Sound Bites: We Roll Like Madmen, Spiritfest 2017, and Blacktop Mojo

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We Roll Like Madmen with RBTS Win and Last Trip
Saturday, Sept. 2, 9 p.m.
Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway, Greenville
$8, $10

Atlanta’s We Roll Like Madmen creates electronic music so lush and layered that it’s difficult to believe that there are only two people in the group. But Chris Tollack and Jordan Young are indeed the heart of WRLM, creating what they call “psychedelic dance” music. “I think that the duo thing gives us flexibility in a few ways,” Young says. “Onstage it means that we’re free to take the reins and allow the other to improvise, and in the studio, it allows us to divvy up tasks and focus more on production processes. Having to be the producers, the composers, and our own marketing and branding people, the two of us have always worked together and shared those responsibilities well.” The marketing reference is an important one, because Young and Tollack are just as conscious of their visual presentation as they are of the music, whether that means a dynamic light show or a minimal-but-arresting album-art style. “We’re very conscious of visual art mediums,” Young says. “It’s hard for a lot of artists to compete on a national level without involving the visual to accompany their music.”

AF by We Roll Like Madmen


Spiritfest 2017, featuring Tye Tribbett, Tamela Mann, The Rance Allen Group, and Travis Greene
Sunday, Sept. 3, 5 p.m.
Bon Secours Wellness Arena, 650 N. Academy St., Greenville
$42, $47, $52

In some ways, faith has always been all that gospel singer Travis Greene had to hang on to. He had to be resuscitated when he was born in 1984. When he was 4 years old, he had to be resuscitated again after a four-story fall. And before he was 6 years old, his father died of an aneurysm. So along with his incredibly strong mother, Greene says that his unshakable faith in God was the only place he had to turn after the hardships of his youth. “You deal with the pain, you recognize the tragedy, but you don’t dwell there,” Greene says. “It’s not avoiding truth but embracing a greater reality.” Perhaps it’s that foundation that’s allowed the Grammy-nominated Greene to put his message across with such passion and skill. On his new live album, “Crossover,” Greene’s fiery delivery mixes with his anthemic, instantly memorable songs to form a joyous bond with his audience. “That’s the goal of what I do,” he says. “For the most part, my writing style leans heavily into anthems that people in big places can sing and enjoy. I want to create songs that are easily accessible but have enough content to be inspired in people’s lives.”


Blacktop Mojo
Tuesday, Sept. 5, 6 p.m.
Ground Zero, 3052 Howard St., Spartanburg
$5

There are moments on their new album, “Burn the Ships,” when the Palestine, Texas, quintet Blacktop Mojo sounds like cutting-edge hard rockers, bouncing swaggering, razor-sharp riffs off of supercharged rhythms. But there are just as many times when the band slows down to deliver an angst-ridden ballad like “Prodigal” or even a surprisingly well-done cover of Aerosmith’s early ’70s chestnut “Dream On.” Much more so than on their 2014 debut “I Am,” “Burn the Ships” is less an exercise in power as it is about mood. “It’s hard to convey an emotion without the proper mood and the proper feel,” says singer/guitarist Matt James. “And when we recorded the last one, that was our first-ever foray into the studio. We really weren’t prepared for it. Going into the second one, we were able to find a studio we liked and we knew how to get the work done when we went in.” Despite the constant touring that Blacktop Mojo has done since forming in 2012, the band still likes spending time together — a lot of time together. “We live together when we’re off the road, so we pretty much spend all of our time together, regardless,” James says with a laugh.

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