Music News and Interviews

Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger passes

It happened. In a huge blow to music fans, artists, and venues, The United States Justice Department has approved a merger of companies Ticketmaster and Live Nation, making the new company the biggest monopoly in the entire music industry.

Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff is quoted in a CNN article as saying, “Their resolution is a great win for fans. The entertainment industry needs innovation and we are ready to deliver.” This could not be any less true. If you’ve ever been to an event put on by Live Nation or Ticketmaster, you’ve likely payed anywhere from $10 to 30, just  in “service” fees. Sometimes these fees can be nearly as much as the base ticket price itself. With the new merger, these fees are likely to go up even more. These fees are in no way “innovative,” but in my opinion, a greedy way for the two companies to grab even more money from the concert-goer.

Proving that both companies are either egomaniacal or delusional – I would guess it’s likely the former – Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in the same article,  "This is a good and exciting day for the music business, and we are close to finalizing the creation of a new company that will seek to transform the way artists distribute their content and fans can access that content.“

I don’t think there is anything  good or exciting here, folks. The only transformation in the way fans are able to "access that content” are likely to be, as mentioned before, even higher “service” charges.

If this hasn’t convinced you that Ticketmaster and Live Nation are bad companies that care nothing about music, take this into account: Ticketmaster runs a ticket-resell site called TicketsNow. Prices for tickets on TicketsNow are not simply $10-20 dollars higher than the actual ticket prices. Try multiple times the actual ticket price. The really bad part? Ticketmaster takes a cut of the profits earned from this site, directly promoting humongous, greedy markups on ticket prices. Last year, when tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s US tour went on sale, when fans went to the Ticketmaster site to purchase tickets, they were automatically redirected to TicketsNow. The Boss was not happy.

I could go on about the myriad other ways this merger is detrimental to the music industry. Instead, however, I recommend reading the “Key Facts” page of the Ticket Disaster website, as well as exploring the rest of the site and signing the petition. You can also email your State Representatives asking they take action to pass laws against this type of merger. The music community, whether it be artists, fans, or venues, need to stand up and fight back against the bullying that Ticketmaster and Live Nation have been doing for so long.

*Thanks to music blog Consequence of Sound for the tip

Band/Artist Profile

Double Barrel Benefit 7 presents: Veelee

When you listen to Carrboro duo Veelee, you hear music inspired by a wide range of sources. For band mates Matt Park and Ginger Wagg, elements of music from bands such as Young People, Low, Lungfish, Stereolab and Pram went into creating Veelee’s unique sound. Also, according to Matt, Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit “Dream” has also served as a major influence on the way he and Ginger create music – everything happening in the song goes hand in hand its unchanging baseline.

Ginger, a first-time drummer, describes her percussion style as “simple and straightforward.” Veelee is the first band in which she has been a member. However, it seems doubtful the band’s success comes from beginner’s luck. Hard copies of its EP “Three Sides,” which came out  in May 2009, are sold out. The release received local acclaim from sources such as the Independent Weekly.

Until recently, Veelee had performed primarily in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham.

“We’ve gotten to play with all sorts of fantastic local bands. [Artists in the Triangle] are really supportive of one another,” Park and Wagg said. “They are very welcoming and inclusive.”

However, the band just embarked on its first tour, along with Raleigh’s Gross Ghost, which it said was a great success.

Now that they’re back in town, Veelee will play at The Pour House Friday, February 5, during night one of Double Barrel Benefit 7. Friday’s set also includes The Light Pines, Bellafea and Max Indian.

For the complete Double Barrel schedule and ticket information, click here.

New Album Review

88.1 Pick of the Week 1/22

Vampire Weekend
Album: Contra
Label: XL Records
by Jon Gomes

It’s almost exactly two years since the world got its first taste of Vampire Weekend. The self-titled debut was, in essence, four white boys from Columbia University curiously fiddling with African rumba beats and singing about oxford commas and Peter Gabriel. Though the description suggests typical indie pomp and pretense, the final product turned out to be one of the most memorable releases of 2008.

Suffice it to say, then, that anxious ears have been anticipating the band’s sophomore release, entitled Contra, for quite a while. Probably the most pressing question was whether or not the band would maintain the characteristic sound established on their first album. The answer is not readily clear, but after a spin or two, Contra feels like the natural next step from the self-titled debut.

The lead track “Horchata” delivers the buoyant melodies and quirky lyrics one would expect, but also explores new sonic territory with its prominent xylophone romps. Lead singer Ezra Koenig sings as if you’re in the room with him: “In December / Drinking horchata / I look psychotic in a balaclava.” The song transitions almost imperceptibly into “White Sky,” which features a falsetto melody that sticks to the ears like sugar coating.

Like its predecessor, Contra evokes a sense of mirth; it is very much an audio accompaniment to summertime frolics or lazy sunny afternoons. Though the spirit is shared, the music on Contra is more adventurous. The beautifully disjointed “California English” sounds like an unreleased Animal Collective b-side, while the spunky “Cousins” flurries with sixteenth-note guitar runs and snare rolls.

