Richmond is a beautiful city. It’s a real city with a real city feel unlike that of Raleigh or Durham. Something about it felt historical, or perhaps I was just exhausted from the drive up and easily impressed by cool architecture.
Liturgy performed in Raleigh a couple nights before, but we’d decided to catch the all-ages Virginia show instead. It became something of an adventure, driving over a hundred miles to catch a live show in a small bar.
And by the time we headed back to North Carolina, we were both haunted by the majesty of what we witnessed at the Richmond Music Hall. Though the trip itself was tumultuous (read: exhausting, physically and mentally), it was ultimately worth it.
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The first openers of the night, .gif from god are a 6-piece whitebelt screamo band. Based in Richmond, the band were comfortable on their home turf. It was interesting to see a “local” band play in an area that was foreign to me but familiar to many of the other attendees. There’s a special sort of liminality to such spaces.
I actually didn’t realize until they took the stage that the band’s members had been leisuring outside the venue when we arrived. That’s another thing I really like about smaller shows; you end up sharing the space with the artists rather than merely intersecting for a brief time and then moving on.
.gif from god was ravenous. Between the distorted guitar, brutal drums and virulent vocals, the room became something of a hornet’s nest. Even when the bassist snapped a string and was forced to briefly play without it, the band (and audience) never lost its energy.
Things became so unrestrained at points that several audience members took to the pit to gesticulate wildly in a frenzy of fists and feet. By the end of the set, my neck was sore and my heart was beating ferociously.
The HIRS Collective
The first thing I noticed about The HIRS Collective was the magnitude of amps they set up onstage. Like some kind of IRL tetris, the assemblage mystified the audience. I can remember hearing people behind me comment on the likelihood of long-term hearing loss following this set, and I was glad I’d brought my earplugs.
They made this fact abundantly clear as they prefaced their set by dedicating their work to all trans women who exist, have existed and will exist.
The HIRS Collective delivered a unique and heavy performance, blending disco-inspired dance music such as Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with visceral metal vocals. As expected of a queercore band, The HIRS Collective was unabashedly hardcore and unafraid to have fun onstage.
I’m not sure if I will ever again have the privilege of witnessing a room of metalheads hesitantly headbang to Whitney Houston.
Liturgy is a “yearning, transcendental” black metal band from Brooklyn. Headed by vocalist and guitarist Haela Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix, Liturgy is both a musical project and a work of experimental, theologic art.
Upbeat strains of guitar and bass coalesce with Hendrix’s icy screams, creating something that punctuates the concept of music as an experience.
The show was ritualistic. Moving to the music was like moving in accordance with a divine heartbeat. The audience became a single entity, thrumming rhythmically like a complex piece of machinery, waxing and waning like seagrass buffeted by the tides.
Such is the effect of Liturgy’s music, self-described as “[existing] in the space between metal, experimental, classical music and sacred ritual.”
As I wrote in my concert preview, Joyce Manor has been one of my favorite artists since middle school. I love going to concerts but often feel like a poser of some sort when I don’t know every song an artist might play. Joyce Manor is the group that I can say I would feel confident in my ability to sing every song, knowing almost every word.
Before the headliner went on, Teens in Trouble put on a great show as an opener. My partner and I had seen them play at Double Barrel Benefit 19 and were probably some of the few in the crowd to have seen them twice this year, along with other WKNC DJs at the show.
The crowd was very clearly thrilled to be there and Teens in Trouble provided a fun set that got people moving but still allowed us to conserve some energy for the incoming Joyce Manor pit.
Joyce Manor did not disappoint. Starting their set off with “Heart Tattoo” was a strong choice, and the many of us in the crowd with heart tattoos on us from the influence of that song raised our hands high immediately.
Surprisingly, Joyce Manor only played three songs off their most recent record, “40 Oz. to Fresno”– “Gotta Let It Go,” “Don’t Try,” and “NBTSA.” They made sure to dip into older obscure songs like their cover of The Murder City Devils’ “Midnight Service at the Mutter Museum.”
The band went off stage, then returned for a three-song encore. Before the second song of the encore, frontman Barry Johnson asked the crowd, “Are there any ‘Cody’ enjoyers out there right now?”, referring to their 2016 LP. Many hands, including mine, shot up, and the band broke into their song “Stairs.”
