As Seen From Space Part 2: the Lost Columns (Published Aug ’08 by G-Vegas Magazine)

by Corbie Hill

Over the past few weeks I've learned something the hard way... you have to live in Greenville to write about Greenville. Let me explain: I was Hawk Season. I wrote the column that started out, innocently enough, as a monthly music column and descended quickly into the realms of serious Gonzo madness. I've known for a while that I would be moving away to the Triangle, Carrboro to be precise, and my plan was to write a triumphant final column under my actual name before letting the next Hawk Season take over. Yes, there is a new Hawk Season. He's going to be writing in the September issue and beyond.

Give him hell. I plan to.

The big plan did as all big plans do... it didn't work. I've been through three drafts of my final column, the last one a dreadful chimaera of disjointed segments, and I'm starting over.

I moved to Greenville in July of 2006 and I didn't want to be there. See, I grew up in Eastern NC, in the sweltering wilderness of Pamlico County, and it wasn't a pleasant thought to be back. Just two years of this, just long enough for my wife to get through grad school, and we would be out. We'd just come from Asheville and we were a little spoiled. I didn't know it, but Asheville's music scene had gone into a tailspin that same summer and the world class scene we'd been closely involved in was faltering. The Smashing Pumpkins didn't help, either. They were actually the death knell. They "drew the attention of the world" to Asheville in a way that was only detrimental to local music. This is no paradox, dig it: Asheville's independent rock bands had been slowly clawing their way to the nation's attention when the Pumpkins' string of Orange Peel shows torpedoed all this progress, forcing the local scene to start over at the bottom of the ladder.

It's getting there again, Asheville's Drone Valley festival in September promises to rekindle some of our old glory. Not an excuse for complacency, but a sign of hope.

So that was the summer of '06... drinking PBR and resenting the new town, watching the old town's scene slide slowly downhill from a distance of five hours. Shootings and stabbings across the street at King's Arms, employment hard to land. I tried to find music downtown, but I couldn't find anyone who wrote their own songs.

The drought was not to last.

I don't remember who told me, but I remember my first Spazz show. The drummer from the two piece I played in up in Asheville drove down and we played a set. I had never seen anything like the place. It reminded me vaguely of Asheville's now defunct El Nuevo showspace, but it was huge! I don't know where these people had been hiding, but they knew their music and they came out to shows and actually acted like they enjoyed themselves.

So we had our venue, a place to go see music, but we'd acquired a taste for good beer up in Asheville and it was killing us to have to roll with what Lowe's Food had in stock. I mean, their selection was okay, but the personal touch was gone. It's good to be able to talk beer while you buy it, and this isn't possible with a 17 year old stock clerk who doesn't know the difference between a Lambic and an Imperial Porter. We were walking, my wife and I, when we saw an empty storefront across Charles Blvd from some worn down houses that would, incidentally, be torn down to make way for the Sheetz. Weird houses, dead kittens everywhere. The Sheetz I prefer to those creepy houses.

Shut up, Corbie. Finish the story.

I remember saying it would be perfect for someone to open up a real beer store in that spot and my wife agreed with me... but she said it was impossible. We had this sinking feeling we were the only beer snobs in town. I had this image in my mind of a little shop, packed to overflowing with swank Colorado beer, East Coast microbrews, and especially sweet stuff I'd never heard of, with nary a Natty or Miller Lite case. Impossible, I know.

Well, 21 Eleven opened up and our jaws hit the ground. Now 21 Eleven's doing so well that Lowe's Food has invested in a banner declaring "the biggest beer selection in town!" It's only the biggest, Lowe's, because you guys stock thirty varieties of Budweiser. Run scared, guys. You can't keep up with Richard's prices.

