Residency Post-Show: Charles Latham at Arcana

“ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” The enthusiastic bellows of a gleeful audience bounced off the walls of Arcana as Charles Latham brought his February residency to a close. Your Editor was among those cheering and howling that night. An audience can be very persuasive when they want something badly enough. The energy in the room was high and Charles and his Borrowed Band acquiesced to the cheers of the exuberant crowd. It had been a splendid and totally inspired night of music (with a little comedy thrown in), the last of four Sunday night shows curated by Charles Latham.

A few weeks ago, I received a note from Charles inviting Durham Beat to his month-long residency at Arcana. I am always delighted to receive invitations from artists to attend their shows and I always try to make sure we can get there. I accepted Charles’s invitation and decided to cover the thing myself. I have long been interested in the residency format. As Charles said to me at his Sunday night show, “It’s a great way to discover new music.” I couldn’t agree more.

Charles took on the roles of curator, host, and featured artist throughout his residency, each week crafting a unique sound and vibe. In week one he chose two music acts to play alongside him, duo Lisa Rhodes and Leslie Land, and Jonathan Byrd** & The Pickup Cowboys. Week two took a turn away from the usual, featuring a comedian (Brett Williams) and a magician (Mike Casey). Week three returned to the all music format featuring Simone Finally and John Howie Jr. on the lineup. The final week of his residency was mix of his previous multi-medium curations.

With Arcana’s already cozy vibe and Latham’s inviting stage presence, intimacy came easy at this show. An attentive audience, a well-tended bar, and a lineup of engaged performers, the final night of this month-long venture was a triumph of the residency concept. When I arrived at Arcana, Charles was already on the stage to begin the night’s events with a solo set. I sat at the bar with a glass of champagne and settled into the folky sounds and witty banter emanating from the stage. Following Charles’s solo set, comedian Ali Nikolic took the stage for the first of two sets of stand-up comedy.

Comedy is very good at bringing to light (while making light of) hard truths, presenting them in a comedic setting so people can more easily confront them. So during Ali’s set, when she started talking about how dating has devolved into evermore vague and confusing scenarios with increasingly ambiguous language–“from dating to hanging out to talking”–I found myself (and many others) chuckling in agreement while my heart simultaneously sank to the floor. Given the prolonged laughter in the room, her insightful and well-timed dating jabs struck home with many in the audience. Surely you, dear reader, have also dealt with the woes of ambiguity while “talking” to someone.

Following a brief tobacco-stained interlude, I watched as Charles Latham and the Borrowed Band assembled themselves on stage. Onto a second glass of champagne and a second set from Charles featuring his full band, this was the moment when I ceased to be distracted by my own thoughts and allowed myself to become totally absorbed in the music. From monster electric guitar solos by Borrowed Band guitarist Luis Rodriguez to the musings of Gordon Hartin’s pedal steel to the lyrical undressing of human emotion coming through the microphone, I was completely engrossed, leaving behind my bubbly drink and seat at the bar for as close to the stage as I could get without joining the band.

By the time Hardworker took the stage, I had ascended into a plane of joy in a way that can only be delivered by music. I had hoped to come away from the night with a smile on my face and a lead on some new music to write about–I was not expecting to fall in love. But I did. Charles had warned us earlier in the night that the first time he saw Hardworker play, he had been completely blown away. My experience was quite similar. I said as much to the band at the end of the set. A five-piece female-fronted folk band, Hardworker’s live set was intimate, incredibly sharp, and good-humored. A cohesive sound indicative of a band who has been playing together awhile and shares an intimacy between them, the delight was abound in me. I tip my hat to Charles for putting together such an inspired night. I only wish I had been able to attend the previous nights of the residency. Alas, a girl cannot be everywhere at the same time, no matter how hard she tries.

There is nothing I can really say that will adequately capture the copious emotions running through me at this show. But I can tell you that when I got home later that night, I stayed up for hours writing poetry, trying to bask as long as possible in that joyful state I had achieved thanks to the curatorial brilliance of Mr. Latham. Here at the end of this little rag of a writeup, I feel decidedly lucky that the nature of my work enables me to spend time with artists whose creations so inspire me.


**Byrd has been playing a weekly (almost) Wednesday night residency–called the Shake Sugaree Residency (named in honor of local folk music legend Elizabeth Cotton)–at The Kraken since January 2018. I’ve been to these shows more than a few times and I highly recommend trekking out to that quaint roadhouse to see him!

The Post-Show: Party Illegal w/Treee City, DJ Jules, Oliver Long, Sinistarr, 2/16/19

When I arrived at Pinhook for the Party Illegal show this past Saturday, I found a parking spot directly in front of the venue. Never once has this happened to me, so I knew this was going to be a special night. The karma was a-glowin’, y’all. Upon entering the venue at precisely 10PM, I was surprised to see a scant space nearly devoid of humans. I found Durham Beat photographer, DJ, adjusting the settings on his camera to the green laser lights and smoke machine. From the ceiling hung strings of green leaves decorated with tiny green glow sticks. The verdant aura painted a spritely scene of Spring, even though it was a brisk 38 degrees outside. Puckishly, I strolled over to the bar where I saw Patrick (Treee City) wandering about, ordering a mezcal before the start of his set. Hugs followed. And moments later he took the stage, easing into his set with some deep droney noise.

Treee City

While Patrick’s set moved from drone to ambient, with a touch of house, I clutched my Guinness tallboy, crossed the empty dance floor, and nestled into a wallflower pose, watching the humans slowly trickle into the show and start dancing. It didn’t take long for the room to fill up and for me to mosey over to the bar for another beer. For an hour, the sounds of Treee City bombarded the venue space with massive waves of bass. As the night went on, the bass would only get heavier, the sound waves more aggressive, the rumble of the floor making me my heart seemingly beat to the rhythm of the music.

With no interlude between sets, DJ Jules took over from Patrick for the second set, one of the loudest of the night. Between flipping through various vinyl and singing and talking to the audience with the lone microphone, DJ Jules’s set was absolute fire. Heavily rooted in percussion and bass, this set made the doors in the bathroom shake, the bucket ashtrays out back vibrate on the picnic tables. By the midpoint of her set, the show had become a dance party, so much so, that a young woman climbed up onto the stage into the artist’s performance space to dance, seemingly in a drug-induced rapture, until someone escorted her off when it became apparent that she was distracting the artist. Not long after she would make a second attempt to dance on the stage, but would be quickly removed. At the start of Oliver Long’s set, Photographer DJ and I saw her and her companion with coats on, drinking water by the front door, perhaps waiting for an Uber or Lyft, but we’ll never really know.

