By Jacob Heyerly
Photo: Dan Russel-Pinson
June 4, 2018
The Mineral Girls are a Charlotte-based emo quartet whose lyrics and sounds have captivated the Charlotte music scene for five years. The band is made up of Vince D’ambrosio on the drums, Dylan Fleming on the bass, Audrey Ayers on lead guitar, and guitarist and lead vocalist Brett Green, who you may have seen working at Lunchbox Records. They’re known for their vulnerable, self-reflective lyricism, and having a dynamic, well-rounded presence at their shows. Saturday night, however, it all came to a glorious end at the legendary Milestone Club as it was the band’s last planned show.
Four bands from North Carolina, a sold-out venue, and $2 PBRs suggested that it was going to be an epic night. Additionally, there was an unwritten rule of acceptance that was felt throughout the entire building. The crowd was very diverse. People of different races, ages, backgrounds, and fashion styles ca dme together to support something that they cared about: the music.
The night started out with the Charlotte-based Dollhands. The band had recently been touring with The Mineral Girls, and their youthful energy electrified the audience. People immediately started to follow front man Eric Smeal’s headbanging. By their second song, the beginning stages of a mosh pit were starting. People were jumping up and down to the beat of the bass drum, swaying to the reverb-soaked guitar, and those in front of the stage got a slight bump on the shoulder from someone moving just enough. By the third song the mosh pits had started. Smeal’s uniquely warm voice reached impeccable heights of intensity as he belted into the microphone. It’s a voice that demands attention and compliments the roaring guitars behind it. Eventually, the band took a brief pause and Smeal confessed his love for the local music scene, his appreciation for the headliner, and just as he became emotional he stated: “I love to cry, it’s so punk.”
The next act, Dollar Signs, took full advantage of the energy in the room left by Dollhands. Dollar Signs created an environment that encouraged chaos. Four of the band members stood in a straight line across the stage, and the drummer in the back. Each member sang unapologetically loud and did his best to move with the audience with the little room they had on stage. The natural intimacy of the Milestone combined with the loud and eccentric singing of the band members made for a stimulating set. This lively atmosphere was at its best during the sing-a-long “Holiday-Inn.” The chorus is simple enough so that anyone could catch on and the room turned into a bounce house of screaming kids at a birthday party. It was a beautiful sight to see. Museum Mouth took the stage soon after and they delivered an impressive set as well. Bewildering drums and heavy-metal influenced guitar riffs, like on the song “Incubus Tattoo,” continued the energy the previous acts provided. Karl Kuehn is both the lead vocalist and the drummer of the band, which gave their stage presence a different aura than the previous acts. It was a fresh and exciting performance that perfectly set up the headlining act.
Throughout the night, people would take a step outside after each performance to get a break from the musty smell and heat of the venue. The sweat from the mosh pits had taken its toll. However, after the summer air relieved the sweat and the sounds of instruments were heard, the audience swarmed back in the venue to do it all again. This time, it was the sound of Green’s high-pitched voice that drew the crowd back inside.
Sweaty bodies were packed toward the stage waiting for the perfect time to let loose and mosh harder than they have all night. The Mineral Girls did not miss a beat the whole performance. An early highlight was “Sunshine Biscuit Club” off of their 2015 album Cozy Body. The colorful melody of the guitars bouncing off the pulsing bass notes created a triumphant wall of sound that balanced vigor and vulnerability. The crowd jumped and shouted the anthemic chorus along with Green stating, “I could love anybody/ I could love anybody/ That I want.” After nearly every song the band would take a moment to humble themselves and send thank yous to their friends in the audience for supporting them. It was a night of celebration, not for the band’s accolades and achievements, but for the band’s impact throughout the Charlotte music community. Another highlight was “the bruise on we” from their newest album this is the last time every time. The song starts out as a melancholic ballad reminiscent of emo bands like American Football with jazzy guitar hammer-ons and pull-offs. Suddenly, the band stops and a few powerful half-note strums from the guitar transition to a soul-crushing emo-rock explosion. As the group played in harmony, you could see the sweat dripping from their faces onto the ground and you could feel the passion behind every note.
The Milestone has remained a rock ‘n’ roll staple of Charlotte for nearly 50 years. So, how has The Milestone remained relevant while many other venues in Charlotte have failed? It’s because of shows like this. There is a reason The Mineral Girls decided to play their final show here. It’s a place of acceptance in which the friendships and memories made will stand the test of time. It’s a place that has consistently engaged in the Charlotte music community and capitalizes on intimacy. Saturday night was no different. At one point in the set, Green jumped into the crowd and surfed above our heads while still playing his guitar in classic rock-star fashion. “I’d never thought I’d do that” he stated as he got back on the stage. It was a memory that won’t soon be forgotten by him or those who witnessed it.
Before The Mineral Girls stepped off of the stage, they shared some final thoughts with the audience. Green said, “This, what we’re all doing right now, is important! Without The Milestone, we (The Mineral Girls) wouldn’t be here.” This show was larger than any one band present and they challenged us to never stop supporting each other. Each person in attendance was a fan of music and they genuinely cared about the people performing and sharing their stories. A reminder, that if we want to see the Charlotte music community thrive, we need to need to act and be there for others.