Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free concerts and no covers

I'm heading out of town for the July 4th holiday this weekend, so things will be pretty quiet -- but before I go, I wanted to bring a couple of noteworthy free concerts to your attention.

Next Thursday's Alive After Five features Who's Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute band. Sparkly gloves not required for entry, but highly recommended.

Also at the EpiCentre: Vanilla Ice (yes, really) performs July 11 as part of the complex's summer concert series. Sing it with me: "Doo doo doo d-d-doo doo ..."

And speaking of free, a reader asked me to compile a list of all the uptown bars that don't charge a cover on the weekends. Here's what I found (let me know if I missed any):
  • Brick & Barrel
  • Cans
  • Fox & Hound
  • Therapy
  • PJ's
  • Cosmos
  • Wild Wing Cafe
  • Stool Pigeons
  • Corner Pub
  • The Pub at Gateway
  • Cedar Street Tavern
  • Picasso's
  • Dixie's Tavern

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson tribute night

The Forum will host a special "Ode to MJ" tonight starting at 11 p.m.

Classic Michael Jackson and Jackson 5 tracks will be woven into the club's usual lineup of top 40 dance hits, as well as a couple of solid blocks of time devoted to nothing but the music from the best years of the King of Pop.

Want to go? Admission is $10 or free when you text FORUM to 25827 (you must text before 7 p.m.).

Know of other places dedicating their music to Jackson? Post them in comments below.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Uptown sports dive closes

George Herman's, a sports bar tucked into the charming Brevard Court, closed its doors within the past two weeks.

The closing comes just about a month after the bar expanded, adding a separate room off the lower level previously occupied by another tenant.

The bar's owner couldn't be reached for comment this afternoon, and the phone number at the bar has been disconnected.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Therapy's new look

Therapy Cafe reopened last week and its bigger look now matches its famous double martinis.

The new Therapy is easily triple the size of its original location -- it and Rock Bottom are now the only businesses along the block of Tryon from Seventh to Eighth streets after Therapy took over spaces that previously housed an art gallery and Lola's.

The new look is spacious and modern, yet cozy. The deep reds and browns have been replaced with cool blues and greens and lots of candlelight. Seating includes a mix of big booths and hightop tables and ample seating at the long main bar. A private room is also available to rent for receptions, business meetings and parties.

Much like the bar, the menu has expanded, too. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are now served, and the fare goes beyond sandwiches thanks to the full kitchen chefs have to work with (left over from Lola's).

Owner Jason Stone has incorporated food into the new menu that comes fresh from his local organic farm. Entrees include pasta pomodoro, smothered pork chops, shrimp and grits, and a New York strip ($12-$21).

The only thing that hasn't changed is the martini lineup -- and those are still half-price on Wednesday nights (normally $12), the bar's most popular night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

For reals, bro?

A friend passed this along to me today and I couldn't resist sharing with my hair-gel hating, anti-Ed Hardy readers. It's a clip from MTV's new show "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" inspired by this popular website.

The commentary is pretty spot on (and the content resembles more than a few scenes I witness weekly on the party scene). Enjoy, or cringe.

Forum updates its Roof Garden

It was one of my favorite rooftop hangouts already, but Forum has made some improvements to its Roof Garden and will unveil the new look this weekend -- just in time for Sunday's Summer Solstice.

The club has added new greenery, upgraded its lighting and changed the color scheme. Check out the new look with me on Saturday night. Rain isn't in the forecast, so no excuses.

DJ Ben Hamilton will be spinning sultry Miami-inspired house music with a live percussionist, and bartenders will be serving up Brazilian caipirinhas.

The party is open to the public after 11 p.m. Hope to see some of you guys there!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whisky's celeb-filled birthday bash

Whisky River was decked in balloons and streamers Wednesday night and bartenders passed out birthday cake to mark the bar's one-year anniversary at an exclusive party filled with local celebrities.

Whisky owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was there to celebrate the occasion, along with fellow NASCAR drivers Denny Hamlin, Dave Stremme and Reed Sorenson.

A number of Carolina Panthers also partied hidden from the crowd in the VIP section, including Julius Peppers, Dante Rosario and Jon Beason.

And city leaders also turned out: Mayor Pat McCrory gave a toast proclaiming Whisky River as "the best bar in Charlotte and the best in the Southeast." (Ha.) City councilmen John Lassiter and Andy Dulin (who was heavily promoting his Twitter -- or as he calls it, Tweeter -- page) were also in attendance.

But it was the party's musical guest that had everyone talking: country singer and "Dancing with the Stars" pro Julianne Hough, who performed a 45-minute set with full band, dedicating one song to boyfriend (and fellow country singer) Chuck Wicks and playing a new song for the first time. She also played a couple of covers: Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen" and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."

Her upbeat, feel-good performance showed why she was recently named Best New Artist at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Win Julianne Hough tickets!

Update: Tickets gone.

Update: Tickets gone.
Update: Tickets gone.

