Moments after I got in my car to drive to Carrboro, the rain came. It fell hard and the air was hot. Muggy & wet. My favorite. I made my way slowly through the swampy night to The Station to catch (finally) the M is We residency.
For the last night of their month-long Wednesday night installment, a little band from Atlanta–Sad Fish–opened the night. An out-of-town opener is a bit bizarre indeed, but this final night of the M is We residency was a bit of a tussle itself. Sad Fish is a 3-person multi-instrumental band rocking bass, electric guitar, drums, keys, and a korg. They have a feel-good summer vibe and a vocal presence reminiscent of 80s new wave. Following a few sound-check adjustments, they played for the intimate but enthusiastic crowd of locals.
The night took a turn for rambunctious when BANGZZ took the stage. A Durham-based female punk duo–Blair on drums and Erika on guitar and vocals–BANGZZ is my new favorite band. Putting into song the tribulations of being a woman out and about in the world, all combined with an unfiltered, totally honest and eccentric stage presence, BANGZZ rocks my heart. “This song is called ‘Your Boyfriend Is Bringing You Down,’” Erika announced. You know, that asshole. You have probably met him too–the one who always knows better than you. I had a boyfriend like that once. Talk about toxicity. I will waste no more space on that faux feminist Philly punk. The boys don’t know better. “You know what I mean,” Erika says. Oh yes, I know what you mean. BANGZZ gives me hope for punk rock. There is a lot of female anger out there manifesting itself (and forcing uncomfortable questions) more and more in everyday interaction. Blair and Erika have taken that conversation and put it into song in a most appropriate way. “Take up space,” Erika says. Make your place known–no fucking apologies. I took a minute to take an enraged empowered selfie in the bathroom to commemorate the feeling of the night. Yeah I’m a millennial. I take bathroom selfies. Fuck it. I had a most splendiferous evening with those two, from the set they played to recording the Raw Bites when we were sitting on the sidewalk in front of The Station not giving a fuck. It was that kind of night.
By the time M is We took the stage, I had lost track of time. I was having too much fun. Which is the best way to have fun. After the band assembled themselves on stage, they fell into soundcheck, each one slowly joining in until they eventually crept their way into their setlist. From soundcheck on the music was continuous. Vocalist Michael stepped off the stage, moved into the audience, pulling the mic cord behind him, making his presence known. Bassist Nick, wailing on his instrument moved about the stage in wild unfettered dancing. The boys were having fun, no doubt. M is We has trickles of post-punk, metal, new wave, and electronic, all coming together to form some heavy as fuck dance-worthy sounds, as evidenced by the dancing man in my Instagram story doing his dancing thing during almost their entire set.
Now that the residency has concluded, M is We will enter the recording phase for some new music. Thanks to the experimental setting of the residency format, as the band pointed out, they were able to explore different sounds while also curating their setlists based on the sounds of the other bands playing with them throughout the residency. In my last Residency Post-Show, Violet Bell indicated very similar sentiments about the exploratory nature of the residency format. They too entered a recording period shortly after their residency at Arcana had concluded. I am encouraged to see that some of the small venues around the Triangle have implemented this model. Not only do the bands get a space to explore and experiment, while also interacting with other musicians they may or may not otherwise play with, the locals–us–we get to participate in the creative process, and in so doing, support the local scene, and witness some highly creative sets.
After the show I sat down with BANGZZ and M is We for two Raw Bites sessions. Easily the most loosey-goosey I have yet recorded, I invite you to listen: