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Small Venues Shine On A Big Venue Weekend

Looking over the local concert calendar, I could not help but notice that there are some pretty big names visiting the Upstate this weekend. The Bon Secours Wellness Arena (which will always be the Bi-Lo Center to me, at least when I am not still calling it Greenville Memorial Auditorium even though they blew that up 20+ years ago) is featuring The Avett Brothers Thursday night and Chris Stapleton Friday night. Not to be outdone, The Peace Center is bringing in local legend Edwin McCain for a special evening of singer songwriters.

All of this is very good for the Greenville music scene but it does not interest me to write about it. That is not because I do not care for the music but because if you do not know who The Avett Brothers and Chris Stapleton are and why they are packing out a venue the size of “The Well” then you probably do not read this column or listen to much music in general. Instead, I prefer to focus on the smaller venues and their commitment to the really unique shows that will enchant a more intimate listening room in the days ahead.

Friday night The Firmament features a double bill of The Mantras and Empire Strikes Brass for the night requiring the most comfortable dancing shoes. The Mantras are a five piece jam band hailing from Greensboro while Asheville’s Empire Strikes Brass is exactly what the name suggests – a full on funk rock experience with horns, horns, and more horns. This is the type of show where if you look around and see someone sitting still, call 911 because they have likely left this world or, at a minimum, need emergency medical attention. The “jamtronica” four piece Scrumptious adds local flavor as it is always nice to see our own Upstate artists have a place on the stage with these larger touring acts.

Saturday, Gottrocks brings the heat with the return of New York’s Sirsy to the Upstate. This high energy two piece has to be seen live to be fully appreciated as Melanie Kramer’s custom built stand up drum kit and lead singing duties showcase talent beyond comparison. Rich Lebutti matches her flair note for note on his vintage Rickenbacker guitar and pedal board that I would need an engineering degree to even have a basic understanding of. I have seen them here in the Upstate several times over the years and can assure you, Sirsy never delivers anything short of a show you never want to end. Local Babe (I’m not being sexist, that is exactly how she would want me to describe her) Darby Wilcox opens things up for the perfect complement to Sirsy’s energy and sass.

Sunday leaves listeners with a decision to make. Want to hear a California based all female Hispanic punk rock band that has been dazzling critics since the early 2000’s? Well, The Radio Room has Go Betty Go who is going to rock your Sunday night with just that very recipe. Over in Greer, The Spinning Jenny is pairing friends and frequent collaborators Donna the Buffalo and Jim Lauderdale for an incredible evening of music. Either of these artists would be worth the trip to Downtown Greer so seeing them on the same bill is tough to pass up for fans of folk, Americana, and just plain outstanding roots music.

This all amounts to a great weekend of music at the small venues to provide balance to the big shows coming through. If your focus is on the bigger shows, I should note that I have an interview with an Avett brother over on my website at BrettBarest.com from just a couple years ago (sarcasm,  language, and general ridiculousness disclaimers apply here in full). Whatever you choose, have fun, enjoy the show, and thank you for supporting the Upstate music scene.

Weekend Concert Calendar

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