We started getting our beer at 21 Eleven and our music from the Spazz. Word from Asheville was not good and Greenville was being nicer and nicer to us. 21 Eleven went from being our favorite beer store to our favorite beer store/live music venue and we were making friends with some of the coolest people on Earth. That's when I learned the age old mystery of Greenville... it's a lousy town, of that we can all agree, but it's filled somehow with people whose equal you will never meet. What's up with that? There's a camaraderie among my Greenville friends not unlike the Rebellion from Star Wars. Just because Palpatine runs the show doesn't mean we voted for him.

So we lived with our villains. Nay, we flourished. We rode our bikes through traffic, laughing our asses off through close calls and blown out tires. We went to shows that kept going until 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning and showed up to work at 8:00 the next day, somehow more functional on the job with a head full of good music than on days we went to bed at midnight.

It came to be July of 2008, it had been two years. The house stood empty and a gigantic Penske truck idled in the yard. I didn't know what I would do without the Empire, I still don't know. I'm in Carrboro now and things here are, so far, quite easy. There are bike lanes the width of a Prius and hippies wandering everywhere, that glazed look in their eyes that says "I saved the world today, what have you been doing?"

The move has been hard, but I feel good about the future. I know this time I have not left a doomed scene, the Greenville underground will flourish and I'll be back every chance I get. No matter how many spaces are raided and shut down or how many times downtown resists the push of original music it cannot die. Obi-Wan Kenobi smiles at Officer Vader and puts down his light saber. "If you strike me down..."

Thanks Richard and Jeff for putting on the shows, you guys are in my rock and roll hall of fame for sure, and thanks Kevin (aka DJ Dog) for being such a rad editor. Hawk Season put some stuff in his magazine that, frankly, even I was a little scared of but he had the faith to print it.

Godspeed, rock on, and I'll see you around.


An Open Letter to Musicians Everywhere (published in G-Vegas Magazine, July '08)

Because even your best friend won't tell you.

Hello, Tony Hawk Season here. You're all doing it wrong. Sorry to break it to you, but it's better that you hear it from me. I'm with the government, and I'm here to help.


In this information age, all weapons at your disposal are armed and dangerous. The press is the prime example. If used properly, the press is your best friend and key to better shows and exposure. This is especially tough in Greenville, where objective criticism is damn near impossible to find. In a town without critics, you're going to have to go in over your head (usually a good place to learn to swim) and get yourself reviewed by a regional independent. As a musician, you need the harshest scrutiny you can stand. No one takes one sided reviews seriously, for one, and you will get your best publicity nuggets from articles by seasoned critics. Sure, anyone can get reviewed by their friend. Get reviewed by someone with experience. Get reviewed by someone who doesn't even like what you play. If you can get them to say one nice thing and nine negative things, the one nice thing will be of guaranteed veracity and quality.


People don't understand this, more than most things. There are bands that would rather have their start playing to the backs of sixty heads in a bar, and that's fine, but there is no future in it. It's the bands that play in front of fifteen or twenty music lovers at 21 Eleven or the Spazz (the fronts of their heads, too) that are getting written up by the BBC, Pitchfork Media, Spin Magazine and the Boston Globe and this is a fact. You don't have to be huge to sell out, lots of people start selling out while they're still unknowns. Don't take the easy way out, don't concentrate on filling Boli's with the sounds of Third Eye Blind and Cracker covers. Remember, Robin Hood always wins. Do you want to be in the same camp as the Silent Years, Make a Rising, Darren Deicide, Caspian, and Emperor X? Easy money is easy, yes, but it smudges all over your soul and is impossible to wash out.

The Deathset was a featured band on myspace two weeks after their latest Spazz show, to provide a concrete example. I can't say the same for the bands playing downtown.


Fooled you! The title was sarcastic, as there are none. You're as capable as you think you are. You'd be amazed, but some of the best known bands out there bluffed their way to the top. Find someone who is totally out of your league, say a booking agent at a really good venue, and convince them you'll bring twice the crowd you know you can bring... then find a way to make those people appear. The best way to improve is to make impossible promises, then make them come true. Determination trumps everything, so aim as high as you dare and get to work on your poker face.


