In the last few years, N.C. State's student radio station WKNC 88.1 FM has become one of the most reliable champions of local music in the Triangle. Their steady stream of N.C. talent—during regular blocks of programming as well as their Local Lunch and Local Beat segments—is a vital resource to area artists. Their annual Double Barrel Benefit has become an extension of that mission, a two-night celebration that exposes local bands to audiences that might otherwise remain ignorant. The lineup for this year's event, which takes place Feb. 3 and 4 at Raleigh's Pour House, continues that tradition. (Here's the Facebook event.)
The first night is heavy on quality talent, if a little off-balance stylistically. Revitalized Durham "acousti-core" heroes The Future Kings of Nowhere headline. Shayne Miel, who is back at it after a long battle with lymphoma, leads his band through explosive acoustic-punk love ballads and newer, more mature rock songs with near endless vigor and charm. (Take that proclamation with a grain of salt: I sometimes work for the label that's releasing the band's new EP.) Dreamy folk trio Birds and Arrows and experimental outfit Organos are a well-suited pair in the middle of the bill. MAKE opens the night and is among the better metal bands in the Triangle, patiently unleashing ominous tones in the doom tradition, but they don't make much sense as a lead-in to the tuneful fare that will follow. Still, it will likely be worth a laugh watching college rock devotees cope with MAKE's volume.
Night two, on the other hand, is one of the best bills Double Barrel has ever put together. The Kingsbury Manx headline, and their immaculately crafted chamber pop is one of the Triangle's truly under-appreciated treasures. Live, their chemistry as an ensemble is wowing. Garage rock spark plug Gross Ghost, whose forthcoming debut LP Brer Rabbit is a burst of relentless momentum, rev things up the middle of the night alongside Boone's Naked Gods, who liven Wilco's weirdo folk with slanted and enchanted indie rock energy. The opener here may well steal the show: Raleigh's Heads on Sticks have quickly become one of the area's most thrilling live acts. David Mueller, bassist for psych-rock heavyweights Birds of Avalon, leads his outfit through darkly distorted dance-rock that's scary-good fun. On Saturday, the dance party may well trump the rock show.