It was impossible not to move at The Cradle that night. I’d gone into the venue with a full face of makeup, and by the time I got home my face was bare. The venue floor was sticky when people cleared out from PBRs dropped and pit sweat. My bangs were soaked. I have a few bruises and my feet are still sore days later. It was fantastic and it makes me sad that I’ll never be able to see Joyce Manor for the first time again.
Taking a brief detour from this month’s Pride-based content (because I’m very sick and incapable of concerted research) to cover a recent show I attended.
This show was special, not just because it was insanely fun and had a great line-up, but because it was the first show my younger brothers had ever attended.
Taking place June 18 at Kings in Raleigh, this three-band show was a wildly good time and a great way to kick off a fresh work week.
Composed of Raleigh locals, Paranoid Maniac delivered a frenzy of hurried, untethered sounds.
The five-piece group were the first of the three headliners to go on, and their performance certainly set the tone for the rest of the night.
With an unceremonious start, the vocalist and band quickly mobilized to flood the room with a slant of distorted guitar, gnarling bass and reverberating drums that thrummed in the ribcages of everyone in the audience.
The vocalist, clad in a vest and large pair of opaque black shades, wailed barely-comprehensible lyrics into the mic as they paced back and forth across the stage.
Amid the swell of music that pounded against the venue’s concrete walls, certain phrases rang out with clarity, such as “f– the alt-right.”
The crowd was (frustratingly) still during this performance, headbanging and swaying in place despite the palpable energy that electrified the air.
At the end of the set, we’d all sufficiently woken up from our perpetual daytime half-slumber.
My first impression of the band formed while watching a roadie unceremoniously duct tape a flag on the venue wall.
Everything following was perfectly intense and chaotic.
As Reckoning Force started their set, patrons who’d been tucked away at the bar began to flock to the stage.
The vocalist lurched around in a torn-up yellow shirt with a frayed, screaming voice that paired nicely with the frantic music. Shortly after the start of the set, the crowd parted as two individuals darted back and forth across the floor.
The energy in the crowd changed instantly. Everyone moved at once either to dart to the sides of the room or to slam as hard as possible into the nearest person. I went for the second option and was promptly knocked to the ground by someone twice my size.
Two massive punks in studded vests immediately grabbed me, pulling me to my feet and checking to make sure I hadn’t broken something. I was fine, if not a bit embarassed, but felt better after watching several others take a similar tumble later.
Though the pit was small, we were sufficiently invigorated by the sounds — or maybe the force — of Reckoning Force.
The highlight of their set was certaintly when they covered Minor Threat’s “Screaming at a Wall,” a track well suited to the vocalist’s particular brand of angsty screams.
The final band to perform was Public Acid, based out of Richmond and North Carolina.
Like Reckoning Force, the band set up a flag before their performance. To my absolute delight, they simply taped their flag — baring a Rorschachesque skull — over the one left up by Reckoning Force.
Public Acid was my brothers’s favorite act of the night, as they said the music reminded them of the DOOM franchise.
The band’s straight-up heinous sound compelled my brothers, both teenagers “too cool” to do much of anything, to bob their heads and sway around. I consider that a massive win.
Though not many patrons entered the pit, this allowed for more movement and dynamism as people kicked their legs around, spun and knocked into each other. The energy in the room was magnetic, even for those outside of the pit.
Public Acid was a great way to end off the night, leaving the audience sweat-drenched and shaking with adrenaline. After the show, I felt both like I could run ten miles and sleep for ten years.
Paranoid Maniac, Reckoning Force and Public Acid are three bands with small online presences.
They make up for this by totally dominating the stage and plunging the audience into a landscape of chaos, insanity and vigor.
Familiarity with the bands isn’t necessary to enjoy them. Their vibrant sounds and captivating stage presence strike you right through the ribcage in the best possible way.
If you were wondering when and where the world’s largest gathering of gay people wearing Doc Martens was, it was May 2, 2023 at The Ritz Raleigh. The 10,000 gecs tour, featuring Machine Girl as the opener, stopped in Raleigh during its nationwide run.
As many of you may be aware, Double Barrel Benefit 19, a WKNC fundraiser, happened recently. Each of the two nights featured four local artists playing their hearts out to a packed venue at Kings Raleigh. The energy in the place was incredibly lively, and the whole concert was just a great time. I want to showcase some of the best acts from both nights here that I believe deserve more support and a larger fanbase.
Night one premiered with techno act Chainletter, who brought the initially stagnant, uninterested crowd to an energetic boil. This silent DJ didn’t need to interrupt their set to bring the crowd back to their music. They knew how to keep adding on more and more depth to their sound, ramping up the intensity over time.
Juxton Roy closed out night one of DBB19 as its headliner with the most dynamic set of any artist that night. This queer, emo rock group kept up much of the energy from previous act Fading Signal while infusing a richer emotional core. They swerved from crowd-pleasers like “The Road” to trauma-dump session “Elephant” with ease.
Teens in Trouble
Night two featured artists such as Teens in Trouble, whose set felt most familiar to other indie rock artists . Their music felt perfectly crafted for a party setting with a lively on-stage performance contrasting lead vocalist Lizzie Killian’s shoegaze singing. Although their lyrics can get quite melancholic, their sound never failed to keep the crowd engaged and moving.
Khx05 (pronounced “chaos”) might have been my favorite act across all of DBB19. This black, trans artist from night two put on by far the most invigorating on-stage performance of any artist through their dance. With music emphasizing sexuality and power, their dance felt like a really well choreographed thirst trap in the best possible way.
Although seeing any artist live tends to be a more enjoyable experience than listening to them online or through radio, Khx05 was incredible to see in-person in a way that can’t be appreciated otherwise. Additional help was provided by WKNC’s own Plover, who did DJ work during the set.
Double Barrel Benefit 19 was an absolutely fantastic experience to share with everyone who came out for it. I wish the artists I’ve mentioned here, as well as the others who performed, all the best in their future careers. There’s so much good music in local music scenes, so support local artists when you can.
Quarters of Change is an alternative-rock indie band from New York City. As a quartet from the lower east side, they are helping to bring forward a new wave of NYC alt-rock. The band, formed in 2017, is composed of Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, Jasper Harris and Ben Roter.
What started as a group of high school guys playing music together has turned into a touring band with an exponentially growing fan base. The band’s debut album, Into the Rift, was released July 2022. The 11-track compilation exemplifies their versatile alternative sound. Four months later, they released the deluxe version with three additional tracks, one of them being a personal favorite, “Blue Copper.”
With songs like “Jaded,” “Ms. Dramatic,” “Sex” and “Die in Your Arms,” they showcase this versatility in sound. They switch between electrifying guitar riffs, catchy refrains, groovy drum beats, upbeat tempos, and slow melodies.
The band has had some newfound success in the past years with contributions from legendary producers Tom Lord-Alge and Mikey Freedom Hart. They have also had some songs, “Kiwi” and “T Love,” featured on indie and alternative rock Spotify playlists which have helped to expand their listeners.
The first time I saw QOC was when they opened for Laundry Day in April 2022 at Irving Plaza in New York City. The show was almost sold out and the crowd was lively. I had no idea who they were at the time and was just there for the ride. I was impressed by their stage presence and vocals, but what made me an instant fan was the mesmerizing guitar riff in the crowd favorite, Kiwi.
Now, Quarters of Change is currently on a North American headlining tour. Luckily, I was able to secure tickets for the Cat’s Cradle date before the sell-out.
I had bought three tickets to go with friends earlier on in Jan., while coincidentally in Manhattan on a trip.
On the day of the show at Cat’s Cradle’s back room, my friends and I settled in for the concert right next to the stage. Being familiar with Cat’s Cradle already, I was excited about the intimacy of the performance.
The opening support, Savoia, an alternative indie rock band also from New York got the crowd going with their eccentric performance from the lead singer and their danceable songs. I enjoyed Savoia’s set and found myself doing some head-banging, although I felt some tracks were repetitive in structure.
Yet they still successfully got the crowd warmed up for the main show. The crowd was mainly college-aged individuals and a semi-alternative scene.
QOC came out on stage to open with “Chloe”, a catchy song with a broken-hearted tone. Many of the songs the band performed were from their new album, Into the Rift.
While “Ms. Dramatic” and “Dead” seemed to be the two crowd favorites of the night, the audience was singing along and dancing to every song. It would be fair to say that the majority of the crowd was established supporters of the group already.
The group also played iconic hits “T Love,” “Rift,” “Blue Copper,” “Sofia,” “Kiwi” and “Depression”.
