ATTACKING FREQUENCIES OF THE SUN, SUPERPOWER, GUT, HOOF
Great Scott’s, Allston, MA
Sunday night madness. Hoof plunges into their set with no warning, a psychedelic doom dirge replete with furious, skillful drumming and groaning, grumpy guitars. It’s a seamless jam punctuated with massive crescendos—a soundtrack for a movie that hasn’t been written yet. One minute they sound like The Melvins; at another point I’m reminded of Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii. Hoof succeeds in taking the room on a short journey into a galaxy of their own—far, far away. The Holy Moment arrives and departs. There is much knob turning and modulation of signal going on for a bit as if they’ve lost course and are trying to return to the proper coordinates. Then it’s clear that course correction is impossible and they’ve gone too far. But when they finally realize this, they perform a very solid return by shutting the chaos noise off all at once like a lightswitch.
Boston’s premier scrap metal band, Gut, takes the stage next. Brandishing tunes from their new album One From the Fridge, they scythe away any concerns in the audience that they should behave on a Sunday night. As usual, Brian Morse is pacing back and forth before the stage like some demented, carnival hawker, roaring amid the distorted gladness, professing the merits of a life of debauchery and rock ’n’ roll. The band sounds technically flawless this evening, but their power levels aren’t as high as usual. Their energy starts to crackle to life at the end of the set, and by the time they go into their cover of AC/DC’s “Walk All Over You,” they’ve got the crowd rowdy and the bartender busy.
This is the third time I’ve seen Superpower, and each time reinforces the fact these guys know rock ’n’ roll. They’re rooted in hardcore, but they’ve got a metal heart. The mosh pit evokes Boston’s punk history, but the guitarist’s Gibson Flying V and bassist’s Rickenbacker evoke the classic era of rock. They come on hard and heavy, precise and flowing. Dave Tree sings urgently, his whole body strains to drive forth each word as the guitars chomp and the drummer hammers away. Mosh pit accompaniment breaks out on the floor before the stage—a tribute of kinetic energy from their fans. Their set goes by surprisingly—and unfortunately too fast.
Years have passed since last I saw Attacking Frequencies of the Sun. They’ve got a new drummer, and guitarist Mario stands at the center of their new sound (I guess since Tool ripped off their old sound, they needed a new one). They sound a bit poppier than before, if that were possible, though it would be a cold day in hell before corporate radio would ever play this complicated stuff. Despite the change in sound, they still manage to channel all the discord, destruction, disaster, and uncertainty running over the world of 2007. Each song is a complex brutal ballad to a world driving itself insane. The new drummer understands what they’re doing. Lincoln digs in with his bass. The music gets into the craniums of a few of the audience members and causes shot glasses to start tipping back into open mouths. I flee. (Joe Hacking)
The Middle East, Cambridge MA
Ear candy, eye candy, melodic punk with glam/pop overtones: Red Invasion is my fave new band. This band has it all-the sound, the look, the energy. Tonight is a night of mixed emotions. While it is always an EVENT rocking to Red Invasion, tonight is guitarist Rich’s last show. Somehow the uncertainty of when I’ll see them again makes tonight all the more precious. The band is also playing with the passion and intensity like they are headed for the electric chair. Bar none, Joey Boy is the most dynamic and charismatic frontman in local rock ’n’ roll. Tonight Joey positively SEETHES. Rich and Ryan’s dual guitar attack is blistering and the sound guy rules because I can hear the lyrics and harmonies like never before. Yes, the writing proves, like the performance, to have attitude to spare. It’s like they looked in the abyss, laughed maniacally, and hoisted a beer to themselves. (Nancy Neon)
THE ACRO-BRATS, APUNKALYPSE NOW, THE OTHER GIRLS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
We pull up outside The Abbey. I’m really psyched to see the Sleazies once again. They go on first and it’s just before 9:00. Right then Mrs. Slimedog gets a call from the Mount Auburn Hospital (she’s on call there as a Spanish medical interpreter) and they want her at the emergency room and it’s a guaranteed 40 bucks. I don’t like to turn away money as the boys at the Greyhound men’s room bus station know. It’s about 40 minutes to and back, so no Sleazies for Slimey today. (Insert frowny face emoticon here.) I can say I’ve seen them live before and they knocked me dead.