DJ Jules
Oliver Long

As Oliver Long began his set, the third of the evening, Patrick found me in the crowd swaying with the dangling greenly-lit leaves and invited me downstairs into the green room for some heady discourse. Trandle, who had come to the show, joined us as we conversed in the cozy artist hangout while Pulp Fiction played on the Roku-powered TV. Moments later the door to the green room opened and Sinistarr, the night’s headliner, came in and joined our little circle. After a round of introductions, we fell into conversation, touching upon a number of topics, from cold, snowy places to trolley bars to the new Detroit. The common thread in the ensuing conversation was the development and changescape of cities. Sinistarr spoke a great deal about the new development of Detroit and how even in just a few years since the city began its turnaround from industrial wasteland, it has become a new city filled with new people with new value systems and new money. “It’s called #NewDetroit,” he said. The obvious parallels to the development of Durham and the Triangle as a whole were easily apparent to all of us.

As the clock neared 1AM, Sinistarr started prepping for his set, while Patrick, Randy, and I headed back into the showroom for the much-anticipated headliner. Author of several groundbreaking releases and a veteran of Detroit’s music scene, Sinistarr’s set was a poignant display of the many nuances inside ever-evolving world of electronic music. Watching him interact with his instruments on stage, his precision and simultaneous comfortability were reminiscent of the necessary skill and exactitude required in movement of fingers and hands upon piano keys. I felt distinctly like I was in the presence of a master.

Head over to our Instagram to see the two photo series from the show by Durham Beat Photographer DJ.

12 Hours In Boston

It’s 2AM and I’m at Logan Airport in Boston. My flight leaves at 6AM and my 12-hour journey to visit my hometown will come to its end. Today is my birthday. I’m 31 years old. I can think of no better way to kick off this personal holiday of mine than by writing in an airport after the show I flew all the way up here to see. In a few hours, I will watch the sunrise from my window seat on my way back to my Durham home. This journey was my gift to myself for my little holiday. The show was the Maker Mixtape Album Release at Dorchester Art Project. The album is the creation of one of Boston’s brightest rising local stars, my friend Anjimile.

I first met Anjimile in 2013 at a show (big surprise)–a local showcase at the Middle East Upstairs, a long-alive and much-esteemed Cambridge venue. I had gone to the show in my capacity as Managing Editor at Quiet Lunch Magazine to support a band I had recently written about–We Avalanche, they were called. After their set, a young singer-songwriter named Anjimile took the stage with a drummer and bassist, and started playing guitar and singing. I remember the moment well because when I heard their voice, I was instantly floored, frozen in place, suspended in a timeless bubble of awe and delight. What a magnificent voice, I thought. After their set, I found them in the crowd and said, “I need to write about you.” From that moment on, Anjimile and I became friends and collaborators. More than that, they would unknowingly come to influence me and my own artistic path. The years that followed were tumultuous for both of us, but we continued working together right up until the moment when I left Boston.

Sitting in this airport right now, I inevitably ruminate on the complicated relationship I have with my choice to leave Boston. The truth is, I was displaced by economics. I was forced out of my home because I could no longer survive there. My city had changed. It had stopped being my city. It belongs now to the people who had come to replace me. Still–being here now, on this night, I can’t help but feel like a piece of the Boston I knew and loved still lives.

I had never been to or heard of Dorchester Art Project before this show. Following a bizarre and convoluted Uber ride from my beloved Mary Chung’s restaurant in Cambridge, using a service called “pool” (a terrible mistake on my part), I arrived at a street corner in Dorchester, unsure of where I was supposed to go. My dear friend, who had joined me from her cozy Watertown abode for the show, pointed to a green door recessed between two store fronts. Ah yes. A hidden door. Of course this show would be behind a hidden door. We opened the door and climbed a mountain of stairs to arrive at a labyrinthine art space, complete with a small stage, an art gallery, more than a dozen tiny shared artist studios, and the offices of Boston Hassle, a local arts & culture publication and collective.

Desperate to charge my phone, I navigated through the maze of hanging artworks and zine libraries until I found my way into the delightfully modest Boston Hassle office. Their publication had only just started getting off the ground when I left Boston, so to be sitting in their office, stashing my bag, charging my phone, mingling with a few of their youngins, and learning how they were thriving, this journalist right here was feeling both happy and sad. The mingling didn’t linger as my friend and I made our way into the venue space, whose hallways were loudly reminiscent of The Cave. The stage area, enclosed by exposed brick walls and host to more than a few awkwardly steep steps, was filled completely with a diverse collection of Boston’s current crop of young artists and their cohorts. A young singer-songwriter took the stage and eased into his set. An inexperienced guitar player with a powerful voice reminiscent of Thom Yorke, the crowd enthusiastically cheered him as he played and took swigs from a nip of Maker’s Mark between songs. While he seemed a bit nervous at the beginning of the set, by the end of it, he stepped off the stage with an air of confidence.

I found myself wandering through the art gallery for awhile, admiring the “Priority Made” exhibit on display. A collection of 228 pieces of graffiti art on free postal stickers and a few non-sticker city art-style works by artists from all over the country, the exhibit explores “the sticker as a catalyst and universal canvas,” according to their literature. It was during this session of admiration that a door behind me burst open and through it Anjimile appeared. We locked eyes and they walked over to me and we embraced each other as old friends. We spent a few precious minutes catching up while I bestowed upon them the gift of owlephant buttons and egg rolls from Mary Chung’s. Shortly thereafter, they would take the stage for the Maker Mixtape Album Release.

A 5-track EP recorded “analog, using a Fostec R8 reel-to-reel tape machine (circa 1990),” as Anji explained to me, is one of the strongest albums they have yet released, which in itself is a bold statement, since much of Anjimile’s discography so far is quite splendid. This record represents a certain kind of growth in Anjimile’s sound. An exploration of angst, complicated relationships, and self-exploration, Maker Mixtape ranges from eerie, ethereal acoustic, like the album’s namesake track, to pure pop, like the hit single “Sonia Smokes Me Out”.

The set opened with the second track from Maker Mixtape, “Pieces”, a wavy pop song that instantly invited the crowd into a deeply intimate and eclectic set. Interspersed between a selection of tracks from the EP, Anjimile and their two lovely accompanying vocalists, played a few favorites from their recent discography, including “To Meet You There” and “1978”. Then came a cover, a tremendous cover, of “Cry Me A River”. I have seen Anjimile play more than few covers over the years, but they really shined on this one. A few audience members, myself included, sang along, joining in the harmonious sound emanating from the stage. When Anjimile announced that they only had one more song, the crowd in emotional unison burst out, “AWWWWW,” which then made all of us giggle a little. After the set, the crowd, ebullient and desperate for more, made so much noise that Anji finally said, “Fuck it, I’ll play another song.” While a few in the crowd yelled for “Sonia Smokes Me Out,” Anjimile elected to play something else. Something quite unexpected, in fact. It was “Wolf Like Me” by TV On The Radio, a song which, coincidentally, I have been blasting into my own ears over these last few months as I have been navigating my own personal angst. Once again that feeling came over me, being suspended in a timeless bubble of awe and delight… I thought of our first meeting and how young we were then, how far we’ve come since, and how through all of it, we have each become more and more ourselves, finely-tuned humans living in a state of honed self-awareness.

