Nightlight, Chapel Hill
June 29, 2009
I know that guitar playing is not a competition measured in static attributes such as top speed or most hot dogs eaten and I get that there is enough head room in this town for as much talent to fly around as have wings to do so. And, like all the watchers lying on our backs staring at the sky, I enjoy the symmetry of the flock whose diving, soaring, singing, and fluttering paint an accidental pattern demarcating our own invisible boundaries and color filling what's inside with beauty. And, with this understanding for the shimmering flashes of the larger picture it's out of context to point at a single flushing feather and say ooh look at that one, but its even more so out of my own character to with hold opinion. So, the realization I have to share moved Monday night from dancing around in the back of my mind to jumping up and down on my head and that is, Rich McLaughlin is the best guitar player among us right now.
Rich, who’s raspishly thin, taunt, and strong folk infused singing matches with wife and bass player Mimi's harmonies to front The Pneurotics, a three piece classic rock inspired riff juggernaut that cruises in altitudes most cannot even breathe in. On their run Monday night at a tiny art-land vortex run by low-income party people, I became acutely aware of his mastery in a downright un-human display of guitar and amp manipulation. Rich perfectly rendered full scale harmonics and ghostishly released them somewhere between arpeggio chord crunching and magically sustained rhythm. After its witness I had to use a ratchet jack to bring my jaw back into the vicinity of my face and then I let those around me borrow it for the same purpose. Getting up and down the fret board with near robotical speed and accuracy are merely his fundamentals, creating one-of-a-kind tone through a custom shop tube amp and lacing bogglingly creative chord progressions together is the clean air between Rich and the norm.
Drawing a crowd of guitar players after the set, Rich fielded questions as if holding a press conference to explain everything from where he got his amp to how and where the stalking fret harmonics were coming from. Those not present for the Q and A will get several more chances this summer as The Pneurotics have a July schedule line up playing through The Club Is Open festival at Jack Sprat on Wednesday July 8 and into a house party with Knock Out Roses and Jeremy Blair From Effingham in Raleigh on Saturday July 18.
the Winter Sounds opened the show after finishing up Sessions at Studio B appearance for MyNC earlier in the day and set the bar high, in more ways than one. With right and title to a one-in-a-million vocal range, Winter Sounds bass wielding front man Patrick Keenan shifts in and out of falsetto like an unbridled European sports car whose driver is standing on the pedals and searching for its limits. Counting on my fingers the number of lead singers that also occupy the bass guitar spot and then subtracting from that number of those that deftly scale chord positions from top to bottom, Patrick is mathematically among the best bass playing front men on the road.
Motivated by creativity, the unstoppable Winter Sounds drives their brand of popular chased indie rock through the walls and right onto the stage. The Chicago via Athens indie crew lived on the road in 2007 and their daily show schedule through September of this year attempts to usurp. Careful those audiences later in the tour, should Patrick realize the top end of his range, don't be standing next to a window. --Carrboro Ninja
visit The Pneurotics myspace profile:
then visit the Winter Sounds myspace profile:
Monday night in pictures
Rich McLaughlin scribbling down set lists two-and-a-half minutes before The Pneurotics go on stage
the Winter Sounds
Lauren, the coolest merch girl ever
gallery of pictures from Monday night: