Opening night at The Fillmore Underground
Images by: Kevin McGee
In case you’ve been completely out of tune with what’s been going on in the Charlotte music scene, a brand new venue opened up next door to the Fillmore, appropriately named The Underground. Although it’s not technically subterranean, its purpose is to showcase the underground scene and give local and regional bands a place to do their thing (since all of our favorite places seem to be closing). As of Saturday, July 30, the new venue will henceforth serve as a place for the neighborhood scene to come together and watch their friends play the music they love, much like what happened on opening night!
Members of bands from all over North Carolina came to Charlotte on Saturday to watch The Reason You Stayed, Fiftywatt Freight Train, and Something Clever break in the new stage. Bands like Butterfly Corpse, Beyond the Fade, and Messenger Down came out in support of the event, and let me be the first to say, wow. If what went down Saturday night is going to be a regular occurrence, the Underground will be my favorite venue indefinitely.
I got to chat with all three bands before the show started (and if you want to see how cool each and every band was, check out the interviews here), as well as some of the local legends who stopped by. I met a lot of new people that night and every single introduction included either a hug, a warm smile, and/or a handshake that almost broke my hand (y’know,the friendly kind). I’m not going to lie, I’m a pretty shy person, especially when I meet people for the first time, but how could I be on Saturday when everyone was so welcoming! It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve been part of and I am so thankful I was able to be there.
Okay, enough with the sappiness. Let’s get to the show.
The first band to set foot on the Underground stage was Charlotte’s own The Reason You Stayed: a five-piece fierce outfit made entirely of girls. Traditionally, I cringe when other journalists make a point to state when one or more females are in a band, as if it is this unbelievable phenomenon that occurs only on the rarest of occasions. This time, however, I’m deciding to break my own rules because not only is this an all-girl band, but they also work the stage as if they’ve been music industry moguls for decades. TRYS’s youngest member is their fifteen-year old, teal-and-neon-green-haired drummer, although she drums like a veteran. The energy brought to the stage on Saturday was enough to convince the crowd that these girls we were worth their time.
At the start of their show, many patrons held on tightly to their drinks at the wooden bar, chatting with old friends and taking in the venue. When the house music died down and a remixed version of Beyoncé’s “Run The World (Girls)” began playing, the low hum of voices were hushed and dozens of heads turned to the stage. One-by-one, each girl hopped on stage and took their respective spot, running across the stage and getting the crowd amped up for the show, each sporting a different, unnatural hair color: red, purple, teal/neon green, midnight black, and orange. As a blue-haired, dye-loving person, I was completely in love with all of their hair colors. Over the course of their 30 minute set, they played a decent mix of cover songs and original material, although I do wish they had more original stuff to show. You can find more The Reason You Stayed shows here!
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThey exited the stage with a wave of screams and claps following them; that wave died down a bit as the crew set up for the next band: Charlotte legends Fiftywatt Freight Train. I was a bit thrown off by the fact that Fiftywatt Freight Train didn’t close out the night, but then again what did I know? Maybe it was because I saw half the crowd wearing 50WFT t-shirts! Regardless of their slot, it was easy to see why so many of the people were there in support of 50WFT that night; their set was sick!
It was evident from the start that this band was going to deliver a tight set. Even as they performed a brand new song, “I Am Not Afraid,” this four-piece was completely in-sync and totally connected with the crowd. This band demanded attention. Even though the band dropped their newest song “I Am Not Afraid” the night before, the crowd was into it; they danced as if it was classic already! You know a band is worth listening to when their new music becomes a set-list must overnight. Frontman Darby Adkins had the crowd wrapped around his finger as he whipped his curly-do to-and-fro. You can find more Fiftywatt Freight Train shows here! To close out this already extraordinary night, Something Clever was set to finish up what the other two bands started. Something Clever, also based out of Charlotte, is a band that is sort of hard to describe, but in the best way possible. You know those bands who shatter your idea of what live music should look like? Yeah, this is one of those bands.
According to their ReverbNation page, “the reputation of their live shows has demanded quite a bit of attention,” and let me tell you, they were right. Aside from the incredible music bombarding my ears, the energy from the band could be felt all the way in the back; there wasn’t a single person not paying attention to the phenomenon on stage. As long as the Underground continues to provide us with bands like Something Clever, the local scene will continue to grow. Many musicians attended Saturday’s show and it’s bands like this who inspire them to keep working on their craft. You can find more Something Clever shows here!
I’ve lived in the Charlotte area for around ten years and it is beyond me why this was my first experience with all three of these bands. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m keeping tabs on their whereabouts so I don’t miss any more shows/new music, and I suggest you do the same. Saturday night was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been part of and it’s because Charlotte came together over music! I had such a blast hanging with the bands before the show, meeting local legends, and expanding my love and knowledge of the Charlotte music scene. Check the Underground calendar regularly and get out to a show soon so you too can feel the love!
See the full gallery from the night.
See a show at this venue! You can view the calendar here.