Saturday, December 08, 2012

Dive Bar, Volume 11 to close

(Batillus at Dive Bar, Sept. 29. 2010)

I wrote about the closing of Dive Bar for the Independent's music blog, Scan. You can read it here. In the post, I briefly touched on the fact that Volume 11 is also closing, and that as of Jan. 1, the Triangle will no longer have a dedicated metal club.

The timing of these two closings is coincidental, but still terribly disappointing for me. I admit that I wasn't a Volume 11 regular, but I still saw some amazing shows there -- notably Carcass and Trouble, both back in 2008.

Dive Bar, however was probably my favorite local club to see bands. I can't say enough good things about The Dive's booking agent, Robby Rodwell, who booked some of the most adventurous metal shows I've ever seen in this area. I was also very pleased to hold the last two Mann's World Hopscotch Day Parties at the club. Robby and Dive Bar deserve a lot of credit for offering great shows that were almost always free. The club owners told me that they are looking for another location. I hope they find it soon because I will seriously miss this club.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Karen Weatherman is a true Metal Mutha

Pick up the latest edition of Decibel Magazine, with Phil Anselmo on the cover, and you'll see my first piece for them: A Metal Muthas feature on Karen Weatherman, mother of COC's Woody. In case you're not familiar with this monthly feature, it profiles the mother of a noted metal musician. Anyone who knows Karen (and her husband, Toney) knows she loves supporting COC. I spent an entire afternoon with her, hearing the most outrageous, entertaining stories. I only had room to include a select few in the article, so unfortunately Decibel readers won't get to find out that Woody's first show ever was at the opening of the new Rex Hospital (???) with a band called Middle Earth. That's a story just for you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inter Arma at the Soapbox

 (Inter Arma)

I've been needing to see Inter Arma again. I've been enjoying their last release, "Destroyer," and looking forward to hearing the new stuff they've recorded for Relapse.

Also, I've been wanting to get out of Raleigh more. I've been living in this town for 18 years. The only other place I've lived that long was my hometown, Morehead City. Even though I occasionally get the urge to move back home, I don't think I could seriously live in a place where I'd have to drive at least two hours to see great music on a regular basis. I'd prefer to move to Asheville, but job and family concerns are keeping me closer to the coast, so I thought I'd check out Wilmington. What better way to accomplish two things at once (seeing Inter Arma and checking out Wilmington) than going to the No Turning Back Fest last weekend at the Soapbox.

(Mortal Man)

I can't say I learned a lot about Wilmington from just being there a few hours, but I do like the Soapbox. Inter Arma sounded great, despite playing for a small-ish crowd. Somehow the singer cut himself on the forehead during the set, which looked pretty freaky. I also got to see the awesomely doomy Mortal Man (from Wilmington) and crazy, female-led Raleigh punks Last Words.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Red Fang, Black Tusk at Kings

(David Sullivan of Red Fang)

(Andrew Fidler of Black Tusk)

Vacation kept me from posting these photos of Red Fang and Black Tusk from last Thursday (Nov. 8) at Kings. It's just as well since I didn't get many photos I was happy with. Both bands rocked, but I was especially impressed with openers Lord Dying, who opened for Witch Mountain at Kings back in the summer. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

MAKE releases 3-song EP

I've spent the weekend listening to, and completely enjoying, MAKE's new mostly instrumental 3-song EP, "Axis." The first song, also called "Axis," sets the standard for the EP. At a whopping 17:01, the song builds slowly from a searing, electric drone, eventually forming a crushing, almost Eastern-sounding melody. The band runs through crushing, psychedelic sludge with the second song,  "Chimera," then winds down, ending with a quiet piano melody on "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters." MAKE's live show was one of my highlights for Hopscotch. I'm glad to see they lived up to their live show with this new EP. Buy it here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just in time for the election: The Infamous Sugar's "Stop Talking Politics"

I was at Slim's when The Infamous Sugar filmed the crowd scene for his first video, "Stop Talking Politics." I figured the finished product would be pretty hilarious, and I was right. If you're tired of the election (and of all the political posts on Facebook), take a look at this video.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Show of the Week & new music from The Infamous Sugar

