By: Lane Lovegrove
Chris Peigler Punk Rock Party February 14 and 15 Tremont Music Hall a benefit for Hazel Peigler.
This was a celebration of the life of local musician Chris Peigler which brought together a unique collection of North Carolina artists to share a stage at the Tremont Music Hall. Chris was widely considered one of the most supportive members of Charlotte’s music scene for many decades. It is said his passing left a hole in this community that others hope to fill with the music that he helped keep alive.
FRIDAY, FEB. 14th
Robin Lincoln, Jo’Ana Smith, Joshua Mason at merch table for a cause.
The first night of the Punk Rock Party was a little bit underwhelming in attendance because a few people were still snowed in. It was Valentine’s Day night and I’m certain a few people felt the scene love. Peigler’s long-term friend Robin Lincoln set up a merch booth to sell Peigler’s Suicide Watch Records remaining back catalog of music and T-shirts. I bought a “Rock Hell Radio” T-shirt; I’ve been a fan for years before meeting Peigler and didn’t know he was as actively involved with the station and its shows. Others came in wearing Peigler shirts, including Joshua Mason of the band Smelly Felly whose commemorative shirt donned an image of Peigler on the front. All merch and door proceeds went to Hazel Peigler and the Peigler family to pay funeral expenses as well as offset the costs associated with Chris’ mother’s long-term health needs.
Soon enough we heard the strains of guitar soundchecks and knew the show had begun. Up first was Aloha Broha. Aloha Broha played a set with both Andy and Dave Loebs but after a couple songs Dave moved over to drums and Muerto Federales came up on bass to play. They said a some nice words about Peigler getting them gigs after they first formed and played a pretty straight forward version of punk rock inspired by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
After Aloha Broha was Chalkies. Chalkies began their set with singer Mark Lynch describing Peigler as someone who “Understood punk rock… I don’t have many friends, he said, but he was one of them.” The Chalkies killed it that night. Lynch did all of his signature moves setting Chalkies apart from other bands; it’s almost as if Lynch wanted to portray this air of depraved indifference toward his performance. He dropped the microphone (a cardinal sin for sound men), rolled around on stage, darted from side to side and wandered through the crowds, all things which led me to view Chalkies as less a rock band and more as a weird bunch of apathetics bent on striking non-rock star moves. Lynch reminded me of a throwback to the golden age of grunge where a nonchalant attitude of indifference was common place, especially amongst the likes of The Replacements and The Muffs, whom Chalkies remind me of.
After Chalkies, My So Called Band’s Ryan McGinnis and Christian Loebs began their set a little nervously. McGinnis explained that he had last been on this Tremont stage eight years previously with My So Called Band and had left because his social anxiety kept him from doing his best live performance. But before they began, Loebs looked over to his left and noticed the vacancy left by Piegler’s absence. McGinnis noticed it, too, and brought the painting Kelly Keith had donated to the silent auction, the same one which adorned the cover of this months Crowd Surfer Magazine. They placed the portrait right where Peigler would have been had he been around to play with his ex-band mates. After a few songs from the classic My So Called Band playlist (thank you Christian for dedicating “Live and Die in South Carolina” to me, it was an honor to hear you guys play it live!), McGinnis and Loebs finally loosened up. At some point members of Aloha Broha got on stage and lifted Peigler’s portrait up in honor and the crowd cheered. This was one of the best performances of the entire weekend. McGinnis and Loebs ended most triumphantly Friday night.
The last band that night was Moenda, a more experimental band, which coincides with Peigler’s appreciation for unusual and avant garde music. Moenda play noise-scape instrumentals and took everyone away from the punk rock ‘n’ roll and into a different realm entirely. They even included an amped up distorted oboe which gave them a very psychedelic sound. Moenda’s departure from the punk served as a great conclusion to the evening.
