THE DENTS, VAGIANT
Abbey Lounge, Somerville MA 5/11/07
This is it—The Dents’ final show. They’re breaking my heart! Before the show, I sit around with guitarist Craig Adams as he talks about the Boston rock glass ceiling. And hitting it. Makes me wonder two things: What level of success was the band anticipating? Didn’t they know they were too good to be enjoyed by the local rock scenesters and taste-makers who set the pace around here? But I don’t ask. I need a smoke more than a philosophical discussion.
Opening tonight is all-girl hard rock act Vagiant. Yeah, another band with a pun name. Why do people keep trying when no one’s ever going to reach that stellar level of absurdity as John Cougar Concentration Camp? Anyhow, these ladies (new to me) are very cute and very funny (both in ideas and banter), so they get the nod. Their cover of “Angel of the Morning” is enjoyably ridiculous. Their running commentary on sleeping with hobos is ridiculously enjoyable. Apparently they’re losing their lead guitar, but hopefully the act will continue. Someone should tell them about that glass ceiling though.
The Dents take the stage for the last time, and energetically run through their standard set. Smart decision. That’s how we wanna remember them—with no extraneous gimmicks or guests (not even original drummer Gino, who’s in the audience). After the heat and perspiration accumulates, Jen announces, “This is what we look like when we get out of the shower!” The rest of us should be so lucky. Forty some-odd minutes of signature tempo and melody (“Big Mistake,” “Better Off,” and all the favorites), the set concludes and the world is a much sadder place. Now what? Drink to blot out the pain? Start looking for someone to blame? Both good ideas. I’m told suicide isn’t an answer, but we’re talking disbanding Dents here! Time to rev up the rumor mill—bright and early Monday morning is the first practice session of… The Michelle Paulhus Experience (MPX)! And if we all keep saying it, it WILL happen… (Frank Strom)
DENNIS BRENNAN BAND, ERNIE & THE AUTOMATICS
The James Joyce Ramble, The Endicott Estate, Dedham, MA 4/29/07
After running a 10 kilometer road race, what better thing to do than hang out at a beautiful 19th century mansion? Set up on the front porch of the Endicott Estate, overlooking 15 acres of pristinely manicured lawn are Ernie & the Automatics. The band features members of the legendary ’70s pop band Boston, as well as local celebrity/car salesman, Ernie Boch, Jr., whose car dealership is helping sponsor the event, is raising money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Wearing matching garage shirts, the band plays upbeat party music that is nice to listen to as the feeling slowly returns to my legs. The set is tight and the band is fun to watch. At the end of their set, I’m left wondering only one thing, “What Herb Chambers’ sound like?” The Automatics are pretty good and the crowd seems to dig them. Maybe having car salesmen in the band is the new trend we’ll see in the music industry.
Thanks to the nearby Harpoon truck giving dehydrated runners all the free beer they can handle, I’m feeling pretty good. By the time Dennis Brennan goes on, I’m so energized I feel like I could run another 6.2 miles. Fortunately, reality kicks in and I catch some of the finest roots and soul music around. What can I say that I haven’t said before about Dennis and his band? They’re all unbelievable players. Andrew Mazzone on bass, Billy Beard on drums, Kevin Barry and Duke Levine on guitar are a supergroup unto themselves. As the afternoon goes on, my body gets a little stiffer, but the music certainly doesn’t. Dennis’s set ends too quickly and it’s time to hobble my way home. (Kier Byrnes)
THE COFFIN LIDS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville MA 5/12/07
Two nights in a row—pretty rough business for these old bones of mine, especially when I’m still dealing with the emotionally painful memory of The Dents passing. No, I just can’t let go of that. Still, there’s solace to be found in the form of stompin’ swampy caveman roadhouse rock—The Coffin Lids by any other name. In the past I’ve mentioned The Coffin Lids suffering at the hands of bad sound setup, but after attending at least three great-sounding shows in a row, I’m thinking I must have been coming on bad luck nights. Tonight is your typical Lids performance, which is to say hot, hard, sweaty and wow, yer kickin’ my ass. Closing out the set with a thunderous “Whisky Drinkin’ Woman,” Mike and Melissa switch instruments (his guitar and her… uh… organ)—seen it before, but it’s always a gee-whiz-that’s-great moment. Bassist Coffin Jay is a gee-whiz-that’s-great moment in and of himself! I wanna see him in a Texas death match with another bassist—maybe Mike Yocco under a mask? Of course, HE might suggest I get back to that Michelle Paulhus Experience idea… (Frank Strom)
Ace of Clubs, New York City, NY 5/18/07
When I heard that Boston’s hottest young punks were playing in New York City with one of the godfathers of punk, Walter Lure, I had to be there! Red Invasion have played New York City about a half dozen times before. It is evident from their SWAGGER that that they feel at home on the Manhattan stage. Despite the fact that the quirks of the sound system are doing our boys a great disservice, the band’s energy, charisma, and dedication shine through the technical difficulties. High points are “Disconnected,” “I’m Not Too Young To Die,” and “No More.” I don’t know what was more surprising—their shimmering rendition of the Mats’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” or finding that the seemingly skinny Joey Boy looks like fookin’ Bruce Lee without a shirt! After calming down with a few Fashionistas (an updated Cosmo with ruby red Absolut) at Marion’s Continental nearby, I am ready for the show’s climax—Walter’s inviting Joey to sing on “Chinese Rocks.” (Nancy Neon)
THE DOWNBEAT 5
The Paradise, Boston MA 5/3/07
When the Paradise marquee reads, “Best Band In Town & Nobody Gives A Shit,” I know who is playing. I assume that since the big national headliners asked them to open for them, they also knew (at least the first part). Watching DB5 well-showcased in this sizable venue, enthralled with them as always, I can’t help wonder why DOES no one give a shit? Then it comes to me. It’s their look, their concept, and their material. Simple! Let’s start with their visuals: JJ Rassler needs to wear shades (doesn’t look cool enough) and Mike Yocco needs some tattoos (doesn’t look dangerous enough). Eric Almquist? He’s the drummer—who cares? Their concept: I figure a switch to an artist-poseur thing (in a groping, non-understanding of art way, I mean) – that always gets local adoration. As for the songs, their material betrays their good taste, so it’s gotta go. They need a middle-of-the-road ’70s AOR sound with a dash of prog/ industrial dreadfulness – thus creating a kinship with the Boston music crowd. I can see and hear it now—and they suck. (Frank Strom)