I make it back for the second band (three dames and a dude doing covers that lean on the metal side), The Other Girls, which has the famous and fantabulous Michelle Dent on bass and backup vocal. “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett is played scrumptiously but I got a call from Mrs. Slimedog, she’s done with her administrating to the ill and I’m off to collect her. When we heard “emergency room” we were thinking maybe it was something serious—car accident, detached eyeball, missing limb. Turns out it was a drunk Mexican guy who hurt his elbow. He claims the liquor store attendant pushed him out the door and to the pavement. So Mrs. Slimedog had to translate the Spanish to English, drunk talk to coherency. Back to The Abbey for the American drunks—walk in on Apunkalypse Now, another cover act eloquently displaying ardor passion at their instruments. They’re playing my favorite Clash tune “Complete Control,” and later do “I Don’t Care About You” by Fear. Good stuff indeed.
Well, at least I’ll get to see The Acro-brats for the first time. They display no mean feat in aligning all that is good in the classic, punk, and metal genres. The music is quite good but my favorite “part” is when Swid the bass player disrobes. Swid is one strapping, stocky, Slavic boy with a healthy thick Polish sausage that is somewhat lacking in pubic hair, but not girth. Whether this is due to light colored hair or shaving, Mrs. Slimedog and I cannot give the decisive answer desired to the inquiring minds of The Noise. They end with a cover of The Runaways’ great “Cherry Bomb” and I’m impressed that Chris (vocalist/guitarist) can completely cop Cherie Curie’s voice. So it’s off into the night only to witness Kara Jeanne, sitting on the edge of the sidewalk in her pretty dress, another lost child in the gutter. I stoop to rub her tired feet and then we say our goodbyes. Another night of drunken, naked, passionate noise. Are there any others? (Slimedog)
Cantab Lounge, Cambridge MA
It’s my first time down here in the Cantab’s basement, rock ’n’ rolling under the auspices of Mickey Bliss. It was described to me as “larger than the Abbey…smaller than the Kirkland,” and it’s not a bad size room at all, but the two rows of pushed-together tables make it pretty cramped even with a small crowd. Weirdly it also feels like a school lunchroom. Can’t explain it. Still, if the music’s good…
Black Mosettes do their all to ensure that it is. Their steamy mixture of blues/ soul/ disco/ plain ol’ rock ’n’ roll has charmed me a few times previous, but tonight they’re sounding even more convincing. They’re about three shows away from being what you’d call “commanding”…and a few more away from “completely stellar”! Surely the centerpiece of the set is their version of “Disco Queen,” and it amazes me how a real band playing with authority can make me totally accept something that I’d otherwise foolishly dismiss as silly.To rephrase: Ronnie Mosette and her gang have an element of the impressive buried in their collective make-up, and it’s growing. Kind of like Reptilicus (that’s a monster, not a band). Now let’s see if anybody notices. Black Mosettes, not Reptilicus. (Frank Strom)
GIRLS, GUNS & GLORY
Scituate Harbor, Scituate, MA
It’s a beautiful day out by the water. There is a sizeable crowd lined up by Scituate Harbor ready to listen to some music and watch the waves roll in. It’s not your typical club scene, but alt-country rockers Girls Guns & Glory manage just fine. A little blonde girl named Elizabeth, barely knee high to a grasshopper, wanders out of her mother’s arms and squirms about in front of the stage as Girls, Guns & Glory crooner Ward Hayden belts out a few tunes for her. Soon pre-schoolers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, parents and teenagers and just about every age in between are tapping their feet along to the slow rocking beat of country so authentic you’d swear you were in Georgia. The concert goes by too quickly as the sun sets into the ocean and leaves us with happy memories. (Kier Byrnes)
THE DOWNBEAT 5, CLASSIC RUINS
Dodge Street Grille, Salem MA
Frank Strom’s goldfish here. I not only risked oxygen suffocation, but drove all the way up to Salem on the promise that I’d get to meet Slimedog’s cat. So where is he? I’d have settled for Mrs. Slimedog, but no, I don’t even get that. Instead I’m stuck with Classic Ruins—first hanging around the bar, then up on stage. They’re a bunch of aging rockers running through their tried and true collection of standards. Sure, those standards (including the classic “1 + 1 < 2” and an instrumental cover of “Please Please Me”) kick tail. Sure, their jokey, self-effacing manner charms me enough that I almost forget I can’t breathe this air. And yes, despite what you’d suspect, Classic Ruins are too vibrant to consider strict nostalgia. But for all that, they’re still not Slimedog’s cat. I’m sorry—call me fish-eyed.
