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***June Thirtieth Two
Thousand and Eighteen***
Hope everyone else is pumped up for the fourth like we are here. Dress for success!
Dead bug. Cary, NC.
Studebaker Flight Hawk. Durham, NC.
Dusk in the bull. Durham, NC.
Malfunctioning bucket. Cary, NC.
Many of the parts in the new Converse video are obviously terrific, but to no surprise Louie Lopez sticks out the
most. Well, techncally Kenny Anderson is always and forever tops what with having the best style ever and being such
a handsome bastard, but given his part was shared Louie gets the slight nod based on amount of content.
Zion Wright released a new web part for Real Skateboards imaginatively called Real that's just hammer after
hammer after hammer. My brain legitimately can't even comprehend how it's possible to skate like this.
Work was busy and the music reviews suffered for it. Still, both the Stephen Malkmus and Tracyanne & Danny
are worth your time. Also saw both live this month, and
likely say the same damn thing in the reviews below.
One photo journal entry this month - all my Moogfest photos in one spot for ease of viewing and/or ignoring.
It didn't feel like it at the time, but I surpassed the monthly goal - 32 out of 30 for June,
which results in 189 in 181 days
at the halfway point of the year. I didn't realize I had watched so many westerns this past month...
of the month (that I've likely already seen 50 times):
Dazed And Confused (1993)
of the month (that was actually new to me):
American Made (2017)
of the month: Julian
McCullough: Maybe I’m a Man (2018)
of the month: Racket Girls (1951)
(even MST3K barely made this one palatable)
not crying, you’re crying: It Will
Be Chaos (2018)
Best bear ass: The
Great Outdoors (1988)
none of this took place in Manhattan and I'd like a refund:
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes
that was all kinds of disturbing: The Harvest (2015)
was way too much Imagine Dragons: Believer (2018)
Forgives I Don’t (1967), Wakefield (2016), Draw! (1984), The Last
Days Of Michael Jackson (2018), Patriots
Day (2017), Sky Captain And
The World Of Tomorrow (2004), 100 Rifles (1968), The Force (2017),
(2017), Training Day (2001), Bound By Flesh (2012), The
Hurricane Heist (2018), Flatliners (2017), Sklar Brothers:
Ghosts (2018), Les Paul: Chasing Sound (2007), A Monster Calls
(2017), Hustle (1975), Pretty In Pink (1986),
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
(2018), Oceans Eleven (2001), Wasted! The Story Of Food Waste (2017),
Erik Griffin: AmERIKan Warrior (2018)
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
more than 20 years of going to shows, it’s rare that I’m late.
Hey, It’s not my fault Carrburritos was that crowded!
But it might have been my fault I left the house much later than I should have. Anyways, despite knowing that I would
like Lithics after listening to their latest “Mating Surfaces” leading up to this gig, I sadly only got there in time for a
song and a half from them. It was exactly what I was hoping for – a female-fronted, slightly more subdued version of
If that doesn’t mean anything to you (it should, Ex-Models were
fantastic), think a modern, punkier Devo.
They seem young, so hopefully that means they tour a lot and I can manage to show up on time should they appear
It had been quite a while since I had seen Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks live (or any Malkmus configuration, for that
matter), but I have been enjoying their latest record “Sparkle Hard,” so it seemed worth the effort. Pavement were
always notoriously hit or miss live - I think my personal tally was two good shows and one that was thoroughly lifeless
& mediocre – but other than possibly being drunk, Malkmus delivered this evening. He was very talkative and funny
between nearly every song – amongst all the rambling there were multiple mentions of Skunk Baxter (specifically the
amount of drugs in his mustache), and at one point after someone yelled out “Charlottesville” he responded “Thomas
Jefferson…he’s in the musical ‘Hamilton,’ so he’s legit.” Stephen also doesn’t look like he’s aged in 20 years, which
particularly infuriating to this fat and bald slob. You can also
forget what a good guitarist he is until you see him play
live – none of the music Malkmus has recorded over the years really stands out for its technical wizardry when you listen
it, but there is often a lot high-level guitar playing going on in
those songs. As for the actual set of music performed
on this night, it was a lot of the new record plus a few older jams like “Jenny And The Ess-Dog” scattered throughout –
at set lists from rest of the tour, this appears to be fairly
typical. The real highlight was the encore – just like
when Spiral Stairs played last year, Pavement drummer Steve West made his way down from Virginia and joined
Malkmus for a pseudo-Pavement reunion. They played two songs, “Shady Lane” and “In The Mouth A Desert”…the
crowd was obviously way into it. If I could make one suggestion to other bands out there – include a near reunion of
Pavement as part of your encore, it goes over like gangbusters.
Tracyanne & Danny
Apparently every club in Durham and Chapel Hill have been reading my mind, because this Tracyanne & Danny
show was yet another in recent months that had me arriving at the club before it was even dark outside, and back
home before the late news. Feel free to jump on this bandwagon as well, Raleigh music venues. It had been a long
time since I last saw Camera Obscura (apparently 2010, which is even longer than I would have guessed), but based
on their popularity then I was a little surprised at the low turnout for what was clearly the best weapon of that band –
namely, Tracyanne Campbell and her mellifluous voice. Regardless of attendance, they put on a lovely performance –
in addition to Tracyanne and Danny Coughlan, there was also a bassist, drummer, and most notably a keyboardist
who also played saxophone. It honestly hadn’t dawned on me how sax is in the songs of their self-titled record until
this night. Predictably, the set was the entirety of their only record, plus a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will
Find You In The End” – twee pop is a terrific medium for this classic song. There was also plenty of banter and stories
throughout the gig - as Danny noted, “If we didn’t tell stories we’d be out of here in a half hour.” As has happened
every time I’ve seen her perform, I was totally in love with Tracyanne by the end of the night, and I’m quite certain I
wasn’t alone. I’m pretty sure the woman could start a cult if she so desired, assuming anyone would ever actually want
an army of middle-aged dorky dudes as their congregation.