Don't waste time labeling yourself and especially avoid the buzzword of the day. Sure, you'll get your fifteen minutes, but then what? You practically stamp an expiration date on your product (yes, music is a product) through overclassification. In two years, people will be cracking up, saying "I can't believe we used to listen to bands that called themselves dancecore! That's the corniest thing ever!" You don't want to be the butt of their jokes. Call yourselves musicians, let the pundits classify you later. When you label yourself you also limit yourself, you lose your teeth. There's going to be someone out there who knows music better than you, there always is, who will know that No Wave is not a genre, but a band, and that Streetcore was Joe Strummer's last record... and why are you calling yourself that?


Okay, this could have gone under the "classification" section, but it extends beyond it. One thing it covers is ego... lose it. The desire to get in front of people and play music is egotistical enough, but anything beyond is unhealthy. Prima donnas, divas, snooty scenesters... all should be hunted down and tied to chairs, a la a Clockwork Orange, and forced to watch videos of how they behave in public. Youtubing "Turducken" should suffice.


Some of the best sets I've ever seen have only been six or seven songs long. I'm going to say it until I pass out, but quality always surpasses quantity. I've been bored to tears an hour and a half into a Pearl Jam show, and they're one of my favorite bands! Don't give me too much of a good thing, give me forty minutes and make every song count. Sometimes a band can play for an hour and get away with it (the Protomen and Caspian are prime examples) but not many acts can pull that off. Don't give an audience the chance to get bored with you. Show them what you can do and then leave the stage gracefully. One encore? Sure. More than that and I might just slash your tour van's tires.


Unless you're playing for a few thousand people, just plug in and play. Seriously. You know how your amp works. It's not rocket science.


Don't lean too heavily on your influences. My stomach crawls and I die a little inside when a band tells me "Hi, we're _______! You'll like us if you like Soundgarden and Queens of the Stone Age!" See, right away the conversation is about Soundgarden. You've only backburnered yourself. If you're trying to book yourself a show, then be mindful of the way you portray yourself. Name dropping is lots of fun at parties, but you wouldn't do it at work. You don't go up to your boss and say "Hi! I'm ________! I work really hard, like you've noticed Steve doing, so I deserve a raise!"

Another thing... bands that identify too closely with their influences end up copying them. BEWARE.


You should quit music the moment you feel obligated to wear any specific thing when you play. Music is a creative outlet and you should feel unencumbered by silly things like fashion or uniform. It's not what you wear, it's how you wear it. Maybe you wake up and put on a torn shirt and jeans, maybe you wake up and you want to wear a suit and tie or some wacko halloween costume or a Star Trek uniform... sure. Go ahead and wear it to the show but only wear it because you want to. I'd rather go see a band wearing Circuit City shirts because they just got off work and didn't feel like changing than a whole zoo's worth of scenesters.

By the way, everyone knows you can buy Ramones patches at Hot Topic. No one thinks you're hard core or underground for sewing them on a Goodwill jacket and sporting a sneer. That's about as punk rock as a sinus infection.


A band is a group of musicians. You can tell they are musicians because they write their own music. Anything else is a human jukebox.


Don't be a jackass. Don't go to the Big City to "make it." Are you kidding me? Is this a movie? LA and NYC are just like the rest of the country, just more crowded. Prince is from Minnesota. He didn't move. He brought the attention to himself, and all of this was in the '80s. Slipknot may be a horrendous waste of airtime, but they've been wildly successful and are from Iowa. At the Drive-in? El Paso, Texas.

Don't take me the wrong way. I know I'm brash, it's just how I am, but I'm on your side! Don't wake up in the morning and curse the Greenville scene. There are people here who know music and this place has been the springboard for greatness plenty of times in the past. Remember Valient Thorr? That was just a few years ago.

