Short Stories

Concert Rats at the Coffee Shop Show

My good friend, Doris (a.k.a. DJ Babycakez on WKNC 88.1), told me a story the other week that I’ve thought about every day since. As I remember, when Doris was in high school, she’d go to a local coffee shop to see her friend’s band, among others, perform in a weekly show. The crowd was apparently quite the mixed bag. It really comes down to the rats. 

Among the crowd was a small community of rat owners that would bring their pets to the show each week and allow them to crawl up and down their bodies as they walked around the main floor. As Doris recalls, the owners would sometimes approach groups of people and introduce their rats as if they were people. My favorite rat name that Doris relayed was Stargirl. What a name for a rat. 

This story is a prime example of the generally intriguing nature of a concert crowd. In my experience, and clearly Doris’, concerts tend to draw out some fascinating people with equally fascinating stories. Even among a niche music genre or band, there’s usually a jarring combination of people compared to other sorts of gatherings. 

It is with Doris’ story in mind, I call upon everyone to remember their favorite concert crowd encounters and to savor the fact that you’re likely to meet someone outside your average realm at nearly any concert you attend. 

Here’s to concert rats, unique individuals and Stargirl, of course,

Silya Bennai


Songs 4 NYC

I’m headed to NYC in a week with three of my closest friends (and Emma’s sister – Hi, Aliza), and I think it’s about time to set the music expectations. Traveling with the WKNC Program Director, Underground MD, and two more heavy music listeners is exciting. The aux will hold a lot of power, perhaps more than the steering wheel, so I seriously doubt we’ll follow the “driver chooses the music” rule. Therefore, there’s a certain level of importance in curating a playlist prior to the drive up. Here’s what we’ve put together so far:

  • “Inner City Life – Radio Edit” by Goldie
  • “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” by Panchiko
  • “Live Without Out” by Todd Terry
  • “Tu Dégages” by Sexy Sushi
  • “Another Routine Day Breaks” by Brokeback
  • “#1 CRUSH – Re-mastered 07” by Garbage
  • “Alec Eiffel” by Pixies
  • “Sketch Artist” by Kim Gordon
  • “Do You Be” by Meredith Monk
  • “Into The Death” by Atari Teenage Riot
  • “Reasons To Be Beautiful” by Hole
  • “Superheroes” by Esthero
  • “Xtal” by Aphex Twin
  • “What’s Important” by Beat Happening
  • “Novocaine” by Fog Lake
  • “The Witch” by The Sonics
  • “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” by CSS
  • “Little Deer” by Spellling
  • Find Hihs Password 003 (96 BPM)” by Vegyn
  • “Mordecai’s Bad Sex Dream” by Joy Again
  • “Miss Camaraderie” by Azealia Banks
  • “Ur’0000s” by Slater
  • “That Girl” by Esthero
  • “Alphabet” by Jeffrey Lewis, Jack Lewis, Anders Grieffen
  • “Beauties can die” by M83
  • “September Dark Planet” by ARTHUR
  • “Fucking Hoes Heads Based Freestyle” by Lil B
  • “Greygoose” by Yung Lean
  • “Pulsewidth” by Aphex Twin
  • “I’m In Love With A German Film Star” by The Passions

Click here to listen to our ever-growing collaborative playlist on Spotify.

Here’s to that perfect underground show we absolutely are going to find and attend,

Silya Bennai

DJ Highlights

DJ Mothball’s July Set: Wash

Molly DuBois, a.k.a. WKNC Program Director and DJ Mothball, is one of my favorite DJs and people around. Last night, I was lucky enough to join her in the studio for her weekly set. This week’s show, titled “Wash”, featured tracks from Stereolab, Cocteau Twins and Primal Scream. The set started at 8 p.m. and ran for about an hour with 12 songs and two air breaks. Molly set the in-studio atmosphere by changing the lights from blue to purple and giving me time to look at the various whiteboards, bulletin boards, and images that covered the walls. Doodles, notes, quotes and band posters surrounded us throughout the night. There’s nothing quite as simultaneously exciting and calming as being inside a WKNC studio during a set, especially if you get to go with DJ Mothball. Thanks again, Molly, for letting me join you. If you missed her set, check it out below and make sure you tune in to 88.1 every Wednesday at 8 p.m.:

1. “Golden Ball” by Stereolab
2. “Peaked” by Sd Laika
3. “A Dance By Any Other Name” by Mice Parade
4. “Another Routine Day Breaks” by Brokeback
5. “Trying to Reach You” by Mojave 3
6. “Taglieben” by Guther
7. “Constants Are Changing” by Boards of Canada
8. “Schöne Hände” by Cluster, Eno
9. “Why Do You Love Me?” by Cocteau Twins, Harold Budd
10. “Mary” by Jessica Bailiff
11. “Higher Than the Sun – A Dub Symphony in Two Parts” by Primal Scream
12. “Sado-Masochism Is A Must” by A.R. Kane

Here’s to Mothballs and Music,
Silya Bennai


A (Sorta) Underground Playlist

As the Assistant Underground Music Director here at WKNC, I thought it was about time to make a playlist of some of the hip-hop/rap songs I’ve been enjoying lately. I recognize the arguable popularity of a lot of the tracks I’ve chosen, but I wanted to stick to what I really listen to, so that’s what I’ve done. I’ve chosen tracks from a variety of artists over the years and I’ve limited myself to twenty songs. I definitely left off some winners but this is where I landed:

  1. “Situations” by Paris Texas
  2. “Please Forgive” by Powers Pleasant (feat. Denzel Curry)
  3. “Ghost (In the Shell)” by MAVI
  4. “New Choppa” by Playboi Carti (feat. A$AP Rocky)
  5. “Dmtri” by Action Bronson and The Alchemist
  6. “What Would Meek Do?” By Pusha T (feat. Kanye West)
  7. “Macaulay Culkin” by JPEGMAFIA
  8. “Cudi Montage” by KIDS SEE GHOSTS
  9. “Southside” by Duwap Kaine
  10. “BANKROLL” by BROCKHAMPTON (feat. A$AP Rocky & A$AP Ferg)
  11. “Friday” by Injury Reserve (feat. Curtis Williams)
  12. “Just How It Is” by Young Thug
  13. “TISK TISK / COOKIES” by Earl Sweatshirt
  14. “Crux” by Sporting Life (feat. MIKE & Wiki)
  15. “BLACK METAL TERRORIST | 13 M T” by Denzel Curry
  16. “Try Again” by Ovrkast.
  17. “Mittrom” by Mach-Hommy (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)
  18. “Gatorade” by Yung Lean
  19. “Sirens” by Hermit and the Recluse
  20. “THE BROWN STAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6-12 (REMIX)” by Tyler, The Creator (feat. ScHoolboy Q)

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Here’s to Kurt Cobain’s “Burn the Rain” being used as a sample in “Cudi Montage”,

Silya Bennai

Concert Review

Ranking 10 of the Concerts I’ve Attended

As concerts slowly return, I’m reminded of sweaty men, beer-covered floors, and body-rattling bass. I’ve missed it. In honor of the post-COVID concert comeback, I’ve ranked (some of) the concerts I’ve attended. My rankings are based on varying combinations of enjoyment, artist delivery, venue, and atmosphere. In descending order, here they are:

10. 5 Seconds of Summer (Opener: Hey Violet)

When: September 2015
Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
With: My mom

Give me a break; I was 13. We sat in the row of chairs directly in front of the lawn, it stormed incredibly hard (which stopped the concert multiple times), and the music was terrible. That being said, I had a nice time with my mom and it was my first concert so it holds a special place in my heart.

