Concert Review

Arctic Monkeys return to Raleigh with Smith Westerns

English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys returned to Raleigh tonight, Oct. 12, and performed at Disco Rodeo. The band visited the venue April 2010, but this year brought along Smith Westerns to open.

Chicago-based Smith Westerns released their sophomore album earlier this year. Since then, they have played with TV on the Radio, Cults and Yeasayer,  in addition to international festivals including Austin City Limits Music Festival, Fyf Fest, Leeds Festival, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. The guys were dressed like they were straight out of “Dazed and Confused,” and the smiley face-patterned banners behind them just reinforced this thought. They were fun – I sang along and danced. Their hair flew in their face as they strummed popular singles like “Weekend,” “Smile” and “Still New.”

During the 30-minute set change, I scanned the crowd. Unfortunately, this took away a lot from the show. I was behind a young fist-pumping boy and constantly trying to hold on to my standing room, only with mild success as chains of high schoolers tried to squeeze by. The musically-oblivious bystanders seemed to give more applause at times for the roadies doing soundcheck than the Smith Westerns received, but that may have been in my head.


A hooded figure in a golden mask finally came out on stage and hit notes on a keyboard to set the mood for the show. The lights reflected gold beams off the mask into the crowd. The rest of the band came out on stage and began their first song with a blast of energy and great reaction from the crowd. One thing I instantly picked up one is that an Arctic Monkeys show’s core is the strobe light – which is amazing, unless you have epilepsy. Luckily I do not, so I could stay. A bit theatrical at times, the band performed with special effects like lights, flashes and smoke. One of my personal favorite moments is when they paired a past-picking guitar riff with an intense strobe-light-only light show. It created the illusion that electricity was coming from Alex Turner and his guitar and filling the room. The crowd went especially crazy for “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “Brick by Brick.” At about 10:15, they played their “last song” and went off stage while the crowd chanted their name and screamed with approval of the show.


New Album Review

“Dye It Blonde” both familiar and new

88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week 3/2
By WKNC DJ Margot

Musically, my parents and I do not agree on much. They raised me on ABBA, Moody Blues and everything 70s. By high school, I had dropped everything oldies for the indie music that is so prevalent in our generation.

But, after giving them a good listen of the Smith Westerns new album, Dye It Blonde, I had the whole family agree on a band that didn’t hit their peak in 1978. And if you haven’t been listening to indie music, the Smith Westerns provide a great starting point.

The band doesn’t throw you through the hoops of obscurity that many people feel indie music is, but reminds fans of the early rock they grew up listening to as kids.

Dye It Blonde is the second album that the band has produced and was just released in mid-January. Their 60s-inspired Beatlesque sound is both familiar and new, compelling listeners to keep listening through the end of the album.

Their lyrics are honest and simple, and complement  their traditional yet somehow experimental instrumentation well. Expect strong electric guitar, pop keys and soft vocals that are oddly mesmerizing. Also expect a lot – and I mean a lot – of electric guitar solos.

The band hails from the Windy City and consists of vocalist Cullen Omori, guitarist Max Kakacek and bassist Cameron Omori. Before this album release, they toured with some of the big names in the business – MGMT, Florence and the Machine, Belle and Sebastian and Passion Pit. The band was named band of the week by Rolling Stone Magazine after their release of Dye it Blonde on Jan. 18.

For a first listen, check out the tracks “Fallen In Love” and “Only One.” These two songs are both different, but are connected by minor chords and melancholy rock that makes you want to take a road trip – just in time for Spring Break. So, grab a copy of Dye It Blonde, get in the car with some friends and book it.

If you are already a fan of the Smith Westerns or didn’t like them the first time you heard them, expect cleaner, softer sounds and clearer vocals – an overall improvement from their self-titled first album in 2009.

Dye It Blonde is the band’s graduation album, from teenage garage sound to a more polished, grown-up sound. The band leaves behind the harsh, quick vocals for slow melodic echoes.

Check out the song “Smile” for something clearer and dreamier than their original sound. The song features a chorus that is unexpected compared to the rest of the album, making the song stand out compared to the rest of the tracks.

Dye It Blonde provides a great transition, both for the band and for the 60s sound that seems to be coming back in great demand. I would recommend the album to anyone who’s been looking for a Beatles rebirth or is a fan of the Dum Dum Girls. Imagine a masculine, louder Dum Dum Girls and you have the Smith Westerns.

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

Weekly Charts

2/14 Top Ten albums on WKNC’s Daytime shows

Artist Album Label
#1 FORMS Derealization Ernest Jenning
#2 SMITH WESTERNS Dye It Blonde Fat Possum
#3 I WAS A KING Old Friends Sounds Familyre
#4 CHIKITA VIOLENTA Tre3s Arts and Crafts
#5 BRAIDS Native Speaker self-released
#6 APEX MANOR The Year of Magical Drinking Merge
#7 TENNIS Cape Dory Fat Possum
#8 DUCKTAILS Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics Woodsist
#9 AGESANDAGES Alright You Restless KF
#10 WHITE FENCE Is Growing Faith Daptone