Category Archives: des ark

Favorite Shows of 2012

Following up on yesterday’s post. My 10 favorite shows of the year.

Red Collar, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 1/14/12
1. 1/14/12 – Red Collar w/ Spider Bags & Rat Jackson – Local 506
I love when a show early in the year sets the bar high. And all year long no single show topped this one. Just a fantastic kick start to the year. From Rat Jackson covering Alan Jackson to Reese McHenry joining Spider Bags on stage to the energy and passion Red Collar poured into every moment – this show was packed full of memorable moments. photo set

John Darnielle, Mac McCaughan, & Greg Cartwright, Protect All NC Families Benefit, Motorco, Durham NC, 04/19/12
2. 4/19/12 – John Darnielle, Mac McCaughan & Greg Cartwright – Motorco
Amazing night for a great cause. A completely unique chance to see these three songwriters trade songs and play off each other. photo set

Des Ark, Local Beer Local Band, Tir Na Nog, Raleigh NC, 05/10/12
3. 5/10/12 – Des Ark w/Midtown Dickens – Tir Na Nog
The best show Local Beer Local Band show I saw all year. But what really makes this night stand so high on my list is that it was exactly the show I needed at that moment. photo set

Lucero, Orange Peel, Asheville NC, 04/27/12
4. 4/27/12 – Lucero w/J Roddy Walston & The Business – Orange Peel
This show was nearly a shoe in, after all we decided to drive to Asheville to see the combo of Lucero w/ J Roddy opening. At the same time it was a show I had mighty high expectations for. They were more than met. photo set

Bombadil, The Farm, Hillsborough NC, 06/09/12
5. 6/9/12 – Bombadil w/ JKutchma & the 5/5ths- The Farm
I really hope there are more shows at The Farm next year. Absolutely a stunning place to see a show. The scenrey adds to the music; the chance sit in a chair on the grass listening to great local music chorus with the sounds of night setting in on a summer night. photo set

Reigning Sound, Nightlight, Chapel Hill NC, 08/24/12
6. 8/24/12 – Reigning Sound w/Last Year’s Men – Nightlight
Reigning Sound at Nightlight? Yes, please. photo set

Team Dresch, Pinhook, Durham NC, 09/29/12
7. 9/29/12 – Team Dresch w/ The Butchies & The Tomboys – Pinhook outdoor stage
Another year, another amazing Pinhook concert for Pride. This year, finally, the chance to see Team Dresch. photo set

Ted Leo, Duke Coffeehouse, Durham NC, 02/18/12
8. 2/18/12 -Ted Leo w/ Mac McCaughan – Coffeehouse
Great night. Never had the chance to see Ted Leo play before this, but the highlight of the night may just have been McCaughan talking about the first show he saw at the Coffeehouse. photo set

Vandaveer, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 05/11/12
9. 5/11/12 – Vandaveer – Local 506
I love to see full shows, and am saddened when a band doesn’t draw as well as I hoped. And man, y’all all missed this one. It meant we got to sit on the riser at 506 and enjoy an amazing and intimate Vandaveer show. Lovely. photo set

Crooked Fingers, Kings, Raleigh NC, 01/06/12
10. 1/6/12 – Crooked Fingers w/ Mount Moriah – Kings
What a great way to kick off the year. A packed Kings, great sets by both bands.

Up next in the year count down: favorite videos & favorite photos.

TRKfest, 07/21/12

Rainy weather forced a move of TRKfest from the Piedmont Biofuels farm to the Trotter Building in Durham. Happily, that put it a couple minutes from my house, and everything ran very smoothly.

After the lovely set by Megafaun & Midtown Dickens playing that was a mix of covers and songs by one of the bands, the stage cleared the tone shifted to, well, this:

Lost Skulls, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

At times it was a little surreal to watch the one-off Misfits cover band shift the festival to a rock show to end the night. Below a few photos from earlier in the day, followed by more Lost Skulls.