The Sea And Cake
With James Elkington
Between the way the Cat’s Cradle has
been running their performances and the schedule-based festivals I've
ed lately, I’ve gotten used to everything starting on
time…which makes it extra excruciating that this show started a
hour late. Apparently this was the result of miscommunication
rather than intentional fuckery, but that didn’t make that
standing around any more palatable. Plus I was tired as shit from a
long weekend of Moogfest. Complaining
Eventually James Elkington took the
stage – he’s been in a bunch of bands (most notably Brokeback
McCombs, who was playing bass with the Sea And Cake on this
tour), but this was just the man and his acoustic
guitar. He was a
very personable fella with quality banter…clearly a man very
comfortable on stage. His music was in
the same vein as Nick Drake
(but not on par obviously), wispy and delicate on top of some
guitar work. Given that description, I’m
sure you’ll be shocked to learn that the crowd was way too loud and
completely overpowered him, even at the very front of the
stage. It wasn’t the most exciting performance I’ve ever seen,
but the music was nice and it was pretty mesmerizing watching James
Holy shit it was hot in the Pinhook by
the time the Sea and Cake took the stage. Not just from the body
heat of the
crowd, which had grown much larger and more tightly
packed, but the stage lights were absolutely cranked. This was
for photos – I’ve never had it so easy at this club in my life –
but terrible for not being drenched in sweat. I was
sweaty that even from the stage, Sam Prekop pointed at me and said
“this guy is definitely hot” – and
I think we all know he
wasn’t referring to my physical attractiveness. Despite that,
3/4ths of the band was dressed in
Canadian tuxedos...their balls must
have been boiling. Doug McCombs and his giant David Letterman beard
only person not towing the fashion line. Despite the heat,
they sounded fantastic, almost as if they're a collection of
respected musicians that have been a band for a quarter of a century.
I love their new record “Any Day,” and to
no surprise that album
make up the bulk of the set. Of course I would have loved more
classics, but they perform so
rarely you take whatever you can get.
They did finally hit on a couple of their early jams during the
encore with “the
Argument” and “Parasol”...honestly, getting
to see “Parasol” performed live was worth the price of admission
When it was all over, I couldn't walk
fast enough to my car and crank up the AC. Thank god for modern
"We don't have none of this stuff in the boy's room! Wait a minute! We
don't got none of this...we don't got doors on the
stalls in the boy's
room, we don't have, what is this? What's this? We don't have a candy
machine in the boy's room!"
Helms Alee - A Weirding Away. Part one of metal I've really been digging lately. Of course this is from their 2008
record "Night Terror," so maybe I need to listen to something from this decade.
Jeff Tweedy - I'm Always in Love. Jeff released a solo acoustic record full of songs from all of his various projects
over the years (though primarily Wilco). It sounds exactly like you would expect.
Jeremy Enigk - Sacred Fire. I'm still annoyed I didn't get to see Enigk live this month because he was playing at the
same time as Stephen Malkmus, for which I already had a ticket. Not that Malkmus wasn't awesome obviously...
The Long Wait Is Over
Pallbearer - Dancing In Madness. Part two of metal I've really been digging lately. I already had this listed as one
of my favorite records of last year, but I've listened to it even more this year.
Lie Of Survival
Ramones - Judy Is A Punk. Something tells me these kids are going to make something of themselves.
Listen To My Heart
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Cry. I didn't think I'd ever listened to much Siouxsie until I picked up one of her CDs
out of the bargain bin, and ended up knowing a bunch of the songs. How though?
Kiss Them For Me
The Psychedelic Furs - Imitation Of Christ. I've known the big hits forevre, but I've really been enjoying digging in
to the Furs deeper jams. A truly great band.
Love My Way
Pretty In Pink
The Ghost In You
The Sundays - Hideous Towns. Man, the Sundays got a shit ton of airplay off their first record "Reading, Writing
Skin & Bones
You're Not The Only One I Know
***May Thirty First Two
Thousand and Eighteen***
Tiny woman or giant meatball? YOU DECIDE.
A brief break in the rain. Lake James, NC.
It's called fashion. Lake James, NC.
Foggy entrance. Pittsboro, NC.
Yaje Popson is out with a new part for Alien Workshop. Always liked this dude but getting serious Matt Reason
vibes with the Philly footage.
Sure, this Wes Kremer part for Transworld is from 2011, but the footage is timeless and you can never watch too
It's just not fucking fair that Austyn Gillette gets to be this good on a skateboard and also this goddamn good looking.
This one has heavy rewatch value for sure.
Music reviews are still flowing...tough pick between the Sea & Cake and Courtney Barnett for best record of the
month, with a nod to Nocturnal Projections complete recordings compilation.
Also made one photo journal entry, a collection of random shit from a few months back that didn't warrant their own
Also, a metric assload of live reviews below.
the exact monthly number for once! 31 out of 31 in May,
and I’m +6 on the year after 151 days. Yeah yeah yeah,
there is a lot
of stand-up this month, who cares so what.
It was honestly the best part of what I watched this month…
I need to
get to the theater.
