YES, PLEASE: The War On Drugs, White Rabbits, Scott Kelly, Eugene Robinson, Windhand, Balaclava, Leslie & The Ly's, Hank III, Vattnet Viskar
EH, WHATEVER: Milagres, The Big Sleep
VS.: Shelly Fairchild vs. Brown Bird
VS.: Born Gold vs. The Brand New Life
INTRODUCING: Ill Family
- Photo by Graham Tolbert
- The War on Drugs
03.09 THE WAR ON DRUGS, WHITE RABBITS @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Incorporating the lyrical folk tendencies of Bob Dylan, the spirited performances of Bruce Springsteen and the rollicking classic-rock everymanism of Tom Petty, Philadelphia quartet The War On Drugs is today's prime proponent of heartland rock 'n' roll. They take it for a 21st-century spin by adding layers of electronic textures to an already sprawling foundation of atmospheric guitars and skittering rhythms. While White Rabbits originated in the Midwest, the Brooklyn-via-Missouri sextet strays toward more urbane indie-rock circles. They've recently streamlined their kitchen-sink approach into a more modest one that retains the enthusiasm and ambition of the band's early work. $12-14/ 9 p.m. (Note: This show is co-presented by Hopscotch Music Festival, owned by the Independent Weekly.) —Spencer Griffith
03.09 SCOTT KELLY, EUGENE ROBINSON @ THE PINHOOK
In the last three years, the output of Scott Kelly has been confined to a decent solo record and an all right album by his band Shrinebuilder; otherwise, he's lent some guest vocals here and there and, indeed, played some shows with his other band, the mighty doom pioneers Neurosis. He's joined on this infrequent one-man tour by Eugene Robinson, the legendary and provocative frontman of Oxbow. A captivating band leader who treats the stage like a wrestling ring and a pulpit, Robinson makes for an intriguing solo act. Rich James of Durham's HOG joins the solo mission tonight, performing under the name WOWOLFOL. $10/9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.10 WINDHAND, BALACLAVA @ SLIM'S
Richmond's Windhand are reminiscent of the doomy, witchy bad trip native to the early '70s, the the hangover from the peace and love psychedelia of the late '60s. This was a time when everyone had a story about a friend who had a soft drink spiked with acid and ended up in a Satanic biker cult. Windhand is the type of band which would have played that Satanic biker cult's initiation ceremony, held in a crumbling old mansion with purple walls lit only by candles and black lights. You don't have to be initiated to enjoy. $5/ 9 p.m. —Karen A. Mann
03.13 LESLIE & THE LY'S @ LOCAL 506
If ever you yearned for a reason to break out a giant gem sweater or gold lamé pants, look no further: Leslie Hall will fulfill all your craft-time concert needs. Hall, an Iowa native, has been cavorting across the country with her gaudy glam and satirical rap since 2005. She's laid down odes to "tight pants," appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba! and started a side-business marrying gay couples in a mobile gem-sweater museum. Her bouffant hair and wild costumes are almost as fun as the quirky, catchy jams she and the Ly's throw down. Her pals Pennyhawk and Ramona & the Swimsuits open with dual doses of charming, sing-along pop. $10/ 9 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
03.13 HANK III @ LINCOLN THEATRE
The apple didn't stray far from the tree: Not only does Hank III share an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance with his grandfather, but he also inherited a thirst for intoxicants and straight-shooting. Shelden Hank Williams III can turn beer to tears or haunt you with a traditional country ballad, but he's just as liable to break your neck over rumbling punkabilly or pulverize you beneath extreme metal throwdowns. His talent is undeniable. His nearly knee-jerk rebellion is matched by clever, self-aware wit, as on the blues-punk confessional "I'm Drunk Again." There's nothing he can't do, so long as hard living doesn't cut the thread short. $15–$18/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.14 VATTNET VISKAR @ SLIM'S
The day after young New Hampshire black metal marathoners Vattnet Viskar play North Carolina, they'll release their debut EP, which fills 30 minutes with only three songs. The stamina, structure and strength of this entrée earns the band a spot somewhere between the more atmospheric Agalloch and the more menacing Drudkh. Finding the bright spots in a maelstrom of abrasion, Vattnet Viskar lifts its gloom into dizzying highs. For an upstart act in a very crowded and en vogue field, that's indeed a very auspicious arrival. Atrophix headlines; Hetfield & Hetfield opens. $5/ 9:30 p.m.—Grayson Currin
03.08 MILAGRES, THE BIG SLEEP @ LOCAL 506
Each year, from late February to early April, the Triangle's location along the East Coast's touring axis pays mixed dividends: As bands head to Texas for the commercial and personal sinkhole of South by Southwest, they spend a night in town, playing at a local haunt just to break up the trip. For every great bill that results from the mess in Texas, three more area stages come clogged with dreck scraped from the bottom of the indie-rock barrel. Tonight, two Brooklyn bands fit that bill: Milagres' indie rock suffers through an Arcade Fire affliction, attaching overly earnest vocals to badly written songs and arrangements that are too scattershot to be grandiose. Likewise, on their latest, Nature Experiments, The Big Sleep aims only for anthems but delivers mostly hot air backed by beefy production. With Baobab. $8–$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, MARCH 8
FROM: Jackson, Miss.