Des Ark, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Hammer No More The Fingers, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Lost Skulls, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Lost Skulls, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Lost Skulls, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Lost Skulls, TRKfest, Trotter Building, Durham NC, 07/21/12

Full photo set here

Des Ark & Midtown Dickens, Local Beer Local Band

Midtown Dickens, Local Beer Local Band, Tir Na Nog, Raleigh NC, 05/10/12

This show was exactly what I needed last night. Perfectly so.

full photo set here

10 Favorite Shows of 2011

If you know me or just see me at shows, you know I’m frequently wandering around, running between two shows, etc. I see alot of shows and the more shows I go to the harder it is for a full show bill to hold me from the first band to the last. These are the ones where I stood up front or was otherwise transfixed by the whole show. My 10 favorite shows of the year.

Joe Pug, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 04/11/11
1. Joe Pug w/ Strand of Oaks, Local 506, 4/11 – It’s a very lucky thing that my favorite show of the year (and many others on this list) was also attended by the best taper in the area (Dan Schram) so I have this show on mp3 and can go back and listen again and again. Just a stunningly excellent show. So many of the shows on this list are special shows: album releases, first shows back, etc. The excellence of this show is even more amazing because it wasn’t a “special” show. It was another night on a long tour (for both bands). It’s the kind of show that makes me want to pack a bag and follow a tour around so I can see it every night. Photos here

Des Ark, Nightlight, Chapel Hill NC, 03/10/11
2. Des Ark w/ Pygmy Lush, Bellafea, Nightlight, 3/10 – Des Ark’s CD is on my favorite albums of the year list so it is no surprise to see the local album release show here. Just a show with Des Ark full band likely would have put it on the list, but this was far more. The crowd was wonderful, Pygmy Lush’s set was great, and Bellafea was so fantastic to hear again. I love Mount Moriah, obviously (favorite album of the year, a Mount Moriah show is coming up on this list), but sometimes a Bellafea show is exactly what I need. It was the perfect kickstart to the night. Photos here

The Butchies, Pinhook Outdoor Stage, Durham NC, 09/24/11
3. The Butchies w/ Pink Flag, Pinhook, 9/24 – Everything about this show. The weather was perfect for a huge celebratory show in the parking lot behind Pinhook, and that is exactly what this was. Both bands played fantastic sets to a great hometown crowd. Photos here

Mount Moriah, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, 04/15/11
4.Mount Moriah w/ The Moaners & Filthybird, Cat’s Cradle, 4/15 – I feel like I’ve already said enough about how great Mount Moriah’s album is. The CD release show started with the three videos that are included with the album and ended with an all hands on-stage sing along of “Lament.” Start to finish, just a great night. Photos here

Bombadil, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, 11/12/11
5. Bombadil w/ The Future Kings of Nowhere, JKutchma and the 5/5ths, Cat’s Cradle, 11/12 – Three bands I love on the same bill, a CD release show for Bombadil. Before even going to this show, I knew it’d end up on this list. So, for me, it had alot to live up to. And it more than did so. Photos here

Future Kings of Nowhere, Motorco, Durham NC, 05/07/11
6. Future Kings of Nowhere w/ Hammer No More the Fingers & The Wigg Report, Motorco, 5/7 – Photos here

Red Collar, Casbah, Durham NC, 05/28/11
7. Red Collar w/ American Aquarium, Casbah, 5/28 – Photos here

The Moaners, Cave, Chapel Hill NC, 07/29/11
8. The Moaners w/ All Girl Boys Choir, Cave, 7/29 – Photos here

Free Electric State, Pinhook, Durham NC, 11/4/11
9. Pinhook’s 3-year anniversary 3-night concert (Men w/ Tayisha Busey, Crystal Antlers w/ Old Bricks, Free Electric State, Javelin w/ Organos), 11/3-11/5 – Photos here

Shirlette & The Dynamite Brothers, Duke Gardens, Durham NC, 06/29/11
10. Shirlette and the Dynamite Brothers, Duke Gardens, 6/29 – Photos here

Links to all year end coverage:
Year End Concert Stats
Top Ten Albums of 2011
Twenty Favorite Photos of 2011
Great Moments of 2011

Top Ten Albums of 2011

I’m still on holiday, so to test out this list and make sure I’m good with it, I made a playlist of one song from each album and am playing it in my mom’s den with her listening in, offering her opinions, it’s an interesting way to get final feedback on a list.

