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Concert Review

My Top Concerts of 2019

2019 was a great year for music. To start off a series of ‘best of musical things 2019 edition’ I figured I’d look back at some of my favorite concerts I went to this year. Thanks to WKNC this year has been one of my best for concert attendance. These are my top three shows of the year.

Smallpools at Motorco Music Hall

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This show blew me away. The band was so high energy and I had the best front row seat. I started listening to Smallpools when I first came to college and I doubled my listening when I got the tickets to this show, they’re currently my number one artist on Spotify. Needless to say the show left a great impression and has only made my love for the band and their music even stronger. Hearing ‘Dreaming’ and ‘Over & Over’ live were two of my musical highlights of the year. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and overcome with a joy that I still have when I look back on this night.

Joy Again at Kings

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I highly recommend everyone see a band they love alone at least once, it’s such an experience. Joy Again has a lot of amazing songs so I was very excited to see the band, especially because it was the first concert I ever went to on my own. Their vocals live were insanely good, everything they did was insanely good. Much like Smallpools I got a nice front row seat (something that I really love about these smaller venues), which gave the show a really intimate feeling. The outro was amazing and hearing ‘Winter Snakes’ and ‘Looking out For You’ Live was unforgettable.

Twenty One Pilots at PNC Arena

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This show blew my mind, again. I’ve seen the band live before, with the same person, and this show just brought on a wave of nostalgia and happiness that I can hardly describe. My best friend and I saw Twenty One Pilots for the first time the summer before we started college (that’s a whole wild story in itself) and since this summer was the summer before our senior year of college it just felt poetic, somehow made everything feel even more magical. I am not exaggerating when I say that Twenty One Pilots has put on two of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Everything always feels so authentic and their performance skills are A1. Going to one of their shows is truly an unforgettable experience. I’ve been listening to the band since Vessel was the newest album and I have to say, this band does not disappoint.

What were your top shows of 2019?

– DJ Psyched

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Concert Review

Concert Review: Turnover & Men I Trust (11/14)

Yesterday I made a quick trip down to Cat’s Cradle to catch the Turnover and Men I Trust show. Despite the cold and the rain, there was a huge turnout! 

The opener was an artist named Renata Zeigeur. Having heard nothing by her prior, her set proved to be the unexpected highlight of my night. As her record label writes, her music was “both wonderfully dreamy and strange”. One song especially stood out to me, a new single called “Whack-A-Mole”. As a daytime DJ for the station, it would’ve fit right into one of my sets. Overall her set was a phenomenal, and I plan on introducing her music into the WKNC daytime rotation.

Next up was Men I Trust. I was super excited to see them live for the very first time. I actually found out about them while listening to WKNC…Tailwhip came on the radio in my car, and ever since then I’ve been a fan. With the recent release of their 2019 album, Oncle Jazz, I knew we’d be in for a treat getting to hear lots of new music. My favorite song they performed was “All Night” off of Oncle Jazz. They were amazing live, and I hope I can see them again some time soon. 

Finally, the main act. I had seen Turnover at Cat’s Cradle a few years ago, but that didn’t make me any less excited to see them again. They opened the show with “Still in Motion” from their new album Altogether. Although people sing along with every song, at every show, (this one included), the crowd goes insane when they play songs from their older albums. I survived the mosh pit for “New Scream” another year. I was happy because they also played “Pure Devotion”, one of my favorite songs off their 2017 album, Good Nature. I always think it’s funny how the crowd can go from moshing to one song to standing completely still for the next one, and the whole time the members of the band stay completely chill and act as if nothing changed. 

This concert had quite the lineup, and I’m glad I was able to go! Every act was great, and if you haven’t heard any of their music you should definitely check all the artists out. If you’re too lazy to look them up yourself, don’t worry, because I’ll be playing them all on WKNC daytime hours. 