By the end of the show, the clock had struck midnight and my birthday had arrived. After my dear old friend and I parted ways and she returned to her Watertown apartment, I found Anjimile outside the venue for those last moments of affectionate congratulations before I hopped in an Uber and headed to Logan Airport, where I am now composing this piece. I told Anji that I would probably be writing in the airport while I wait. “How romantic,” they said. I smiled and said, “Someone’s got to be.” “And that’s you,” they responded. Yes, how very true that turned out to be.

The Post-Show: Since Forever, 10 Years of Pinhook Show, November 17, 2018

Self-doubt. The first thing I felt when The Editor asked me to cover a few sets at Pinhook’s 10th birthday party on Saturday. But of course, I said yes. It was our first meeting to discuss the possibility of me writing for Durham Beat, so when she asked what I was doing later that night I jumped at the opportunity.

Immediately a ball formed in the small crevice between my throat and chest… I’m not qualified for this. What did I know about music? It’s been years since I’ve written creatively. Everyone will think I’m a fraud! These are just a few of the words that swirled together to form this ball. A moment and a deep breath later, I swallowed, expressed my excitement, and told her I’d see her at The Pinhook in a few hours. After all, I had wanted this. Hell, I had asked for this.

I arrived at The Pinhook alone. As the youngest of five children, being alone isn’t really my forte. I’ve been working on fighting that feeling recently, so I dropped $10 into the donation box, held my arm out for a wristband, and marched past the entrance. The room was buzzing – literally – as in the front corner of the venue a local tattoo artist, who I later learned goes by the name Velvet Doe, inked a selection of flash designs onto willing clients. I briefly considered getting one, but managed to convince myself it wasn’t the kind of night to get a spontaneous tattoo in a bar. I moved on toward the dimly lit stage draped in red and blue.

I scanned the room, desperately searching for someone I knew. I recognized a server from far-too-frequent trips to Monuts, but otherwise didn’t see a soul. A pretty typical experience for a Raleigh native who no longer belongs in Raleigh, but doesn’t quite fit into the Durham scene yet. Two other showgoers stood just under the giant PBR panda. PBR and other loners, that’s my spot, I thought. I settled nicely into the familiar periphery, blending into the center of the action just well enough to be present yet unnoticed.

I realized I had positioned myself in almost the exact same spot where my husband and I spent one of our first dates nearly eight years ago. On a frigid January night in 2011 he took me to The Pinhook, my first visit there, to see Greil Marcus host a listening session. Downtown Durham was just starting to blossom at that time, and we had initially shown up at DPAC, mistakenly assuming, as many Raleigh natives would, that it was the only venue in town. Imagine our surprise when we walked into the lobby to find hundreds of fourth graders donning their school colors and carrying recorders. Confused, we walked to the box office where he announced he had won tickets to a Greil Marcus lecture from 88.1. “That’s tomorrow night honey,” the lady said. “But I think he’s at The Pinhook tonight.”

Assuming that’s what he had actually won tickets to, we set out for The Pinhook. We walked up the hill, took a left onto Main, and headed straight toward the one lively storefront in an otherwise silent downtown, like two moths flapping towards a blue light. When we arrived at The Pinhook and announced we had won tickets to the listening party, the bouncer, at first confused, laughed and waved us in for the show. “It’s a free event,” he said. Being only our third or fourth date, my future husband was visibly embarrassed, but I reassured him it wasn’t a big deal. Not only did we stay, but the event also turned out to be one of my favorite dates of all time. It marks one of the first experiences on my journey falling in love with Durham–and my husband.

Fast forward eight years, this memory had me coming around to feeling like I did belong there when the first strum of Jesse Boutchyard’s guitar snapped me back into the present as Severed Fingers prepared for their set with a quick soundcheck. That single strum was all I needed to remember exactly what I was doing there. I love music. I love musicians. I love the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when the lights go down and a show begins.

Severed Fingers

Jesse opened the set by announcing what The Pinhook meant to them, a snapshot into a theme I would see weave itself through the rest of the sets that night. Jesse reflected on the support The Pinhook had offered them in their journey to come out as nonbinary, how they had found a home there, and even a job, setting the tone for a deeply personal set.

I was still processing the way that single strum of Jesse’s guitar hit me when they wailed the first note into the microphone from the type of voice that sounds like freshly packed snow crunching underneath your boots–smooth, but announcing itself in all the right ways. The kind of voice that reaches deep down in my throat and punches me from the inside of the gut. I was immediately hooked, and also grateful I had decided not to preview Severed Fingers before I set out to write about them. They’re the kind of band you want to hear for the first time live.

Three songs into the set I found myself dreading its end. Jesse had captured me so deeply that I couldn’t take my eyes away to focus on other members of the band. That is, until they announced their last song, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Slightly disappointed that it wasn’t an original, I spaced out for a moment and turned my attention to the room around me. Then, a beautiful sound caught my attention. It was the strategically shaky stroke of Riley Zed’s violin. Suddenly, a song I had heard covered so many times felt new and raw and right. At the end of the song the band stepped away from their microphones, wordlessly inviting the audience to sing along to the last verse, to belong in that room and in that moment with them.


By the time Bangzz came on, I had found The Editor, grabbed a drink, and listened to the sister,brother set: shredding vocals and some of the most incredible bass-playing I’ve ever seen. Noise-based music isn’t really my cup of tea, but I respected the objective talent they showed in their craft, and I could see what others see in them. Let’s suffice to say I was ready for what was coming next.

Bangzz had been described to me as “Feminist Punk Rock,” so when two women stepped on stage and announced their presence by demanding a change to the lighting, I was both unsurprised and excited to see them take creative control of the space. Following a few stage adjustments and some witty banter between lead singer/guitarist Erika Libero and drummer Blair Coppage, Bangzz began their set.

This was more my type of music, I thought. Not only did it jive with what I like musically, but as a woman in her late twenties, it was also lyrically relatable. When Erika introduced a song about men feeling the need to explain things that women already know, (aka “mansplaining”) I was hardly the only woman in the audience to chuckle. Perhaps most relatable though, was Blair’s announcement that she had to adjust between every song because her thighs were sticking to her stool. It was at that point that I turned to The Editor and said “I want to be friends with them.”

I loved their music, but it was the apparent chemistry between them that admittedly stole the show for me. So hi Erika and Blair, you rock. Let’s be friends.


I grabbed another beer just before ZenSoFly took the stage. By this point, empowered by Bangzz’s set – and maybe the PBR – I was feeling more comfortable in my role there. So when The Editor suggested I may want to be up front for ZenSoFly’s set, I didn’t hesitate. I settled into a new spot right next to the stage, and waited patiently as a stagehand made way for ZenSoFly.

