Local Beer Local Band night at Raleigh's Tir Na Nog has always been a great Raleigh music institution, but it's picked up since their old booking agent returned from a stint at Durham's Motorco. Thursday Oct 20th's show was a major case in point: T0W3RS, Wesley Wolfe, and Spider Bags. Any of these bands could headline locally, and all three were great, so nothing against the latter two at all. Wesley Wolfe played smart, jumpy indie-pop-punk reminiscent of Ted Leo. Clarion-clear vocals mixed with spiky guitars and lyrics that were at once painfully sincere and out of left field ("there's a black hole behind my face"). Spider Bags rawked out in the psychobilly kinda way that early Dash Rip Rock did, which is a high complement from me.
But I'm going to talk mostly about Carrboro's T0W3RS, and because of this: it's rare that a jaded, grizzled, indie vet like myself walks away from the stage with grin on my face.
T0W3RS had me smiling a mile wide.
T0W3RS is fun. I mean, unabashed, infectious FUN. They're obviously having it, it shows in the music and demeanor, and it draws you in. T0W3RS is different. For all the great music around here, a lot of the bands are doing things that are similar -- rootsy, "Americana", etc. But T0W3RS doesn't really sound like anything else (despite what you're about to read below). T0W3RS is everything that makes me like music in the first place, and it amazes me, once in a very long while, that I can still get that feeling about a new act.
As for the sound and what I said above, I loathe the typical "Band X meets Band Y" description of a band's sound. It's pat, lazy, and not always accurate. In a quote attributed to everyone from Thelonius Monk to Martin Mull, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture". But we part-time music critics have to start somewhere. And my expectations going to see T0W3RS were of some strange meld between Animal Collective and country twang, based mainly on hearing 2 very different songs by them online: "OUR5" (the Animal Collective-style one) and "Summertime" (a Lonnie Walker cover, and therefore, the twang).
[WARNING. PAT, LAZY DESCRIPTION FOLLOWS.]
After seeing them, however, I can't say that they aren't, in fact, the love-child of George Jones and Animal Collective.
[There. I did it. I feel dirty. Are you happy?]
But what those two songs, and the entire show, should have told me, was that this was a diverse band doing something unique. Live, at least, the core is the (sometimes yes, rather twangy) guitar and vocals of frontman Derek Torres (also of Soft Company). But a very heavy rhythm section, keys -- both of the electronic and toy kind -- various other assorted insruments, and dual female vocals, all add to a melange that makes them, at the closest, some distant grand-nephew Mr. Jones.
Listening to "Summertime" again right now, I hear all of these things coming in to make that song very diffrent from the original, and totally their own. And that's what they do live, with their own music. All of these ramshackle parts come together to make something totally unique and totally fun.
So go see T0W3RS the next chance you get... I think they play Dec. 10 at the Cave. I guarantee you will have fun. Below are some photos of T0W3RS, and 3 of Spider Bags (sorry I didn't get any good ones of WW), and a video of the song "Big Sky" from T0W3RS. Sorry for the poor sound quality. I have to figure out how to capture better sound on what to go with the HD my camera takes. Either that, or learn to not stand so close to the monitors. Anyway, I hope I captured the feel of their show.
So here are some pics of T0W3RS...
And a few of Spider Bags...
T0W3RS playing "Big Sky" at Tir Na Nog.