-miss monet

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Concert Review

Concert Review // Omni

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This past Sunday I got to go to see the band Omni at Kings and it was a pretty amazing show. I (thought) I first heard the band a couple of weeks ago while I was at work. I’m the daytime music director here at WKNC so I get albums to listen to pretty frequently, but I definitely remember first getting their new album and listening to it. I immediately figured it would end up on air from the first listen because I really enjoyed it (and from what I saw online under their music video a lot of people feel that way too). The band is from Atlanta Georgia and they seem like really cool guys. After the show I spoke to the lead singer, just to tell him that I really liked his album, and he was super nice and chill about it all. Looking online they are categorized as ‘Alternative Indie’ and ‘Rock’. That’s pretty accurate, but there’s also a pretty classic and kind of old school style about them that really made them stand out to me. My favorite tracks off of the new record are ‘Sincerely Yours’ and ‘Skeleton Key’. 

To get back to an earlier point, I thought this was my first time hearing the band but when listening to my Ultimate Indie playlist I realized I had their song ‘Wire’ in there. That track is amazing and I definitely recommend listening to it if you haven’t heard it yet. The show was also amazing and made me like the band and new album even more. The opening acts were Blacker Server and Moonland and they really helped set up the scene, it was quite the show the entire time and I’m really glad I was able to go.

– DJ Psyched

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Concert Review

Show Review: Obituary live at the Lincoln in Raleigh

October 24, 2019 was the day that Obituary returned to Raleigh! And you already know that ya girl was there to see those rednecks from Tampa (F***en) Florida! With them on this tour was (the not so redneck) Abbath; along with Midnight, Devil Master, and one of our Local Butchers, False Prophet.

Now, I’ve got to admit, I missed False Prophet (which really sucks because I really like them). They played “at doors,” which were at 6:00, and I had class until 5:45. I made it in to see Devil Master, who put on a straight-up, in your face, no nonsense set. The whole band was in costume, complete with a rhythm guitarist Dracula, and a keyboardist in a bad-ass hooded robe! Other than the lead guitarist having to tune after every song, the band pounded through their set list without hesitation. They came, they played, they kicked ass! BTW, I’m still not sure whether the keyboardist was real or some type of machine, but he never raised his head, never came out of role, and I never even saw him leave the stage when their set was over. He just… disappeared.

Midnight was a three-piece band full of energy and sound! The three – guitarist, bassist and singer, and drummer – were all hooded with black masks over their faces. I’m telling you right now, these guys lit it up! The crowd came to life for Midnight, and the band responded to that energy. They were constantly on the move, interacting with the crowd, and running the full stage. Midnight had a great set that night! I’d like to see them again!

So, Abbath was up next. Hailing from Norway and steeped in the Black Metal genre, I was excited to see what was to come. For those of you who don’t know, the singer/guitarist (“Abbath Doom Occulta”) is one of the founders of the legendary band, Immortal. They pretty-much invented Black Metal. His first love was KISS, and you can see that influence in his stage presence and performance. If you can imagine, he is like a darker, more evil Gene Simmons (the Demon), spit straight out of the depths of Hell. Abbath left Immortal and formed this band of the same name in 2015. And they are taking some serious strides! What. An. Awesome. Show!! The powerful presence of Abbath, himself, was matched by drummer, Ukri Suvilehto. His playing and interaction with the crowd (from behind the kit) was hypnotizing. The walls, floor, and (I’m sure) ceiling reverberated his double base drums! They didn’t leave behind the other stringed instruments, either. The band, Abbath, operated like a well oiled machine. The light show and smoke machine added to the dreaded ambiance of this hellish display. They played for well over an hour. It was a blistering beating of crushing riffs and blast beats, over staggering double base and the agonized screech of Abbath’s vocals. It was exquisite!! When it was over, all I could think was, “No one but Obituary could follow that. They’d better bring it!”

Second picture taken by Courtney Breen. 