Admittedly, rap is one of my least explored genres, and I usually have to listen to it alone and through headphones before I can judge whether I like it. Weird, I know, but it’s just one of those strange quirks.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind when ZenSoFly stepped on stage. First, there was something incredibly calming about her presence. Second, she radiated cool. I wanted every article of clothing she was wearing, from her retro Bulls hat down to her black Vans sneakers. And it’s just now, as I’m typing this, that I realize her stage name could not be more appropriate. She is somehow simultaneously zen, and so fly.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I also loved her set, every minute of it. And, I wasn’t alone. At one point I looked back to realize the place was more crowded than I had seen it all night, and every person appeared to be having the time of their lives. Like the other artists who had performed on this night, prior to her set, she had talked about what The Pinhook meant to her and went on about the incredible people she had met there. By the end of her set, as I looked around at how she had brought the crowd of people together through a dance move she had coined, I realized she had “that something special.” Those of you who are familiar with her music probably know that’s one of her lyrics. For those of you who are not familiar with her music, you may want to check out her Sunflowers EP.

ZenSoFly ended her set around 10:15. Knowing I had an early morning workout (I slept through it by the way) and wanting to end the night on a high note, I turned to The Editor and told her I was heading out. I knew I was on a music high, but it must have been more outwardly evident than I realized because she said “Did you have fun?” When I responded that I had had a great time, she said, “I can tell. You’re glowing.” She was right, I was.

It was at that moment that I realized I belonged there just as much as anybody else in that crowd. While all of the artists stepped on stage and shared what The Pinhook had meant to them over the years, I had been reminded what it first meant to me on that January night eight years ago. When I left I was excited, as I imagine everyone else there was, about what it could mean to me in the future. And that feeling, now and since forever, is the essence of The Pinhook.


Featured image is the logo of The Pinhook. 

The Post-Show: Manifest III, October 19, 2018

Manifest, a two-day and three-venue showcase of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming artists from around the Triangle (with a few select guests from out of state), successfully concluded its third year this October. The most well-attended yet, Manifest III was an exceptionally well-organized and thoughtfully curated event series.

On both days, at all three venues (Local 506, The Cave, Nightlight), Durham Beat was on the ground to cover as many of the acts as possible.

I (The Editor) was stationed for the most part at Nightlight, although I did QUITE a bit of running around between the venues. If you attended, then you probably saw me, camera dangling, moseying around in my super dapper five-panel black hat with red roses on it.

One of our staffers, Riley the Photographer, performed at Manifest as a member of two acts on the lineup, Sidewalk Furniture and Severed Fingers, while also running around taking tons of excellent photos.

And of course, the always groovy and exceptionally stylish Zoe (who recently covered the Free Things Festival) spent her two days at Manifest roaming between The Cave and Local 506. Together we have composed a comprehensive two-part writeup to go with numerous photo series (on Instagram) documenting as many sets as we were able to see. Each section is signed by its author.



Noise from Spookstina opened the Nightlight stage on the first night of Manifest. As she began her set in the dark room, I flipped open my notepad, took hold of my tiny pencil, and started writing. I kept writing throughout her set. I couldn’t see the pages but I knew I was attaching words to them. Afterwards I read what I had written and, to my surprise, discovered that I had composed a poem right there in the dark during her set. Thus I present to you now my stanzaic coverage of Spookstina’s set…

Noise Mechanic

dark light
night light
and a triangle
and a slaughter-
house of noise
making broken
stanzas come
out of me

break me with
a million little
pecks of noise each
meaningless on their own
but together
a cacophonous wave
a horde of sound
a crescendo of magic
death don’t
wake me from
this dream
don’t make me

take this wire and
connect me to chaos
make me see
me in dark light
sparkle pbr
another no
stay no
leave no don’t
write poetry the
masses will not
accept it
fuck them

wind up toy
noise sprinkling
like rain shushing
me into a wakeful
dream gaze make
me make noise come
out of a pencil

came not for the
poetry of others

only for noise

metallic gestures
translated into

turn the bucket over
dump the noise
into the street and
let the people
wonder where
they were or could
have been another
day will not do
tomorrow is not

you are a noise mechanic

i can scream like
that too–just
the other day in
my car alone i
hear it now–
the primordial
scream the
anxiety belch
the noise catharsis
of my everyday

all the way to the static end

–The Editor

H.C. McEntire

H.C. McEntire, the vocalist of indie-alt band Mount Moriah, took the stage and announced that she would be performing solo. Some people (The Editor) might like their music with a bit of crunch, but I like mine soft. I have a weakness for artists that wear their hearts on their sleeves. Not wanting to neglect my duties to the Beat, I snapped pictures in between sips of whiskey.

“I have found heaven in a woman’s touch
Come to me now
I’ll make you blush”

This may be the first time in my life that I’ve gotten chills from a live performance.


Sand Pact

Anyone who has been regularly reading Durham Beat knows that I struggle with electronic music. Just the other day, a few days before Manifest, I had a very frank discussion about it with my friend Cool Boy 36. He told me the only thing about my Moogfest Zine that he didn’t like was that I kept calling all of the artists “DJs” when most are in fact musicians making electronic music live, like any other performing artist plays their instrument live. I understood, conceptually, what he meant and proceeded to remind him that I wholly admitted my ignorance in the very first chapter of that whirlwind story. Of course, everyone who has read the Moog Zine knows it wasn’t really about the music. Still, our conversation lingered at the forefront of my mind as I prepared to cover Manifest.

The glow from Spookstina’s set still cloaked me when Sand Pact took the stage. That glow would blossom into joy as the set unfolded. It was during Sand Pact’s set that I finally understood what Cool Boy meant when he was talking about “making it live.” Electronic musicians simply use different instruments. While this may seem like an obvious realization to those of you familiar with electronic, for me, coming from a much more traditional background in music, having been raised and trained in music by a purist (Hi, Dad!), recognizing electronic’s elaborate equipment as musical instruments (the way a piano and a trumpet are instruments) as opposed to tools playing something prerecorded–this was an epiphany for me. The nature of Sand Pact’s set made this moment of awakening a seamless experience. There I was, standing at the front of the crowd at Nightlight getting schooled.

An electronic duo, Sand Pact redefine what “playing together” looks like. Passing back and forth one set of headphones between them, Sand Pact is a team effort, each one taking turns to crush ears, lay down crunchy beats, and manipulate live noise into live music. Yes, dear reader, I did in fact dance during their set. Me and my clunky camera sweat out a good deal of anxiety on this night.

While dancing my phone buzzed with a note from Zoe who was over at Local 506 for the night’s sets. She told me she was seeing H.C. McEntire and that listening to the set was like “breaking my heart and stitching it back together in 45 minutes or less.” Struck by this, I wrote back that I was going to go break my heart so I could know what it feels like for Sand Pact to “fix me.” This is an appropriate moment now to abandon words… at least for a time. Riley the Photographer captured this shot of me immediately after the Sand Pact set ended.

Enough said.

–The Editor


Bangzz a powerhouse duo including one of the Manifest organizers, Erika Libero (also lead vocalist for Henbrain) and drummer Blair Coppage. It was rage in a bottle (Four Roses, to be exact). So many things that I hadn’t thought about before or just didn’t have the words to express were played out to my very ears. The Editor, who adores BANGZZ (and wrote about them recently), enjoys quoting them when she talks about being vocal with my words: “Take up space.”

