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The Flatiron: Mat Masterson’s Farewell Show

Feb 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Feature

Photo by Chris Lubinski

I think I got into Friend House the summer of 2010. A friend (who has also left Greensboro for a bigger, ‘better’ city) had told me to check them out and try to get a show with them. That show never happened, but Friend House quickly became one of my favorite Greensboro bands. At the time I got into them, they were a three-piece – consisting of Matt Ledbetter (Fake Mustache) on bass, Austin Pennington (Switchblade 85, Hot Ropes) on drums, and Mat Masterson on guitar and vox. As time progressed, the three-piece became a five-piece – losing Matt (‘Double T’), but gaining bassist Christian McKinnie (Woodland Creatures) and guitarist Mike Bannerman (Israel Darling). Friend House has since disbanded, mostly due to Mat’s recent decision to move to Hawaii – which brings us to Saturday evening.

Saturday was Mat’s goodbye show – and it was quite a spectacular show. On top of the great line up, it actually started on time! Kind of. The advertised 7:30 PM start time was actually a bit more like 7:45 – but that’s early for Greensboro.

Mat played solo – just a guitar and his voice. It was his last set in Greensboro for ‘awhile,’ so it was a somewhat bittersweet beginning. Along with old Friend House songs, he played a couple of newer ones and some covers – including a cover of Come Hell or High Water’s“Mouth” (can we just talk about how excited I am that they’re back together?). He also played “My Ding-a-ling” by Chuck Berry. Nearly everybody in the bar was singing along. If they weren’t singing, it was because their mouths were too busy sipping beer. Because Saturday’s $3 pints are almost affordable.

Mat managed to fit most, if not all, of his songs into that hour-and-some-change set. Glancing around the bar, I caught some people singing along to his originals – especially my personal favorite, “Drunk Town.” Seeing people support local music is one of the reasons I love Greensboro so much.

Photo by Chris Lubinski

Up next came Matty Sheets and the Blockheads. Their six-piece (missing Erin Hayes on flute, who would make it a seven-piece) barely fit on the stage, and their sound filled the whole bar. The band utilizes an array of instruments like accordion, keyboard, melodica, and banjo, along with your typical guitar-bass-drums combination. They played several familiar songs, like “Nashville,” “Up To Snuff,” and a cool rendition of “Walking on Shark” (“Waltzing on Shark,” if that gives you an idea). Three members of The Blockheads also played later – Jon (bass) and Jerrod (drums) make up two-thirds of The Leeves, and Jessica ‘Lil P’ Pennell fronts The Painted Skulls.

The Old One-Two got onstage around 10. Their sound is straight up bluesy rock. The Old One-Two is comprised of Hawke Kelley, Nathan Myers, and Chadd Myers. Their lack of a bassist doesn’t hinder them at all – in fact, it makes them that much cooler. Saturday night, they played for about half an hour or so, a great follow up to The Blockheads. They’re a fun band to watch, with loud songs like “Short Circuit” and “Blind and Brokedown.”  They closed their set with “Never Looking Back,” (probably my favorite song) which has a great buildup after the chorus. Definitely check this band out. They’ll be playing New York Pizza March 3rd.

Photo by Chris Lubinski

Right after The Old One-Two, we were graced by the elusive Switchblade 85 – who haven’t played since GreensboroFest. They’ve drawn all sorts of influences, like surf rock and punk (they refer to this genre as ‘surf-awesome’), to create this (mostly) instrumental three-piece, consisting of Lorenzo Hall on bass, Austin Pennington on drums and vox, and Brad Biggerstaff on guitar. They all have pseudonyms – ‘Raul,’ ‘Johnny Stabwound,’ and ‘Greased Lightning,’ respectfully. They’re incredibly easy to dance to, and their closing song, “Invasion at the Drive-In,” generates a lot of crowd participation. It involves yelling phrases like “Linda – behind you!” and “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” It also incorporates a mad scientist laugh halfway through the song. Their set was badass. It’s always a pleasure to see Switchblade.

Following the two louder bands came the sweet sounds of The Painted Skulls. This show was the last that Mat would be playing drums with them. Regardless of his departure looming over them, they played great. They started with “4 AM,” and, during their second song (“September 23”), Matty Sheets managed to crawl into the corner of the stage and help keep the beat with Mat. As usual with “Voodoo,” there was crowd participation for the chorus. As usual with bassist Little Mikey, he yelled “you guys sound like Winston Salem” (last time, it was High Point) when people didn’t sing loud enough. My slightly-stumbling feet managed to dance a bit, and I somehow convinced a few people to twirl across the floor with me. Their set was lovely, and I sang every word, like the Greensboro dork I am.

Photo by Chris Lubinski

Ending the evening was The Leeves. It was late, but the crowd wasn’t tired at all. Neither was Taylor Bays, who joined on guitar after a few songs. He shredded along to songs like “Jamie Will Get the Beer Tonight” and “Past Is Past.” I stayed stationed in my usual post – the front row, yelling the words until I lost my voice.  And then I whisper-shouted. And danced. And smiled. Because, as I’m sure you know by now, The Leeves are my favorite band.

Their set was awesome, and a great end to the night. As the slightly-drunk patrons of the Flat dissipated, my ears continued to ring with leftovers from yet another great night in Greensboro. Farewell, Mat Masterson, your last gig here was wonderful.

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2 Comments to “The Flatiron: Mat Masterson’s Farewell Show”

  1. Matty Sheets says:

    It was a great night. Thanks, Avalon.

  2. Josh Watson says:

    The Old One-Two, The Grand Ole Uproar and Hanging Thread will play NYP Friday, March 2nd.

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