By Alison Murphy
Fall is in full swing now, and that means this is the best time to see live music locally. This time of year Asheville is always bustling with a tremendous amount of musical activity. Every weekend, and even most weeknights there is a wide variety of decently priced shows to attend. My goal in these upcoming weeks is to see as much good music as possible and then bring it back to you! Sometimes it is hard to choose, but I will try to see any band that I think will put on a good show. I will not limit myself to certain genres, because I believe that we can learn from any good musician, no matter the style.
This past week was the first of many exciting weeks to come. To start out my fall break I traveled to the Orange Peel on Wednesday October 8 to see the psychedelic antics of Of Montreal. I haven’t seen the Orange Peel this packed since the Disco Biscuits sold out show last 4/20. Everyone was dressed to impress at Of Montreal. I saw guys in wedding dresses and skirts, and girls in animal print and neon. Of Montreal performed fantastically. They played a lot of songs from their Sunlandic Twins and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer albums, including my favorite songs “Oslo in the Summertime,” and “Let’s Pretend We Don’t Exist.” Their music is full of sexually suggestive lyrics that would be inappropriate coming from anyone other than Of Montreal and Snoop Dogg. I particularly enjoyed their keyboardist. She was steady and colorful with her chords and her solos are always tasteful and exciting. I not only love Of Montreal for their music, but also for the crazy things they do on stage. At one point in the show they had a large, orange papier mache monster with humongous arms running around on stage with fairies. Of Montreal’s lead guitar player was wearing a centaur costume. Needless to say, the crowd loved it, and danced ’til the last note dropped.
The following Wednesday, October 15, was one of the most anticipated shows of this fall: Boombox at Stella Blue. Their name says it all. This funky duo from Alabama takes elements from retro disco music, funk, jam and electronica to form a style all their own. Zion Godchaux on vocals and guitar and Russ Randolph, “Captain of the decks”, are so impressive live because between the two of them they produce quite a lot of music. Wednesday night was chalk full of sick beats, funky guitar licks and erotic vocals. Stella Blue was a great place to have this band perform because of its intimate setting, sweet sound system and fantastic lights. But, beware, Stella Blue is usually 21+. Boombox did start a little too late for a Wednesday night (11 o’clock) and they ended up playing past 2 a.m. The crowd that night was one of the best I’ve seen. Everyone was attentive, looking good and dancing funky. Overall, this was a killer show, and in the words of one fan “the best Boombox show, ever!”
I had the pleasure of being invited to the Garage at Biltmore on Friday to see two fresh bands from the Asheville area play. I was thoroughly impressed by both bands for their new ideas, organization and sound quality. The first band was the Agobi Project with Andrew Kirk on Guitar, David Krantz on keys and Nick Wankel on drums. These guys played a great set, which I caught half of. They had a really nice, chill vibe to them, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from them as they grow. The Agobi Project will be playing the official Bassnectar after-party on Halloween at the Garage, and will also be opening up for Sci-Fi at the Emerald Lounge on Nov. 14. The closing band for the night, Funk Sway, absolutely blew me away. I had no expectations for this band, had heard nothing about them, so they were definitely a pleasant surprise. Funk Sway filled up the entire stage with their two-lead vocalists, guitar, bass, drums, keys, dj and three back-up vocalists. All of their songs were well crafted and performed. The two front guys mostly rapped, but sang as well and their lyrics were positive, uplifting and clever. Inspirational hip-hop is how I would describe it. The three back-up singers had lovely voices that added some character and color to the group. The rhythm section was obviously well rehearsed and quite knowledgeable in jazz, funk and fusion. Funk Sway was everything a band should be: tight, together, tasteful, rehearsed and inspirational. As the show came to a close, slowly band members began to exit the stage and the rhythm section closed out the night with a groovin’ jam session. The Garage at Biltmore is a small venue that fits about 300 people, they serve reasonably priced good beer, and there is an amazing amount of art on the walls to look at. It is a small venue, so they don’t have high quality lights and there were a few sound problems throughout the night, but nothing major. If you have not been to the Garage at Biltmore, I highly recommend you go.
I hope that I can inspire some of you to get out of our small town and go see live music. There is a lot going on in our area that most people don’t know about. So, be sure to check out our upcoming music calendar, and go have fun!