SATURDAY, FEB. 15th
The first section of bands all played on the concrete floor across from the bar in an effort to accommodate foot traffic and break up the monotony of seeing all the day’s acts on one stage. A good crowd gathered out front on the ramp and deck area outside Tremont. Everyone was happy to be out from under the icy blanket of snow which covered Charlotte until only recently.
Smelly Felly opened the show with her folk punk covers of country songs. Felly Castelow sings and plays guitar while Joshua Mason backs her up with his banjo. Despite their punk background, Smelly Felly is laid back and the least bit unmoved by the type of tempos that drive traditional punk rock. They are relaxing, humorous, and heartfelt. Think Ani DiFranco raised on a steady diet of Fugazi and traditional working class skinhead Oi.
The next band up, Sidewalks, proceeded to rip the crowd into a sudden reminder of what pop punk was. Sidewalks is a fairly new band comprised of former members of The Lights Fluorescent, My Captain, and VIA. They are so tight, its refreshing to see a band as practiced as Sidewalks. They hit notes as heavily as they do while still maintaining as much melody. They remind me of this one particular classic ‘90s era band Unherd. It was a privilege to see these guys twice in one week at this show and before at the Milestone Ninja Party/ 25 Minutes To Go Reunion. I talked with guitarist Andre Francois and drummer Bobby Matthews after their set about their thoughts on Peigler. “Chris Peigler was that guy that was there for everyone. I don’t know what was going on in his personal life but he supported all of us through and through and it meant a lot to us which is why we are here,” said Francois. “I think people notice and people respect the fact that someone tries that hard and is that appreciateive about our music and scene our culture and everything.”
The Fill Ins came up after Sidewalks and, I have to say, they always rock. Alex Stiff has moved over to full frontman duties while new bassist Captain Nunn held the low end down and kept the beat and rhythm in time. I asked Tiff Tantrum of No Anger Control what she thought of their set, “I was watching some kids earlier when the Fill Ins were playing and I saw just the energy and how they were getting into the music and slowly started a circle pit around me… I feel like this is exactly what Chris would have wanted,” said Tantrum.
IED came up next. They are probably Charlotte’s most beloved ska band, everyone who saw them commented to me about infectious their playing was and how much they miss IED playing shows. Seriously more than three people have told me how much they miss IED. This was my first IED show so I’m glad I was able to witness this reunion. They play catchy as hell ska punk. Since the crowd was so happy to have this band back, it kind of made me wonder why they ever broke up. I’d like to see them again so maybe this will herald in tidings of good things to come?
Southside Punx opened up the show on the Tremont Casbah stage. They are a solid three-piece band who share John D Ehlers of No Anger Control. Southside Punx tore it up and I think everyone was excited to hear how great the band sounded over on a wider stage raised above everyone else. Southside Punx play a pretty straight up brand of hardcore street punk similar to The Circle Jerks or U.S. Bombs. They were a well loved band, these Southside Punx, bordering on local hero status of sorts. Every crowd member was right up front going completely nuts over Southside’s heartfelt playing.
All Rise took to the stage and blasted through their set of high energy tunes. What I like about All Rise is their basic approach to punk. It’s not incredibly catchy nor is it overly simplistic. They just stick to straight-up speed, aggressive playing, and screeching vocals. And for punk that’s just what you need. All Rise have played for several years now and have maintained a dedicated following.
Dickwolf came up next they were a drum and guitar duo who played speedy thrash metal and power punk. The band hails from Greensboro, NC which means their following here wasn’t as familiar as the local bands who played on Saturday. They were hard driving and really burned the Casbah stage right up. Singer/ guitarist Jerrod Smith mentioned that the few times they’ve played in Charlotte, Peigler was a driving factor. Smith went on to say, “He (Chris) always supported our band it’s fitting that we’re here now because of him.” Dickwolf played the kind of set you want to grab a quick PBR tall boy to have on hand while you cheer along with their raucous rock ‘n’ roll.