Best of the month:
Cop Land (1997) (I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this)
Best stand-up of the month: John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City (2018) (very narrowly beating Ali Wong:
Hard Knock Wife (2018))
Worst of the month:
Body Rock (1984)
I’m not crying, you’re crying:
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Jethro Tull are so fuckin’ weird:
The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus (1996)
Best soundtrack of the month:
I, Tonya (2017) (winner by a large margin)
Well…at least it looked cool: Ghost In The Shell (2017)
You try hating Ryan Reynolds, because I can’t: The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)
Passing (2006), True Conviction (2017), When God Sleeps (2017), Stolen
(2010), Honky Tonk Heaven (2016),
Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here (2018),
What Lies Upstream (2017), Before I Fall
(2017), Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your
Relatives (2018), Kevin Smith: Silent
But Deadly (2018), A Dangerous Son (2018), The Honeymoon Standup
(2018), What Haunts Us (2018), See The Keepers (2018), Wolves At
The Door (2017), Lego Ninjago Movie (2017),
Bites (1994), City Limits (1984), Fahrenheit 451 (2018), Leviathan
(1989), Out Of Thin Air (2017), Paterno
Moogfest (Day 2)
I wasn’t all that enthused with this year’s Moogfest line-up when it was released, but I was given the opportunity to take
photos for the festival, so I was going to be there regardless. The flip side of not having a ton of shows you feel like
you have to see -it leads to a lot more exploration and investigation of the acts you don’t know, instead of just seeing
performers that you already know you like.
Case in point – my favorite artist this Friday night was Annie Hart at the First Presbyterian Church. Her name didn’t
mean anything to me at first, but after a little digging I discovered she was one-third of Au Revoir Simone. Spacy
pop in a dark church? I’m there. I’m not sure when they
started using this venue, but it was my first time seeing
anyone perform here – it’s a great spot. I’m always game for a church performance though – the setting lends itself to
a quiet, respectful crowd; though the flipside is you feel very self-conscious while taking photos because many times it
was so quiet you could hear the camera shutter over the music. It was definitely a great setting for Annie, adding to
the atmospheric vibe of her whole endeavor. Roughly half of the set was just her, and for the rest she had one and/or
two other women adding backing vocals, bass, and just a smattering of drums (or rather drum, since there was only
one). Sound wise, other than a couple of more upbeat songs, I’m not sure it was really all that different from an Au
Revoir Simone performance (outside of the band members involved obviously), or at least I’m not smart enough to
spot the differences. It was great regardless, and now I really need to hear that record she released last year called
“Impossible Accomplice” (note: apparently it was only released on cassette and since I don’t have a cassette player
anymore I’ll need the digital files instead, but the point stands).
I’d planned to do a bit of bouncing around to different venues, as one does at these festivals, but the weather had
different ideas. Intermittent downpours meant I waited until the rain was at least somewhat manageable, and then
hot stepped it to the Armory to spend the rest of my night. I was planning on only catching a few minutes of Yves
Tumor, but I ended up with a full set out of a necessity to keep dry. Yves is just one person for the record – a dude
who was dressed like an extra from Blade Runner in futuristic clothes, a white cowboy hat, and what looked like a
surgical mask? I’m not sure I have the slightest idea on what was happening on the stage – heavy, industrial noise
with a tinge of techno and vocals so distorted I’m not sure he was even trying to form words – and if he was, you’d
never know what they were. The only lighting was erratic strobes scattered around the venue (until Yves told them to
kill the strobes, and then it was dark as shit). The whole affair was disorienting, ominous, maybe a little creepy…I’m
not sure I would call it enjoyable though. My snarky side would say it wasn’t even music, but eye of the beholder and
all that, who am I to decide what is music? It just wasn’t for me.
After all of that, whatever that was and whatever you decide to call it, Shabazz Palaces closed down this night at the
Armory. The duo was positioned behind a bank of electronics and a wide assortment of percussion for pretty much
entire show, but it still felt like a pretty dynamic performance.
The music may be quite different, but it’s hard not to
hear Digable Planets whenever Palaceer Lazaro (nee Butterfly) raps, his voice is so distinctive – plus I listened to the
fuck out of those two albums Digable Planets released in the mid-nineties. The tweaked out, electrified & fried per-
cussion laid down by Baba Maraire was just as excellent as you would expect from a dude who grew up under an
African music master, Dumisani Maraire. The entire time the backdrop was filled with projections that ran the spec-
trum of anime to clips from the movie “Malcolm X,” which added to the trippy vibe of the performance. It definitely
inspired me to spend some more time with some of the Shabazz Palaces recorded output, weird ass space alien
lyrics be damned. If Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips can make a career of writing songs about this nonsense,
there’s no reason we can’t have a hip hop version of roughly the same content.
Moogfest (Day 3)
My second day of Moogfest (the actual third day of the festival) included more artists and much less rain, just how I
like it. Also, I ate a giant burrito from a taco truck so it was a damn good day.
After I picked up my daily press passes at the American Tobacco Campus, I had enough time to pop into “The Cage”
(aka the covered, outdoor basketball court) to catch some of the DJ action happening there. And I stopped for good
reason – the legendary Pete Rock was spinning classic nineties jams. Did CL Smooth show up and they performed
the all-time great “Mecca And The Soul Brother” album in its entirety, and everyone collectively lost their shit? No, it
was just a DJ set, but it was still pretty cool and obviously he was playing nothing but that good good that was a huge
part of my formative years. There were lots of folks there, from little kids to those even older than me, all having them-
a good time. The best part were the little kids in the back of
The Cage dancing, not a care in the world. Also,
can we talk about how Pete Rock is nearly 50 but looks 20 years younger? Dude must sleep in a hyperbaric chamber,
making me feel all bad and gross about myself – it’s equal parts impressive and anger-inducing.
