Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Rock Day" in Carrboro

Friday saw what was dubbed "Rock Day" in Carrboro by Kirk Ross (Editor of the Carrboro Citizen) in a conversation I had with him. "Rock Day" it was indeed. The day would see 3 generations of legendary triangle rock musicians take the stage as well as a Billboard 100 indie act on Carrboro's own Merge label. It all started at 2pm at a Obama for President free concert featuring Chapel Hill legends Superchunk. Plain and simple Superchunk brought the rock. The angular two guitar attack of Mac McCaughan and James Wilbur was in full effect along with the energetic throb of the rhythm section of Laura Ballance and Jon Wurster.

Arcade Fire was up next on this warm afternoon. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Arcade fire seems an unlikely candidate to play for a political rally in the USA. Nonetheless supporting Obama, Arcade Fire played a revelatory set of songs for the partisan crowd. Arcade Fire's two releases on the Merge label, (Funeral, Neon Bible) are as different as oil and vinegar in tone. Neon Bible having huge production values and Funeral very much the no-tech recording. Neither of these releases reveal the power and sheer capability of this band. You have to see them to appreciate what they do.

Both of these bands made a modicum of political statements and mostly stuck to what the do best - rocking out.

Later that night at the Cat's Cradle was a return engagement of the Pressure Boys after a twenty year hiatus. Opening up this show as another long dormant triangle band - Sneakers. Sneakers consisted of Robert Keely (bass), Chris Stamey (guitar), Mitch Easter (guitar) and Will Rigby (drums). One half of this band went on to form the dBs and Mitch Easter went on to become the producer and recordist of many great southern pop acts as well as the lead singer/songwriter for Let's Active. For a band that was formed in high-school the songs this combo wrote together are still classic pop-gems after all these years (I would not want to play any songs I wrote when I was seventeen for anyone!) A particular highlight of this set was "S'il vous plait." Tight muisicanship and big sound were the trademarks of this set of music. Added musicianship was provided by Wes Lachot (piano) and Chris Stephenson(percussion).

Finally the end of this evening of "Rock Day" featured the Pressure Boys (now men) in this benefit reunion show. I remember the P-boys as energetic, frenetic and amazingly good. But they are also great showmen and the pre-eminent party band. They had the crowd dancing early and kept them moving till the last notes of the encore (an amazing version of "Radar Love" followed by a mostly acapella "You're wondering now") rang out. Rob Ladd banged out the familliar and complex dub beats over the bubbling bass of Jack Campbell. Bryon Settle handled the guitar chops with amazing range and style. John Plymale reminded us he may be the best frontman/singer in triangle band history. Greg Stafford, John and Je Widenhouse held down the brass section with solid playing and arranging. Highlights are too many to name but include "Where the Cowboys Went" and covers like "A Message to You Rudy." So much energy over the length of a 2 hour set of well-rehearsed songs was really impressive. The P-boys haven't missed a beat. Awesome.


Kaethe said...

It was a great show. By the bye, it's Bryon Settle.

Holden Richards said...

Dyslexia - thanks for the heads up.