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    Cool review of the J show from awhile ago, not sure about the solos being aggravating though <img> Interesting spin on the Chapel Hill Indie scene… <img> Hopefully the Marvin and Me deal is just a typo <img>




    I moved to Chapel Hill just six days before this show and I was pretty nervous. I’m well aware of this city’s reputation as an indie rock Babylon, but I’m more of a punk/hardcore kind of guy. I’m just not sure I can slop a gallon and a half of mousse into my hair, pay six bucks for some disgusting mint-flavoured microbrew and listen to kids in thrift store clothes whine several times a week. It’s just not in me, I need aggression, power, maybe even intimidation.

    It seems nearly impossible to escape that aesthetic in Chapel Hill, though, and tonight I decided to just get on with it and check out a set from one of the most deservedly famous indie dudes ever: J Mascis. But before I could see what J would bust out with solo I had to get through a few local opening acts, and while they weren’t as terrible as I’d feared they certainly weren’t as exciting as I might have hoped.

    First up were a duo called Work Clothes, who consisted of a boy who played acoustic guitar and a girl who switched off on electric guitar, keyboard and drums. While there were interesting bits sprinkled throughout the band’s set the whole affair was terribly uneven. The female singer had a very nice voice but her partner was simply sang way to quietly for his voice, and the sound of his unvoiced breath hitting the microphone wasn’t too nice over the Cat’s Cradle’s giant PA. What’s more the band played almost excruciatingly slowly… sometimes the space between notes could be measured in seconds.

    Second were a much more aggressive duo called Des Ark. While the boy/girl drums/electric guitar combo did a lot to recall the White Stripes (especially on the band’s faster and more straightforward numbers) you can tell that these folks are coming from a much more artsy-fartsy, feminine rage kind of place. The songs were solid, though, propelled by extremely powerful drumming (someone should get that guy in a hardcore band!) and some ear-piercing screams. If the singer can keep herself from overdoing the hiccupy grrrl vocals we may indeed have something here.

    So finally at an hour much to late for my lame self J Mascis took the stage. It was bizarre watching him plop himself down on a rickety chair in the middle of the Cradle’s gigantic stage, but somehow it fit the guitar hero/self-conscious dork contradictions that Mascis has always embodied. J started his set pretty unceremoniously, simply launching into one of his twangy tales of heartache without even an indication that he was about to start. As he crooned through song after song that originally appeared on Dinosaur Jr. records, the J Mascis and the Fog record or his sole solo acoust album Marvin and Me, it was so beautiful and relaxing that I nearly fell asleep.

    Then Mascis nearly gave me a heart attack when he hit a distortion pedal at his feet and the PA sprang to life Dinosaur-style. A half-dozen or so times throughout the rest of the night Mascis would engage some sort of pedal that would loop whatever riff he was playing at the moment then launch into one of the long, meandering solos that anyone who saw Dinosaur Jr. live remembers so well. Depending on your point of view these solos were either the highlight of the evening or an aggravating distraction from the simple beauty of Mascis’ songwriting. I can appreciate both camps, however, as the solos that punctuated Mascis’ hour on stage gave my mind ample time to contemplate which of the lyrics I’ve just heard were written about Uma Thurman.

    So while my first night as a bona fide Chapel Hill indie rocker wasn’t as comfortable as I might have hoped it would be it was still pretty fun, and I look forward to living in a city with a venue large enough to accomidate medium-sized tours like Mascis’. What’s more, with the mighty Tear It Up scheduled to play in Raleigh the day after the prospects for enjoying my years in Chapel Hill are definitely looking up.



    "I’m just not sure I can slop a gallon and a half of mousse into my hair, pay six bucks for some disgusting mint-flavoured microbrew and listen to kids in thrift store clothes whine several times a week. "

    errr…. I think I will stay away from Chapel of Hell!

    I thought the only thing hard to take about micro breweries was the pathetic "oohhh" and "aahhh" ing
    over watery fermented hop soda…



    Thanks for the review Allison!

    I resent the comment about indie kids. I whine at least every fifteen minutes and kept right on doing it after I left the thrift store, even while sober.


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