Concert Review

The Big Pink rock Cat’s Cradle

After winning an NME award last month, The Big Pink embarked on their North American tour, and were so kind as to give Carrboro’s own, Cat’s Cradle, a visit.

Playing tracks off of their latest album “A Brief History of Love” the band started off their set with fuzzy synthesizer and heavy guitar tracks.

Without taking any breaks the band went from one excellent track to the next. Their high energy intro included such songs as “Too Young to Love” and “At War With the Sun.”

The band then transitioned to slower songs from their latest release. The crowd enjoyed songs like “Velvet,” “Crystal Visions,” and “Love in Vain.”

As the set progressed they eventually started to take a break to thank the audience. At one point during the set he said he felt so much love in the room he wanted to “Fuck out all of our brains.”

The band then gave a special treat to the audience by playing some new songs that have yet to be released. Easily the highlight of DJ Ones’ night was drummer Akiko Matsurra and Milo Cordell, whom both played amazingly.

The band finished off an already amazing set with their hit song “Dominoes” which had the packed Cat’s Cradle jumping unlike ever before. The highlight of the night for DJ Mollypop came when the energy that had been building and flowing throughout the venue during the set reached its ultimate zenith during “Dominoes." All in all, The Big Pink put on an amazing set which featured some of their best tracks, and tracks we’ve never heard before. For the fans of The Big Pink, these guys are a great to see live!

Concert Review Local Music

LBLB Photos from April 1

The Height

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Nuclear Power Pants

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Lonnie Walker

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Concert Review

The Road Went On Forever…

…and that party, it still hasn’t ended.

Oh, listeners of Americana Blues & Co – you know how I love me some Robert Earl Keen.  The man was back in town, hitting the Lincoln to play for the usual crowd of drunks, fun-lovers, and good-time aficionados.  In fact, it appears the NCSU student body president Jim Ceresnak is a fan.  I didn’t know he was right behind me until my helpful brother informed me after the show.

But, on to the show!

Sons of Bill opened up and, like last November, showed that they can hold their own.

These are a group of good ol’ boys from Virginia with a sound that pulls together influence from outlaw country with a dose of Gram Parsons.

When REK and his band came on stage, the audience was in for a big surprise.  They played a lineup of lesser-known, lesser-played songs.  The people expecting him to tear through No. 2 Live Dinner looked a little confused and certainly didn’t know the words, but some (like me) were thrilled to hear some favorites that we thought we’d never hear live.  (Mine is “The Raven and the Coyote,” by the by.)

The best part of a Keen show, in my opinion, is just letting go and having fun.  This is a band of seasoned pros who know how to put on an excellent show.  Next time you’re in town, give ‘em a try.  I know I’ll be there.

Concert Review

Didn’t make it to ULTRA? Neither did I…

After a 12-hour driving marathon from Raleigh to Miami, my heart was broken to find that due to forces beyond my control, I wasn’t going to make it to Ultra. What is Ultra? Ultra is one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world. Attracting huge names like Benny Benassi, Crystal Method, Infected Mushroom, Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, ATB, Groove Armada, Eric Prydz, Orbital, LMFAO, and more. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed about not being able to go. Well, not for long…

You see, when you get hundreds of great DJs together in a city like Miami, something wonderful and magical happens in a certain place that you would normally never find me – clubs. With these DJs in town, clubs suddenly have access to some of the best DJs around who play some of the greatest music you will ever hear. I’ve picked out a few shows that I really enjoyed and thought would be worth sharing.

One of the first shows I attended featured the duo of Armand Van Helden and A-Trak. Together, known as Duck Sauce. These guys complemented each other’s style perfectly. Their set began with a solid beat that you could feel and easily move your body to. It featured the typical funky house music with a kick of groovy disco and just a dash of hard hitting bass. I felt like there was a little bit of back and forth between the two DJ’s styles but the songs were mixed together so well it was hard to tell. The rest of the night kept the theme of electronic house with alternating DJ’s. I enjoyed this show more than I thought I would considering I’m not the biggest house fan.

