A couple of weeks ago, Jody at Muzzle of Bees talked about a visit to Chicago’s new Lincoln Hall, and asked what people’s favorite venues in their town were. I sat down to comment and ended up totally paralyzed, which is when I realized that we here in the NC really do have an overabudance of riches in just about every sense in phrase in our the local scene.
Because how I am supposed to pick? On the one hand, there’s the Cat’s Cradle, a place that’s been around forever, with its big stage and brand new courtesy-of-Merge lighting rig and its consistently excellent touring line-ups. The 506 has Glenn and free tickets every month and a tiny intimate setting and the frequent freedom for me to crawl around basically wherever I want shooting. The Pour House has $4.50 double tall Long Island night. The Lincoln has fantastic sound and up until the Cradle got their new rig, they had (and probably still have) the best lights for a mid-size venue in the Triangle. The Nightlight is really starting to come alive, booking some great stuff, handling Cradle booking overflow, and giving the CH another viable venue. The Cave serves PBR really, really cheap and only charges five bucks for shows and lights everything with Christmas lights. I guess if you don’t hate Disco Rodeo, it’s good that there’s a big non-seated venue around here. Slim’s is divey and smokey and fantastic. And that’s just in the Triangle, not even counting the Soapbox in Wilmington and the Blind Tiger and Greene Street in G’boro and the Garage in Winston-Salem.
I am blessed with a multitude of options whenever I want to see a show.
And, so, yeah: I miss Chicago venues. I miss the Metro and the Aragon and the Vic, I miss Schubas’ and the Double Door, I miss the Empty Bottle and the Hideout a lot. But the thing is, I couldn’t waltz into Chicago venues with my camera the way I do here. I can’t remember the last time someone stopped me from shooting a show. (Although M. Ward prohibited cameras during his XXMerge set, but I wasn’t there.) Maybe the guy at the National in Richmond in February? And he didn’t even end up stopping us, since the place was barely half full, if that. I’ve built a portfolio by being able to shoot everything that crosses my path in every possible venue, by not having to fight for press passes and credentials if I just want to stand in the front row and shoot away.
So I miss Chicago and their venues — I’d love to get to Lincoln Hall sometime, just to see it — and sometimes I miss how everyone plays Chicago but most people think that one North Carolina date is enough1, but I prefer the venues in the NC. And pick a favorite? I can’t do it.
OH MY GOD, TOURING BANDS, ONE NORTH CAROLINA DATE IS NOT ENOUGH. Asheville is four hours from the Triangle; Charlotte is two; Wilmington is three. I don’t care how much I want to see you, I won’t go any of those places on weeknights, and I’ll probably even drag my feet on weekends. Besides which, Charlotte is not the most interesting place in the state, and whenever bands play Charlotte and then skip over us to hit Richmond, I have a tiny rage blackout. Also causing rage lately: bands that seem to think there’s nothing between Atlanta and DC. Fuck you guys, the NC is awesome.