Tag: Cat’s Cradle
by Danielle on Nov.30, 2012, under Daytime
Sitting just three blocks from the White House in downtown D.C. is the extravagant and elegant Warner Theatre. Never had I imagined getting the chance to see the notable Conor Oberst, let alone at such a remarkable venue. This had to be one of the most memorable Thursday nights I have experienced in quite a while, which made the four and a half hour journey to get there all the more worth it.
Opening up for Conor Oberst was Daniel Johnston, a legend himself. A shaky performance by the well-known artist was much appreciated by the entire crowd. He ended his set with the great “True Love Will Find You in the End.”
Although best known for his band, Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst’s music career also includes Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos, and Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Even though on a solo tour, Conor played songs from almost every one of these bands. One might think that the lack of variety in instruments and voices that normally accompany him would take away from the overall quality of the show; however, none of these were really missed and it’s what made for a truly special performance. His emotional vocals filled the entire theatre as the audience sat and listened to songs such as “Milk Thistle,” “Land Locked Blues,” “June On The West Coast,” “Map Of The World,” and of course “Lua.” He would stop once in a while to explain how he wrote the preceding song when he was fifteen years old and how it made him feel slightly embarrassed. This made me remember an interview where he stated that he does not usually play these old songs, which made this particular performance even better.
He also played a couple new songs. One he dedicated to his brother’s second child and the other told the story of an old friend. It was these personal connections and his lyrical improvisations that kept the crowd captivated creating a truly memorable night. His two-hour performance was all I had expected and more.
The good news is that everyone in the triangle can experience some Conor Oberst magic for them selves in February when he stops by the Cat’s Cradle on the 17th with his band, Desaparecidos.
It’s that time of the year again. The weather is beginning to cool at night, hurricanes are on our horizon, NC State football is starting up and what is it that I smell? Ah, the fresh scent of one of the greatest music festivals in the nation right here in our own back yard. Hopscotch Music Festival is next week, September 6-8, in downtown Raleigh and everyone around is excited and geared up for this third annual event.
This week on the Local Beat I am going to be joined once again by Grayson Currin and Greg Lowenhagen, Co-Director and Director of Hopscotch Music Fest, for the first hour of the Local Beat. Grayson and Greg have been hard at work for the past year and we are going to take a behind the scenes look at what they have been up to and talk about this massive festival that is about to hit our streets. Over 250 bands playing the official Hopscotch and unofficial day parties and tons of other exciting events all jam packed into 3 days. Tune in at 5pm to hear some great conversation with the minds behind the music and madness.
At 6pm I am introducing a new(ish) group to my listeners: The Toddlers. The Toddlers have actually been around for a couple of years, on and off, but did not solidify a lineup until about a year ago. With that momentum they have been playing shows around the state and are currently scheduled to play a show Saturday night in Winston-Salem at Krankies with Birds of Avalon, a Hopscotch day party next Friday at Deep South, and an official Hopscotch show at the Hive. Also, check out their Kickstarter campaign that is up and running to support their new album.
For the final hour of the program I am welcoming back a dear friend, James Phillips, drummer for Durham based band Bombadil. Aside from being a fantastic musician and lyricist and working with groups between here and Portland, James has taken the leap from folk music into electronica for a new solo album, 29 Days, under the alias Sumner James. In support of the release that happened this past Tuesday Bombadil is playing a show Saturday evening at the Cats Cradle with Massachusetts band You Won’t.
by sarahnade on Aug.26, 2012, under Local
Raleigh’s Annuals started off the night. With three different kinds of percussion going on all at once, it was immediately an interesting show. They played some new songs and old, each loved just as much by their fans. The coolest part was when the lights would dim almost to blackness and the main drum kit, clear under normal lights, would glow with a green laser pointer. It would go in unison with the beat and created a really awesome effect. The left wall of the Cradle lit up with spirals and the band was illuminated by the main source of sound at this point. Kudos.
I’d only ever seen Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Shakori. Each time they’d been incredible, inviting people up on stage to dance and just looking like they were having in the world. I wondered if playing indoors – away from the mud, grass, ..”grass”.., and hula hoopers – would affect the performance any. Of course, it didn’t.