The first act I was scheduled to shoot this night was Psychic TV at the Carolina Theatre. I honestly knew more about
the band historically and conceptually (godfathers of the industrial genre, early pioneers in the techno world, and of
course the identity politics) than I actually knew their music, but given their “legend” status it would have been stupid to
miss them. I have no idea about the membership of the group outside of Genesis P-Orridge, but on this night they
were a five piece in matching white denim, and trippy, super-colorful collage backdrop visuals that were such a big
part of the performance it was like a sixth band member. Perhaps my biggest shock of the entire festival was what
heard during their set – fairly straight-forward heavy rock
music. I was expecting shit to be super weird! Instead,
kicked things off with a cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire,” and from there it was a series of noisy, dark
not that different from the Birthday Party or someone of that
ilk. They really seem to enjoy stretching their songs
and letting them breathe in a krautrock-like fashion. I was
honestly way into it – after taking photos up front for the
first few songs, I went to the back of the theatre, sat down, and let the sounds wash over me. It might have been my
favorite moment of this entire Moogfest.
Next up on my dance card was the highly-regarded Norwegian artist Jenny Hval, just across the street at the Armory.
At this point I can’t claim a lot of new firsts when seeing live music, but this was definitely the first time I’ve ever seen a
pregnant woman eat a banana in an inflatable clam as a part of a musical performance (this is obviously a very com-
mon sight in a non-musical setting). The pregnant woman was one of band members, and I’m honestly not sure if it
was intended to be part of the performance, or she was just tired and hungry. Later on Hval would sing a song after
sticking a half-inflated ball down her shirt and then performing (half-assed) synchronized stretching with the pregnant
woman (this was post-banana, obviously). Basically, I didn’t understand a single goddamn thing that was happening
onstage other than the music – and the music was pretty decent. It landed somewhere on the spectrum between
ambient, atmospheric electronic music and straight-forward electro-pop. I’m not entirely sure I’d go our of my way to
see it all again, but I was glad to experience it at least once.
Back across the road again at the Carolina Theatre (if you haven’t guessed, I spent all night just going back and forth
between here and the Armory), I caught the last few minutes of J Rocc, best known for his work with the legendary
turntable crew the Beat Junkies. If you’ve ever seen those YouTube videos of a one or a few dudes on multiple record
players cutting, chopping and scratching their way through a shitload of records and in the process creating new
music – well, this guy is one of the OGs of that sort of thing. As far as DJs go you’re not going to get much more enter-
taining than J Rocc, though as I’ve noted on past occasions when it comes to watching DJs perform live, there should
be an overhead camera so you can really see what is going on.
Instead of ending his set, J Rocc just handed over the equipment to the DJ for KRS-One, and the party kept flowing.
KRS-One was a large part of Boogie Down Productions, the group responsible for one of the top five greatest hip
hop albums of all time, “Criminal Minded.” Getting to hear “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” live after three
decades of listening to those songs was serious bucket list material. I would have preferred more songs and less
freestyle from the man, but at this point I guess he has earned the right to do whatever the fuck he wants when on the
This show was real who's who: the legendary Freddy Fox was
with him, Pete Rock was hanging out on the side
stage, and even Michael Stipe was there (you might remember KRS-One appeared on the REM track “Radio Song”
that got a little bit of airplay back in the day). He seemed super concerned with “real hip hop,” though I’m not sure
anyone has ever settled on a real definition of what exactly that is. On the downside – so much feedback coming from
the monitors; a distracting, annoying amount…but as bad as it was, it was the only technical issue I experience all
weekend which feels like a small miracle given how many electronics have been involved with all of these acts.
My final show of Moogfest would be Mouse On Mars back at the Armory, performing with Spank Rock (the rapper)
and Sonic Robots (robotically automated percussion that was scattered around the stage). Also, they did all of this in
near darkness, with only a small amount of backlighting and some computer screens to guide the way. Photograph-
ically, it was a pretty frustrating note to go out on – I had my speed cranked up to 6400 and my aperture all the way to
1.4, and I still only got a handful of non-blurry, sorta lit photos out of about 100. Given the billing more Spank Rock
would have been nice, as he was my main motivation for being there; he came out and rapped with his back to the
crowd for one song, and did a little more work sitting in the back, but that was about it for the 45 or so minutes I was
there. Despite all of that, it was still a decent showing – the live version of their music was much more dynamic and
organic than I would have imagined, with real drums and guitar getting incorporated into the expected electronic sound.
They’re not someone whose recorded output I’ve paid a ton of attention to, but this set piqued my interest in what their
latest album for Thrill Jockey has to offer. Will have to put that one on the “to do” list…
a festival that I had minimal interest in before it kicked off, I ended
up having a damn good time for the bulk of it.
It’s a reminder to myself to sample the unknown fare more often at these type of events - who knows what unknown or
overlooked band might become a future favorite.
Carolina Rebellion (Day 3)
Charlotte Motor Speedway
There’s typically never enough happening at Carolina Rebellion to garner more than a passing glance from me –
usually no more than two or three bands in any given year that I would actually get excited to see. But for some rea-
son this not only where there quite a few more groups I liked in the mix this year, but all the ones I wanted to see had
been scheduled for the same day! A festival of this nature would require more than my typical solo attendance, so a
couple of longtime friends from Wilmington and Asheville were called into action for a day of rock, rednecks, over-
priced concessions, sunburn, inhaling at least a pound of dust, and a shitload of fun.
