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Listen Local Series Kicks Off in High Gear at The Underground

Queen City Music Fans Show Their Love For the Locals

We may not be New York or Nashville yet, but here in Charlotte we are well on our way to the top when it comes to an ever growing local music scene. Charlotte and the Carolinas are chock full of talented bands of all genres and here at Shutter 16 we are committed to bringing you all the action.

This past Saturday evening was the only place to be for local music lovers as the Listen Local Series kicked off with a fury at the Underground. This special event was a showcase of local rock that featured not one or two, but five kickass Carolina bands. Even this latest bout of wintery weather didn’t stop the fans from coming out in droves to show their love and support for their local favorites.


The excitement was palpable as I entered the venue with a buzz about the show being generated everywhere you looked. It was a homecoming of sorts for bands and fans alike as the venue quickly filled with friends, family, and all the familiar faces one typically sees in the rock show crowd. The first band to get things started was none other than Venus Invictus. The band took the stage with bassist Harlynn Spectra, a.k.a. Harley Quinn, in full costume, and lead vocalist Amanda Tattermask donned in a red dress and cape. You could just feel that it would be a magical and mystical night. Guitarist Josh Wright was fierce and drummer Jim Saj kept the rhythms pounding all night along with the bass lines of Quinn. Their sound leans toward the progressive or experimental side of metal with the vocals of Tattermask weaving a magical spell. Amanda thanked everyone for coming out and joked that Venus was the crappy opening band that everyone had to endure before the good bands came out. Of course, that was far from the truth as Venus Invictus put in an excellent set wowing the crowd with “Smaller Than Death” and “Secret Sex Attic.” Due to the number of bands on the bill, their set was over far too soon but left the crowd amped up and longing for more.

Venus Invictus  | Listen to some tunes








Next up was the crunching hard rock of Faithful Annie. The band is one of the newer groups to hit the local scene but its members certainly are not. In fact, lead vocalist Chad Longsworth does double duty as the drummer for cover band Enrage Against The Machine, who just happened to play at the Underground the night before. The band has a great combination of hard rock and metal with a great grunge vibe. Longsworth is proving to be a top notch vocalist capable of filling the venue with his soaring melodies and also screaming it out with the best of them. Guitarists Daniel Griffin and Matt Sharpe were on fire as the rhythm section of drummer Scott Whitson and bassist Greg Herndon drove the pace all night. Herndon deserves a special mention as he moved all over the stage much like a tasmanian devil for most of the set.

The band brought out Blackwater Drowning vocalist Morgan Mortality to help out with the vocals on “Fallen Victim.” This was just an example of the local bands helping each other out and it was great to see such a supportive atmosphere from all the bands throughout the night. They closed out the set with “Distant Portraits,” my favorite by far and definitely worth a listen if you haven’t yet checked them out.

Faithful Annie | Listen to some tunes 







The massive metal force that is Blackwater Drowning would hit the stage next. They are aggressive yet melodic and will definitely melt your brain. Let the hair flipping commence! Kicking off their set with “Violent Ends,” the band was in overdrive from the very first note. The twin axe attack of Jeremy Bennett and Ron Dalton Jr was scorching while drummer Chris Peavy pounded away behind his kit. Bassist Aria Novi not only kept the bass lines humming but helped out vocally as well. Morgan got the crowd going as she pointed for them to get louder and the head banging began. The band is technically proficient and provided the heaviest sounds of the night. The crowd was eating it up and much in need of a refreshing beverage by the end of the set.

Blackwater Drowning | Listen to some tunes






By this time of the evening, the venue had filled close to capacity and everyone was waiting in anticipation of the next set by none other than Something Clever. If you have never seen Something Clever live, get yourself to a show now. This is a band that has an undeniable energy and stage presence that resonates with the fans and really makes them feel like they are a part of the show. You don’t just go to see Something Clever, you go to experience Something Clever. When the band made their appearance, the energy level of the crowd grew tenfold.

Their sound ranges from radio rock to metal and the local crowd was quite familiar with their songs. Frontman Adam Nelson is not only a terrific vocalist but a consummate showman as he bantered, posed, and interacted with the crowd. Guitarists Kelly Flusk and Brett Baker are not only skilled musicians but also put on a great show, holding their instruments up in the air and flashing the devil horns to the fans. Kelly even went airborne at one point, taking flight off the drum riser much to the delight of the fans. Although drummer Justin Tyme was fairly well hidden behind his kit, his thundering beats kept the rhythms steady while bassist Lawrence West slinked and grooved his bass all over the place.

Nelson came off the stage to the barricade to sing for the crowd and at one point ran into the crowd with West to play part of a song and get a mosh pit going. Flusk also went down into the pit, clapping and getting the crowd engaged while crew members launched beach balls out into the audience. The highlight of the show was their hit single “Rise”, which everyone seemed to know and sing along. It was a stellar performance from a band that is definitely on the way up. Shutter 16 had the chance to chat with the band prior to the show, so be sure and stay tuned for some exclusive announcements during our interview.

Something Clever  | Listen to some Tunes











After Something Clever’s set was over, the crowd in the venue began to thin out fairly quickly even though there was one more band to go. The ladies of Reason Define rushed as fast as they could to get set up and start their set. For those that left early, you should have stayed put, because you missed one hell of a performance by Reason Define.

I have to give major props to this band because Something Clever put on a show that would be hard for many to follow but Reason Define came out and absolutely nailed it. It had been quite a while since I last saw them perform live, in fact too long, and I forgot just how good this band is. Leading off with “Start Me Over,” they had a commanding presence from start to finish. By the time they got to their second song of the night, which was a cover of The Clash hit “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” they had the audience completely on their side. People were shouting and singing along and having a great time which is what a great rock show is supposed to be like. Lead vocalist Paolina Massaro sounded fierce and guitarist Sav Ruff and Shelby McVicker were spectacular. Drummer Syd McVicker and bassist Caitin Rutkowski provided a solid backbone, holding everything together. These five ladies know how to rock and ended the evening of rock with style and aplomb.

Reason Define  | Listen to some tunes








The evening was full of great music, great friends, and the hope of great things to come for everyone involved. Here’s hoping that the Listen Local Series can become a regular event that brings the best and brightest talent together with music fans old and new. Hats off to everyone that was involved and to everyone that came out to support local music.

See full gallery of the night!

Catch Reason Define on tour:

Greensboro, NC
Sun 6 PMCaitlin Rutkowski is going
Acworth, GA
Spartanburg, SC
Thu 7 PM2 friends are going
Indianapolis, IN
Fri 7 PMShelby McVicker is going
Fort Wayne, IN
Fri 7 PM13 friends are going
Charlotte, NC

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