And bring it they did! If you’ve never seen Obituary their show begins with piped-in country music, which is overtaken by the crunching riffs of the song, Redneck Stomp, a groovy instrumental. When they hit the stage, they were energized and ready to go. Obituary has been around so long (late 80’s, and earlier as Xecutioner) that their entire stage show is pretty-much patented! Trevor (rhythm guitar) holds the trademark for riff master/hair slinging headbanger. Kenny (lead guitar) is in charge of harmony and spooky/eerie wails, shrieks, and monster leads. Terry (bass) is a large and ominous presence, always middle/stage left; quiet, other than his bruising bass beatings. Donald (drums), in my opinion, invented Death Metal drumming. He is obviously ADHD (and I’ve met him, so…) and his technique takes on those qualities – always moving around the kit, feet of fury, hands a blur, with the crash of symbols; pounding the listener into dust. And then there’s John (vocals). You can listen to their first record, Slowly We Rot, or their most recent self-titled, or anything in between, and John’s raspy growl is consistent. His live edition lacks nothing, and is even more emphasized by his stage presence and his exaggerated lean out over the crowd as he gutturals the agonizing lyrics that are Obituary. They operate so well together, either they practice all the time or, because they’ve been together so long, and know so well their long and hallowed catalogue, that they no longer have to practice – They are the personification of Obituary. They can’t possibly play all of the fan favorites, so they pick some and turn it out! The crowd gutturals along with John and sways back and forth, “hair banging,“ with Trevor. What an experience!

This was an epic show! And all right here in Raleigh!

Stay Metal,

THE SAW

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Concert Review

Knocked Loose, Stick To Your Guns, Rotting Out, Candy, and SeeYouSpaceCowboy @Cat’s Cradle

Last Saturday (10/26) I had the privilege of seeing the litany of bands listed in the title. Obviously, it was a stacked lineup. Knocked Loose has been making waves for quite a bit now, and their recent album, A Different Shade of Blue, shows exactly why. It was my first time seeing them, and they made an excellent first impression. Stick To Your Guns was also great, although I had never really listened to them before. They brought a super positive energy that only a few bands can manage to do. It was also my first time seeing Rotting Out, West Coast legend with a fully latinx lineup. Their vocalist, Wally, is also a powerlifting monster so his stage presence was top notch. They were one of the bands that initially got me into hardcore, so finally being able to see them live was a real treat. Speaking of treats, how about Candy. They’ve also been gaining major traction, and as of their last single “Super-Stare” are signed to Relapse Records. They have origins in Richmond so you already know they’re going to be great. This was my fifth time or so seeing them, but this was one of the largest crowds I’ve seen them play to and the energy was through the roof. SeeYouSpaceCowboy opened, and anyone who showed up late definitely missed out on perhaps the heaviest set of the night. Their unique vocal style and penchant for a more mathy metalcore led to a unique and intense set. Along with this, their guitarist is local to N.C. All in all, the show was amazing and although way more crowded than the typical area hardcore show, it still had the same tight-knit energy that any legitimate show within the scene should have. As for other local shows, one huge one coming up is at Break Time in Winston-Salem on November 12th. The bill includes Sanction, Queensway (who just put out an absolutely insane EP-keep your eyes peeled for a review), Vatican, Fuming Mouth, Riot Stares, and The Burning Wind. Thanks for reading.

-Dylan McGee 

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Concert Review

College Radio Day

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College Radio Day was this October 4th and WKNC celebrated it at The Wicked Witch with a live set from Secret Shame, Green Aisles and Flood District. Sadly, I couldn’t stay around the whole show but I did see Green Aisles and Flood District, and they put on a really good show. I loved the atmosphere of the event. It was just small enough to feel relaxed but still hype enough to engage the crowd and make the show feel intimate. The music was memorable and the event overall was a worthy experience. 

I arrived a bit early and got to see meet of the band members while they were chilling around before the show started. The picture above is actually Flood District, and I got the chance to speak to some of the band members for a bit before the show started. They were super chill, funny and inviting and it made a good show feel even better. Everyone who performed was super kind and their interactions with the crowd all felt very genuine, it just added to the intimate and relaxed vibes going around. 

I went to the show alone, but it was so welcoming that it never felt awkward or off. Everyone was pretty inviting and I spoke to a lot more people than I would at other shows. Not that I have anything against big venue shows, but I think that there is definitely a place in the music world that needs these more intimate shows, and I’m totally here for it. It was a perfect way to celebrate College Radio Day. Cause I mean, we are the best in college radio.

– DJ Psyched

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Concert Review

Rhiannon Giddens: A Goddess Among Goddesses

This past Wednesday (9/25) I joined my parents in attending the Rhiannon Giddens concert at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Rhiannon Giddens is a native to Greensboro, North Carolina and frontwoman of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-style African American folk band. Rhiannon was on vocals, fiddle, and banjo. Italian musician Francesco Turrisi joined her and played drums and tambourine. Accompanying them were a stand-up bassist/pianist, and an unbelievable player of the spoons. This show was different from most in the way that is was more than just a concert. It was a history lesson of sorts. Giddens successfully integrates her music and the stories behind the songs she plays into one entertaining show. Some of the traditional songs she covers date back upwards of 200 years ago, and a majority of the music is by black musicians. She touched on things such as black face and minstrel bands for example, and how many of the songs she played were also performed in ways like these. While the historical exploitation of black music is a harsh reality, Giddens makes it a point to use her music as a teaching point throughout her set. I found this extremely inspiring, and learned a lot. The banjo she played is a replica of a model from around the 1850s – the neck has no frets and has a lower register than what many people are familiar with today. This is one of the original styles of banjo, and was often played in minstrel bands. I left this show with a new perspective on old-style folk music, and was eager to learn more (and also buy a banjo:)) Definitely a memorable experience. Rhiannon Giddens is a queen.

-Elizabeth Esser 

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Concert Review

Whack World takes over at UNC-CH’s Memorial Hall

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It was an average Friday the 13th when my friends told me there were extra tickets to see Tierra Whack that night in Chapel Hill. I had seen Whack a few weeks prior in New York, but I was way in the back of a huge crowd and barely got to see her brightly colored ensemble from there. Needless to say, I was excited to see her again in a much smaller setting. I could not believe that UNC got someone so talented and trailblazing as she is. If you’re unfamiliar, Tierra Whack is a Philadelphia born rapper and singer who is a pro at freestyling, being weird and creating endless microscopic worlds within her songs. I definitely think the side of the rap world that’s occupied by women benefits from a fresh alternative like Whack who doesn’t take herself too seriously. 

As we packed into the theatre at Memorial Hall, I was happy to finally sit down and enjoy a concert in the comfort of a chair. The opener was ZenSoFly, a Raleigh based rapper with electronic production. By the time she finished her set I was quite literally itching to see Tierra. She finally arrives on stage via Razor scooter and I scream. She jumps into her performance of CLONES and when she’s finished she questions why the hell everyone was sitting down. Whack tells us to get up and commands the security guards to let us through to the pit area where you can stand directly in front of the stage. Everyone and their mother rushes the stage, my friend and I get split up, but I make it to the pit. Then she starts another song immediately and I just remember jumping up and down for about 2 hours straight after that, blowing out my vocal cords screaming the lyrics and climbing on the side of the stage to dance. 

Like something I’d always dreamed, she performed the entire 15 minutes of her debut album, Whack World, a piece of work that was hailed amongst the best albums of 2018 by Complex and Pitchfork. That 15 minutes felt like forever because Tierra Whack is so amazing at creating fun, dark and well rounded soundscapes in her lyrics and production. The show was sprinkled with Whack’s silly personality as she frequently conversed with the audience, handed out microphones for the crowd to sing along, stole keys, wallets and caught the numerous pairs of panties that were thrown at her. After her encore performance of “Mumbo Jumbo,” (a song chosen by a crowd member) she signed shoes for about 20 minutes and then disappeared into the darkness of backstage. I was sore for several days after, it was the most rambunctious, chaotic and enthralling show I’d ever been to.

-cellar door xx

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Concert Review

Flo Rida, TLC, Nelly Concert Review

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Does anyone else ever go to a concert where you know the artist but you don’t really KNOW the artist? Well, that’s what me and some friends did when we went to this show. We all joked about how we know these artists, but we definitely couldn’t just name off all their songs from the top of our heads. But once the show started we had a lot of those ‘oooh that’s their song?’ moments. 

When we went into it my friends and I were so excited to hear TLC play no scrubs, because you know that songs a whole classic bop. We knew we would enjoy the other artists too, but we were pleasantly surprised by just how much music we knew from the show. That’s when things became a very nostalgic and good time. It was as if everyone was going on a trip through time together.

