I was at a birthday party one week and a day before this show when my young friend Buck Boswell asked me if I'd be interested in going to see D4 in Chapel Hill (a two and a half hour drive for us) on September 14 because he needed a ride and that was the closest they'd be playing to us. I said I'd love to go, but my own band was playing a show here on the same night. Little did we know that, thanks to a schedule change, D4 would be playing in our town on the 15th. Because it was a last minute booking and had little promotion, the show didn't have the turnout it could have had. I've since talked to lots of people who didn't know the show even happened until after I told them about it.
The remnants of a tropical storm whose name I've since forgotten had pounded our area with rain since the night before the show. When I walked through the doors one hour after the club had opened, my friend and Tremont employee Matt told me I was the seventh paying person there. I started to feel bad for the bands. First up was the long-running Chapel Hill group The Scaries. They're a hard-rocking, melodic, punk band who always put on an energetic show, and they didn't hold back despite the poor turnout. Bit by bit people did show up, topping out at about forty or so. The Scaries were followed by D4 tour mates Rivethead who were fun and rocking and whose music I'd like to hear more of.
Toys That Kill were next and received the best response of the night, probably due to the enthusiasm of some of the local punks who hung out with them when they came through on tour last year. I remember being amazed at how good they sounded. Paddy from D4 had been watching the show most of the night and during Toys That Kill's set he made his presence known on stage with various props, gags, and simulated sex acts with lead singer Todd Congelliere. Meanwhile the singer for Rivethead danced at the foot of the stage and poured beer on his own head.
When D4 hit the stage, Paddy commented that some bands may feel uncomfortable with few people at a show, but not him. He said that he got into music to make friends, and I think he made a few new ones that night (it was D4's first Charlotte show to my knowledge) unless there were any lovers of the "sexless emo" in the crowd. Getting by on about four hours of sleep from the night before, my energy was fading by this time, but D4's forty-five/fifty minute set was thrilling throughout. Then Billy announced, "Time to head for the cold beer," and he and Paddy stormed the bar. The crowd seemed a little disappointed that there was no encore, but the whole show had been great so I couldn't complain. Hopefully, these guys will play Charlotte again. If not, D4 and Toys That Kill are worth going out of town to see. And I could see Rivethead growing on me, too.