Alex Lunsford

7 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

Goodyear Arts hosts “in the round” concept show for local Charlotte bands

Photo by Alex Lunsford.

On the Friday of Feb. 17, Goodyear Arts in uptown opened up their space for four bands to play a show free of any charge. Sam the Lion, Cuzco, Ghost Trees and Don Telling’s Island Mysteries put a spin on how they performed that night. Rather than each band playing a full set with the next band preceding for an additional full set as well, they incorporated an “in the round” concept.

The four bands were simultaneously set up against the four walls of Goodyear Arts. The audience stood in the middle. They alternated songs throughout the show, while also slowly blending the sounds. This generated a 360 degree listening experience with the crowning point being the ultimate quadraphonic composition. This was the closing note.

All four bands are local to Charlotte and place a heavy emphasis on the instrumentals.

Sam the Lion is an indie pop band. With influences such as Mazzy Star, Portishead and Sea of Cortez, they have a very spacey sound to them, making it natural and even expected to lose your train of thought in the midst of listening.

Cuzco is a band exceptionally new to the music community in Charlotte with their EP, “A Medicine For Melancholy,” just being released on Jan. 28 of this year. Though, they have quite a buzz following them already. Making this album available for purchase only a few short weeks ago, they have already sold out of tangible copies of their music online. They also were Snug Harbor’s feature band for the December Residency, headlining shows every Wednesday of the month.

Photo by Alex Lunsford.

Ghost Trees is a post-bop free jazz band. Also having a big band feel to them, their Facebook states that their main goal is “to bring the fire back to jazz.” They are a duo act, comprised of Seth Nanaa on the drums and Brent Bagwell on the tenor saxophone. Nanaa and Bagwell played in previous band, The Eastern Seaboard, together for a whole decade before releasing their first music as Ghost Trees.

Don Telling’s Island Mysteries can be best described as Hawaiian, exotica and instrumental favorites. This band also includes Bagwell from Ghost Trees.

While Sam the Lion and Don Telling’s Islands Mysteries played, old films and various graphics were projected onto the expansive walls of the space. Not a single light was left on in the gallery making it pitch black. Therefore, the sole focus was on the projections that backlit the bands during their songs.

For Cuzco’s songs, the gallery remained dark besides the lamps placed around their instruments and the Christmas lights lining their feet. The gallery also remained dark for Ghost Trees while they used a couple spotlights, illuminating them and their instruments while they performed.

The spacious location of Goodyear Arts was nearly filled the entire night.

Links to bands’ available music are listed below.

https://ghost-trees.bandcamp.com

https://cuzcoband.bandcamp.com

https://www.reverbnation.com/samthelion

GALLERY REVIEW: “Lost Hollow”

On the evening of Thursday, Feb. 9, many university students were found shuffling through Popp Martin Student Union art gallery for an exhibition reception. The reception went from 5 to 7 p.m. The gallery showcased the work of UNC Charlotte alums Madison Dunaway, Vedant Raval and Caleb Roenigk with their piece titled “Lost Hollow.”

“Lost Hollow” is a man-made tree composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and bamboo. Dead leaves lay at the tree’s roots and surrounding the outskirts of the room.

Their idea for creating the piece was attributed to their shared concern for the environment in its present state and in the future. Specifically, they are interested in exploring conceptually driven installations which advocate for a change in the status quo with regards to the environment and human relationship with it.

They first envisioned a distorted future where real trees are extinct and humans must manufacture them. They used bamboo because like humans are a threat to other living things, bamboo is a threat to indigenous plants. The addition of PVC piping more clearly confronts the idea that even the invasive plants are dying out.

Madison studied fine arts, Vedant studied mechanical engineering and Caleb studied graphic design as well as digital media. Their various backgrounds allowed them each to contribute something new and unique to the piece. It was a collaborative effort; without the help of one another the piece wouldn’t have come into fruition.

The creation process was not one of meticulous planning, but rather one of spontaneity. They began the with a general plan of achievement and then the process became more extemporaneous as they encountered new problems and were struck with new ideas.

