Tuesday, May 23, 2017

BJ Barham brings solo performance to the Visulite Theatre

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 9:24 PM

BJ Barham
May 11, 2017
Visulite Theatre

American Aquarium frontman BJ Barham performed at the Visulite Theatre on May 11, 2017 as part of his The Great 48 Tour. The North Carolina native's tour will take him to 48 contiguous states this summer as he performs 53 shows in 59 days. If the Charlotte stop was any indication, the United States is in for a treat. Thankfully, this was only his fourth show on the tour. Hopefully, exhaustion won't set in by the time he hits Baltimore, Maryland in July. It's a solo performance in the truest sense of the words — just Barham and his guitar touring in support of his 2016 solo album, Rockingham.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Reenergized Sonics Rock the Neighborhood Theatre

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 11:15 AM

The Sonics, Dex Romweber
Neighborhood Theatre
May 19, 2017

On Saturday, May 19, The Sonics schooled an adoring crowd at the Neighborhood Theate on just who penned the manual on high-octane '60s scuzz rock, punk and grunge. The band, formed in 1960 in Tacoma, Wash., is responsible for such classic nuggets of mid-'60s photo-punk as "Psycho," "The Witch," and "Have Love, Will Travel." Sole original member, saxophonist Rob Lind, who now lives in Huntersville, was all old-school charm as front man, engaging the crowd with the flair of a classic big band leader, while the rest of the group took turns at the mic, bringing their take on the frantic, shriek-heavy, freaked-out rock 'n' roll. With diamond precision, the set was a short, sweet, relentless barrage of glorious noise, of course culminating in the immortal "Psycho," and an excellent encore performance of their first hit, "The Witch." Highlights included their blistering cover of Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody," and a song especially written for the band by Australia's Hoodoo Gurus, "Be A Woman."

The Sonics setlist
Shot Down
Cmon Everybody
Have Love
Be a Woman
Back in the Car
Head on Backwards
Bad Betty
Keep on Knockin
Louie Louie
Hard Way
Boss Hoss
Little Sister
He's Waiting

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Sylvan Esso turns The Fillmore into a dance club

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 10:12 PM

Sylvan Esso w/ Lucy Dacus
The Fillmore
May 14, 2017

Indie-pop duo Sylvan Esso took the stage on Sunday night and provided a relentless party from the opening notes. Two years ago, the band played the Neighborhood Theatre with a short setlist filled with every song they knew. This time around, the packed crowd at the Fillmore sang along, danced and loved every minute of the band's set. The vibe felt more like a dance club than a rock concert. Singer Amelia Meath has increased her dance moves significantly, while producer Nick Sanborn continues bobbing and weaving behind the decks. The duo is far more of a cohesive unit these days. A fun side note of the evening was white tape on Sanborn's table spelling out "F the NC GOP." Let's hope the duo returns to Charlotte before another two years goes by.

The Glow
Kick Jump Twist
Die Young
Just Dancing
Slack Jaw
Hey Mami

Play It Right

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chicago Free-Jazz 'Genius' to Blow Through McColl Center

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 3:47 PM

I found myself complaining a lot in the CL office last month about the generally tepid "jazz" on display — or the museum-style approach to this country's most vibrant and uniquely American musical genre — during the Charlotte (So-Called) Jazz Festival that took place across Uptown in late April. There were a few decent programs, but for the most part, the kind of genuine contemporary jazz and its adventurous tentacles that continue to live and breathe and squawk and holler — the improvised music ignited by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra, and built on by artists like Matana Roberts and Ken Vandermark — were not in evidence at the polite Uptown get-down.

It's not as though Charlotte doesn't have its own forward-looking ensembles. There's Ghost Trees, featuring the phenomenal local saxophonist Brent Bagwell and drummer Seth Nanaa. And there's the terrific musicians who performed behind the cast of Quentin Talley's production of Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.) at Duke Energy Theater in late March. But there's not enough of it here. And there's not enough attention paid to what is here.