During the set, I ran into Riley the Photographer at the front of the stage. I glanced away but for moment and I was unable to find them seconds later. The Editor texted me that Riley joined her at the Nightlight.



An obvious riff on the term “diaspora”, this one-human act is a wokeful charmer with a delightful stage presence. I have a tiny bit of poetry in me, as you know, so while I could manufacture several verbose ways to say what I mean, simplicity will do the trick here: this set was fire.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the predominantly academic term “diaspora” broadly refers to the migration or flight of a massive group of people from their original homeland and away from the traditions of that homeland–a migration that is, according to certain contemporary uses of the word, involuntary. The trans-Atlantic slave trade, for example, created the African Diaspora. Put another way, it is the forceable dispersal of a large group of humans into foreign practices and foreign spaces. If you are curious to know more, then a simple Google search will yield a plethora of excellent university-related works. However, if you’re more like me and you prefer artistic expression over theoretical intellectualism, then I strongly recommend you check out “to the Diaspora” by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks.

As I now return from my tangential stroll on campus, this definition of “diaspora” is obviously central to understanding the sound and message of Diaspoura, whose ultra woke stage commentary captivated an already attentive audience. Between their stage banter, their beats, their whimsical dance moves, and their fiery message, Diaspoura’s set was totally inclusive and musically inspired. (I have since been glued to their bandcamp page listening to their first release, Demonstrations.)

–The Editor

The Muslims

The Muslims never stop dropping the proverbial mic with their political thrash rock. Wearing a red “Make Racists Afraid Again” cap, the guitarist effortlessly putting to bed the notion that Irish were enslaved.

While taking a moment to show off their new band tattoos (3 identical horseheads, all still glistening), bassist Gen grabbed the mic and began to speak. The guitar fell in, the drums followed, and they began to jam. It went something like this: “We got tattoos! ‘Cause we fucking love each other! We fucking love each other! We fucking love each other!” Soon they had us singing along to a song that appeared to be made up on the spot.

It was clear the Muslims were having as much as fun as the rest of us. Not unlike a lollipop, underneath their tough exterior, they have a soft caramel center. Suck on that.



They played. It was loud. Mark was obviously trying to get used to their new setup, thus their set sputtered at the start. He still made sure to wrap the mic cord around his neck though, as one might expect from a “suicidal dystopian” noise maker. Their set eventually got going. The crowd loved it. Alison was killer as always. I really admire how she plays that bass like she’s got Jimi Hendrix living inside her hands. I don’t have much else to say about them. I’ve written quite extensively about sister,brother, much to their dismay. If you want to know what I really think about them, then read this. I’m sure they will hate how much you will like the way I write about them.

–The Editor

Pie Face Girls

I have seen this band play more than a few times. After the sister,brother set concluded Zoe, who I had compelled via text to join me briefly at Nightlight, and I made our way over to 506 in her classic VW Beetle (even though the venue was only around the block). It was cold and I had never ridden in a old bug before. It was like being in any other car but smaller and more groovy. When we pulled up to 506, we remarked to each other that we couldn’t hear anything. Zoe, who is much younger than me and blessed with an abundance of that early 20’s energy, popped out of the car in flash and went up to the door of the venue before I had even stepped out of the car. “They’re still playing!” she burst with excitement as she flung open the door and hastily made her way inside. I locked the car door, slammed it shut for good measure, and waltzed into the venue at my usual ambling pace. One PBR and shot of Jameson later, I found Zoe at the front of the crowd, giddily swaying to the heavy bass riffs of Pie Face Girls.

Playing for a packed house, Pie Face Girls owned the stage like true headliners. The crowd, wild with enthusiasm, sang along to familiar hits like “Fuck You, I’m Pretty”. As I slid over to the back of the stage to get some choice pictures, the crowd, populated by many familiar faces from other performing bands, broke out into an inclusive mosh pit. I watched Zoe as she gracefully glided out of the center of the pit in one large step and made her way over into a wallflower position. Jesse, lead vocals and guitar for Severed Fingers, had started the pit with Blair, drummer for BANGZZ. The energy in the room was high and no one, it seemed, wanted to leave. When the band asked for the time and discovered it was well past 1AM, they continued on anyway, much to the delight of all of us in that room.

When their set finally came to a close, and with it, the first night of Manifest, the crowd lingered awhile, smiles affixed to all of their faces as they mingled. Zoe and I stayed for a little while too, talking with so many of the lovely familiar artists we have both written about at length. Afterwards, we moseyed over to Heavenly Buffaloes for a late night snack and sat in my car listening to some very special unreleased tunes from my good pal Anjimile, a “queer/trans songmaker/lover boy” currently making waves up in the Boston music scene. Anji and I had been corresponding a lot in the days leading up to Manifest to discuss an upcoming release of theirs. I mentioned to them my excitement about covering the festival and how I wished they could be here. 

Many years ago when I was Managing Editor at Quiet Lunch Magazine, I had discovered Anjimile at a little local showcase at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge. Totally floored by their performance, I found them in the crowd afterwards and said, “I need to write about you.” I wrote about them extensively for my former publication and even made a music video. Following that experience, we become excellent friends and worked together creatively outside the world of journalism. It’s been over five years since Anjimile first burst onto the Boston music scene, but only now, all these years later, are they finally starting to be recognized for the truly special human that they are. Had a platform like Manifest existed in Boston during their formative years, where they could have gained exposure to a much wider audience far sooner, then I suspect it would not have taken so long for Boston to start listening them. The work that Erika and Sarah have done to create the Manifest platform is incredibly important–not only for being a space for dramatically underrepresented artists, but because a healthy and inclusive local art scene will create a culture of inclusiveness, will inspire more young people to pursue their artistic dreams, and maybe… just maybe, help to foster the right environment for a locally-supported creative economy where artists can make a living off of their art.