It boils down to simple astrophysics. Every point in spacetime is the center of the universe. If you already are the center of your universe, then what's the point of running off to some smogsburg to prove yourself to the disenchanted millions already there? They have the same internet you do. Let them come to you.

I wanted to give a concise set of guidelines, but something has come up and I'm obligated to throw in a postscript. Here's hoping there's space, I've already gone several hundred words over my self-set limit.

We finally did it. We killed the Spazz. We're all a little responsible, and we should be ashamed. From those of us taunting the cops to those of us defacing the neighbor's wall to those of us setting off fireworks to those of us that stopped going to shows to those of us that would rather get crunk than donate. Now we'll all be washing our hands, smug little Pilates that we are, while the underground goes through its sad death throes. It's down to house shows now? Greenville is famous for house shows, but the Spazz was a special creature... a hydra with one head left and Hercules promised he was coming back to finish the job. Remember, 21 Eleven's last show is scheduled for August first.

As prophesied, the underground will eat itself.


I keep forgetting I have this internet website

But I do and I need to keep posting shit on it... I have a myspace now.

It's the 90s. I need to get with the 90s.


Come be my best friend in the world.

As Seen From Space, Chapter 1 (Published June 16, '08, G-Vegas Magazine)

It's easy to lose perspective, as is evidenced by last month. Following that debacle I put my favorite band t-shirts and cut off shorts in a bag and pushed my late 80s Volvo wagon out of town. I would do it with my bare hands if it came down to it. The time had come.

Perspective, man, I needed it. What's in our blood? Are we pure of heart and mind, is North Carolina representing the finest in music and art and culture, or is our fair state languishing in the tides of molester mustached new wavers and throwback metal? I was headed for a breakdown of herculean proportions, so I blew all my money on gasoline and PBR and got the f out of Dodge.

What I found frightened and amazed me.

Straight south, through the depleted flatlands, to Wilmington. The town is rich in film and has some of the most accomplished alkies this side of Cotanche, but the scene died horribly years ago. What's left is a collection of formulaic punk bands and trailer metal acts. The real shame is that Wilmington is home to one of the swankest venues in the state, the Soapbox.

There is hope, there are a select few who know the score and were instrumental in booking the recent We Fest. Some of my favorite bands in the state, such as the much praised Irata (if I have any faithful readers, they've heard lots about these guys), rocked this fest. The crown jewel, however, was the We Fest's Durham showcase. It takes supreme grace to admit when another town is The One. Thanks, Wilmington Musical Elite. I have no idea who you are, but you gave Red Collar and Hammer No More the Fingers the love they so deserve.

With a heavy heart I go west, blue skies and hangovers and gas station hot dogs, until the wheels touch down in the fabled lost city of Raleigh. I couldn't stop long, the swoop cuts in the Brewery gave me the evil eye for being older than seventeen and I nearly took a hacky sack to the head. I had to dig deeper.

Gray Young are the only band I know in Raleigh. Far from the cheap swagger of Airiel Down or the hackneyed neo-folk scene, far from the senseless noise of Walnut Creek. Nothing that happens in that place matters, anyway.

What Gray Young writes is music only they could write. I've tried for a long time to describe it, and can't. Just go to a show. It's good on tape, but the live show is what you need.

I landed in Durham at some point, parked crooked in a yard and obsessed for some reason on the generation of artificial wormholes. I would have drunk dialed Andrew, whose creations are the semi-rhythmic tone anthems of Pacific Before Tiger, but it was some ungodly hour with no name and cel phone signal had crossed the River Styx with gold coin sunglasses. Instead, I put Caspian in my CD player and waited for the sun to come up.

Straight up rock and roll is alive and well in Durham. Hammer no More and Red Collar, so badass they headline festivals in other towns, have made Chapel Hill and Durham the sharpest blades in the state. They're not the end all to Durham talent, not by a long shot. Maple Stave is quite possibly the baddest band to come from Durham, if only they would do more shows. Most math-oriented bands are so pointlessly cerebral that the majority of music fans give up for something less navel-gazing. Not so here. Maple Stave writes this music because it's what's in their heads. If you want cracked out time tricks that would make Tchaikovsky proud, then do yourself a favor and catch every single show these guys ever play even if you have to miss funerals and lose out on a will or two. Seriously, they are that good.

