration and even Burt Bacharach vocalization. Stringfellow has also lent his talents to REM and Big Star, two groups that also know a thing or two about the Pop. The Room (Schacht)

The Roots -- The Philadelphia crew has a chameleon-like persona and an organic, live rap that pushes the envelope in all the right directions. It's jazzy and old school while taking hip-hop outside the sampling and gangsta realms. The Roots can be searingly intellectual, gangsta when needed and are able to deliver a bumpin' live show, a rarity in the land of hip-hop. The latest release, Tipping Point, should be on the streets by the time they hit town. Opening for 311. Paramount's Carowinds Paladium (Shukla)

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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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