The lead vocalist, Roter, brought high energy and amazing vocals into the performance, while Acker and Harris played clean guitar and had great flow and Anrather carried with his beats.
Despite being cut short on time by the venue, the group managed to play two more songs for the fans which was notable. The crowd definitely appreciated the gesture.
The band members were very kind and took the time to talk to fans as well as Leksie Fetrow and myself, the WKNC reps, after the show. We sat outside and chatted for a good 30 minutes with members of both Savoia and QOC. All of them were super sweet and carried a great presence off the stage as well.
Overall, my friends and I had a lovely time. We sang, danced and thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I would definitely love to see Quarters of Change and Savoia again sometime soon.
It’s the end of the year, and it’s been a very stacked year for me in terms of concerts. At the time of writing this, I’ve seen about 130 different bands across 50 shows in 2021. This admittedly made it very difficult to find time to review these shows for the WKNC blog, but I figured the next best thing to do would be an end-of-year recap showcasing what I feel were the best concerts I attended this year.
10. Oberlin with Komodo and Frass at Iguanatropolis, Raleigh. April 30
Picking a spot to start this list was tough, given the sheer amount of contenders, but taking the first spot is what was my last show of the Spring ‘22 semester taking place at Iguanatropolis, a local house venue that regularly hosts shows showcasing mostly local bands.
The first band of the night was Frass, a noise rock band that provided a great start to the show, with bassist and singer Eyn demonstrating incredible prowess on his instrument. Additionally, the drumming for this band is tight, and the band itself has a great psychedelic groove that pairs surprisingly well with the harsh vocal style. After Frass, Komodo took the stage, and this set was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me.
Very few bands sound like Komodo, having a sound that somehow combines the style TOOL, Queens of the Stone Age, and the theme song from King of the Hill in the greatest way possible. The last act of the night was the math rock trio Oberlin, who were actually the first band I saw this year. This is yet another band with a very unique sound, balancing clean and harsh vocals very well together with the shifting and diverse instrumentation.
Overall, this was a wonderful showcasing of local bands at a house venue that I have continued to go to and look forward to seeing it aid the local scene.
9. Sepultura with Crowbar and Art of Shock at The Blind Tiger, Greensboro. March 23
Brazilian thrashers Sepultura are a top 10, maybe top 5 band for me, and when I found out they were coming to the Blind Tiger in Greensboro I was not going to miss it.
Opening for them on their North American tour this year was the sludge metal titan Crowbar, the bay area thrash outfit Sacred Reich, and the Los Angeles based thrash group Art of Shock. Sadly due to traffic I missed the vast majority of Art of Shock’s set, and I found out upon my arrival that Sacred Reich had to cancel due to a medical emergency with their frontman Phil Rind.
However, any woes I had were washed away once I got hit with a wall of sound from frontman Crowbar Kirk Windsteins incredible guitar tone. The setlist spanned their 32 year history, playing some hits along with some lesser played songs. After Crowbar’s set, I got up close to the stage to get ready for Sepultura.
The lights dimmed and cut to blue light as the choir track to “Isolation,” the opening song off of Quadra played, and as soon as the first riff of the song was launched into from guitarist Andreas Kisser, I knew I was in for a great night.
The rest of the set for the night was fast and hard hitting, fitting 17 songs into what felt like no time at all, and doing an excellent job balancing material before and after their change in singers.
Overall, the whole show that I managed to catch between Sepultura and Crowbar was incredible, and I would highly recommend catching these bands live at any chance you get.
8. Tetanus with Kudzu and C.I.Ape at the Spoke Easy, Charlotte. May 13
The number 8 spot for this year is where I’m going to start talking about the Charlotte punk scene. This was my first show back in Charlotte after returning from college, and getting to have some fun at the spoke easy with local bands and good friends was a great way to start.
The headliners of the night were Tetanus, a now-gone noise punk group that always drew a wild crowd, along with Kudzu and an early show from up-and-comers C.I.Ape. C.I.Ape’s set got the crowd moving early on in the show, and continued to keep the energy high throughout their performance. Kudzu was next, and it was a fairly straight forward punk set, though the band has yet to play any shows since to my knowledge.
Closing out the night was Tetanus in what would be one of their final performances, and despite that it was still an excellent performance with an insanely active crowd. The overall energy amongst all the bands and the crowd at this show is what cements it amongst the best of the year for me.