This week's show of the week and .mp3 of the week are by the same artist, The Infamous Sugar, the famously filthy raunchy rock keyboard savant who will have his CD-release party this Saturday, Oct. 6, at Kings. The show is free, and you'll get to see the debut of the new video for his timely new single, "Stop Talkin' Politics," which was filmed on a recent Sunday Funday at Slim's with a cast of usual suspects all holding silly political signs. I was there and got to witness the filming first-hand (the "God Hates Homo Sapiens" sign was my doing). If the finished product is half as funny as the filming then you will not want to miss this. The Bleeding Hearts open the show. To get you in the mood for the show, here's my favorite song on the album (and really my favorite of all Suge's songs), "Sloppy Drunk."

The Infamous Sugar - "Sloppy Drunk"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New music from WAUMISS

The latest album by WAUMISS, "Subtle for Flames,"is out now on Little Ramona Records, the label run by WAUMISS masterminds Clarque and Carolina Blomquist. Clarque, you probably know, is also in Kingsbury Manx, and has played with other bands, and on other local records (most recently he guested on the latest Spider Bags release).

WAUMISS is a noisier, more electronic beast than Kingsbury Manx, though it does share some of Spider Bags' affinity for lo-fidelity. Collaborators include Eddie Sanchez (Bellafea, Fin Fang Foom) and Dan Partridge (Pine State) playing everything from beer kegs to singing saws. Apparently there's going to be a video for every song, which will be pretty cool to see.

WAUMISS - "Calling Mary Punch"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Photos from Saint Vitus, and an interview with Wino

Here are some photos from Wednesday night's spectacular Saint Vitus show at the Lincoln Theatre. See more here. Excuse the photos of my friend Brandy, who was still jacked up after meeting Wino as he strolled past Slim's earlier in the afternoon. 

Last weekend I had the honor of interviewing Wino for Heavy Metal. It's the first of hopefully many articles I'll be writing for the site. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hopscotch recap!

(J. Roddy Walston, Thursday at Tir na Nog)

Now that I've had a few days to reflect on 2012, I can truly say this was the best one yet. I wasn't sure I'd feel that way going into it. All the bands I really wanted to see (meaning the heavy bands) were stacked on Friday night. Baroness, who had to cancel all shows after their horrific bus crash in England, were my original go-to band on Thursday. With that cancellation, I assumed Thursday would be a wash. What that really meant was I was free to just wander around and observe. In the process I found my new favorite band, Hacienda, who were at Tir na Nog. I liked that band so much that I immediately downloaded their album, "Shakedown," as soon as I got home. Unfortunately for me, I found out way too late that the band was playing a day party the next day at Slim's. I managed to get there right as they were loading their equipment out. Also on Thursday I caught the always-entertaining fallen-preacher-man blues of J. Roddy Walston at Tir na Nog and GDFX's electronic trippiness at Kings. 

(Stella Lively at Sadlack's, Thursday)

Most of Thursday was spent at Sadlack's at the Guitartown party. If you remember, last year's Guitartown party was temporarily shut down mid-day for being too loud. This year organizers Jonathan Lee and Greg Rice got around the noise ordinance by having most of the afternoon bands at Sadlack's and Schoolkids. Standouts from that party were the Debonzo Brothers, who closed the party down, and  the dark, bluesy Stella Lively. As you can guess, by the time the party wound down, everyone was pretty well lubricated. 

(Lutie's spot, damnit! Thursday at Sadlack's)

 (Lollipops at CAM, Friday)

Friday I started off at the CAM party, where I nearly wilted from the heat. I ran up front to get a few photos of Lollipops, who were worth enduring the inferno, but afterward retreated -- along with half the people at the party -- over to the one thin strip of shade running along the building. I did get to try a baguette with chorizo and chimichuri sauce from Baguettaboutit, and it was awesome! But on the way to Neptunes for the Thrill Jockey party I truly thought I was going to pass out. 

