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***November Thirtieth Two Thousand and Sixteen***



There's only one thing on my Christmas list this year.  I'll give you one guess what it is.  


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Instagrams:



Crowder Park.  Apex, NC.  


Shadow master.  Cary, NC.  


All season locust.  Marion, NC.  


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Links:


This video has been out for a couple of months, but I continue to back Hockey, or at least most of the team.  Tons of
Andrew Allen footage here.  Not enough John Fitzgerald.  Still not sold on Ben Kadow.  He's definitely good at falling.
I know it's not supposed to matter, but his ridiculous high pants make it really hard to watch his footage.  

WKND made a promo vid of their entire team called "Who's To Say"  - I may not love everyone they sponsor, but there
is plenty of good here to recommend a watch.  If you want to cut to the top highlight, Austyn Gillette has a nice section
that starts just after the eight minute mark.  Goddamn that boy is as good on his skateboard as he is stylish and
handsome.  

Vans dropped a surprise video "No Other Way" and it's one of the best things I've seen all year.  Elijah Berle kicks
things off with one of my favorite parts in some time, there's a short montage of other riders, and then Kyle Walker
closes with one of the heaviest sections ever created.  Seriously, this kid does shit I would have told you is impossible
if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, and it looks so easy to him.  

In non-skateboarding video news, the greatest living documentarian Errol Morris made a great short film for the New
York Times that I'm finally getting around to posting.  It's called "Demon in the Freezer" about smallpox, and further
proof that the man can make literally any topic interesting.  

More band photos again this month, and another set of, well, nonsense this time around in the photo journal


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Guided By Voices
Cats Cradle
11/12/2016

It was nearly twenty years ago that I saw Guided By Voices for the first time in this same club, standing only a couple
of feet to the left from where I stood on this night.  "Under the Bushes, Under the Stars" tour if I'm not mistaken - June
of 44 opened.  It was a damn good time.  These days, Robert Pollard might do a few less high kicks and drink a few
less beers during the performance, but not much else has changed.  The band has nearly always rotated members,
and of course this time was no different  - frequent collaborator Doug Gillard made up one-half of the guitar corp, and
the other half was a real treat - Bobby Bare Jr, an alt-country star with a long solo career who I guess decided it might
be fun to learn 50 or 60 short pop songs.  GBV didn't play any of his songs or anything, but he was still a nice addition
to the performance. 

The band had the set down to a science - play a couple of new songs, then a classic song, a couple more new ones,
back to a classic or two, etc.  In this case "classic" means songs from what most people consider their golden era -
tracks like "Motor Away," "Game of Pricks," "Teenage FBI," "Tractor Rape Chain," etc; and "new" songs are not only
tracks from the more recent GBV releases from the last half-decade, but they also mixed in plenty from Pollard's var-
ious other bands - Boston Spaceships, ESP Ohio, Circus Devils, Ricked Wicky, etc.  I'm of course only speaking for
myself here about new or classic - the more knowledgeable fans all around me seemed to know every track regard-
less of era or band.  Of particular note was the annoying middle aged man next to me, who spent the entire perform-
ance not only singing along to every song, but pointing at Robert Pollard aggressively from start to finish.  I was also
entertained when he decided to put earplugs in around an hour and a half into the set.  I'm sure that will make every-
thing better, fella.  Anyways, they played at least two hours with three encores; it's impossible to leave a Guided By
Voices show and not feel you got your money's worth.


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Ted Leo
With Outer Spaces
The Pinhook
11/10/2016

Until I saw the listing in the Pinhook calendar, I hadn't thought of Ted Leo in ages.  I knew he had a band with Aimee
Mann that played occasionally, but otherwise he had sort of disappeared, at least from my radar.  I decided why not
go see him perform and find out what the hell he's up to these days?  It was a solo gig, no Pharmacists in sight - just
him, his electric guitar, and a super fancy microphone running through a very elaborate amp set-up.  I'm assuming the
mic was fancy based on how good his vocals sounded - that is, exactly like the record.  If the songs weren't slightly
different, you'd almost think he was lip-syncing they sounded so much like the records.  He would talk to the crowd a
bit, play a classic song or two, talk to the crowd some more, play a new (or newish) song or two, more talking...you get
the idea.  Any time he played one of those classic songs the crowd treated it like a singalong, and even though that
often annoys me I might have been guilty of it myself in this case.  What can I say, the dude has written a lot of damn
catchy songs!  He even played a Chisel song that someone in the crowd "requested" aka yelled out ("The Town
Crusher" if I remember correctly)  - if it had been a while since I had thought about Ted's solo work, I really REALLY
hadn't though about Chisel in a long time.  Probably the funniest moment of the evening is when a clearly over-eager
fan standing right in front of the stage yelled out what gauge strings he was using - this both confused and amused
Leo, who after answering the question went own to plead for a sponsorship from D'Addario, because he's tired of
buying his own strings after all the years.  Whether I knew the songs or not, the man is a very engaging & capable
performer.   


The opener tonight was Baltimore's Outer Spaces, a trio that I was nearly as excited for as the headliner Ted Leo. 
Their full-length debut "A Shedding Snake" is excellent (as is the EP the preceded it), and they were great the last
time I saw them a year or two ago at Nice Price Books in Raleigh.  I struggle to find a comparison for this band - it's
mid-tempo pop with a nineties tinge, a lot of piano (which takes the typical spot of the bass in this trio), and fantastic
vocals by bandleader Cara Beth Satalino.  They played a number of tracks from that record as well as a couple of new
ones - it was a fairly subdued performance and reception, as I'm not sure this crowd of mostly Ted Leo superfans really
knew anything about them prior to this gig.  Hopefully they won over some new fans though, as more people should
treat themselves to this great, underrated act. 


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"You know, they say when you talk to God it's prayer, but when God talks to you, it's schizophrenia."

