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Slam Punk

Amy Ray and The Butchies rock hard

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After seeing Amy Ray perform Friday evening at Tremont Music Hall along with North Carolina badasses The Butchies, I have a few questions. First, who decided that it was ever, at any time, OK to wear a mullet? Having sported one early in my adolescence, I'm a little confused as to why the worst male hairstyle in recent memory has been co-opted so by the lesbian community. Granted, it's a very male hairstyle -- "very male" in the sense that it's favored by beer-swilling, bottom-of-the-gene-pool rednecks. Secondly, was everybody in attendance really expecting Amy Ray to play Indigo Girls songs all night? Evidently, to judge by all the talking one side of the room was doing while openers The Butchies played. At one point, Butchies frontwoman Kaia Wilson responded to shouts of "Amy!" by saying she felt like she was opening for The Who (Ray soon went over, very punk rock-like, to the offending few and told them to can it). And lastly, why aren't The Butchies huge? The band cranks out one catchy, indie-punk song after the next, all played with devastating intensity. They're funny. They're a tad dangerous and un-PC, like every good rock & roll band should be. They even dress cool -- matching Dickies outfits. Sadly, it's probably the same thing that works against Amy Ray: her gender and sexuality (I stand by the mullet thing, though. It's a horrible look). Ray took the stage immediately after the Butchies unplugged and proceeded, again in a very punk rock fashion, to set up her own instruments. Playing only a mandolin for the first few songs, she managed to upstage even her considerable opening act. At one point, Ray strummed her mandolin so hard I expected it to explode like the guitar the faux Eddie Van Halen plays in Weird Al Yankovic's "Eat It" video. Ray then called her friends in the Butchies back on stage, where they proceeded to tear it up for another hour. Afterwards, Ray then broke down her own equipment, gulped some water, and started greeting fans. Again, very punk rock, and very impressive. In the process, Ray, who has done an admirable job of breaking the social labels placed on her, has seemingly now set to work on the musical ones.What could possibly draw hundreds of people to Derita on a Sunday afternoon that also boasted the NFL's AFC and NFC title games? Strangely enough, a little radio station from Gaston County, WSGE. WSGE -- 91.7 on your radio dial -- has become the new favorite station of many former WNCW listeners, thanks to the station's low-key, music-first attitude. Sunday, folks came from all around to Puckett's Farm Equipment to attend a benefit concert for the station. The whole shebang got off the ground around 2pm, and was set to close up shop at midnight or so. Tickets were a mere five bucks, which is a bargain for 10 hours of music no matter how you slice it. A quick demographic study showed more ladies on hand than at your usual Puckett's show, many local musicians thankful for the station's unqualified support (why does it take a Gaston County station to support Charlotte music?), and lots of beer drinking. Then again, there was a football game on, which overrules any social mores about drinking in the afternoon. Some of the bands wandered around a little dazed, not used to drinking and playing a show at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. A good half of the performers kept thanking the audience for "coming out tonight" and commenting that, damn it, "it sure is a good night." Musically, everyone went over like gangbusters, with some of the biggest applause held for the station itself. Every three songs or so, the station got a shout-out, and merchandise was hawked. Of course, there were the customary T-shirts for sale, which seemed to do brisk business. There was also a raffle -- "$400 worth of CDs" -- that one could enter for a buck a ticket. I leaned in close and noticed that a few looked like promo CDs. Having a job "in the business," I'm here to tell you that if it's anything like the selection of "country" and "roots" music I receive every month, it's not worth your dollar.

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