7: Public Acid, Dark Thoughts, and Personality Cult at The Fruit, Durham. October 27
Public Acid was the first punk band I got to see in the triangle area back in 2021, and I wasn’t going to miss them playing at The Fruit in Durham, which has become maybe my favorite venue in this state.
Opening the night was Personality Cult, a North Carolina punk band that I would recommend to any fans of bands like Liquids or Lumpy and the Dumpers. In general, this was a great band to start the show, and I’m excited to hear more from them. Up next was Dark Thoughts from Philadelphia, who are quite possibly the closest any band has ever come to sound like The Ramones and somehow they pull it off without it feeling like a rip-off. Their set was excellent, and it was fun feeling like I was brought back into the 1970’s.
Last up was the Richmond and Raleigh based Public Acid, who rocked out a great set to a receptive and moving crowd. The fun of the first two acts combined with the raw hardcore punk brought by Public Acid, is what puts this show as the seventh best show of the year.
6: Anthrax, Black Label Society, Hatebreed, and a bonus Plan B show at The Fillmore & The Milestone Club, Charlotte NC. August 13
The announcement of this tour co-headlined by thrash metal icon Anthrax and Black Label Society was one that got me to buy tickets instantly, especially given the smaller size of the venue compared to where I would expect these bands to be playing. Supported by Hatebreed on this leg, this show did not let up from start to finish.
The crowd was relentless for Hatebreed, one of the few metalcore bands I really enjoy, moving like an ocean of people as singer Jamey Jasta held the audience in the palm of his hand the whole time. Black Label Society followed, playing a set spotlighting their newest that was probably the best I’ve seen from them.
Worth noting from this performance was the chops on bassist John DeServio, who’s playing was only rivaled by his monstrous bass tone that cut through the mix. Anthrax put on a high-energy set as they do, playing songs throughout their whole discography, including “Only,” a personal favorite song of mine from the band. After seeing this amazing triple threat of a lineup, my friend and I booked it to Charlotte’s historic Milestone Club where the local punk group Plan B was about to begin a set.
Making it in the knick of time, we got to close out our night supporting a powerhouse band that draws local punks from across the city.
5. High on Fire, Municipal Waste, Gel, and Early Moods at the State Theatre, Greenville, NC. December 9
One of the last shows of the year and the most recent on this list was a co-headlining show between High On Fire and Municipal Waste with support from hardcore up-and-comers Gel out of New Jersey and Los Angeles’s Early Moods.
Every act on here was great, but what makes this the fifth best show of the year for me was Gel. Over the last few weeks this has become probably my current favorite punk band, and I got to find out after their set that the previously mentioned Plan B will be opening for them in Charlotte on February 3. This band is insane, with a powerful stage presence and songs that maintain a groove while retaining their hardcore punk tone.
Municipal Waste was fun as always, having the rowdiest crowd of the night and giving it their all despite singer Tony Foresta battling laryngitis. Early Moods were a wonderful surprise, having a sound similar to Black Sabbath blended with some of the harmonizations of Iron Maiden, fronted by an excellent vocalist.
High On Fire closed out the show with an excellent set that made me nearly deaf for a few days after, but the guitar tone that Matt Pike has found has no other way to be played as loud as possible.
4. Puscifer and Night Club at Ovens Auditorium, Charlotte. November 1
This would be the second time I’ve seen Puscifer, having previously seen them over the summer at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
This time felt different however, especially as I was seeing the experimental art rock group fronted by TOOL’s Maynard James Keenan with my family. This leg of the tour had electronic duo Night Club opening, who were a pleasant surprise to me as the style of music was not something I usually get engaged in.
Puscifer’s set began with a video sketch of Maynard James Keenan in character as Dick Merkin, informing audiences of the no phones policy and threatening violators with being turned into ground meat. The set was long but did not overstay its welcome, and went through almost all of their most recent output Existential Reckoning. The whole band, in particular vocalist Carina Round and touring drummer Gunnar Olsen, were incredible and performed the songs beautifully.
While anyone intending to see Puscifer should not expect it to be anything like anything they’ve ever seen, I highly recommend seeing them live as it is really a beautiful experience.