A guitar string broke during the first song. Instead of having to endure an awkward lull until the guitarist fixed this, the band started to jam and told the crowd to dance until they had it under control. This little jam session was funky – all I could think was how fun their band practices must be. Once the string was replaced, the guitarist just joined back in and started singing “There ain’t no party like a Holy Ghost Tent Revival party cause aHoly Ghost Tent Revival party don’t stop!” That themed continued through the entire show. The band was excited and happy to be there, and that was mirrored by the crowd.
This show was in support of their upcoming release “Sweat Like The Old Days,” out Sept. 4th. The new tracks that they played definitely won’t disappoint. I’m looking forward to hearing the album as a whole. If you did miss this show, the band will play Grey Eagle in Asheville on Aug. 31 and The Whiskey in Wilmington on Sept. 20.
by sarahnade on Aug.15, 2012, under Local
The fall semester is on the brink of starting, and it made me a bit nostalgic as I’m beginning my last semester here at NC State University. I came to Raleigh from a small town in eastern NC so I didn’t know much about what I think is the triangle’s most redeeming quality — its music scene. So, we made a bucket list for all you music lovers out there so you don’t miss out on anything. It’s in no particular order.
Enjoy — and feel free to add your stories and suggestions in a comment!
1. DJ at WKNC | You can also help out with promotions, production, web, engineering, sports and public affairs. You’ll be first in the know about anything music. We hold interest meetings each semester (even summer!) for NCSU students. This fall’s interest meetings will be held August 20 at 5:30 p.m. and August 21 at 8 p.m. in 201 Witherspoon Student Center.
2. Bike to First Friday | You can venture to First Friday, a monthly arts event in downtown Raleigh, by starting at NCSU’s Bell Tower at 7PM with fellow bikers. Be careful not to drink too much free wine if you’re biking back. ”Go to first friday – there’s usually live music performances outside!!” — DJ Trillian
3. Go to Hopscotch | Hopscotch Music Festival will be September 6-8 this year. “An annual festival held in downtown Raleigh that showcases some of the finest live acts that the state has to offer. Put on by Raleigh’s Independent Weekly Magazine, this festival boasts an eclectic lineup of local and touring artists from all walks of music, indie-rock, hip-hop, folk, electronic, and pretty much everything in between. This year’s lineup features The Roots, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo, Built To Spill, Danny Brown, The Mountain Goats, and much more! With free shows starting at noon and lasting until around 5:00 p.m. each day, there’s no reason not to check out this unique festival experience right here in Raleigh!” -GRZA
4. Heck, hit all the venues. | Let’s be honest, we’re lucky to live here. In Raleigh you have Kings Barcade, The Pour House, Lincoln Theatre, Slim’s, Berkeley Café, Tir Na Nog Irish Pub, Dive Bar, NC Museum of Art, Southland Ballroom, Deep South, Disco Rodeo, Five Star, Raleigh Amphitheatre and concert halls. Chapel Hill/Carrboro area has Cat’s Cradle, Local 506, Nightlight and The Cave. Durham is home to Motorco, Pinhook, Casbah, American Tobacco Campus and DPAC. And of course, the “other” schools’ concert halls and auditoriums. They’re all great. “Attend any and every Future Islands show.” –May Day
5. Attend Fridays on the Lawn | This is WKNC’s bi-semester free concert event. It’ll always feature local music, food and swag. Usually on Harris Field (rain locations are necessary sometimes), you’re encouraged to bring some friends and a blanket. This is open to the public, and dogs are welcome, too!
6. There’s also Music on the Lawn at American Tobacco in Durham | Grab a beer from Tyler’s and enjoy some live music. There’s also dance, movies and jazz events that take place here.
7. Explore SparkCon | This year, SparkCon will take place September 13-16 in downtown Raleigh. In its 7th year, it will encompass everything from music and film to fire dancers and bartending competitions.