Whisky River celebrates its one-year anniversary with a special performance by country cutie and "Dancing with the Stars" pro Julianne Hough.

It's invitation only, but I've got a pair of tickets for one lucky reader. (Note: You must be able to pick up the tickets from the Observer today.)

The first person to e-mail me the names of her two partners with whom she won "Dancing with the Stars" gets the tickets. Please include a daytime phone number.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Price gouging at the concessions stand

I touched on this briefly in my story covering the opening of the Uptown Amphitheatre on Saturday night, but I need to vent my personal disgust a little bit more.

The price-gouging going on at various concerts and sporting events is out of control.

I was hoping that prices at the new venue would be lower than those at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, since it's smaller (5,000 vs. Verizon's 18,000) and the bands aren't as high-profile.

Nope: Beers ranged from $8-$11 on Saturday night. Sodas and waters were just as ridiculously priced -- $5 for a bottle of Coke or a 24-ounce fountain drink and $4 for a bottle of Dasani water. (My $5 fountain drink was filled three-quarters of the way with big chunks of ice. I got maybe 10 sips of actual soda from it.)

The fact that these guys have tip buckets at their $9 beer stands is almost comical. Almost.

And it's not just Live Nation venues either (although their prices appear to be the highest). Beers at Bobcats games or Time Warner Cable Arena concerts will cost you around $8.75; Bank of America Stadium charges between $6.50 and $8.

How can these places charge such outrageous prices with a straight face, especially in this economy?

It's not like they're taking a loss on ticket sales -- especially when they're adding on up to $17 in service fees (Read Observer reporter Andrew Dunn's story about service fees here) -- and then making it up at the concessions stands. They're making money on both sides.

It takes the fun out of going to such events, knowing how much more it's going to cost you on top of what you've already paid just to get in the door. My wallet feels for the chivalrous guys out there who took dates to Saturday's concert and picked up the tab. (For an interesting look at dating during the recession, click here.)

Some say the solution is simple: "Get hammered before you go." I say you shouldn't have to do that, especially if you plan on driving.

Others say "Who cares? It's the same everywhere else. Accept it."

You should be able to go to a concert, enjoy a nice summer night with a cold beer under the stars -- for a reasonable price. Heck, I'd be happy with a $5 beer at this rate.

Friday, June 12, 2009

G&G Club changes its name

(I've updated this entry to reflect that the settlement amount reached by the two sides was confidential and far less than previously reported.)

And in more N.C. Music Factory news, there's been a name shakeup at the former Garden & Gun Club.

The house-music-focused dance club has been in the midst of a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by South Carolina-based Garden & Gun Magazine nearly a year ago.

The two sides settled about six months ago in a confidential agreement and the club's name officially changed to Halo this week.

The club will celebrate its new name tonight with Global Fever 4, featuring New York's DJ Nicknakis and Charlotte's DJ Kosta X.

Uptown Amphitheatre/Fillmore set to open

Photo courtesy of Robert Lahser -- rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

The N.C. Music Factory takes a big step this weekend in its attempt to turn the northwest edge of uptown into one of Charlotte's most vibrant entertainment districts.

The Uptown Amphitheatre opens tomorrow with headliners The Fray. Folk-rocker Corey Smith opens The Fillmore Charlotte next Friday. Both new venues are operated by Live Nation under a long-term deal.

I got a sneak peek of the places and previewed them for today's paper. Click here to read.

For photos, click here.

For video, click here.

And if you missed it last Sunday, check out my story about how the N.C. Music Factory went from being an ambitious vision to a reality.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poolside chic at the Ballantyne Hotel

The Ballantyne Hotel is starting a weekly party inspired by the chic gatherings often hosted poolside at South Beach hotels like the Delano.

The new Thursday night party, which kicks off this week, coincides with the unveiling of the luxury hotel's new outdoor pool (about half the size of an Olympic-length pool) located just off the spa.

Guests can mingle on the pool deck overlooking the golf course or lounge on the cushy chaises while DJ Lotta Noize provides the music from the second level terrace. Two bars will serve cocktails and the pool menu will be available until 10 p.m.

The party, which is open to the public, starts at 6 p.m. and runs through Sept. 3. (If sunbathing is more your thing, the pool is also available to members of the public for a $50 daily fee or it's free to use with a spa service.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How do you hold your drink?

Think about the last time you were out at a bar with friends. Now, think about what you were drinking and how you were holding your glass: Casually? Daintily? Firmly?

A new study by psychologist Glenn Wilson for Australian bar chain Walkabout Bars says the way you hold your drink reveals much about your personality. He studied the body language of 500 partyers and divided them into eight personality types.