3. Delco Motherfuckers, Invertebrates, Scarecrow, and Headkicker at The Fruit, Durham. September 3
This show was my first experience at The Fruit in Durham, which has since become my favorite venue in the triangle. The lineup of this punk show was stacked, having Raleigh’s Headkicker and Scarecrow, along with Invertebrates from Richmond and Delco Motherfuckers from Philadelphia. The highlight act of this show for me though was definitely Scarecrow, who I had previously been trying to see for nearly a year.
This group is a masterclass in D-beat hardcore punk, and is also led by some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. That being said, every other band on this bill was excellent, incredibly fun to see and led to this being the third best show of the year for me.
2: ZZ Top with Kenny Wayne Shepherd at White Oak Amphitheatre, Greensboro. August 5
The penultimate spot of this list goes to ZZ Top, who even without the recently passed Dusty Hill sounded enthusiastic and as in-sync as ever. Kenny Wayne Shepherd opened the show (with Stevie Ray Vaughn drummer Chris Layton I should add), with a lovely set composed of half original material and half covers of artists ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Bob Dylan. But the show truly started when the Texas rock trio took the stage, performing a lengthy setlist spanning their 50 year history that was an all around great time.
I was particularly impressed by drummer Frank Beard, who maintained excellent grooves throughout the show and doesn’t show off more than needed. Billy Gibbons may also be the smoothest guitarist I’ve ever seen, playing effortlessly. I’m not sure exactly what it was about this show that made it so amazing, but I’d highly recommend seeing ZZ Top given the chance.
1: Tool and Brass Against at the O2 Arena, London. May 9
The top slot of this list was the easiest to place, as the entire experience of flying overseas to London with my father to go see one of our favorite bands live was something incredible. The best way I can describe what it’s like to see TOOL live is that it is akin to an otherworldly or religious experience.
New York’s Brass Against opened the show, performing brass band renditions of popular songs from Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, and even from the headlining band’s own catalog. I cannot state enough how incredible of a singer frontwoman Sophia Urista is, who knocked out of the park a cover of “Cochise.” TOOL themselves performed a spectacle of a show, composed mostly of songs from 2019’s Fear Inoculum, and showed the way that their discography is meant to be heard. Additionally, I was pleased to have had a vastly different setlist from when I last saw them in 2019 at Raleigh’s PNC Arena, getting treated to some of my favorite songs such as “Pushit,” “The Grudge,” and to my surprise, “Ticks & Leeches,” which had only been performed one other time in the last decade. To both fans and non-fans of this band, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to see this band should it ever arise.
Local Asheville, North Carolina legends, MJ Lenderman and the Wind opened for Katie Crutchfield and Jesse Williamson’s new project, Plains, on their month-long tour in support of their new album.
On Monday November 7, Plains and MJ Lenderman stopped in Saxapahaw, North Carolina at the Haw River Ballroom on their tour. This was the perfect night for me because the Haw River Ballroom is one of my favorite venues in the area, and MJ Lenderman and Waxahatchee are two of my favorite artists. I wrote about my love for MJ Lenderman’s latest album “Boat Songs” in a blog post over the summer, and I continue to gush over the album everyday.
MJ Lenderman is the solo project of singer songwriter Jake Lenderman, he is also known for his lead guitar work in the band Wednesday. The band played as a six-piece, made up of frontman Jake Lenderman, drummer Colin Miller, who has a solo project I really love, Xandy Chelmis on pedal steel and tambourine, who also plays pedal steel in Wednesday, Jon Samuels on guitar, who also plays in 2nd grade and Friendship, a bass player I did not catch the name of when he was introduced on stage, and guest guitarist Brad Cook, who is an acclaimed producer and musician based in Durham, NC. He’s worked on records like “Valentine” from Snail Mail, “Any Shape You Take” by Indigo De Souza, Plains’ “I Walked With You A Ways,” and so many others.
The “Hometown” Heroes played a 45 minute set and opened with the electric tune “You Have Bought Yourself A Boat.” The crashing symbols and bombastic bassline made for a great opening tune. From there the band played “TLC Cagematch” and then “Hangover Game.” It was really interesting to hear the band slow it down so quickly and bring it back up by wedging one of their saddest songs in between their most driving tunes.
Karly Hartzman, the lead singer and guitarist of Wednesday came on stage for “Toontown” to sing backing vocals. Her voice shined through against such a somber tune adding to the atmosphere of the performance. A lot of people in the audience were fans of MJ Lenderman, and I think a lot of his family was at the show, which added to the atmosphere and excitement for the band as well.