8. Camp out at Shakori Hills | Located in Pittsboro, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival happens twice a year, fall and spring. The fall festival will be October 4-7. Camp out with your friends in the woods, make new friends, and wake up to the sound of banjos. Paint your face, dance, cook over a fire…..also, get a Veggie Thing. It’s amazing. “A stellar 4-day music festival in Pittsboro, NC that boasts everything from bluegrass to soul to funk. Filled with good vibes and good times, this family friendly festival is loaded with diverse music, yoga, and dance workshops that take up the few minutes of the day that don’t have wonderful tunes permeating throughout the farmlands. A guaranteed beautiful weekend that rolls around twice a year.” -GRZA
9. Dance at Rowdy, Rowdy Square dances | “This is a good way to experience square dancing with young folks, and hear some good ol’ music! Be on the lookout for these dances!” -Cosmic Cowboy
10. See a band in the Brickyard | The past few years during Shack-a-thon (fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity), WKNC has hosted acoustic performances from local artists. You can also catch the occasional student strumming a guitar, playing accordion or one of NCSU’s a capella groups performing.
11. Picnic for a show at Duke Gardens | Beautiful, serene, and BYOB. Share a blanket and dinner with some friends while watching local bands perform into the sunset. Make a friend at Duke so your tickets are cheaper.
12. Listen to a pianist in Caldwell Lounge | If you’re a student in CHASS (College of Humanities and Social Sciences), you’ve probably already done this. There’s a piano set up in Caldwell Lounge that is frequented by talented students. So while you’re between classes, cramming for a test or taking a lunch break, it’s nice to spare a second to listen.
13. Grab a beer at Local Band Local Beer | Local NC brewskis on tap and local bands on stage. This 21+ free event happens every Thursday night at 10PM at Tir Na Nog.
14. Read The Independent Weekly | It’s an alternative weekly (free) newspaper that has all the best music, arts and political news. It also keeps you up to date with what events are going on around the county.
15. Join a drum circle at Pullen Park | Channel your inner hippy.
16. Celebrate Christmas with Trekky Records | Trekky Christmas puts a new spin on classic songs by featuring their bands and mix-matched members.
17. Rock out at Bull City Metal Fest | If you’re a metal head, it’s a must. Two days of heavy metal in downtown Durham, pulling national and local acts.
18. Enjoy a performance at DPAC | It’s nice and classy. See ballet, theatre or music here. The last one I went to was BB King. Badass.
19. Go to a concert at Memorial Hall | Another very nice venue that will get various acts. It’s can be a bit pricy, but it’s worth it.
20. End August with Stars in the Round at Shakori | “Great if you don’t have 4 days to devote to camping. Usually 3rd weekend in August” – Mollypop
21. Catch the Diggup Tapes show series | It’s a free show series at Kings each month. This is 18+.
22. Go to both nights of Double Barrel Benefit | “For people new to the triangle there is no better time than right now to clear your calendar for the next Double Barrel Benefit. It’s going to be the 10th anniversary, and it’s going to be all kinds of awesome.” -DJ Ones
23. Party with the triangle’s finest at Indy Week’s “Best of” Party | Each year, Indy has its readers vote on the best in the triangle. In June, they throw a party to celebrate the winners and finalists. In other words, hear the best music, eat the best food, drink the best drinks and get acupuncture.
24. Run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge | This annual charity events challenges its participants to eat a dozen donuts mid-race.
25. Drink a PBR during PBart | I’m sure you’ll drink one regardless. But PBart has bands and PBR-themed art on showcase, as well as the occasional ropes performers.
26. Buy records on Record Store Day | Internationally celebrated, it’s the third Saturday in April. Labels put out special limited edition releases and stores have in-store performances, swag and discounts. There’s usually a line so go early.
27. Compete in the pants off dance off at TRKfest | Okay, so you don’t actually have to take your pants off. Trekky Records has a day set aside each summer to share its music with the triangle. Not to mention this also means local beer, food trucks and local arts vendors.
28. Drive to Haw River Ballroom | “Beautiful venue. if you have time before the show, go to the Haw River General Store before hand for the best gourmet food you’ll find at a convenience store. Seriously.” – Mollypop
30. Give the saxophonists on the corner of Martin/Fayetteville St. money to play “Careless Whisper“ | His rendition is on point. It’ll get stuck it your head, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
One of my favorite musicians, Ben Sollee, will be coming by the station on May 10 at 1 p.m. for an in-studio performance and interview before his show at Kings Barcade (Cat’s Cradle Presents). Sollee’s music is inspired by his Kentucky roots, but spans genres from folk to jazz, carried by his syncopated rhythms and smooth voice.
