117 W. Main St.
Durham, NC, 27701
Doors 9:00 PM / Show 10:00 PM
Baltimore's Small Apartments play post-punk filled with muscular sonic guitar, minimalist rhythms, and soaring vocals. The trio is led by vocalist / bassist, Shirlé Hale, and guitarist / vocalist, David Koslowski, who are also members of the post-kraut-gaze band, Free Electric State.
The group has recorded with Roomrunner bassist, Dan Frome, at the infamous Baltimore music hub, the Copy Cat Building, and will be releasing something in the near future.
Imagining a Raleigh rock ’n’ roll festival without Goner is a little like imagining one of the trio’s springy numbers without a hook. It just doesn’t happen. Indeed, for the last decade, or for each of their three albums, Goner’s foregone guitar, instead building its songs on an athletic, exuberant rhythm section and multiple layers of Scott Phillips’ keyboards—a hazy organ, a crashing piano, a twisted synthesizer. And, above it all, like a cabaret-spirited Springsteen or a street-beat journalist with a voice, Phillips has described the bacchanalian life that those around him can’t stop living in songs that us listeners can’t start forgetting.
“Hair’s been thinning/ You’re way past beginning,” snaps Phillips on “Fight of Yr Life,” a three-minute sprint that conjures Ted Leo sweating through a house show. “This isn’t college/ You know the difference.” For Goner, aging—or the tension between having a life and living that life—serves as a principal muse these days. Phillips is an elementary school teacher, and both drummer Chris Dalton (listen for a metal fan’s relentlessness and a pop zealot’s restraint) and bassist Greg Eyman (sans guitar, he adds texture with distortion and high notes) are fathers and husbands. “Hella Jean, how long can we live on this ever-shifting scene?” Phillips asks at one point, interrogating a downtown damsel that deserves better. He hopes they can make it into adulthood with at least a little dignity. He details the specifics of the setting with a clarity so crafted, you know he’s been there. Age doesn’t delete verve, though it does alter situations. To wit, Rock ’n’ Roll Always Forgets, Goner’s 2008 album, is its best to date, taking the occasional chance on a slow, noisy burner or an acoustic sing-along. But in the end, it remains essential Goner—smart, enthusiastic and, at its best, completely irrepressible. —Grayson Currin