Ann Woo

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Ann Woo is a Political Science major in her senior year at UNC Charlotte. Live music enthusiast.

‘Moe.rons’ come out in full force at the Fillmore

Photo by Ann Woo.
Photo by Ann Woo.

The Fillmore Charlotte welcomed the return of jam/rock band greats, Moe., on Friday night.

The five piece band gave the crowd a treat with two sets. They opened with “Plane Crash,” and the song contains lyrics such as “I get too f***ing high” which was appropriate, since the venue was thick with the aroma of marijuana burning.

Moe. brings amazing live improvisation to their shows which always attracts fans to follow them on tour. While the crowd was mostly older, they were various in where they had traveled from including cities in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

The band rarely tours farther down than Atlanta. They finished the first set with crowd favorites such as “Opium” and “Paper Dragon.”

The real face-melting started at the second set though with “Brent Black,” “CalifornIA” and “Silver Sun.” Fans were high-fiving each other and while other bands engulf the audience to break it down on the dance floor, the sexy tunes by moe., just make you want to sway and groove slowly.

The improvisation keeps you intrigued at what melodies will come next.

And of course, the lights are just so damn pretty. They kicked the energy up a notch for encores “Low” and “Wicked Awesome.”

Moe. proclaimed to the audience, “Charlotte is our home away from home and it feels good to be back.” The crowd returned its thanks by rocking with them all night long.

A Big Gigantic Q&A

Photo courtesy of Big Gigantic.

With their innovative sounds and light shows, Big Gigantic has set the tone high for how all live performances should be like. Big G incorporates the saxophone and the drums with tunes produced to make every show a memorable one.

While their sound mostly falls in the electronic music genre, they also blend hip-hop, jazz, dubstep and house as well. Their ferociously hot songs makes every attendee dance even hotter and you’re sure to be leaving a Big Gigantic show happy and perspiring.

The Niner Times had a chance to speak with Dominic Lalli, the producer and saxophonist of the two-man group.

Ann Woo: You guys sold out Red Rocks Amphitheatre a couple of months ago and were also featured on CNN and the Rolling Stones recently. Tell me about Big Gigantic’s journey the past few years and how you’re taking it all in.

Dominic Lilli: Yeah it’s been pretty crazy…pretty crazy. Everything went by so fast and it’s been pretty amazing. We feel really fortunate and blessed to have been able to do our thing and get the support and fan base we’ve gotten and it’s been a crazy ride.

Now to close off festivals and get some headliner kind of spots and do Red Rocks and everything- it’s been incredible to be able to live out our vision. We’ve been working super hard and we’re just really, really stoked.

AW: How has the Uprising Tour been so far?

DL: It’s just been sick and the biggest tour we’ve ever done and it’s everything we’ve hoped for. We have about two and a half weeks left and we’ve been everywhere – west, east, south, north. We’re just really excited for how many people have been coming out and we had Griz out for a while and we have Crizzly and everyone’s been killing it and fans have just been loving it, so it has been a great tour.

AW: There are 46 shows lined up for this tour and four of which are in North Carolina. The only other state with more than four shows in the same state is California. Any particular reason why there are four in North Carolina?

DL: We haven’t spent much time in North Carolina and with this tour, especially, we really wanted to come and go to spots we’ve never been to before and North Carolina was one of them. We’re stoked to be back in Charlotte. It’s going to be really fun- we had a great time last time we were in Charlotte.

AW: So when you roll into all these different cities, what do you guys do during the day?

DL: I usually work on music during the day- try to work on new stuff for the night or fix little things.

AW: So all work and no play?

DL: I get to play when I play it. That’s play.

AW: If you had time to catch any, what has been the best show you’ve been to or caught a glimpse of this past year?

DL: Oh boy, that’s a tough one. We see a lot of people at festivals and we played a lot of festivals this summer so there’s a lot of great bands, depending on the festival, like Stevie Wonder and Metallica. But the one that stands out was definitely the Bon Iver at Red Rocks show- oh my God, that was amazing.

AW: Nice. Do you and Jeremy have any pre-show rituals or anything you’re superstitious about?

DL: Superstitious? No. We just hang out before and we play and rap about stuff and high five and stuff like that.

