Spider Bags, Yusuuf Jerusalem, Thomas Function

Craig’s House, Durham

Sunday, Sept. 27

We stood in a circle outside of a modest house in a quiet West Durham neighborhood Sunday night, enjoying the mild late September air, talking about bands, telling jokes.

‘When are the Spider Bags going to start?” somebody in the group asked, referring to the third and headlining act scheduled inside for the living room rock show.

‘I don’t know,” someone else replied, looking around. ‘I think they’re waiting on their bass player to show up.”

As if scripted, a car parked across the street and flipped off its lights. Wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, with his hair cutting down close near his shoulders, the bassist in question, Spider Bag Greg Levy, got out of his car and walked toward the house. The second band, Alabama’s unequivocally springy Thomas Function, had finished about 15 minutes before, so the trio and some friends rushed the rest of the gear inside. We kept waiting.

A few minutes later, Dan McGee, the lead Spider Bag, grabbed my arm, pausing his quick walk into the house for three seconds, if that: ‘Get inside, man. I asked Yusuuf Jerusalem to play a few more songs.”

He was referring to the French garage band that we’d listened to together in his Carrboro apartment a few weeks before. They’d opened the show, when the crowd was thinner, and before the Bags had shown up. That first set was solid but polite, like 20 minutes from out-of-towners asking the townies to like them. That second set, played by request, roared: a Burzum cover, a squiggly little pop number, another tune that combined the trio’s interest in black metal and melodies so sweet.

Spider Bags finally hit the stage sometime around midnight. They were perfect, too. Sweaty and full of swagger, they warmed those 25 minutes like a bottle of brown booze. Rock Forbes shook the walls with his drums. ‘Que Viva El Rocanrol” shook the ceiling as a sing-along. The new ‘Eileen” shook the floor as a stomper.

And when it was all over, the homeowner tried to give McGee some of the night’s take. ‘It all goes to the other bands,” he said, waving his hands, declining. After all, if you’ll give another band part of your set, you’d trust it with your potential earnings, right? (Words by Grayson Currin; Photos by Jeremy M. Lange)