Looking at the list, the genres represented are interesting, and suprisingly well grouped: 1-2 lyrically and sonicly rich delicate albums, 3-5 punkish albums, 6-8 post rock & other atmospheric albums, 9 country with a punk-ish flare, 10 indie-folk/indie-pop. I saw 8 out of the 10 bands play this year. There is only one I’ve never seen live.

Mount Moriah, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, 11/12/10

1. Mount Moriah – Mount Moriah – After I bought this album at the CD release, I put it on for the car ride home and listened with the windows down. I arrived at my house on a cool night with owls hooting in the background and listened to the last tracks there in the drive, unable to turn off the car before the album’s end. It was the perfect first listen for the album. And since then it has, easily, been the album that I’ve listened to and loved the most this year. Every time I listen I find a new turn of phrase or string of notes to lose myself in. Just gorgeous. Best local album of the year; my favorite album of the year. Stand out song: Everyone else will say “Lament” or “The Reckoning”, I’ll go with “Plane.”

The Low Anthem, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 09/18/11

2. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh – The thing I keep coming back to about this album is how it creates space. You can hear the deep breath at the end of a phrase, the echo of sound. The album cover and posters were beautifully letter pressed and have a beautifully tactile deminisions. Complete fitting for this album where you really feel like you can almost run your hand over the sounds. Just stunning. Stand out track: “Ghost Woman Blues”

Restorations, Cave, Chapel Hill NC, 10/25/11

3. Restorations – Restorations – I haven’t seen this album on many end of year list, mores the pity, because it is freaking stellar. Can You See The Sunset, one of the few blogs to list the album simply said “Resto-fucking-rations! Is it post-hardcore? Is it Americana? Is it indie-pop? Yes.” That’s pretty much it. Punk rock for people who don’t listen to much punk anymore. Literate, smart, driving, wonderful. Stand out track: “When Your Older”

Dave Hause, Local 506, Chapel Hill NC, 09/14/11

4. Dave Hause – Resolutions – Dave Hause’s voice reminds me of all my favorite parts of living in the Mid-Atlantic, not nearly enough to want to move back there, but it’s a good reminder. There are so many punk rock folks making folk-ish americana-ish albums that it seems almost too worn, that you forget the real beauty of the genre. This is an album that will make you remember why it works. Great backing band, beautiful songs, just great. Stand out track: “Time Will Tell” or “C’mon Kid”

Des Ark, Nightlight, Chapel Hill NC, 03/10/11

5. Des Ark – Don’t Rock The Boat, Sink The Fucker – The first time I listened to this album, I couldn’t really hear it as an album, great songs but I couldn’t find the thread. The more I listened, though, the more I fell for the tracking, the way the songs play off each other and play with tempo and dissonance from one song to another and within each song. The whole albums works like a single song, rewarding many listens. Stand out track: “Bonne Chance Asshole”

6. The Besnard Lakes – You Live In The City – It’s only a 4 song EP. And it’s perfect. If you’ve been looking at my favorite albums lists for a while, you know I love this band. Thier album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse was my favorite album of 2007: dark and rich and apocolyptic. In this 2011 album they take a turn for the peaceful. This is the best soundtrack for getting lost in headlights and a cool sky on a narrow road. This is the only album on the list where I’ve never seen the band playlive. I’d drive at least 100 miles todo so, with this EP playing all the way there. Stand out track: “Some Colour in the Sky”

7. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care – The one thing that I still think Exposions in the Sky does better than any other post-rock band is the slow build. There is a moment and a tension in each track of building until that last piece comes in, and every time that last piece slides into place it feels like peace. Always so beautiful. Stand out track: “Be Comfortable, Creature”

All Tiny Creatures, Pour House, Hopscotch, 09/09/10

8. All Tiny Creatures- Harbors – All Tiny Creatures is all my favorite things about post-roock and all my favorite things about indie-pop in one beautiful atmospheric swirl. It’s music I get lost in. What really makes it work for me are the close repetitions, the short loops, that create a drone, a static, almost, in the back of the tracks. Stand out track: “Cargo Maps”

Austin Lucas, Motorco, Durham NC, 08/27/11

9. Austin Lucas – At Home In This World – I don’t understand why Austin Lucas isn’t a multimillionaire, winning armfuls of CMA awards every year, and playing to giant stadiums of country music fans. If country music is going to improve then this is the way to do it. I could play this whole album for my grandfather and it’d slide right into his collection between the Sunday Morning Singing and the banjo based secular country. Stand out track: “Darkness Out Of Me”

Bombadil Soundcheck, Cat's Cradle, Carrboro NC, 11/12/11

10. Bombadil – All The Rain Promises – Look, I’m 130% biased about this band. I love them. That they managed to make a followup to Tarpits and Canyonlands at all is amazing, that it is delightful and sparse and lovely is an added bonus. Listening to their albums straight through, it is obvious how much they’ve grown as people and as musicians and it is a joy to listen to. Stand out track: “I Will Wait”

Links to all year end coverage:
Year End Concert Stats
Twenty Favorite Photos of 2011
Ten Favorite Shows of 2011
Great Moments of 2011

Hopscotch Reflections

I saw 49 full or partial sets this year at Hopscotch (if you count the drive-by performance by the Helping Hands Marching Band, literally a drive-by, they played in a truck bed driving around town, I caught then outside of Raleigh Times) and only one repeat band (Des Ark once an acoustic and unamplified show at Lump Gallery, once at Kings for a rock show). Half of the bands I saw were locals (25) and almost exactly half of the bands were bands I’d seen before (22). Those two lists don’t overlap as much as you’d think, actually, I saw 9 local bands I’d not seen before.

Some of the most memorable parts of Hopscotch, for me, were parts that happened not separate from but perhaps adjacent to the music. Long conversations with friends, really getting to know some folks I knew only as acquaintances before, running into people at exactly the right time for a hug or a tear or a high five. If you know me, you know I care about the community and the music of the community in almost equal measure. Last year, mostly because I’d just been here 5 months when Hopscotch rolled around, I felt less ownership. This year, though, I’ve got as many non-musical memories of Hopscotch as musical ones, and that is what it is all about for me.

But on to the photography & music. My favorite photos I shot are in this set
Thursday highlights:
Steve Gunn, Fletcher Opera Hall, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC,09/08/11
Steve Gunn was outstanding; I watched his hands intently during his set and I still don’t understand how one guitar makes all that music. The light setup Xray Eyeballs had at Slim’s was the most beautiful light setup I saw all festival (and so simple). Lower Dens really impressed. And JEFF the Brotherhood completely lived up to my high expectations.

Friday highlights:
The gorgeous bright noon light streaming into The Hive during Tow3rs set.
Last Year's Men, Churchkey/The Layabout Day Party, Slim's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/09/11
Last Year’s Men’s set at Slim’s was the best set I’ve seen them play. The delightful confusion created in my brain by going from the Liturgy show to the Mount Moriah show. Frontier Ruckus covering the first verse of “September Gurls.”

