It’s a weeknight in December at Chop Shop in NoDa when Charlotte’s Scowl Brow – the fourth of five acts – takes the stage. In moments an exuberant crowd is gathered at the front of the stage singing along with Robby Hale.
Beer and foam fly through the air. Fists pump. Bystanders dodge dancing limbs and flying fists at the edge of the small mosh pit. It’s chaotic and contagious and it’s more passion and abandon than what’s usually reserved for national acts selling out the Fillmore.
“They’re moshing to a band you shouldn’t mosh to,” says drummer Joshua Taddeo, a tattoo artist at Fu’s in NoDa who was previously in national touring Charlotte metal band A Stained Glass Romance.
“People buy 24 ounces of PBR just to throw on the band,” adds Taddeo, whose drum kit is rusted from repeat dousings.
“It gets a little squirrely,” echoes bassist Justin Driscoll at a booth at Growler’s in NoDa Monday. “I might get mad for a second ’cause I got elbowed or punched in the face, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Such an intense reaction from local fans is rare, especially at the small club and bar level. Maybe it’s the chemistry of three Charlotte transplants born within three days of each other in 1986.
Scowl Brow plays its home base Snug Harbor Saturday to help raise money for a van. It will open for Andrew WK at Neighborhood Theatre in September.
Besides downright infectious punky indie-rock hooks, Taddeo says it’s Hale’s lyrics and delivery that attract much of that furor.
“Most of our fans want to say the things we say, but can’t,” he says. Hale, who writes on acoustic guitar before bringing his songs to the band, addresses rocky family issues, rockier relationships, a former drug habit and living in his truck. His warts-and-all lyrics are frank and unapologetic, which tends to rub some listeners the wrong way. But like early Eminem and Guns n’ Roses, there’s a raw honesty and sense of danger that encompasses the original spirit of rock ’n’ roll.
“In rock ‘n’ roll, if you’re not offending somebody you’re doing something wrong,” Taddeo echoes the old adage. “We don’t go out of our way to be offensive, but Robby does go out of his way not to sugarcoat anything.”
Scowl Brow toned down that element for 2014’s “Born Again” EP, but it’s those old blunt rockers from its 2013 self-titled full-length that fans connect with. They say they’ve found a happy medium between the maturity of the EP and its more straightforward earlier work. They also want it to reflect the ferocity of the band’s live shows.
Courtney’s blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com