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Monday, March 19, 2007

Sorry About Dresden, The Nein, Maple Stave

Local 506 is Chapel Hill's 2nd most "famous" venue, next to Cat's Cradle (which is actually next door in Carrboro), the official "world famous" music destination in town. The Cradle is generally the national circut, dudes with a tour bus, or a van with a U-Haul. 506 is the local hangout, dudes in smaller vans and pick-ups, or whatever car is working at the moment. If you want to get the real Chapel Hill "scene", 506 is the place. They often have shows broadcast on local cable, and even have good beer from Carolina Brewery. (..or you can always go for the PBR, but come on guys, life is short.)

I had the chance to catch Maple Stave (homepage, MySpace), The Nein (homepage, MySpace), and Sorry About Dresden (homepage, MySpace) last Friday. SAD have been around for a while, but I had never had a chance to see them until now.

Maple Stave began the evening, and I was dissappointed to only make the last few songs of their set. One thing that stood out in their music was odd time signatures, like 7/8 moving to 3/4, along with the usual rawk. Fun stuff. The crowd screamed for more, but no, we'll have to see them again soon. MS are a power trio of drums, bass, and guitar. Definitely kick-ass drum power drives the music--the sticks were flyin!

Next up were The Nein, with a denser sound (keys/bass, guitar, drums, sax, weird noise specialist, and of course, the vocal madness). The Neiners had the most electronic presense of the 3, the sample and loop manipulations of Dale Flattum adding the extra dimension of extraterrestrial to the mix. One thing that is always an issue at shows is whether or not you can hear the vocals, and a lot of times you can't, especially as the number of instruments increases. Not to diss the efforts of the 506 sound man, but there's no substitute for having your own sound engineer at the panel.

Sorry About Dresden were the superstar headliners. One thing that impressed me right away, because I'm a tuning freak as I mentioned last week, is that they tune between almost every song. If I had to use one word to describe them I would say: alterna-power-pop, though I hate to use the word "pop", because I guess I have to qualify by saying "pop, but not the sucky kind." I read one review that said they draw comparisons to Chapel Hill legends Archers of Loaf. I can definitly hear the resemblance. You might hear 10 seconds and say "Hey, Archers!" but they pretty much have their own sound: duo guitars and vocals, bass, drums. Mostly major key, fairly simple melodies, well played, lyrical, with an energy that can't be denied. Listening to their 2003 release "let it rest", I especially dig the 2nd song, "the approaching dawn" for it's atonal weirdness. As you know, weird makes the aliens happy. I can see these guys spending more time in a tour bus someday.

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