When: Sat., May 13, 9 p.m. 2017
It isn't easy being local legends—just ask Arrogance. Once upon a time, the band spent more than a decade becoming North Carolina's favorite sons. But even though Arrogance was the unquestioned ruler of the regional roost, the band's efforts at breaking out on a national level were foiled by bad luck and worse timing. Fortunately for us all, you can't keep Arrogance down forever.
In the post-Arrogance era, Don Dixon became the band's best-known ex-member. He produced albums for R.E.M., The Smithereens, Hootie & the Blowfish, Marshall Crenshaw, and countless others, all the while maintaining a solo singer-songwriter career as his busy production schedule allowed. But before all of that, he cofounded Arrogance along with fellow UNC students Robert Kirkland and Mike Greer and drummer Jimmy Glasgow in 1970.
In the seventies, North Carolina nightspots were not exactly hubs of original music. In fact, noncover bands were actively discouraged by bar owners more interested in getting their patrons blitzed to bad versions of tunes by the Allman Brothers than furthering the careers of aspiring young auteurs. Nevertheless, with Dixon and Kirkland up front, the band—living up to its name—refused to be cowed into submission.
With sharp songwriting, spot-on vocal harmonies, and infectious enthusiasm, Arrogance eventually became kings of the hill, defying the norm to prove that there was a place for original music on the local club scene. In 1970, the band further proved that local boys could put out their own records, self-releasing a debut single, the fuzz-guitar-soaked hard rocker "Black Death." But before long, Arrogance developed an easier-going, rootsier sound that incorporated folk and country influences.
Arrogance self-released two LPs, 1973's Give Us a Break and 1975's Prolepsis, taking the band's local profile about as far as it could go. Soon after, the band signed with Vanguard Records, which released Rumors in 1976, but the label couldn't do much to move the band's career forward, and the partnership died on the vine. By the time Arrogance finally made it to major-label land with the 1980 Curb/Warner Bros album Suddenly, the band was more influenced by power pop and new wave than folk rock, but the label's bigwigs didn't prioritize Arrogance, and things fizzled.
After self-releasing a live album, the band split in 1983. But in 2000, its members reunited for Arrogance's thirtieth anniversary, finding that a hardy audience still existed. They've played sporadic shows ever since, bringing the legend back to life and reminding every North Carolina act of the last four-plus decades how much they owe to the pioneering Arrogance. —Jim Allen