–The Editor

The Post-Show: Titus Andronicus & Ted Leo at Motorco, October 27, 2018

Dear Reader,
I cannot remember the last time I have felt so liberated and so joyful at the same time. Sartre said, “Man is condemned to be free.” Navigating the world for so long on my own, I often feel the weight of that damning freedom of choice. It sounds fun, I’m sure, to be free to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it (so long as you have the dough to make it go). Such is the life of liberated solitude. But there is a prison of selfness that exists within this liberated state. It carries with it an inevitably unshared joy. Writing to you now my lovelies, relieves me from having to carry around such enjoyment and having no one to share it with–you are someone, thus I will share it with you.
Tonight I was at Motorco to see Titus Andronicus. A friend of mine hooked up the entry for your broke and humble Editor, thus enabling me to enter the familiar music hall for what would be a wholly blissful night.
I arrived shortly before 9PM and had my ritual shot of Jameson. Afterwards, I made my way to the front of the crowd to behold what would turn out to be an hour+ long set from the prolific Ted Leo. At this point in the night I did not know I would be penciling this prose you’re reading now. I did not know that on this Saturday night I would be swept from my feet and cast into a state of liberty. I had gone to the show for personal fulfillment, not for journalism. But here now, at Accordion Club, where me, my tinnitus, and my Genesee Cream Ale are authoring these words, I am weightless.
Ted Leo, known most widely as the frontman for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, came to Motorco with an electric guitar and a proclivity for inspired stage banter. “I want you to think of the show, lyrically, as a jazz show,” he spoke in jest to the crowd. Throughout the night, the former Northeasterner and rock man extraordinaire delivered an authentic human experience. Any live show carries with it a measure of vulnerability. If you are an artist who has performed your work, whatever it might be, in front of humans known or unknown, then you accept that you are putting yourself out there, fuckups and all. This sentiment came to fruition during a cover of a Mount Moriah song. Handing a page of lyrics to a youngster in the front row (probably about ten years old and accompanied by his parents), Ted said, “I’m going to do a cover I’ve never played before. Can you hold this lyrics sheet for me?” Boldly and confidently, the young punk filled his role as a music stand for a man who, after initially fucking up the song, performed an inspired cover for the captivated audience. Over an hour after his set began, Ted announced, “This is my last song,” at which point Titus Andronicus rushed to the stage, picked up their instruments, and played as Ted’s backing band. It was solid fucking gold, y’all.
Shortly before the Titus set began, I shook hands with the illustrious Ted Leo, who like me transplanted from the bilious Northeast. At the end of the show, Patrick, the frontman for Titus Andronicus, and I would share a similar moment of mutual lament about the once-hip-now-dead Boston, the city which, in its former artistry, had raised me right along with my parents.
Sometimes when writing these post-show musings I feel very acutely the limitation of language. Why must I conceptualize real life human experience into this stupid limiting written word? (Says the writer.) Nothing I can say will truly recreate the experience of being there–no matter how good the writing is. I understand very well that I am forever condemned to contradiction. But I can tell you that at this moment my cheeks hurt from smiling too hard. My knees are aching from standing so long and my ears are still ringing from a night of raucous noise. It’s 5AM and I can’t stop writing. What does that say? Possessed I am, of inspiration. Still, the physical toll of the gonzo lifestyle is very real. The older I get, the more acutely I feel it. But, to quote the original disciple of Gonzo Journalism, the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” I think the same could be said for the lives of artists, especially of those Titus Andronicus fellas, whose unencumbered and totally clamorous ways must exact an incredible physical toll. But oh my, what a spectacle they are.
But I digress. Or do I?
Patrick took the stage alone to begin the Titus set. With an electric guitar and a message about respecting space, he instantly invited the crowd into an inclusive show experience. Several minutes later the rest of the band joined him on stage and together they proceeded to play for nearly two and a half hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Their set was well over two hours long. Talk about “an incredible physical toll.” Although, Patrick’s energy was so intense at the end of the set that I suspect he would have just kept playing.
The first part of their set was like listening to a greatest hits compilation. The crowd, already hyped up by Ted Leo’s captivating set, was instantly wild, emotion flooding the music hall and saturating the stage area. Patrick’s witty and familiar stage banter seemed to curate the setlist as the middle part of set turned out to be a series of covers. Citing a compilation record of Bristol, UK punk from 1980 that they had found “in a dollar bin,” the band played three songs off the album, the name of which I regrettably did not write down. (I was busy having too much fun.) Patrick went on to talk about the excessive extra time the band has while on tour. During some of that downtime last week, he told us, they had watched a film “on no TV channel you’ve ever heard of” at their hotel. In a gloriously punk gesture, they went on to play two songs from that soundtrack, to the delight and amusement of the audience. Following this eclectic string of covers, the band played several tracks from their new record, A Productive Cough, released earlier this year on their Durham-based label Merge Records. It was 12:30AM when the set seemed to clamorously conclude, and all of the band members exited the stage, except for Patrick. In a whimsically half-staged half-haphazard gesture, he summoned his bandmates back onto the stage for one final song in a sort of-encore. Unlike most other bands who do an encore, Titus Andronicus did not make us wait. The energy in the room was so high and no one, it seemed, wanted to leave, including Patrick. By 12:45AM the show had finally reached its end.
I stood by the front of the stage for a little while, my hearing a bit numbed, while I took some time to absorb the totally WOW experience I had just had. Eventually I walked over to the bar to close my tab, slowly, as if unwilling to let the night end.
On my way out of Motorco, I saw Patrick standing by the exit greeting fans, giving out hugs, and mingling with smitten passersby. I decided to say hello to the esteemed frontman. I introduced myself and we shook hands for several minutes while conversing about times past, the Boston days, when I had seen them play for the first time. “What were you doing in Boston?” he asked me. “I used to live there.” “Me too,” he said. We agreed that I am better off here in Durham. I suggested he would be too. “It was a pleasure to meet you,” I said as we shook hands again. “Believe me,” he said as he put his hand on my arm, “the pleasure is all mine.” Well golly gee whiz Patrick, I think I might be blushing.
After leaving the venue, I made my way over to Accordion Club, ambling in the street as if on air with a smile permanently affixed to my face. Along the brief journey to the bar I bumped into my friend Cool Boy 36. I was distracted by my blushing and bliss and did not see him walking towards me. “You caught me,” I said to him, “walking on a cloud.”
When I eventually returned home, I sat down at my desk and immediately continued writing this piece which I had begun to compose at the bar. Now here, at the drowsy end, I am still glowing. I suspect I will still be glowing when I wake later this morning or perhaps in the afternoon. Nights like these–unexpected and gloriously joyful–are all too rare, but when they do happen I feel compelled to share.
Thank you for reading.
All my love,
The Editor

The Post-Show: The Muslims at The Fruit, August 30, 2018

The Muslims Do TOUR, which began on the “laborious” Labor Day weekend opened on August 30th at the Durham Fruit. I had not yet attended a show at The Fruit, so as I walked up to the entrance and scanned the entire space, I found myself in a daze, taking in all details of this unique venue space. From the graffiti unicorn on white cloth urinating a rainbow to its red sickle and hammer, I knew from aesthetic alone that I was in for a night to remember.  I met the gaze of the person who had been waiting for me to pay admission. It was cash-only this night as the band was raising money to fund their tour, but I did not have anything resembling legal tender in my pocket. Thankfully, The Muslims had a sliding scale admission of $5-10 and their Venmo and Cash app written down for anyone who might find themselves in line thinking, “Shit, money, shit,” expecting to be turned away to search for an ATM. When my phone would not load the apps, I asked if they needed proof of payment and was met with a “Nah, I trust you.” Community, y’all.

When I walked into The Fruit, I scanned the room and noticed the projection screen displaying clips from music videos by The Muslims and “Let’s Learn Arabic with Zachary.” The projection screen was to my right, while to my left I saw a unicorn shooting a rainbow from its loins with a Socialist hammer and sickle on the same cloth banner hanging on the wall. In front of the banner, I noticed a small display of merch items for sale: original, silver-pressed CDs of the band’s music, a zine put together by Laila, and more. I saw a crowd of people slowly filing in and made my way to the beer stand before there was a line. Once I grabbed a beer, I stood watching the band play around with tuning meanwhile asking the crowd about sound levels before stopping to let us know that it was Laila’s birthday.

