Live Reviews

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Imagine Dragons remind fans of the power of music

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 10:12 PM

Imagine Dragons, Grouplove, K. Flay
Nov. 8, 2017
Spectrum Center

Pop-rock outfit Imagine Dragons had only performed one song, "I Don't Know Why," before singer Dan Reynolds addressed the crowd. "There are people in this world who don't want us to be here right now," he said. "I'm not going to live my life in fear. And everyone here has chosen to enjoy music instead of living in fear." He thumped his chest as the crowd roared. As he held up a peace sign with two fingers, everyone in attendance was instantly reminded of recent tragedies at music events and the power we have as humans and music fans to create positive energy. From that point on, it was a night of sing-alongs and radio-friendly rock. The band even found a moment to pay tribute to Tom Petty with a cover of "I Won't Back Down." The night started with a short set by K. Flay and a thunderous performance from Grouplove, who included covers of Beastie Boys and David Bowie.



Imagine Dragons setlist
I Don't Know Why
It's Time
Gold
Whatever It Takes
I'll Make It Up to You
Mouth of the River
Yesterday
Start Over
Demons
Rise Up
I'm So Sorry
On Top of the World
I Won't Back Down
Shots (acoustic)
Amsterdam (acoustic)
Thunder
I Bet My Life
Believer
Walking the Wire
The Fall
Radioactive

Grouplove setlist
Welcome to Your Life
Itchin' on a Photograph
I'm With You
Remember That Night
Shark Attack
Ways To Go
Tongue Tied
Space Oddity
Sabotage
Colours

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

HIM thrills Charlotte on farewell tour

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 12:20 AM

HIM, CKY, 3Teeth
The Fillmore
Nov. 7, 2017

It's the moment fans have been waiting for and dreading. Finnish goth-rock band HIM returned to Charlotte for the first time in 10 years on Tuesday night. The problem? It's a stop on the band's farewell tour. The crowd soaked up every note and sang along to every lyric throughout the night. Even though te band cruised through a packed setlist for two hours, it wasn't enough for the diehards. Maybe opening act 3Teeth will be right and the band will return for an anniversary tour down the road... even singer Ville Valo hasn't ruled it out. The night opened with industrial rockers 3Teeth before skate-rockers CKY finally made their Charlotte debut.



HIM setlist
Buried Alive By Love
Heartache Every Moment
Your Sweet 666
Kiss of Dawn
Sacrament
Tears On Tape
Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
Gonari
Soul on Fire
Wicked Game
Killing Loneliness
Poison Girl
Bleed Well
Heartkiller
Join Me In Death
It's All Tears
In Joy & Sorrow
Right Here In My Arms
Funeral of Hearts

Encore
??

CKY setlist
Intro/In HiFi
Sporadic
Flesh Into Gear
Attached
The Other Ones
Frenetic
HIFAB
96 Quite Bitter Beings
Close Yet Far
Escape From Hellview

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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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Monday, October 2, 2017

Stately Rhiannon Giddens Captivates Charlotte With Her Music and Storytelling

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 9:51 AM

Rhiannon Giddens
Neighborhood Theatre
Sept. 30, 2017

Rhiannon Giddens doesn't just perform, she lives and breathes the music. She brings a personal energy to every word she sings or note she plucks, and she sang and plucked many from her terrific new album, Freedom Highway, with its powerful and much-needed messages for today's Charlotte, North Carolina and United States of America. The Carolina Chocolate Drops front woman's vocals are stunning and full of life. Her storytelling is captivating. For two sets at the Neighborhood Theatre, Giddens enthralled everyone in attendance. And just as Giddens told the crowd she was happy to be back in North Carolina, it was clear her fans were thrilled she was back in Charlotte.