AW: Pretty simple. So for the newbies that have never been to a Big Gigantic show, what would you tell them to expect?

DL: We’re always coming to you to bring a dance party so it’s definitely going to be a huge dance party. Definitely going to be a crazy light show. Lots of drums, lots of bass, lots of sax- and good times!

 

All of Big Gigantic’s albums and EPs are available for free download on their website, or for purchase on iTunes.

Big Gigantic is coming to Charlotte on Nov. 29 to the Neighborhood Theatre and tickets can be purchased online or at the venue for $17 to $30.

Madonna fails, PGroove prevails

Photo by Ann Woo

Madonna failed pathetically to entertain the Charlotte audience while performing at Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday night.

In over 30 years of touring, Madonna was a virgin to the Carolinas until this recent performance in Charlotte.

While many fans came out to the show in their best 80’s attire, Madonna focused the show around her new album, “MDNA,” and the audience only saw snippets of the hits that made her big.

The show started off sour with “boos” from the crowd when the notorious diva did not show her face until 11 p.m.

A gruesome and violence-heavy theatrical act started off her show with numbers such as “Girl Gone Wild,” “Revolver,” and “Gang Bang.”

While the dance numbers were huge and it felt like watching a musical, Madonna could not convince the crowd that she should still be relevant.

“I want to hear every word to my songs, b******,” she commanded to the audience.

Some musicians age gracefully, but of course, Madonna refuses to.

She performed an uncomfortable strip tease to a reworked, slow version of “Like A Virgin” and demanded high cash from the fans around the stage, which she stated was to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Madge, in amazing shape for a 54 year old, oddly looked as if she was out of breath, struggling to keep up with her back-up dancers towards the end of her two hour performance.

The stage and usage of props: 10 out of 10.

The dancers and special acts: 9 out of 10.

Madonna’s performance: 3 out of 10.

 

Photo by Ann Woo.

Perpetual Groove came to the Neighborhood Theatre on Saturday night and played a show that attendees will remember for the rest of their lives.

Chasing Edison was the opening act and got the audience, that was slowly flowing in at 9:30 p.m., hyped for PGroove’s set.

PGroove is a jam band that has executed more advanced and amazing shows over time.

While their sound remains authentic and original, their light show has had an upgrade, and now it captures the essence of their music wonderfully.

They came on stage around 10:20 p.m. and opened the show with the killer song, “It Starts Where it Ends”.

All tunes were delivered perfectly by the flawless integration of the guitar, drums, bass, keyboard and vocals.

PGroove broke out improvised jam out sesstions multiple times throughout the night, and those instrumentals were downright bad-ass.

The height of the night came during the second set with “Playground,” “Glock Jam” and then eventually “Speed Queen.”

A funky version of “Get Down Tonight” ended the second set with the audience unable to control their dancing bodies.

After playing two encores, the show was over a little past 1 a.m. and everyone piled out of the venue with grins on their faces.

Pretty Lights, pretty perfect

Photo by Ann Woo.

If Pretty Lights was asked “What came first – the lights or the music?” I think he would answer: at the same damn time.

His organic electronic/hip-hop sound along with the LED towers that surrounded him on stage came to create an orgasmic fusion for our sight and hearing senses.

Pretty Lights, who is Derek Vincent Smith, blew off the roof of Bojangles Coliseum. The venue was surprisingly perfect for the crowd of 5,000 people and it made the decades-old coliseum relevant again.

With the Illumination Tour winding down to its final week, his banging newer material took over for most of the set but he managed to throw in old classics like “Finally Moving” which pleased us all.

We also got treated to the rare play of his Wreckx-N-Effect’s Rump Shaker and M.I.A.’s Paper Planes mashup.

Pretty Lights thanked the Charlotte crowd on numerous occasions, as he should have. The vibe in the coliseum was ‘feel good’ the entire night and there wasn’t a face missing a smile.

He also gave a special shout out to those of us who’ve stuck with him since 2006.

While he’s no longer a new comer, 2012 has been a progressive year to him.

His music label, respectively named Pretty Lights Music, has brought in some serious talent like Gramatik and I think being a mentor type has benefitted him as well.