When asked about what message is trying to be presented through this piece, Madison stated, “There is a mental separation of ourselves from the environment: this work serves as an urgent reminder to change the status quo and break through the apathy.”

The exhibition will remain in the union gallery until Friday, March 3. This the last day of classes before the beginning of spring recess.

Interested in submitting original artwork? Popp Martin is currently accepting proposals for 2017 exhibitions. Additional information on submission can be found at https://studentunion.uncc.edu/gallery.

The Heads Are Zeros, Leveless & Planet Creep Play The Odd Room

Photo by Alex Lunsford.
Photo by Alex Lunsford.

On the chilly and rainy evening of Saturday, Jan. 21, a crowd gathered together to seek shelter from the rain and listen to some killer bands.

The show went down at The Odd Room, which is a house in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood of Charlotte – its exact location secret, only spread by word of mouth. Members of promotion group The Oddboy Collective reside here and regularly host shows of all types ranging from local hip hop acts to travelling indie rock bands. When The Oddboy Collective is not opening up their (own) home for shows, they are hosting them at The Station off of Central Avenue Plaza Midwood.

The night was kicked off with $2 vegan and pork belly tacos supplied by residents of the house.

The Heads Are Zeros were the first to play, opening things up on a heavier note. This grindcore band from Baltimore released their first EP in the spring of 2014 and followed that with a split with other Baltimore band Neck First, released in January of 2015. Upon the release of this split two years ago, they put a different twist on a release show by playing a battle set with Neck First in a basement in their home city, giving everyone there a free copy. They released their newest record in December and followed that with their current tour that brought them through Charlotte.

Baltimore screamo band Leveless played next. Formerly known as Whenskiesaregray, Leveless released their first EP in the summer of 2011. Since then, they have released two LPs and an additional EP. Their most recent release, “WHENSKIESAREGRAY,” was produced by Pianos Become the Teeth guitarist Mike York. Their band camp states, “the band’s new self-titled LP seamlessly moves from the screamo/melodic hardcore blend fans have come to expect, to working in elements of metal, grunge and indie rock.” This was released by Mayfly Records, an independent record label which releases punk, hardcore, shoegaze and metal records. Releases from this label include Code Orange Kids’ “Cycles,” True Love’s “A Floral Note,” Discourse’s “Curse of Consciousness” and others.

Their post-hardcore sound is one sure to send shock waves throughout the room. The prior evening they played The Mothlight in Asheville and continued their East Coast run with The Heads Are Zeros down to Columbia, SC after playing The Odd Room.

Planet Creep played last to close out the night. The punk rock band’s angry roots stem out of Charlotte. Their sound can best be described as fast, angry and loud. This band’s formation was very recent, just releasing their first demo toward the end of the past fall. Since the release of this demo, they have played throughout the Carolinas – from Columbia to the mountains of Asheville and Boone as well as of course, their home in Charlotte.

To get plugged in on local events and shows put on by The Oddboy Collective, you can follow the group at their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theoddboycollective) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/oddcrewnc).

Links to all bands’ music are below:

https://theheadsarezeros.bandcamp.com

https://whenskiesaregray.bandcamp.com

https://planetcreep-usa.bandcamp.com/releases

 

Tremont Music Hall to close its doors


Photos by Alex Lunsford .

To this day, I can still recall my first experience at the venue five years ago. At sixteen years old, I was very reluctant about what I was about to walk into. My directions took me into a seemingly questionable part of town. As I arrived at the final destination, I pulled into a gravel driveway and parked my car in a lot caged in by a big, chain link fence. Hesitant to even leave my car at this point, I cautiously walked up to the black cement building that plainly stated “Tremont Music Hall” in big bold letters spray-painted on the front. The pavement leading up to the entryway was cracked, and as I got closer to the entrance, all I could smell was the shared cigarette smoke and all I could hear were loud guitar riffs travelling through the cracks in the doors to outside. As I passed through the threshold, I quickly began to take in the dark and unfamiliar territory. The ceilings were musky, band stickers covered every inch of wall space, there was torn up paint on the floors and there were giant fans desperately attempting to cool off the sweaty crowd. As one could imagine, the bathrooms were pretty disgusting too. Though, I was intrigued. Little did I know at the time, I would begin attending shows in this venue for years to come following.