According to Wilson, the eight types are:
  1. The Flirt: Usually a woman, who holds her glass with dainty, splayed fingers and uses it in a provocative way. She may position it over her cleavage so as to draw attention to her attributes or peer over the rim to make eye contact when taking a sip. She may "tease" the rim of the glass with her finger, perhaps dipping it into the drink and sucking it dry.
  2. The Gossip: This (mainly female) drinker tends to cluster in all-female groups talking about other people, and can be critical. She holds a wine glass by the bowl and uses it to gesticulate and make points in conversation. She is inclined to lean over her drink, in towards others so as to speak confidentially.
  3. The Fun-lover: This type of drinker may be a man or a woman, who drinks to be sociable and values togetherness. A convivial individual, he/she enjoys being with their friends, and likes a laugh. Swigs taken from bottled drinks are short, so they don't miss out on chipping in with the conversation. The bottle is held loosely at its shoulder for ease.
  4. The Wallflower: This is a shy individual who holds the glass protectively, not letting go, as though afraid somebody will take it away. Palms are kept hidden and the glass is used as a social crutch – the drink is never quite finished, with a mouthful left in case of emergency. It may be drunk through a straw, which is fidgeted with, and used to stir the drink between sips.
  5. The Ice-queen: This is a mainly female type whose natural style is cold and defensive. She drinks from a wine glass, or a short glass, which is held firmly in a barrier position across the body so as to deter intimate approaches.
  6. The Playboy: This man is the active, self-confident, Don Juan-type seducer. He uses his (usually long) glass or bottle as a phallic prop, playing with it suggestively.
  7. The Jack the Lad: This "peacock" is conscious of his image and will drink a bottled beer, or cider. Inclined to be confident and arrogant, he can be territorial in his gestures, spreading himself over as much space as possible, for example, pushing the glass well away from himself and leaning back in his chair.
  8. The Browbeater: This pugnacious type is again mostly male. He prefers large glasses, or bottles, which he uses as symbolic weapons, firmly grasped, and gesticulating in a threatening, "in the face" kind of way. Something of a know-it-all, he comes across as slightly hostile, even if only through verbal argument, or jokes targeted at others.
I fall into -- interestingly enough -- The Wallflower category. I grasp my drink with both hands and swirl my straw. But as the night goes on and more drinks are consumed, I quickly become the Fun-lover. Funny how that happens.

Where do you guys stand? Do you use body language to determine whether or not to approach someone?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More free summer concerts

The EpiCentre isn't the only place hosting free concerts this summer -- you can also get your free-music fix at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

In addition to its popular Thursday night Subaru River Jam, the USNWC is starting a Saturday event as well. The Summer Saturdays Concert Series starts this weekend and runs through July. Free entry, but parking is $5. The concerts run from 6-9 p.m.

Here's a preliminary lineup:
  • June 6: Jeff Luckadoo
  • June 13: Greg Lilley
  • June 20: Dixie Electric Company
  • June 27: Tom Rucker
  • July 11: The Brubakers
  • July 18: Scott Smith
  • Aug. 1: Nita B & The Swingin' Soiree
  • Aug. 8: The Operators
  • Aug. 15: The Matt Hatfield Group
Also starting this weekend is the Marshall Park Music Festival, a Sunday jazz fest that runs through the end of the month. From 1-7 p.m. each week you can hear live music from four different bands including such acts as Thom Crumpton and Jared Allen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Free summer concert series coming to EpiCentre

The EpiCentre is offering its own economic stimulus package in the form of a free summer concert series every Saturday starting June 13.

Josh Kelley and Ryan Cabrera will kick things off at the Pavilion next week at 7 p.m.

The series -- in conjunction with Full House Productions and Kiss 95.1 -- is a way of thanking Charlotte for its support, said Bob Durkin of BMG, which runs much of the entertainment venues at the uptown complex.

"With this economy being what it is and with all the good things that have happened at the EpiCentre, it's really perfect timing to thank everybody for embracing (us)," he told me Tuesday.

The series will run for 10 weeks and will feature such national recording artists as Tinted Windows, Vanessa Carlton and Kevin Rudolf.

"People just do not want to pay $50 to see a show in these or any economic times," Thom Perez of Full House Productions said in a news release. "And now they don't have to."

Concertgoers will also get free admission to Suite, BlackFinn, StrikeCity and Whisky River when they show their wristbands.

A limited number of VIP Access Passes will be given out over the air on Kiss 95.1.

Update on Therapy

After closing in February for an extensive expansion and remodel, Therapy is set to reopen this month.

The martini bar-restaurant's reopening is set for June 10, which is an invite-only party to meet the case of Phantom of the Opera. (Sign up here.) 

The official grand reopening party will be held June 12.

Win tickets to VIP party at '70s club

The disco balls are hanging and the resin is drying on the record-covered bar at Dammit Janet, the new '70s club opening up Friday in NoDa.

If you want to get a sneak peek of the club, I've got five pairs of tickets to give away to Thursday's pre-opening VIP party, catered by KC of Fat City.

Just post your favorite disco dance tune in comments below then e-mail me your comment.

First five get 'em.

(UPDATE: Tickets gone. Thanks for playing.)