Limes - Handsom.  Memphis garage rock that mellows out more often than it gets aggro.  You can definite hear a lot
of influence from these guys in local lads Spider Bags...speaking of which, where the hell have those guys been?
Into a Tree

The Men - Another Night.  Somehow this band went from a post-hardcore sort of act to one knocking on the door of
alt-country / Springsteenery in the matter of two records.  
Different Days

Radiohead - Burn The Witch.  Radiohead put out a new album.  It's very Radiohead.  I'm cool with it.  
Decks Dark

Reigning Sound - Falling Rain.  Reigning Sound put out a new album too...a couple of years ago.  It's totally possible
(or rather probable) I've already posted some tracks from "Shattered".
My My
Never Coming Home

Wye Oak - Better (For Esther).  Jenn Wasner is my everything.  
If You Should See

A few select tracks from one of the 1,439 first wave ska compilations I have.  

Jackie Mittoo - El Bang Bang
The Ethiopians - I'm Gonna Take Over Now
The Skatalites - Beardsman Ska
The Wailers - I'm Gonna Put It On





***October Thirty First Two
Thousand and Sixteen***



I was hoping to dress as a durian for halloween this year, but I guess it's not one of the options.  


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Instagrams:


Morning coffee.  Cary, NC.  


Her first pumpkin patch...the hay was more interesting.  Apex, NC.  


Hot Rod Johnson.  Cary, NC.  


The prettiest cow at the fair.  Raleigh, NC.


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Other Photos:

Finally got some medium format film from last summer developed, from my trip to California to hang
with my dudes Todd & Drew.  


Dead boat, Inverness.  


Elephant Seal Overlook, Point Reyes National Seashore.  


South Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore.


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Links:

Kyle Walker
is almost too clean on his skateboard.  So clean he makes the tricks look easy and less impressive than
they actually are.  Here is a short vid of him and his friends.  One of those friends is Ishod Wair, so it's worth watching
for his tricks too.  

Raven Tershy went to Europe and Lakai made a video about it.  Cody Chapman went too but I don't know enough
about that dude to get excited about him just yet - definitely some promise there though.  If I could skate like one person
Raven would be on my short list of options.  

Speaking of Crailtap, to introduce the two new Girl riders Simon Bannerot and Tyler "Manchild" Pacheco they
released a short vid of the team skating in Washington, imaginatively titled Girl Skates Washington State.  

Here is a decent short doc on Andrew Allen, a nice combination of talking and skating.  I still don't know why he left
Antihero, but he'll always be great to watch regardless.  

Some band photos, some baby photos, and some phone photos from our trip out west are all included in this edition
of the 
photo journal. Subscribe today!  


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Superchunk
With Skylar Gudasz
Dorton Arena
10/19/2016

The folks that used to handle the music booking for the North Carolina State Fair made a great decision last year -
instead of throwing a lot of money at washed-up and never-has-been rockers, country crooners, and family friendly
fare, give a little money to a local agency who can book local musicians and actually support local North Carolinians,
one of the main reasons to even have a state fair.  The hard work of local scribe Grayson Haver Currin probably help-
ed them make this decision to change by digging up just how much money the Fair folks were losing on the crappy,
mostly unwanted acts they used to book - it was going so wrong, why not try something else?  Long story short, a
bunch of shit changed behind the scenes at the State Fair and now I get to see Superchunk in Dorton Arena for free
after walking around eating junk food all day. 

First though was Skylar Gudasz, their opener for the night.  I got to the venue in time to see most of her set, getting
slightly delayed because I stopped first to eat a cinnamon roll half the size of my head.  One of my better life decisions. 
She was fronting a six-piece band featuring two keyboardists (one of which was sometimes Skylar) and the drummer
from Flesh Wounds (I'm not sure what bands the other members are from, but they all looked familiar).  Most of Skylar's
performance focused on her debut album "Oleander," but there was a couple of new songs as well - if those are a pre-
view of her next release, I predict another gem.  Her voice was as strong as ever, and sounded damn good in Dorton -
I've always heard folks say the sound in there was subpar, but it seemed pretty dialed in this night.  It should be noted
that she doesn't sound quite as much like Karen Carpenter in person as she does on record...though it would be totally
fine if she did. 


After not getting to see Superchunk for a couple of years, this would be my second time in three months.  That's great
and all, but it's still not as often I'd like - once a month would be a lot better.  You could tell they were excited to play
such a legendary venue - drummer Jon Wurster even posted a selfie on Instagram in the backstage shower where
"Gene Simmons might've had 2-minute workmanlike sex in 1976."  For whatever reason they leaned heavily on their
classic hits this night, putting together what might be the strongest set list I've ever seen by them.  The highlights includ-
ed "For Tension," "Detroit Has a Skyline," "Skip Steps One & Three," "Driveway to Driveway," "The First Part," a very
rare appearance of "Her Royal Fisticuffs," "Nu Bruises," "Cast Iron," a cover of the Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fire-
flies," and they ended the night with "Throwing Things."  That's basically every single one of my favorite Superchunk
songs minus "Animated Airplanes Over Germany" and "Why Do You Have To Put a Date on Everything."  Due to pro-
fanity rules from either Dorton Arena or the State Fair officials, for the first time in forever they didn't play "Slack
Motherfucker" so as not to offend any old church ladies or small children or old church children or small ladies that
might have wandered into the free show.  Fuck it though, they would have been a little better off in life to hear a little
live Superchunk, curse words or not. 


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Nada Surf
with Amber Arcades
Cats Cradle
10/3/2016

The last time I saw Nada Surf live was back in my SF days (aka pre-2008) - much to my dismay, the band doesn't
seem to have much love for shows in North Carolina.  This is especially surprising since Matthew Caws has family in
the state, and some were even at this show, at least according to his stage banter.  Perhaps their reticence to play is
the crowd, or lack thereof.  My (often poor) estimate is there were probably a couple hundred people there, but I was
truly shocked that the place wasn't full, or close to it - sure it was a much more comfortable environment, but Nada
Surf deserve better.  They're probably second best pure pop band working after Teenage Fanclub. 