Trying to find Hammer no More the Fingers playing, but they're in DC! I wandered Franklin Street, a place recently taken over by the astounding and complex Durham scene, but nothing today. PBR at He's Not Here, and then west to Asheville. I couldn't even wrap my head around what's happening in Durham right now. So many good bands, so much raw energy. We could power some kind of spectacular space Volvo, fill it with colonists, head to neighboring stars...

Asheville. Hours and hours at the wheel (could Statesville be any more remote?) and some of the nicest scenery in NC later, and I was ordering a Pisgah Porter at Usual Suspects, watching Merrimon Avenue crawl by. I made some phone calls, tried to see what's happening. Some independent press darlings at the Grey Eagle, some has-beens at the Orange Peel (overrated venue), some suckers rambling about Bele Chere, and some true insanity at the New French Bar. The gutter punks were out at Gourmet Perks, a full fledged dumpster diver pissing contest had half the crowd distracted. They were in a circle like high schoolers around a fight in the halls.

I found some local noise at Fred's Speakeasy, playing a blown PA for six people, but it was the best music in town. Asheville produces, and then destroys, the most talented bands in the state. If you're too small, no one will come out to see you. If you're too known, no one will come out to see you either. They'll ramble about how cool you were "before anyone else knew about you" and won't go see you, simply on principle. The bands can't take it, they give up, and it's a tragedy.

It's a no win town, but it's filled with incredible musicians. If you want to go to independent music summer camp, go live in Asheville for two or three years, but be prepared to leave the moment you want to make an impact. If you're lucky, some of the local talent will emigrate with you.

I wrapped up in my military surplus mummy bag on my friend's porch, thrilled to death by the cool mountain air. I could live here, if not for the snobbery, but it was not meant to be. Back to the Volvo, back down the mountain, to Charlotte.

I've never felt like Charlotte is even a part of North Carolina. It's weird, but a lot of people know what I mean. Musically speaking, what few Charlotte bands there are that take to the road tend to tour south through Georgia and Alabama. I've heard good things about Calabi Yau, but we're never in the same place at the same time. Other than them, sadly, the rock scene is limited to punk bands that have a hard time distinguishing themselves from the wallpaper and the obligatory crap metal bands. I know there is more, I know there is true music out there, and I want to hear it!

Email me, Charlotte bands, I want to know the real scene up there. I went to your town, I couldn't find it. I was out of clean socks, which may have been a factor.

Come, faithful Volvo, we know where there's music in Greensboro.

We know where Irata, the Bronzed Chorus, and Invisible are. We know people crowd into the Flatiron to hear them play. We know Two Art Chicks is reopening under a new name soon, and that the state's best instrumental bands will again be forming like Voltron.

I felt good. I was going eighty, a feat in the Volvo, blasting through Death Valley with 61 miles to go... long enough to think. What did I learn, and what did I lose?

I missed some good shows, for one. Hammer no More, Irata, and the Bronzed Chorus all played Greenville while I was on the road, trying to find what's so great about this state. True, you have to leave the borders to get perspective, but the best bands in North Carolina will come to you if you live in the GVL. You just have to know which rocks to turn over. Keep the faith, no one west of Raleigh has ever even heard of Parmalee.

Sometimes what happens in Eastern North Carolina stays in Eastern North Carolina. My opinions are my own, of course, but I'll share.