9. Bay Faction (Opener: Superbody)

When: February 2020
Where: Cat’s Cradle Back Room
With: Friend

This concert simply wasn’t good. The opener took the stage alone, and while they tried to get the crowd riled up, it didn’t work. When Bay Faction came out, the crowd was still mostly dead. Some young people flocked to the front of the stage and the lead singer weirdly leered at them while simultaneously flirting all night long. Actually, it wasn’t all night, because the set lasted for about 20 minutes and the band refused to come out for an encore. I still listen to some Bay Faction songs, but this concert wasn’t worth it.

8. TV Girl (Opener: Yohana)

When: May 2019
Where: Local 506
With: Myself

Let’s just say they don’t sound the same in person. If they had, I would have enjoyed this concert. This was the only concert I’ve ever left early.

7. Girlpool (Openers: Hatchie, Cosmo Punk)

When: April 2019
Where: Motorco Music Hall
With: Myself

I’ve loved Girlpool since my sophomore year of high school, but I was somewhat disappointed with the concert. The band only played tracks from “Powerplant” (2017) and “What Chaos Is Imaginary” (2019), save for the last song they performed: “Chinatown.” Had they included more tracks from earlier records, I think the audience would have been happier. However, they were both still wonderful performers and kept the crowd involved.

6. Joy Again (Opener: Indigo De Souza)

When: June 2019
Where: Kings
With: Friend

Joy Again is one of those bands I always come back to. I’m a big fan of ARTHUR, so it’s sort of a given that I like them. As far as the opener goes, I was mostly unfamiliar with their music at the time but Indigo De Souza was smiley and lively. I went with a close friend and while we made the experience worthwhile, Joy Again seemed a bit lethargic when they came out. It was towards the end of their tour, however, so I imagine they were fairly tired. Despite the low-energy set, the music was great and they sound the same in person.

5. Tyler, the Creator (Openers: GoldLink, Blood Orange)

When: October 2019
Where: Greensboro Coliseum
With: Friend

GoldLink was an incredibly dynamic opener, and while I’m not as big of a fan of Blood Orange, they also delivered a solid performance. As far as the main show, Tyler is a true artist and it was clear throughout his entire set. His infamous crowd-teasing seemed especially aggressive that night, but I was able to look past that. I wish there’d been more moshing, but it was still an exciting night.


When: January 2018
Where: The Ritz
Who: Friends

The concert I attended was pre-Ameer exposure, so the full BROCKHAMPTON outfit took the stage with no opener for their SATURATION III tour. When I saw them, I was still fully in my BROCKHAMPTON phase, so it resonated a lot more than it would now. They played all my favorite songs, the crowd was fun, and they ended with “HEAT.” What more could a high school girl ask for?

3. The Front Bottoms (Opener: Basement)

When: November 2017
Where: The Fillmore
With: Friends

My folk punk guilty (but not really) pleasure. The Front Bottoms will always be special to me, as will this concert experience. The Fillmore was packed to the brim and it was pretty clear that everyone there had a lot of love for TFB. The members of the band were energetic throughout the night and delivered great performances. It was a sweaty, emotional, and fulfilling concert.

2. Alex G (Openers: ARTHUR, Tomberlin) 

When: October 2019
Where: The Grey Eagle
With: Friends

Seeing ARTHUR open was one of the best concert moments I’ve experienced. His set was gorgeous, fun, and special. I was already fully satisfied after ARTHUR, so Alex G’s nearly three hour set was just the (very long) cherry on top. The room was electric when he played “Bobby.”

1. The Garden (Opener: Cowgirl Clue)

When: April 2018 (4/20 to be exact)
Where: Local 506
With: Myself

It still surprises even myself that this is my favorite concert I’ve been to thus far. I went by myself, got into the venue fairly late, and felt anxious leading up to the main act. Somehow, however, I ended up right in front of the stage and had an amazing time. The Garden are the best and most vibrant performers I’ve ever encountered. They’re delivery was loud and gruff and the instrumentals were overwhelmingly impressive. While I don’t listen to much of The Garden anymore, I’d go to one of their shows again.