They're a pro outfit - every song sounds impeccable, they had their own fancy light rig synced up to the music, and you
can tell by the way they interact with the crowd that they're very comfortable on stage.  To my surprise Doug Gillard is
now in the band - I guess this happened a few years ago, but like I said, I haven't had the chance to see Nada Surf live
in quite a while.  This is at least the third band I've seen him with - Guided By Voices and Superdrag being the two
others (for some reason I feel like there is one more, but my brain just can't recall).  They played for probably an hour
and a half, hitting nearly everything you might want to hear - there were classics ("Always Love," "Blonde on Blonde"),
new favorites ("Friend Hospital," "Rushing"), and they even played their nineties hit "Popular," which I don't think I've
ever heard them perform before.  They closed out the night with a totally acoustic (as in no amplification at all) version
of "Blizzard of 77," complete with a robust crowd sing-along.  There might not have been as many people at the gig as
there should have been, but those that did show up were very enthusiastic. 

I caught about half of the set by openers Amber Arcades, who I knew not a single thing about.  They were a five piece
with a female singer who reminded me of Mac DeMarco for some reason - visually, not musically.  I think it was the hat
she was wearing, or maybe I'm just an idiot (or both).  Musically they made me think a lot of the Aislers Set, a clean
shoegaze/jangle pop hybrid, and I quite liked it.  When I'm dictator more bands will sound like the Aislers Set, per
official decree.  Oh, and then after the show I googled the band and it turns out they're Dutch, it's primarily the work of
the singer Annelotte de Graaf, and she has two law degrees and works for the international war crimes tribunal.  I
wonder if I play nothing but Amber Arcades around my daughter she will turn out that awesome?


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Built to Spill
with Hop Along
Cat's Cradle
9/22/2016

It's a pretty simple - if Built to Spill comes to town, I go.  It doesn't even require any thought, the ticket just gets bought
the second I see them available for sale.  God knows how many times I've seen them at this point, but I never leave one
of their gigs disappointed.  I'm not sure if it's the first time I've seen the band as a trio, but it's definitely been a long
time - since the early days when Scott Plouf and Brett Nelson first started playing with Doug Martsch, back when his
plan was to have a different rhythm section every record (this didn't last long).  These days it's the pair of young dudes
that have been touring with him the last few times Built to Spill came to town, and they do a fine job.  I did miss (occas-
ional touring guitarist/Caustic Resin founder/all around rad dude) Brett Netson's added guitar playing though - luckily,
if anyone can hold down all of the Built to Spill guitar parts by himself, it's Doug.  I mean, he did write them.   


The first third (or so) of Built to Spill's set was dominated by this couple standing next to me rubbing on each other
constantly.  I don't mean off-and-on either - for the entire 30-45 minutes they were next to me, the movement and rub-
bing was constant, like a sack full of dry eels.  This would have been less of an issue had the Cradle not been so
packed, and I wasn't pressed right up next to them, thereby encountering unwanted accidental rubbing myself.  Ick. 
Eventually one or both of them likely climaxed and moved elsewhere, and things got a whole lot better, or at least more
comfortable, from there on out.  Doug, personable as always, almost never spoke to the crowd even when he was
tuning his guitar...the occasional "thanks" counted as a verbal outburst.  Tons of classics in their set: "The Plan," "Hurt
a Fly," "Reasons," "Kicked It in the Sun," "Big Dipper," "Carry the Zero," "Car" plus one of the best songs from their
newer material "Hindsight," and their cover this time (there's always at least one cover) was the Creedence Clearwater
Revival track "Effigy" - a song that sounds so much like something Doug would write that I'm sure some of the younger
folks in the crowd who might not have been familiar with the original probably didn't bat an eye, thinking it was just a
new Built to Spill tune.    

Typically, the openers for Built to Spill shows are Boise/Idaho acts that are friends with the band.  Also typically, I never
get to the show in time to see these openers, which bit me in the ass this time.  The band was called Hop Along, are
apparently from Philly and putting out records on Saddle Creek, and like so many of the kids these days, are doing
their damnedest to reinterpret the sounds of the nineties for a modern audience.  The crowd seemed way into it, so
much so that it's possible a chunk of them might have been there primarily to see Hop Along, not Built to Spill.  I'm not
sure what an apt comparison would be, maybe Dinosaur Jr meets Courtney Barnett, or at least something in that gen-
eral ballpark.  If they come back again I'll try to see more than two songs. 


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"
This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used
to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You're hypocrites, all of you!"


I made myself a mix of punk/garage/whatever seven inches, and then made this mix of my favorite songs from that mix.  
Beat Beat Beat -
Hate Me
Beat Beat Beat - Nasty Nightmare
Boomgates - Bright Idea
Buzzer - Disco Kiddz
Cheap Time - Other Stories
Hex Dispensers - Agatha's Antlers
Hex Dispensers - Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
King Tuff - Hands
Pampers - Right Tonight
Spray Paint - Rest Versus Rust

Schooner - Feel Better.  I made fun of Reid forever for taking so long to release this record.  And then I took forever
to upload any songs here.  
It Won't Matter

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer.  Live Talking Heads, because who doesn't love that?
The Girls Want To Be With The Girls





***October Second Two
Thousand and Sixteen***



Is what Trump meant by "Make America Great Again" was they were bringing ALF back on the air...I'm not saying I
would vote for him, but I'd at least pause and think about it.  


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Instagrams:


Butterfly on a buttertfly bush.  Marion, NC.  


Hard at work on her water table.  Cary, NC.  


End of 2016 beach season.  Wrightsville Beach, NC.  