Another show I attended featured Annie Mac and DJ Mehdi. Annie Mac has a show on BBC Radio 1 which makes her pretty much a big deal. The bar was set high, and she did not fail to disappoint. The mixes between songs and genres that she had in her set kept the audience thoroughly energized and entertained. She didn’t leave a song on for too long or too little- she somehow always found the perfect balance that kept the movement of the entire set moving fluidly. Furthermore, she managed to get sounds from house to dub step to disco to mix together in a way that kept everything from getting boring or too repetitive. I think I love her.

Below is video of her dub step segment found on Youtube.

DJ Mehdi is a personal favorite of mine so I was pretty excited to see him live. His performance did not fail to disappoint me either. He ended up trading off between some other DJs throughout the night but when I did catch him tearing up the boards, it was typical Mehdi. He had the fantastic funky hip hop with some great clean sounding synths that kept an amazing upbeat feeling that I’ve grown so fond of.

Below is a video from youtube of a portion of his set:

Despite the fact that I didn’t get to attend the almighty ULTRA Music Festival, I still was able to have an amazing time being blasted by electronic music from fantastic DJs. But most importantly, I was exposed to an entirely new atmosphere that you just can’t get in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Seeing DJs of this caliber live is something that has to be done by an electronic fan at least once in their life. To see the energy that a good DJ can bring out of a crowd is amazing, to feel the 25 ft speaker bass humming through your body is face melting, and to be a part of the entire movement of energy that flows through the entire venue from DJ to music to audience back to DJ is almost spiritual.  That’s something you just can’t get from those white iPod ear-buds.

Concert Review

Deerhunter puts on an interactive show at the Cradle

As Bradford Cox took the stage to set up his equipment Sunday night cheers roared from a packed house. Cox’s grins spread from ear to ear.  Deerhunter headlined the Cat’s Cradle Sunday night as a side show from their current tour with Spoon. They used this occasion to explore some new songs, play some older ones, and generally just have fun.

Deerhunter opened up with Cryptograms from their 2007 album of the same title.  This was followed by two new songs, one of which was sung by lead guitarist Lockett Pundt.  Overall, the band played well.  They fed off the excited crowds energy for uppers like Hazel St. and Nothing Ever Happened, then eventually winded down gracefully for Calvary Scars.

The highlight of the show was in the final song of the set.  Halfway through Agoraphobia, Cox grabbed a youngster from the audience and brought him on stage to play to tambourine with the band.  This began what would probably be one of the most memorable shows this fan will ever have.  From playing with the band, to being carried on Pundt’s shoulders to being paid a hundred bucks by Cox to pull down Pundt’s pants on stage, this kid did it all.

As we left the venue Cox waited by to door to thank each and everyone individually for coming to the show.  The final touch on an intimate, memorable performance.

Set list:

  • Cryptograms
  • New
  • New (sung by lead guitarist)
  • Never Stops
  • Hazel St.
  • Little Kids
  • New (Revival)
  • Nothing Ever Happened
  • Microcastle
  • Operation
  • Calvary Scars II/Aux Out
  • Cover Me > Agoraphobia
  • Encore: Fluorescent Grey
Concert Review

Black Lips storm the Cradle

If you’ve never seen Black Lips live, you owe it to yourself to do so the next time they are in town. This being my third time seeing them at the Cat’s Cradle this weekend, I can say with 100 percent certainty that they put on one of the best rock shows out of any touring band playing now.

After a mediocre opening set by the band Box Elders (think Black Lips minus any hooks), the Lips took the stage at full throttle and never let up. “O Katrina” and “Short Fuse,” two of my favorite Black Lips songs, popped up early in the set, along with Beatles-esque crowd-pleaser “Dirty Hands.”

One of the most entertaining parts of a Black Lips show is watching guitarist and singer Cole Alexander flail around the stage. While I’d seen him pull the spit-straight-up-and-catch-it move before, he had a new trick this time which involved spitting on the back of his guitar and raising it up to catch the drip. All this while never missing a note.

A lively crowd who bounced the whole show and a light mosh pit only served to add to the energy being exuded from the stage.

Black Lips are truly the definition of a great live rock show.

