HEAVY ROCK | 98Rockfest Battle of the Bands Finale
Wed. April 15
Need some hard rock in your life? Look no further than this year’s Battle of the Bands. After four weeks of preliminaries with 15 of Charleston’s best rock bands, the six final groups — Marytre, For What It’s Worth, HalfWay Down, Unit 8, Beyond Intent, and Wicked Love — will be put to the test. The final six will jam out against one another after drawing straws to see who will play first in front of an amped-up crowd. “The rock community has really embraced the event,” says Matthew Potter, program director of 98Rock and 105.5 The Bridge. “The fans really got it right, and picked six of [Charleston’s] best bands.” From a grungy sound to hard-hitting riffs, hard rock fans should be satisfied with this year’s lineup. “The music this year is active rock leaning towards metal,” Potter adds. “It’s not metal, but more heavy rock.” The winners of the battle will get the opportunity of a lifetime with the chance to open this year’s 98Rockfest alongside big-time acts like Five Finger Death Punch, Rise Against, and Breaking Benjamin. —Viraj Naik WEDNESDAY
INDIE ROCK| Radio Birds
Sat. April 18
Every time the Atlanta, Ga. quartet Radio Birds makes a move towards conventional modern rock on their new album, Contemporary American Slang, they hang a hard-right into something else. A riff-heavy verse will end with a sudden full-stop; the time-signatures will stretch out like taffy and then bunch back up; a ruminative moment will explode unpredictably into a blast of massive guitars. It’s an off-kilter approach that keeps the listener guessing, and it might not work if the band wasn’t equally adept at melodic songwriting. Singer/guitarist Justin Keller’s got one of those great, whiskey-soaked rock ‘n’ roll voices that’s eternally hoarse but powerful, and his delivery occasionally resembles a more soulful Ryan Adams. Lyrically, the songs seem to center around small-screen hopes and dreams and battered-but-hopeful hearts. For a group so clearly in the guitar-rock vein, they claim a wide range of influences, from bluegrass to singer/songwriter folk to hardcore. It’s possible that you’ve seen them before as JK & The Lost Boys, but after a lineup change, they decided a name-change was in order. Rather than pick one themselves, they held an online poll and let their fans decide. The newly re-christened Radio Birds released a more conventional-sounding self-titled EP in 2013 before embarking on a collaborative songwriting approach that paid off on the Contemporary American Slang album. —Vincent Harris SATURDAY
CAJUN-BRASS ROCK | Dirty Bourbon River Show
Thurs. April 16
The Pour House
It’s rare when a band’s own description of their music doesn’t cover all of the bases, but when you read “New Orleans Big Brass Circus Rock Music” on the Dirty Bourbon River Show’s website, that’s not even the half of it. Imagine a world in which Tom Waits suddenly acquired a near-operatic vocal range to go with his low-fi growl. And now imagine he decided to take the staggering, closing-time stomp of his early records, throw in some New Orleans-style brass, bring in Dr. John on piano, and then assume a sort of glittering, sleazy cabaret-singer persona. Add a bit of reggae skank for good measure. That eccentric mix of sounds may be a lot to think about, but it accurately sums up the music of Dirty Bourbon River Show. Their hot-off-the-press album Important Things Humans Should Know is the aural equivalent of watching an experienced booze-hound walking down the street after a bender. There might be some off-balance moments here and there, but things more or less stay on course. This impossibly chaotic sound is somehow created by five people, and in over nine albums they’ve remained a loose-limbed but cohesive group of players. On stage the band is a whirlwind of showmanship and musical skill. Whiskey is poured, balls of fire spring forth, instruments are switched, group chants and stomps are created, and a flurry of musical styles are tossed at the farthest wall to see what sticks. —Vincent Harris THURSDAY
FESTIVAL | Spring Jam
Sat. April 18
11 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Grove at Patriot’s Point
Spring Jam is happening for the third year in a row, except this time the festivities will take place at The Grove (40 Patriots Point Road), instead of Brittlebank Park. This year’s lineup includes headliner Leftover Salmon, self-described as “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass,” plus Los Angeles-based cinematic pop band Milo Green, former Collective Souler Ed Roland and his Sweet Tea Project, and San Diego indie rockers Delta Spirit, plus local acts Lefty at the Washout, The Travelin’ Kine, The High Divers, Sol Black, and North Charleston youth drum line The Music Battery. Performance art is also part of the entertainment with break dance crew The Missing Links, hula-hoop gurus Glitterhoopz, and Holy City Cirque, known for its circus arts performances and variety show. The festival will also feature an arts and goods village, food vendors, cold brews and wine, and an inaugural art walk exhibition. Take an Uber there using promo code SPRINGJAM15, and your first ride will be free (up to $20). For shuttle info and more details, go to springjammusicfest.com. —Kelly Rae Smith SATURDAY
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