For those who, like me, get frustrated with what's often marketed as jazz, the Chicago saxophonist (and MacArthur "Genius" winner) Vandermark, a giant of the free-improvisation world, will perform Friday, May 12, at the McColl Center For Art + Innovation in his duo with trumpet player Nate Wooley. The performance is part of the McColl Center's terrific New Frequencies series that's also brought in Charlotte's Ghost Trees and, more recently, such regional artists as singer-songwriter John Darnielle and Superchunk's Mac McCaughan in a rare performance with harpist Mary Lattimore.
Vandermark (left) and Wooley.
  • Vandermark (left) and Wooley.
"New Frequencies at McColl Center gives artists a platform to showcase innovative, exciting and adventurous performances in Charlotte," says series curator Armando Bellmas, who also serves as the McColl Center's director of marketing and communications. "For instance, when Mac McCaughan was here, he performed a set of improvisational music to a self-produced film – totally different from what he’s known for as the lead for Superchunk. New Frequencies at McColl Center gave him the space, and money, to try his adventurous ideas out in public."

To be sure, Vandermark is no stranger to Charlotte. The reedman has performed here several times through the years and has something of a local following. And as it did for McCaughan, the New Frequencies series is offering Vandermark and Wooley, who have worked together as a duo since 2013, an opportunity to try something a little different. "They have performed and recorded before," Bellmas says, "but for this set, each will perform a short solo set, then come together for a duo set to finish the show."

Watch Nate Wooley and Ken Vandermark perform Wooley's "Killtown" at New York's Issue Project Room in 2013:

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Carolina Rebellion 2017: 10 takeaways (and a whole bunch of crowd surfers)

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Three days of rock, metal and mayhem have finally subsided and the dust is starting to settle. The Charlotte area's largest music festival made it through another year with plenty of surprises and stellar performances. Here are nine takeaways from the weekend:

Eagles of Death Metal know how to party. From the opening chords to the final notes, singer Jesse Hughes was all smiles as he conjured up a rock ‘n’ roll revival. The band hit the ground running thanks to being joined by Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds.

* Taking Back Sunday continues to mature and take their music to new places. While they could have been relegated to a Warped Tour headliner, the band showed its worth on the biggest side stage, proving they deserve a spot on one of the main stages the next time around.

• French metal quartet Gojira and English punk rockers Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes led me to two conclusions. One, that Europe is clearly more innovative and interesting when it comes to breaking out of the metal mold. Two, that some of the bands on the smallest stages should have had a bigger spotlight.

Nothing More continues to take drum solos to new heights, literally. During the band’s previous tour, they used drum sticks on a bass guitar to create a rhythmic wall of sound. This time around, they played a “Scorpion tail” attached to the drum kit that lifted singer Jonny Hawkins up toward the lighting rigs. From there, the band played a heavy metal cover of Skrillex — but, surprisingly, it worked.

In This Moment put on the most complete performance. From start to finish, the band went through costume changes and involved theatrical elements to keep the crowd hypnotized. Check them out at the Fillmore in June.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Southern Music Trailblazer Col. Bruce Hampton Dies After 70th Birthday Bash

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 9:27 AM

click image Col. Bruce Hampton gets his zany on in Blacksburg, Va., in 2008. - PHOTO BY ROGER GUPTA
  • Photo by Roger Gupta
  • Col. Bruce Hampton gets his zany on in Blacksburg, Va., in 2008.

Any Charlotte musician who's ever flirted humorously with music at the margins of funk, free jazz and R&B — at that sweet spot where they meet up with the avant-garde, and then blast off into space — certainly owes a debt to George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. But they also owe one to Col. Bruce Hampton, whose been making southern-fried avant-garde space music in Atlanta since the early 1970s.

Hampton died Monday night after performing at his 70th birthday bash in ATL, Creative Loafing Atlanta music journalist Chad Radford reported Tuesday.