Off the Deep End (Published May 15, '08, G-Vegas Magazine)

I don't know whose house it was, and too many stories start like this, but so be it. It's Greenville. It's a party. In the tiny room in the front Irata was blasting, Hammer no More the Fingers waited in the wings. The Future Kings of Nowhere had finished their set, followed by some guy in a Soviet flag cape. The kegs bled steadily, empty by midnight when the bottles and cans took over. Everything flowed like mad, music and beer and things I can't mention in print and people wandering into the street with their Big Voices. Everything but beer pong... welcome to a show house.
Summer's coming, and I wanted to survive its fury, but that's just another aspect of life in the Underground. It's when the best bands come through. Case in point: Gifts From Enola's set last July 3rd. Maybe it was after midnight, but even if it wasn't I still consider it the ultimate Independence Day show. The indelible apocalypse crush of righteous post rock is all the fireworks I need... unless it's the literal fireworks that accompanied the last Wildildlife show. Didn't a guitar get smashed on July 4th? Do I have my facts straight? What's the capital of Bogota? Wait, that's the capital of Colombia... I digress.
Summer in Greenville is such a bizarre creature... you wouldn't understand it if you've never seen it. It gets so hot in the Spazz that reality becomes more distorted than usual, and bands that are eccentric enough in real life take on strange new dimensions. It's the castle scene from Willow all over again, when the troll gets blasted with the magic wand and turns into a two headed dragon that kicks everyone's ass and eventually explodes.
Summer brings shows like the New Thrill Parade, Ra Ra Riot, the Silent Years. It's the time to find the bands you could never even imagine, regular everyday people off stage who reinvent our concepts of music when they plug in. Did I mention how hot the Spazz gets in the summer? It's the time of year when the showspaces branch out, when show houses reassert themselves. It's the time of the year when the heat puts a Tim Burton twist on everything we see.
Going to a show house is like stepping into the Doors movie, minus Val Kilmer. Wasted like Jim Morrison, yes. Charismatic? Um.
Let's move on. I know I'm scattered as hell, but you have to bear with me. It's the show houses. They do this. They scramble the synapses. Myspace search every band I've mentioned. Also google Jon Crocker, the Protomen, Giants (the instrumental band, and not NC's Giant, they're different...), These Are Powers, Run on Sentence... that will do for now.
Summer in Greenville is not the time for floral dresses and tennis, it's a return to the cradle. We lose several steps of evolution. Canis Minor is occulted by the rogue planet Ellivneerg on its closest approach to the Earth between June and August and civilization drops away. The Great G-ville Halloween Debauch is croquet with grandma in comparison. Some people fear it, and are right to do so. It takes professional partying skills to go out and see these shows. The amateurs are gone. The pros, the dropouts, the employed, and the 8th year Juniors are all that's left. We don't have to soften our game. Otherwise peaceful bands catch the bacchanal fever and are swept into a frenzy of guitar smashing and crowd rushing. Blood, sweat, dirt, feedback... tidal forces.
The antimatter planet Ellivneerg swings closer to Earth than any other time of the year, in its perihelion it's barely outside the atmosphere, only a few hundred miles up from Greenville, intense gravity scrambling the populace and disrupting all but the most HD television signal. If the tidal forces of a full moon makes even the sanest puritan go wild, then imagine the result of a primal rogue planet hovering twenty times closer. Astronomy can't detect it, only wolves and the weird. We're sent howling down 10th street, chasing planetary phenomena that may not even exist.
The students head for the hills, evacuating until August, if August comes... Some apocalypse heads think the tidal forces may be too strong this summer and that Ellivneerg will tear Greenville from the face of the planet and hurtle it into the sun. Think of it as the ultimate hurricane party, taking jello shots with your closest friends, blasted on all sides by the most incredible soundwaves known to humanity, until the moment we plop into the sun like an ice cube falling into a river. The only survivors, the giant mosquitoes, left wandering through space towards any and all planets in their path ...or at least that's how it seemed to me while Irata was playing. God I love those guys.
I don't know whose house it was, and I couldn't print it if I did. The kegs bled steadily, empty by midnight when the bottles and cans took over, but so be it.
It's Greenville. It's a party.