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Links:

Jarne Verbruggen - Never Skatebored
.  Jesus, not only is this kid amazing, but his trick selection and imagination
might be better than anyone else going right now.  This whole thing floored me and left me with a giant grin at the
same time.  

Girl/Chocolate - Yeah Right! Log Tape.  Raw footage from the beginning of their filming for Yeah Right.  I could
watch this for hours, I hope they release more of these.  

All of the photos to accompany the Hopscotch reviews below are in the photo journal. Also, baby photos, if you're in-
to that sort of thing (aka grandmas).  



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Hopscotch Music Festival, Day One
Downtown Raleigh
9/8/2016

It's that time of the year again, time to stand around in the heat and watch bands and wish this festival was later in the
year when it wasn't so damned hot!  I've taken photos at every festival, but this year I would officially be taking photos
for the festival.  Basically, the only real difference is I can now get into the photo pit at the big gigs...well, that and a free
pass that works like a VIP pass.     

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that my favorite band of the entire event, Wye Oak, was the very first performance I
saw?  I'll be optimistic and say it's awesome that a group I enjoy so much would be my welcome to the next three days
of musical decadence.  It was great to see them on the big stage of City Plaza, hopefully winning over new fans that
had never heard their eighties new wave-inspired indie pop before.  They definitely won me over again, but that out-
come was never in question.  If Jenn Wasner was a religion I would be a strict adherent, because she is infallible. 
There were lots of songs from "Shriek," a few new ones, and then they ended their far-too-short set with their greatest
track, "Holy Holy."  I had hoped with Jenn moving to North Carolina we would get more frequent Wye Oak shows - this
has sadly not occurred, so every time I get a chance to see them play is a real treat.   

The big City Plaza headliner this first night was Wolf Parade.  Somehow I never saw them live before their hiatus in
2010, but I get to make up for that now.  I have seen a number of their side projects though, and to be quite honest I
might prefer those solo efforts over the whole of Wolf Parade, and I mean that as no slight to Wolf Parade (I really
REALLY like Spencer Krug's Moonface, in particular).  I forgot to take notes on their set list, but I specifically recall
them playing my favorite song "Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts," plenty of other classics, and at least a
couple off of their latest EP, the imaginatively titled "EP 4."  Just like on the recordings their songs live have a driving,
manic energy to them - if it was fun to see on the giant outdoor stage, I can't imagine how enjoyable it would be in a
small, indoor club.  A couple of other super important notes from this performance: Dan Boeckner not only physically
looks like the Clash's Mick Jones, he looks like he's actually doing an impression of him;
and Spencer Krug plays the
keys with one hand raised in the air as if he is constantly competing in a bull riding contest. 

The "big" part of the night over, it was time to hit some clubs.  I got to the Pour House in time to see Most of Wing Dam,
a band I seem to see/think about a lot at Hopscotch as they play often, and not much otherwise.  It doesn't really make
any sense because they are a lot of fun live and should be interesting year round, but brains work in mysterious ways. 
The club was packed with a crazy line outside, luckily this is where the photo pass helps a ton...sorry everyone I
skipped in front of.  Once inside, I saw Sam from Future Islands and it occurred to me the Snails were closing out the
night at this venue...this crowd was just trying to get themselves Future Islands-adjacent.  Or maybe they're just really
into bands that perform in snail costumes.  Wing Dam are a little bit slacker pop, a little bit jangle, a little bit garage
rock, a little bit a lot of things actually - I've probably said it before but they remind me a lot of the mid-nineties Teenbeat
era, Versus and Unrest and Eggs and all that.  Possibly the most noteworthy moment was when Sara Autrey's boobs
popped out of her low cut top in the middle of their set; instead of freaking out or being embarrassed, she instead
asked for solidarity from the rest of the band and the dudes took their shirts off.  She then left them popped out, and
offered to "high five nipples" with anyone back at the merch table after the set was over (I have no verification if this
actually happened).  A damn fun band, I look forward to their set next year at Hopscotch. 

I decided to stay put at the Pour House to see some of Sneaks.  I didn't know a single thing about them other than
they recently signed to Merge, and I like the bulk of the Merge catalog so it was worth a shot.  The band is a duo of
young folks, a dude making beats on a computer and a dudette who rapped/sang/mumbled, occasionally played bass,
and was also wearing plastic pants that made me hot just looking at them.  It was...not for me, to put it kindly.  The
crowd seemed into it but I was totally confused.  All of the songs were really short, the instrumentation very sparse,
and the vocals were way too low in the mix - hell, they played two or three songs before I realized they weren't just dick-
ing around doing sound check.  I moved on after a handful of songs, but since each song was about a minute long a
handful didn't take long.

I smartly chose to stop off at the Lincoln to see some of Mutoid Man.  I knew they played metal, had some connection
to Converge, and that was about it.  I would best describe them as classic eighties-style thrash metal, but somehow
lighthearted and fun.  And I don't mean lighthearted in regard to the lyrics, cause I don't have a clue what the hell they
were singing about - more so in the actions of the group, as they were clearly having fun.  Smiling even!  A metal band
smiling on stage, while simultaneously headbanging, fucking with each other, and more general antics!  Unprec-
edented, I say - metal is usually such serious business.  Oh, and they started their set by playing the last half of "Purple
Rain" (song, not album) - I can't think of a better, more fitting intro to this trio.  My only regret is I didn't get to see more
of them, as I needed to get to Television...if it had been nearly any other band in the entire festival that I was off to see
next, I would have probably skipped it to see more of Mutoid Man. 