(Guardian Alien at the Thrill Jockey Party at Neptunes, Friday)

I originally went to Neptunes to catch White Hills, who were playing as a duo, but I was blown away by Guardian Alien (which includes drummer Greg Fox, aka GDFX). Fox is the former drummer for Liturgy, and I've raved before about his insanely quick technique. Guardian Alien was jazzier, chaotic and otherworldly. Singer Alexandra Drewchin spent much of the time in the Neptunes DJ booth, intoning into a microphone. But when she suddenly lept out of the booth and did a crazy dance while chanting in time to Fox's rim shots, I thought I would jump out of my skin. The photo above was totally by accident, but I liked it. 
(MAKE, Friday at Kings)

My strategy for each night was to take a long nap after the day shows, so I basically missed Built to Spill. I started off at Kings, where Scott Endres from MAKE was playing with a possibly broken thumb. Maybe it was a good omen because the band sounded phenomenal. New Hampshire black metallers Vattnet Viskar were up next, and they sounded great from what I heard, but they really did suffer from having a slot that was right before when Pallbearer was scheduled to go on at Pour House. That meant that a bunch of folks cut out halfway through their set, and a bunch of other folks (yours truly included) spent the first half of the set nervously wondering whether or not we should go ahead and head to the Pour House. At least they fared better than Black Tusk, who went up directly against Pallbearer. I love Black Tusk, but there was no way I was missing Pallbearer. 
(Black Skies, Friday at the Pour House)

As it happened, there wasn't much to worry about. I got to the Pour House in plenty of time to get up front, catch the end of Black Skies (who sounded really tight despite the fact they hadn't played in six months) and stake my claim on a spot right in front of Pallbearer leader Brett Campbell. 

(Pallbearer, Friday at the Pour House)

Throughout this entire Hopscotch, as soon as I knew they were booked to play, I had been looking forward to Pallbearer. Their "Sorrow and Extinction" album had been my No. 1 album of the year (followed very closely by Dawnbringer's "Into the Lair of the Sun God"). I was honored to be able to write the description of the band for the Hopscotch website. And wouldn't you know it, they started off with my absolute favorite song from the album, "Devoid of Redemption." Somewhere there is an Instagram, taken during that song, of me holding a "Goblet of Rock," as one commenter put it. It was completely beyond an invisible orange. If I could have built a fire onstage and offered up a human sacrifice of thanks for that one song, I would have done so. 

After Pallbearer, I headed back to Kings for The Atlas Moth, a band I normally love. Their 2011 album "An Ache for the Distance" was my No. 3 album of the year (after Graveyard and Feist), and I was blown away by their show last year at Nighlight. But, man, I just couldn't hang after Pallbearer. I spent a good bit of the show sitting at the bar, thinking, "at some point I'm going to get with this." But I never did, so I went home before the end of the set, totally missing Altar of Plagues. 

(Salvacion, Saturday during the Mann's World party at Dive Bar)

Saturday's big event, as far as I was concerned, was my own Day Party at Dive Bar. This is the third year I've held a heavy music day party, and the second time I've done it at Dive Bar. And each year, when I wake up on Saturday, I think to myself, "why in the hell am I doing this?" I'm always terrified that no one will show up. And I'm always a bit disappointed that I can't walk around and catch the other day parties happening that day. And, like each year before, as soon as it's over, I think "that was awesome. I can't wait to do it again!" This year, with Salvacion, Earthling and Caltrop, was by far the best. The place was packed, the bands were on it (Earthling in particular had a phenomenal set) and everyone seemed happy. There's nothing like pumping your fist to some screaming metal in a dark bar with 70 other smelly metalheads, only to have someone open the door and have daylight flooding in on everyone. That truly made it 10 times better for me. This killer show was happening in the middle of the afternoon, and everyone was happy about it. 

