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CL previews upcoming shows (Jan. 7-11)

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7

Red Collar This Durham quartet is one of N.C.'s most electrifying new acts, and watching them light up a room with pure rock 'n' roll energy is a revelation. Blending spiky punk riffs with singer Jason Kutchma's everyman anthems and a solid underlying pop ethic, the band delivers with absolute Strummer/Springsteen-like conviction, pinballing across the stage and singing with cathartic abandon. Its full-length debut is allegedly in the can and should be one of this year's more anticipated regional releases. Highly recommended for fans of Fugazi, Jawbox, The Hold Steady, the Constantines – well, you get the drift: rock 'n' roll with a soul and conscience. With American Aquarium. Snug Harbor (John Schacht)

THURSDAY, JAN. 8

Taproot The Michigan-based hard rockers were just here with Sevendust, but this time around, they're in the headlining slot. The band's song "Poem" was all over radio not too long ago and was one of the crowd's favorites at that October show. For fans of that melodic metal with the ocassional scream, the band has also toured with Chevelle, Disturbed, Staind and Korn, if that helps you out. Amos' Southend (Jeff Hahne)

FRIDAY, JAN. 9

The Lenny Federal Band Federal, formerly of the ... wait for it ... Federal Bureau of Rock 'n' Roll (yes!) was, along with his musical (com)patriots, a staple in the burgeoning Charlotte rock scene of the '70s and early '80s. Known for its brand of relatively straightforward bluesy originals and for its good taste in classic cover tunes, the Federal Bureau always resisted making the move to the Allman Brothers-like sound so many of their Caucasian compatriots did, in favor of keeping it simple. Federal, a cornerstone cog in the Charlotte music scene, hasn't changed that recipe a whole lot of the years. Forgive the food metaphor, but it's musical meat and potatoes you're getting here – meat and potatoes slow-cooked with plenty of care, and with but a soupcon of spice. Comet Grill (Timothy C. Davis)

Josh Phillips Folk Festival Funky folk, bluegrass, reggae and elements of music from around the world converge when Phillips, ex-vocalist, percussionist and guitarist with Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, hits the stage. The Booty Band played party music while Phillips' muse is a blend of musicality where a rotating crew of regional musicians lend a hand on the debut recording Wicker and during gigs that give it all, well, a festival vibe. With Ian Thomas. Neighborhood Theatre (Samir Shukla)

S.O. Stereo Before I even mention the band, I'll mention that it's great to see so many of the larger venues, such as Tremont, giving local bands a chance to show crowds what they've got. S.O. Stereo, who opened for Blind Melon roughly a year ago, won over many in the Tremont audience as I kept hearing people asking, "Who is this? Where are they from?" The band also held its CD release party there last year, so it's probably like a second home. It's always good to see someone where they're comfortable. Tremont Music Hall (Hahne)

SATURDAY, JAN. 10

500 Miles to Memphis Hell bent on punking up country, these Ohio blokes rock and twang into old-school hoe downs and pit-inducing rawk. Take a swig, hop on stage and yell along with the boys. Sure, they're from above the Mason Dixon line, but they could have birthed in the honky tonks of the Deep South. Named after the distance between their home turf of Cincinnati and Graceland, 500 Miles to Memphis concoct damn catchy country punk. With The Canyoneros and The Smokers. Milestone (Shukla)

The Fire Tonight This South Carolina trio somehow gets in your head with its piano-touched and guitar-blasted post-punk rock. It's a rather ear-opening combination of subtlety and punch-in-the-guts rock that's promising. With Charlotte's gogoPilot. The Evening Muse (Shukla)

SUNDAY, JAN. 11

Wu-Tang Clan The hip-hop world is a lot like professional sports, and I'm not talking about racial make-up. Even more so than rock or country, Th' Game is a young man's game. Folks like LL and the Wu and (especially) someone like Rakim or KRS-One are respected as elders (usually – Soulja Boy, now on his 14th minute of fame, doesn't seem to feel Ice-T very much), but no one's clamoring to tour with them, much less buy their records. This doesn't change the fact, however, that the Clan's recent, RZA-produced 8 Diagrams is a better, more original record front-to-back than Weezy's Tha Carter III, and infinitely more exhilarating than anything than the G-Unit collective (remember them?) has ever recorded. To use a Wu-anagram, Protons/Electrons Arestill Causing Explosions. Amos' Southend (Davis)

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