The Ten Year Cycle and You: A Treatise on GVL History (Published May 18, '08, in G-Vegas Magazine)

Richard Faulkner runs 21 Eleven and probably knows origami.

In the late 1600s a tricked-out Honda pirate ship with 20 inch rims and blown speakers sailed up the Tar River, landing in what is now downtown Greenville. The crew that survived the treacherous sea voyage founded the Pirate Nation, which preceded the United States by over a hundred years according to historical graffiti.

The original colonists spent their time playing grog pong with the local Tuscarora Indians and racing their horses. No, literally, they had footraces against horses. The horses always won. This has always been the curse of Greenville, ever since the original pirates landed. We're always very good at what we do (the original pirates were very fast runners) but we so often apply ourselves to the wrong field (the horses were much faster).

All the ingredients are here for a world class music scene... so where is it? Historically, we've consistently given big love to the Next Big Thing. The Attic was the CBGB of the south (minus the passé t-shirts), high fiving the Cat's Cradle and trading bands like baseball cards. Anybody could play there, but Somebodies often did. Down the street, the penultimate record shop, CD Alley. Now, tomorrow’s legends come through town quietly, way under the radar. They’re here, but the venues aren’t the ones booking them. At least for today’s scene, the showspace will be its home.

The Attic is dead and CD Alley is gone. I moved back to town a few years ago, horrified to find a gym in its place.

What happened? What drove novelty underground?

“You go to Chapel Hill to see a band that's about to play Walnut Creek next time they come through. I think Greenville was like that in the 70s and 80s. I think it was like, right before bands got really popular we were the regional spot when people came through here,” says Richard Faulkner, contemplating the Sheetz parking lot from the couches of 21 Eleven. He sells a six pack of Ska Brewing's Brown to an ECU professor before continuing. “I know the Allman Brothers loved Greenville and used to call it their home away from home. The Charlie Daniels Band, too. Then In the 80s it kind of turned into Hootie and the Blowfish, near the end of the 80s, and Dave Matthews Band back when it was just Dave Matthews, or whatever his real name is, would come through a lot.

“Then in '94 Backdoor opened. That got underground. You could have a show in a space that's not designed to do a music show. I don't know if people remember. Like Peasant's? They started the whole Homegrown Network thing? I don't think that people know that that was started in North Carolina, like the whole String Cheese Incident and all those hippie jam bands. They had live music four nights a week, so you were guaranteed that one night would not be jam bands. They sold it to the guy that turned it into Aqua. That dude promised them when he bought it, it was a couple of old hippies, that dude promised them that he would continue to do live music and the first thing he did was put $250,000 in renovations to make it Club Aqua, to make it another booty club, then he sold it a year later because it was doing terrible.”

So much more could happen, so much momentum spent like water leaking through the frat house roof. We're like Wake Forest's basketball team. We always give the other NCAA teams a few surprises, and they remember how much fun it is to play us, but at the end of the day Carolina is still the star.

It goes like this (and it happens in every town): the best bands never leave their home base! The rule (exceptions are welcome!) is that a really spectacular band will arrive on the scene. People get the “WHOA!” factor, people come out. Touring bands on decent independent labels come through town and play with said band, they'll want the band to come play their town! Holy crap! Nothing could possibly suck, success is guaranteed! This is when the trap is sprung, and only the nimblest can avoid it.

Our local heroes will do one of two things. They either do a minor tour or two and retreat to Greenville to lick their wounds (to the tune of big money per gig, but no valuable exposure on the national market) or never tour and eventually stagnate as the audience moves on. After all, there's always another Big Thing. Bands exist on a ruthless ladder, chasing the flightiest of creatures: fans. It's evolution, it's Darwinism. The next Big Thing could always come crawling out of the swamp, baby, and move in on your ecological niche.