Dirty South Revolutionaries came after Dickwolf and were fresh from a mini-tour up north with The Seduction having most recently played in Holyoke, Mass. They literally pulled in from the road after they dropped off their tour mates in Sparta, just in time to do a quick setup and sound check before blasting into their celebrated set of thrash metal/ hardcore. They played their most well-known songs “Dead Yuppie Hipsters,” “Poor and Dangerous,” “Straight to Hell,” and dedicated their song “Open Eyes” to Peigler. If you’ve never seen D.S.R. (as they are commonly referred to) the most frequent comparison is that if Richmond, VA’s AVAIL was a metal band.
This was ANTiSEEN’s last show with what’s being considered the “Impossible Line-up” of both Greg Clayton and Sir Barry Hannibal in the band. Clayton was originally replaced by Hannibal 25 years ago. Now, Hannibal is ANTiSEEN’s bassist and Clayton is currently filling in on drums until ANTiSEEN’s newest member ‘The Gooch’ can take over the traps in April. The first non-band member to ever play on an ANTiSEEN record was Peigler, who played keyboards on “Noise for The Sake of Noise.” Levi Erikson of No Anger Control and long-time ANTiSEEN fan noted, “This is the most active I can remember the band being in a few years, at least since the New Blood era. It’s the most I’ve seen them play.” ANTiSEEN played a mix of favorites such as “Today Your Love/ Storm Trooper” and “Fornication,” and were in great shape having just wrapped up gigs in Chapel Hill and other parts of North Carolina.
No Anger Control came up after ANTiSEEN and the crowd was very ready. Tiff Tantrum is a powerhouse of a singer who belts out her lyrics with gusto. It is easy to garner comparisons to other female singers such as Wendy O Williams of the Plasmatics or Mia Zapata of The Gits (both may they rest in peace) but Tiff does her own thing, too. Her moves are low, she spends a lot of time crouched down, coiled with energy and can really relate to the crowd seeing them at face level. Peigler’s impact was far reaching, especially to Tiff, who described to me her impressions of meeting him, “… when I met Chris Peigler I knew I fit in. He came up to me and introduced himself and gave me the biggest hug– he had seen No Anger Control– I hadn’t been playing with them long and just went on and on about old school punk with me and after that every show I went to we would talk about music. We would talk about how he felt about the scene and I truly felt like in the year that I’ve been here he made me feel like I belonged here, like I needed to be here and that’s why I stayed. That’s why I decided not to move because that was supposed to be transitional but meeting someone like Chris Peigler and seeing the love he had and the love everyone around here had for him. That shows me what kind of impact he made and today is our chance to show everybody else how we feel about him and carry on that legacy.” Tiff said after the show.
THE X-PERIMENT was the final band of the weekend and by this point I was exhausted. I enjoyed their jazz/ rock fusion. This was the most non-punk band of the entire party which kept the theme of Peigler’s vast interests and broad spectrum of tastes. The three-piece included a saxophone and played a mix of hip-hop free verse, soul, and funk. Their presence tonight really bookended a fantastic event.
Fans and friends of Chris come out to show support.
The weekend showcased the variety in Charlotte’s music scene and brought together the city’s music lovers to pay tribute to a legend that was taken too soon. I’ve written much about Chris Peigler as a friend, his contribution to our scene, and what it all meant in the bigger picture of life and rock ‘n’ roll. This two day “Peigler Punk Party” was a way for all of us to not only say goodbye but also to say hello! Hello opportunity to meet new friends. Hello new bands I’ve never seen before! Hello old friend I haven’t hung with since the last My So Called Band show! Hello new buddy I’ve only met on Facebook but now I’m drinking with in real life! Hello world without Chris Peigler in it, you are scary as hell but also strangely welcoming and familiar.
The Fillins http://www.reverbnation.com/thefillins
South Side Punx http://www.reverbnation.com/southsidepunx
No Anger Control http://www.reverbnation.com/noangercontrol
Smelly Felly https://www.facebook.com/SmellyFelly/info