Pretty Lights shows have definitely taken off and evolved more than ever this past year and we all applaud him while basking in the bass and lasers.

STS9 OMG

STS9 performing at the Fillmore. Photo courtesy of Ann Woo.

Charlotte is only their second stop on their Great Cycle Spectacles fall tour, but Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) performed Thursday night at Fillmore Charlotte as if it was their last performance ever.

David Murphy, on the bass, seemed like he wasn’t pleased with his sound during “Beyond Right Now,” which was the first song of the night, but he found his groove after a while and the boys were jamming to their full potential.

The electronic-instrumental rock band brought it home, especially on the second set with perfection, song after song. The second set included magical melodies such as “Golden Gate,” “Looking Back on Earth,” “EHM,” “Rent” and “Evasive.”

After they thanked the audience and left the stage, the screen on stage led us through a view of the galaxy which then zoomed into our planet earth, the United States, North Carolina and eventually landing at the Fillmore in Charlotte.

Their creativity was amazing and the band came back on stage for two encore songs, “From Now On” and “Ramone.”

There are three reasons why this was such an amazing show.

Reason 1: Tribe played for three hours. No recent acts at the Fillmore have done that. This attendee was thoroughly pleased  with the length and quality of their performance.

Reason 2: STS9 have the best lights and visual effects. The fog in the beginning could have been turned down a notch but the random clips they always show on the screen were interesting and mind boggling.

Reason 3: The audience was something else that night. STS9 has a very dedicated fan base who get down with the band and the crowd’s full-throttle enthusiasm during the entire show.

“We’re having such a great time playing for y’all. You’re a great audience, thank you,” Murphy said to the audience.

STS9 was incredible. The audience was awesome, the night was idyllic and the performance was one to remember.

Matt and Kim bring the sparks at ‘Lightning’ tour stop at the Fillmore

Photo by Ann Woo.

With opening act Oberhofer and Matt and Kim taking the Fillmore Charlotte stage on Thursday night, the crowd definitely got their money’s worth.

The fairly new and impressive band, Oberhofer, played for about 45 minutes for their first show in Charlotte. They have a very likeable sound and are comparable to groups such as Moon Taxi, Kings of Leon and The Black Keys.

The crowd, an intimate number of people, enjoyed their set full of bass, drums and the keyboard.

The stage set up for Matt and Kim was simple yet effective. A large screen was the backdrop that showed different angles of the dynamic duo on stage.

They are an amazing, energetic band that brings out the best of each other. With Kim wilding out on the drums and Matt raging on the keyboard, they had the audience engaged and moving for the entire hour and a half set.

At one point in the night, Kim stood on the hands of the crowd and danced like a mad man. She was also full on head-banging while playing the drums, an imaginably tiring act.

But neither Kim nor Matt showed any signs of exhaust through their entire set, besides the occasional water break.

The band took it slow at times with “Turn This Boat Around” and “Silver Tiles” but also had the crowd moving like no other with hits such as “Daylight,” “Yeah Yeah,” and “Let’s Go.”

Noticeably, fans were engaged the whole time because the band has a way of making an audience feel special and really good about themselves.

“I’m judging you guys from up here and you guys look f****** awesome,” Kim told us.

“Us being here is everything we want in this world,” Matt exclaimed to the crowd.

The night involved lots of balloons, confetti, crowd surfers and sweat and they each added it up for a great Matt and Kim show.

M83 fascinates the Fillmore crowd

Photo by Ann Woo

M83’s Anthony Gonzalez is a genius.

After M83’s Sunday night’s show at the Fillmore Charlotte venue, there are just no other words to describe the music Gonzalez creates.

The audience was first greeted on stage by the horrific alien that is from the cover art of “Midnight City,” which is the first single from his latest highly acclaimed double album, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”

With lasers shooting out of its fingers, the alien stood there with its arms raised and taking in the hype from the crowd.

The set and look of the stage was another reason the crowd could not stop roaring. It was a perfectly detailed and beautiful set, which  made it feel like the audience was in outer space.

That is most likely the vision of their approach since M83’s name originates from the spiral galaxy, Messier 83. With light bulbs varying in sizes and colors and backdrops of more rotating lights and lasers coming from every direction, no one could take their eyes off the stage.

