Live review: Treasure Fest

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Treasure Fest

May 20, 21, 2011

Various venues

The Deal: From the moment I heard about Treasure Fest, I was more stoked than I had ever been about an event in Charlotte. For the first time, we would have a real underground music festival, showcasing some of Charlotte and the East Coast's best talent in the best venues we have to offer in Plaza-Midwood and the west side at the Milestone.

At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the quantity of acts I had to choose from, but the more I learned about the many touring bands playing, the more I realized that something special was about to happen right in my backyard. We needed something like this in Charlotte. Our scene is too rich to even attempt to look past it. That said, I knew that on May 20-21 this year, a meeting of various creative minds would take place in my hometown and in turn, my mind would be blown.

When the schedule was finalized, it was horribly difficult to map out a schedule to cover. There were more than 50 bands booked and each of them seemed to possess something noteworthy that I would want to experience. Alas, I fought the battle and picked my favorites, local and otherwise and a few others that I had never seen but sounded brilliant when I researched them. After it's all been said and done, I have to say, I won that battle. I made some damn good choices; my experience was irreplaceable.

Friday, May 20: Early in the day, around 6:40 pm, people gathered into Snug Harbor, exiting the sun into the dark room where Lincolnton's 25 Minutes to Go was projecting punk jams. With a cringed face, Jonathan Hughes belted lyrics into the microphone, rocking heads as the daylight shone through the door. Cheers to us all, we raised our drinks to bring in the night as they flawlessly played, sound waves radiating from the speakers like a hurricane breeze and chants from the audience creating a chorus all around. The perfect start to Treasure Fest and precursor to their CD release show June 3.

Drenched in sweat after about a mile walk from Snug Harbor, I arrived to a white, round place, Studio 1212. In the center, a red-faced Andy the Doorbum was musing us all with his raspy voice and acoustic guitar, calling me towards him like a siren. I sat on the floor with him on the stool above me as he played notes and words foreign, yet so seemingly familiar. Hallucination stories put to music, new to mine and other's ears, songs never played live. It was a spiritual experience as mesmeric noises surrounded by pure white glow radiated throughout the place creating a symbolism unlike any I had experienced before. Pure, utter, content beauty.

I traveled high on music to Lunchbox Records to intensify the buzz with a band I was stoked to see. After the first song 1994! played, blood was dripping from their drummer's hand and a broken string hung from their guitarist's instrument. These boys played hard, emulating personified chaos with brutal catchiness that left my body uncontrollably moving to what I was hearing. The complexity and intensity of their music brought me to winding roads at 95 mph with my windows open, feeling a blow dryer summer breeze. I couldn't help but feel ultimately free. These Lancaster, Pa., boys certainly brought their all to us, putting on a show that those who neglected, openly regretted.

Immediately following 1994! I had to head to the Milestone to wrestle for the Gore Gore Luchadores. As exhausted as I was, I had a couple drinks with everyone, watched Sadgiqucea and Mose Giganticus then got gussied up and jumped in the pit of blood twice, winning both matches. Altogether we raised $400 dollars for the Blair Witch who had recently undergone a catastrophe. Although I woke up the next day sore as all hell and covered in bruises, I had a fantastic time and it felt good to help someone out who was in need and feel like a warrior.

Saturday, May 21: As it was early on in the day, the crowd was very thin for Suns' 5:20 p.m. performance at Snug Harbor. Before a few inspired individuals, these six Chicago natives stood on stage and projected energy toward us all with their creative sound. Perfectly organized layers incorporating a multitude of instruments rained power upon us all. Melodies and rhythm showcased the versatile talent of three guitarists (one being played with a bow at moments), two drummers, an organist that doubled as the third guitarists in between stroking keys and mandolin, to name a few. Their music was emotional indie bliss. I cannot thank them enough for playing Charlotte and hope to see them back regardless of the turnout they had.

After another long walk to Studio 1212 to see Transvestite, I arrived into a sweat filled room and instantaneously was sucked into their jams. One badass lady administered vocals, shill and intense over thrashy punk rhythm, singing guitar and thumping bass. Stumbling towards the crowd, she screamed in our face, insinuating sweet rebellion. Rebellion so intense, their bass became incapacitated and they had to discontinue their set way before it should've been over.

Luckily, I didn't have to travel from Studio 1212 to witness the amazing brainchild of Philadelphia's Matt Mose, Mose Giganticus. Before long, four men dominated the white surroundings. With deep vocals and a robot voice integrated, Matt belted out his brilliant lyrics that were simultaneously being sung by several fans. Charlotte's own, Ricky Culp violated drums as other touring band members, Shane Hall and Evan Sadgiqacea overlapped epic guitars. All the while, Matt fondled his keys in the best of fashion, keytar/keyboard style. Combined, they created heavy, deep sinking gallops and nodding heads. Their music is complete peace in the darkest of ways. His chosen deliverers snarled with passion and brought us reminders of nostalgic chaos and rebirth. Yet again, for the third time this week in Charlotte, Matt Mose's mad science caused us all to stand in awe of brilliance.

