SHOW REVIEW: Giant starts off summer of heavy rock

by Heather MacIntyre

Arriving at the venue, groups of kids in all four pockets of the parking lot are laughing and gossiping about upcoming summer shows and music festivals, but one group to the left looks particularly hysterical. Joining the conversation, I learn that earlier in the week one of the flyers for the show had been misunderstood by local police officials worried about promotion for something that might get out of hand. Musicians from the band War Elephant ( practicing in the space-made-venue were confronted by an officer who sternly questioned this “Giant Party” planned for later in the week. The kids laugh telling the story because this was a flyer for a band called Giant ( The parking lot at 607 S. Elm St. (behind Two Art Chicks) has become quite the weekend spot for setting up shows in the last few months, and I wouldn’t limit it to even bigger productions later this summer. The rules still apply: no drinking. Luckily, this keeps it an all-age public space to enjoy a free range of obscure and independent music that some venues might not have the guts to book.

Tonight’s show was thrown together for Giant’s send off on their upcoming nine-day tour through the Northeast. Friends of the band, City of Ships ( and Yardwork ( from Richmond, Va. have come to open up the night. The night begins with Yardwork, who are the more avant garde of the groups, and a bit of a mess that any music lover can enjoy. Avid local music enthusiast Anthony “Money” admits the band captivates him due to their energy and detail with the entire set, beginning to finish. “Unfortunately,” he complains, “I only know of one demo they recently put out, a rough home recording from January. I really hope to see more from these guys.” Anthony attends shows often at this new spot on Elm Street and enjoys the atmosphere of an indoor-outdoor musician-invented spot. Second in line for the night is fortunately one of the heaviest (vocally and musically) bands I have seen in North Carolina in a while: City of Ships. The smooth drumming brings out a particularly tight percussion of rhythm that snaps everyone in the room into constant motion. This progressive rock trio originates from Florida, and has some must-hear music on their MySpace site from their label Forcefield Records. COS will join Giant’s tour later for a show in Pennsylvania on Thursday with Rosetta and Engineer at Siren Records, one of their favorite places to jam.

Of course the evening is validated by any donation (and worth more) by one of North Carolina’s favorite Southern Empire Records aggressive-experimental band, Giant. The performance can be described as “inspirational” and “moving.” Like soundtrack music to a climactic moment of a movie, the focus and detail put into their music arrangement is obvious. With upcoming plans of collaborating with other instruments and musicians for various projects, the future has a lot in store for Derrick, Isaac, Zac and Kyle. They play a few of their hits (that you can check out online) and express appreciation for friends who traveled to the show from out of city and state. When I ask about their lack of touring plans for later this summer, drummer Zac Jones laughs: “I’m ready to enjoy summer, maybe get to attend some shows that I want to see for once.” The set is honest and brilliant, I can’t pin-point a better NC band when it comes to something low and massive like their music. They’ve been on the up and up, growing by the month in popularity due to their smart music production and openness about personal beliefs. If you haven’t snagged a copy yet, make sure to order their split-album with Tides ( released on Level-Plane.

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