Monday, August 4, 2014

Hear Here: Aug. 4-10

Spider Bags will be performing two sets at The Pinhook in Durham, NC
on Friday, Aug. 8
With The Bottom String's four year anniversary coming up, the blog is getting an overhaul. After running this site mostly on my own for the past four years, there's been a rotating door of series, features, interviews and whatever I can think to toss your way, really. But every time a new year rolls around I want to analyze how coverage compares to previous years, and frankly I got bummed out at the fact that I was no longer giving updates on as many shows around the state, which was one of the primary reasons to run this thing. So thus, Hear Here makes it valiant return! Every week I'll be running down my favorite shows in the area coming up from local and national acts. Whereas past installments of Hear Here gave a day by day list of all of the shows in the area, this will be contained to five shows that are worth your time and money throughout the next six days.

1. Spider Bags at The Pinhook
Friday, Aug. 8
Admission: $10 (Purchase tickets here)
Spider Bags are just one of the latest local standouts to make their way to the powerhouse indie label Merge Records. For years now Spider Bags has been bringing their unique take on garage rock to the Triangle, blending triumphant horns, Americana twang and a particular nonchalance that I can't place my finger on. Dan McGee's songs are brimming with personality, featuring quirks and quips that keep the listener entertained while jumping, shouting and swaying along to the unforgettable songs. Frozen Letter is the band's Merge debut and it's a triumphant introduction to the national market, there's an even split of headstrong straight-up garage pop and long-running tracks with embedded grooves. But that's just the joy found within their studio work, and anyone who's seen this glorious band before knows that their live shows are an entirely different beast.

On Friday Spider Bags will be performing two sets at The Pinhook to celebrate the release of Frozen Letter. The first set will showcase the band's new album from front to back while the second will feature fan favorites from their back catalogue...and there's plenty of fan favorites. Whether McGee is rolling on the ground as he rips out riotous guitar lines or bouncing to and fro as the crowd shouts along to infectious tracks like "Friday Night," he always pours every ounce of energy into his performances. This double-set from one of the area's most exciting acts is my must-see show of the week.

2. Wool w/ It Looks Sad. & Bridges at Slims 
Saturday, Aug. 9
Admission: $5
Slims is an often underutilized venue that doesn't get quite as much attention as the rest of the smaller Triangle venues. Sometimes a bill lends itself to a dimly lit dive bar and I'll be damned if this isn't one of those shows. Wool headlines the evening with their hazy dream-pop music while It Looks Sad and Bridges brings a bit more energy to the evening with their agro-emotional indie rock. Wool has been slowly building up their repertoire around the area with their impressive performances and continually evolving sound, one that utilizes vocalist Troy Hancocks vocals as both an instrument, providing rich texture, and a vessel for introspective lyricism.

However, the act I'm most excited to see rolling into Slims is Charlotte's It Looks Sad. Cut from the same cloth as acts like Junior Astronomers and HRVRD, this Charlotte based crew (formerly It Looks Sad That's Why I Said It's You) brings angular post-punk vibes with a sleek sense of melody to wash over the jagged rhythms. It Looks Sad. has been receiving heavy national acclaim from outlets like Pitchfork and Stereogum, so it's only a matter of time before they move onto bigger venues in the area. Jump at the chance to see these guys in a tiny dive bar on the corner of Wilmington St. and you won't be disappointed. Bridges will be opening the evening as well, providing a shoe-gaze inspired take on indie rock that blends dynamic song structures with heartfelt lyrical content.

3. Local Band Local Beer w/ Oulipo, Vannevar & Ancient Cities at Tir Na Nog
Thursday, Aug. 7
Admission: FREE
To put it simply Local Band, Local Beer is one of the best parts of living in the Triangle. With a continually rotating cast of talent, this weekly showcase gives local fans a chance to check out fantastic acts from across the state...for free! Since Craig Reed of Younger Brother Productions took over the booking, the event has been revitalized, hosting more relevant acts with a wide array of sounds on display. Bills like this one are a perfect example of that, one of the most promising psych-pop acts in the Triangle is teamed up with a swiftly rising psych-folk outfit out of Charlotte to make for an excellent night of music (with free Lonerider samples!)

Ancient Cities is a new project from a handful of Charlotte-based musicians who've already received quite a bit of love from previous acts. Songwriter Stephen Warwick received high acclaim from his previous solo project while Justin Fedor of New Familiars and Matt Branniff and Jonathan Erickson of The Noises Ten fill out the rest of the band. Ancient Cities have revitalized old-school psych-rock and put a modern twist on the tried and true formula, blending entrancing instrumentation with powerful hooks. If Ancient Cities represents the finest of old-school psych, then Oulipo heralds in the new age, drawing inspiration from acts like Radiohead, Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective to blend samples and drum machines with spaced-out guitars and tantalizing melodies that toy with tensions and release. It's hard to find a better bill this week with absolutely no cover.

4. The Rock*A*Teens w/ The Love Language at Cat's Cradle - Back Room
Wednesday, Aug. 6
Admission: $10 (Purchase tickets here)
Just because the Merge 25 festival has come to a close doesn't mean that the celebrations have to end. The long gone quiet Rock*A*Teens reunited this year for their first shows in over a decade, and these early 90s Merge standouts will likely draw quite the mid-week crowd that's hankering for another blast of nostalgia. Merge describes the band's sound as a "thick primordial stew that defies categorization" which strangely enough is pretty accurate. Gritty, fuzzed out guitars blend their southern influences with their straight-forward rock sentiments. Wrap that all together with some sweet melodies and baby, you got a primordial stew goin'!

Local favorites and label mates The Love Language will be opening. Whenever a band that could sell-out the Cat's Cradle performs at one of the region's smaller venues I feel like you'd be foolish to miss out. These small shows from local figureheads are usually a great place to hear new songs in their trial phases and sing along vigorously to your favorites without having to battle the awkward pre-teens in the crowd that are texting their bae's.

5. Flesh Wounds w/ Paint Fumes and Drag Sounds at Cat's Cradle Backroom
Friday, Aug. 8
Admission: $8 (Purchase tickets here)
If Spider Bags just isn't your cup of tea, but you're still looking for a raucous night filled with high-energy garage rock then you needn't look further than Flesh Wounds' LP release show. Flesh Wounds, much like Spider Bags, received a bit of Merge love earlier this year when the label released a 7" from the band. It was almost as if their Merge release reignited the area's love for this often overlooked act, because they've been building steam ever since. The Cat's Cradle Backroom will surely be packed out with a slew of concertgoers ready to throw themselves around in a fit of unadulterated joy at the deft punk-inspired stylings of Flesh Wounds.

Openers Paint Fumes and Drag Sounds will certainly be holding their own as well. Paint Fumes are arguably one of the most talented garage rock acts in the state, but sadly the Charlotte-based rockers don't make it down to the Triangle as often as I'd like. So when you get to see them on a bill with some of the area's most talented cohorts there's no reason to miss out...unless of course you're just a Spider Bags kind of guy (or gal!)

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