I hadn’t initially planned on starting my music festival day as early as we did, but one of my dudes insisted on seeing
Quicksand – and why the hell not, the tickets were paid for, might as well get our money’s worth! I had not thought
about these guys since the mid-nineties, which is understandable since they hadn’t released any records since 1995
up until last year. One friend insisted we saw them in Wilmington at the Mad Monk back in 1994 or 1995 with
Sensefield…this seems entirely plausible, but all I remember from that night was Sensefield and our friend that was
punch-dancing in the middle of a non-existent pit. Anyways, Quicksand were definitely worth getting there early for –
played a few of their older songs that I was surprised to remember, and the new songs were decent – melodic hard-
rock/punk, not that different from the old shit really, at least live. It was a good enough set that it made me want to
check out their most recent album “Interiors.” It’s still weird to me that the singer, Walter Schreifels, is the same
dude from Gorilla Biscuits.
Next up was one of the bands I was most excited about – Mutoid Man. I saw them randomly on a whim at Hopscotch
in 2016 and was blown away. The three-piece came on stage this day wearing matching sleeveless tuxedo t-shirts,
so it was scientifically impossible this wasn’t going to be a fun gig. My best description of Mutoid Man is they’re a
modern take on old-school eighties speed/power metal, somehow in on the joke but completely sincere at the same
time. Singer Steve Brodsky might be the happiest metal musician on the planet – he never stops smiling. Yeah, their
banter and song intros are a little canned and predictable, but they’re so damn good at what they do who the fuck
cares. Around the middle of their set they threw some shade at fellow festival band Great Van Fleet, dedicating their
performance of part of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” to them. I’m sure it wasn’t a coincidence they
played a song called “Bridgeburner” soon thereafter – this band doesn’t seem to give a shit about hurt feelings. They
ended their set with a bang, maybe the single best thing I saw all day – a cover of Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher,” with
new Baroness guitarist Gina Gleason taking on the Eddie Van Halen solos. They even included all the mid-song ban-
ter, with some slight modifications. If you like heavy music and don’t feel the need to take all this shit so seriously,
never miss Mutoid Man if they’re ever playing near you.
So, speaking of Greta Van Fleet…most of the time I’m a “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at
all” person, but I can’t help myself here. They were playing one of the two big stages, and a shitload of people there to
see what might be the biggest buzz band at the whole festival. I had heard they sounded like Led Zeppelin, but had
never actually heard them – I love Robert Plant & co as much as the next guy raised on seventies classic rock, so that’s
gotta be a good thing right? Holy shit, they were DREADFUL. Well, comically dreadful, as we had a good laugh for
as long as we could stand it. It felt like seeing a really terrible Led Zeppelin cover band that never got around to play-
ing any actual Led Zeppelin songs – instead, we got nothing but shitty, mid-tempo originals that sounded like Zep
minus the hooks and the talent. They were even dressed like seventies rock rejects for fuck’s sake. To be fair: the
tiny singer could actually hit all those Robert Plant notes, which was probably the only impressive thing about them…
even if he was mostly just saying “mama” over and over and over. Unfortunately, the rest of the band couldn’t come
within a 1000 yards of Page, Jones, and Bonham. My friends and I most of the time looking at each other with “can
you believe this shit?” eyes while laughing our ass off. Somehow though we were in the minority as the crowd was,
much to our amazement, really into it. These people are going to be blown away if they ever get a chance to hear a
copy of “Led Zeppelin II” or “Houses Of The Holy” at some point in their lives.
GVF were the first in a long line of mid-day bands I had little interest in, but I knew that was going to be the case going
in and just rolled with it. We watched a few songs from Code Orange, a band I’d never heard of that did that really
screamy, aggro energy drink metal that I associate with shirtless bros and Juggalo types. This performance had the
first really serious pit I saw all day. They had the rare combination of a drummer that was also the lead singer, but
unfortunately they didn’t sound at all like the Romantics. There was a lot of lurching from multiple band members
everywhere on the stage, which was quite disorienting…and that’s gotta be hell on the back. After that we watched
a good amount of Clutch on one of the big stages. They’re one of those bands that have been around forever and
I have no particular opinion about them…just straight-forward heavy rock from some no-frills middle-aged dudes who
have been doing this forever. It was better than a lot we saw in the middle of the day, but not good enough to actually
get excited about. We then walked all the way back over to the other big stage to see some of the Struts, who I
referred to as a modern day version of the London Quireboys, a comparison no one else seemed to get. They did
that typical bluesy/glam hard rock thing, with a singer that was basically a Mick Jagger impersonator - definitely not
my bag but I’ve heard worse. They would have probably been huge if this was 1986.
The day finally got interesting again with the Sword…it’s not often you get to combine metal with Moog synths and a
blonde guitarist wearing a Guayabera shirt that looks like he’d make more sense in a Beach Boys cover band. I never
know what to call the music they make – surf stoner metal maybe? It’s pretty similar to whatever the hell it is that Fu
Manchu also does. They sound like a band that could have been playing in the background when Spicoli falls out of
that VW van in a cloud of pot smoke in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” We only caught a few songs, but they were
a good few songs. Probably a band better viewed in a small, dingy rock club though, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Before this festival, I don’t think I’d ever given much thought to seeing Billy Idol live - but now that I’ve seen him, I’m
damn glad I did. His voice might not be what it once was, but the energy and performance from both him and the
band (especially guitar god Steve Stevens, who is still a wizard) more than made up for it. There’s always some
worry in seeing a classic artist, worry that the set list will have too much “new” material that no one gives a shit about,
and not enough of the classics. When you’re talking about a 45 minute long festival window though, Idol smartly just
went with what the people wanted - hit after hit after hit…and he has a lot of hits. Sometimes you might forget what a
great song “Dancing With Myself” is, and this was a terrific reminder. The acoustic-to-electric version of “White
Wedding” as the encore was terrific, as was Stevens busting out his iconic Top Gun theme in the middle of one of
tracks. We also saw a girl trying to crowd surf, only to beef it
straight to her face and have to be helped out.