Finally, Television.  This was my most anticipated show of the whole festival, a classic band I've loved for ages but
had never seen live.  Yeah, Richard Lloyd wasn't there so it wasn't the true classic line-up...but, and I say this with all
respect to Mr. Lloyd, I was there for Tom Verlaine first and foremost.  Memorial Auditorium wasn't packed but there
was a healthy crowd there, a mix of old fans (like myself) and young kids there to probably see what all the fuss is
about with these "olds" on stage.  After Tom requested the venue turn the lights nearly off (not ideal for taking photos,
obviously), the band launched into an hour-and-a-half set, playing nearly all of their classic "Marquee Moon" and plenty
more.  After the show I heard some complaints that the band was boring and not very engaging or interesting, but that
was not true for me at all - it probably helped that I was front and center in front of Tom Verlaine the entire time, com-
pletely mesmerized by his effortless guitar acrobatics.  I've probably seen guitarists that were better technically, but
I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone as effortlessly perfect.  To no surprise they ended the set with an epic version of
"Marquee Moon," and as happy as I was to hear the likes of "Prove It" and "Elevation," finally getting to hear the title
track of their seminal album live was a legit bucket list item for me, and one I was very happy to finally fulfill. 

My only real regret on the first night of Hopscotch is that Lambchop were playing at the same time as Television, for-
cing me to miss a local appearance by them for the first time in ages.  Word is they were great, to no one's surprise. 
Lambchop will be back though, most likely sooner rather than later.  Television may never grace these parts again,
but here's to hoping.


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Hopscotch Music Festival, Day Two
Downtown Raleigh
9/9/2016

The second night of Hopscotch was a big night in the history of the event - not only was it the first time ever they would
be including Red Hat Amphitheater as a venue, they would be holding "big" shows both at both Red Hat and City Plaza
concurrently.  It was an ambitious move, and might have worked out great...if the shows had started on time. 

Gary Clark Jr was my first act of the night, at Red Hat.  He was opening for Erykah Badu, but she was having flight
problems and was going to be late, and had her start time pushed back.  Because of this, they had Gary start 15-20
minutes later than he was originally scheduled...fortunately, I was still able to see enough of his set to get a few photos;
unfortunately, I only got to see three or so songs before I had to leave for the next venue.  That was a shame, because
his modern blues were sounding damn good to me at the time, and it's always a pleasure to watch Mr. Clark mangle
a guitar.  I would have gladly stayed for a lot more of his set had it been possible.  Plus, from a photographical per-
spective, he makes great faces while he plays.  Yes, photographical is a real word, I looked it up.  The internet never
lies. 

Unfortunately I had to buzz it up the hill to City Plaza to see Anderson Paak, who seemed to be getting the most buzz
heading into this year's festival.  In an ideal world Paak and Clark would have been paired together and I could have
seen both of their sets in full, but dammit no one asked me.  In simplistic terms you would lump Paak into the genre of
hip hop, but he is so much more than that...most importantly, he plays with a full band, even throwing down on drums
himself on a few songs.  Nearly every time I've truly loved live hip hop, it's been when there was a full band...that's pro-
bably the middle aged white guy in me talking, but the feelings still stand.  Despite being from LA he gave off a nine-
ties East Coast/DJ Premier-esque jazz sample vibe to his sound, aka my favorite era in rap by a large margin. 
There were many times where Paak & his band's sound was more funk and soul than hip hop...at least one song
sounded exactly like Curtis Mayfield, and a number of tracks reminded me a ton of the Brand New Heavies.  I barely
knew a thing about Anderson Paak before this performance, but by the end I definitely left a fan.

After Paak I waited around for Beach House, who for unexplained reasons were also running late.  Tired of waiting
and not really being a huge Beach House fan to start with, I decided to walk back down to Red Hat to catch the start
of Erykah Badu, as her amended start time was fast approaching.  Of course, that was delayed even further and I
ended up waiting there for a while, only to hear through the grapevine that her plane had just landed, meaning it was
still going to be a while before she appeared on stage.  So I went back up to City Plaza to actually catch some of
Beach House, who were finally playing.  As I suspected, after a couple of songs I had had my fill - the music is mostly
fine (if a little boring), sort of a modern take on the Cocteau Twins, but they're not much for watching.  They have as
much fog on stage as Sunn O))), only when you do get glimpses of the band it's not a bunch of metal dudes in crazy
monk outfits, instead run-of-the-mill indie rockers standing as still as possible.  Between Badu and Beach House this
portion of the night was kind of a bust, but since I wasn't overly excited about seeing either band only my time was
really wasted. 

I popped into Fletcher Opera Theater to see what was going on with Kid Millions & Jim Sauter Duo.  Sparse crowd,
but given all the schedule fuck-ups with the "big" shows and the fact that both were still going on that wasn't particularly
surprising - I'm guessing the scene was somewhat similar in the other small clubs across town.  The gig was pretty
much what I expected it to be - Millions pretty much just playing a long drum solo while Jim Sauter played some
skronky atonal saxophone over him.  It's the exact sort of thing I find interesting for about fifteen minutes, and that's
about it.  I may not always love everything Kid Millions does, but he's such an amazing drummer it's always worth
checking out any project he's involved in, I'll like way more than I won't. 

Boulevards were playing next door at Memorial Auditorium, so off I went to see local lad(s) done well.  I'm still not
entirely sure about who to call what here - Boulevards is the band name, but the band is technically only one person -
Jamil Rashad.  So is he Boulevards, and do I refer to him as such, or do I refer to him as Jamil, member of Boulevards? 
Regardless, he had two cats playing with him at this live show, one on drums and the other handling the rest of the
music on a computer, so for the purposes of this gig I will refer to Boulevards as the band.  I'd be lying if I said I've lis-
tened to their record "Groove!" all that much, but you would be damn hard pressed to find a more engaging and ex-
citing live show, and you don't need to know the songs to enjoy it.  Jamil owns the stage, prowling the entirety of the
giant Memorial stage like a caged Tiger, climbing on speakers, jumping into and out of the crowd multiple times - he
was definitely having fun, and so was the audience.  I bet the dude burns 2000 calories over the duration of a show...
hell, I think I lost some weight just watching him move around so much.  Musically it felt like being at a mid-eighties
New Jack Swing/Bobby Brown-esque gig - it doesn't hurt that Jamil looks like he stepped right out of a 1987 time
capsule.  If Boulevards is playing in your town, don't miss it..unless you hate fun, then you should definitely miss it. 

