Divakar: Charlotte Bands Love You
By: Amanda Caines
Throngs of musicians and underground music fans gathered together Saturday night, August 22, at The Chop Shop in NoDa to celebrate a major milestone anniversary for one of Charlotte’s most prominent and dedicated local music supporters: radio deejay Divakar Shukla of 106.5 The End. The year 2015 marks his 20th anniversary of hosting the Sunday-night “90 Minutes” and later “90 Minutes Plus” local, regional, and independent label radio show. The level of enthusiasm and musicianship displayed over the course of the night clearly fit the bill for such an occasion, and like Divakar’s Sunday-night playlists, the bands ran the gamut of the sorts of “rock” that Charlotte has to offer.
One of Charlotte’s most notorious music acts warmed up the eager crowd on the outdoor stage — Funky Geezer. His mix of comedy, trippy synth breaks and a few surprises is always welcome on a show like this, and he kept it going for quite awhile, entertaining the smokers and those out enjoying the open air.
Hard-rock band tattermask kicked off the night on the front stage, taking no prisoners and representing the heavier side of Divakar’s playlist — he’s played the band’s singles ever since their “garage band” demo EP of 2008. Keeping it heavy, funky hard rockers ISH strummed (or slapped!) the inaugural chords on the big stage. Guitarist Todd Langdon of ISH had a big hand in putting the show together, along with The Chop Shop’s “Girl Friday” Tracie Nasta — kudos to both of them for an awesome array of bands and festivities!
Next up, The Waves brought their retro-inspired, groove-driven rock (and singer/guitarist Hayley Moran rocked some awesome retro bell-bottoms!) and ear-to-ear grins throughout the set. The cheekily-titled “Lu Fjord,” a reunion of some members of rock/alt-country band Lou Ford, who quenched their thirsting fans’ desire for mellow-rock nostalgia. Radio Lola lit up the Front Stage thereafter, pouring absolute buckets of fiery emotion into their all-too-short set of bluesy alt-rock tunes.
Long-time veterans of the Charlotte scene Grown Up Avenger Stuff carried on the torch of high-gear, alt-rock tunes, adding a hard-rock edge. The Avenger crew put together a great mix of their newer tunes and some older tunes as well, including “Cards,” which singer Deirdre Kroener noted was their first single that Divakar played on “90 Minutes” several years ago.
The Bleeps (originally billed as a semi-reunion of Bums Lie) infused some grungy punk rock into the lineup, with singer Cullen West wearing a shirt that said “Bums Lie Suxx.” Last but not least, the late night crowd got an earful of The Sammies and their brand of ’90s-inspired alternative.
In addition to the musical festivities capping off a great night, Chop Shop owner Jay Tilyard proudly presented Divakar with a PBR-branded guitar autographed by all the bands that performed. From the smile on Divakar’s face when he received the gift and Tilyard’s heartfelt thanks, he obviously realized just how much he means to the hundreds, or even thousands of bands in the Charlotte music scene that he has helped over his 20-year tenure at WEND-FM.