Ultimate Basement Fundraiser at The Money – Day 2 | December 10, 2011
In a scene full of greedy con artists and self-serving wolves, one venue and a dozen bands stepped out of the dark to help out a nice guy raise money to re-open his arcade/music venue. Beloved owner of The Ultimate Basement, affectionately nicknamed “Gerb,” enjoyed two days of bands’ support and hospitality courtesy The Money and its new owner, David Kiser. Kiser extended his welcome to Rock Hill via accommodations and meals for Gerb and for out-of-town bands who came to support the cause. By this altruistic outreach to another venue owner, Kiser hopes that the spirit of cooperation will prove contagious and that other Charlotte area venues will step up to the plate, leaving behind petty competition in favor of a stronger network of venues, bands, and fans within the music scene.
Though prior obligations rendered me unable to make it to the Day 1 show, which included Veritas Aequitas, Darling Waste, Death of Paris, Akarsha, and Lithiasis, folks who had been there were still raving about it. Day 2 started off with a band called Thermostat from Greer, SC, that immediately brought us back to the heyday of Dimebag Darrel with their heavy, mosh-worthy guitar grooves and aggressive vocals. Jonathan Smith jack-hammered on the double bass in near-perfect precision while Danny Cline and Larry Richter busted out the bass and guitar riffage with some killer squeals and lightning-fast guitar solos. Michael Sellers on the vocals added to the Pantera effect of the band, and he definitely enjoyed unbridled use of the “F” word throughout the set. Kiser was sure Sellers could’ve set a Guinness World Record for the number of times he used the word while Thermostat was on stage.
Next up was a surprisingly good, youthful band: Dreaming in Color from Boone, NC. This ferocious fivesome came out with axes blazing, setting a quick pace with their infectious, upbeat riffs that would sustain the music-electricity throughout their set. I liked the tag-team screaming/melodic vocals of Ben Dunlop and Pat Tarpey—the trade-offs added a versatility to the sounds of the night that even Ben’s wide range of screaming vocal timbres couldn’t have offered alone. Ben also made a point to get the crowd involved in the music, and it showed. Fans crowded around guitarist Gary Vinson as he wailed through some fast-paced guitar shredding. Gary and Pat harmonized on several riffs, which always get bands mega points in my book. Right before they closed out their set, they pulled out a terrific cover of Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon,” which, except for some odd guitar scale meanderings during the solo, was pretty spot-on.
Broken at Birth from Salisbury, NC, took the stage after that, and brought out good screaming tones over cool riffs and tight rhythms that all adds up to a less-industrial Static-X type sound. While the band clearly has talent and energetic music going on, they would greatly benefit from upping their physical expression of the music and making more of an effort to engage the crowd. The music has a lot of potential if they can get the crowd up in front, paying full attention.
A “Yankee” band from Baltimore, MD, came up next: Roll It Over. These guys had some cool riffage and were really excited about what they were doing. The strongest piece in the band was definitely drummer Brady Molinaro, though his pop-star appearance betrayed him a bit as a metal drummer. Surprisingly, the band pulled out a pop cover to close out their set: Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface.” As a fair-weather fan of Lada Gaga’s, I’d have to say I was unimpressed. While it’s cool to switch genres and play something un-metal in a heavier fashion, you’ve got to NAIL it, and they didn’t. The band has a well-defined personality to it, though, so as long as they stick to originals, they’re pretty impressive.
Second-to-last on the list for the evening, the lovely ladies of Luna’s Lament hopped on the stage with an acoustic guitar and a couple of borrowed bongo players (okay, so one was a djembe). Though an unfamiliar setting for women of metal, acoustic shows allow for more showcasing the beauty of the intricate vocal harmonies blossoming between Morgan Riley and Kim “Kimniption” Karnes. The only thing that didn’t quite fit was the screams—I found it a bit jarring in the otherwise-groovy and intoxicating set. The bongos and djembe, manned by Paul Lashway of Manamana and Adam Smith of A Light Divided, added to the exotic feel, and in the peaceful spirit of the evening, former drummer Michael “Digi” Biggerstaff came up to jam along with the ladies. I know this band is eager to get back to full-on electric performances, but I’m definitely digging the “unplugged” version in the meantime.
Closing out the night, the always-entertaining, never-duplicated Manamana had a new set of tricks up their sleeves for the eager crowd at The Money. Paul Lashway pounds passionately on the drums with Neil Peart precision while channeling some mixture of the Mad Hatter, Gene Simmons, and Animal. Carmen Piro, Damon Patrinos, and John Piro tear it up on the guitars (that’s riht, there’s 3 guitars), and howl like rabid wolves while Stephen Sues brings up the low-end on the bass. Speaking of wolves, the band brought up a friend, Briana Strickland, to howl with them on a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Was it the most skilled cover of the song I’d ever heard? Well, no—but it was certainly the most entertaining. Carmen stripped off a layer of clothing, revealing a shirt that bore “Das Wulfie” for a little game of cat-and-mouse during the song. David Kiser, Gerb, and I really just couldn’t stop smiling and giggling throughout the song. Then, as an early Christmas gift, Manamana turned on their softer side for a guitar-fueled rendition of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” I’m a sucker for Classical music, and for Manamana—they are so much fun to experience.
By the end of the night, Gerb’s ear-to-ear smile couldn’t have been melted off his face—the feeling of generosity and cooperation present in the walls of The Money over the weekend truly overwhelmed him. The next morning, Gerb posted on Facebook that “This last weekend, you all made me and my hospitality seem like a New York cab driver dealing with a non paying hooker….. y’all put me to shame!” I’m equally overwhelmed—without the hooker references—and I challenge all fans, bands, and venues to set aside their competitive spirits and instead show genuine support and reverence for one another so we can make Charlotte and The Carolinas a highly-anticipated destination for music.