Concert Review

Show Review: GHOSTT BLLONDE, Virgins Family Band, and Free Clinic

by John Mitchell



I was working at Morning Times in Downtown Raleigh when Mark Kuzio walked up and started smoking a cigarette outside. I took a break from the website I was designing to go talk to him. It turned out that he was playing a show downtown. We planned on meeting up at the venue, and turns out the door dude is a super awesome guy, and he let me in (with large X’s and the if-you-drink-I-will-murder-you speech, of course). I entered just in time to see Wilmington garage pop trio Free Clinic sound-checking their equipment. This new band loves lots of reverb on everything. There’s a casual start to the set, with the band slowly turning their chorus-soaked lead lines and big, jangley chords on their head through a great ear for delay-tastic breakdowns. A competent, yet reserved drummer reigned everything into a nice glow. Though they mentioned they’re looking for a bass player, the atmosphere isn’t in any particular need to be pulled down. They’ve made due and developed an impressive sonic platform that will grow as their songwriting skills do.

Virgins Family Band take the stage next, and I’m impressed again. The toneless guitar and incredible keys make way for two drummers and some very fun bass lines. And while their compositions are much more complicated than those of Free Clinic, the psych-outs a little more reserved. Both bands worked extremely well together on a line-up for reasons that can’t be explained with your ear; it’s all because of the curatorial skills of that fellow I ran into at the coffee shop several hours before. Granted, it’s a little funny to say that, because I usually associate curation with quiet guys that have huge beards, not bombastic and wiry kids. But it’s this guy’s sunny presence, very similar to Iggy Cosky of the Lollipops, that makes all the bands he’s assembled for the show and all the friends he’s amassed in the crowd sync into place.

Ghostt Bllonde is a band that popped up on my radar several months ago through a taped-together cd-r sleeve in the local rack at KNC. There are blown-out tracks withered with melodramatic hooks and way-too-heavy percussion. There was real potential there though; potential to turn these ideas into hooky songs everyone wanted to sing along to. With the recent release of TrashPop//DoomWop, they’ve gotten much closer to that goal. It doesn’t lose the super-saturation or the booming drums that made the band unique to begin with, but it amplifies everything with comparatively razor-sharp articulation. Live, the energy was brought back up to the level of those first recordings, without all the necessary straining to understand what’s going on. That’s a great thing, because this isn’t heady music at all. It had the crowd, which consisted of 30-something guys with dreads, girls who’d look less out of place at the Architect, and a fair amount of plainclothes college kids bopping their heads, pulling out lighters during the slow points, and best of all, smiling. It’s going to be hard not going to Slim’s Downtown for another three months. In a few hours, the general divey-ness, tiny corner stage and half-a-foot of room I had to stand in started to feel like home.


Playlist: A Guide to DBBX

Double Barrel Benefit 10 is quickly approaching. If you haven’t had time to check out the bands yet, I have made a Spotify playlist that includes a couple of my favorite songs from each band (except for The Lollipops and Some Army who are not on Spotify). So please check them out so you can sing along with us at Double Barrel this weekend. As always, tune in to 88.1 WKNC to hear these artists as well as other great artists all day.

Check out the playlist here!

Here are the songs in the playlist in addition to some songs you should check out by the artists who are not on Spotify.

Night 1
Wolves by The Lollipops
I Love You by The Lollipops
Teenage Lions by Jenny Besetzt
Always by Jenny Besetzt
Rise by Lilac Shadows
Bloodworth by Lilac Shadows
I’ll Survive by JKutchma and the Five Fifths
There’s a Light on by JKutchma and the the Five Fifths

Night 2
Open Wide by Oulipo
Build It Up by Oulipo
Servant Tires by Some Army
We’ve Been Lucky by Some Army
Crying Only Counts the First Time by Wesley Wolfe
Crying/Laughing by Wesley Wolfe
Friday Night by Spider Bags
Simona La Ramona

Concert Preview

Must See Shows For This Week (1/14-1/20)

This week is going to be a great one for shows in the Triangle, but it could involve some tough decisions on certain nights.  Check out some of the best shows listed below and many more listed in the Rock Report.

Tuesday, January 15th- Spider Bags and Gross Ghost at The Pinhook, 9pm

These bands are two of the best acts in the area both live and on the record.  Gross Ghost released their Grip Tapes’ debut “Brer Rabbit” in March of last year and showing that in their several years of existence they have already crafted a sound of their own.  This diverse album features hints of lo-fi garage rock, 90’s era indie rock, as well as some influences 60’s pop-rock.  Last year they were seen playing all over the Triangle, but most notably at WKNC’s 9th Double Barrel Benefit and the 3rd annual Hopscotch Music Festival where their music lit-up the audience.  They are followed up by Spider Bags.  Spider Bags are beginning to become a household name in the North Carolina.  They are known for their incredibly energetic live shows that will leave your ears ringing for days.  Their latest effort has been receiving a lot of national attention including an 8.1 review on Pitchfork as well as sitting number 1 atop PopMatters’ Top Overlooked Albums of 2012.  This is a show that you don’t want to miss.

Thursday, January 17th- Birds and Arrows with Katherine Whalen at Tir Na nOg, 10pm

Katherine Whalen of Squirrel Nut Zippers fame is back at it again.  Her solo work is often labeled under the title of “folk music,” but her new sound encompasses so much more.  Her new album titled “Madly Love” has something there for everyone.  Birds and Arrows are an incredible act that were seen at last year’s Double Barrel Benefit.  The trio’s folky sound led by a cello appeals to every audience  with their well-perfected live show.  The trio has well stood the test of time in an area that has seen many folk acts come and go.  It is amazing to see three people translate such intricate music perfectly to the stage.  This is a show is a folk-lovers’ paradise and a great introduction to anyone else.

