A Guide for Racing the Cure, or, What to Do When You Miss The Avett Brothers
There’s a multitude of reasons to feel good about the upcoming Raleigh benefit, Racing the Cure. First and foremost is the cause: Oliver Gant, two-year-old recovering from cancer after two rounds of chemotherapy.
After that, there’s the line-up. If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to this one-night, four-venue mini-fest (booked by Hopscotch Music Festival co-curator Grayson Currin, no less) you’ll have the chance to see The Love Language, Tift Merritt, Bombadil and — most earth-shattering of them all — The Avett Brothers, North Carolina’s beloved bluegrass-infused pop act, at the 250-capacity Kings Barcade. Seeing them in this environment is likely to be a treat; the trio’s early shows were famously sweaty affairs fueled by acoustically honed heart-on-the-sleeve aggression.
But here’s the rub: With a few thousand people slated to attend the sold-out festival, not everyone will get to witness the marquee event. Shuffle’s here to help you plan ahead with five bands to see if you can’t squeeze your way into Kings before the Avetts take the stage. You’re welcome! —Jordan Lawrence
1. Hooking Up – 8:15 p.m. – Tir Na Nog
Given Tift Merritt and Bombadil’s deep Triangle ties, Virginia’s Hooking Up is the only true out-of-towner on the bill, but don’t use that as an excuse to skip them. They play rock of the most grimy, slacker persuasion, dingy tones rumbling through bass-heavy distortion. But they lighten their palate with kinetic riffs and hyper-catchy hooks. As fun as they are accessible, a few songs from Hooking Up should prove a good way to start your evening.
2. Whatever Brains – 10:10 p.m. – Tir Na Nog
The Brains’ precise and relentless contortions of punk, noise, pop and most everything in between have never been sharper than on their soon-to-be-released second LP. Doubters won’t last long in the face of their stellar live show. Jagged riffs collide at odd angles in intricate patterns as singer Rich Ivey wrenches out a striking, snot-nosed bleat. It’s a colorful and confusing mess. It’s also a blast.
3. Birds of Avalon – 11 p.m. – The Pour House
Scratching rock itches of both the classic and psych persuasion, the Birds are among the Triangle’s very best live acts. Arena-worthy choruses and riffs rocket forth with exuberance only to dissolve into well-appointed freak-outs of distortion and oddball rhythm. They’re a band that rock fans of most any stripe can compromise on without having to compromise on quality. That makes them a pretty perfect festival band.
4. Spider Bags – 9 p.m. – The Pour House
The Spider Bags are among garage rock’s most consistently satisfying live acts. Leader Dan McGee is a marvel on the guitar, uniting grungy boogie and noisy experimentalism, but he’s even better as a frontman. Ranting crazily with his blunt New Jersey bark, he’s able to sing about how the world is a shitty place and still make living feel like one hell of a time. His lock-tight rhythm section keeps him grounded no matter how wild he gets.
5. Brice Randall Bickford – 8:15 p.m. – Lincoln Theatre
Brice Randall Bickford, who once performed as The Strugglers, is a uniquely gifted songwriter, wrapping his deep, buttery voice around precise musings about the daily little hassles that somehow turn into life-altering problems. His purposeful band backs him with elegant folk-rock that lands somewhere between Neil Young and The New Pornographers.