Touring home for the holidays
By: Katei Cranford
Around this time of year, bars and bills are filled with familiar faces. Expats come home, and their bands setup show dates to kill two holiday birds with one sweet visitor’s stone.
Breathers, based out of Atlanta, and Little War from Philadelphia, are two such acts with their own shows at Boxcar.
Breathers played on Black Friday with Tide Eyes and Young Jungle, while Little War will happen on Nov. 28 with Essex Muro and Instant Regrets.
Breathers’ squirrely frontman, T. Lee Gunselman spent his college years in the WUAG Presents show circles, often as part of his dream pop group Casual Curious.
“For those who know me. Well. I’m from here,” he bantered sardonically during Breathers’ Boxcar set.
Former Casual Curious bandmate, Pat Brown, who heads the one-man Greensborian synth-band Tide Eyes, brought Breathers to Boxcar for a post-Thanksgiving party.
Brown’s a busy man these days promoting his new record, Waveformer, and is slated to christen the Geeksboro Battlepub as a show space on Nov. 30 with a “Winter Rock Show,” alongside Velvet Devils and Hot Mess.
For Tide Eyes, it’s a labor of love. Brown considers the album to be “an autobiographical expression of fears and joys of raising a baby and being in a very serious committed relationship for the first time.”
As for the show, “Lee and I felt Boxcar would be a unique setting since neither of us had played there yet,” Brown said. The evening felt akin to a sort of Casual Curious crowd reunion.
“After the show, we stayed up talking about the bands we used to be in,” Brown said. “We’ll always look back fondly on the journey, but we’re much more focused and productive and generally happy with the work we’re doing now.”
“It was wonderful seeing the community that made that band special still rally around our efforts and continue to push us to make better new stuff,” he added.
Little War, a band of Philadelphian punks with both fans and former residents in their ranks, agreed.
“Coming back to play Greensboro is always super exciting,” said the group about their upcoming show at Boxcar on Nov. 28.
Bassist, Mike Nardone, ended-up calling Greensboro home for a few of years after falling in love with the Triad on tour as a teenager. ”The scene is so, and there’s a real sense of community in smaller towns more than larger ones,” Nardone said. “Everyone knows everyone, which helps support artists.”
“Little War is our outlet to express our distaste for how society has tainted what it means to be human,” said Nardone, a pseudo-surly gent equal parts combative and cuddly.
“Racism, sexism, hyper-consumerism—not openly discussing mental health—these are barriers and social divides,” he insisted. “There is no growth when you build barriers.”
Little War strives to build community in whoever’s hometown they may be. For them, “selfishness and seclusion should not be celebrated.” So it’s no surprise they find something special in playing in a town once called home, filled with friends who feel like family.
With that mindset, they built their Greensboro showbill to include local loves Instant Regrets, and Essex Muro, a hardcore punk group from Raleigh featuring members with Triad roots.
“Greensboro has a real energy about its shows, so it’s nice to come home,” said Jeff Bechtel, bassist for Essex Muro, who moved-out of Greensboro around the time Nardone moved-in.
“Venues and DIY spots change, but the spirit doesn’t,” Bechtel added.
Boxcar wasn’t around when the expats in Breathers, Essex Muro or Little War were residents; and the Geeksboro Battlepub hosting shows is a brand-new concept for everyone, locals and visitors alike.
Greensboro is very much a college town in that people come, and people go—people come and go again. That rhythm is part of our charm.
That charm carries into having great bands who stick around to make new albums, open new spaces, and ensure the Triad remains a place worth touring home to.
As the final weeks wind down in 2018, there’s a taste of both local and imported flavor on the sonic horizon.
Old friends will host a punk show with Little War, Essex Muro, and Instant Regrets at Boxcar (120 W. Lewis St) on Nov. 28. Meanwhile, solid locals hope to slay an inaugural rock show at Geeksboro Battlepub (2618 Lawndale Dr.) with Tide Eyes, Velvet Devils, and Hot Mess on Nov. 30.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who enjoys seeing her friends come home for the holidays and the shows that happen as a result. She also hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week, 5-7pm on WUAG 103.1fm.