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Colter Wall, Tyler Childers prove country music still has life left

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 10:59 PM

Colter Wall, Tyler Childers, Blake Berglund
Neighborhood Theatre
Sept. 20, 2017

Not all country has gone pop. While award shows and radio might have you thinking that country music has lost its soul, there's plenty of artists out there worth paying attention to. Colter Wall, who performed at the Neighborhood Theatre with Cody Jinks in April, returned on Wednesday night with Tyler Childers and Blake Berglund. The trio proved that talented singer-songwriters aren't an extinct species in modern country music. The co-headlining show packed the NoDa venue with a good portion of the crowd clearly there to see Childers. Fans sang along to every word of his nearly 90-minute set, including a handful of captivating songs he played solo to start it off. Plenty of people stuck around for Wall's baritone vocals. Keep an eye out for either of these guy's return trip to town. You don't want to miss them.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kendrick Lamar Gives an Eclectic DAMN in Charlotte

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 5:10 PM

THE OVERVIEW

Kendrick Lamar's DAMN Tour gave Charlotteans three very different hip-hop concert experiences at the same damn time Tuesday night at the Spectrum Arena. Hip-hop heads of multiple hues and ages took to Uptown to fill the seats and feel the music of Lamar, along with D.R.A.M. and YG.

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From 7:30 to 11 p.m., a variety show of lyrical content, rap styles, and show production took over the arena's stage, serving as a reflection of the diversity in the crowd. The night transitioned from the party-rap, sing-song stylings of D.R.A.M., to the gangsta party lyrics and visuals of YG, to the socially conscious, thought-provoking stanzas of Lamar, paired with an elaborate performance-art stage production.

With each performance an inverse musical correlation became more and more obvious. As onstage instrumentation decreased, other variables increased with great intensity. The visuals, props and crowd engagement escalated as the performances crescendoed to headliner Kendrick Lamar.

THE SHOW

ACT I: D.R.A.M. Party

Charged with helping to get the party going while raise excitement levels, D.R.A.M. brought playfulness and color to the stage. As his show started, many concert -goers were still sitting down and lots of seats remained empty, but by the end of the set this scene would drastically change.

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As people still navigated their way to seats, D.R.A.M. warmed up the crowd with big smiles and words of gratitude between each song as he bombarded the arena with hits like “Broccoli,” “Gilligan,” “Cash Machine,” and “CHA CHA.” The crowd was on its feet dancing and rapping as multi-color visual backdrops, with a heavy emphasis on neon lights, painted faces in a kaleidoscope flickering of ROYGBIV lighting.

D.R.A.M.’s set relied heavily on the power of instrumentation. The rapping singer was accompanied on stage by a keyboardist, drummer and DJ. The determining factor of what would bring the crowd to its feet was in direct correlation to the drummer’s sticking and D.R.A.M.’s dance moves. Whenever the drummer switched from sticks to mallets and stood up from his throne to hammer down on the heads like a wild man, the energy increased.

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Toward the end of his set, during the song “Broccoli,” D.R.A.M. made his way into the crowd at the floor level as his keyboardist, drummer and DJ held down the stage. The artist skipped and bounced his way through the first section aisle and then looped back on stage.

D.R.A.M. brought the energy, but now the crowd was primed and ready to party ‘n bullshit with Y.G.

ACT II: Party ‘n Bullshit

YG brought the Bompton attitude to the Charlotte masses with a straight-shot, no-chaser vibe that one has come to expect from a gangsta rap act. He kept it G-rated in a the non-conventional sense — Girls, Guns, Gunja, and Gangstas.

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Before YG ever stepped on stage, the gangsta life party ‘n bullshit vibe was set with the sound of a voice. A streetwise narrator with that 70’s vibes pimp talk in his bravado set the scene for the gangsta shit we were about to experience.

The multi-color of neon lights was no longer the visual cue. It was now a more minimal All Red Everything approach. Backdrop: red. Outfit: red graphic-tee framed in black. Props: red. And, if all the red still left someone in the audience questioning what set he repped, the gang hand sign visuals backdrop clarified why he was repping Bompton and not Compton.

YG’s onstage instrumentation was a combination of keyboard, DJ, and hypeman. The crowd energy level amplification would now rely less on the innate connection to the live drum. The energy level of the crowd was now connected to the bass levels controlled by the soundboard operator, the amount of props on stage, and how much time YG spent in the crowd connecting with the people.

