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Kings makes its views known



In this election year, a special note of thanks to Kings, who spent at least 30 nights of the last 11 months publicly and financially expressing its ire with W. Since last December, owners Steve Popson, Paul Siler and Ben Barwick have graciously lent their downtown rock 'n' roll space to local organizations hoping to raise enough money to put North Carolina in play on Election Day.

Some nights featured packed, back-to-back showings of Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, and the Young Democrats presented Iron Jawed Angels following a standout "Put the W Back in Crawford" bill of locals Terry Anderson, Kenny Roby, The Cartridge Family and The Greatest Hits one Sunday afternoon.

Axis of Change--a local initiative spearheaded by Jay Winfrey, Owen Rosenbloom and Brad Farran--hosted its first political benefit there way back in December, putting together a superb bill of Strange, Valient Thorr and The Loners.

I had the pleasure of organizing one such benefit for AOC in June, and I can assure you that Kings puts its money and its club where its mouth is: On that night (and many others), they survived purely off bar profits while keeping the club open late as Nathan Asher & The Infantry plugged away until 3 a.m. Certainly, other Triangle clubs helped take the president to task this year, but none with the resilience, perseverance and booking patience of Kings.

According to most reports, Election Day was perhaps the most somber night in Kings history, as folks gathered around the bar to watch dismal returns flood in. Don't fret, though. The defiant, politics-in-tow mood returned late last week, as seminal hardcore voice and Born Against frontman Sam McPheeters brought his latest side project, The Wrangler Brutes, to Raleigh for a fiery Saturday night blowout.

Walking onstage with a cane to support an ankle he injured during an earlier tour stop, McPheeters told the crowd that they could fancy the cane as being symbolic of "America's democracy." That wasn't the first hint of political indignation on Friday, though.

An anonymous fan during an anonymous local band's opening set grabbed a microphone and intimated that a political protest would go down later that night in front "of a certain party's certain headquarters on a certain street." She mentioned that a street protest on Hillsborough Street would hopefully merge with that demonstration so as to illustrate "the power we have here in Raleigh."

Hopefully, she doesn't believe that the attempted arson of the Republican Party's headquarters on Hillsborough Street exactly expresses the sentiment of young Democratic voters here or across the nation. That demonstration certainly does not reflect the way most feel in this town: Axis of Change isn't Axis of Chaos, and the couple of hundred "Defend America, Defeat Bush" stickers that Kings distributed doesn't imply that he should be defeated by sacking his castle.

While I was covering the arrests of the insurgents who attempted to bring the headquarters and its party down with kerosene rags, spray paint and sticks, one Republican Party worker I knew from N.C. State (he since apologized) asked me if I wrote for the Independent Weekly. When I replied that, in fact, I did, he began yelling, telling me across yellow police tape, "What? Did you see your cover this week? Sure, go ahead and write a good story about this. Tell people somebody finally pulled one over on the GOP!"

I replied by walking away. If these young Republicans are arrogant and ignorant enough to assume that, just because one opposed their candidates, he supports violent malingering on anarchists' behalf--2008 is already in the bag. That is, if we can direct disappointment, disbelief and despair into a policy and hard work and not into half-burnt effigies and anarchy A's.

This column wasn't supposed to be about politics and local music. In fact, it was supposed to be about The Rosebuds, who were on hand Friday night at Kings to catch des_Ark, one of their favorite local bands (Ticonderoga, Bellafea and Schooner also included). Merge released The Rosebuds' debut, Make Out, last October, and the band--Ivan Howard, wife Kelly Crisp and a rotating drummer--have been touring the country steadily since. Sitting next door to Kings at the recently opened Poole's Diner (once Vertigo), Kelly and Ivan shared some great stories from their year on the road, and they were set to appear in this space. But, as The Rosebuds would agree given their observations about conservative America that come from a year spent on the road, things occasionally take precedence.

In brief, though, a 7-inch split between The Rosebuds and The Close is due out on Good Night Records this month, and the release party goes down at Kings on Nov. 20 with aforementioned Georgia indie rock peaches and Dude Garden opening. Bring your dancin' feet.

Comments? Questions? Leads? If you've got beef, e-mail Grayson at

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