There are occasional moments where Contra sounds conventional, but only in a relative sense. The saccharine, straightforward pop hooks in “Giving Up the Gun” are atypical for the band—strings are traded for synths and the rhyming isn’t outlandish. Still, Vampire Weekend renders the song in such a way that it feels familiar.

To balance out the newer sounds, there is still plenty of classic material; syncopated rhythms, string flourishes, and sunny lyrics abound in tracks like “Run” and “Diplomat’s Son.” The latter is six minutes of rocksteady rhythms and cryptic lyrics that hint at the 1981 Contra movement in Nicaragua—just the kind of madness you would expect from Vampire Weekend. Contra coasts to a stop with the subdued “I Think Ur A Contra.” A gorgeous, acoustic guitar-based melody underlies the gentle yet accusatory lyrics: “I think you’re Contra / I think that you lie / Don’t call me Contra / Till you’ve tried.” It’s absolutely sublime.

So what does “Contra” have to do with anything? The band chose the term as the album’s title to suggest opposition against external expectations. According to singer Ezra Koenig, the album is a reaction to the media pigeonholing the band as erudite, polo-wearing preps from Columbia (bluntly illustrated by the album cover). For Vampire weekend, Contra is uncompromised self-expression. It’s not an extension of the first album, but rather an evolution that still sounds very much like Vampire Weekend. Though Contra is not intended to cater to anyone’s expectations, it ends up surpassing them.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Thursday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at and

Non-Music News

WKNC and the 2010 Krispy Kreme Challenge

With exams finished, classes forgotten, and a long winter break ahead, what was there left to do? Run a marathon while eating doughnuts of course! Starting as a dare by a few undergraduate students in December 2004, the Krispy Kreme Challenge soon evolved into a national sensation. Now over five years later, the challenge is expected to host 6,000 participants who will gorge their way through 72,000 glazed doughnuts!

In order to successfully complete the challenge, participants must start at the N.C. State Bell Tower and run two miles to the Krispy Kreme Store located on Peace St. in Raleigh. After downing down twelve glazed doughnuts, the competitor must make the two mile trek back to the Bell Tower, all within an hour. Last year, the challenge was covered on ESPN and in the past has been recognized by Sports Illustrated Magazine as one of the top things to do before you graduate. All proceeds for the Krispy Kreme Challenge go to well deserving North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

This year, WKNC is partaking in the Krispy Kreme Challenge as a Silver Level sponsor and putting forth some of it’s own deejays to compete. Although not known for being much of athletes, the WKNC staff does enjoy to eat, which should be their strength in the competition. Other competitors will recognize WKNC runners by their awesome and custom made Krispy Kreme t-shirts. Stay tuned to meet the few hopefuls who will brave the glazed filled trail and find out what music they’ll be listening to while competing!

The 2010 Krispy Kreme Challenge will be held on the morning of February 6th. The organization has almost reached its 6,000 runner cap and will be closing registration soon. For more information about registering or donating to the cause, please visit the official Krispy Kreme Challenge website.

Band/Artist Profile

Double Barrel Benefit 7 Presents: The Tender Fruit

You’ve certainly heard it before: you love local music, WKNC loves local music, local music loves us all. It’s a wonderfully symbiotic relationship, and even if the drive across the Triangle can be a pain, there’s almost always a worthwhile show in one’s given city. Seriously, it can’t be overstated that music around Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill is formidable in both quality and quantity. And there are other pockets, as well: Greenville, Asheville, and we’ll say Wilmington, too. And Rocky Mount.

Wait, Remarkable Rocky Mount? Yeah, not so much.

But Rocky Mount just so happens to be the hometown of one Christy Smith, the songwriter and leading lady in the band Nola (oh Nola, we hardly knew ye!) and the no-album-yet band the Tender Fruit. In fact, the Tender Fruit song’s “Middle State” was actually written about Rocky Mount.

It’s hard to say whether it’s Rocky Mount, Raleigh, or some combination thereof that is summoned when Christy Smith writes music, but the result is something that will melt your heart. Her booming vocals on top of calm chord progressions induce gratifyingly depressing emotion.

The Nola album is all about heartbreak and a lost opportunity at love, and I’ve heard she’s working on a new album with a special guest. While I don’t wish the difficulty of heartbreak on Christy, I sure do enjoy the shared catharsis that results. If you, like me, simply can’t wait for that album, then come check out the Tender Fruit Saturday night at the Double Barrel Benefit. They’re on first, at 9:00.

Full disclosure: I’m from Rocky Mount, too.  There’s nothing there.

Band/Artist Profile

Double Barrel Benefit 7 presents: Spider Bags

I first heard about Spider Bags at Bull City Headquarters in Durham. I had gone to see a friend play with a band called Titus Andronicus. A few songs in, the leader singer says, “This is a song by the greatest band in the world – Spider Bags,” and preceded to sing Waking Up Drunk.

Now, if you were at this show you would probably remind me that Spider Bags themselves had played that night, but I got lost on the way to the venue and missed the set. Nevertheless, I made sure to look up this so called “greatest band in the world” – and you know what? Titus Andronicus wasn’t far off.