“What always disappoints me is that there's a school of music with, like, a thousand or two thousand kids that are studying music from people that are supposed to be the best in the world, it's been an accredited music school since the '60s, and there are no good bands around,” Richard said. “There should be a ton of good bands, you would think, there's all these people that know how to play music really well, and can play any instrument, and there's not more people that can put it together.”

If that isn't a call to arms, I don't know what is.
Audiences and bands are passing like ships in the night. Tours are coming through, thousands of hip college cats are on campus. Why don't they know about each other? Why do underground crowds diminish while cover band crowds thrive? To be specific, where is the Peasant's crowd that would be so into what happens at 21 Eleven?

“Maybe it's the way Peasant's marketed, or just because there were more hippies in town and hippies will do anything because they don't care because they're stoned and wandering around. Maybe that was it. Maybe they came and kind of countered the whole frat boy scene that was being established, obviously with Hootie and the Blowfish and Dave Matthews Band. The hippies came and were like, 'Nah, we don't like that,' so they kind of tried to stomp that out. Then, after that is where we are now and I don't really know what's after that,” Richard watched Charles Boulevard's evening crawl for a few minutes, squinting a little from the glare. This guy opened a small beer store and, in less than a year, has hosted as many touring acts per week as a proper venue. If not for the love of music, there would not be places like this.

Richard connected his thoughts, smiled for a second, and continued. “Greg Allman is supposed to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time, some people say. We've gone from that, and I don't like Dave Matthews either, but he always had a lot of talented musicians around him in the early 90s. We went from music to punk shows where anything goes to artsy type things with electronics, fashion. Fashion's part of it.”

The dystopic '80s gave way to the decade of hope, the '90s. The bridge to the twentieth century was almost built, almost complete, before it toppled. Now it's years past the y2k. January 1st, 2000 hit with a crushing defeat as none of our movies came true. We're past the future.

What do we do now?


The Overeducated Graduate's Guide to Incredible Beer

*guest column by Hikaru Pontiac*

Holy crap, it's graduation time! That sweet, sweet time of the year when thousands of twenty-somethings emerge from the egg cluster and migrate south through a mysterious process known to science as “ballooning.”

When you celebrate the metamorphosis, the emergence from your long larval state, be sure to do it with some higher class beer. Hint: don't buy any sixes with “light” or “ultra” in the name. Here are a few of my favorites.

Duck-Rabbit: This is the most appropriate choice for your ECU graduation celebration, since it's brewed 15 minutes away in Farmville! Respect their high gravity selections, especially the barleywine. Many an unsuspecting drinker has been knocked on their ass by this deceptively smooth concoction. My pick? Their Duck-Rabbit Porter, and its big brother the Baltic Porter, are two of the finest porters to come out of North Carolina. How Ham's beats these guys in the best local beer poll, I have no clue.


Great Divide: Only recently has this stuff come east to Greenville! A spectacularly original brewery from Denver, Great Divide specializes in beer's evolution. I recommend their Denver Pale Ale. Like anything they brew, the DPA is not just a standard pale ale, but their improved version of the style.


Flying Dog: A favorite of the late Hunter S. Thompson with label art by Ralph Steadman! I can only echo their tag line... “Good beer, no s***.” My recommendation? Old Scratch Amber. Very appropriate for the vicious hot summers in ENC, since the artwork features a huge mosquito.


Victory: This is seriously strong stuff. Don't go for it unless you have the constitution of a mako shark, or you'll spend five solid weeks with a champion of a hangover. Their Hop Wallop, literally named, is a sadistically fantastic brew on par with skydiving in a severe thunderstorm. Golden Monkey is the penultimate celebration drink, and is definitely my recommendation from these guys. It's a kind and gentle golden beer, a sweet tasting Belgian with enough alcohol in it to make Andre the Giant see double.


This is my graduation gift. ECU's Golden Ticket gets you a fighting chance at a sweet job. Good for you. My gift to you is the ticket to better beer. Good for you.

Party safely and, for Buddha's sake, don't drive! Nothing's dumber than a drunk at the wheel.