On the night we arrived in Asheville, Christopher Paul Stelling played just down the street at Ambrose West. A close friend from our Brooklyn days, Stelling had moved to Asheville a year ago. It was surreal, watching one of the fixtures of my Brooklyn days up on stage as I stood next to another Brooklyn ex-pat, Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees. I had only arrived to town a couple hours prior, but Asheville was already feeling like the home Santa Fe never quite became.
Wednesday March 7th was my seventh day in town. UK post-punk trio Shopping was playing just down the street at The Mothlight, so it was a perfectly opportunity to check out the local venue.
Taking the stage first, Asheville’s own KONVOI became the first local band I’ve seen and I liked what I heard. Borrowing from the same cavernous recesses of Joy Division, the darkwave quartet set shadows upon the venue.
L.A. band French Vanilla followed. Fitting tour partners of Shopping, French Vanilla raised the bar with an energetic post-punk sound that immediately recalled X-Ray Spex. It’s great to hear young bands drawing influence from such special bands who have really never gotten the respect they deserve. Much like in X-Ray Spex, the presence of the sax combining with jagged dance rhythms felt like a breath of fresh air in contrast to the usual standard guitar-bass-drums. A vibrant cover of ABBA’s “SOS” was a major highlight.
Touring in support of their latest release The Official Body, UK trio Shopping was an absolute blast to watch from start to finish. Interweaving a combination of rapid-fire highlife guitar riffs and angular art-punk rhythms, the trio played with both technical precision and boundless raw joy. Hittig a sweet spot between the bouncy political disco punk of Le Tigre and The Slits’ ticking timebomb of well-traveled post-punk, Shopping’s best songs like “Asking For A Friend” and “Discover” have a heart and a message without sacrificing playfulness. They’re really good, and are only gonna get better, so go see them. They’ll be at SXSW if that’s something you do.
Once again, I find myself in a new city, looking for how I can best contribute my voice and lens to the local music and arts scenes. The content on the pages of Mecca Lecca will surely continue to evolve as time passes.