It's the end of an era for Atlanta music. Avant-garde rock and jam band icon, and former Hampton Grease Band vocalist Col. Bruce Hampton collapsed on stage at the Fox Theatre during a May 1 performance.
Hampton, a little more than a week earlier, had spoken to CL Atlanta writer Doug Deloach about the craziness of still living the traveling-musician lifestyle at 70:

“It’s not possible,” Hampton says when asked how all of this is possible. “Nobody is in a band, driving and flying around the country at 70 years old. No one is crazy enough to do that.”

Hampton may not have been all that well-known among mainstream music fans, but he was well-loved and well-respected at Option, the music magazine I edited back in the '90s. He was also well-loved among jam-band fans, although Hampton's music and musical tentacles extended far beyond the Phish/Widespread Panic world. Hampton paved the way for zany, experimental Charlotte avant-rockers ranging from Fetchin Bones in the '80s to Modern Primitives today. He was a trailblazer, as the clip below — from the documentary Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton — shows. Hampton played Charlotte often, a recent show being last year at Smokey Joe's Cafe.

There wasn't but one Bruce Hampton, and he'll be missed. #RIP

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

5 Bands Worth Catching Before 5:30 at Carolina Rebellion 2017

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 2:01 PM

The Charlotte-area's largest music festival, Carolina Rebellion has bringing an array of metal bands to the region since 2011. What started as a two-day event at Metrolina Expo has developed into three days of heavy rock and metal at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. This year features plenty of bands that have been there before, along with a handful of must-see undercard performers. With cooler weather expected this weekend, it's a great time for a big festival to kick off the outdoor concert season.

Here are five bands on the undercard you should make it a point to see:

1. Taking Back Sunday (Sunday, 5:20 p.m.) – First off, we had to assume that Taking Back Sunday would be playing on Sunday, right? Regardless, Carolina Rebellion’s only local act will undoubtedly bring the fire to the Black Stage. The band continues touring in support of its seventh album, Tidal Wave. With each new release, the group continues to redefine the boundaries of the hardcore genre and show more maturity in its songwriting.

2. Dillinger Escape Plan (Friday, 1 p.m.) – Every time I watch Dillinger Escape Plan in concert, I’m convinced someone is going to leave the stage in stitches. From the first notes, every band member cranks their enthusiasm to 11 and throws inhibition to the wind. I’ve seen guitarist Ben Weinman climb scaffolding and jump off of speakers, while bassist Liam Wilson has fallen off the stage more than once. Visually, the band’s stage show is as frantic and high-speed as its music.

3. Eagles of Death Metal (Friday, 2 p.m.) – Sadly, the band’s fame was kicked up a notch after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. They were performing at the Bataclan when shots rang out in the crowd and nearly 90 fans were killed. Since then, the band has soldiered on with a variety of lineups. Though Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme doesn’t tour with them, the band’s other original member, frontman Jesse Hughes, continues leading the way.

4. Every Time I Die
(Friday 5:10 p.m.) – A mixture of Southern metal and screamo, Every Time I Die has continued to set itself apart from the masses with a sense of melody merged with the talent of singer Keith Buckley. Expect to hear something from the band’s recent Record Store Day release, Salem.

5. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (Saturday, 3:10 p.m.) – Formerly the frontman of Gallows, Frank Carter left that band in 2011 and started this project. He’s got an intense screaming style that makes you wonder how his voice lasts more than three songs. At Warped Tour with Gallows, Carter wasted no time in jumping from the stage and having a circle pit swirl around him while he sang during the band’s entire set. One can only hope he does the same thing here.

Honorable mentions in prime time

Mastodon (Friday, 6:45 p.m.) - Don't miss these Atlanta rockers who continue putting their stamp on Southern metal.

Soundgarden (Friday, 9:45 p.m.) - The band finally returns to redeem the festival after they were rained out in 2013. Regardless, Chris Cornell is one of the best singers you're going to hear all weekend and he's been at it for more than three decades.

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