By Amanda Caines
Weenie Roast 2015 kicked off at 1 p.m. with an introduction by the illustrious Divakar of 106.5’s local/indie show 90 Minutes Plus. As he pointed out, he has done so for all the past weenies over the twenty years the station has been in Charlotte.
First up was JAGGERMOUTH, the Local Weenie, who I had to watch from outside the gate. With very mobile members, the Charlotte hometowners threw down with that bluesy retro rock style that’s popular now. As a cap-off to show their rock wrath, they destroyed a guitar at the end of their set.
Up next, KOPECKY definitely didn’t smash their vintage Fenders during their set, but they did smash up an old-meets-new pop/rock sound with their tunes.
The set was full of hipster anthems, complete with reverb-heavy guitar solos, retro beats, and whistling. Vocals were a high point of this band: female and male lead vocals with awesome backing vocal harmonies, having up to five different possible voices at any given time. Solid talent for sure.
LANGHORNE SLIM AND THE LAW infused a punky bluegrass feel with an old-fashioned upright piano and fast-paced rhythms, playing tunes from their new record The Spirit Moves. Emotive frontman Langhonre Slim (Sean Skolnick) did his best to engage the mob in the pit.
He came down to pit level to teach the “ooh-oohs” of one song to the smiling faces up front, and even jumped out into lawn territory for a while to give the lawn dwellers some love.
Guitar/drums duo IAMDYNAMITE entertained their loyal fan base with a series of several radio singles. The small-but-excited crowd-pod at the front of the stage was bouncy and energetic, with a few isolated fans fanning out across the expanse of faces.
The diehard fans, though, were as into it as any fans so far. One of the guys announced that they had ties to Raleigh, so the Charlotte stop was a semi-homecoming for the duo.
It took awhile for CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN to get started back on the main stage, as their roadies were gripped in a whirlwind of technical difficulties with the lead guitar. Finally the band came out, dressed all in black, and the singer offered an apology, imploring the crowd to forgive and rock out in their short time left.
The guitar-driven rock boasted no synths gumming up the mix, and while the band’s look was a mish-mash of ’90s style (singer/guitarist Ryan “Van” McCann definitely had the Kurt Cobain stance perfected), the rock filed in line with the modern alternative style that pervades today’s rock airwaves.
X AMBASSADORS definitely get the hardest onstage-rock-out award for the day.
They came out bouncing and thrashing like a hard rocking typhoon of bass hits, guitar, and striking vocals. Stage presence like that reminds me why I love live music.
They drifted into hipster “meh” territory for a bit after their explosive entrance song, but finished strong with the singer jumping down to barricade level to sing directly into fan faces, which just might have melted.
Under a moon bearing a cat with a bullet in its eye, BLUES TRAVELER did their thing with harmonica virtuoso might! Supporting a new album Blow Up the Moon, John Popper and pals played the title track with an aside that it was their first time performing it in front of people. Cool, a premiere! Their new music tends more towards “chill” music with some reggae notes smoked into it.
There’s still that signature harmonica that lets the world know it’s Blues Traveler, and the increasingly drunken weenie-goers clearly enjoyed it, singing and gyrating semi-awkwardly along, but anyway. The only disappointment was that Popper ‘s collection of red solo cups on his side table didn’t indicate a coming game of stage beer pong. Oh well.
When the drummer from MUTEMATH gaff tapes his headphone monitors to his head, CLEARLY things are about to get real!
Dominating sub-bass hits rattled the rib cages of everyone within a few yards of the stage as the band powered through their set with a range from quiet reserve to balls-to-the-wall energy.
Drummer Darren King clearly needed that gaff tape since he beat the skins throughout the set like a Red-Bull-crazed Animal.
Clearly excited about the release of their new album Vitals in October, the guys put on a great show, both musically and in stage presence.
Charlotte talent once again took the stage in the form of Chris Shinn, singer of LIVE.
He announced his Charlottean pride to all who would hear. Anyone worried that he wasn’t the original singer found out quickly that he fills the shoes well. He slayed every style necessary to complete a Live set, from the low, tender tones of “Lightning Crashes” to the high-pitched howls of “I Alone” and “Lakini’s Juice.”
He took a quick trip out to the lawn, allowing fans along the way to take paparazzi-esque cell phone pics like this one:
Most of the songs they played were ones that any late-’90s-to-early-2000s kid easily recognized — good, authentic, guitar-driven post-grunge hard rock.
Coming out in the hipster uniform of black skinny jeans and button-up collared shirts, ATLAS GENIUS is the poster child band for exactly what I don’t like about modern (air quotes) “rock.”
In their defense, they were fun to watch and singer Keith Jeffery interacted well with the fans, asking us all to crouch down and bounce along during a particular section of a song. As the first tiny rays of sunshine peeked out from behind the clouds that hung over the day’s festivities, Atlas Genius rang out reverb-saturated guitar licks from their very recent release Inanimate Objects, which hit the stores two weeks ago.
BLEACHERS could easily fool an unfamiliar crowd into thinking they were straight from the ’80s.
From the synths to the snare drum sound to the tone of the guitar solos, it was A-Flock-of-Seagulls-meets-Bruce-Springsteen reborn! Their tunes engaged and entertained in a friendly, simple way, and they positively killed it on a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
At one point in the set, a guitar/sax duel occurred, which probably hasn’t been seen since the ’90s. The retro rock feel of Bleachers was a welcome change of pace amongst the rest of the day’s musical offerings.
We would love to show you some great photos of PASSION PIT, but alas, we weren’t special enough to be on their photo list, so here’s an amateur cell phone photo from afar.
The band’s brand of electro-pop entertained the crowd and inspired even more intense awkward gyrations from the beer-soaked masses. With all-synth instrumentation at times, save for their (incredibly muted, sound-shielded) live drummer, their set came across as more of a DJ dance party or pop star performance than a rock show. Too much programming. Too much falsetto singing. But maybe you kids should just get off my lawn…
Capping off the end of the night on a high, hard-rocking note, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS jumped onstage with new(ish) vocalist Chester Bennington of Linkin Park renown.
So he’s definitely no Scott Weiland (though he has his moments of sounding identical), but once the eye-narrowing moment of “Wait, this sounds different!” passes, we realize he may not be Weiland, but he IS Chester-fucking-Bennington which is also awesome. He held his own on the old tunes, and sounded especially in his element on the newer tunes from their High Rise EP.
The other original members played near-flawlessly and authentically, adding a few noodles and doodles to enhance the live experience. After playing a song the same way for 20 years, a lot of fun little musical detours are probably a welcome change for seasoned performers and a treat for fans. Bennington and guitarist Dean DeLeo brought out a stripped-down, nearly-acoustic version of the mega-hit “Plush” and absolutely nailed it!
From a stage-antics perspective, bassist Robert DeLeo is still as spry as ever, running around all over the stage and maintaining an athletic amount of movement throughout the set. Bennington also made conscious effort to run around between rock star poses and give high-fives and handshakes to all across the front edge of the stage, and all of the members relished sharing guitar picks and drumsticks with the pit.
Most national bands are pretty stationary onstage, especially ones who have been around for awhile, but STP was on point with stage presence and all four brought the musical chops to win over the critics of the new lineup. They’ve still “got it” after all these years.
We weenie-goers were very lucky that the rain waited until the very end of the night, though the dark clouds loomed all day. All in all, a great Weenie with great bands and a fitting tribute to 106.5’s 20th anniversary year!