Concert Review Local Music

2/25 LBLB Photos

Photographs by WKNC photographer Katie Hill


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The Jackets

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Small Ponds

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Concert Review

Annuals, Gray Young and Bright Young Things concert review

Halfway through the Annuals set on Friday night I had the thought, “if you aren’t at the Pour House tonight, you’re missing out.” The thought came as Adam Baker thanked the crowd for choosing the Pour House over wherever the Black Eyed Peas were playing at on Friday night. It’s true – -if you weren’t there, you did miss out. Annuals destroyed it, but who wasn’t expecting that? Let me tell you about what you missed that you might not would have expected.

Just before 10 p.m., bright tones began to sound from hollow body electrics and classic tele’s. Though the atmosphere was thick with loud anticipation of the upcoming night, the subtle pitches of the tuning process let the audience know that Bright Young Things was about to start an incredible night. I was still at the bar ordering a sweetwater, cold, off the tap, when the sound of a pure American style rock band began to change this bar atmosphere into a rock and roll music show. Bright Young Things kept it high energy, played a tight set, and before it seemed any time had passed, had to wrap up their set to let the next act come on.

By the time the set was over, I had slithered my way through the crowded bar to about 10 feet back from the stage, middle. I didn’t want to lose my spot (to ensure you a great blog entry, of course) so my friend stepped to the bar in the back to refresh our beverages while I held tight. A fellow concert goer that I had never met before noticed I was standing there alone. After the usual “whats up man,” he asked if I knew who was playing tonight. I smiled a little bit, just knowing how lucky my new friend was, and told him Gray Young was up next and then Annuals were taking the stage. He asked the likely question: “well, are they good?” Response: “Well, everyone like Annuals man, but if you listen to rock music (I could tell he did), get ready for Gray Young. Its just a loop pedal and hard rock, you’re going to like it.”

The conversation ended soon, but I later found my friend in the bathroom line after the show. I asked him what he thought. His only response was, and I quote, “you were right man, Gray Young (expletive deleted)ing rocked.” We were both right, Gray Young drove a rift through the room with an explosive resonance sounding from the striking of the first chord. The bombardment of sound, full of rhythm and tone-hope and a touch of longing, didn’t stop until the stage had to be set for what was to come.

I’m not sure of the time, but I know the moment that Annuals began to trickle out onto the stage. Suddenly everyone in the room began to notice that one of Raleigh’s favorite children, the very one that welcomed 2010 into our realm at the downtown new year’s party, was taking the stage. Ears were treated to Nick Radford taking shots at his drumheads, checking the tones. For the eyes, there was the beautiful Anna Spence checking her patches and keys while Kenny Florence operated his tuning pedal. The taste of cold brew for the mouth and for the nose the smell of spring only days away and a thick room already subjected to great local rock. Nothing immediate to the touch, instead hands and minds were reaching out to moments later when the music would start. The set list began and seemed to end before I knew what had happened. Annuals destroyed the room , like we all knew they would, but few would have called that the entirety of the room would know all the words – that the crowd would be so energetic that the band would exclaim again and over again that “this is (same expletive as before)ing awesome!”

The point to all of this? Friday night was a great display of local music in Raleigh. If you weren’t there, you missed out. It was an eclectic night with elements of alt. rock, post rock, indie, folk, and so much more. If you did miss out, don’t fret don’t sweat. It happens every week somewhere here in the triangle. The local music scene is exploding around this town, you should get there. Maybe I’ll catch you in the crowd next time.

Concert Review

It’s always better in a Christmas sweater

Trekky Yuletide Orchestra and local friends took the stage at the Cat’s Cradle on December 15.

Last evening, DJ Nicole and DJ Cioffi, made the voyage to Chapel Hill to see some of the greatest acts take the stage to pay homage to the greatest holiday ever,  Christmas.  Hosted by the able bodied host Billy Sugarfix, we were delighted to see not only The Trekky Yuletide Orchestra, but Dexter Romweber, Stuart McLamb and Missy Thangs (of The Love Language), Des Ark, Whatever Brains, Organos, Veelee, Birds and Arrows, Mount Weather, and the last minute addition to the lineup, Lonnie Walker.