You may recognize Ben Sollee from his work with Daniel Martin Moore on Dear Companion, an album speaking out against Mountain Top Removal and preserving their Appalachian homes. This album was produced by Yim Yames of Monsters of Folk and My Morning Jacket.
Sollee joined other acclaimed genre-bending artists Casey Driessen, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn to form the Sparrow Quartet. This group was defined by intense instrumentation, worldly themes, and the tenor of Abigail Washburn.
If You’re Going to Lead my Country, Something Worth Keeping, Learning to Bend, and Inclusions are Sollee’s solo EPs and LPs, respectively. These albums feature his political lyrics, blues-infused voice, and friends joining in on saxophones, percussion, and other instruments on many songs. This show on May 10 at Kings Barcade marks one year since Inclusions was released.
Ben Sollee is different from many other “green” celebrities in that he lives the lifestyle to the best of his ability, showcased in his “Ditch the Van” Bike Tour. Strapping the cello and other equipment to a tiny trailer attached to his bike, he has traveled to dozens of shows and thousands of miles with a much smaller carbon footprint than other touring artists.
Tune in to hear what I’m sure will be an amazing live in-studio performance and interview. If you have any questions for Ben, leave them as a comment or tweet them at us (@WKNC881) during the interview on May 10 from 1 -1:45 p.m. Be sure to check out his performance at Kings Barcade May 10.
Listen to Americana Blues and Company on May 5 and the interview May 10 to win tickets to the show!
Lost in the Trees had their album release show at Cat’s Cradle this past Friday, April 20. Brice Randall Brickford and The Toddlers were the two opening bands. The Toddlers are another side project band of Missy Thangs (The Love Language, Soft Company). Alongside Missy Thangs were Noah Dehmer, Ellis Anderson, and Nathan Toben. They started off with a galloping song and before the set was over I could swear that they were close to resurrecting Jim Morrison on stage. Dehmer’s voice sounded remarkably like the Lizard King himself and everyone seemed really into it.
When Lost in the Trees came out Christmas lights turned on around the stage and everyone knew it was about to be an extraordinary set. They started the set with “Walk Around the Lake,” which pleased everyone to hear a familiar tune right off the bat. Next up they began playing songs off their new album starting with what is probably the most popular song on the album, “Red.” The set list continued to build; all the songs and stage presence were very strong and evocative. Emma Nadeau, dressed in red with glitter on her face, seemed to effortlessly produce the most hauntingly beautiful vocals while she wasn’t playing her French horn. Ari Picker and Jenavieve Varga never hold back in their performances and that was definitely the case at this show. Ari’s fidelity to his songs resounds through his vocals that travel for miles, with a voice so emotionally pure you can tell what he’s singing isn’t forged. Jenavieve is a powerhouse violinist and it’s her performance that lets you know how meaningful the music is.
The apex of the show was their song “Garden,” which was played midway through their set right before they reeled in the rest of their songs. “Garden” is the most involved song off the new album and served as the perfect beginning to the end of their show. They then relaxed and played an old favorite, “Song for the Painter.” Before they began to play “Golden Eyelids,” Ari requested that everyone slow dance to the song to make it special. Specifically asking to recreate scenes from “Back to the Future 1 or 2, but not Back to the Future 3,” he said, laughing. For the encore they performed “All Alone in an Empty House.” It was a spectacular show as always; I can’t imagine anyone could have walked away disappointed.
By Beth Moore.
The Magnetic Fields played Cat’s Cradle two nights this past week to mark the penultimate stop on their U.S. tour. The Magnetic Fields are a band I have always loved, but never got a chance to see—FINALLY! Cat’s Cradle was at capacity Thursday, April 12 (i.e. the show sold out), and fans were shoulder to shoulder from the stage to the bar. The band, consisting of Stephin Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, John Woo, and Shirley Simms, played music from 69 Love Songs, I, Realism, and their most recent Love at the Bottom of the Sea. Between songs, Stephin, Claudia and Shirley entertained the crowd with stories and comedic banter. The band jokingly mentioned several times that there was a serial killer in the audience, suggesting he/she may behind you or it may…even be you. Claudia mentioned a dream that she had involving a kitchen knife.