Here’s to concerts: The Good, The Bad, and Those To Come,

Silya Bennai


A Weird Hour in June

It’s been a weird month. I feel weird, my friends feel weird, and you probably feel weird, too. There must be something in the air (to take the place of COVID, I suppose). As a result, I have found myself listening to an odd combination of music to pass the time and get through the weirdness by simply adding to it.

Today, I share with you a near-hour playlist of songs I’ve been listening to this June that don’t necessarily go together. I’ve included some personal notes for each song. There’s something for everyone with this one.

1. “Cyan Hardcore” – Machine Girl
Fast and fun. Will make you think of Mario Kart.

2. “Turpentine” – Hole
She’s mad and so are you.

3. “Deeply” – bôa
Will get stuck in your head and make you think you can yodel.

4. “Runway H (2)” – Death Grips
Should be used in a movie montage scene of the cool variety.

5. “DR. BIRD’S” – Griselda
The ad-libs are excellent and overwhelmingly present.

6. “arsenic” – glaive
He’s sixteen.

7. “Orange Appled” – Cocteau Twins

8. “Weird Little Birthday Girl” – Happyness
My friend put this one on a mix CD for me a while ago and I love it. Thanks again, Molly.

9. “Guess My Crush” – OTTO
If you like ARTHUR, here’s OTTO.

10. “Min Dag” – Död Mark
Yes, it’s Yung Lean.

11. “Yea Aight” – Nickelus F

12. “24” – IDK
“She say she not a thot, she a nympho” is the stand-out line.

13. “E. Coli” – The Alchemist (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)
Seamless and soothing.

14. “Bloodhail” – Have A Nice Life
Makes me feel like someone I’m not.

15. “Apple” – Fox Academy
This song has been in my rotation since it came out.

Click here to listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Here’s to weird music mixes for weird months,

Silya Bennai

Band/Artist Profile Playlists Short Stories

Death Grips: A Phenomenon of Embarrassment

The label “experimental hip-hop” seems to now extend to more artists in the industry than it used to, but there’s no denying Death Grips helped found the genre and still remain at its center. Though Zach Hill is often noted as the leading creative of the group, Stefan Burnett, better known as MC Ride, is the vocal star. His punk, industrial-inspired delivery feeds on noise and electronic styles and production to create an unmatched sound. With Andy Morin also on keyboard and production, the music trio has put out six studio albums, a mixtape and six other miscellaneous projects.

Death Grips formed in 2010 and I’ve been listening since 2015. Considerably late to the show, I still found myself among very few fans in my area during high school. That being said, I spent my teen years in Wake Forest, NC. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Death Grips’ internet and streaming popularity were stronger than ever and continuously growing. I was a proud, but delusional, DG fan. 

When you find a new project as inventive as Death Grips, it feels like stumbling upon gold. I thought I was nearly alone in this discovery and it took time for me to realize they were incredibly popular. As years passed and their popularity still grew, I found myself listening to Death Grips as often as I used to, but now in private. There was a certain embarrassment of Death Grips for me, and since talking to friends, I’ve learned for others, too. The embarrassment, perhaps stemming from a sudden jump of feeling special to being just a cog in the DG machine, was polarizing. Older listeners retreated to their rooms to partake while newer listeners were outwardly experiencing their newfound feeling of uniqueness.

Death Grips, despite their ever-altering audience, continue to put out music and I’ve noticed, both in myself and the people around me, the former DG embarrassment lifting. As people come to terms with liking music simply because it’s good and putting less concern into whether or not it boosts their individuality complex, I find that Death Grips is getting more public love from their long-time listeners. 