Next, I traveled to the Thirsty Beaver where surprise strings took hold of us as Geoff White of Appalucia joined KPSoloman for a brief opening set before Appalucia took the stage. I must say, although I enjoy KP by himself, Jeff's fiddle paid ultimate compliments to his raspy voice and mellow, sometimes bluesy guitar. His music creates somber foot tapping and clarity in the most anxious of situations. KPSoloman is Charlotte's raspy man in black. He describes everyday life in words and melodies in the most perfect of ways.

Although Buck was out of town due to a family emergency, Appalucia still rocked the Thirsty Beaver with sweet tunes sans banjo. They created tapping feet and tipping drinks. And as per usual, a carefree atmosphere circulated from their tunes surrounding the rural man with a punk rock attitude. Harmonies dominated some of our favorite jams. Although they were a little barer than usual, they were still delightful nonetheless. Them boys are still strong, no matter what the circumstance because they are just that damn good.

A couple songs before Appalucia finished, I had to rush to Lunchbox Records to make it just in time to get my face melted by Atlanta's Vegan Coke. As their trip-rhythm drumming radiated at intense time signatures and speeds, heads swung spastically, following as much of the beat at possible. Their drummer, Eric is probably one of the most talented I've ever had the opportunity of witnessing within close proximity. The warm harmonies created by guitar and bass matched the room temperature and my ears became overwhelmed by the intense yet relaxing combination of notes. I was truly captivated by the tranquil moment, relaxed and intrigued as the band's fervent excitement spread to us all. We all stood and absorbed the sound, almost breathing it in. I could've listened to them play much longer but alas, it was time to make my way over to Common Market to check off the remainder of my list, close out Treasure Fest and supposedly the world.

As the world was supposed to end according to many evangelist crazies, greatness began as Sadgiqucea strummed the first notes and hit the first drums of their set. Harmonies commenced as intensity was brought upon us all. Every deep note was like notches on a spine as you sunk deeper to the bottom of pancake syrup Mariana trench, entranced by a symphony of two. My soul felt clarified as these Philly boys played with the strength of the legendary 300 going into battle, portraying a fight with melodic weapons. As their drummer, Fred was perched above us and Evan was below with us on the Common Market patio floor, they displayed fierce love for their instruments at hand and our ears with their sludgy, delightful, original jams.

Charlotte's own Towering Pyre's head swinging metal immediately caught the attention of everyone on the Common Market patio from the moment their symbols began crashing. I sat, enveloped by a lovely figure that was sinister and deep. There is nothing more captivating and empowering than a tiny, beautiful girl singing deep metal vocals. We watched and banged our heads as the beats carried us on. Guitars screamed sweetly as strong hand bass provided the backbone for speed. Then she growled, leading us into propelling, intricate darkness. Her voice was dark beauty above a tiramisu of sound.

Before we could gather ourselves and process the awesomeness that had just occurred, dim blue light shined upon the anomaly known as the Emotron as he took the stage to close out Treasure Fest for all of us that had chosen his performance. He bellowed his words upon us, content in multi-tasking, sitting on a 1930s ottoman with Contra at hand. He Seamlessly played the game while enchanting us all with his music. In the midst, he paused the game and stood, creating celebratory cheers from all that were entranced by an amazing weekend and a grand performance in front of them. While sipping from fraudulent beer cans, the anomaly appeased us all. This night, completely focused and with only one layer of clothing sans tumor suit, he stripped down to an outfit more familiar to himself, ending the night with his first non-acoustic performance of 1998, singing of past woes and creating unity by reminding us we are not alone and that all of us who have been considered different at one point in our life have shared similar pain. It was the most absolute, beautiful ending to a mesmerizing weekend of creativity.

The Bad: I didn't have a time machine; therefore, I couldn't see every band.

The Verdict: Please God let there be another Treasure Fest. It was like a never-ending buffet of musical deliciousness that I couldn't get enough of. I have certainly been on some adventures in Plaza Midwood but Treasure Fest takes the cake. The unity and determination I experienced was unlike anything I have seen in Charlotte. Everything went very smoothly because everyone worked together and to be honest, I feel spoiled to have gotten to experience so much of it. If you didn't make it out or even if you did, I highly encourage you to check out these bands and others that I didn't make it out to see. Everyone booked was worthy of listening attention.

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