Undercover Muslims

I had no idea this project was coming my way. But holy shit I am glad it did. I had asked The Editor to send me some music to write about. She responded by sending me all the information about The Muslims cover song contest and asked me to do in-the-moment reactionary writing to each of the songs submitted.

I need to make it very clear: I think The Muslims are incredible. The first time I listened to them, I was wowed by their originality. With razors edge delivery of sound and radical lyrical content, they make me believe people still like it hard!

Listening to new music makes me happy. Having opportunities to listen to bands I have never heard of playing covers of a band I love is a gift. 

Covers are difficult. When you cover a song, you put yourself and your band in front of a firing squad of armchair critics. I am not in an armchair. I am an old fan of The Muslims looking to be a new fan of new bands. 


Pro-Bitch sent a video that looks like they hiked with their gear into a wilderness cabin, plugged in a worklight and got down to business. I love it.

Their cover of “ISLAMARADO” begins with a confession: “We tried to learn ‘ISLAMARADO,’ but it was hard for us.” Well, I hope pushing through the learning curve was rewarding for Pro-Bitch, because they kill it. 

The original is hard, staccato in your face, a “fuck off I did it” vibe. The Pro-Bitch version is softer in delivery, but with the vocals sitting way up front. It has an edge and an exposure to the lyrics that still convey The Muslims message loudly and clearly, reminding us that we need to listen, we need to act.

COVER: Islamarado by The Muslims from Kethan Fadale on Vimeo.

sister,brother, “ShirkJerk”

sister,brother’s cover brings to mind the feeling of wandering around a campus of storage units, trying to find out where the music is coming from. It’s faint, the vocals distant, lurking. The music, a guitar tuned just enough to be enjoyable and offsetting. The whole mix seems to create a barrier and an invitation. Find us, find the sound, find out what your missing. Around 1:20 into the song, the beats amplify, you’re closer and then…it’s over!  Shit. Play it again.

The Muslims’ version shares similar dynamics, but the difference being the original is upon you like a rabid dog, a punch to the head at the start. No need to look for where the sound is coming from, the strings of the guitar seem like metal cables waiting to be cut and released.

Cover:Shirkjerk by The Muslims by sister,brother

Bruce Stevens, “There Their They’re”

Bruce Stevens adds almost 2 minutes to this song with the addition of a sound byte at the start.  Fantastic addition. The speaking (interview) at the beginning is important and begs to be heard over the sounds in the background that threatens to swallow the words in one bite. I listened to just the beginning several times to catch everything being said.

The Muslims delivery of this, from the first chord, makes me want to start getting my knees high and circling up for a good old hardcore pit on the dance floor. 

Cover: There Their They're by The Muslims by Bruce Stevens

Emily Musolino, “Fuck the Cistem”

WHOAA! I am glad I can see the accompanying video of Emily playing all the parts. Inside a cloud of smoke, she blows this cover up. Emily pushes out a very cool 50’s, soulful vocal delivery, charmingly disarming, for sure. 

The way Emily spits out the lyrics is like sitting with a friend who is pissed off and unloading the truth.

The instrumentation is tight as hell, which I know can be incredibly difficult when playing all the instruments, synching it all up, and maintaining a level of emotion that delivers a wallop.

The Muslims’ original version of this is quite similar as far as instrumentation. Their vocals sit back a little in the mix, rounder, less staccato punch at the end of each line.  

The Royal Burgundy, “Payday”

Imagine Tom Waits letting it all hang out: delivered with gruff voice that sounds like it was honed by a bottle of whiskey and an ashtray full of smokes. Delicious! 

I really enjoy some of the lo-fi sounds. If you know Daniel Johnson’s work you will hear it in The Royal Burgundy cover.

The Royal Burgundy slows this song down. The sludgy, Melvins-like approach enhances the raw honesty of the lyrics. Clarity shines through the ripped vocal chords of the singer.  

The Royal Burgundy deliver a perfectly packaged cover staying true to the emotions while lending a different voice and vibe.

The Muslims’ version of “Payday” has such a true punk delivery that it seems to pay homage to early-to-mid eighties punk. In a way, paying homage is like a cover, hard to do right, risky, with either punishment or reward. The Muslims go for reward.

The Muskids, “Muslims at the Mall”

I am so glad this submission came in. These rockers bring the true feel and flavor of punk to the forefront of my mind. Say hello, hit the strings and keys and go for it.