I decided to stay put at Memorial to see what all the Young Thug fuss was about, and also because I'm lazy.  Not my
best decision, as it turns out.  After being 45 minutes late, Young Thug's DJ finally came out and then proceeded to try
hyping up the crowd by playing snippets of the same songs Thug would be performing only a few minutes later.  To be
fair the tactic worked, despite my bewilderment.  Another 15 minutes later Young Thug himself finally came out, along
with one hype man and at least a dozen people who did nothing but mill around on the stage.  One guy spent the entire
time checking his phone; another filmed the entire show on the biggest iPad I've ever seen, it was the size of a damn
cookie sheet; a number of others just smoked and drank (probably lean, or at least they wanted to appear that way)
out of Styrofoam cups.  I'm not even sure what to say about the music...dude half-slurs a ton of his lyrics on record,
they're even less intelligible live.  His music is generally interesting, but there was way way WAY too much bass...to
be fair that could be on the venue as much as it's on Young Thug, although both Big Boi and Killer Mike sounded
great here a few years back, so probably not.  Long story short, it just wasn't for me.  The very young crowd was loving
it though, so despite my sour reception it seems like a smart booking choice. 

After a lot of Hip Hop and R&B for most of the night, there was only one sensible way to end things - metal.  I had
hoped to see some or all of Cobalt, but due to Young Thug being so (unnecessarily) late, I saw an entire two minutes
of their very last song.  That happens at Hopscotch sometimes, life goes on.  Luckily I was able to get there in time to
see Yob, my main reason for walking to the Pour House anyways.  I've seen them a couple of times, as well as lead
man Mike Scheidt solo, so I knew exactly what to expect - really heavy stoner metal bordering on doom, minus the
Cookie Monster vocals that turn me off from so many metal bands.  This was probably the best I've ever seen them,
the band was tight and Mike was destroying his crazy looking custom Monson guitar.  It wasn't butts to nuts in there,
but the crowd was healthy - I guess I wasn't only one who thought ending the night with some riffy metal was a great
way to finish off the second day of Hopscotch. 


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Hopscotch Music Festival, Day Three
Downtown Raleigh
9/10/2016

The third day of Hopscotch is always the toughest to motivate for, at least for this middle-aged, out-of-shape, lazy bas-
tard.  The first day runs on excitement; the second day runs on adrenaline; and the third day runs on...determination.  It
didn't help that of the three days this one had the line-up of bands for which I was least excited, but there were still
some gems in there. 

I'm not going to lie, I really only showed up early enough for Vince Staples at City Plaza because I thought I might get
some interesting photos, what with my pass-assisted access to the photo pit in City Plaza.  Without that, I probably
would have shown up just early enough to catch a couple of songs at the end of his set.  I did get a couple of decent
snaps so I guess it was worth it, but I can't say Vince's music ever won me over.  Just not my kind of hip hop, and I
don't think I could even tell you why - neither his rapping style or his music really engaged me.  Also, the audio quality
seemed all over the place - one track would be normal and clear, and the next would have so much distorted bass I
had a flashback to high school when all the rednecks (as well as one of my good friends) had those huge speakers in
the trunk of their cars.  I once bribed my friend with a t-shirt he wanted to get him to turn his speakers down, it was so
loud I thought it was making my heart beat improperly.  Anyways, I did eat a tasty chicken and cheese pita during his
set, so that was cool. 


It's pretty impressive that the biggest turnout and most rambunctuous crowd I've seen in the seven years of Hopscotch
was for local favorites Sylvan Esso.  It feels like it was only a couple of years ago they were opening for the Rosebuds
at Memorial, and now they're drawing thousands of people as a festival headliner...wait, it was just a couple of years
ago.  I've seen them a few times since that Memorial outing, but this was the first gig I've seen where they actually
played new songs, songs not on their self-titled debut.  They still played most of the songs from that record too, and of
course the crowd went nuts for each one of them, including me when they played their best song "Hey Mami" at the
end of the set.  Who would have guessed that if you write super catchy pop songs and set them to an electronic beat
it would be so popular?

From electronic pop to mellow folk, I made my way to Fletcher Opera Theater to catch a little bit of Maiden Radio.  I'd
never heard a single note by them, but read that Joan Shelley was in the group and she has a magnifficent voice so it
was definitely worth a shot.  The band was a trio of females playing banjo, guitar and fiddle (in various combinations)
and singing solo or together (in various combinations).  I only caught about half of their set, but it seemed like it was
mostly covers of old mountain folk songs - how much these songs resembled the originals or were complete reimagin-
ings, I have no idea.  As to what Maiden Radio sounded like, think about all the Gillian Welch/Emmylou Harris/Alison
Krauss tracks from the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and you're on the right path.  It sounded great, two
thumbs up from this dude.   

I would have gladly stayed for the entire Maiden Radio set if I didn't need to get next door to Memorial Auditorium to
see Eric Bachmann.  It was just him and two backup singers, local phenom Skylar Gudasz and another gal named
Avery, but I didn't catch her full name.  Bachmann was in a snazzy suit, the ladies were in matching sparkly dresses,
and the crowd was seated and impeccably silent...of the dozens of times I've seen Bachmann play either solo or with
a band, I've never seen him quite like this.  I took some snaps for a couple of songs, and then just sat down and lis-
tened intently for the rest of the set.  He played most of his new self-titled record, which makes sense as so many of
those songs feature backing vocals, and these two ladies weren't on stage just to show off their sparkly outfits.  Of the
couple of older songs he trotted out, I remember "Bad Blood" was one of them, a classic to be sure.  I'm not sure if the
rest of the crowd was totally engrossed (like me), asleep, or just staring at their phones, but I was impressed with how
quiet and attentive everyone was.  Easily one of the shows of the festival for me, but like the Wye Oak performance on
the first night, I knew this would be the case before he even played the first note. 