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There were two distinct moments during YG’s show that took the crowd to peak level energy. There was the Ass & Titts moment and the Donald Trump moment.

YG’s on stage set transformed from the minimalist red and black backdrops to a full set red and black strip club stage set — two stripper poles, a red plush couch filled with YG’s cronies, & “Girls, Girls, Girls” signage for the backdrop. Two strippers proceed to shake ass & titts for the men on stage and the sea of mobile phones aimed at the stage.

Phones were aimed at the stage once again when another ass (depending on your politically leaning) made its way to the stage. An impeccably tanned orange Donald Trump impersonator made his way to the stage. Homophobic and xenophobic banter spewed from the impersonators mouth. Just as the booing started to come to a roar, YG stepped in and started a chant that the crowd latched on to immediately — ”Fuck Donald Trump!” The red hatted MAGA character scurried off stage as the red banned rapper proceed to through the verses of “Fuck Donald Trump.”

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During Y.G.’s set, the crowd stood the entire time. The seats were filled. They were at peak desire and ready for the DAMN Kendrick Lamar experience.

D.R.A.M. started the party, Y.G. stirred up the id brain of the crowd, and now they were ready for the heavy content. They were ready to get cerebral with Kendrick.


ACT III: Get Cerebral

The Kendrick Lamar experience began when the DAMN Tour curtain dropped in front of the stage as it was transformed from YG’s Bompton set to the DAMN set.

The curtain fell and two screen backdrops now faced the crowd. The lights turned down and the story of Kung Fu Kenny began to roll on the screen. The Kung Fu Tale of Black Turtle finding “the (inner) glow” in the darkest place was a common thread throughout Lamar’s on stage production The Kendrick Lamar Kung Fu tale vignettes had the look of Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” and a storyline similar to Barry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon.”

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When Lamar rose to the stage through the stage floor and emerged from the smoke in his all yellow outfit with hints of black accents the vibe of Bruce Leroy was actualized as he exploded with intensity and pyrotechnics into the track “DNA.” No instrumentalist, no DJ, just Lamar and powerful imagery plastered on two screens.

Throughout Lamar’s show the new moveable secondary screen acted as a secondary plan bringing deeper visual emphasis to the lyrics pushed out of Lamar’s body. With each song, as Lamar got lost in his flow, his noticeable rhythmic jerk brought even more emphasis to his lyrics. It was another visual cue that signaled to the cerebral superego brain that what Lamar was saying will move you.

Lamar move the Charlotte DAMN crowd with artistic visuals performed onstage by trained martial artists and solo dancers. He moved them with juxtaposed visuals of artistic imagery placed beside inner city imagery. He moved them with light shows on stages and creating a light show in the crowd with mobile phone lights. But, it was the passionate delivery of verses by Lamar that seemed to pull the crowd in the most.

With every lyric Lamar spit, a sea of mouths moved in unison with him. The final song of the offical set was the chart topping “HUMBLE.” Lamar started the first few bars of the track and the beat cut out. He continued rapping and the crowd continued with him. He eventually faded out and allowed the crowd to take over the show. No beat, just an a cappella recitation from a Spectrum Arena choir conducted by Lamar. The track restarted and Lamar then performed HUMBLE in its entirety for the crowd.

With the end of the track and the darkening of the stage, the crowd chanted Kung Fu Kenny’s name to bring him back out for a final encore. He obliged and bid the crowd adieu and encourage them to find a designated driver.