I recently started listening to the band when The Editor asked me to dive into their self-titled album for a review on Durham Beat. I had not yet seen them live. From the very first track their energy, vocals, and instrumentation were reproduced to that same CD quality with the added benefit of seeing the members trade smiles, nods, and laughter before each song, as if playing out an inside joke. The crowd was trepidatious, in need of a bit of encouragement to move closer and unfold their arms to dance, but the band kept their same energy throughout each song and danced freely as they performed.

As I write this, the tour has finished and I can only imagine how well they must have done across the dates and venues. The Muslims have consistently proven to be a gem within the local music scene in Durham.

Featured photo by Riley The Photographer. #durhambeatoriginal

The Post-Show: Real Dad, Case Sensitive, Moon Ruin at The Pinhook, August 3, 2018

I composed this post-show writeup in my head several weeks ago. The demands on The Editor during those same weeks have forced me to carry this piece around with me while tending to the growing business of The Beat. Only now, long after the happenings have happened, have I been able to attach these words to the page. I could list the reasons why it has taken this long, but none of that will matter to the musicians who have been waiting for these words. I deserve to scathe myself because of this tardiness. And yet…

…right at this very moment I am sitting on my stoop with a cold beer, headphones on listening to that Jimi Blues, writing these words on actual paper, and feeling positively grand. I ruminate still on that August 3rd show.

“Look for a black hat with red roses on it, and a tiny pencil.” That’s what I said to Real Dad when I told him how to find me at his show. He had invited me, you see, to come as Durham Beat for his Friday night show at The Pinhook. I got all dressed up in my Editor uniform and casually made my way over to the show.

I rolled into The Pinhook moments before Case Sensitive took the stage. I went over to the bar and ordered a Natty Bo before heading to my usual front of crowd place. I soon realized I was missing something key and scurried back over to the bar for my ritual pre-show shot of Jameson. The bartender poured the last of the bottle out into the shot glass, then opened another bottle and topped off my miniature beverage. The girl next to me at the bar looked over at me and said, “You inspire me.” “Oh really?” I responded skeptically. “Yeah, I’m going to get a shot too.” I threw back the shot of brown and remarked, “It’s a good idea,” then made my way back to the front as Case Sensitive emerged from sound check and began their set with heavy guitar, deep bass, and wild drums. I recognized the song immediately. “Six Feet” is the second track from their two-sided single released earlier this year. I had done a little writeup about the release back then. In fact, it was the first piece I ever published on Durham Beat. I knew the song well, having listened to it dozens of times while dusting off my rusty journalist voice. I had seen Case Sensitive for the first time at a their album release show at The Station. They were every bit as glamorous as I remembered. Sporting casual black attire, the ladies rocked out, at times switching instruments with each other for different tracks. Ethereal female vocals combined with raucous stoner-rock-styled guitar riffs and a general DGAF attitude, all live at the heart of Case Sensitive’s sound. These women are not only inspiringly talented, they are decidedly true-to-self.

By the end of their set, the crowd had grown considerably. Their exuberant cheering for the all-female Carrboro-based rock trio was welcome noise to my ears. I am always gratified to bear witness to outpourings of love towards artists I’ve written about.

During the interim set switch, I found Real Dad over at the merch table, merch-less, and selling on behalf of the other bands. “I know you go by The Editor, but what’s your real name?” he asked me. To be clear, Real Dad’s real name is Nolan Smock. Many of you reading this raggedy writeup know this already, but in the world of gonzo journalism, staying true to character identities is a tenet of this artform’s authenticity. True-to-self was very much the theme of the night, as Real Dad’s set on this particular evening was an expression of personality and vulnerability. But before I get into all of that, I would be remiss to dismiss the second set from out-of-towners Moon Ruin, a synth-heavy four-piece from the midwest (Peoria, IL and Eau Claire, WI), who were passing through our dirty little city in support of an album released earlier this year.

Because of my experience covering Moogfest, the synth-centric art/tech festival hosted in Durham in the springtime, as well as innumerable other run-ins with electronic music, I have been a bit spent on the genre of late. Thus I must admit to you, dear reader, that while I found Moon Ruin to be of sound musicianship and their set of excellent quality, I was in no position to appreciate synth-centric sounds on this night. During their set, in between moments of Bon Iver-esque solemnity and sounds broadly resembling synth-inspired art rock, I fantasized I was in room with some string players and a harmonica. There may have been a piano there too. Lately I find myself craving the familiar noises of traditional musical instruments. I was drawn back into Moon Ruin’s set by their drummer, whose natural rhythm and energy lifted me from my synth-evading daze and yanked me back into the show. I made a point of finding him at the end of the night to thank him.

Following a brief tobacco-stained interlude between sets, I once again found my front of crowd place for what would be a wholly inspired set from Real Dad. In an atypical gesture, he announced to the crowd that “Durham Beat is in the house.” While I usually prefer to slide under the radar of showgoers, I am always happy to receive some public love from artists–since they do so often receive it from me, even if it is a tardy, self-deprecating, oddly poetic piece of prose. Real Dad did a solo set with the technological accompaniment of a sampler, while switching back and forth between guitar and bass. I have seen many one man shows in which the artist employs the aid of tech to make a set come to form, but those sets have always tended to be a bit ostentatious and sometimes overly technical. Real Dad’s setup was comparably modest. The man himself came across to me throughout our encounter as decidedly modest and comfortable in being vulnerable in front of people. I managed to capture on video the moment during his set where he quite literally shook off whatever inhibitions might have been plaguing him and he started to dance, slowly letting himself go, sliding fully into his Real Dad persona. Don’t worry y’all–I posted it on Instagram so you could share in the moment too.

Real Dad’s sound is not genre-specific. Real Dad is not a band. Real Dad is a music act intended to rouse your humanity, your uncomfortable self, the vulnerable you, to bring all of that into the light where it doesn’t matter if you dance like an al dente noodle, or if you cried a little bit during that one song, or if your heart is broken and there’s nothing you can do to hide it from anyone who might glance your way. I walked out of The Pinhook on Friday, August 3rd in an emotional state. Real Dad had summoned in me an acute awareness of some of my own vulnerabilities, so much so that in posting this piece now, as tardy as it is, I am laying myself open to all of you. And that’s okay.

Immediately following the conclusion of the night’s sets, I had the pleasure of conducting a Raw Bites Session with both Real Dad and Case Sensitive in the downstairs green room of The Pinhook. Our conversation touched upon many topics, not the least of which was vulnerability. Please enjoy.

The Post-Show: “Local Band Local Beer,” August 2, 2018

It’s 9:10pm. If I was going to be on time for the show, I should have left half an hour ago. I’m still squinting in my bathroom mirror, attempting to fix my eyeliner. My hand slipped and went too heavy on the tips, but I would have to cut my losses and live with it, for the sake of the reader. I run out the door and manage to avoid my talking to my neighbor on the way to my car.