The Muskids look like and sound like veterans. They bring a bit of the rainbow unicorn vibe. Well done.

The Muslims’ version is a quick build, the wick lit on a stick of dynamite, then, AT THE MALL! 

Both versions make me smile.

I am glad that I do not have to make the decision about this contest. Every person and band involved brought something great to the songs.

Thanks to all the bands that submitted. I enjoyed it all and will be coming to see you play soon. Who knows, we might even play a show together!

Editor’s Note: On December 14th, The Muslims announced the winners of this contest. That information can be found on their website. I wanted to take a moment to say we at Durham Beat were also inspired by this contest. We are grateful for the creative wave it brought to so many local artists, ourselves included. It’s fucking disgusting and we love you. See you at The Pinhook in January.

Featured image is an original Durham Beat photograph by contributor Larry Jones, Jr.

Album Review: sister,brother – “Suicide Club”

Welcome to “Future Primitive Punk”! I have heard this music before; I haven’t heard this music before! Holy shit!

Get on a bike, ride the alleys, crash, wipe the blood off your knuckles, repeat. Go out to a show, stay out too late, over caffeinate, it all makes sense.

Opening up the album, “Sorry, Why are we doing this again,” lays down a hellish merry-go-round vibe that starts to drive and draw you in with a catchy dance rhythm. I love it. If only listened to once, one would think this album is a thrown together, haphazard piece of work. When you listen and listen again, you find yourself listening to each section like unfolding chapters that eventually bring you back to a common thread. It happens loud and quick, so pay attention!

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“living in an office
fiddling with an orifice
praying for the greenest lawn
knowing it will be gone by dawn”

Don’t believe that the lyrics, blanketed under distortion, are just screams. The message seems like a straight up FUCK YOU! But there is observation and reflection knitted into the sounds. Mark’s not just making “mouth sounds.” He may want you to think that, but it’s more than that.

Alison and Mark have taken programming machines, screams and instruments back to an organic level. It feels like a band, not a room full of robots.

“It takes a village to know we are fucked!” is a quick sucker punch of a song. Pointing the finger at others? Pointing the finger at the mirror. Hell if I know, but it’s fantastic.

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“But I am really scared
and fucking lonely too
I just don’t know what to do with myself
could someone please tell me what to do”

If you are familiar with Jello Biafra and the works of Dead Kennedys, then you might feel the spirit of “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” …a sense of humor rooted in alarm and a sense of urgency. Open up our eyes, wake up and make some good choices today!

After listening to the songs multiple time and returning to the track, “Why don’t you take a step back Judgy McJudgerton,” it hits me like a rock. Even though I really like what Mark and Alison are doing, I know they are writing works for themselves and the sheer joy of making art. How do I know this? Just read the lyrics below.

Suicide Club by sister,brother


“But I am fine being me so why don’t you shut the fuck up and just leave me be.”A

Featured image is original photograph by The Editor from 1/12/19 sister,brother album release show at Criterion. Full photo series on Instagram.

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

MOOGFEST Exclusive Local Preview: sister,brother

For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.
–D.H. Lawrence

Every once in a while as a music journalist you will encounter a band who steals your heart. On that rarest of occasions you will experience a breed of noise you know from that first live set needs to be BIG. Some music is so impactful that it will make you fall on your ass while walking down the street in stumbling enamored bliss after a show… all without spilling that road soda. Those are the sounds that burrow inside of you and make a home. Because sometimes you just know.

Sister,brother is truly something. I have spent a good deal of time with Mark and Alison in the weeks leading up to Moogfest. Both are seasoned musicians who came up through the ranks of serious music scenes. Mark Hanley originally hails from my own native Massachusetts. He cut his teeth as a battle DJ in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Boston. After that, he made his way through numerous music projects as a guitarist. A wayward soul and intensely creatively-minded, Mark landed in Durham four years ago, where he would eventually bump into future bandmate and close friend Alison Martlew.

Alison was born in England, raised in the Bahamas, and came to the U.S. for college at NC State. She has been here ever since. Known by many local scenesters as a former member of The Butchies, Alison has participated in several music projects over the years. Since the age of four, she has been playing music. From classical piano as a child, to guitar during her college days, today Alison has found her home in the bass. And she is exceptional.