As an ode to my lifted DG embarrassment, here’s a short list of some of my favorite Death Grips songs (in order of release):

1. “Full Moon (Death Classic)” – Full Moon (Death Classic) (2011)

2. “Guillotine” – Guillotine (2011)

3. “Lil Boy” – No Love Deep Web (2012)

4. “Deep Web” – No Love Deep Web (2012)

5. “Hacker” – The Money Store (2012)

6. “Birds” – Government Plates (2013)

7. “Feels Like a Wheel” – Government Plates (2013)

8. “I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States” – The Powers That B (2015)

9. “Inanimate Sensation” – The Powers That B (2015)

10. “80808” – Bottomless Pit (2016)

11. “Bottomless Pit” – Bottomless Pit (2016)

12. “Hahaha” – Year Of The Snitch (2018)

Here’s to the fact that Robert Pattinson plays guitar on “Birds”,

Silya Bennai

Music News and Interviews

“Art of War” Song Review: Everyone Goes In

I’ll be the first to admit it; I am not a big Jasiah listener. That being said, I love Denzel Curry and can get behind a lot of Rico Nasty’s discography, so when “Art of War” dropped on June 4th, I was intrigued. After listening many times and looking more into Jasiah’s other popular songs, I’ve formed my complete take on this track.

Simply put, everyone on this track goes in. “Art of War” is truly hard and the ZillaKami influence is clearly present. As a whole, the song brings a high power alarm-based beat with supporting instrumentals, many lyrics that pack a punch (or something a bit more serious), and the expected yelling from Jasiah.

Curry’s verse is perhaps my favorite on the track. From religious mythology to Dragon Ball, his references are bountiful. His signature fast-paced flow is clean and smooth and he was certainly the right choice for Verse One. 

Rico Nasty plays a downright hater on her verse and she fully executes the role. She brings high energy, high vocals, and pure talent that really round out the song.

Jasiah is responsible for the intro with Curry, the pre-chorus, and the chorus. All three are enjoyable, though I do wish he’d had an additional verse to tack on after Curry and Rico’s verses. What is present on the song, however, is seamless and fun. 

“Art of War” is a driving song, party track or generally hype play. Jasiah, Curry and Rico are a trio that fit well together and I look forward to the potential of hearing more from them. I’ll have to listen to more solo Jasiah, too.

Here’s to music covers featuring dogs,

Silya Bennai


My Favorite Not-Just-Sad Elliott Smith Lyrics

I self-admittedly fell for Elliott Smith idolization when I was twelve years old. I remember hearing “Between the Bars” for the first time and thinking I understood true pain as I sat atop my IKEA loft bed after a long day of the seventh grade. I probably did know true pain then, as anyone who’s been alive for any length of time does, but the more I listen to Elliott (I can’t help but use his first name as if I knew him) and the older I grow, the more I understand that pain is not a lonely feeling. It is built upon loss or paired with hope or overwhelmed by joy.

Elliott Smith is a name most indie music listeners of any age would recognize, but I’ve found that he is all too often polarized within the sad song realm. Elliott Smith certainly knew how to write a melancholic and agonizingly sorrowful track, but he also knew how to do it with nuance. His lyricism and unmatched natural voice express the very duality I’m describing. His songs are never just sad; they exist as multiplicities.

Listed below are some of my favorite Elliott Smith lyrics that express some version of combined emotion:

Note: All interpretations are my own.

“And it’s okay, I knew exactly what you meant/ When you said you were an accident” – “Drive All Over Town”

Compassion vs. Distraction: Individual trauma combined with mutual understanding creates a space for growth or destruction. It’s hard, but important, to pursue the former.

“And for all you know, you’re the only one who finds it strange” – “Satellite”

A Certain Loneliness: Individuality can be scary and forlorn at times, but it’s imperative to remember the freedom it brings.

“I can sit wondering what in world you think about/ I don’t think I’m ever gonna figure it out” – “I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out”

The Hard Truth: We all have that one person we could sit around for hours impossibly attempting to grasp at their inner thoughts, but recognizing that we’ll never know is both a loss and a relief.