The concert was spot-on brilliant! Their current tour is promoting their new album released on Merge Records, Love at the Bottom of the Sea. For more info on the tour and band visit their blog, “Tour at the Bottom of the Sea.” It has been documenting the quirks and happenings of the U.S. tour.
by ccdolech on Jan.16, 2012, under Promotions
A few mid-January concert tickets are up for grabs this week. Listen in to WKNC to win!
Sunday, November 27 Lonnie Walker, Ed Scrader’s Music Beat and Future Islands took the stage at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. According to Sam Herring, it was the best-selling show yet of their US tour — and it was date #30.
Local band Lonnie Walker opened. The set started a little early and was shorter than the fans wanted. What can we say – we love Lonnie. After closing out with their most popular songs, Ed Scharder’s Music Beat took the stage. The two-piece is from Baltimore, where Future Islands now reside. The songs were short but powerful, up-in-your-face without scaring you away.
If you think you don’t like Future Islands, go to one of their shows and you’ll think again. Watching this band live is an unforgettable visceral experience that will leave you tired, sweaty and wishing for more. You will be entranced by frontman Sam Herring’s theatrical stage presence and how every word he sings is so infused with genuine energy, passion and (usually) heartache. Sam is charming, entertaining and rigorously emotional all at once and his performance is one from which you will not be able to look away – you will see him crouch to the ground, jump, dance and beat his fists against his chest all while singing in his gruff and deeply yearning vocals. In between songs, Sam steps out of this character and engages the crowd instead with lighthearted anecdotes that starkly contrast the intensely emotional songs. The way the band interacts with the audience is humble despite all this, letting you know they’re excited and grateful to be there, too.
Over the past few years every Future Islands show I’ve attended has seemed more packed than the one before it, and Sunday night’s performance at Cat’s Cradle was no exception. This is a band that consistently puts on a stellar live show and that has helped them continue to build a loyal following in the Triangle, and hopefully beyond. While their records are absolutely worth thousands of listens, if you have never seen Future Islands before I guarantee that after you do, you will appreciate this band in a way that you cannot even imagine now.
Last Sunday, Future Islands along with Lonnie Walker and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat captivated the audience at Cat’s Cradle with their diverse and energetic performances. These are three unique live acts that are definitely worth keeping an eye out for, whether you missed the show on Sunday night or because you can’t wait to see them again.
I had the opportunity to see Phantogram at Cat’s Cradle last year, which ended up being a great show. I was really excited when I found out they were coming back around to the Triangle, but their performance this past Tuesday, Nov. 15, was not quite what I expected. I’ll get into this in more detail in a bit, but first I want to discuss EXITMUSIC’s opening performance.
EXITMUSIC was treated to a large crowd of fans, all pumped for the show that was about to ensue. Their set started out strong: the percussion was spot on and the lead singer had a very distinct, yet interesting voice; I instantly drew connections to the Zola Jesus performance I saw a couple of weeks before. Their style capitalized on the point at which a buzzy, guitar-driven band pushes into more intimate territory. Unfortunately, that became redundant after a while. It was as if every song was meant to build momentum, but the set never hit a climax (although, it would fit their name of “EXITMUSIC”: every song written like the last song of an album). The crowd was pretty stoical as well, presumably due to the fact they were just there to see Phantogram. Their recordings do not succumb to this issue, however, so I would recommend listening to this band.
The set change involved putting a ton of lights around the stage, which got me excited for what was to come. The projections during Phantogram’s last performance were spot on, so I was excited to see how all of these lights were going to be implemented into the show. After the stage had been filled with fog and all of the band’s equipment set up, the crowd was pumped for Phantogram to begin.
After getting over the initial shock of the amazing light setup that was taking place, I realized I wasn’t into the performance. Phantogram started by playing a lot of tracks from their new EP, Nightlife, and an irking rework of an older song from their debut, Eyelid Moves. The striking break-beat drums of that release had been replaced by a more rolling rhythm line, and the guitar had been pushed down in the mix to make room for heavily sequenced synthesizers. The dark and intimate emotion of their older work was being replaced by a sense of artificial happiness that did not go over well, in my opinion. The crowd, which was densely packed and composed of a lot of new faces, didn’t seem to mind, and the band trudged on.