Knock it off with the stupid crowd surfing, people – it’s one inconsiderate person denying a ton of people the oppor-
tunity to watch the show they paid a lot of money to see for fear of being kicked in the head.
After waiting for Incubus to finish their caterwauling, my most anticipated act of the whole day was upon us – Baroness.
Despite my high expectations, they still managed to surpass them. Like Mutoid Man I also saw them randomly at
Hopscotch a couple of years back, was completely blown away, and have since listened to their 2015 album “Purple”
obsessively. Luckily, they played A LOT of that record, and from the crowd reaction I’m not the only one who has been
feasting on that release. I mentioned her appearance during Mutoid Man, but holy shit it needs to be mentioned how
hard Gina fucking shreds the guitar – any Neanderthals out there still harboring the idea that women can’t play guitar
as well as a man needs to witness this woman and then punch yourself in the face for being so stupid. All of the har-
monized solos between her and singer John Baizley were perfection - you’d think she has been with the band forever,
not just a few months. This is also where I mention what a goddamn trip it is that their drummer, Sebastian Thomson,
is also in the synth band Trans Am. The pairing shouldn’t make any sense on paper, but he definitely makes it work –
it helps that he is a machine behind the kit. The forty minutes or so that Baroness played breezed by, I would have
happily taken twice that. Let’s hope the new record isn’t too far off, and in support of that a tour date somewhere in
the Triangle. Though I’ll gladly travel much farther to see them again.
We had one last act to see this night, Queens Of The Stone Age, but whether it was tired legs or brains melted from
glory of Baroness, it sorta felt like a chore. Also, we were 132
miles from the stage (approximately). Don’t get me
wrong, they sounded great, and were playing a lot of older songs from their seminal album “Songs For The Deaf”
which is really all I wanted to hear, but the heart wants what it wants, and mine wanted to leave this dust pit for more
comfortable environs. After about a half-dozen songs, it was time to make the mile walk back to the parking lot…I’ve
never been happier to sit in a car in my entire life. All in all, a day well spent – the music was good more often than
not, the weather wasn’t too bad, there were a lot of ridiculous people to look at, and most importantly I got to spend
some quality time with a couple of good friends, something that doesn’t happen nearly often enough in adulthood.
Built To Spill
With The Afghan Whigs
Built To Spill are easily one of my all-time favorites…there’s no more than a couple of bands that I’ve seen live more
than them (thanks in part to frequent four-night stints at Slims and/or Great American Music Hall in my former home of
San Francisco, where I went to multiple performances most times). I’m there every time they come through town, and
With all that said, there is no way in hell they should have been
headlining over Afghan Whigs. You get no frills
with BTS – tonight it was just Doug Martsch, his guitar, a shitload of pedals and electronics, and those same two
young dudes that have been working as his rhythm section for the last few tours. There’s no fancy backdrops, no
elaborate lighting, almost no banter with the crowd – just the man, the songs, and a lot of guitar solos. What the band
lacks in personality, they more than make up with it via a particular strong setlist this evening – since there was no new
album to promote, they decided to focus heavily on their first few records - particularly from their two best, “Perfect
From Now On” and “Keep It Like A Secret.” They also included a cover of the Pretender’s “Back On The Chain
Gang,” which Doug more than made his own. I’d love for them to put out an entire record of covers, every tour there
are at least one or two great ones in the set. For a big fan like me, Built To Spill undoubtedly put on a damn fine show,
I’m not sure it won any of the fans of Afghan Whigs over. To be
fair, given that nearly all of them left right after the
Whigs finished, it would have been an especially difficult task.
As you’re already aware, the Afghan Whigs opened. It was mostly the same as when I saw them at Hopscotch last
year – matching amps, drums, and backdrop all covered with the graphics from their most recent release “In Spades,”
and a set made mostly of songs from their two post-reunion albums. The thing with the Whigs is that if you’re like me
and don’t really know most of the new songs that well, they’re still damn fun to watch (and it will definitely make you
want to give those most recent records a second listen). Greg Dulli and company aren’t just musicians, they’re per-
formers – the sound is big and professional and animated and really fills the room. They didn’t play only new mater-
ial – “What Jail Is Like,” Somethin’ Hot,” and “John The Baptist” were a few classic highlights, along with a couple
Twilight Singers tracks and a brief foray into Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” during their final song (a favorite tactic
of Dulli: instead of doing a full cover, he’ll do part of one of middle of a Whig’s songs…and it always works, no matter
how different the two tracks are). As always it was a masterful performance from the band, one deserving of the final
slot no matter how big of a Built To Spill one might be.
With The Rock*A*Teens
I was in line to enter the Cat’s Cradle at 9:05, and I could hear the Rock*A*Teens already playing. Really loving that
club is starting shit right on time, but I guess I’ve got to do a
better job at showing up on time. I last saw them four
years ago at Merge 25, and while I never considered myself a big fan I enjoyed that gig. I felt the same way on this
night; I don’t think this is because the band has changed that much, but rather my tastes have slightly shifted. I guess
I do listen to a lot more jangle pop these days, and the Rock*A*Teens are kind of a slightly garage rock-ish version of
that pop sound that Athens has been doing so well for four decades now (this is where I point out this band is from
Atlanta, right next to Athens, for those unaware). Surprisingly, the band actually has their first new record in almost
two decades, “Sixth House,” coming out in a couple of months, and the new songs they played from this really worked
for me. Also, they’re a five piece now…or were they always a five piece and my brain isn’t functioning probably?