Even though I had sorta just seen her with Maiden Radio, I popped back in next door at Fletcher to see Joan Shelley
play solo.  Well, sorta solo, as she had a dude supplying guitar accompaniment the whole time, plus the other two gals
in Maiden Radio came on stage occasionally to add some additional instrumentation or vocals.  I suppose the the big
difference between the two sets was during this gig Joan was playing her own songs instead of covers of old mountain
folk ditties.  I don't really know any of her music well, I just know her voice - but it was real damn pretty and I stuck it out
for a few songs before I got itching to move on.  Nothing against Joan, but I was needing something a little more rock-
ing than the delicate folk I've seen over the last three acts. 

Walking down the street, I met a few friends that talked me into going to see Soldiers of Fortune at the Lincoln
Theatre because Cheetie Kumar from Birds of Avalon would be sitting in with them.  I didn't know a single thing about
the band (noticing a theme with my lack of preparation this year?) but if Cheetie was participating it would be worth
checking out.  Turns out they're some NYC supergroup featuring Kid Millions and others from Oneida, a dude from
Endless Boogie, another dude that plays with Interpol apparently, and plenty more vets (some that were here, some
that were not).  Their set was just one long song, seemingly improvised or at least mostly so, which is not shocking
because of the level of talent present on stage.  Kid Millions was handling the vocals from the drum kit, but I have no
idea what he was saying and I'm not sure it mattered.  I'm not even sure how to really describe the sound - sort of a
repetitive kraut rock vibe, fairly heavy but never venturing into metal territory, and a shitload of guitar shreddery, espec-
ially from the guest star Cheetie.  I probably could have just said it sounds like a crazier/bigger version of Oneida.  For
something I randomly decided to go to, this was a nice find, and further proves the old adage "always trust the Birds
of Avalon."  At least I'm pretty sure that is an adage people say. 

Baroness was playing next at the Lincoln and since that who I was planning on seeing anyways, it made for a short
commute.  Not only did I not have to exert myself and walk to another venue, but I was in a great spot to get photos of
the final act of Hopscotch.  I saw Baroness play a number of years ago, but honestly don't remember a ton about it -
I certainly don't remember them being as polished as they were on this night.  They were heavier and gruffer before -
now, I'd almost call them pop metal.  That sounds like an insult and I don't mean it that way, but their songs have hooks
and harmonies that you usually don't get in a typical stoner metal setting.  Also, how did I miss the news that Sebastian
Thomson from Trans Am is now their drummer?  I knew their old drummer quit the band after their horrific bus crash a
few years back (they were actually supposed to play Hopscotch right after that crash, but that appearance was ob-
viously cancelled since almost the entire band nearly died), but I had no idea Sebastian was now their stickman. 
Anyways, yadda yadda yadda, they put on an amazing show, it was basically an entirely different band than I saw so
many years ago, and I enjoyed it immensely - I was planning on only staying for a couple of songs but ended up
watching most of the show.  I like this version of Baroness a lot more, for the record - what can I say, I'm a pop fan at
heart - make the metal songs catchy and all of the sudden I'm feelin' it. 

I went home satisfied (and extremely tired) after my three day experience at Hopscotch 2016.  Probably my favorite
festival since 2013 or so.  I'm already excited for next year.


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"
Cat in the wall, eh? Okay, now you're talkin' my language! I know that game."

As a slight break with the usual, one full album and one full single in addition to the normal random tracks.  

Mercury Birds - Saxitar Cosmosis.  Kids these days don't know!  Highly underrated classic band from Greensboro
in the late nineties.  Hell, they were stupid underrated when they were actually around.  Some of the dudes ended up
moving to Portland and joined a bunch of other bands over the years, one of which was the now-popular Red Fang.  

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Gold Lion (single)
.  I don't have any good reason for including this entire single, other than I was
listening to it the other day.  "Modern Romance" is still a great song, and TV on the Radio's cover of "Modern Ro-
mance" is even greater.  

Clinic - Bubblegum.  I'll forget to listen to Clinic for a long time, and then be all like "Clinic is awesome" for a couple
of weeks, and then forget to listen to them again.  
Orangutan

David Bazan - Eating Paper.  What I said about Clinic more or less applies to David Bazan/Pedro the Lion too.  
Wolves at the Door

Nada Surf - Friend Hospital.  The new Nada Surf album is awesome, to no one's surprise.  I haven't gotten to see
them live in ages though, but that will all be changing...tomorrow.  Photos in future updates.  
Rushing

The Kingsbury Manx - Future Hunter.  Their first record is still their best, but they've never released a dud.  These
tracks are from 2013's "Bronze Age."
Weird Beard & Black Wolf





***August Thirty First Two
Thousand and Sixteen***


Way too soon for the Christmas decorations kid.  It's never too soon for Richard Simmons though.  


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Instagram -


Stressed out hound.  Cary, NC.  


A nice day.  Lake Jordan, NC.  


One year old.  Cary, NC.  


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Links -

Hey, look at me, I'm famous!  Or, not really.  A magazine called The Local Palate used a photo I took of Cheetie from
Birds of Avalon in an article about her restaurant Garland.  

If Antihero puts out a new video, it gets posted here - that's just good science.  This one is called "Chesnut Hill."  Dann
Van Der Linden is the most exciting new kid to come on the scene in years.  

And yet another Antihero video, this one called "The Vickie Report."  I'm not sure what's gotten into these guys and
why they're so productive lately, but I couldn't be any happier about it.  

