Five Affordable Music Venues in the Triangle

Concerts are a choice night-out for many, especially in the summer months. What better way to spend an evening than with loved ones around, drink in hand, and good music playing? However, as many music fans know, a lot of gigs, especially ever-popular amphitheater shows, come at a steep price. Well, Chapelboro to the rescue: we’re here to point to you toward the coolest spots in the Chapel Hill/Triangle area for great nights of music that won’t kill your wallet.

Cat’s Cradle
The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro is one of the premiere music spots in all of North Carolina. The 750-capacity venue has hosted an eclectic collection of established acts, including local North Carolina talent, as well as the most exciting up-and-coming acts from around the world, from Nirvana to Crystal Castles to The 1975. Cat’s Cradle has achieved a fair level of notoriety (even worldwide!), so of any of the venues on this list, this is probably the one you’ve heard of. But even if you have heard of the Cradle, maybe even hit up a few of their shows yourself, you still might have missed one of the venue’s greatest treasures: the Cat’s Cradle Back Room. The Back Room is a 160-capacity attachment to the venue, meant to house smaller acts and up-and-comers from around the world. The atmosphere is intimate and special, almost like watching a set from your friend’s garage. Tickets are typically cheaper than the Cradle’s main room as well, so it’s a sure-fire fun night out for all.
Address: 300 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510
Visit Cat’s Cradle’s website here.

Local 506
Local 506 is the Cat’s Cradle cool kid brother. The 225-capacity venue is just a stone’s throw away from the Cradle, with just as hip a vibe in a far more intimate atmosphere. The genres this venue has seen spans as far and wide as metal to dance-pop, so there’s always something for everybody at this venue. Local 506 also hosts open mic nights every Monday night, typically free of charge. If you do decide to hit up a show at Local 506, you have to have a membership card. They only cost $3, and to be sure you never lose it, just take a picture of it on your phone as soon as you receive it. Being a member at Local 506 is more than worth it though; guaranteed great drinks, great variety, and a great view of the action from any place in the venue.
Address: 506 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Visit Local 506’s website here.

The Cave
The Cave has an unmatched heart and history, and if you haven’t been yet then I’d drop your evening plans as soon as possible to make that happen. Down an ominous alleyway, directed by a sign that reads “The Cave, 45 ½” the 150-capacity venue and bar resides. The Cave is one of the premiere spots for local music, a prized but hidden gem of Franklin Street. Christmas lights illuminate the place, along with LED-strings that make the ceiling appear cloudlike, and the “stage” is a well-placed rug, so you get the added treat of being eye-level with performers. With low-ceilings, booming acoustics, and undeniable warmth, The Cave is worth a visit, and definitely lives up to its name.
Address: 452 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Visit The Cave’s website here.

The Pinhook
If you’re looking for a place with a personality all its own, The Pinhook in Durham is your spot. The Pinhook declares itself to be a place for all: “We’re a safe space for lgbtqi folks, POC groups, punks, lawyers, cyclists, trivia nerds, and everyone else,” they say in their website statement. They’re not kidding. There is never a shortage of diversity in a Pinhook crowd, and the vibe is always laidback and respectful. The energy is palpable as soon as you walk in—cool, comfortable, and most of all, fun for all. With a killer view of stage from all corners, vintage video game machines scattered about (yep, you could have a Tekken battle mid-show if you wanted), and an extensive bar with fairly priced drink options, The Pinhook is one of the most unique and enjoyable places for live music around.
Address: 117 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701
Visit The Pinhook’s website here.

Kings Barcade/Neptune’s Parlour
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider taking an eye-opening odyssey to Kings Barcade in Downtown Raleigh. The venue is housed upstairs, with large surrounding windows that give audience members a great view of the city. As for musical offerings, Kings’ sees a lot of heavier shows and local acts, but its beauty is in its variety. In addition to music, Kings Barcade also features a host of diverse comedy acts. So if you’re looking to be entertained under a budget, in a prime location in Downtown Raleigh, plan for a night out at Kings. Additionally, the bar inside Kings is fun and eclectic, but if you’re looking to hit up something a little darker, maybe outside the live music realm, give Kings downstairs companion Neptune’s Parlour a try. Neptune’s prides itself on great craft beer and cocktails, exciting DJ sets, and unique fixtures (they’ve got pinball machines, guys), so on a night out to Kings, be sure stop by Neptune’s too.
Address: 14 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Visit Kings Barcade’s website here, and visit Neptune’s Parlour’s website here.

So whether you’re seeing your favorite artist, taking in some local entertainment, or flexing your musical muscles at an open mic, Chapel Hill and the Triangle hold a whole host of options for a very musical, and very economical, night out.

Unexpected Discovery: Daniel Romano at The Cave

daniel romanoFortuitous serendipity led me to Daniel Romano this past Thursday night. As I sat in the backroom of The Cave, comfortably watching game four of the NBA Finals, my focus unknowingly drifted to the tender tunes faintly crossing the barrier from the front of the bar; cue the deep, wallowing baritone voice and I found myself staring straight in the face of the man tearing me a broken heart with his earnest confessions.

Daniel Romano is an Ontario-native singer/songwriter with the authentic archetypes of classic country music. His songs lure you in with their grit, and mesmerize you as you try to understand how this man, who has not yet reached 30, could have endured so much pain and bad luck to produce such poetic measure. You quickly gather some poor choices and booze may have been of some influence, while maintaining an empathetic heart for the man who seems drawn to the infamous adulterous woman of country music. It’s relentlessly beautiful.

Romano had the room captivated-a handful of patrons who, like myself, had originally been watching the Spurs and the Heat hash it out, but couldn’t resist his magnetism. His set was over too soon and the crowd lined up at the merch booth to ensure that wouldn’t be the last time they got to experience what Romano had to offer. His sound is refreshing, incredibly welcomed above the tractor-pull, lyin’ and cheatin’ country music that floods the airwaves today. He’s been compared to the greats of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. And I can’t say I disagree.

Daniel’s en route to Manchester, TN to play Bonnaroo this Saturday, then hitting a few more US venues before making his way back to Ontario.

Be sure to keep a look out for him, as his work on his latest album Come Cry with Me just landed him a spot on the long list for the 2013 Polaris Prize, a music award annually bestowed upon the best full-length Canadian album, this year yielding a $30,000 cash prize. Past winners include Arcade Fire’s Suburbs and Feist’s Metals. I anticipate more to come from Daniel Romano, but until then I’ll nurse the proverbial broken heart he left me, with his nominated album I was lucky enough to grab the other night.