Julien Baker was stellar at the Cradle last week; photos are up on Speakers.
Openers Gracie & Rachel were a little Tori Amos, a little Vienna Teng, a lot themselves, and a whole lot of spectacular harmonies. The keyboard / violin combo is fantastic, the music is reserved without being shy or retiring, and their voices together just stunned me. More photos of the duo are on Flickr.
Last weekend some lovely folks from Alabama played rock and roll in my living room. You should have come.
Arum Rae has an astonishing voice. The phrase that immediately sprang to mind when I walked into the Back Room on Tuesday night was “flight of fancy”, which is not a phrase you can normally use to describe a voice, but it seemed like the only thing that really fit. Arum’s voice is like watching songbirds on a spring day, or maybe in her darker moments the beautiful menace of crows rising up from a cornfield in October. With just a guitar, her voice, and a really talented and subtle drummer backing her for most songs, she absolutely filled up a quiet and haunted space in front of a rapt audience. I was absolutely blown away, and I can’t wait to dig into her catalog and see her again.
My lovely friend Shannon O’Connor opened, and Shannon always blows me away. She writes in such a breadth of styles — twangy rock, folk love songs, punks-playing-old-timey-banjo-with-some-PJ-Harvey — and she is the kind of fabulous human who’s not afraid to drop a musical reference to “Goodnight, Irene” into a song and then follow it up with a Led Zeppelin cover (“Going To California”, which she completely slayed). I feel lucky every time I get to see her play and every time I get to hang out with her.
I wish I’d felt better on Saturday night — I’m recovering from a slept on the ground in the cold in a tent chest cold — because feeling shitty meant that I was vaguely grouchy and short tempered at people all evening (if I was grouchy and short tempered at you, my bad! Sorry I’m a asshole), and this show wasn’t the place to be those things. This show was a place that was full of tiny punk feminist teenage girls, and people I loved, and also Kathleen Hanna, who I have worshipped for almost 20 years now. But even though I felt crappy, it was still a pretty magical night.
Things like this rally, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Girls Rock NC in the Triangle, are the kind of thing that validate my decision to live and work here instead of anywhere else; the evening was full of people I love and who I hadn’t seen in days / weeks / months, it was like Hopscotch, a family reunion because one thing that we all agree on is music and also that women should be making that music. An incredible lineup, a lot of people I am happy to be surrounded by, good lights, good sound — magic.
And, yeah, getting to finally photograph Kathleen Hanna was just as amazing as I hoped.
Full set here.
I hadn’t been in the freshly renovated Local 506 in a few weeks — not since they finished the renovations, for sure — and it looks gorgeous, but this show was Monday night, because I am an idiot who took a job on the same day she planned to spend seven hours flying home from a festival weekend in Texas, and so I mostly spent the beginning of the evening hollering about how amazing Marfa was and how everyone should go to Trans-Pecos next year. (I also did some deals with Kippy, and caught up with some folks, but mostly I hollered about Texas.)
Despite my exhaustion and my hollering about Texas, I was very glad I went out to see Brooklyn’s She Keeps Bees. The photos are over on Speakers, with some words.
Shilpa Ray convinced me that you can play punk rock on a harmonium, and her pedal steel player took lessons from Gram Parson’s pedal steel player.
Locals Rogue Band Of Youth, who have released one of my favorite NC albums of 2014, opened up, and it’s been a few months since I’ve seen them; they’ve pared down and tightened up, and their newest songs are rockin’ pretty hard. With Jack, Patrick, and Chloe trading instruments and sharing (and harmonizing) frontperson duties, they never get boring and they’re always pushing their boundaries. This set made me really excited to see where they’ll go with their next record.
Full set here.
Lydia Loveless lead off her raucous almost two hour set on Tuesday night with “Head” from this year’s spectacular Somewhere Else, and honestly, it takes a certain kind of fabulously awesome person to open a weekday show with a smaller crowd with a raunchy but somehow sweet song about, well. Oral sex. It’s one of my favorites on the record, though, and I was glad to hear Lydia and her frighteningly talented band play heavily from this year’s release and last year’s Boy Crazy EP (“All I Know” might be my favorite song she’s written, and the set closer “Boy Crazy” was a deliciously devolution into madness), though it does make me sad that I didn’t see her as often as I could have when she was touring for Indestructible Machine, as well, because I love those songs, too. The band played a fire-up hour-long main set, including a gorgeous version of the stop-and-start quiet-and-loud “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” (which is my favorite song on the record) and excellent set-closer “Mile High”. Lydia did a couple songs solo acoustic, and then brought the band back for a few more — aforementioned “Boy Crazy”, and of course “Steve Earle”, which Lydia must be tired of by now but which will always still make me giggle like a lunatic.
Lydia’s awful talented and she’s never had less than a fabulous level of charm and sass on stage, whenever I’ve seen her; I got to go to this show last minute, and despite the fact that I was running on three hours sleep Wednesday morning, it was well fucking worth it.
I’ve seen Caleb Caudle play three shows in three weeks now, so look: if you trust my music recommendations, just go get Paint Another Layer On My Heart right now and save yourself from missing out further. This show was a much better mix, sonically, which really let you hear the great dobro player he’s been bringing along lately, and “Tuscaloosa”, a new and as yet unreleased song, is one I might actually love more than anything on the new album, and I love the new album an awful lot, if you couldn’t tell. Caleb is awesome, and you need to know it.