M83 opened their set with “Intro” and was accompanied on stage the entire night by frequent supports including his brother Yann Gonzalez on the bass, keyboardist and vocalist Morgan Kibby, and drummer Loic Maurin.

“This is our first show in Charlotte,” Gonzalez proclaimed. “Let’s have fun tonight!”

They went on to perform “Reunion,” “Sitting,” “Year One, One UFO,” “We Own The Sky,” and “Steve McQueen.” It was perfection song after song.

After “Graveyard Girl” and “Bright Flash” came the artist’s biggest hit to date “Midnight City.” A saxophonist came out on stage during the song for a fantastic solo which was well embraced by the crowd.

One of the more confusing parts of the night came when Gonzalez said “Thank you Charlotte,” and went off stage after performing “My Tears,” a little after 10 p.m.

Having gone on stage at 9:15 p.m., attendees were baffled. However, after a couple minutes of a packed house of adoring fans screaming for more, they came back out for an encore.

Not one. Not two. Not three. But four encore songs were played.

“We’re gonna play a fourth song for you guys if that’s okay?,” Gonzalez asked, followed by cheers of approval from the crowd.

“A fourth song on a Sunday night- isn’t that crazy?,” he added.

Crazy was good. “Guitar and A Heart,” “Kim and Jessie,” “Outro” and “Couleurs” closed the night.

The band threw out to the crowd their guitar picks and drum sticks before leaving the stage for the final time.

After a night of dancing, singing and people overwhelmed with happiness, it seemed like everyone was on Cloud Nine at the end of the show.

“M83 couldn’t have been any better,” one attendee who drove all the way from Alabama exclaimed.

It was definitely an amazing show. The band’s energy was high and the vibe of the crowd was immensely memorable.

M83’s latest double album highlights our sense of imagination we all had at a young age.

After the concert was over, the crowd was reassured that they should try to never lose sight of that.

Bassnectar sets the tone of Fall 2012 tour in Greensboro

bassnectar
Photo by Ann Woo.

Bassnectar’s Fall 2012 Tour kicked off in Greensboro, N.C. on Thursday night, Sept. 27 and it was a banger, to say the least.

Doors opened at 7 p.m. but Bassheads were in full force, forming lines several hours before. The vibe was high outside the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, with fans exclaiming their excitement for the night to start.

From Bassnectar show first timers to veterans of years past, the variety of his fan base was easily noticeable. Paint was splotched on mostly everyone’s faces and bodies and Camel Bak’s were everyone’s best friend.

Charlotte’s own Styles N’ Complete went on at 7:30 p.m. and they stuck to fast beats and remixes of a variety of rap songs by Big Sean, French Montana, Lil Jon along with others.

It worried me just how much they weren’t using their stands. There is some negative scrutiny in the Electronic Dance Music scene, with fans proclaiming some DJs to “just press play.” Styles N’ Complete’s performance did feel like that.

While they showcase some talent, their set made me feel like the show was an opening of a new club rather than a concert.

Gladkill went on soon after Styles N’ Complete’s 30-minute set and he started his part of the night by saying, “I’m gonna play some pretty s**t for you guys.”

And that he did.

His sound is an idyllic and amazing mixture of trance, electronic and dubstep, with fusions of hip-hop.

It would be the soundtrack to a fairy’s life, and while it would be considered more as “late night” music, the crowd was loving track after track at 8:15 p.m.

Gramatik, the last of the opening acts, went on stage after Gladkill’s 40-minute killing performance and he was ready to get the crowd up to its full hype.

One thing that clearly stood out was the gradual intensity of the lights and visual effects by act after act.

Everyone in attendance would agree that there is no question on why Pretty Lights signed him to his label, Pretty Lights Music. Gramatik’s sound is so versatile and distinct – almost describable as the son of Daft Punk and Pretty Lights.

Some of the tracks performed during his set included a crowd favorite “Talkbox Intended,” “Fist Up” and “Solidified.”

His sound got more bass heavy towards the end of his set but the audience showed him love with roars and cheers through the entire set.

There was a brief break in between Gramatik’s set and Bassnectar’s to get the stage ready, and the crowd anxious with excitement.