This mood pervaded a good bit of the rest of the set. Things started to change as the aggressive drumming on “Futuristic Casket” began (break-beat intact). The performance of that song was a complete change-up for the set. It felt aggressive and dark, and I was very impressed with how the lights interacted with the music. They ended their main set appropriately with “When I’m Small,” which was also a very solid rendition that rang true with everything their fans love about the original.
As the band left the stage briefly, mountains of applause erupted. Phantogram came back for a two-song encore, which began with the uncharacteristically slow “Nightlife.” This song was probably the highlight of my night; instead of pushing in those aggressive synths like they had for much of the performance, they kept the song rather stripped-down, which was a great stylistic choice both as a performance progression and as a closer.
All in all, Cat’s Cradle put on a decent show, though there were some mixing kinks. In general, the vocals were fairly quiet, and the percussion during EXITMUSIC’s set was mic’d too high. I would most definitely go back to the venue and am still digging the changes they implemented earlier this year.
-John and Kenneth
We arrived at Cat’s Cradle right in the middle of Dom’s set. The band resembled an Urban Outfitters catalog while playing the hazy pop tunes that we all fell in love with at the beginning of this year. Dom played a good portion of music from their first EP and ended with “Living In America,” by far their #1 single. The only thing lacking from Dom’s performance on Monday night was…well, energy. I wanted more excitement during “Living In America.” Instead, the band looked like they were bored and ready to get off stage. It was hard to tell through his thick mass of red hair, but it seemed Dom made eyes with us a few times. It wasn’t clear if this was intentional or if his head had just rolled to the side awkwardly, and that’s a problem. When they did leave the stage, we worried that this would be a theme of the rest of the night. Fantastic tunes, a great sound, but if I wanted those, I’d listen on iTunes. We couldn’t imagine Architecture in Helsinki being so boring. Thankfully, we were right.
Architecture in Helsinki hails from the distant land of Australia; they came to North Carolina in search of Cheerwine, which they nostalgically spoke of on stage. They complimented us on our warm November weather. The band walked onto the stage void of emotion, stood there, and then jumped into a high energy, fun series of songs that had the audience dancing and smiling at the stage. Seeing Architecture in Helsinki live reminded Nicole of what an ‘80s new wave style concert would have been like two decades ago: a mix of B-52s, Talking Heads, and energy. The members all had their own distinct dance moves that were used throughout the show. The one woman in the band, Kellie Sutherland, was one of Nicole’s favorites to watch throughout the show. She wore an amazing jumpsuit and just gave her all on stage, creating dance moves and driving the energy through the roof.
Two favorites for the night were the band’s newer single “Contact High” and of course “Heart It Races,” their last song of the encore. You know you’ve hooked an audience when you come out for an encore and they begin chanting for a specific song. “Like It Or Not” and “Do The Whirlwind” brought some crazy dance moves on the dance floor as well. Overall, the show was a fantastic break from homework and gave us a second wave of energy that lasted until we got back to campus and decided to call it a night.
Scarcely before the ringing in my ears from Bombadil’s album release party could fade, I found myself back at Cat’s Cradle for something worlds away, both sonically and geographically.
Sophie Hunger was absolutely charming. The Sunday night crowd started out pretty far back from the stage, slowly trickling in and milling about, but by the end of her set she had coaxed more than a few to the front to better catch her heartfelt lyrics and genuine enthusiasm. Vocally she sounds a bit like Feist. They both have that soft, crooning quality in their voices, but Hunger proved she was no stranger to belting out a verse or two where necessary. She switched between singing in English, German and French fluidly and frequently, so I probably only caught a fraction of the lyrics, but I like to think the meaning still came through.