Saturday highlights:
JKutchma debuting his full backing band at his day party show. Both times I got to see Des Ark. Superchunk playing “Driveway to Driveway” followed by “Learned to Surf.” Leaning against the wall at Tir Na Nog and disappearing into the music of All Tiny Creatures. Finally getting to see The Prayers & Tears. Bombadil, everything about seeing Bombadil play a full set again and in such a great space. The rickshaw that appeared as if by magic as I left Flechter for my last venue change of the festival (only rickshaw I took all weekend), that ride through Raleigh in the cool night made the whole thing seem enchanted. Then, closing out my festival with a roar with Titus Andronicus.
Titus Andronicus,Tir Na Nog, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11

But like I said above, Hopscotch in specific, and this music community in general is more than just the music. This year I thought the quality of music was stellar (and better than last year), and I know I felt more a part of it than last year. My favorite thing is that this whole scene is so accessible and so accepting of what everyone brings to the table. I lived in Baltimore and went to shows there and in DC and attaching into the scene in both places was always very difficult for me because it seemed a event based scene. Here, though, it is a relationship based scene. I knew, no lie, 8 people in the area when I moved down. I’ve been in Durham for a year and a half now and it’s pretty safe to say that I could walk into almost any venue on almost any night and run into someone I know at this point. This scene is so excellent because it really is about communities of people, that great art is the byproduct is just a happy amazement.

One of the things that did bug me during Hopscotch was how many people didn’t look familiar, at all. During his set Jason Kutchma put out a call, a reminder, that great music is happening here all the time, not just during the big festival. That’s what I’d like to be able to convince everyone of. There is great music almost every night. And it is so easy to become a part of it all: go out. Talk to people. Pick a venue where you saw good shows at Hopscotch or a venue in Durham or one in Chapel Hill and just go. Go two nights, maybe three nights in a week .Talk to the door person, the bartender, the other regulars, the bands. At any place in the area, if you did that three nights in a week, you’d be welcomed as a local. I mentioned that this is a relationship based scene. That means it’s easy. You show up, and chat. That’s all. And, hey if you need to know someone at a show, hit up one of the shows I’ve got listed on my calendar and come up and say hi to me. I’ll be the one drinking either Diet Coke or Club Soda, wearing my camera on my wrist instead of around my neck, and taking pictures primarily using the viewscreen instead of the eyepiece. I don’t bite.

There are all kinds of great shows coming up just this month alone. Basically the whole week of 9/18-9/24 will be outstanding. In that week I’ll get to see: The Low Anthem & William Elliott Whitmore at Local 506, Jim Ward at 506, Fleet Foxes & The Walkmen at the Amphitheater, maybe squeeze in the end of Midtown Dickens’ set at Pinhook, Megafaun’s CD release w/ The Prayers and Tears opening at the Cradle, then the 24th will cap it all w/ insanity – Pride, a Duke Football game, Motorco’s birthday show of Cracker, with Red Collar & Almost People opening, and Pinhook for The Butchies w/ Pink Flag opening. That day of the 24th will be, like, everything I love in one packed day. (and then I’m sleeping)

Full list of all the Hopscotch coverage from this blog here

Hopscotch Day 3 Photos

The festival was completely fantastic.All together I saw 49 bands and had a complete blast. Full photo set from yesterday is here

highlights:

The Prayers & Tears, Fletcher, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
The Prayers and Tears

Superchunk, Raleigh City Plaza, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Superchunk

Shirlette & The Dynamite Brothers, Shuffle Magazine Day Party, Lincoln, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Shirlette & The Dymanite Brothers

JKutchma, American Aquarium Day Party, Slim's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Slim’s

Effingham's morning load-in for the Day Party, Sadlack's, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Effingham

Des Ark, Kings, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Des Ark

Bombadil, Fletcher, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Bombadil

Titus Andronicus,Tir Na Nog, Hopscotch, Raleigh NC, 09/10/11
Titus Andronicus

Full list of all the Hopscotch coverage from this blog here