Together as sister,brother Mark and Alison are at the height of who they are. Unencumbered, total comfortability, unspoken inside jokes playing out in facial expressions and wild gesticulations, the descriptor “they have chemistry” would be a painfully brutish attempt to explain the electric synergistic dynamic they share. Mark’s creative intensity translates into an extraordinary emotional outpouring of high-pitched almost clown-like ear-shredding vocals. With Alison’s excellent bass-playing and her cool and reserved attitude, sister,brother is a mélange of characters and sounds that draw upon everything they have ever experienced, repurposed and reformed into something completely new.

Have you ever felt punctured soul-deep and liked it?

Some music exists to poke your soul. The musings of sister,brother speak to the part of you that doesn’t go out in public. You know, that little piece you keep for yourself… That’s the part of you that will be tickled by their sounds. That’s the part of you that should be listening.

They are loud. You have to want to use your ears to hear them. Listen. They are trying to tell you something. Expose yourself to their noise and you will know what raw really means.

That is something I have gleaned from my time with sister,brother.
Be unencumbered
or die
Be riotous
or sleep
Be real
or don’t be anything at all

This band makes me need to write poems. Interacting with and writing about sister,brother has brought out a tremendous affection in me.

And yet,
I am not a poet.
Nor was meant to be.₂

Still, I find myself scratching words on tiny papers half drunk at a dimly lit bar at 1AM on a Monday night unconcerned with the obligations of tomorrow because my soul has been infiltrated by a noise I can’t stop hearing–I don’t want to stop hearing it. So I can’t stop writing, even when a I hear the echo of a friend shouting, ‘Hemingway, come have a smoke with us!’ I hate it when he calls me that. I’m not a dead white asshole. Not yet.

If you’re reading this, then chances are you either know Mark and Alison too, have heard of sister,brother in some capacity, or are in town for Moogfest and you’re curious.

Good. Be curious. Seek out that sense of wonder in yourself. Find a way to be vulnerable and go see them at The Pinhook for their Thursday evening set.

You know that feeling after really great sex–the exhausted panting bliss of cathartic everything? That’s how you will feel after sister,brother’s live performance. It’s not about the sex. Come on. Don’t be so transactional. Give yourself over to the noise. Let your heart be broken and fall into the crack.

Watch Part Two, The Video, HERE.

“Pomegranate.” Selected Poems, by D. H. Lawrence, New Directions Books, 1947.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The Wasteland and Other Poems, by T.S. Eliot, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1934

MOOGFEST: The Staff Picks, Must-See Acts

Yes, we’re going to be at Moogfest this year! We will be covering as many of the local participants as possible LIVE on social media while we are there on the ground. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay up with the latest. We’ll be rolling out a bunch of #postfest compilations and writeups for you too. Stay tuned as well for a BIG SPREAD we’re doing on noisepunk duo, Durham’s own sister,brother

In addition to the local coverage, the whole staff put together some choices for y’all. Each of us sat down on our own and sorted through the entire Moog schedule. Here’s what us individuals came up with as our must-see acts.

Zoe Carmichael, Staff Writer

Building Your Own Synthesizer
Thursday, May 17th, 3:30PM, Full Frame Theatre

For me, it would be a refresher course on the ins and outs of a synth. If all goes well, I’ll be able to build my own as a new hobby.

Looping 101
Friday, May 18th, 2PM, Art Institute Room

Instructor Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone will be running a workshop on how to loop using synths and pedals. I already know how to use a loop pedal, but the experience of creating something new with strangers is always fun. It’s at capacity, but the wait list isn’t too bad.

Black Granular Narratives: The Level of Detail Necessary for Black Survival In America
Saturday, May 19th, 2PM, Art Institute Room

I’m intrigued by the term “industrial poetry” and curious to witness it for myself. Sadly, it’s at capacity, and the wait list is long.

Vinyl DJ 101 **(Free, open to the public)
Saturday, May 19th, 3PM, The Durham Hotel

How-to workshop from pro Emma Olson about DJing with vinyl. It would be brand-new to me, and I think it would be cool to learn from a legend.

Psychic TV
Saturday, May 19th, 8PM, The Carolina Theatre

They’re a UK multimedia psych-punk-noise collective that’s been around since the 80s. It’s gonna get weird. I can’t wait!

The Hidden History of the Synthesizer
Sunday, May 20th, 2PM, Full Frame Theatre

Excited to go to this discussion. I love history and I love synths. Who knows–maybe I’ll learn something new!

Matia Guardabascio, The Editor

Frivolous Metal
Thursday-Saturday May 17-19th, 4PM, 21c Museum & Hotel

Participate in live art? Three chances to do it? Yes please.

