Two, three, four.
Miami won the series, 2-1, but Carolina got three quality starts and the offense woke up on Sunday. Progress.
If you’ve followed me even a little on social media at any point over the last, oh, say, five years, you know that I’ve been waiting to see Frank Turner for, oh, say, the last five years. In 2009, I discovered Frank’s music and, since then, repeatedly, his music has been a balm and a saviour and exactly what I needed over and over and over again. The first three tracks on Love Ire & Song (I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, Photosynthesis) have quite literally saved my life multiple times. But Frank, God love him, hadn’t before yesterday played anywhere close enough to me to make it feasible to go.
So when I saw that Frank, who’s sold out Wembley, was playing a show at Greene Street in Greensboro, a venue with a capacity of about 500, the week before my birthday — well, when Trav said, what do you want for your birthday, I said, I want to see Frank at Greene Street, and he made it happen. (I also said, Music from Big Pink on vinyl, please.)
This show wasn’t even sold out, you guys. I’ve watched the footage of Frank and the Sleeping Souls at Wembley dozens of times, and last night, I saw them play to an amped up room of North Carolinians and there probably weren’t more than 200 people there. It was an amazing birthday present — both from Trav, whose patience with my enthusiasm (and with the fact that me and my sinus infection conked out in the car on the way home) knows no bounds, and from Frank and the band, who went hard for two hours and gave me more than I’d ever let myself hope for in one of his shows. Like the 97s set at Marfa last fall, I don’t know — I’m kind of ruined for all other Frank Turner sets now.
During Billy the Kid’s lovely opening set — I’m deeply enamoured with her music right now — I felt somebody get all up in my personal space behind me, and I turned around to snap at whoever it was, except that it was Frank. So instead, I took a deep breath, told him that I was there as a birthday gift, and asked if he’d play “Tattoos” for me — we’d be sure to get the same tattoos. He said he’d see what he could do — and as you can see from the setlist below, he swapped out “The Real Damage” and played it for me. I have some shaky video of it, but I haven’t figured out how to get it off my phone yet, because I am an idiot.
Birthday: made. Frank Turner: awesome. Trav, who made it happen for me: even more awesome. Tarrant Anderson: still my favorite bassist in the world.
Setlist: Four Simple Words / The Road / Glory Hallelujah / Reasons Not To Be An Idiot / Get Better / If Ever I Stray / Out of Breath / The Way I Tend To Be / Tattoos / Balthazar / Wessex Boy / Photosynthesis / Silent Key / Plain Sailing Weather / Peggy Sang The Blues / Try This At Home / The Next Storm / Recovery / Long Live The Queen // Encore: Ballad Of Me And My Friends / I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous / I Still Believe
Trav is already shaking my life up, in that, on Thursday night at the Cradle, I didn’t just think, This is boring and I hate it of Cursive’s set. I paused, and I listened, and I identified what they were doing with the guitars, and then I thought, this is not boring but it is also definitely not my thing. We think about music the same way a lot of the time, but he also knows way more about the technicalities and theory of it, so he’s been asking me lately to define what I call “pointless guitar wanking”. What Cursive does is not “pointless guitar wanking”; I could feel the point of it, the resonance of the dissonant sounds together, all the way through. But this live set just reinforced something I’ve known for a while: Cursive are very talented, they are great at what they do, and it is not at all music I will seek out.
So it’s lucky that I was at the Cradle to see the second open, Philadelphia’s punk-y Beach Slang, primarily. A funky four piece who would have fit perfectly on a mainstage at the heyday of Warped (and I mean that in a good way; there’s a tiny bit of Blink-182 vocals in their sound that made me deeply nostalgic and deeply happy), they were an absolute powerhouse of energy, sharp songwriting, and excellent chemistry amongst the band. They barrelled through a 40 minute set like a charming trainwreck, nailing a cover of the ‘Mats’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” and making me feel really, really good about the first full length release they’re going to put out. (Right now they’ve got two excellent 7″ records to their name.) It’s punk rock made by people who really, really love pop music — lead singer James Snyder was hanging out by the merch table after their set wearing a Big Star sweatshirt and you can hear that influence in their songwriting — and I’m really, really smitten.
Almost-hardcore-kind-of-metal Austin trio Megafauna was the first open, and I dug the hell out of their energy and the way the guitar and bass play against each other in just about every song. I’m still trying to figure out if I enjoyed their music, but I definitely enjoyed the shit out of watching and photographing them.
Full set here.
Nashville’s Great Peacock, who put out their records on my beloved This Is American Music, came through the Thrill last week and played to a sparse but deeply interested crowd. They rock much harder than some of their twangier label mates, but any band that rocks a poncho with a bejeweled peacock on the back has a little bit of the spirit of the Flying Burrito Brothers in them, too. It’s sharp songwriting paired with dual lead vocals and a tight rhythm section; they’re great, and you should go see them. (Trav smartly said that they sounded like an up to date version of the BoDeans, which is both true and in our humble opinions, a honest enormous compliment. We love the BoDeans, and we loved Great Peacock, too.)
Full set here.
My buddy Robinson, who used to live next door to the Cowboy, has been playing with his new band the River Otters for a while now, but I’m a terrible person who stopped leaving the house for a while. Trav and I went out Saturday night, though, and of course I wasn’t disappointed — the River Otters are playing a fabulously tight three-piece blues, and I was reminded once again how much I like Robinson’s subtle, cheeky songwriting. I feel like blues are a genre that might not always draw in the Triangle, but seriously, the River Otters are phenomenally talented musicians, and their set — a mix of originals, covers you know, and covers only people who love the blues (Robinson and Trav, say) know — is perfectly paced and absolutely captivating.
They’ll be at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough in April, so go see ’em. Buy me some barbeque before.