Spider Bags is made up of long time friends Dan McGee and Gregg Levy, two Jersey boys who magically ended up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rock Forbes from the band Bad Checks is the drummer. The band themselves formed in 2006 and have been growing ever since.

Their tunes themselves sound like southern, gritty rock and roll with lyrics that consist of drugs, booze and just livin’ the hard life. Now there have been thousands of bands that have all sung the same tunes but some how Spider Bags figured it out. The mix sloppy with unique and transfix the listener with the sounds they are creating.

Spider Bags not only writes incredible music, they also put on an incredible live show. Comparable to other local favorite Red Collar,the band never lacks on emotion and energy. They can induce their audience to scream, shout or even cry.

This year the band released “Goodbye Cruel, Hello Crueler One” on Birdman records.

Spider Bags will be performing Saturday, February 6 at The Pour House after The Tender Fruit and Midtown Dickens. Roman Candle will end night two of Double Barrel Benefit 7.

For the complete Double Barrel schedule and ticket information, click here.

Music News and Interviews

The ExMonkeys to re-schedule their appearance on WKNC

Local electronic duo The ExMonkeys will not be in tonight, January 28, as previously stated. With so many schedules to keep up with, I forgot to check our women’s basketball schedule. We will be broadcasting the game tonight, so The ExMonkeys will have to reschedule, hopefully for sometime next week. Apologies for my goof up. –Chuck

Music News and Interviews

WXYC locally produced digital music showcase

Being a fan of all things local does not just include bands, artists, venues, record labels, and recording studios, but also radio stations other than us.   If you are not in Raleigh and parts of Durham you can probably hear UNC’s student run radio station WXYC who also focuses on local music within their wide array of formats (or you can listen to them online anywhere).

They have recently made a public appeal for locally produced digital music to feature in a showcase that will broadcast on WXYC February 17 at 9 p.m.

According to WXYC’s website:

WXYC is pleased to announce a call for entries for its Locally Produced Digital Music Showcase in partnership with the CHAT Festival for Digital Arts and Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill. The goal of this project is to feature technologically innovative and artistically creative music produced in and around the Triangle…

…Anyone living in the greater Triangle area is welcome to make a submission, including (but not limited to): University Students, Staff, and Faculty, local artists, local musicians, local residents and community members.

Read the entire thing and submit your digital music here.

The deadline is February 10, 2010.  Good luck!

DJ Highlights

Local Beat Preview: 1/22/10

Due to N.C. State women’s basketball we have another abbreviated Local Beat tonight starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m.  Local favorites The Old Ceremony will be coming on for the first hour of the show to chat about their concert tonight at the Pour House as they are playing alongside Floating Action.  Tickets are $8 and the doors open at 8 p.m., music starts around 9:30 or 10 p.m.  It has been a while since TOC has been on the Local Beat, and I am expecting tonight’s interview to be a lot of fun.

Also, don’t forget to keep listening to WKNC for Wolfpack women’s basketball tonight directly after the Local Beat at 6:00 p.m.  The team is 11-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play and are playing Wake Forest at Reynolds Coliseum.   Click here for the game preview.

Floating Action
Band/Artist Profile

Double Barrel Benefit 7 presents: Bellafea

One of the first local bands I was ever introduced to and also one of the most influential in our area, Bellafea has been gradually building quite a following since their first split 7" with Des Ark back in 2005.

Though often overlooked by local indie pop groups with a more comfortable sound, once you see this threesome live you will forever be forced to compare every live show to the raw energy, hardcore attitude, and head-bobbing punch you in the mouth feel that they electrify your ears with.  No North Carolina band rocks harder, plays louder, and gets in your face as Bellafea does.

It is strange that such force comes from such a petite lady.  You might have seen Heather McEntire playing solo from time to time sitting in a chair strumming her acoustic without a microphone or amplifier, her voice barely breaking a whisper as she is surrounded by an attentive audience, entranced by her angelic voice.  Perhaps you have heard her from her side projects Un Deux Trois or Mount Moriah as the sweet sounding front lady of the two soft folky pop groups that has everyone’s ears buzzing.

Band website builder

But with Bellafea the shy placid persona falls off her and is replaced by an alter-ego of sorts, a powerful and inflamed diva whose personal demons come out in the form of a woman possessed, obliterating her guitar while bursting into her lyrics with a post hardcore attitude.  Along side Heather is Eddie Sanchez (also in Fin Fang Foom and Death Came Down the Mountain) whose blistering and electrifying bass playing ignites the crowd.   Always jumping, banging, and seemingly tearing his bass apart, he is the fire that ignites the group and transcends them into the local punk gods that they are.  Add on to that Nathan Buchanan’s crushing drums and pounding beats and you have a remarkable live act that sends your mind into a whirlwind of loud music madness that is sure to get your head rocking and your feet moving.  They are not a band you want to miss live.

Bellafea will take the stage for night one of Double Barrel Benefit 7 on Friday, February 5 at The Pour House along with The Light Pines, Veelee,, and Max Indian.

For the complete Double Barrel schedule and ticket information, click here.