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Ah, Whadda You Know?

City audiences defy expectations


A hearty thanks to Henry Rollins, The Rollins Band and Keith Morris for their Tremont Music Hall show last Wednesday. The house was packed for the midweek gig, and -- and -- most of the audience was more than 20 years old, defying all sorts of conventional Charlotte thinking where booking is concerned. And all this for a man considered by those who'd label themselves "hip" as being on the downside of his career, doing two hours worth of songs from a band that never even sniffed radio play.The fact that the band was Black Flag, of course, helps a lot. This was a punk rock show like you might have gotten at the old Milestone back in the day -- hot as hell, sweaty, loud, and exhilarating. Stage patter was minimal, even though the show was a fundraiser for the legal defense fund of the West Memphis Three (see

At the end of the show, a sweat-drenched Rollins faced the crowd. "We didn't ask you to come," he said. "We certainly didn't tell you to come. We begged you to come, and you did. I thank you from the bottom of my heart." It might have been the most punk rock thing he said the entire evening.

Richard Thompson. Alejandro Escovedo. Even Doc Watson, according to my unofficial tally.Yes, last Friday night's Neighborhood Theatre show by the Avett Brothers drew as much as any of the above acts did in their recent visits. The band -- along with David Childers and his band, The Modern Don Juans -- filled every seat in the theatre, leaving some folks to settle for standing room only. For a "local" show. In Charlotte, this bears repeating. Two local bands, both of which ostensibly play "roots" music, sold damn close to 400 tickets. All of which proves two things. One, that popular thinking about what Charlotteans will or won't pay to see is a big stinking load of crap (see item above). Second, most local media know zilch about what's going on in local music (and the arts and culture in general) unless it's hand-delivered to them. Consider: in the week preceding the show, Dolph Ramseur, the owner of the band's label, got the band on WBT's The John Hancock Show. He also got them an article in the usually clueless Observer, a radio interview on Gastonia's WSGE, an in-store appearance at Manifest Discs, and even a couple of minutes on the trainwreck that is Fox News Edge.

Whatever it is, it worked -- beautifully. By the end of the Friday show, the Avetts had invited a couple dozen audience members on stage, and most everyone in the house was singing and stomping around like they were celebrating the start of something big.

The Heroes Convention is always a good time, especially for closet comics fans like myself. Of course, it's also fun to go and make fun of those who are really out of the comics closet -- the folks who up the fantasy quotient and dress up like their heroes. Usually, finding these people is like shooting fish in a barrel, or finding conservatives on Fox News.Thankfully, most of the folks in attendance were more of the Peter Parker variety than Spider-Man. Sure, there's still the fanboy element, and some star artists were treated more like rock stars than comics pencillers by their obsessive fans. However, the vast majority just seemed to be looking for missing issues they needed to complete their collections, or else showing their kid around.

There's a lot worse places for a kid to spend his or her money these days. There's a hell of a lot more prescient social commentary in an X-men comic book ("Kill those mutants! They don't look and talk like us!") than you'll find in the most of the mainstream media. Start 'em young!

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