Tag: haw river ballroom
Throughout the past decade Sufjan Stevens has cemented himself as one of the most talented and unique artists of our generation, with a diverse array of talents ranging from classically inspired folk pop to the aural adventures of the past few years with Age of Adz and BQE, it’s a toss up as to what direction any new music from Stevens is going to take. When he announced his most recent release, Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10, I wasn’t too sure of what to expect…especially with the lead-off single of “Christmas Unicorn”. The track was as bizarre as it was insightful and infectious (especially the seamless transition into Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”), which can pretty accurately describe the three plus hours of Christmas inspired material on Silver & Gold. Shortly after the album announcement came news of the “Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Season Affective Disorder Yuletide Pageant On Ice” tour, a string of shows which would feature good ol’ “Sufjy Pants” spreading Christmas cheer by way of his modern takes on Christmas classics as well as his incredible new holiday inspired originals.
While some of the Christmas inspired material is brief and zany, like “Happy Family Christmas” a jaunting yet melodic track wishing that “Just this once for Christmas I want us all to be like one great big happy family”, and while the holiday is exactly a month away, Sunday at Haw River Ballroom felt like a gigantic family Christmas gathering. With hundreds of concertgoers decked out in festive sweaters and unicorn horns, Sunday provided one of the most unique and magical show experiences one could ever wish for. While opener Sheila Sapputo (better known as singer-songwriter Rosie Thomas) donned a Santa suit for a quirky Portlandia-esque bit of dry comedy, the highlight of the show could be nothing other than the marvelous display put on by Sufjan and company.
The show was broken up into bits of Sufjan originals and highly enjoyable breaks for Christmas classics from the Wheel!Of!Christmas!, a Price Is Right style spin-wheel designed to randomize the carols we’ve all grown to know and love. Upon entrance we were all given a songbook, endearingly referred to by Sufjan as our “book of hymnals”, and these carols provided for some of the most memorable concert moments in recent memory. While Sufjan originals like “Sister Winter” and the aforementioned “Christmas Unicorn” stood out amongst the set, the true highlights came from the innovative takes on old classics. An electronically driven version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was a show-stopping performance, featuring vocoded Sufjan vocals and spastic electronic melodies that excellently juxtapose the calm and soothing stylings of the original. After the Wheel of Christmas selected “Joy to the World” early on in the set, Sufjan brilliantly transitioned into a refrain from “Impossible Soul”, a track from Age of Adz, inducing shouts of approval from the crowd.
Sufjan himself described the show as, “running the gamut of Christmas from the profane to the insane”, and with inflatable unicorns being thrown out at the same show as inflatable Santa’s I’d say it’s a pretty accurate description. The end of Sufjan’s set was haltered by the second fire alarm of the evening, but the band took it all in stride and led the crowd in an a cappella rendition of “Silent Night” divided between males and females in the first two verses followed by a harmonious ending as monitors blasted back to life and the set came to a beautiful end. A roaring ovation from one of the most dense crowds I’ve seen at Haw River resulted in a three song encore of Sufjan originals from Illinois and Michigan. Starting off his encore with a beautiful take on “Concerning The UFO Sightings Near Highland, Illinois”, the crowds anticipation was rapidly rising and greeted with “For The Widows of Paradise” which started as a solo banjo track and blossomed into a full band performance. Closing with fan-favorite, “Chicago”, Sufjan thanked the crowd for being so wonderful and patient, but all thanks is graciously pointed towards Sufjan, the band, and the fine folks of Haw River Ballroom for housing such a beautiful show. It’s very rare to build a sense of community within a single show, but the “Surfjohn Stephenopolous Sing-A-Long” certainly achieved just that.
It’s a firmly held belief for me that Haw River Ballroom is the finest venue in the state, and each show I attend at the gorgeous venue drives that point further and further home. Between the fine gas station dining of the Saxapahaw General Store (it’s not at all what it sounds like, incredible food with a diverse menu!) and the breath taking aesthetics of the ballroom, there’s nothing to dislike about this place. The crowd got surprisingly wild for a Monday night, but when you’ve got an incredible act like Dr. Dog on the bill the date is really irrelevant…it’s gonna be a party either way. Throwing in old favorites and plenty of gems from their latest album Be The Void, Dr. Dog had a little bit of something for everyone on Monday night.
Cotton Jones was the opening act, and while the band put on a great performance they suffered from a heart breaking condition that has been sweeping the nation for decades, OBS, or Opening Band Syndrome. When you’ve got an act like Dr. Dog headlining it takes a lot to maintain the attention of a packed crowd, an opening act has to be bursting with energy to become a memorable part of the evening when you’re opening for a powerhouse. While Cotton Jones’ folk pop tunes from Maryland blend rustic goodness with vivid lyricism, they lacked the presence needed to be anything other than an opening act. In any other setting their charm may have shone through brighter, with a one man brass section playing tuba and trombone, the band certainly had the potential to be an incredible opener. However, once Dr. Dog took the stage Cotton Jones’ laid back folk songs took a backseat to the raucous live act.
Allow me to preface this by saying I’ve already had a failed attempt at seeing Dr. Dog this year when I was stuck in a traffic jam on I-40 on my way to see the band at Music on the Mountaintop back in August, so my excitement for this show was through the roof. Haw River was the PERFECT venue for this band, with fantastic acoustics and a wide open room the ballroom perfectly housed the heart warming sounds of Dr. Dog. From open to close, Dr. Dog lead the crowd in a joyous singalong with a fantastic career spanning set. While the bulk of the set came from Be The Void, with tracks like “How Long Must I Wait”, “Lonesome”, and “That Old Black Hole” standing out amongst the crowd, the band scattered in personal favorites from Fate and Shame, Shame like ”The Breeze”, “Shadow People”, and set closer, “Jackie Wants A Black Eye”.
The band’s harmonies lived up to all of the high expectations I’d set for them, lead vocalists Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken put on dazzling performances filled with passion and energy. While there wasn’t much stage banter, the band did plenty of interacting with the crowd, like Leaman grabbing a camera bag from the front of the stage and using their cell phone to make a phone call mid-song. The band’s lyrical depth can easily define their music in the studio, but their live performance breathes vivacity into otherwise low-key songs. Dr. Dog is a band like no other, they perfectly blend elements of indie rock with psychedelic folk to make for an array of beautiful textures that are perfectly suited for their devastatingly brilliant lyrics.
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.