Either is equally possible.
It’s always pretty full at the Cradle for Superchunk shows, but it feels like it’s been a while since they actually sold the
place out, especially way in advance. I’m sure it has everything to do with all of the positive press they’ve gotten on
their excellent new record “What A Time To Be Alive,” reminding many older fans who haven’t gone out and seen
them in a while that it might be time to see Superchunk live again. The new record is easily their most upbeat/angry/
aggro since their first few offerings in the early nineties, and these new songs lend themselves greatly to a fantastic
live experience. One huge difference from the early nineties though – no matter how fast the songs are, this collection
(mostly) bald, slightly overweight dudes in their late thirties to late
forties ain’t moshing no more. The crowd was
way into it, lots of singing along to the hits like always, just with way less aggression. The last thing the world needs
is another long-winded, fawning review of a Superchunk show from the likes of me, but trust me when I say this was
one of their best performances in quite a few years. Also, they played “On The Mouth,” their best b-side of all time,
and any time they play that song it’s a good gig.
Two noteworthy moments during their performance:
1. Jim Wilbur, while Mac was tuning: “If you’re tuning, I’m talking – the people want content!”
2. During the final encore song “Fishing,” Mac replaced drummer Jon Wurster mid-song and Jon took over as front-
man. He then proceeded to sing a medley of songs,
including some Connells and Black Flag’s “My War”; he then
somehow lost the mic, and, naturally, finished the song by
singing unsuccessfully into the mic cord. The man is a
I've already written too much about music, so for the MP3s I'm just gonna leave them as-is. Grab'em if you want'em.
On The Border
One Stage Before
Year Of The Cat
Born Disco Died Heavy Metal
Summer Fun In A Beat Up Datsun
Death Cab For Cutie
Bend To Squares
Pictures In An Exhibition
The Face That Launched 1000 Shits
The Wedding Present
Box Elder (Pavement cover)
***April Thirtieth Two
Thousand and Eighteen***
It's prom season...dance with the one what brung ya.
Toddler vs. giant Costco pizza. Apex, NC.
Auction Thursday. Marion, NC.
Country store. (Outside) Mocksville, NC.
Sale on red paint. Raleigh, NC.
Quartersnacks put together a Bobby Worrest remix video...why? No idea, but I'm always happy to watch Bobby.
Girl tour videos are always a ton of fun, and this one is no exception. As always, never enough Rick Howard or Mike
Carroll, but thankfully plenty of Vincent Alvarez.
Good reason to watch this Mark Frolich part? He's damn talented.
Better reason? Not one but two Roky Erickson songs.
Best reason? That mustache.
Not quite as many new reviews...as I've now been working from an office for two months, my backlog of music I hadn't
listened to yet has diminished. I've still put a few things up here though. Records of the month are the new ones from
Hot Snakes and Superchunk, and both will likely be fighting out to be my favorite of the year.
I missed my monthly quota by one! That padding from January through March is starting to pay off. 29 out of 30 for
April, and 126 out of 120 for the first third of the year.
Best of the month: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Worst of the month: Lady Psycho Killer (2015)
Well, that was fucking depressing: I Am Evidence (2018)
Four hours of Elvis is probably too much Elvis: Elvis Presley: The Searcher (2018)
Hey, I get this joke!: Steve McQueen being a terrible driver in The Hunter (1980)
Even though it's a joke movie I legit love this song: "Beautiful Ride" from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Unsure if I can still have a crush on her in this role at this point in my life: Cherry Valence in The Outsiders (1983)
If he knocked up his mom could he have become his own father?: Back To The Future (1985)
New Wave: Dare To Be Different (2018), Jasper Redd: Jazz Talk (2014), Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon
(1943), Gip (2016), The Secret Life Of Pets (2016), Murder On The Orient Express (2017), Pink Floyd: The Story Of
Wish You Were Here (2012), Time After Time (1979), Loving (2016), Fugitive Alien (1987), Andre The Giant (2018),
Girls Trip (2017), The Art Of The Shine (2018), First Lady Of The Revolution (2016), Adore (2013), Okja (2017),
Geostorm (2017), GI Jews: Jewish Americans In WWII (2017),Operation Odessa (2018), Look & See: Wendell
Berry’s Kentucky (2016), King In The Wilderness (2018)
PRF South (Day Two)
With Wailin’ Storms, Spider Bags, and Maple Stave
I’m still not entirely sure what PRF is (some sort of music forum I think?), but they put on a whole weekend of shows in
Durham under the name PRF South. It had been a while since my lazy ass had left the house for some rock music,
and this seemed as good a time as any.
There were bands scheduled all day at the Pinhook, but I'm rarely an “all day” sort of person, and instead got there in
the early evening to take in just a few sets. First was Wailin’ Storms, a local group I’m always seeing listed on bills,
but I've never actually witnessed in person. They’re a four piece of mostly tall dudes, which I only note because so
musicians are short. I don’t know why that is, but it felt
noteworthy. They had a smoke machine, and they had it
working overtime…not great for photos, but who doesn’t enjoying feeling like they’re watching a band inside of a bub-
bling cauldron? They were pretty damn heavy, yet not what I consider metal – my first instinct was the punk of Drive
Like Jehu crossed with the sludge of Tar, maybe throw in some Unsane…I really need to update my references past
early nineties probably. I dug it for the most part, and since
their set was only thirty minutes they never overstayed
their welcome. Let me go on record that with only a few exceptions, I’m totally fine with thirty minute sets being the
norm for every band.
