The Triangle has become quite the musical linchpin in North Carolina. With countless music venues ranging from independent to commercial, musicians and artists across the country pass through the Triangle each year, leaving behind their mark in North Carolina music history. For the incoming freshman or the seasoned senior who would like to dip their toes into the proverbial waters of the Triangle music scene, here is an introduction to some of the best places around to see a show.
A downtown Durham staple, the Pinhook is a bar and intimate live music venue host to up-and-coming performers and seasoned musicians alike. Founded by Loamlands frontwoman and Durhamite Kym Register in 2008, the venue has since seen dance parties, drag shows and experimental music acts grace its stage. Come for the music or the giant PBR-clutching panda that adorns the wall.
Sam Evian, June 10
Multi-instrumentalist, North Carolina native and New York inhabitant Sam Evian is on tour promoting his upcoming album “You, Forever.” Highlighting themes of love, heartache and self-image, Evian seeks to connect with audiences through an easygoing listening experience. “Every song reflects a state of being or experience,” he said. “What does it reveal? I'm in love, I'm restless, I'm insecure about my place in society. I want to be successful.” Evian’s sound is a nod to the past, bringing on a sort of breezy nostalgia that pairs well with contended solitude. “I hope the album feels cool and easy. I wanted it to feel right for driving across the country, or walking around alone at night,” Evian said of the album. “I wanted the record to sound and feel like it came from another time. But I'm no historian.” So why come to the show? “Because we've got a good beat that you can dance to,” he said. “My band hits all the marks. They are beautiful people and players, and they bring the tunes to life in a way I couldn't have imagined.”
Poor Pie, June 20
Chapel Hill based “aggressive” pop-rock trio are back with the debut of the “Poor Pie” EP, the first since the release of their 2016 album “Roomple.” Allegedly inspired by a recipe for Poor Man’s Pie, the trio regularly tours venues across the Triangle. Rife with enough power-chords and distortion to appease audiences, “Poor Pie” is a sufficient introduction to the local music scene.
Motorco Music Hall
This former 20th century car dealership boasts a little more breathing room as Durham’s largest music venue. After remaining empty for nearly a decade, the venue underwent renovations to become a live music club and bar in 2010. Co-founder Jeremy Roth noted in a 2010 interview with IndyWeek that one of their founding principles is convenience for Durhamites. “We hate driving to Raleigh and Carrboro to see shows," he said. Ever since, Motorco has seen national headliners including artists signed to Durham’s premiere independent music label, Merge Records.
The Revelers, July 22
Louisiana-bred country-Cajun group, “The Revelers” have been at the forefront of a Louisiana cultural revolution for the last eight years. Self-branded Cajun swamp-pop-zydeco, the sextet bring Louisiana roots with a country flair. The Revelers have toured internationally and their 2016 Grammy nomination for best regional music is a testament to their remarkable group dynamic.
This unassuming venue has hosted perhaps some of the most iconic names in music history, including Nirvana, Joan Baez and Iggy Pop. Located about a mile from UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus in downtown Carrboro, Cat’s Cradle is arguably one of the Triangle’s best-known hubs for live music. Over the last 40 years, Cat’s Cradle has maintained an undeniable presence in the Triangle’s music scene.
Kurt Vile & The Violators, July 11
Former lead guitarist of The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile has amassed success in his solo career. Signed to Matador records, he recently released the collaborative album, “Lotta Sea Lice” alongside Courtney Barnett. Vile’s sound has been described as rambunctious yet charming and his valiant ambition as a producer and musician make Vile a creative force to be reckoned with.
Car Seat Headrest, Sept. 21
Car Seat Headrest’s 2011 album has been re-imagined in the band’s latest re-release of “Twin Fantasy.” Although the album deals with heavy topics such as teenage heartache and longing, the album tackles them with explosive arrangements and witty lyricism. Dripping with nostalgia, “Twin Fantasy’s” lo-fi production nods to such acts as The Strokes and Pavement and its raw and euphoric snapshot of adolescence is a powerful statement of what it means to be young and heartbroken.
A small rock club that doubles as a dive bar, Local 506 is drenched in equal parts beer and music history. As one of the older resident venues, Local 506 first opened in 1992 on Chapel Hill’s infamous Franklin Street, emphasizing an accessible live local music scene. The club’s laid-back atmosphere generally draws a younger audience from across the Triangle.
White Denim, June 20
Hailing from Austin, Texas, this rock quartet pulls inspiration from psychedelic rock, blues, punk rock, progressive rock, jazz and experimental rock. Although they haven’t released a record since their EP “Takes Place in Your Work” in 2011, White Denim has been working meticulously on their upcoming release of “Performance” this August.
When Kings reopened in 2010 after the 2007 demolition of its original site, the venue had already experienced nearly a decade of success, with national acts including The Shins and Calexico making stops at Kings on tour. Even with a myriad of venue options around Raleigh, Kings became a mainstay for artistic innovation in the area and has remained an integral establishment in Raleigh’s music sphere.
Lilac Shadows, June 30
Durham-based Lilac Shadows are asking fans to mark their calendar for June 13. They don’t reveal much, not even an album name, but they want listeners to know that something is happening. The quartet’s moody psychedelic sound has defined the band’s discography and as far as expectations go, they’ve certainly built a fair amount of curiosity.
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