Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Live review: Appalucia Gun Club Weekend

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Appalucia Gun Club Weekend
The Milestone
Sept. 2-4, 2011

The annual Appalucia Gun Club Weekend held at the Milestone offered three nights of music and entertainment soaked in sweat and PBR. From punk and folk to a modern take on '60s rock, the diversity is what makes an event like this appealing. Here are some of the noteworthy performances:

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On Friday night, throngs of people packed the Tuckaseegee Road venue, most of whom appeared to be there for the release of Appalucia's latest EP, Bet It All, and the band's final performances with singer/guitarist Andy (the Doorbum) Fenstermaker and drummer Kevin Hintzen. Fenstermaker says he decided to leave the Charlotte sextet to focus on his solo career. His gruff vocals were an integral part of the band's performances of folk-bluegrass songs peppered with profanity.

Appalucia has managed to transform a genre that's hit the mainstream thanks to The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, and turn it into the devil's plaything. Songs about drinking and killing "everything I fuck," and with titles such as "You Bitch You Cunt" aren't what most expect to hear over banjo, fiddle and mandolin.

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Bart Lattimore was without the rest of his Mill Hill Revival bandmates on Friday night, but his country-infused folk songs mixed with a hint of blues grabbed the attention of a smaller crowd earlier in the night with their Johnny Cash grit. A hint of rasp drew authenticity to the songs' subjects, though Lattimore also incorporated some humor into his lyrics about drugs, prostitutes and drinking . "I've never bought a prostitute... in North Carolina," he told the crowd, later noting that a song about doing cocaine was about Plaza Midwood. Flicking the guitar strings with his fingernails to provide a percussive backdrop, Lattimore's voice was the primary focus of his songs. The kind of foot-tapping folk he offered would be more at home on the porch of a trailer park surrounded by cigarette butts and beer cans than a house with a white picket fence. As some kind of an excuse, he repeatedly claimed he was hungover. If that's the case, I'd recommend he perform that way more often.

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Southside Punx brought out a raw punk energy, fueling the crowd into a moshing frenzy. There's a certain ethos that goes along with their style that's only complete when the band hits its "we don't give a shit" peak. While it's that atmosphere the fans thrive on, the composition and content of the music take a hit. Lyrics become simplistic, chords are few and far between and no one cares if the singer's got any vocal range at all. The band gives back all it gets from the crowd — body checks, fists in the air and shouted choruses. The set ended with the crowd dripping in sweat.

With most in attendance exhausted by the end of a long night of music on Friday, the crowd still found energy to cheer on the Gore Gore Luchadores. The Luchadores, a local group of women who wrestle in a pool of fake blood to raise money for charity, took over most of the venue's patio. Comedian/personality The Elder Stateman offered off-color humor and commentary as the women inadvertently splashed the audience. The Luchadores are often paired with music events around town and The Milestone seems the perfect home for them.

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Sunday brought Chalkies to the small barroom stage as singer Mark Lynch soaked up every bit of his first Milestone performance as a frontman. Channeling the spirit of Iggy Pop, Lynch got in the face of the front row, threw down his microphone stand, sang and screamed his way through the set. He has been seen in a variety of Charlotte bands over the years, but usually content behind a bass guitar. Chalkies has become an outlet for him to unleash his instrument-free inner rock god. In the meantime, guitarist Shawn Lynch brings some composure to the music with his '60s rock-inspired Rickenbacker riffs.

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