After all that rock and hard work of standing around losing my hearing, I was forced to go upstairs to Pie Pushers and
eat pizza. That all rock clubs don’t have a pizza parlor directly above them is a goddamn traveshamockery, and it
makes me question their dedication to the craft of making me happy.
Speaking of my desire for short sets, the next act I saw, Spider Bags – are maybe my favorite local, are definitely one
of the exceptions – they are always welcome to play as long as they want. I haven’t seen them in what feels like for-
ever (actual elapsed time: a little less than three years) – they used to play constantly, but much to my chagrin they
have slowed way, WAY down. There were new songs this evening, and a mention of an impending new record, so
hopefully the live appearances will again become more plentiful. In fact, outside of starting their set with “Que Viva
Rock N’ Roll” and one other older track, they performed nothing but new songs. And if those new tracks are indicative
of the rest of what is to come, their transformation from garage punk to a modern version of the James Gang is getting
closer and closer to completion. You know who’s a-ok with that? This guy right here.
The last band I caught this night was Maple Stave, the closest thing we have in this area to the late-nineties/early-
oughts math rock that used to dominate my listening habits. I’m not sure if that once dominant style of music has
died out, or I’m just not tuned into the scene anymore, but it feels like you rarely hear math rock anymore. Or maybe
it was never as popular as I thought it was back then, and it was my own listening habits that skewed my perception?
who knows. They’re pretty damn good at it though, and even if I
don’t listen to this kind of rock all that often now,
if you are in the mood Maple Stave is a pretty good option. Double baritone guitars but no bass, a drummer that plays
so hard you’re afraid he might have a heart attack at any moment, exceptionally silly song titles…they check all the
boxes, and with aplomb. Good on them.
PRF South (Day Three)
With Five Eight, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends, and 1970s Film Stock
Like the day before, I headed back over to Durham to catch a few acts from the all day festivities that are PRF South.
This day featured a special guest: a torrential storm! I found their music a little redundant, to be honest.
No slight to the other performances this night, but the real excitement for me was Five Eight. They were one of the first
bands I ever saw live, back in the early nineties as a 10th grader (I think). The club was called the Squashpile - it was
in a bombed out, super dead part of Asheville that now is the home to breweries and high end lofts for rich people. It
also doubled as a makeshift skatepark, which was actually the reason I was there, but I dug what Five Eight was offer-
ing and bought whatever cassette they had for sale (which is long since gone, apparently with all the rest of my tapes
got lost in one of my many moves). I saw them one other time
a couple years later during college, but it had still
been nearly 25 years since this band was last in my life. They’re a little older and greyer now (who isn’t), but honestly
not a thing had changed…equal parts punk and art rock and that jangle pop sound for which their hometown of Athens
is famous, their songs manage to be both weird and catchy at the same time. My biggest surprise was learning this
show wasn’t part of a reunion – this band never stopped! The output has been sporadic, but they’ve seemingly seem-
ingly remained a group throughout, including a new record last year that I need to make a point of hearing.
Next up was Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, a loose musical collective featuring Conan and whichever of his
musician friends are free to record and/or play gigs with him at any particular time. Collaborators have included former
and/or current members of Melvins, Big Business, Coliseum, and more; and on this particular evening, they employed
two-thirds of Maple Stave to round out their line-up. Conan and I go way, WAY back - I met him pretty early on after I
to SF, and saw his old band Replicator tons of times. This
is very different – you’re much more likely to get a
Kiss comparison for this act rather than the constant Shellac comparisons Replicator always got. They're going for a
very big, almost theatrical heavy rock n’ roll sound, and Conan has a stage presence that far outsizes a place with the
capacity of the Pinhook. They’re definitely fun, and even though I’d never heard it before, their song “Chair Of Antlers”
wormed it’s way right into my head for the next few days.
I stuck around to hear some of 1970s Film Stock, knowing absolutely nothing about the act but having seen the name
a number of show bills over the last couple of years. Turns out
it’s not a band, but just one dude playing guitar. It
was mostly instrumental with the occasional sparse vocal, plus a shitload of pedals and samplers and god knows what
at his disposal. He did a lot of layering -
playing notes/chords, looping the line, then adding a different
part on top
of that, etc - it was at times spacy, swirly,
psychedelic…insert like-minded adjective here. It was somewhere
the realm of Umma Gumma-era Pink Floyd combined with Chuck Johnson in his Spatula days. These are all things I
like, so I give 1970s Film Stock the proverbial thumbs up.
“Sometimes when you make an omelet you’ve gotta break a few eggs. What’s the alternative? No omelets at all? Who
wants to live in that kind of world? Maybe birds. Then all their babies would live.”
Jenny Besetzt - Only. This might be my favorite song of the year so far. Too bad it's six years old.
Hours We Could Have Spent Fucking With The TV On
Lee Hazlewood - Forget Marie. There's like an 80% chance I've posted these Hazlewood songs before.
No Train To Stockholm
The Night Before
Ryan Adams - Love Is Hell. So adams went from trying to be Uncle Tupelo with Whiskeytown to trying to be Radio-
head with his solo work. Ok then.
This House Is Not For Sale
Sturgill Simpson - In Bloom (Nirvana cover). The only country thing about any Sturgill record are his covers of
All Around You
Keep It Between the Lines
Webb Pierce - In the Jailhouse Now. OG honkeytonk. Turns out the Soggy Bottom Boys didn't write this one after
There Stands The Glass
Wooden Shjips - Black Smoke Rise. Tune in, turn it up, zone out.