The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday May 8th

Local Act Strunken White Gives Final Performance

Members of Strunken White decided to disband rather than replace their bassist, who is moving to California.

Most bands populating Go! Rehearsal Studio's stage tend to fill the stage space completely, and Strunken White's young and physically small roster -- consisting of guitarists Nagendra Jayanty and Noah Howard, bassist John Booker and drummer Jonathan Stickley -- made the stage look spacious by comparison.

The stage looked even bigger considering the throng of spectators, which was packed into the main audience space, the balcony and even the staircase connecting the two and made a trip to the bar nearly impossible.

The band looked visibly surprised by the sold-out crowd.

"It's really incredible to play to this many people," Jayanty said. "We've been playing together for five years, and we've never played to a crowd this big before. It really means a lot for you to be here."

But once the band begins playing, the pint-sized rock outfit transforms into an experienced band that has played for five years in the Triangle area after the members met at a middle school in Durham.

"Strunken White has two LPs and one seven inch, and they still can't buy any beer," said a member of Sorry About Dresden, a visibly older Chapel Hill-based band that performed with Strunken White, during its own abbreviated set.

Saturday night was Strunken White's last show -- it formed before any of the members could drive and disbanded before any of them could drink legally. In between these milestones of 16th and 21st birthdays, the band developed a skill that both characterizes and stands out from the indie rock in the Chapel Hill scene.

Throughout its final set, the band -- considered often to exude "The Chapel Hill Sound" -- jumped between a range of dynamics and melodic shifts. It's an interesting rock-pop mix; the band rocks heavily but transitions to melodic guitar lines with a sense of grace that's often absent from most guitar-heavy indie rock bands.

In between the songs, the band members had little on-stage banter, preferring instead to thank everyone from fellow bands to their record label to their parents, who were congregating, as per usual, at the back of the performance space.

Gratitude aside, Jayanty's recounting of the band's first performance on Franklin Street was the only anecdote of the evening. During the songs, the band members mostly looked down at their guitars, usually with a solemn expression.

Yes, the occasion was a rock show, but amid a band's obligatory plug for its latest CD, the event seemed almost like watching an elegy, and its finality did not escape the disbanding group's members.

"It's like I've grown up with these guys all my life," Jayanty said after the show.

Strunken White recently finished a new album, but the band dissolved when Booker decided to move to California, where he will play with the band Io for Sony Records.

"It fell apart when Booker decided to leave," Jayanty said. "We didn't want to get a new bass player."

Not wanting to change the lineup, Jayanty and Howard are forming a new band with friend Nelson Griffin, all of whom study at various institutions in the Triangle.

A sense of closure --

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