The band’s energy on stage was electric. They set up in a u shape so they could all look at each other and communicate about the stops, changes, and jams throughout the set. Everyone on stage looked like they were having a great time and it felt as if they were allowing the audience to look in on one of their practices. Their sound filled the intimidatingly large size of the Haw River Ballroom. It was a lot of fun to watch Xandy get really into the songs and not be able to stop moving while playing the pedal steel or tambourine. The performance also felt really personal, Lenderman is a really honest song writer and his vulnerability translates well on stage through his vocal delivery.
Later in the set the band played older songs like “Knockin’” and “Someone Get the Grill Out of the Rain” which the crowd loved. They closed out with their tune “Tastes Just Like it Costs” which had kind of been a track I had overlooked on his new record, since the record is filled with so many amazing tracks that I gravitated towards more. However, hearing this song live has now made it one of my favorites. The band played with so much passion, it radiated off the stage. Set to cast in overblown fuzzy guitars, the track has a sense of warmth that comforts in the face of disappointment. I was enthralled by the way Lenderman sang out “Mmmm honey, it tastes just like it cost” with so much emotion. By the end of the song the whole crowd and band were singing that line along with him.
Plains followed up MJ Lenderman, and of course they sounded wonderful. Crutchfield and Williamson had the most perfect harmonies, their voices blended so well together. The group played some of their new songs like “Problem With It” and “Abilene” and they also played songs from their solo projects together, like “Can’t Do Much” from Waxahatchee’s catalog and “Hunter” from Jesse Williamson’s catalog.
MJ Lenderman will be back in the area on February 2, 2023 at the Cat’s cradle back room with Florry.
Hippos on campus? The probability is low, but never zero. Though it may not have been directly here on NC State’s campus, Hippo Campus and CHAI performed nearby at The Ritz, a venue I have become increasingly familiar with during my time here in Raleigh, on Friday, Oct. 21.
I was fortunate enough to receive a photo pass to this show, and ended up with photos (both digital and film) that I am very excited to share from both artists’ sets, and want to give a huge thanks to the awesome staff at The Ritz for this.
Hippo Campus is an indie rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota, comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Jake Luppen, bassist Zach Sutton, lead guitarist Nathan Stocker, drummer Whistler Allen, and trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson.
CHAI, composed of members Yuuki, Yuna, and twin sisters Mana and Kana, opened the show up with nothing short of an incredible performance, coming on stage in crochet cat balaclavas for their song “No More Cake”. The members of the group alternated between choreography, live mixing, and playing various instruments throughout the show, bringing an astounding amount of energy to the venue.
The Japanese electro-pop group’s stage presence was so entrancing I very nearly forgot I was there for photographs for a moment. Their set was primarily made up of songs off of their latest album, “WINK”, including “ACTION”, which is one of my favorite songs by the group! I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of their set, and believe if you get a chance you should check them out. CHAI has a very unique style of music, and I felt that their opening of the show set up a nice contrast for Hippo Campus to follow up to.
I will admit prior to continuing about headliners Hippo Campus that I have not personally listened to their new album, so I was unsure of what to expect from their portion of the show. Another photographer there had also told me that in previous years, their sets were near impossible to shoot due to the low lighting, so I was also admittedly a little worried at first from a photography standpoint.
However, I was very pleasantly surprised by their high contrast lighting and the well executed set design. Considering that I also have not listened to them since high school, I found their newer songs much more mature in the afterglow of their prior soft boy-centric indie era. Despite this, they gave a wonderfully pleasant performance and a part of my 15 year-old self was certainly satisfied with seeing them live.
Photos of Hippo Campus, all taken by Leksie Fetrow.
Their live vocals were impressive, sounding virtually the same as their recordings (Jake Luppen has indeed been eating CDs for breakfast!!), and the incorporation of brass instruments was a touch that I always love to see in live shows. As this show was rescheduled from a previous date as a part of their tour promoting their newest album, “LP3”, their setlist was primarily made up of these new releases, such as “2 Young 2 Die” and “Semipro.”
Though I spent a vast majority of the show running around The Ritz like a chicken with my head cut off to find angles and swap out rolls of film, I had an absolutely awesome time at this show, and it was definitely fun to take a step back and observe the flow of the crowd and the band from an exterior perspective as a photographer.
