The music critics who write every week in the pages of Creative Loafing and daily online at our music blog Qcvibes.com are constantly sharing their opinions of the good, bad and the ugly of the Charlotte music scene. But this issue, instead of once again telling you who you should be watching and listening to, we thought we'd let the musicians themselves tell you. We contacted dozens of area artists and asked: Who is your favorite local act? Who are the "must-see" performers in Charlotte and why? Here's what they had to say:
Anthony Rodriguez, lead vocalist/bassist, Soulganic: For me, Super Ape is a must-see [band] — they have the right blend of atmosphere, melody and sick breakbeats that moves the crowd. Plus, their artistic vision is never compromised and their roots dig so deep into the obscure side of sound that the listener comes away sonically refreshed.
Robby Hartis, bassist/vocalist, The Lights, Fluorescent: I would say the must-see act in Charlotte right now is Harvard. These guys have come a really long way over the years. Aside from being some of the nicest guys in town, they are also some of the most talented. They have really come into their own and found their sound over the past couple of years. The live show is always a must-see. Very captivating, make-you-think kind of stuff. If I had to pick any one band in Charlotte that will make it, I would confidently say Harvard. They work hard, tour often and are always creating.
Pat Maholland, bassist, The New Familiars: One of my favorite bands to catch in town is Stephen Warwick and Secondhand Stories. [Stephen] is one of the finer songwriters in the Charlotte music scene, and I feel they can really push other local acts in their own songwriter craftsmanship.
Chris Sheridan, guitarist, Simplified: This one is easy for me. I love doing shows with Evelynn Rose. They have great material and a tremendous amount of energy. And there is a certain unpredictable element to [singer] Joe's performance. These guys are the shit.
Molly J. Brown, trombonist, Mike Strauss Band: Ron Brendle is just about the most amazing musician I have seen with my eyes. His CD release show for Rhizome, which features himself and fellow upright bass prodigy Mike Holstein, was the rare intense-virtuosic jazz show of my dreams. The show itself was the duo, two upright basses, that interlaced tight-knit rhythms and melodies, which opened into lyrical passages with freeing sounds and textures and (somehow) always coming back together. Ron plays with various combos around town, and I bet an encore of his duet with Holstein could happen ... if enough requests are made (hint hint). At any rate, it's jazz, it's weird and it's wonderful. Go see him.
Eric Cavanaugh, singer, Illicitizen: In a world where nearly every hipster band in town worships The Beatles, they all seem to exclude bands that work as hard as the Fab Four did when they were getting started in the early '60s. For sheer tenacity, entertainment and adherence to a strong work ethic, the band I've seen the most frequently is Angwish. Funny story: Bryan [vocalist] caused the delay of the mixing of the second four-song studio effort of my first band by pranking the studio engineer. I didn't meet him for another 10 years or so, and he honestly got pale when I mentioned the dude. We ended up both having a great laugh about it.
Bruce Hazel, singer, Temperance League: I make a Charlotte music sampler CD when we play with touring bands to give them a little taste of what is happening here. I always include 2013 Wolves. They scare the hell out of me! Everyone needs a good punch in the face every once in a while to shake up your brains, and Bobby Childers and Neal Harper provide this service. Best accompanied by a PBR tallboy.
Eric Mullis, vibes, Actual Proof: I have two. Red All Over — I first saw this group perform at a Crowntown Showdown at the Double Door and my jaw hit the floor. Their performances include sumptuous vocals from Eliza Gray and rich bass grooves and dance moves from Jarrett Bury, all of which are pushed by a background of synths, samples and live percussion. Indeed, it's been too long since the group has done a Charlotte show. I hope they are saving up for something epic. Lucky Five — I saw this group captivate a crowd at the Salvador Deli last year; a group of young guys with a fabulous front man, killer synchronized guitar licks, and an obscene amount of collective energy. This is a band that Charlotteans need to catch now before they make it big.