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Happy birthday, Kings

Downtown Raleigh club becomes almost venerable



Kings' Birthday
"It's brand new as I write this, so I don't know all the details, but I do know this... they promise much live rock, and given the gentlemen involved, I think it's safe to say that they know exactly what rock is," reads the description of Kings Barcade from trianglerock.com , presumably written by Ross Grady five years ago in the site's club section.

Since then, the three co-owners of Kings--The Cherry Valence 's Paul Siler, Polvo 's Steve Popson and Ashley Stove 's Ben Barwick--have done exactly what they set out to do and more: start a downtown club where the rock scene they were a part of could develop, live and grow seven nights a week. That club and that scene are both bustling at present, infiltrated by a number of local rock bands, side projects and one-offs. And this weekend, the club that helped foster the scene in so many ways will call in some of its best party-throwing pals to help celebrate its fifth year in the business.

Charlotte's Renelvis --an Elvis impersonator who hails from the Philippines and works at Wal-Mart when he's not being The King--will get the party started Friday night, with Boston's clown-faced crazy rockers Guaranteed Katch and Midget Marines (featuring members of Picasso Trigger and The BeatlesS ) in their debut performance. The party continues Saturday with the garage-fabulous rock of Dirty Johnny and The Makebelieves, The Weather and the BQ's, fronted by TCV's Brian Quast. Polvo expatriate Ash Bowie will handle the rhythm section with The Dynamite Brothers' drummer, Scott Nurkin. And the newly married Erik Sugg (Dragstrip Syndicate) will play his first gig with the band.

Get this, though. The party continues Sunday with a special edition of the regular Kings Sunday night dance party, Neu Romance, meant to commemorate both the Fourth of July and the Fifth of Kings. Perhaps that's what my college chemistry teacher meant when he said he liked to celebrate every fourth with a fifth.

Don't forget, however, that this party has a fourth day, complete with a three-night intermission to help you recover from seventy-two hours of debauchery. The Fifth Annual Gong Show returns on Thursday, July 8. Some people sing, some people dance and some people roll around in masses and gobs of food rescued from the waste bins of local diners to emerge as the eventual winner. But everyone has a good time. To sign up for the famed reworking of the TV classic, e-mail kingsbarcade@mindspring.com.

If you've never been to Kings and you're not overly familiar with the lot of local bands that plays the club several nights a week, Kings has a slew of talent-packed local shows to coincide with its sixtieth month in operation. The Rosebuds --a guitar-pop, man-and-wife trio with a bent for writing an absolutely perfect hook--play Friday, July 9 with cello-wielding rockers Utah! and the new-to-town trio Ticonderoga, an instrumentally interchangeable band of Iowa City best friends writing some of the best exploratory folk this side of Low. Strange, the noise-and-keyboard-heavy rock band with a debut LP due out on local label Pidgeon English Records in September, plays Saturday, July 17 with The Nicky Band, the lo-fi funk outfit of The Cherry Valence 's Nick Whitley. The Greatest Hits play again on July 23 with Schooner, The Blackouts and Mothlight, followed by another Nick Whitley band, Pro-L, with The Pink Slips and local poet/emcee, Shirlette Ammons that Saturday. But if you miss Ticonderoga the first time around, it's certainly recommended that you don't make the same mistake twice: the trio will open on July 29 for Greenville's Art Lord & His Self Portraits and Strange-offshoot Black Socks (who will be collaborating with experimental noise duo Phon ) in what promises to be one of the month's best glimpses into the local avant-garde.

Really, don't worry if you're five years late to the party at Raleigh's best rock club. You're in good hands.

As local artist and Kings' Thursday night bartender Ana Vizcarra explained moments before The Greatest Hits took the stage last week, "This is just my part-part-time job... I only work here because it's really so cool."

MP to Nab the MC?
Odd thing first: Afroman has a bodyguard. Yes, the same Afroman that broke onto the charts with that carefree, pot-waving jingle, "Because I Got High." Yes, the same Afroman who makes nearly every melody he has from the collected experiences of his good times--be those bottles of Colt 45, bags of weed or women with Impalas.

Yes, the same Afroman that performed to some 420 white kids who posed no manifest threat to the man on stage with which they were singing along. Yes, that Afroman had a massive boulder of a bodyguard onstage at the Lincoln Theatre last week. Given that, though, Afroman wasn't the joke of the night. That honor went to Squeezetoy, the Raleigh rap/rock band who wrapped up its 20-date East Coast tour with a stop at home. Somehow, the band managed to slip into two-covers-in-four-songs territory by following an acceptable cover of Green Day's "Brain Stew" with a Squeezetoy-ed version of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name"--that is, a high-fructose take where Tom Morello's guitar work became a flat, passing oversight and de la Rocha's sentiment became mere slogan as the entire crowd chanted "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!" Squeezetoy is currently in Iraq on a USO/AFE tour. For their own sake, these guys may want to avoid that last one overseas. Bob Hope would be fairly upset. EndBlock

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