In a recent trip to our ever-more frequently sold-out Cradle, I weaved through a very well-behaved crowd of smartly dressed adolescents and curious college-types. I was hoping to arrive in time to see the middle of a three-band lineup. Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes were the main attraction, wildly popular with an army of very devoted fans. I managed to purchase two extra tickets at the front door while a mob of glaring on-lookers waited for similar lucky breaks themselves. Hit the front room of the club as Scottish dirty love-makers Arab Strap were finishing their first song. I'd unfortunately missed the first band, locals Sorry About Dresden, wanting to hear them doing songs from their new release, Let It Rest. A buzzing din from the audience rose above the cello and violin dirges slowly coming from the stage, like bees gossiping about the queen. The conversational noise was enough to frustrate the Scots, and prompted another Arab Strap fan to have singer Aidan Moffat stretch his mic out to her on its heavy, fishing rod-like stand, as if he was reeling in a little support. The fan pleaded for quiet for those like her who actually wanted to hear this band. It was a very polite remark, met with light handclaps. "Nice try," I thought. "Since it's Saturday night," tossed out Moffat, joking about it being a usually festive evening, "Now we're going to do a song about my father's funeral." He grinned. They plodded through as the buzzing rose again. The group's chosen cover, AC/DC's "(You Shook Me) All Night Long," only managed to shake a few gawkers. Moffat appeared to mumble through his thick brogue, "Utterly hopeless." Bright Eyes took the stage much later, to roaring applause and smiles. Oberst led a series of songs, some very spare and gripping thanks to his often moving, quivering voice. Elsewhere in the room, it was so quiet you could hear, well, a bottle of spring water drop. There wasn't a peep, as if we'd been transported to an old church where a wild-haired troubadour in a black-hooded sweatshirt was the visiting preacher. Mysterious and impressive.
Name That ...
The Durham Association for Downtown Arts, Inc., or D.A.D.A. as they are more commonly known, are planning the next installment of their annual showcase of Durham musicians, and you can help. Organizers would like to rename the event to broaden their focus to include musicians of all styles, from laptop to hot rock, from hip-hop to hoedown. The showcase is evolving into a multi-day benefit for the group (don't forget they're a nonprofit), so essentially the money raised furthers their support of local musicians in the Bull City. To apply as a musician for the showcase, or to help them out with a name, contact D.A.D.A. at: firstname.lastname@example.org, D.A.D.A. P.O. Box 488 Durham, NC 27702, 667-0528. If your name idea is chosen, you could win a batch of some hot new Durham music.
In local band activities, let it be known that Chapel Hill's dynamic rock experts Fin Fang Foom have a new full-length, With the Gift Comes the Curse, to be released on May 27, with a CD release party at Go! Studios on June 7 with Bats and Mice. Cursory listens to a few songs reveal it to me as a departure from their guitar gymnastics on previous recordings; a dark-toned exercise accentuated by piano.