Up until today, not much about the grungy appearance has changed. Its surrounding environment has, though. Contemporary, state-of-the-art condominiums were put up across the street. The neighborhood in which it is located, South End, formerly was rough but now has cleaned up its appearance gradually over the past ten years by tearing down older, run-down buildings and replacing them with new businesses and the building of condos – harvesting a new generation of young, urban professionals.

Little do some know, this place is so much more than what merely meets the eye. Although it is rather insignificant in appearance, it is more than just your run-of-the-mill music venue. This is a home for many members of Charlotte’s music community. Tremont has given an innumerous amount of local bands a place to play. It remains all ages for every event held, which is very rare for venues. Accepting all ages has given all people who may have not found their niche elsewhere a place to go, and it has also given them a sense of belonging at whatever age that might have been.

The venue has been around for 20 years, going through three changes of ownership, having thousands of bands play the stage, and holding crowds ranging from five people to 500 – giving all musicians an opportunity to perform and let their music be heard. Aside from being all ages, Tremont is unique in the aspect that it is open to all types of music, ranging from indie to hardcore to hip-hop. From Earth Crisis to Green Day, many legendary bands have played here. This venue is also one of the last DIY venues in Charlotte, meaning the shows were self-promoted. Tremont hosted events other than shows, such as record swap events and wrestling matches.

At the end of December, the long-standing venue sadly will be closing its doors. Tremont, along with several other of Charlotte’s local gems, will be closing shop due to gentrification. The Chop Shop in NoDa, as well as the space that occupies all of Black Sheep, Sirrus Salon and the Common Market also in South End, are other places that will be sold with plans of transformation into office buildings. Tremont and The Chop Shop will be turned into new locations for Crescent Communities, along the Blue Line light rail.

The gentrification of the city is tearing down places of cultural significance, which are the backbone to Charlotte’s artistic community – simply to put up condos, strip malls, office building, etc. Tremont is a staple and will be greatly missed by the Charlotte community.

 

Junior Astronomers play 7th Annual Birthday Show at Neighborhood Theatre


Photos by Alex Lunsford .

Saturday, October 24, local indie rock band Junior Astronomers joined together with several other acts to play their 7 annual birthday show. This took place at the Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa, which lies only a few minutes outside of the city’s center. Other acts included rap artist Fat Geoff, punk rock band Totally Slow, psychedelic band Shadowgraphs and indie rock band Ernie, all of which are also Charlotte-bred. Junior Astronomers consists of  Philip Wheeler on the guitar, Terrence Richard performing vocals, Elias Pittman playing drums and Colin Watts on the bass. They formed in 2007 and have steadily released music dating from 2009, all the way up until September 29 of this year, when they released their latest EP titled “Thank You” recorded with Self Aware Records out of Charlotte.

They kicked off their set playing the first track off this EP and by releasing dozens of colorful balloons out into the audience. Upon opening, the band retreated to a happy and familiar note by following the new music with their two most popular songs, “Settle Down” and “Touching War,” off the album “Dead Nostalgia.” Broken Circle Records, based out of Brooklyn, recorded this album. Regional band Ivadell out of Columbia, S.C., that consistently plays around North Carolina is also signed with this label. The crowd was very well versed in these songs and many others off this incredibly energetic, gritty and painfully true album. The crowd’s participation peaked during their set with lots of stage dives and people’s inability to keep still during all the excitement of their music. The multitude of balloons bouncing off crowd members hands was a sure sign of enthusiasm.