KIA THE WRITER ANALYSIS

The DAMN Tour was damn good. What made it so good was the juxtaposition and sequencing of the rap subgenres displayed on the stage that night. It was not all light hearted party rap, it was not all gangsta rap, it was not all socially conscious and introspective. It was just the right dose of each rap subgenre at precisely the right time. The ability to go from CHA-CHAing in your aisle, to seeing a strip show, to exploring the richness and power of self-actualization by connected with and celebrating your connection to black culture, it just left me saying one word — DAMN.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Magpie Salute smashes expectations

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 9:55 PM

The Magpie Salute
Neighborhood Theatre
Aug. 16, 2017



If you walked into the Neighborhood Theatre on Tuesday night expecting to simply hear a Black Crowes cover band playing hit after hit, you were in for a rude, yet exciting, awakening. Sure, the former members of the Black Crowes played a good number of cover songs, but they were mostly off-the-radar tracks. Their set also included originals, a couple of Rich Robinson covers and a Marc Ford song. The end result was a sonically charged-up band that's forging down a path of its own. It's partly thanks to three talented guitarists, including Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, a trio of backup singers adding fantastic depth and the vocal lead of John Hogg (Moke, Hookah Brown). The 10-piece rock band cruised through a rock-heavy set that enticed the crowd with hints of Southern soul and blues. Sure, the Crowes songs are always nice to hear, but this outfit might just have solid footing on its own.

Setlist
No Speak No Slave
A Conspiracy
Cosmic Friend
Omission
Idle Time
Which Way Your Wind Blows
I Don't Know Why
Don't Say You Love Me
Better When You're Not Alone
Go Tell the Congregation
Walk Believer Walk
Rebel Music
Badge of Descension
Gone Away
Black Cloud
Josephine
Grows a Rose
Thorn in My Pride
Thick 'n Thin
Remedy

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Descendents satisfy every punk fan's dream

Posted By on Sun, Aug 6, 2017 at 9:56 PM

Descendents, The Bronx, Late Bloomer
The Fillmore
Aug. 4, 2017

Skate rats (like me) and punk music fans (also like me) have been waiting a long time for legendary punk rockers Descendents to descend on the Queen City. Needless to say, they didn't disappoint while playing plenty of crowd favorites. They were the icing on the cake for a night that was started with Charlotte trio Late Bloomer, a group that adds excitement to any bill they're on. The Bronx held up their end of the bargain in the middle. Singer Matt Caughthran is incessantly energetic and has a paradoxically shit-eating-yet-genuine smile which permeates the crowd into celebration.


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Logic whips young Charlotte crowd into a frenzy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 9:46 PM

Logic w/ Joey Bada$$, Big Lenbo
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
Aug. 1, 2017



"Peace. Love. Positivity. But also, no fuckboys allowed." Those hard and fast rules were set by Logic the moment he came onstage Tuesday night at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater. It was a beautiful and odd sentiment. Beautiful, because there was such a nice vibe to the crowd. Odd, because most of his crowd consisted of underage white guys. Several times throughout the set, Logic would ask the crowd if they were ready to go home — and, in a call-and- response facilitated by Logic himself, they would scream back “Fuck no!” Interesting considering 80 percent of the audience appeared to be there with their parents.

Logic’s two-hour set consisted of a variety of songs from his mixtapes, Under Pressure and The Incredible True Story and his latest release, Everybody. Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, otherwise known as Logic, has created a rap legacy at just 27 years old. He released his first mixtape in 2009 before signing with Visionary Music Group, eventually landing a contract with Def Jam Recordings.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Clutch shines, Primus cruises at CMCU Amphitheatre

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 9:54 PM

Primus w/ Clutch
Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
July 17, 2017



Kicking off their summer run right here in the Queen City, Primus and Clutch appeared like a great matchup of energetic tour mates. However, the balance just wasn't there. Clutch hit the stage running thanks to energetic frontman Neil Fallon. Fallon's vocals were spot-on and the singer commanded attention for the duration of the blues-rock band's 75-minute set. Primus followed with a 90-minute set of its own and while the alt-rockers extended jams and enthralled fans with a hit-heavy set, the overall performance felt flat. There was a time when the hits were hard to come by as bassist Les Claypool focused on a solo career. These days, with the reunited lineup, even Claypool's effortless bass playing feels a bit soulless at times. Guitarist Larry LaLonde continues to push the boundaries, but one new song isn't enough to entice longtime fans. While the band remains sonically solid, they need to breathe more joy into it and not look like they're in it for the paycheck.

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