Bassnectar opened the show with “Get It While It’s Hot” and boy was it hot. The entire room was shaking due to two reasons: the heavy bass packed tracks and the thousands of bodies that were moving as one in the shoulder-to-shoulder packed room.

“North Cack-a-lacky, how y’all doing?,” asked Bassnectar, aka Lorin Ashton, to the over-joyed audience.

Throughout the night, he played the perfect combination of his old classics and new ‘bangers.’ It’s incredible though – after all these years, he never loses sight of who he is.

Old and new tracks such as “Say Yeah,” “Weed Wid da Macka,” “Ping Pong,” “Ugly,” “Matrix” and of course his remix to Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” were played.

Bassnectar’s remix to “Lights” was popular last year, before Goulding’s regular version started getting plays on the radio this year. Bursts of confetti filled the air during the song with thousands singing along to the catchy lyrics.

He ended the show with “Open Your Eyes” and his set ended just as spectacular as it started. At the end of the Bassnectar show, as with any of his shows, Lorin likes to take “family photos” towards the end.

By midnight, the picture was taken, the confetti was on the ground and faces were melted. Lorin set the tone mighty high in Greensboro for the rest of his fall tour.

Crystal Castles chooses Charlotte to kickoff their fall tour

Crystal Castles is coming to the Fillmore Charlotte on September 27. Photo courtesy of Crystal Castles

On Thursday September 27,  Crystal Castles will be performing live at the Fillmore Charlotte venue. Expect full-throttle hype, as this Charlotte venue is the kickoff city for their Fall 2012 North American Tour.

Crystal Castles’ sound is kind of indescribable, incomparable to other artists.

Let’s put it this way – the combination of metal-angst with an electronic, light-techno beats makes Crystal Castles’ sound so unique and original.

If you have not seen them live before- do not miss this show. The duo, composed of vocalist Alice Glass and producer Ethan Kath, bring some sick tunes to the table while experimenting with next level electronic music.

They officially announced last week that they are releasing their new album in November, which will be their 3rd album. Attendees are most likely to get a taste of their new tracks, since they released a couple of them already, including a track called “Plague.” It has gotten great reviews from their fans and followers on Twitter.

Quick heads-up to attendees though – Glass has been known to be a loose cannon on stage. Climbing whatever she can and diving into the crowd at any chance given. She even had to be in a boot with crutches after breaking a bone during a performance.

In years past, the duo has performed for huge crowds at festivals such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Moogfest and Ultra, as well as other big-time international festivals.

Opening up for Crystal Castles is the band HEALTH. If you are the type to arrive half-way through the opening act, think again for this show. HEALTH has received awesome reviews from critics nationwide and expectations are set high.

Tickets for the September 27 show are still available through the Live Nation website or at the Fillmore Charlotte box office.

Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry & Brad Paisley at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre review

Brad Paisley performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte, NC on September 15. Photo by Ann Woo.

The night of country music from this past Friday night started around 5 p.m. on a stage set up in the gravel lots right in front of the gates to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

Those acts included Kristen Kelly, Jana Kramer and Love and Theft. There were bounce houses and lots of prize-winning games concert attendees could partake in.

Wearing a blue cotton tee and jeans, Scotty McCreery came on the main stage around 7:30 p.m. and started the night off by saying how happy he was to be in North Carolina, as he is a Carolina native.

Groups of girls with “I Love Scotty” t-shirts could be seen throughout the Amphitheatre and even though he is a fairly new artist, he already has a big fan base thanks to his title as American Idol season 10 winner.

He performed seven songs in his set including his biggest hits, “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble With Girls.”

He has that sweet, Southern boy charm that kept the audience attentive through his set.

The Band Perry came on stage like a ball of fire and throughout their performance, the flames never died. They opened their set with “Sugar, Sugar” and it got the crowd going and set the tone of their set.

Lead vocalist, Kimberly Perry, dressed in a simple black strapless was dancing all around the stage and super energetic. The band also performed “Hip To My Heart,” “Independence,” “Postcard From Paris” and “If I Die Young.”

After Perry sang the first few words to “If I Die Young,” she stopped because the crowd took over and she stood there grinning in awe. She wrote the song herself so I am sure it is always a great moment whenever she heard thousands of people singing her lyrics.