Ralph Steadman **(Free, open to the public)
Thursday-Sunday, May 17-20, 10AM-6PM, American Tobacco Campus Bay 7

I’ll be starting my day with this. Every single day. What an incredible opportunity. If you miss this exhibit, then you’re fucking up.

Thursday, May 17th, 5:30PM, Pinhook

One of the best local acts participating in Moog this year. I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Not only am I preparing a huge spread on them in our preview coverage (stay tuned!), I’ll also be covering this set live on our social media. Even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. They’re going to kill it. Come to this set.

Listen HERE.

Thursday, May 17th, 8PM, Motorco

Indescribably intense, devastatingly dazzling, sensational beauteous vocals, a fantastical afrofuturist Philadelphia-based femme as fuck genre-warping goddess. DAMN.

Listen HERE.

Startups of the Future & Business Creativity
Friday, May 18th, 5PM, American Underground Bullpen

A conversation for me to nerd out over and, you know, learn some helpful things for my own little start-up…

Gavin Rayna Russom
Friday, May 18th, 10PM, Pinhook

In addition to participating in the LGBTQ Community Meetup on Thursday AND the “No More White Presidents” screening on Friday, Gavin Rayna Russom–most widely known as a member of LCD Soundsystem–will be doing a solo set at Pinhook that is going to be… transcendent. Can’t wait.

Saturday, May 19th, 10:45PM, Carolina Theatre Fletcher Hall

Class convened. Go learn from the teacha. Hip-hop legend and pioneer. One of the best living lyricists of our time.

Larry Jones, Staff Photographer

Ralph Steadman **(Free, open to the public)
Thursday-Sunday, May 17-20, 10AM-6PM, American Tobacco Campus Bay 7

A very talented and prolific artist who hung out with Hunter S. Thompson. Need I go further?

Any and all events featuring Raund Haus **(Free, open to the public)

This is Durham’s local beat collective and they are blowing up!! I have a lot of respect for these talented musicians, producers, and artists. Show some love for the local art scene.

Listen HERE.

Spatial Sound: Shabazz Palaces
Thursday, May 17th, 3PM, The Armory

Ishmael Butler has been one of my favorite musicians for years and I’d be curious to hear his thoughts on music production and breaking away from known trends to make something wholly new and original,  which he is very known for doing himself.

Thursday, May 17th, 11PM, Carolina Theatre Fletcher Hall

Mixing 90’s R&B with modern atmospheric electronic tones is a match made in heaven and Kelela does it oh so well.

Friday, May 18th, 9:30PM, Motorco

Harsh and raw as hell! If you’re into weird sonic tones and music that makes you slightly on edge then is is perfect for you.

Stephen Mullaney, Contributor

“….these borders that hold me down…” ** (Free Event, open to the public)
Friday, May 18th, 3pm, von der Hayden Theater (2020 Campus Drive)

We are living in a time of accelerated division. People, governments, and organizations seem to be looking for the magic bullet to exploit and exclude at the same time. Sounds kinda “batshit crazy” right?  Well read the news, listen to conversations, and talk to your neighbors that don’t look like you and you will get the picture.

“…these borders that hold me down….” is a must attend if you want to get a deeper understanding of what is driving politics, marketing, and life. If you walk out unchanged you probably aren’t listening.

Genevieve Palmer, Staff Writer

Raund Haus Stage: Dogzamm, RGB, Sunset Palette, OG Senpaiii, Trandle, Slums
Friday, May 18th, 4PM-7PM, Parts & Labor 

I saw Oak City Slums at Shakori Hills last year, and let me tell you, this DJ is ridiculous. Also a great drummer (follow his Instagram, @oakcityslums).

Raund Haus Stage: Gemynii
Friday, May 18th, 11:59PM-1:30AM, Parts & Labor

As a Gemini, I have to endorse Gemynii. Fantastic DJ and instigator of some good times at the Pinhook…

Saturday, May 19th, 10:45PM-12AM, Carolina Theatre Fletcher Hall

You have an opportunity to get Taught. Don’t miss your opportunity (I won’t).

Fatima Al Qadiri
Saturday, May 19th, 11PM-12:15AM, Motorco Music Hall

This might be the queerest coolest artist I’ve ever heard of, incredible music, definitely a must-see.

Izabel Rader, Contributor

Jamila Woods
Thursday, May 17th, 9:30PM, Carolina Theatre

Jamila Woods is a poet, lyricist, r&b badass. Her vocals are always effortless, soulful, jazzy and (at times) quite philosophical. She always tends to put me in a state of emotional bliss.

