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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Chapel Hill Turns Out For Early Voting Show

What is most impressive about the marathon early voting community concert at UNC this Saturday is that local bands, along with addition of the UK's Billy Bragg (providing the European perspective), have stepped up to the challenge of getting voters to the polls this election cycle unlike I have seen in my lifetime. Really, when was the last time you have seen this much activism from the music community? The Vietnam era is the last I can think of, and that was a bit before I was old enough to know. There have been countless other shows played around the state and nationwide, and Saturday's festivities celebrated the near-end of the election season.

We made it to the show at the end of Greg Humphrey's set. Greg played solo, though he is better known as a member of local bands Hobex and Dillon Fence. Bands were performing mainly as acoustic versions of their full arrangements, appealing to a decidedly all-ages audience. The dBs, however, being the last to go on in early afternoon, and in keeping with their name, disregarded all noise ordinances and rocked the 'hood with full electric mayhem.

The first set we saw was The Bowerbirds, who played an entrancing set of inspired melodies with a strong vocal support. I always enjoy hearing unusual instruments, such as the accordion of Beth Tacular, along with Mark Paulson's violin, and Phil Moore on lead vocals and guitar. Most of the performances featured minimal or no percussion, The Bowerbirds going with a single bass drum and no kit for this show.

I Was Totally Destroying It tore it up next, and they made sure to let us know that they are usually MUCH louder. It's really challenging when forced to give up your "power tools" for spare acoustic, keyboards, and a synth-hand-drum-thingy, but IWTDI rocked anyway.

Then Megafaun was up, a rollicking Alterna-Americana set, featuring a trio of strings, including upright bass and banjo, and Megafauntastic washboard percussion. Megafaun totally drew the audience into the show, and I will give the audience an "A" for participation here--we were totally into it!

Billy Bragg took the stage and proceeded to tell it like it is from the rest of the world to the US. His public service announcement from THE WORLD: "Please don't send us another a**hole." His set and his message was hopeful, that we may be entering a time of new possibility, when the world will once again look toward the States as an example.

Ivan "Rosebud" appeared as half of the Raleigh duo The Rosebuds, on solo acoustic guitar and vocals, though he was later joined by Kelly "Rosebud" and several other of the performers on backing vocals.

Superchunk, operating as only an acoustic duo (so I guess you might want to call them just "Chunk" as they were originally named), gave a standout vocal performance by Mac McCaughan, who also began the day as his other band, Portastatic, which I sadly missed (But come on! 9AM on a Saturday?).

Last and loudest, but not least, we were treated to the rock stylings of The dBs, with guest bassist Mitch Easter (formerly of Let's Active). The dBs were a fitting rockin' end of the show, bringing back some old dBs favorites, a long time since they first appeared back in June of 1978!

All told, it was a fine day, with amazing weather, talent, and a great audience, free coffee from Counter Culture Coffee, and thanks also for the wonderful white sweet potato soup!

Photos: Superchunk, Megafaun, I Was Totally Destroying It, Ivan Rosebud, The Bowerbirds (victims of my mad photography skillz), Billy Bragg prepares to go on.

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