Between songs, the band performed snippets of “Free Fallin’” and “We Are Young” covers. They also did a cover of Queen’s song, “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

“We believe country music is the people’s music,” Kimberly exclaimed to a roaring crowd. The band thanked their fans and closed their set with “You Lie.”

Brad Paisley, the headliner of the night, went on stage a little after 9 p.m. to one of the greatest stage set ups I’ve ever seen at a country concert.

All throughout his set, an audience member could tell him and his team paid close attention to every detail for the stage regarding lighting, backdrops and the like.

With amazing lasers and LED lights everywhere, he opened his set with “Camouflage” and went onto “The World.”

Scotty McCreery came back on stage to perform “Celebrity” with him and The Band Perry made another appearance later on for “Whiskey Lullaby.”

Brad Paisley is an outstanding live performer and really wants to engage with his fans. He grabbed an iPhone from a fan in the crowd and said to the Amphitheatre, “Let’s make a video.”

He recorded himself and the crowd singing “She’s Everything.”

He was throwing out his guitar picks left and right throughout the night and he even handed one (very lucky) fan an acoustic guitar he signed on stage.

During his performance of “This Is Country Music,” six Army soldiers came out on stage and stood with him, which sent huge roars from the crowd.

But the loudest moment of the night was during his performance of “Remind Me” when concert attendees believed for a second that Carrie Underwood was on stage with him. A hologram Underwood was born and in full effect.

It was incredible how real she looked and performed along with Brad. Other songs from his set list included “I’m Still A Guy,” “Then,” “Letter To Me,” “Mud On Tires” and “Old Alabama.”

He closed the set with the song “Water” but came back out for an encore and performed “American Saturday Night” and “Alcohol.”

He stated earlier in the night that Charlotte was one of his favorite cities in the world and Paisley could tell that Charlotte loved him.

One thing that all the acts had in common was their gratitude towards country radio stations. All three acts mentioned their thanks to country radio during their sets and it is something I’ve only heard from country artists. It was a great Friday night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with above par weather and even greater line up of country musicians.

Phish fans flood Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

Photos from the Phish Concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Sundays are supposed to be days of worship – and worship we did. Self-proclaimed Phish-heads from across the country came to Charlotte to glorify Phish on Sunday night. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre housed the veteran band and they brought the house down to a sardine-packed venue.

They opened with AC/DC, and Set the first set included slam-dunks like Ocelot, Alumni Blues, Letter to Jimmy Page and Tube. They ended the first set with David Bowie and it was remarkable. You could tell that Trey and the rest of the guys were having a great time jamming together on stage and when the audience feels that vibe, we have more fun too. Trey told a story about Fish’s academia, or rather the lack of, when they were students at University of Vermont. It was a great moment of laughter from the crowd.

The lights and visual effects are such a huge part of Phish’s shows, and they were dazzling. They have amazing light designers/technicians/engineers- how they incorporate every color and sound to mesh together to make a beautiful concert happen before our eyes is mind-blowing.

Phish came back on stage around 9:30 pm, ready to jam on for the second half of the night and everybody was craving for more and psyched for the second set. They started with Crosseyed and Painless, and then went full throttle with tracks such as Mcgrupp, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer and ended the show with Suzy Greenberg. They came out for two encores playing Big Black Furry Creature from Mars and Tweezer Reprise.

Phish “phanatics” celebrated this glorious night with fireworks in the gravel lots past midnight and all those in attendance were more than satisfied with the Charlotte Phish show.

UNC Charlotte junior Harrison Givens said, “Phish shows make me appreciate music made by instruments- not by computers. They are true musicians.” The atmosphere was incredible, the show was incredible, and Phish was incredible.

Steve Vai captivates crowd at the Fillmore

When I took a look around inside the Fillmore Charlotte venue, all I saw were Dead-heads and men in their mid-50’s with Pink Floyd, Van Halen or Zappa shirts on. There were definitely guitar-lovers of all ages there, but a majority of the audience were old souls.

The night started with a talented opening act, Beverly McClellen. You might recognize her as “the bald girl” from the NBC show, The Voice. That’s how she referred to herself once on stage, but to many, she is so much more than that.