(Earthling, Saturday during the Mann's World Day Party at Dive Bar)

(Caltrop, Saturday during the Mann's World Day Party at Dive Bar)

I had no real plans for Saturday, but a good friend (who btw ended up skipping out on Hopscotch altogether) had convinced me that Berkeley was the place to be, particularly because of Charlotte's Young and In the Way). But I'll admit that Saturday's downpour, and the fact that I was pretty much exhausted from the previous two days, meant that by 7 p.m. on Saturday, I really just wanted to hang out at home with a glass of wine. Even with missing a ful day of official Hopscotch shows, I can say that this was the best festival so far. I really can't wait for next year! 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

New music: Lollipops and Beloved Binge

OK, by now you probably know what you're planning to see during Hopscotch. Hopefully you have the CAM/now official day party, taking place Friday, Sept. 7, on your to-do list. The Love Language will headline, but for my money the band to see is the incredibly awesome Lollipops, brainchild of local guitarist Iggy Cosky. Cosky recently finished the band's first album, "Your Royal Masochist & The Love Crusades," and put it on Bandcamp as a free download. Rarely have I heard a band and been absolutely convinced right off the bat that they were destined for greatness. That's the feeling I get from Lollipops. Check them out before they're too big to see at a free day show. Hear "I Hope You're Alone"

Next up is Durham duo  Beloved Binge, who will release their fourth album, "Pockets," on Sept. 22 at the Pinhook. According to drummer Eleni Binge: "Our record release show will include a play in three acts, where improv actors loosely interpret our songs, while in character as Three's Company actors.  I don't know if anyone has done this before, but we'll find out by 9/23 whether or not it's advisable." 

I think that idea is awesome. I can totally see some scheme of Jack and Larry's getting foiled by Mrs. Roper during this song. FYI the Beloved Binge painting is by Bonnie from Sequoya.

Beloved Binge - "Notary"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New music from Sumner James (Bombadil solo project)

You probably know that Bombadil is playing again, and they have a show on Sept. 1 at Cat's Cradle. Well, Bombadil drummer James Phillips also has a new electronic solo project called Sumner James, and the debut solo album "29 Days" will come a couple of days before that Cradle show. 

Phillips says he wrote, arranged, and recorded these the album during the month of February as a "personal challenge," and to explore his newfound interest in electronica. "To eliminate distractions, I moved into the barn on Pendervis Farm outside of Portland, OR (the same barn where we did Rain Promises). It was really cold most of the time, so I had a circle of instruments and recording gear around a wood stove." The album is available for pre-order, and there are two songs streaming on the Sumner James Bandcamp. My favorite song on the album is the one below, "I Told You Not to Stay Here Anymore."

Sumner James - "I Told You Not to Stay Here Anymore"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Midnight Ghost Train at Dive Bar

I finally got a chance to see Kansas band Midnight Ghost Train, which actually plays around here fairly often, most recently with Truckfighters at Pour House back in April (a show I unfortunately had to miss). Glad I got to see them. Robby from the Dive Bar was right when he called the band "testifying blues metal." I've been enjoying their CD "Buffalo," and I appreciate them letting me photograph them with a flash.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Flute Flies raise awareness for CyTunes, Tisch Brain Tumor Center

The Flute Flies, the local music supergroup featuring Ivan Howard from the Rosebuds and GAYNGS, Reid Johnson from Schooner and Zeno Gill from Pound of Miracles, have a beautiful, lush new album out called "Yes Means Maybe."

The band released the album in order to raise awareness for, the local-music download site that's dedicated to the memory or Rosebuds friend and music fanatic Cy Rawls, who passed away after a battle with brain cancer in 2008. The album is available on the Flute Flies Bandcamp site using the pay-what-you-want feature. All proceeds will go to CyTunes, and then be donated to the Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, where Cy was treated.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Russian Circles at Cat's Cradle

So, I finally took the plunge and got a new Tamron F/2.8 lens. I hadn't seen Russian Circles, but given the often stark, industrial nature of their music, I thought they might be a band with very little stage lighting. I was definitely correct. Other than a few naked bulbs, the stage was almost completely dark.

