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Scene & Herd Good Band, and Slappy To Boot

Good Band, and Slappy To Boot

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Mojo Risin': It was the battle of the ex-Laburnum band members Friday night at a packed Mojo's Restaurant and Spirits, as two new bands effectively made their Charlotte debuts. After a brief, mega-loud DJ set by Jim Grindle, Bellglide took the stage. Formerly known as yet another name the English press would love, The Echo Blue, the band features ex-Laburnumites Adam Roth, John "Pickle" Cates, the mistakenly named Taylor Short, and a slight, tiara'd singer by the name of Slappy (I'm not even going to try and guess why). Musically, the band features the U2-esque percussive guitar jangle and ballooning bass lines that characterized their former band. Slappy, God bless her, does a lot to open up the music, preventing it from becoming a neurotic boys club with her nice gifts for vocal melody. After what seemed like an hour of adjusting sound levels and fidgeting with some pre-recorded tracks, First Night on Earth went on around midnight. FNOE features ex-Laburnum singer Wes Grasty, along with Stephen Yount, Chris London, Vance Carlisle, and Tina Cargill. Cargill does a lot to counteract Grasty's pleasing but limited range with some well-placed harmonies, as well as providing another focal point for the audience due to Grasty's seeming reluctance to play the frontman role, despite some pleasing Thom Yorke-esque histrionics. The band's show was a CD release party for their new no one knows anything for sure, released on local upstart label LiquiLab, also home to Baleen, The Houston Brothers, the X-periment, and others. Packaging seems to be a priority for LiquiLab: for the band's de facto first gig, one could buy stickers, a variety of T-shirts, CDs, and loads of other FNOE gear. Musically, the band's tight as hell, playing most of their CD without any noticeable drop-off, no easy feat due to the forward-thinking electronic experimentation the disc showcases. Grasty's voice, though, sometimes labored to cut through the inevitable chatter that arises at Charlotte shows, especially when a gig is co-opted as more of a hipster meeting place for the evening's parties than an actual music event. All in all, however, a pretty good first night on earth for the dual gig unofficially promoted as "The Battle of Laburnum." My only question: where was former belter Jay Garrigan? -- TCD

A Smokin' J: David J. Haskins, formerly the bassist in Bauhaus and Love and Rockets and better known as simply David J., played an intimate, VH-1 Storytellers type show Saturday at the Visulite Theatre, where he was accompanied by an acoustic guitar and more flickering white candles than you could see anywhere outside an episode of Kung Fu, wherein Grasshopper is learning from the old master. J's not a guitarist per se, and it showed somewhat in the presentation of some of the songs, more three-and-four chord strummers than fretboard breakdowns. What J brings to the table, however, is a nice New Orleans style love of the dark side of life, married to a sensuality that keeps it all from becoming too morose. Songs were equally spread among topics such as religion, a man with a panty hose fetish, religion, lost love, religion, the Taliban, and the odd love gone wrong. His stories, interspersed throughout the show, were loads better than you'd get from the likes of the Rob Thomases of the world, including one about how former Love and Rockets bandmate Daniel Ash was supposed to be on the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11. As a special treat, J. encored with a surprise musical guest, former Charlotte resident and onetime Come on Thunderchild/Todd Busch collaborator Kris Krull, who brought the show to life with his energetic percussion work. Indeed, the impromptu pairing worked so well that it was said Krull may do some touring work with J. in the future. Krull, dressed in black, did a nice job of dressing for the show. Toboggans, skull caps, shaved heads (even some of the ladies), and black clothing -- preferably layered with more black clothing -- was de rigeur for this show. As was blissfully being unaware of just who this David J. chap was anyhow. Two willowy local gals, were heard to complain about paying $12 to catch the show, when they had "just gone to Chapel Hill to see The Strokes (author's note -- the white-hot New York City "It Band" of the moment), and only had to pay $10 to see them." As one with tickets to that show as well, I can attest to the infamous pair wandering around aimlessly at that show as well, wondering what all the fuss was about. That said, they wouldn't miss being there for the world. How about this: instead of forking over your hard-earned cash because you hear it's the cool thing to do, why not stay at home, actually listen to some records, and save your cash for getting your highlights done? There's an option that always remains for one when attending a show they don't like. It's called taking your ass home. -- TCD

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