She has an incredible soulful but rock ‘n’ roll kind of voice that is super easy on the ears. Not only does she have a great voice but she has some amazing skills on the guitar and keyboard.

She has a great sense of humor and in the transition between songs that it seemed like she was doing stand up comedy. The crowd seemed to really like her cover of various songs, one of which was “Drift Away.”

Steve Vai, the legendary Grammy-winning guitarist, made his entrance onto the stage with lots of smoke fumes and lights. Kind of in a cheesy, 80’s rockstar way but with his kind of talent, he could have came on stage in a bunny costume and no one would have cared.

His fingers glide so beautifully along the fingerboard; he makes it look too easy. Women in their 40’s surrounding me were screaming like little girls that had just seen Justin Bieber.

The facial expressions Vai makes along with his playing is what makes his performance so mesmerizing.Vai mouth is shaped like he is screaming when he is playing a high note or when the melody is fast. He is also a charmer with his eyes, in an almost flirtatious way to the audience.

Charlotte was Vai’s fifth stop in his G3 tour and he mentioned it was his first whole length solo show in 5 years.

“Why did I wait so long? I don’t know,” Vai mentioned. “Let’s build a church in here tonight!”

He was switching guitars left and right between song transitions and he had about 10 on stage with him. He played some new stuff from his new album, “The Story of Light,” with songs like “Weeping China Doll.”

Not only is Vai the sickest guitarist I’ve ever seen live, he is also a great guy.

He told the audience, “Everyone always asks where I get the inspiration for songs. I don’t know it just comes. So who’d like to help me write a song right now?”

He pointed to a little boy in the front and asked if he wanted to come on stage and the boy did. He asked the little boy, Matthew, to give him a drum beat.

“I don’t know” was his answer. He made a beat out of the answer. After getting the responses “South Carolina” and “45 minutes” for where he was from and how long it took him to get here tonight, he made beats for the bass and melody with the answers.

After instructing his band what notes to play and when to play, a song was developed that soon rocked the house. It was a huge hit with the audience and I think we all fell in love with him (if we weren’t already) after that.

If Steve Vai was unable to speak, he would still be able to easily communicate with anyone and everyone just from playing his guitar. It literally speaks to you. Vai without a doubt the best of the best when it comes to experimental rock.

Matisyahu revels at the Fillmore

Matisyahu takes the stage at the Fillmore Charlotte. Photo courtesy of Vikas Nambiar.

The show started with an opening act that could have been the headliner. A group of five guys form Moon Taxi, who blew up the stage with their unique sound and high energy.

Think the jam band stylings of Phish meets the electric sound of STS9 meets the vocals of Kings of Leon. They performed Mercury, the first track from their new album, “Cabaret”, and it’s quite catchy. The audience was singing along with them and their following is definitely growing. Their last song packed the main dance floor.

The keyboardist, Wes Bailey, killed it during his solo with almost seizure-like movements and finished with his signature move, the chair kick.

He told me after the show that they currently started working on a new album but it could take years for the final CD to come out.

“We’re all perfectionists and always go back and tweak some things if we hear something new,” he said.

Their most recent “big gig” was a set at Bonnaroo and they are going to blow up. Check them out when they return to Charlotte on September 19th to the Visulite Theatre opening for Galactic.

Next up were The Dirty Heads and they came out on stage looking like they had just left the skate park. With beanies and backwards caps, they had the typical “we don’t give a f***” look going for them. But they have a great sound.

They carry a Rebelution feel to them but definitely reminded me of a reggae version of the Beastie Boys. They performed their song “Believe” which pays tribute to the Beastie Boys for their early influence.

The energy was high by the band, as well as the crowd.

The audience started a “Dirty Heads! Dirty Heads!” chant after they finished the song “Taint.”

During the performance of their two most popular songs “Lay me down” and “Spread too thin”, it seemed like the audience knew every word signing along to it. It showed they have a great fan base.

But the best performance from the Dirty Heads came from the song “Dance All Night” with Matisyahu coming on stage to join. The entire Fillmore venue was moving. That song definitely got the crowd pumped, if they weren’t already, for Matisyahu to come on stage.