CLAIM TO FAME: Fierce country diva
Before Shelly Fairchild debuted with the twanged Ride in 2005, she'd strutted her voice in local stage productions. On her upcoming album, Ruby's Money, Fairchild wields her dramatic flair while maintaining down-home soul. On "Love Everybody," Fairchild declares "This is the anthem," before a power-punch of brass and gospel choir get behind the proclamation. At THE POUR HOUSE. $10/ 9 p.m.
FROM: Rhode Island
CLAIM TO FAME: Dark rootsy duo
When Dave Lamb and MorganEve Swain formed Brown Bird, they effectively tangled blues and folk. Since 2003, the duo has allured with haunting lyrics and suggestively gypsy chords. After performing at last year's Newport Folk Festival, Brown Bird released Salt for Salt, a trove of sinister-woods spirituals. During "Bilgewater," Lamb testifies "every day is like a war" over Swain's trudging bass, plunging like a dirty baptism. With Phil Cook & His Feat. At THE PINHOOK. $7/ 9 p.m. —Ashleigh Phillips
SATURDAY, MARCH 10
FROM: Edmonton, Alberta
CLAIM TO FAME: Blissed-out synth-poppers
After nearly wrecking his throat fronting Canadian hardcore outfit snic, Cecil Frena decided to do more singing than screaming, crafting hyperactive electropop as Gobble Gobble—now known as Born Gold. Alongside his amorphous band, Frena overlays huge pop hooks on synth-rich songs built with glitchy production, busy beats and hypnotic grooves that suggest a heroic victory over a video game boss. Though the group's effervescence becomes cloying at times, its theatrical live performances—in which the band practically becomes cheerleaders for its own largely pre-recorded music—remind that it shouldn't be taken so seriously. Kuhrye-oo opens. At LOCAL 506. $8-9/ 9:30 p.m.
THE BRAND NEW LIFE
CLAIM TO FAME: Incendiary Afro-funksters
With all the party-starting energy of a New Orleans brass band but a more expansive worldview, The Brand New Life takes Afrobeat and funk on a psychedelic trip through free-jazz territory. The infectious eight-piece boats an array of woodwinds, brass, polyrhythmic percussion and traditional rock instrumentation. With it, they offer grooves that'll get feet moving. Asheville's Jonathan Scales Fourchestra presents an effective cool-down in the headlining slot; steel drum whiz Scales infuses his jazzy compositions with island vibes and a wealth of genre-spanning influences both classic and contemporary. Justin Johnson opens. At THE POUR HOUSE. $8/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
03.13 ILL FAMILY @ MOTORCO
Chapel Hill's Ill Family are very firm about two things. One, though they are independent, they are not "indie." Two, their moniker isn't just for show; they are a family, or at least a group of close friends who also make music together. Both facets come through in the relaxingly skewed folk-rock of their 2011 self-titled debut. Buoyant, Beatles-inspired melodies percolate amid slightly funky rhythms that recall The Grateful Dead and The Band. Their adherence to these hallmarks is no accident.
"Pink Floyd is our mother, the Grateful Dead our father, and The Beatles our God," the group writes in a collaborative email, the method of communication on which they insist because no one member can speak for an entire family. "Neil Young, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Bowie and Dylan are distant cousins who stop by on the weekends. We like to consider ourselves 'organic psychedelic rock and roll.' We play old. We are young."
The band's self-claimed influences, overwhelming reverence and touch of pomposity might tempt you to write them off as simple hero worshipers. But don't: Formed in 2010, Ill Family already move with a charming sway all their own, respecting their idols while recombining them in energetic new ways. Ill Family plays Motorco on Tuesday with The Shack Band and The People's Blues of Richmond. The $7 show starts at 8 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
Correction (March 7, 2012): The Windhand and Balaclava entry was written by Karen A. Mann, not Mark Connor.