Featured image courtesy of Moogfest.

The Post-Show: “The Muslims Album Release Show,” April 1, 2018

Sometimes I’ve just got to be the last asshole.

I was the last person to leave The Pinhook on Easter night, following an epic evening of furiously energetic local punk. Of course, I did not intend to be the last asshole, but that can sometimes be a side effect of letting the night decide how you will spend it…

Just prior to arriving at The Muslims Album Release show at The Pinhook, I experienced a very rare thing: I found free money. Cash is king at local shows, so naturally I visited an ATM on my way to the venue. While waiting for my cash to be dispensed, I noticed a $20 bill had been sitting in the dispenser… someone had left it behind, apparently for me to find. Found it I did. Into the wallet it went, and joyfully I moseyed on over to what I had hoped (correctly) would be one of the best local punk shows I have seen so far this year.

I arrived at The Pinhook shortly after 9PM. Dressed in my usual black and sporting the most dapper hat I have ever owned, I entered the venue in victorious stride and used that free money to drop my $7 at the door, and to grab a PBR and a shot of Jameson (keeping it classy). A few minutes later the first act took the stage.

Sister,brother is a Durham-based noise/punk band. For roughly 30 minutes the animated duo crushed my ears and tore into my soul. So of course, I was absolutely delighted. Using samples ranging from political to pure noise, sister,brother brought their definitively unique sound from the stage and into the audience. Vocalist Mark waded into the crowd several times during the set, gracing us with his demonic laugh, and injecting his intensity directly into the crowd. With their heavy riffs, screaming vocals, and their general rageful splendor, I expect nothing but continued bodaciousness from sister,brother in the future.

The female-fronted Raleigh punk trio, Pie Face Girls played the second set. I had been looking forward to seeing this band play after listening to their entire bandcamp page on one angry afternoon recently. Then after reading staff writer Zoe’s excellent write-up of PFG’s show at The Pour House last week, I was even more eager for this particular set. They did not disappoint. Playing songs like “Fuck you, I’m Pretty,” and “Washed Up,” this sparkly ultra femme punk band captured a breed of rage that for me, as a woman, made me revisit the anger I have felt in the innumerable frustrating encounters with some of the captious, dismissive men who have crossed my path over the years. PFG is decidedly unapologetic, as punk rock ought to be, but in a fiercely empowering way for women.

The slow-growing but continuous movement within punk to push aside the long-reigning white male punk rocker and replace him with the rest of us is one of the best things to happen to punk rock since the genre first found its legs back in the mid-1970s. This particular bill of local talent at The Pinhook on Easter night was a testament to this movement and the authenticity of its sound, its anger, and its message.

The night culminated with the much-anticipated set from the Durham-based punk trio, The Muslims, who were releasing their first album. After sound check, the group huddled together on stage, seemingly conspiring (about what I do not know), and then dove directly into their crushing heavy sound and apt political satire. During the set they even dedicated a song to the “white male [piece of shit] assholes” who think they know everything better than the rest of us, especially when it comes to punk rock. Reminded me of my ex… who is very much this breed of asshole, but that is a story for a different setting… Still, the brand of anger that The Muslims represent is that of marginalized peoples, especially those living in the United States where “you’re free as long as you say nothing about pigs killing people because it’s un-American to not kill black people,” the lead singer raged into the mic. It’s true–America has been a force of evil in the lives of countless people who have lived and died here over the centuries. Only recently has the political climate in this country reached a point where the privileged many have been forced to look this evil in the face and acknowledge the extraordinary pain their fellow humans have had to endure. So what better time, what better place for this rage, this contempt, this pain to be expressed than in punk rock, a genre whose sound is inherently aggressive, loud, and, for many people, cathartic. The Muslims are a unique band for many reasons, but what makes them stand out the most is that they are particularly suited to our times. They are very much in the right place at the right time making music that resonates physically, emotionally, and existentially. I, for one, will do everything in my power to make sure this band is heard.

By the time I left The Pinhook on Sunday night, I was feeling quite relaxed, although suffering from a mild tinnitus, to be sure. When I am old, I imagine I will need hearing aids. Knowing me though, I’ll probably point to them and say, “See? Evidence of all the fun I had,” thanks to nights like this and bands like these.

An original photo series by Staff Photographer Larry Jones.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.