Five Must-See Sets at Duke University’s Brickside Festival
Tomorrow is a big day for music in Durham, thanks to the inaugural Brickside Festival on Duke University’s campus. Student organizations banded together to organize the impressive one-day festival, promising to make it an annual event. With about a dozen acts playing in the moderately-sized Duke Coffeehouse and the tiny Jameson Gallery, the Brickside Festival throws in a few tough decisions, threatens a few long lines, but mostly promises a full-day of good tunes. Still, we’ve got our favorites. Here are five sets we’d be sorry to miss. (Times given are approximate.)—Bryan C. Reed
2:20 p.m. — Whatever Brains @ Duke Coffeehouse
Though they’re the lone local act (announced, at least) at Brickside, Raleigh’s Whatever Brains aren’t plagued by local-opener inexperience. The playfully confrontation post-punk act is readying its second LP, a concise and focused collection of barbed, off-kilter guitars, sneering vocals and anxiety driven rhythm. Live, the Brains play like they’re on the wrong end of a lit fuse, writhing through their songs with urgency and precision, making the most of every second. Their set at Duke Coffeehouse will set a high-bar for the mostly mellower acts to follow.
3:20 p.m. — Sore Eros @ Duke Coffeehouse
Connecticut-based psych-pop act Sore Eros will be a dramatic shift from the Whatever Brains set before theirs. Where the Brains are taut and sinuous, Sore Eros is foggy and drifting. Dreamy fuzz seeps into any space available as bandleader Robert Robinson sings in a distant falsetto. Reminiscent of moody pop acts like Papercuts and Odawas, Sore Eros offers as much ambiance as melody, but never loses its focus in the murk of its hallucinogenic arrangements.
6:20 p.m. — Gunn-Truscinski Duo @ Jameson Gallery
Steve Gunn and John Truscinski are a formidable pair. On his own, Gunn is a restless explorer, delving deep into the sonic capabilities of his instrument as he explores blues, raga, psych-rock and the intersections therein. And leading the duo, Gunn loses none of the sense of adventure in his musical vision-quests. The songs do, however, become more vibrant and muscular with Truscinski’s dynamic, intuitive drumming at the foundation. Playing together, they seem to be as much in conversation with each other as with the cosmos. If you do miss this set (and you really, really shouldn’t), pick up the duo’s newly-minted Ocean Parkway LP, released by the N.C.-based Three Lobed Recordings.
9:20 p.m. — Mark Kozelek @ Jameson Gallery
Mark Kozelek is the type of songwriter whose well-worn voice and gentle way with melody is instantly inviting, and whose songs bear repeat listens. Like his contemporaries Bill Callahan and Phil Elverum, the Sun Kill Moon and Red House Painters leader is a subtly adventurous arranger, but he’s a singer/songwriter at heart. Hearing his sophisticated songcraft in any setting would be a treat, but squeezed into a 60-capacity art gallery? Unmissiable. And more, this is Kozelek’s only scheduled US appearance. His next gigs take him to Israel in May and Australia in June.
11:30 p.m. — Supreme Dicks @ Duke Coffeehouse
Formed in Amherst, Mass. — the same scene that spawned Dinosaur Jr. — Supreme Dicks had their heyday in the late-80s and early-90s when underground rock was littered with new sounds and approaches, as rock as a whole grew out of the ’80s-sheen and the tidal wave of grunge made landfall. To listen to them today, Supreme Dicks suggest Pavement’s measured meandering and Sebadoh’s poetic mumblings, but they also fizz over noisy psych-fuzz and an infectious, eccentric lack of inhibition. Last year, Jagjaguwar released the band’s fully out-there catalog on the comprehensive compilation Breathing and Not Breathing.