The shadowy lighting was definitely appropriate for the music -- dark, guttural bass lines punctuated by crashing drums and guitar work that was at times crackling, other times floating. It was pretty amazing to see how the band's intricately layered music comes to life on stage.   See more photos.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 Mann's World Day Party

This isn't exactly news, but I believe it's the first time I've posted it here (I'm breaking more news on Twitter than here now). The third annual Mann's World Day Party during Hopscotch will take place Saturday, Sept. 8, at Dive Bar in Raleigh. Once again this is a free show with three great bands: Caltrop (Chapel Hill), Earthling (Harrisonburg, Va.) and Salvacion (Wilmington). Here's the Facebook page for the event. Doors are at 1:30 p.m. Come on out and drink some beer and support three great bands! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inter Arma sign to Relapse

Relapse Records announced today that they have signed Richmond's Inter Arma. They'l finish recording their second full-length this fall and release it on Relapse early next year. They also released a string of tour dates, the last of which is Oct. 10 at the Buttery Day Ranch in Greensboro. I'll admit I have no idea where that is. If someone out there knows, please enlighten me. Their recently released EP "Destroyer" can be streamed on their Bandcamp page.  Read more here.

Russian Circles post 1st of 3-part in-studio video series

Russian Circles, who will be at Cat's Cradle tomorrow night (Aug. 15) have released part one of a three-part in-studio live series of songs from their latest, Empros. The first video is for "309," yours truly's favorite song on the album. The live sessions were engineered and mixed by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business) at Entourage Studios in North Hollywood. The video series is the debut of a new live in-studio sessions series by Sargent House in conjunction with Terroreyes.TV. Watch VIDEO HERE (or, alternate Vimeo link). Tickets to the Cradle show are $10 in advance, $12 day of show. Chelsea Wolf and Marriages open; doors at 7:30, show at 8:30.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Agalloch at Kings

If you saw my post below, you know I had pretty high hopes for Agalloch, who played Kings on Sunday. I've been to quite a few heavy shows lately that were pretty disappointing -- not because the bands were bad, but because the venue was practically empty. No matter how great a band may be, they just won't have the same energy while playing to a half-empty venue. There are a lot of open-minded metal heads in this area. I'm not sure why so many shows are bombing. I've heard a few theories about the split between the Volume 11 loyalists and various other factions. I'm not sure it's that simple. I can say that most of the metal heads I know are in their 30s  or early 40s and have stable jobs that require them to be at work at 9 a.m. or earlier. If the average weeknight show doesn't start until 10 p.m., they're not going to come out unless it's a band they really want to see. I can also say that if we as a community don't find a way to get out and support heavy shows, the venues are going to stop booking them.

Having said all that, Agalloch played to a packed house and totally lived up to expectations. In retrospect, their show last year at Kings was probably my favorite of the year, and Sunday's show was easily my favorite of 2012. Singer-guitarist John Haughm once again began the show by lighting incense and placing it around the stage in tiny iron cauldrons. No offense to the band, but I honest to God think that incense made the show for me. Last year I liked it so much I Facebooked Aesop Dekker who said he thought it was actual agalloch wood. Evidently I'm not alone in my love of that incense because as soon as it started billowing over the rapt audience, the dude next to me looked at me and said, "they should sell that at the merch table." He's right; they should sell that at the merch table.

The band is touring behind their latest one-track release, "Faustian Echoes,"which they played during the show. Personally I was more looking forward to once again hearing songs from "Marrow of the Spirit," especially "Into the Painted Grey," and they didn't disappoint. That song might actually be one of my favorite songs of all time, and it was wonderful to hear it live again.

I didn't quite know what to make of openers Taurus (above), a two-woman, guitar-and-drums band that included Stevie Floyd of Dark Castle. I was pretty enthralled by the ethereal, 1970s Middle Eastern art movies that they projected onto the walls behind them. The music itself was loud, heavy, and exotic, recalling Diamanda Galas on more than one occasion. Each of their songs had at least one part I really dug, but a lot of stuff that did nothing for me. See more photos.