I swing up to the Pour House and park on the corner. Then, as is my custom, I waste 5 minutes trying to find my ID at the door. I’m only wearing one ear plug because it was all I could find in my purse. I just bought this vintage purse on eBay a few weeks ago, and I’m finally getting to use it. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember tossing an old blackened ear plug in here. Is it even mine? It is now. And I know I’m gonna need it. Walking through the alleyway, I can hear the drums of the opening band thumping through the bar door.


He’s screaming until he’s blue in the face… or maybe that’s just the stage lighting. It’s hard to tell.

PROMM is music made for thrashing. It’s chaos. They’ve got the sonic likeness of a truck full of musical instruments crashing down a hill. In the nicest possible way.

“First… we’re gonna drink 100 beers, in the foyer of the SECU building… and together, we’re gonna complain about how much it costs to park your car at the PNC Center for WWE.”
Local Band, Local Beer, Local Banter.

I wonder what the vocalist’s lung capacity is, because he’s really getting it all out. Likewise, pretty impressive cymbal work by the drummer, Ethan Allen (like the furniture company, but assuredly not). The breaks are pretty chill by contrast, laden with groovy drum fills and echoey guitar loops. The rhythm section sets a different mood entirely from the rest of the songs. In conclusion, the band takes a break from waking the dead for the vocalist to deliver a motivational speech.

“There’s still lots of time to be what you want. There’s still plenty of good in this world!” I guess I needed to hear that today. Parting words from an unexpected source.


The second band sounds completely different, despite sharing half of the members with the previous one, with Dylan Turner returning on bass and Owen Fitzgerald dropping the mic for guitar.

The bass lines grab my attention immediately. It makes me feel… loose. Even the crowd is becoming less statuesque and gradually resigning to soft headbanging.

I squeeze the orange slice into my Shock Top and immediately knew that I had made a big mistake. That gross old orange nearly put me off my beer. I chug the remainder so I won’t have to deal with the taste.

A brand ambassador for Newport comes up behind me and gives me a $2.00 voucher for a pack of cigarettes. Upon asking them what being a “brand ambassador” entails, they respond that they generally go to public places and conduct surveys, asking young folks what cigarette brands they prefer. I tell them that I don’t smoke Newports, but know someone who does (The Editor). I will kindly put the voucher in the mail for her the next day.

Now that the set is over, I gaze around and see that the crowd has dispersed a bit. It began with maybe two dozen people in the room, but ended with about fifteen. The rest of them are probably outside. I figure they must be onto something, and went outside to get some fresh air myself.


The first time I saw No One Mind, it was at King’s in 2016, and I snagged the last remaining copy of their ‘Born Again’ single on vinyl. It still holds a special place in my record collection, like a trophy. Spinning it for the first time, I was sold. I’m a sucker for a 4/4. Maybe that explains why I’m so enamoured of disco. I haven’t had a chance to see them again in the 2 years since then, but I was pleased that tonight I was going to hear some new songs for the first time, mainly ones from their full-length album, and hopefully I would get some good photos of the band so the Editor wouldn’t have to “finagle” anything.

But alas, my phone dies about 2 minutes into the set. I couldn’t say I’m disappointed, though. I get to stand there and listen, without engaging. I love the spacey, synthy melodies, and make a mental note to remember to buy the album on vinyl before I left.

As the house lights return, the Pour House becomes only slightly less cavernous. I make a beeline to my car for a smoke break. I’ve been sitting in the same spot outside for 5 minutes and already observed three different people walking around asking passersby for money. I’m parked right across from Moore Square, which has been barricaded for “renovations” since October, the chain link fence plastered with the billboard “committed to stopping and preventing homelessness”.

My munchie-mode sets in and I debate whether I should double-time to Cookout on my way home or to go back inside and buy their album first. I decide to support local artists and go back inside, but the Square wasn’t working at the merch table and I didn’t have cash. Going home, I guess :/

Featured image is an original photo of The Pour House by The Editor.

The Post-Show: Waking April, Dane Page, LAIRS, at The Pinhook, July 9, 2018

I went to The Pinhook on Sunday, July 8th by invitation of Raleigh-based synth duo, Waking April. They had written to Durham Beat to convey their regards and to make us aware of the show. As it turns out, I was planning to go anyway, but an invitation from the band? Yes, please.

I arrived at the show shortly before the opening act, Durham-based trio LAIRS, took the stage. One Natty Bo and shot of Jameson later, I found my usual stage front position and settled in to listen to the first of three local North Carolina acts on the bill. With a sound ranging from blues rock, to psychedelic indie rock to occasional flairs of Brit Pop, LAIRS set was high energy, audience inclusive, and straight up crunchy. During one song, lead singer and guitar player Patrick, pulled a friend up on stage to take over guitar duties, while he assumed the role of full-fledged lead vocalist, leaning into the crowd, and–dare I say–flirting with us with his amiable gesticulating. It’s sets like theirs that remind me time and time again how important it is to show up early to catch the opener. Much of the audience at this well-attended show turned up during the second set, missing out completely on an incredibly promising up-and-coming group from right here in town. To paraphrase myself from a previous local band writeup: the easiest way to support your local music scene is to show up. Luckily, you, dear reader, will have a chance to catch them in just a couple of weeks at one of my favorite local hangouts, The Station.

The second set came from the Charlotte-based indie folk act Dane Page. Two guitars, synth, bass, and drums. With sounds ranging from eerie-Bon Iver-esque to upbeat folksy to ambient to straight up swampy, Dane Page has captured the essence of nouveau indie folk. Harnessing the electronic edge that has steadily crept its way into folk music, Dane Page has a balanced, accessible sound that I want to keep hearing. This is all not to mention the utterly delightful and captivating vocals. Charmed. That’s how I felt at the end of the set. This Sunday evening show, as I later discovered when I went to chat with the band, was their first time playing in Durham. Something tells me they will be back soon…

The night culminated with the headlining set from synth pop duo Waking April. Their setup is very straight forward: Alex on electric guitar and vocals, and Bethany on vocals and synth. Rocking a sound ranging from soft and ethereal to super edgy dance pop, this high energy duo weaved between original songs and a few choice covers, including a brilliant rendition of “Blood in the Cut” by K.Flay. Last year, I had been shamelessly blasting that very song out of my car at all hours–stung as I was then by a certain faux feminist asshole who had broken my heart–but on this night, this cover, this set, hearing Alex and Bethany perform this song was very much a celebration. And I was so delighted to hear it live and done with such precision and energy. When I eventually left the venue to head back to my quiet little corner of Durham, I carried with me the residual energy and joy from a night of positively wonderful local sounds.

Immediately after Waking April left the stage, I joined the duo in the downstairs artist hangout of The Pinhook for a Raw Bites session. I invite you to listen to our post-show chat:

Check out the photo series from the show on Instagram!