It’s hard to pin her sound down to a specific genre. She herself switched between guitar and piano throughout the set and was accompanied by Michael Flury (trombonist/box player/chest percussionist) and Christian Prader (flautist/guitarist/pianist). Some songs were folk in the best tradition of the genre, while others sounded of heavy jazz influences mixed in with who knows what else. Whatever the influences, it was all a pleasure to listen to. Her endearing solo acoustic “Sophie Hunger Blues” was the song that won me over, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one. The personal narrative, catchy melody and raw emotion she put into that song had the audience smiling and laughing in a big way.
From Swiss-born, European bred folk/jazz fusion we somehow made the transition to acoustic Saharan desert blues from former African rebels. For the uninitiated, Tiniariwen is a group from northern Mali made up of Touareg rebels. They received military training in Libya and fought for the rights of oppressed nomadic peoples in the Touareg rebellion. Sung in a Berber language called Tamashek, their songs carry the revolutionary message of the cause they fought for.
If you’re not intrigued yet, then I really just don’t know what to tell you.
Before they even came on stage there were enough guitars set up to comfortably field all of Broken Social Scene, plus a few percussion instruments whose origins I could only guess at. The band was all robes and cloth when they did come out, certainly looking the part of desert bluesmen. A few greetings in what sounded like French (why didn’t I take French?) and they were off. You might not think that dusty, Middle Eastern folk and blues would be that danceable, but it definitely is. The percussionist (playing either a hand drum or a large half-sphere gourd of some sort hit with his palms and two lighters) and bassist laid down a simple but irresistible groove that the rest of the band built on. To their credit, they kept the crowd fully engaged throughout the night. I’m pretty sure I even spotted whatever the slow moving, mid-to-late-thirties equivalent of a mosh pit would be, but folks were packed too tight for me to venture out and investigate further.
Tinariwen’s latest release, Tassili, has more of an acoustic sound to it, a departure from their previous albums which made extensive use of the electric guitar. The set drew heavily form the new album, but they broke out the ax for several numbers, including one of my absolute favorites, “Amassakoul ‘n’ Ténéré.”
Tinariwen has been gaining a fair amount of international attention recently. There’s even a track on Tassili featuring Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio fame. If you haven’t heard about them yet, you probably will soon. If you haven’t listened to them yet, go ahead and do yourself a favor. I love local music but there’s nothing like some African desert blues to broaden one’s musical horizons.
I have discovered that in my later years (well, I’m only 21, but still) I have become more lazy and less inclined to ever leave Raleigh to do anything. Especially to do something that requires money, like go to a concert.
Add Bombadil to the picture and it changes things completely.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, Bombadil graced Cat’s Cradle with their album release party for All That The Rain Promises, the long awaited new album from this local band that is comprised of four very talented men: Bryan Rahija, Stuart Robinson, Daniel Michalak, and James Phillips. The show opened with local favorites Future Kings of Nowhere and Jay Kutchma and the Five Fifths, two groups that don’t play too much around the Triangle right now.
Seeing the lineup, I knew I had to get out of Raleigh for a night. So I filled up my gas tank, picked up some friends, and made my way to Carrboro after feasting on some delicious pre-Bombadil steak tacos cooked for us by Laser Beard, who also served as our photographer that night. We hoped to get to the Cradle early enough to get a rose, but arrived just a little too late. Instead we ate some cookies and milk (thanks Bombadil!) and moved toward the stage as Future Kings of Nowhere set up and tuned their instruments.
Future Kings of Nowhere was full of energy and a lot of fun. They played a selection which included new songs and started and ended with the crowd favorites “Let’s Be Pirates” and “10 Simple Murders.” I was really excited to see Jay Kutchma and the Five Fifths next. Red Collar always put on high energy shows and I was curious to see how Jay Kutchma would be without the rest of Red Collar. The excitement was for good reason. Kutchma’s stage presence was intense, the set starting with slower rock songs with a twang and building in energy until Kutchma was jumping up and down with his guitar accompanied by an enthusiastic Five Fifths. The bass player is the one who stuck out in my memory; he looked like he was having the time of his life on stage. Kutchma made sure to include powerful monologues as well, which is something that he has brought over from Red Collar. Overall, the opening bands were really fantastic and provided high energy that grew even higher while waiting for Bombadil to take the stage.
