December 20, 2008
Approaching the doors my expectation was to watch a rock show in the foreign surroundings of a warehouse district night spot dressed up as a progressive Christian church. What I found was a space remodeled and re-fit as a performance venue with very few overtones of the cloth. A Non-denominational contemporary Christian church, Vintage 21, now occupies the space best known for its former tenant, Jillian's, and organizes events such as rock concerts under its sub lease arrangement v21 Productions. Within the brick walls that once held the massive game room sports bar, pool tables have yielded way to a concert room floor with a mixed - seating in the rear, standing room at the stage - type of arrangement. The former bar area, which I secretly hoped would provide for a small nostalgia fix, has crumbled away in favor of a grand riser style stage which prominently draws the eyes. As I stepped through the propped open double doors into the darkened stage room, a crowd of 500 plus was dancing to The Never's closing song. The grandeur of the room was smartly alluring and its energy engaging, I was remiss that I arrived later and would only catch the final two acts of the four act bill.
Headlining the event in both billing and order was the dually residing Raleigh/Greenville group Lonnie Walker. Lonnie Walker's colorfully old-fashioned story telling back drops a combustible mix of Dillon-esque 60's era folk rock and very hip indy twang. Well written and well composed, their one-liner intensive lyrics match with easy and comfortable grooves for music you listen to on Saturday night, and then "hear" on Sunday as the metaphors tumble around in your head collecting meaning before becoming entwined in your greater understanding of life, love, and letting go. With their elemental presence and swagger on stage, one would believe Lonnie Walker indigenous to a region where microphones and guitars occur as an element of nature and folk music is the native tongue.
Lonnie Walker's performance drew upon the energy of a committed crowd of followers who sang along to every lyric. With a showing of skill and musicianship, Lonnie Walker treated us to a cover of Greenville connection cult classic synth monster Future Islands whose stark, dire, distressed sounds are the essence of unique and until Saturday night, considered by most as unreplicable.
With an early to start and early to finish show, some of us retreated down the street to a small bar to see the night through. The humor of the moment was, "hey, now we don't have to go to church tomorrow, we already went." The obvious contrast behind the joke was the passively presented and multi-purposed V21 whose clean lines and dark format provided an enjoyable room to see a great show and left us wondering how exactly a church holds sermon at a markedly live music oriented venue.
Visit Lonnie walker's profiles here:
Next on the calendar for v21 Productions is a true-to-form culturally diverse booking of regional pro wrestling Gouge Pro Wrestling on 1/9/2009. I'm going by the way; I absolutely have to see this.
The avant-garde "happening" seen in the above image at the right end of this broadly shouldered stage holding Sunfold's Kenny Florence underscored the creativity of Terpsikhore Record's art/music mash-up showcase at the culturally varied and urbanly tethered Vintage 21 Saturday night. With the intention for art to occupy the environment both on stage and off, the blank canvass of v21's sharp black space proved a welcoming choice.
More Images from Saturday Night:
Vintage 21 images
as I walk through the valley of darkness I will keep my eyes closed...
Vintage 21 - front end
The sparsely arranged white walls of the venues brightly lit front end catch a municipal art-exhibit feel.