I will say, aside from nostalgia, the show had plenty of highlights of its own too. Nelly and FloRida put on some very energetic shows and with those pop 2000 classics like ‘Hot in Here’ and ‘Low’ the crowd was dancing and singing their hearts out like crazy (my friends and I included). My absolute favorite moment of the show was the moment my friends and I we were waiting for… 

TLC had the best intro to no scrubs I could’ve ever hoped for. Rozonda Thomas and Tionne Watkins knew the crowd was anticipating their hit song so they started off subtly by telling a story ‘You’re going to be out one day minding your own business…’ which was based on the theme of the song and they kept the story going on for about 3 minutes. They really knew that they were doing because the tension and excitement just kept growing and building on itself. When they actually got to performing the hit it was like a mixture of that great feeling you get when you finally get to eat after waiting a long time and when someone says something to you that makes you just want to shout YES. It made an already amazing show just that much better.

Overall I would have to say this was a great introduction into a different genre of music, in a concert setting, for myself. Before this just about every show I’ve been to has been more Rock and Indie styled. But I really appreciated the change of pace and the nostalgia that came with it. After this, I’ve definitely been listening to ‘Hot in Here’ and ‘No Scrubs’ a lot more than before and i’m glad WKNC gave me the chance to experience this show.

– DJ Psyched

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Concert Review

Afropunk Festival: my experience

*Like most experiences, mine is extremely unique. This review will be an honest take from my own experience”

I went to Afropunk Brooklyn on August 24th and 25th, 2019. For those who don’t know, the festival, according to Wikipedia, “was created as a safe space for black alternative-minded punks to freely express themselves and build a community with one another.” The definition of the word “punk” is disputed across many circles, I like the phrase “alternatively minded” a little better. This year’s fest was held in Commodore Barry Park.

 I wanted to go to Afropunk because of three reasons of equal weight: fashion, music and because it offered a space for black people that were like me. I had been seeing Afropunk outfit pictures amongst other festival fashion inspiration pages for several years and have always wanted to go to just for the festival fashion aspect. I thought about my outfit for months during the planning stages of the trip to Brooklyn. I never definitively decided on anything until it was too late of course. It was my first time in any state north of Virginia so I was really taking it all in. 

On day one, I was extremely tired after walking around Brooklyn all day before the festival. I also didn’t know what to expect so I was really going through a lot of emotions. I saw Leikeli47, Tierra Whack (who brought out Alicia Keys), Leon Bridges and Jill Scott. Like a typical music festival, the artists performed on different stages around the park and we all scrambled to see our favorite artists on time. Leikeli47 had the whole crowd shaking their asses and bobbing their heads to her songs. Tierra Whack had a wonderfully weird stage presence and I was very surprised to see Alicia Keys come out there with her. Leon Bridges sung his heart out for 2 hours while I waited in line for a vegan BBQ sandwich; he really gave us all a show. The last performer of the night was Jill Scott and she was fabulous. Her onstage presence was magical, her vocals were amazing and she played a lot of the songs I grew up listening to. The fashion from day one was amazing! I saw some really well curated, creative and bold looks from all kinds of people. The energy in the air was chaotic, but I felt safe like I was right where I was supposed to be. 

On day two I came in tired again after another long day. We arrived late to Toro y Moi, but heard his last two songs through the gates. On this day I brought a camcorder I checked out from the library and it was the best decision I’d ever made. I got a chance to bring home a lot of what I saw at the festival with me. This day I saw Scarlxrd, Lianne La Havas, Masego and another act whose name I don’t know. The energy from the crowd and Scarlxrd was so exciting to watch happen in front of me. His fans are dedicated and his stage presence is one I won’t forget. Lianne La Havas’s show was sweet, chill and romantic. Her voice was like pillows. After Lianne, we saw Masego. He was my favorite performance of the night because I knew the most of his songs, he played the sax and because the crowd around me was so engaged while we all danced our asses off together to his music. Also Masego’s rendition of Andre 3000’s “Prototype’’ was very well done. The outfits on this day were fantastic. I saw so many people and they really did a terrific job at coordinating colors, creating stories and expressing themselves with their outfits. 

What I love the most about Afropunk is that it was a space that was created specifically for black people. What happened in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn was an amazing thing. It allowed all kinds of people to come together to present a culmination of styles, cultures, lifestyles and music tastes. It was a beautiful experience for any black person to have. 

-Makayla