Photo taken by Leksie Fetrow.
And once again, I just want to give a major shout out to the wonderful staff of The Ritz for providing this opportunity to shoot some sick pics for WKNC (we love y’all, sorry for nearly missing my cue to leave the front of barricade I got a little too invested in the flix).
Tuesday, Nov.15 these Origami Angel, Pool Kids and Insignificant Other performed at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC.
To briefly summarize: these three performances had drastically different personalities that evoked drastically different audience responses. It had some very high and very low moments.
I’ll be taking a dive into my experience at this show, focusing on the first impressions of each band, their overall stage presence and the quality of their music.
If you are interested in learning more about each band and their discography, WKNC also posted a concert preview blog. You can find the concert preview on our blog.
Insignificant Other performance, taken by author
Insignificant Other was a sufficient start to this concert but had some awkward moments that took away from their performance.
Unfortunately, this band felt a little disconnected live. Although this does not directly impact the sound of their music, each of the band member had very different energy during their performance.
To give some context, their van broke down a few days prior to this performance, which threatened their continuation of the tour and required many costly repairs and setbacks. The band was obviously in a poor mood.
However, this issue was brought up in their performance multiple times. One of the members going as far as saying, “please show us some love at the merch table, I don’t want to beg, but we are broke.”
It is extremely unfortunate that they had such a big issue mid-tour, but they allowed this issue to impact their performance greatly. It would have been more beneficial for them to bring it up once, then put on a killer performance despite the circumstances.
Personally, it’s not your comments that will move me to buy your merch– it’s the music.
The van was brought up so many times that I hardly remember what their performance was like– their complaints were at the forefront of my mind.
I want to acknowledge how difficult it must be to be an opener. The audience is not warmed up yet and the energy is low.
However, the best opening performances I have seen have been the bands that are unapologetically high energy and excited to share their music (bands like Similar Kind and Nordista Freeze).
Insignificant Other took a different route, begging for the audience to dance and overall coming off as insecure. I was hoping to see more confidence from them.
I hope in the rest of their tour they are able to cast aside their worries and put on a great show. They certainly have the skill and the discography to do so.
Pool Kid’s Performance, taken by author
Pool Kids were my favorite performance of the night. They did a phenomenal job, and their performance brought a newfound admiration to their music.
I could clearly see how much this band loved working together. They glowed on the stage and had a contagious confidence to them. There were so many moments when the members would share the biggest smile with each other.
The friendship and talent on the stage was a joy to watch.
Beyond their great chemistry, they make some outstanding music. I was unfamiliar with some of their newest songs, but despite not listening to them prior, they won me over on first listen.
They provided some great moments for moshing and dancing, but also had some great moments of stillness. Overall, just a tremendously talented and well-rounded performance.
Origami Angel performance, taken by author
I had some pretty high expectations from headliner, Origami Angel; and their performance was nothing short of outstanding. This emo-rock performance has so much skill packed within the two members.
This tour has been their first headlining tour, yet they had such a mature and refined sound. Their performance alluded to a band that had been on many, many headlining tours.
Why where they not my favorite performance of the night? The audience.
Unfortunately, their fan base in this concert dampened my experience greatly. It could be due to the fact that they are a relatively new band, emerging in 2017 or it could be their angsty lyrics or pop culture references– their audience was extremely immature.
I have mentioned this in previous blog posts, but the audience is always the worst part of any performance. This audience was by far the worst I have ever experienced.
The moshing and crowd surfing was completely unhinged. Multiple people near me had gotten injured and unwilling individuals would get sucked into the chaos.
Certain individuals abused the chaos. There were two people in particular that jumped on stage and crowd surfed 8-10 times each. These individuals greatly took away from the performance by jumping on stage so frequently.
All to say, there were some poor audience members, and their behavior directly impacted the performers.
It was clear lead singer and guitarist, Ryland Heagy, got increasingly upset throughout the performance due to the shear amount of heckling and chaos on the stage. Not just in the crowd– on the stage.
It was really unfortunate to have such outstanding musicians get upstaged by such inconsiderate audience members.
I cannot stress it enough– Ryland Heagy and drummer Pat Doherty are outstanding live. I am looking forward to the opportunity to see Origami Angel again, hopefully with a more considerate audience.