In the 4th annual Christmas at the Cradle, each band gave their interpretation of classic Christmas carols, as well as performed their own Christmas compositions. All acts were outstanding. Their songs ranged from classic ballads such as “Silent Night” performed in a distorted fashion by Lonnie Walker as well as the hilarious rendition of the holiday song, “I’m Gettin’ Nuffin’ For Christmas” which was performed by Organos. The bands’ songs Veelee covered, all featured stand-up drummers. So, for Christmas at the Cradle, Veelee’s Ginger performed standing up. The stand-up drumming was of great value and made us happy.

All in all, The Christmas at the Cradle show exceeded our expectations and filled our hearts with Christmas cheer.

Hope you will join us next year at the fifth Christmas at the Cradle.

Enjoy our pictures!

Concert Review

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt II Tour feat. Raekwon the Chef

During a year in which hip-hop seems to be coming back into the hands of actual emcees and leaving the hands of industry-supported artists, an album was dropped on September 8, 2009. An album that many, after 14 years, thought would never see the light of day. That album was the highly anticipated sequel to Raekwon the Chef’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, the album said to introduce the mafioso aspect to hip-hop back in 1995. Definitely being one of the hip-hop albums released this year, and in a very long time, it was only fitting that the Chef go on tour to promote his album. After a month or so in Europe, he finally hit the States and landed in the middle of North Carolina on December 6, 2009 at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle, when Raekwon, with the help of two special guests, put on a show just as equally dope as the album.

Of course, before getting to the main show, it must be brought to the attention that not all things started off with a bang at Cat’s Cradle. One of the opening acts, recently signed by Raekwon’s Ice H2O Records, came on stage for their performance. Having been to quite a few shows at Cat’s Cradle now, this was by far the worst performance I had ever seen. The name of this group is easily forgotten, as was their performance. Five guys bouncing on stage, bringing rhymes that you would hear from Gucci Man or Lil Wayne – and they were straight from North Carolina. Definitely not a great way to start the night. But thankfully, Raekwon’s arrival on stage pushed away all the horrible memories of that performance.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the God MC on stage, kicking a hole in the speaker, pullin’ the plug and then jetting. And I thought that was the greatest show I had been to. And while Rakim will always be the greatest rapper in my opinion, Raekwon destroyed the live show. The hunger was there – the drive, the passion. It was like watching a ghost from the past. And it reminded you why the members of the Wu-Tang clan still have the one of the biggest followings of any rap group in the world.

Without even saying a word,  the presence of Raekwon on stage was enough to send the crowd in a frenzy. The Chef had arrived and the symbol of the Wu-Tang Clan had immediately gone up, with choruses of “Wu-Tang!” echoing through the venue. And then the saga continued. From the legendary joint, “C.R.E.A.M.” to “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”, Rae kicked it off properly with joints from the classic Wu debut, 36 Chambers. And then, getting the crowd pumped up and talking about bringing real hip-hop back to the scene, Rae went straight into Cuban Linx I, grooving on stage to the song sampled in “Ice Cream” before launching into the actual song, accurately taking on verses by both himself & Wu-Tang brother, Ghostface Killah. Then it was on to the next one, ripping apart the song, “Criminology” and takin’ us back to “the good ol’ days”. But the Chef, already down with a cold and slowly losing his voice, decided to take a brief intermission and introduced to special, special guests on to the stage…

CNN. Capone-N-Noreaga. Bringing us a special “War Report”, and serving us up with classic tracks, including the amazingly dope cut, produced by DJ Premier, “Invincible.” For about 10 to 20 minutes,  CNN tore up the stage, leaving none in their path. And you could tell they were going hard. Capone came back on stage for a brief minute to talk about iPhone apps, of all things, and could barely speak above a whisper because he lost his voice from the performance. And for all of you looking for the next CNN album, keep on the lookout for The War Report 2, due out on Ice H2O records sometime in early 2010.

Of course, after the brief intermission, the Chef came back up to the front and got right back in the swing of things, giving praise, respect and love to his brother, Ason Jones, also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard and then destroying track after track after that was on the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, from “House of Flying Daggers” to “10 Bricks” and “Black Mozart”, Chef ended the saga with a bang, effectively closing up the sequel and conclusion to the original Cuban Linx album.

by DJ Wise