God Save The Queen City revives the Charlotte music scene

By Lane Claffee 

August 8, 2016

Returning to Charlotte this month for its sixth consecutive year is the God Save The Queen City music festival. Created in 2011 by local screen printing business, Ink Floyd, the company curates each year’s lineup to provide local bands with exposure. It’s an exciting event for the city, especially for those who are passionate about the local music scene. “We love going out to see live music shows,” said Dave Collier, founder and president of Ink Floyd. “We’re always looking for unique ways to promote Ink Floyd, make a positive community impact, and help shine more light on the local music scene.”

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Dave Collier owner of Ink Floyd. Photo by Bridgette Aikens

The idea began with a collective enthusiasm for live music and creativity. “In 2011 we set out to have a big party,” said vice president of Ink Floyd, Eric Leaf. “Then we decided to try and host all of our favorite local acts at one time.” In its first year, the primary venue for GSTQC was the Chop Shop, though ultimately the festival has been able to develop partnerships with venues such as Snug Harbor, and most recently, The Fillmore Charlotte. During the following summer of 2012, the festival grew enough to allow Ink Floyd to establish partnerships with local businesses like Heist Brewery and JJ’s Red Hots to enhance the overall experience of GSTQC. In 2013, the decision was made to integrate regional and national acts into the lineup, with notable performers over the years such as St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Futurebirds, Diarrhea Planet, The Dean Ween Group and Hiss Golden Messenger.

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Paul Janeway of St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Photo by Daniel Coston

A great selling point for this festival is that Dave and Eric have maintained affordability to make GSTQC appealing for a wide range of music lovers. For under $25 you get to experience live sets from more than 21 acts, over the course of six nights. Collier describes it as an easy, cost-effective and convenient music “festival.”  It has all the advantages of a music festival with great bands and food, without the hassle of having to walk for miles or being immersed in a crowd of 50,000 people; it stays true to the idea of having a big party.    

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The Ink Floyd team. Christine Zelez (left), Eric Leaf (middle), and Amy Quinn (right). Photo by Kurt Shackelford

The Chop Shop was the original venue for GSTQC and it, unfortunately, had to close its doors in November 2015 due to the prevalent development issues in NoDa and all over Charlotte, which have challenged other historic venues like Tremont Music Hall, Double Door Inn and the Milestone. In an effort to preserve these historic places in Charlotte’s music culture, the creators of GSTQC decided to donate all admission proceeds from this year’s events at Snug Harbor to the Save the Milestone campaign fundraiser. “For us, we lost our festival home of five years when the Chop Shop became a pile of rubble last year. Obviously we want to lift up the local music scene, and this cause just makes sense,” said Leaf.

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The Chop Shop lot in February of 2016. Photo by Woody Williams

Despite all the changes over the years, this year is no different in terms of great national and local talent. One headliner, Black Pistol Fire, displays elements of the frantic garage rock of the White Stripes, along with the intense blues sound of North Carolina’s own Flat Duo Jets, and co-headliner Nikki Lane’s sentimental, neo-country style, are sure to provide an exciting experience. Local talent this year includes Rapper Shane, Elevator JayThe Business People, Landless, Dust and AshesAncient Cities, Jason Scavone, It’s Snakes, and Serfs, among others. Festival regular Benji Hughes is on this year’s lineup as well. Hughes was the first headliner back in 2011 and has been a frequent act ever since.

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Brandie Kinugawa – Graphic Designer at Ink Floyd

Besides all of the great talent set to play this year, relationships with local businesses like Recover Apparel, who will be producing GSTQC T-shirts with sustainable material (as well as a new series of graphics) really enhance the experience. “I especially love the helmet graphic icon that Brandie (Kinugawa) did this year,” said Collier. The new merchandise, will of course be available at all of the shows. In terms of food and drink specials this year, Heist Brewery created a coffee porter for the event, called “God Save The Queen City Porter,” that will be available at all of the shows and you can find Papi Queso and JJ’s Red Hots at The Fillmore on August 27

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2016 God Save the Queen City merchandise. Photo by Kurt Shackelford

Overall, God Save the Queen City is a unique, exciting, and inexpensive way to experience the best of what Charlotte’s local music scene and businesses have to offer. It’s also a great way to help contribute to your community, and while you may be less than familiar with some of the acts playing this year, you might be discovering some serious up-and-coming talent. “Think of some of your favorite bands,” said Collier, “there was a time you heard them for the first time.”

Check out the remaining dates for God Save the Queen City and support Charlotte music.

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