I can say without a doubt that everybody in the audience on Saturday night was truly excited for Bombadil to get on stage. The last time the band played was two months prior at Hopscotch Music Festival. The last time Bombadil played at Cat’s Cradle was December 2010, opening for the Avett Brothers at their surprise show. When a talented band like Bombadil does not play often, you know that when they do play it’s going to be a good time.
This was definitely the case for Saturday night. Wearing colorful embroidered and painted blazers, Bombadil opened the show with the old song “Jellybean Wine” which earned a huge cheer from the audience. They continued through a great mix of old and new songs with the audience giving wholehearted applause and the band grinning and thanking us for coming repeatedly throughout the night.
I think one of the best things about Bombadil is that the music they make is meaningful. After hearing bands play music that has no emotion or has no point, it is refreshing to listen to Bombadil and also to see a band that shares your excitement for being there. Highlights of the night included “Laundromat,” “I Will Wait,” “A Question,” “One Whole Year,” “The Pony Express,” and “Leather Belt” off of All That The Rain Promises and old songs like “Honeymoon,” “Oto the Bear,” “Marriage,” “Johnny,” “Three Saddest Words,” “Smile When You Kiss,” “So Many Ways To Die,” and “Cavaliers Har Hum.”
The band put on an amazing performance that the audience just didn’t want to end. Two encores later, the band had to ask the audience to stop cheering because they simply hadn’t prepared anything else to play. We certainly wore the band thin and I enjoyed every minute of Bombadil’s performance on Saturday night.
I only have one request for Bombadil: can we do it again?
by sarahnade on Nov.15, 2011, under Promotions
Let me start off by saying I always love a band that takes sips of beer in between songs. The boys of Yellow Ostrich were delightfully playful, with front man Alex Schaaf charmingly interacting with the audience and willingly answering questions like “What is your favorite color?” (It’s red.) Not only that, but they were extremely talented. The songs ranged from garage rock grittiness to melancholic and haunting ballads, most of which included clever, not annoying, uses of looping. Schaaf passionately shredded on his guitar and drummer Michael Tapper beat the drums like they were someone he hated. However, it was bassist Jon Natchez who stole my heart. When Natchez was free of his duties as a bassist, he doubled as a full-blown brass band, playing the trombone and tenor sax with impeccable style and talent.
Following Yellow Ostrich, I had a feeling I was in for a good time with Delicate Steve when I saw the strobe lights come out. I am familiar with Delicate Steve’s music, and they have been climbing my “Most Played” list on iTunes throughout the year. The stage lights had been turned off, and one by one the members of the band arrived on stage, lit only from below by the aforementioned strobe lights. The minute Steve Marion and the band begin to play the appropriate “Welcome – Begin,” the audience knew it was time to dance. I felt like I was walking in on the Wild Rumpus, with the tribal-like percussion and Steve’s fancy fingers shredding on his treble-like guitar. It didn’t stop there, as Steve and his crew managed to keep the party going with upbeat jams like “Sugar Splash,” but still made time to showcase the band’s real talent with more melodic tunes (which are still very danceable). It was a phenomenal experience, one in which I will not miss out on if they come around again.
-Salt Water Jaffee
Ra Ra Riot returned to the Cradle in Carrboro with more dazzling dance songs. The newly-revamped Cradle provided almost twice the amount of dance space than in previous years, and most concert attendees took advantage of all the leg room! The six-piece band showed off their dynamic instrumental talents throughout their set, changing instruments and having different band members sing lead vocals. One of the best parts of Ra Ra Riot is their added twist on what could be average indie. Violinist Rebecca Zeller and electric cellist Alexandra Lawn were the most interesting to watch on stage because of their obvious passion for their instruments, and lulls in songs were spiced up with their luscious arrangements. Lead singer Wes Miles fed off the energy of the crowd thumping and dancing. He kept the crowd enthralled with his energy and vocals, which never seemed to miss a note. The New York band played their hits from their first CD, including “Ghost Under Rocks,” “Can You Tell,” and “Boy,” as well as others from The Rhumb Line. The band mixed in new songs from their second album The Orchard, such as “Shadowcasting.” Finishing off the night, Wes Miles told the audience we were a “special crowd,” and continued into the encore that left everyone dancing even after the music stop playing.