Charlotte wasn’t my birthplace but it was where I was born. It was the first place I was able to be my authentically weird self. I could play ’90s rock on my homemade guitar at Petra’s, make poetry with Time Out Youth kids, and most importantly, be my authentic transgender self. Much of this would still be true if I still lived in Charlotte, but I fear that the vibrancy of my “birth city” is fading away.
In my memory exists a time where Charlotte was a land of weirdness and Southern progressive hospitality. I spent my time filming and sometimes organizing political rallies in Uptown and scream-singing offkey into rusty microphones at The Milestone. I’ve held on to these memories since moving five years ago to NYC.
The above video is a lost episode from an ancient web series about local Charlotte musicians called [untitled]. The episode, which was never published before now, was a desperate attempt to shine a light on the amazing talent hidden in Charlotte. It was meant as a long-shot plea for developers and the city to save venues like Tremont Music Hall as the venue hosted its final event in December 2015.
Today it’s a tribute to the many places that were left behind as Charlotte grew. I hope it encourages other Charlotte weirdos to take a tip from The Thirsty Beaver Saloon and stand up to development that cuts into the soul of what makes Charlotte feel like home.
There was once a time in Charlotte when you could see several shows featuring local bands in one night. If you started with Amos’ Southend, you could leave early and head to (the original) Tommy’s Pub for a dirty punk show and a PBR. If you were lucky, you could end the night with a metal show at Tremont Music Hall.
Now, Charlotte seems to be a collection of breweries filled with people wearing polo t-shirts and a lone musician playing acoustic guitar in a corner. Tommy’s Pub still exists but it was forced to move into a shopping center. Amos’ returned at half its original size and features mostly cover bands on its bills now. Most people you ask don’t remember venues like The Underground (not the Live Nation venue but the east-side staple) or The Chop Shop — places that in my opinion have not been replaced.
Nearly a decade later, I hope this can serve as a time capsule for residents of Charlotte new and old to see what once was and what Charlotte still can be: an incubator for art, talent, and FUN.
Charlotte used to be fun. It used to be weird. It can be again.
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