concerts: julien baker w/ gracie and rachel @ cat’s cradle

julien baker @ cat's cradle

Julien Baker was stellar at the Cradle last week; photos are up on Speakers.

gracie & rachel @ cat's cradle

gracie & rachel @ cat's cradle

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.

Advertisements

concerts: amanda shires @ cat’s cradle backroom

amanda shires @ cat's cradle backroom

I went to see Amanda Shires on a whim, on an invitation from my friend Shannon, on the desire to see some live music in a small space. I figured she’d be good because Jason Isbell wouldn’t marry a bad musician, but she absolutely blew me away; her songwriting is arch and clever, a little bit dirty and a lot poignant, and she’s got a huge, funny, charming stage presence (especially for such a tiny person). She and her band had great rapport, and she’s a phenomenal musician on both the tenor guitar and the ukelele, but oh my god when she busted out the fiddle for the last song she played — holy crap, that woman can fiddle. None of her songs sounded like each other, but the writing is all tight as hell and sharp as tacks. Wonderful.

hannah elsie chapman @ cat's cradle

Hannah Elsie Chapman, the local open who Shannon booked, actually blew my mind even harder than Amanda — Hannah is 20, and she’s absolutely self-possessed and writing songs way, way older than her years. She’s got a voice like Kate Bush and she covered Warren Zevon, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I was not anywhere close to that talented or polished or smart as hell when I was 20. When I was 20, I was drinking my way across Central London and vomiting on national monuments. Hannah Chapman is on her way to being famous.

Full set is here.

concert: j roddy walston & the business @ kings

j roddy walston & the business @ kings

j roddy walston & the business @ kings

J. Roddy Walston & the Business came out last night and proceeded to absolutely tear down the walls at Kings. The new album burns up live, and the old songs are so sing-along shout-along friendly that a crowd can’t help but pump their fists and jump up and down and possibly hug strangers. I like shows that make me want to hug strangers.

They’re also a favorite band to photograph live because there’s almost nobody more dynamic on stage that J Roddy and his hair. It was a furiously great set.

More photos on Flickr.

j roddy walston & the business @ kings

PS best kick drum ever. Keep reppin’ for the MD, gentlemen.

reignwolf @ kings

reignwolf @ kings

Reignwolf opened, and played a 45 minute set of thrashing and destruction and rock and roll. I’d heard great things about them, and they lived up to it. Anyone who’s dripping sweat within the first song is playing rock music right.

bombadil & the tender fruit @ cat’s cradle

bombadil @ the cradle

bombadil @ the cradle

Another magical Bombadil show at the Cradle; a full, sweet, lengthy set, and the new songs sound so fantastic. I can’t wait for their new record in July, and it is always a pleasure and never a chore to shoot their shows. They’re always warm, lovely affairs, full of good people and friends.

bombadil @ the cradle

Had a change to meet James from Ramseur Records, who I’ve corresponded with a great deal. He is also lovely, and shorter than I imagined.

bombadil cradle marriage proposal

I had the chance, my first opportunity, to document a marriage proposal, during the guitar break in Stuart Robinson’s charming and pointed “Question”.

the tender fruit @ the cradle

The Tender Fruit opened, and I also can’t wait for Christy Smith’s new record, due out soon. Her four piece band sounds fantastically tight these days, and it’s always a pleasure to see Elyse Thebner and Patrick Dyer Wolf playing with anyone, but especially Christy.

magic mike @ the cradle

Michael Casey blew minds in between sets.

Full set of photos are here.

frontier ruckus @ local 506

frontier ruckus @ local 506

frontier ruckus @ local 506

The thing about Frontier Ruckus is that everything about their music is dense; their new record, Eternity Of Dimming, features over 50,000 words in the lyrics of 20 songs. Matthew Milia knows how to make words work for him. His lyrics are visceral, raw, intimate, and always the perfect word at the perfect time. What I had never noticed before last night’s show, though, is how much Frontier Ruckus uses Milia’s voice, singing all those lyrics, as a sonic texture as much as a delivery vehicle for words. The words stop being words and melt into the songs as sounds, as syllables that are as distinct as Davey Jones’ banjo playing without meaning anything.

Thursday’s show was warm, and heavy, and light, and wonderful. It was exactly what I needed, it was a balm for my heart in the middle of winter.

frontier ruckus @ local 506

Full set here.

lucius @ local 506

lucius @ local 506

lucius @ local 506

Had the pleasure of seeing Lucius open up for Milo Greene at the 506 on Friday night; they play deeply eerie candy-colored synth pop that I’m completely smitten by. (Their first self-titled EP is out now.) If ’60s girl group doowop made a baby with Owen Pallett, that baby would be Lucius, with their matching outfits and perfect harmonies and layered keyboards and guitars. They’re very young and very talented, and I can’t wait to see where they go with it.

Full set is here.

youngblood hawke @ disco rodeo

youngblood hawke @ disco rodeo

youngblood hawke @ disco rodeo

First: I refuse to call Disco Rodeo “the Ritz”, even if they have big stupid red letters on their building calling it that. Disco Rodeo is a big old cave of a venue in an old storage building in an office park, and it is not the Ritz. Jesus Christ.

Second: I have spent seven years in the Triangle studiously avoiding Disco Rodeo. I missed Modest Mouse there. I missed the Black Keys. I missed the fucking Pixies, you guys, because I refused to go to Disco Rodeo. I finally went last night, for the Passion Pit show, and I don’t really think I was missing anything. Expensive beer, overwhelmingly hot for such a big space, super grosstastic bathrooms, and no re-entry. Blech. BUT the sound was amazing, and the upstairs sightlines were amazing. If it wasn’t all locked-down gotta-have-a-photo-pass, it would be a great place to shoot. But it is. So double blech. I’m spoilt by the Cradle and the 506 like whoa. I own this. I am an entitled brat, and that is why I stay in Chapel Hill and don’t move to a “big city” to further my career, because I like already knowing everyone here.

youngblood hawke @ disco rodeo

Third: Youngblood Hawke, who my buddy Spencer hooked me up with, were fantastic — danceable, joyful garage pop, all synthed out and compelling. (Youngblood Hawke is also apparently a Herman Wouk novel about a fictionalized Thomas Wolfe; the things you learn Googling bands!) Frontman Sam Martin was wearing one of the ugliest shirts in the history of the world, and he was one of the best lead singers I’ve watched all year. His band is tight as hell, the songs will lodge in your head, and the crowd ate them up. I am thrilled they’re getting the break to tour in front of these enthusiastic, engaged Passion Pit crowds, because everyone in Disco Rodeo was thrilled by everything on Thursday, and that twice over included Youngblood Hawke’s set. It takes a strong opener to engage a crowd, so pumped for the headliner, that well, and they kicked ass and took names. I can’t wait to see them again.

passion pit @ disco rodeo

Fourth: I didn’t have a pass to shoot Passion Pit, because I neglected to double confirm my credentials (whoops! I am awful and lazy, etc), but despite that, holy Mary Mother of God, they were great. I was fascinated and charmed by Michael Angelakos and his interview and his music on Sound Opinions this week, and I really liked Gossamer a lot, but seeing them live was just flat-out captivating. The resonance of Angelakos’ songwriting, the energy of the crowd, the glorious tour rig lights: it was all amazing. I loved it.

Fifth: But what I loved most about the night was how much Clea loved it, and how much the dancing bro in front of us loved it. I love watching people I love, and also strangers, love things. It was really fantastic. Full set is here.