Walking up to the Raleigh venue, kids of all ages were immediately approached before even making it to the waiting line by two or three others with questions. The first was a kid working for the Obama campaign, who wasn’t even old enough to vote himself, and if you gave him a moment, you’d quickly learn he was also too young to drive.
He would come up initially, beaming with energy and sass, and ask you questions about your current political status, your feelings on the campaigns, and offer to register you to vote if you hadn’t. Next, the concert-touring volunteers (organizations like www.musicforamerica.org or www.headcount.org) would arrive in your path to the door that wasn’t even open yet. These kids are “non-partisan,” meaning, well, of course they are liberals, they’re kids, and they’re registering other art and music aficionados under the assumption that they, too, will vote left. The last was a girl with bursting personality and fluttering eyelashes, making conversation with everyone in line — and if for some reason you didn’t register before, and could have, she’d get you to. Once the doors opened and kids poured in, the heaviness of this show really started to set in for the owners.
The Lincoln Theatre (www.lincolntheatre.com) is surprisingly one of the best venues in North Carolina as far as audience areas (stadium standing, balconies, split room), space (approximately 800) and the staff, who are very thorough and detailed in everything I watched them do that night. From greeting guests to making drinks, checking IDs, taking tickets, assisting with any problems whatsoever — they really took their time and had plenty of people on staff for the evening. I was impressed. So why don’t more shows come here? It seems Cat’s Cradle and Local 506 have their indie-known status set in stone, so promoters and booking agents just know to look for them. In the Triad, Greene Street Club is known for the heavier metal and pop-rock shows. It doesn’t leave a lot for Raleigh, the state’s capital — Chapel Hill has been spoiled with multiple venues for too long; it’s time to start migrating music a little more eastwardly.
The show had a presale of about 400 online ticket purchasers. I would say in all about 150-200 more attended, but most didn’t show up until right before the headliners, Wolf Parade, started. The show had only two acts for the evening, and began at 9 p.m. — so the usual fashionably-late business wasn’t going to cut it. The first band of the evening, Wintersleep (www.wintersleep.com) is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and held a ghostly vocal set similar to that of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes. Flowing and laid-back tunes with melodic scales came together in a Minus the Bear like manner. The performance was actually beautiful, I thought. Welcome To the Night Sky, their latest effort, was performed in random order and delivered on a silver platter of musical enlightenment. The only thing that was missing was a hammock and some whiskey.
I’ve been noticing more and more the diversity in types of people at these indie shows — anything goes. Kids to adults, preps to rockers to hippies, everyone likes good music, and it really brings the masses together.
Wolf Parade (www.myspace.com/wolfparade) is, like Man Man, one of the last bands to see such diversity in attendance. Not to mention, they too are from Canada… Montreal, Quebec, so how is it that the tour of these two non-American bands has sponsored and become active volunteers in bringing along such voter-obsessed political-youth organizations to concerts? It’s interesting to see the ways other countries are participating in our politics, and it’s part of why 2008 has become the biggest election in a long while.
North Carolina Head Count coordinator Will Reeves commented, “Aside from the campaigns or reasoning in direction, we’re all about getting people involved, and promoting awareness. It’s been great to do college shows like these, where kids have relocated because of college, and know they aren’t going to be in their home towns come election time.” Regardless of the booths and registration banter and distraction, when Wolf Parade tuned their first note, the line outside start pushing themselves in, eager to get through the door (kicking themselves for showing up late) and registrars packed up their stickers, buttons and locked files in trunks by the door. The Canadians jammed out for a good hour plus an encore, with a mix of Modest Mouse and Interpol, yet keeping their own individual sound. The two lead vocalists did’t just sing together and harmonize with one overpowering the other; they both sang their own songs, one on guitar, and the other slouching over keys. No one cared about spilled drinks or bothered to go back and buy another. Though their appearance and style was rather typical (beards, plaid shirts, sandy jeans and styled hair), the music was far from it. They mixed a set from their previous and popular album weaved in their new album (released in June), and the response was calmer during the new pieces, as to be expected. But the overall show was a success for the band, the venue and anyone who paid for a ticket. Sup Pop’s release of At Mount Zoomer can be heard on their MySpace page , and purchased… well, pretty much anywhere.
To comment on this story, e-mail Heather MacIntyre at Heather@yesweekly.com