Matisyahu’s entrance to the stage wasn’t something we have seen from him before- but in a good way. With a dark vibe, it seemed like an opening to a nightmare. I loved it.

As soon as he was on stage, he was busting out moves with his shades on and a LA Dodgers cap. His new look (he shaved off his decades worth of facial hair in December 2011) definitely gives him an edgier image than the mellow activist we’ve been seeing in years past.

But it’s not just his look that is evolving- it’s also his sound. There was a lot of trance and electronic sound throughout his performances and I think we can expect a lot of that from his new album, “Spark Seeker”.

One of the first songs he performed was “Sunshine”, the first single off the new album. It’s been my ringtone for the whole summer so listening to it live was awesome. Next came “Smash Lies” which was one of the biggest hits from his album “Light”. Matisyahu looked so cool on stage, as cliché as that sounds.

He beat-boxed and danced the entire night and simply looked really comfortable on stage.

Towards the end of the show he did a stage dive into the packed venue and hung on to a chandelier for balance at one point. When he left the stage the audience was screaming for more so he came back out for an encore- performing none other than “One Day”, which is probably Matisyahu’s most well known song.

During this performance he let audience members on stage- varying in ages from young to old. After giving some of his fans hugs, he left the stage for the final time before saying “peace, peace, peace”.

All of the acts together, made it for a great night of music with their own unique but similar sounds.

Datsik and Steve Aoki give crowd ‘Deadmeat’ and other food at Fillmore.

Fillmore attendees get wet, dirty and entertained. Photo/Steve Aoki

Pure filth. That’s what I experienced along with the rest of the crowd on Friday at the Fillmore for Steve Aoki and Datsik’s Deadmeat Tour.

And I don’t mean that as a bad thing, either.

When I first arrived at the venue, the diversity of the people in line varied from freaks to super freaks. I missed Alvin Risk, the opening act, but I was soon made aware that I missed a great set.

Datsik went on around 9:30 p.m. and he opened the show with crowd favorite, “YES,” which he produced along with Bassnectar. He immediately got the entire venue pumped and raging.

Song after song, he aimed to please and that he did. With visual effects behind him and random explosions of confetti coming from top, everyone was zoned in to their own world and at times I’d forget there were mobs of people all around me.

The bass he brings is crunchy and perfectly timed. Any audience member can see his main goal is to make sure everyone has a good time. He was constantly asking the audience if we were enjoying the show and satisfaction came in the form of the roaring and cheering coming back at him.

Another awesome thing about Datsik is the way he doesn’t forget his friends. He constantly shouted out the people who helped him get started by saying things like, “You guys like my friend Excision? Make sure to check him out!”

After his last song ended, the crowd went crazy and started chanting “Datsik! Datsik!” and he stood there in awe for a couple of seconds and took it all in.

After about a 10-15 minute break, the event staff had set up Steve Aoki’s stage and he was ready to get wild. In the week leading up to the show, people that attended in the cities before Charlotte were tweeting about how outrageous Aoki was and how he would throw food and drinks into the crowd so I had gone in with high expectations.

Here is the scene as soon as Aoki got on: imagine a food fight with hundreds of people squished together in one room with house music playing in the background and people crowd surfing on top of inflatable mattresses.

Random objects sent flying into the crowd included two salad trays, two chocolate cakes, a bottle of orange juice and about five bottles of champagne.

Aoki is very interactive with his audience, which I found out firsthand. I somehow pushed and pulled my way to the front row during Datsik so I was front and center while Aoki was on.

At one point during his set, he scanned the front row and stopped at me. He unscrewed the top of the orange juice. If he was aiming for my mouth, he did an awful job.

As the set progressed, Aoki began playing more dupstep than house music and the light show had everyone in a trance. Between Datsik and Steve Aoki, the night was full of raunchy bass and fun-loving electro house music.

One would be hard pressed to find anyone in the crowd who left feeling anything less than ecstatic.

Alex Dyer, a sophomore at UNC Charlotte, said at the end of the night, “That was the best show I’ve ever been to. Everything was perfect. The venue, the artists, the music- it was all ideal.”

It was truly a great show. Both artists have grown as performers since the last time I saw them this past summer at Identity Music Festival. I will countdown the days until they return to the Queen City.