In the past, Junior Astronomers has toured and played with Harvard, The Weeks, Cursive, Algernon Cadwallader, Manchester Orchestra, Dignan, Color Revolt, Des Ark, and Polvo. They have played sold out shows at NYC’s Mercury Lounge, in Nashville and obviously in Charlotte, as well as many other places in between. Although they have played a considerable amount of shows outside of the area, they remain true to their roots by mainly sticking to playing shows in their home city.

JA

Charlotte straightedge bands play energetic house show


Photos by Alex Lunsford.

Hailing from Charlotte, straightedge hardcore/punk band Refocus played their very first show this past Saturday, Sept. 26. It was also Trudge (Boone, NC) and Substance’s (Charlotte) first show. So, as you could imagine, it was all the hype for these new bands. The crowd could not stand still for a single second of any band’s set. It was a very high-energy environment. Several members of these recently established bands have played in other local bands in the past, making a name for themselves in the North Carolina music scene, so many people were eager to hear what their new stuff is all about. Refocus and Substance both include members attending school here at UNC Charlotte. Other act included Future Primitive from Greensboro. Future Primitive has played many shows all over the state within the past year, after the release of their first demo “The Shred” in July of 2014. Though, the night was not so monotonous for them, since it was their album release show for “Over It” which dropped on Sept. 21. Their first demo had a skate punk feel to it similar to Dag Nasty and other early ’90s skate bands, but their new work has developed more of a thrash hardcore style similar to Power Trip, a modern thrash band from Texas.

This show was all the hype for Refocus since they have been putting in time practicing since February, making finishing touches on their work these past couple of months. They have created a solid sound that mimics an early youth crew foundation like Judge and Youth of Today, but adds a modern heavier vibe to it. All members of Refocus are active members of the straightedge community, taking a stand against bullying within the scene and publicly choosing to live a drug-free lifestyle. By releasing their demo, they have laid a foundation as a youth crew-sounding band, but they plan to progress to a more melodic sound that resembles Champion and Guns Up!, which are two mid-2000s hardcore bands. They intend on playing all around the state the rest of this year, then putting out an EP this upcoming spring and following that with a northeast tour in the summer. They mainly appeal to straightedge show-goers in the hardcore scene, but are open to playing anywhere. They are even opening for the well-known metal band Fit for an Autopsy next month in Fayetteville. Links to the bands’ music are listed below.

 

https://refocus.bandcamp.com/releases

https://futurexprimitive.bandcamp.com/album/over-it

Fall Talent Show review


Photos by Alex Lunsford.

The year’s fall talent show was an unforgettable, to say the very least. There was a packed house full of talented individuals sharing their expertise to an enthusiastic and attentive crowd that cheered. Almost the entire theater was covered, with only a few sparse rows left in the very back of the balcony. It’s safe to say that it was a lively and high-spirited show.

In between acts, special hosts Darren Brand and Anthony ‘Chico’ Bean from MTV’s “Wild ‘n Out” kept the energy flowing throughout the large audience.

The musical acts ranged from those such as Brianna Lewis’ love ballad sung with a powerful and beautiful voice that deeply echoed and resonated all throughout the hall to the softer, mellifluous sound of Conor Callahan’s singing and strumming of the acoustic guitar. A rap duo added spice to the mix, with a cover of Wale’s “Lotus Flower Bomb.”

Students also enjoyed a spoken word performance, as if spoken word is not already fascinating in itself, the lady lyricist put her own spin on the things, discussing the trials of young love and self-discovery. She incorporated lyrics from well-known songs, such as Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love” and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” both crowd pleasers.

During intermission, attendees went onstage to get photos taken with the special hosts. Brand initiated an all-inclusive spontaneous dance party onstage. He was immediately accompanied by twenty to thirty others.

The next act was a bit more thrilling. She stood with a deranged appearance, facing the audience. Her hair berserk, clothes tattered, with a shirt reading “Striaght Outta the Grave.” She was a stepper with a viciously loud step.

The night ended with first place – a $300 cash prize, that went to a cover of Jessie J’s “Who You Are” singing over her own personal piano recordings. It was a very deliberate song choice, which she chose in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.