A Marathon of Rock, With Fireworks

April 10th, 2015 · No Comments · By

Tonight, Friday the Tenth

@The Southern: Diarrhea Planet/Left & Right/International Friendly   9:00,  $15

@Magnolia: The Extraordinaires/Kate Bollinger   9:00ish maybe,  $(please?)


April in Charlottesville — the trees blossoms, the poetry flows, the festivals festivate, and the gypsies return to Hogwaller to barter their horses and learn about their oppression from earnest undergraduates. Tonight the Dogwood Festival lights up the sky with fireworks, just as Jefferson did when he returned from China, bringing with him the secrets of gunpowder and ice cream. Tomorrow night cheapskate cineastes will gather at the Paramount for a free screening of Timbuktu, later to reconvene at the Skybar to discuss the fine points of Afro-Islamic politics and the subtleties of camera angles.  Throughout the month a prolonged striptease will play itself out, people taking off, putting on, then taking off again various articles of clothing as the weather indecisively yet inevitably gropes its way toward summer heat. And everyone will notice that there is something in the air, something special.

Pollen, mostly. But this year also music. We have a tremendous month of music. Just look at the calendar to the right there. Enough music to choke a horse, sink a submarine, or grind a good man’s pencil down to diamond dust. And over it all looms, or radiantly shines, WTJU’s 2015 Rock Marathon, which continues through Sunday. WTJU is the heart of Charlottesville music. It is the great spirit that radiates — literally — through us. Even when you are not listening you can feel safe in the knowledge that all the cells of your body, your brain cells and liver cells and your blood corpuscles and those precious seeds of the future, your little sperms or eggs, are being bathed in radio goodness from WTJU’s powerful transmitters (this is what internet listeners — as useful as that option is — are missing out on). And it is our great hope, the hope you have that when you turn on your radio, you may hear something that will surprise and delight you, transfix and transform you. Like last Saturday night, a little after midnight, when I was heading home from Nelson County after watching a Fellini movie on videocassette, and I started my car and on came the sounds of WTJU, and they were the sounds of monkeys, field recordings. (Monkeys or apes or lemurs, the DJ played all three, covering his primate bases.) And the sounds those monkeys made just washed the Fellini right off of me, all that heavy Italian sauce just rinsed away by monkey music. I felt clean again, clean for Easter, driving through the night carried by a chorus of monkeys, going faster miles an hour, with the radio on.

I’m sure you’ve experienced such moments of grace yourself, WTJU provides them in abundance (I remember one that came from the song I just quoted, “Roadrunner” — it was on Old Lynchburg Road and I shouldn’t have been driving so fast but it was catharsis after a bad night and nobody died). They come free, as all grace comes free. But actually making the moments, with all the gear and electricity and administration and water cooler refills and such, does not. So when they pass the collection plate you might want to throw in a little something, to keep those moments coming, those beautiful surprises. To to keep the monkeys on the airwaves, the radio on

Some people can’t  get past the name. I have heard others dismiss them as “bro-punk” — not inapt. But Diarrhea Planet delivers pure rock energy about as well as any band out there. If that is what you are looking for then they will make you happy; they might even if that’s not what your looking for. Formerly of Charlottesville, Left & Right just keeps getting stronger. They have a tight 90’s style sound (I think of Archers of Loaf, but your reference may vary), also putting out a lot of energy but more focused, as if by magnets or a quality education.

That’s an excellent show, but if your looking for an alternative, maybe something gentler but still featuring some former C’villians who moved to Philadelphia (apart from New York, probably the the most important center of the Charlottesville Diaspora), then check out the Extraordinaires at Magnolia. They used to play here all the time, they were beloved by the people, but these past few years they seem to have fallen out of our sight. It will be interesting to see what these guys, always ambitiously creative, are up to now.


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