Friday, January 18th- Bleeding Rainbow and Jenny Besetzt at Duke Coffeehouse , 9pm

If you have yet to go to a show at Duke Coffeehouse, there is no better time.  The atmosphere there always makes for the most energetic and intimate shows.  Greensboro natives Jenny Besetzt open up the night.  Jenny Besetzt are a brand new band who have exploded onto the local music scene.  They turned many heads when they performed at last year’s Hopscotch Music Festival as well many different shows all around the Triangle.  Their debut LP “Only” dropped this past October.  Their sound is a fusion of dream-pop and shoegaze with a punch which they describe as “dream-punk.”  The night ends with indie-pop quartet Bleeding Rainbow out of Philly.  This band has only released a handful of 7 inches, but with their debut album due out at the end of this month their are bound to break big.  With several different tracks being reviewed by Pitchfork and the like, they have created quite a buzz for themselves.  This is bound to be an amazing show that you do not want to miss.

Friday, January 18th- Annuals with The Lollipops and  Eros and the Eschaton at Local 506, 9pm

This night starts up with the great Greensboro husband-wife duo Eros and the Eshaton.  Their sound falls somewhere between shoegaze and dream-pop.  This new act has been turning heads opening for many different acts over the past year.  They are followed up by The Lollipops.  This lo-fi indie pop bedroom project of Iggy Cosky has expanded into a full band project and exploded onto the scene in the past year with their numerous recordings.  Their live shows have proven themselves time and time again to be just as fun as their songs.  The night ends with the always entertaining Annuals.  Annuals’ name speak for themselves.  This 6-piece indie pop group out of Raleigh have been a household name in the Triangle since the release of their critically acclaimed debut in 2006.  They have been known for their energetic live shows.  If you have not seen them yet, there is no better chance then with this great supporting cast.

Concert Review

Show Review: The Lollipops sweeten up a Thursday night at Kings

The Lollipops

Despite being a college student, I’m pretty much an old man.  I watch my Jeopardy every night and I’m usually nodding off during The Daily Show, but every now and then I’m compelled to drag my lazy ass out of the house on the weekdays.  Thursday was one of those fated days, with a handful of incredible acts playing in downtown Raleigh including a stellar lineup for GZA’s Liquid Swords tour, I chose the local route with DiggUp Tapes standouts The Lollipops and Jenny Besetzt.  While the initial showing was a bit lackluster, as the night went on the crowd got gradually larger and more raucous.  While Jenny Besetzt had a handful of swaying head-nodders, by the end of the night The Lollipops were leading Kings in a full on PBR-fueled dance party.


Jenny Besetzt

The night began with one of the most heavily lauded local bands of the year, Jenny Besetzt.  The band just made their way back to North Carolina for their tour after playing a bit further up north and what a homecoming it was.  The band recently added Justin Flythe (formerly of Lonnie Walker) as their new keyboard player, and while their regular drummer wasn’t playing on Thursday the band still proved to be incredibly tight and harmonious.  Blasting through favorites from their debut full length, Only, these songs shine in a new light during live performances.  The band packs a bit heavier of a punch with live performances, guitar lines feel less ethereal and more jaunting, but the vocals still perfectly counteract that added grit with raw intensity while maintaining it’s dreamlike aspects.  Jenny Besetzt continues to impress me with each show I see, they’ve made the leap that many can’t by transitioning their shoegaze-y sound into a driving and powerful live act that not only grasps your attention but leaves you speechless, thirsting for more.


After Jenny Besetzt was Companion, a stellar Brooklyn band that played with Jenny Besetzt in New York and made their way down the coast for their first official tour.  The band is relatively new but displayed a fantastic sense of self with entrancing three part vocal harmonies that counteracted their driving rhythms perfectly.  Fueled by a tasteful mixture of electronic beats and physical drums, the addition of an electronic percussion sound added an entirely new layer to this already dense and lush arrangement.  I must say I was thoroughly surprised by this band, and I think they were equally surprised by the Thursday night outing, as the band’s lead vocalist Pepi Ginsberg brought out a camera of her own to take a big family picture of the crowd.  This was the perfect band to transition from the depth and wonder of Jenny Besetzt to the simplistic yet equally invigorating bedroom pop sounds of The Lollipops.

As the band was taking the stage, brainchild Iggy Cosky was frantically writing out a setlist, an image that perfectly encapsulates the essence of The Lollipops.  Everything flows together wonderfully yet still feels spastic and urgent.  Painfully infectious pop melodies perfectly counteract the gritty lo-fi bedroom recordings and transition into one hell of a live show, Cosky leads the band with a commanding presence, Iggy seems genuinely excited to be on stage and that excitement permeated throughout the once spread out crowd of Kings.  The crowd condensed into one tightly packed dance party that was bursting with energy, bouncing along to favorites like “I Love You” and “Wolves”.  During the show Iggy announced a soon to be released album, making for their “third release in 8 months”.  To put it simple these guys go hard in the paint.  This lineup was excellent from top to bottom, and ending with the brilliant pop sounds of The Lollipops was the best way to go out.  An incredible way to spend a Thursday night!