I'm not entirely sure what Dime is - are they just a clothing company or something more? - but whatever is going on,
they put on the best contests skateboarding has ever known.  I think the speed challenge is my favorite part, since they
have to wear wraparound sunglasses while skating.  Brilliant.  

We spent a good chunk of the middle of the month on a vacation out west; subsequently, that resulted in five
photo journal entries documenting the trip.  It was a good time.  Vacations are awesome, right?  


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Bull City 11th Anniversary Party
with Superchunk, Pipe, Last Year's Men, and Daniel Bachman
Ponysaurus Brewing
8/6/2016

Ponysaurus is located just a few blocks from the more "newly developed" parts of downtown Durham, but it's like a
different world - boarded up buildings, blight, and the typical trappings of inner city poverty abound.  You can see the
changes creeping that way though, that new money slowly overtaking block by block in the same fashion kudzu covers
everything it encounters.  I suppose Ponysaurus itse;f would be one of those agents of change themselves.  I'll leave it
up to the reader to decide if this a good or bad thing (or as is almost always the case in these situations, both), I'm just
painting the scene...

I got there and Daniel Bachman was already well into his set.  Just him and his guitar performing really pretty, intricate
instrumental music.  He also played this weirdly shaped lap guitar that I'm going to assume was a dobro until I'm told
different.  He's really damn young!  Way younger than you'd probably expect given his talent level...his recordings make
you would assume he's a much older cat, or at least that applied to me.  Maybe he just has an old soul, whatever that
means.  These instrumental guitar dudes are really hot right now, right?  It feels like there are a lot of them.  Daniel is
as good as any of them if not better. 


I was pretty excited Last Year's Men were playing this party, because I was pretty sure they had broken up.  Maybe
it was just a "hiatus," but either way they sorta fizzled out and I believe it had been quite a while since they last per-
formed live.  Does this gig signal that the band is back for real or was this just a one off, a favor for Bull City Records? 
I guess time will tell.  They were as good as ever, playing a number of tracks from their great album "Sunny Down
Snuff" as well as that second record they released only as MP3s that I must confess I haven't really heard.  I was into
the jams anyways though.  One noteworthy change was Montgomery was back in band - before their previous hiatus
(or whatever it was) he was no longer with the group, instead focusing all his attention on Flesh Wounds.  It was nice
to see him back in the fold.  I hope I get to see them again, and soon, because they're one of my favorite local acts. 

Pipe!  PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE PIPE.  That's really all the review of this band should be.  I've seen them dozens upon
dozens of times and it's always the same...the band rocks out to pretty much the same songs they always play, holding
shit down in a straight-forward but necessary fashion; singer Ron Liberti, Robert Pollard's long lost twin, puts on a per-
formance that is somewhere between pantomime, modern dance and your favorite drunk uncle; the crowd throws
beer cans at the band; I smile and laugh the entire time.  They played a lot of great hits, including two of their best
"Biscuits" and "Yr Soaking in It" and a cover of Joe Jackson's "One More Time." At one point Ron caught one of the
beers thrown at him, took a drink from it, and then threw it back at the crowd as if the whole thing was choreographed. 
He also sang at least one song standing under a giant plastic tarp like he was wearing the world's most suffocating
ghost costume.  Pipe is everything rock bands should aspire to be. 

In a lot of ways what I said about Pipe also holds for Superchunk, minus the difference in antics of the respective
singers - about the most you get from Mac is a jump off of the drum riser and/or some windmill guitar work.  Like
Pipe, I've seen Superchunk dozens upon dozens of times, they play a ton of songs I've seen them play a more times
than I can count, and they're incredibly dependable.  Unlike Pipe, they've actually continued to write songs and release
albums since the nineties, and their material is a lot more fun to sing along to (sorry Pipe, I still love you).  In the run-up
to this show the band mentioned that this is the first time they've played locally since Merge 25 in the summer of 2014,
which makes sense because I've been grousing about not getting to see them for a good two years.  There's not a
whole lot I can say about these guys at this point, just know that other than Laura no longer playing with them live,
they've not lost a step. 


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RIP Gene Wilder, an all-time favorite.
"
You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the
  new West. You know...morons."
Nation of Ulysses - The Lost Primal Scream Memphis Demos EP.  All these songs on this EP can be found on
their full-length albums, but there is no such thing as too much of the Nation.  
01 N-Sub Ulysses
02 50,000 Watts
03 Mockingbird, Yeah
04 Shakedown

Dan Sartain - Do You Hear My Voice.  This cat used to just be a garage rocker, but now...an electro dark garage
rocker I guess?  Whatever you call it, I like the new direction.  
Walk Among the Cobras

Lydia Loveless - Can't Change Me.  I'm working backwards with Lydia's catalog - here are a couple of great tracks
from her bluegrass-inflected first record.  
More Like Them

The Mountain Goats - Choked Out.  It took me a while to get around to the most recent Goats' record that is all
about wrestling...despite the silly concept it's as good as most anything else John Darnielle has made.  
Luna

Polvo - Bridesmaid Blues.  In celebration of me finally getting their album "Exploded Drawing" on vinyl, here's a
shitload of songs from that record just because.  
Fast Canoe
Feather of Forgiveness
High-Wire Moves
In This Life





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December 2009        November 2009        October 2009       September 2009         August 2009        July 2009                   
June 2009    
         May 2009            April 2009              March 2009            February 2009              January 2009

December 2008        November 2008        October 2008       September 2008         August 2008        July 2008                   
June 2008  
           May 2008            April 2008              March 2008            February 2008              January 2008

December 2007        November 2007        October 2007       September 2007         August 2007        July 2007                    
June 2007    
         May 2007            April 2007              March 2007            February 2007              January 2007
                 
December 2006  
      November 2006        October 2006       September 2006         August 2006        July 2006                    
June 2006  
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December 2005  
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June 2005  
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December 2004 
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