“We broke up a month ago/ And I grew up, I didn’t know/ I’d be around the morning after” – “Say Yes”

Pain Comes and Goes: Heartbreak is like nothing else. Actually, sometimes it feels like someone died. Those first few days, weeks, or months are the absolute worst, but it’s worth knowing, you’ll make it to the next morning.

“I’ll tell you why I don’t want to know where you are/ I got a joke I’ve been dying to tell you” – “Pitseleh”

Wanting What You Know You Shouldn’t: Sometimes we want and put much of our thought into things we can’t and shouldn’t have. Knowing your boundaries, as much as they may contradict your desires, is difficult but perhaps worth it.

“A lot of hours to occupy, it was easy when I didn’t know you yet/ Things I’d have to forget/ But I better be quiet now/ I’m tired of wasting my breath/ Carrying on and getting upset” – “Better Be Quiet Now”

A Box In the Attic Labeled “Forget Me”: Change is incredibly hard. Going from one reality to another, especially when it happens quickly, can be all-consuming. At some point, however, putting that person or thing behind you is easier than wasting your energy on old memories or an empty space.

“Haven’t laughed this hard in a long time/ I better stop now before I start crying” – “Twilight”

Comfort In Being Sad: There is both fear and hope in moving from sadness to joy. The change is usually worth it.

“Waiting to start/ Waiting to light/ Waiting until dark” – “New Disaster”

Elliott, even in his saddest and most regretful songs, knew to wait it out. Whether it be good or bad, he knew exactly how to express that there’s always something coming next.

My interpretations don’t just reflect Elliott’s lyrical combination of emotions, but my own combination of clichés and personal experiences. I wish he could explain these songs to me, but I can’t know what I can’t be told, so perhaps these explanations will do for now. I have a feeling they will change as I do.

Here’s to changes,

Silya Bennai


She’s A “Hole” Girl On Her Own: Birthday Party Picks

Courtney Love. Eric Erlandson. Patty Schemel. Kristen Pfaff and Melissa Auf der Maur. One of the most iconic rock bands of all time, and arguably the most iconic with a female front (Sorry, Bikini Kill), Hole is a pure glimpse into the grunge music scene of the nineties. With three studio albums released between 1991 and 1998, Love and her bandmates produced timeless hits such as “Teenage Whore,” “Violet” and “Dying”. 

While their album “Pretty On The Inside” is scratchy and angry and “Celebrity Skin” is clever and powerful, Hole’s 1994 album “Live Through This” is my absolute favorite. It’s a no-skip thirty-eight minute listen that will make you scream, cry, laugh, and drive a little too fast. 

I’m turning nineteen this month and I’ve decided to throw a (vaccinated) girls-only, Hole-themed birthday party. Listed below are my top four favorite tracks from “Live Through This” that I plan to play at my party:

“Doll Parts”

Toxic desire and reclamation are at the heart of this song. Essentially, you can’t own anyone and they can’t own you. 

Favorite Lyric: “I love him so much, it just turns to hate”

“Credit In The Straight World”

A cover of Young Marble Giants’ song by the same name, Love serves up a far harsher and faster version which I easily prefer. Money or drug-driven, either way it all ends the same. 

Favorite Lyric: “Leave your money when you die”

“She Walks On Me”

This song reeks of girl and it’s perfect. It touches on forced female self-image, suicide and comparison in about three minutes and thirty seconds. 

Favorite Lyric: “We look the same, we talk the same”


Digging at a false revolution that promised female empowerment but never materialized and left many women in the punk scene isolated, Love screams at those gutless leaders.

Favorite Lyric: “I don’t really miss God/ But I sure miss Santa Claus”

Here’s to Hole-themed gatherings, nineties slip dresses, and some of music history’s coolest band branding,

Silya Bennai