At this point, I’m set to end it all, flush myself down the men’s room john, when I hear a wailing from the stage. My god! What are those three creeps doing to that poor peroxide blonde?! Beating her within an inch of her life—forcing her to sing “My Way” and “Laughing Out Loud.” Sounds like unbridled pain straight from the depths of the human soul. Sounds fucking great! What…? Downbeat 5? Huh! I thought those three creeps looked familiar. Usually I snicker and belittle my master for writing about them as “the best band in town.” Puh-lease! How could they possibly compare to the talent and credibility of a Robby Roadsteamer? Well, now I have an answer. Sorry, Robster—you’re still second best, though. What…? Muck & The Mires? Oh, c’mon! With a stupid name like THAT? (Frank Strom’s Goldfish)
THE PUG UGLIES, THE SPOILERS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
THE KILLER ABS
Midway Café, Jamaica Plain, MA
I’m at The Abbey witnessing The Spoiler’s new “arrangements.” “What are the chords to this?” “Let’s start this one over,” “Oh, I forgot.” Let me state thusly—I’d rather see The Spoilers fuck up a song than hear almost any other band, local or otherwise play it perfect and clean— ’cause the passion, emotion, guts, and overall intelligence, fun and chaos is star to witness. They think it’s a bad set, I think it’s perfection, perfect in its flaws.
Next up are The Pug Uglies with perfect, no flaws drummer Jesse Von Kenmore. I’ll forgive his excellence if only for the fact I think he’s as old as me but really he plays great. This band has the fans and I can see why and I can truly say it’s justifiably deserved.
I’d like to stay but Mrs. Slimedog is out on her date with Vinny in Jamaica Plain and a chaperone is not only needed but required in keeping my lady-in-waiting chaste. It’s only supposed to be a midnight rendezvous, a pickup and a hasty retreat but the walkie talkie tells me I’m invited in free by management and the all-female Killer Abs are about to play. A night of responsible drinking is tossed to the wind as a night at The Midway means Jägermeister must be consumed. A goose on the butt of Dave the owner is all I need to relay my appreciation. Killer Abs proceed to kick our butts and I enjoy (while only slightly distracted by the dual ponytail cuteness that embodies Kimi Hendrix) songs by The Buzzcocks, Bags, Neighborhoods, etc. This is the last show with the old drummer. I’ve seen them once before with their new drummer—who unfortunately does have a penis and I must say I’m more impressed with this lineup.
Out into the night, after talking with Diana, old band mate of mine and steady flame of Dave, a talented singer and sweet babe. As the neon fades, as the moon shatters and cracks into the waterfront of Boston, as the creepies and crawlies descend and ascend toward their resting places so are we, Mr. and Mrs. Slimedog, edging off into our place, our crib, to await another day. (Slimedog)
Artists Row, Salem, MA
If artist Edward Gorey and actress Doris Day had a daughter who had a band, it might look and sound like Orange Nichole.
In a sweet dreamy soprano voice, Nichole Clarke sings witty, sometimes surreal melodic narratives, is backed by John Clark on illustrated drums and Jamie Edwards on guitar, mandolin, and keyboard.
The songs typically have a playful premise: a fly who leaves her lover and takes the kids to the moon, a squid kissing sister, spiders in a car, an ode to David White, the actor who played Larry on Bewitched, a remorseful bellyache sufferer, an employee who calls in sick to go to the aquarium. Despite their humorous situations, there is tenderness, poignancy and poetry to these characters. The melodies are catchy, the instrumentals fun, and I especially enjoy an inspired fly interpretation on guitar and kazoo. (Della Biere)
GEIN & THE GRAVEROBBERS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
Welp, here’s Gein and crew, resplendent in full zombie make-up (except for Myra Ghoul, who sports her usual Elvira-meets-Bettie-Page look). They’re playing creepy instrumental surf rock—wow, what a surprise. Now for a real shock—they play it with such fury and energy that it almost sounds like something new! If not for the fact that the surf/monster thing is so specific in nature, the band’s energy level would convince you it was punk rock. The lead guitar and drums are especially forceful. Gein’s lead guitar sound has “guitar hero” written all over it… but in a good non-macho Chuck Berry/Dick Dale/JJ Rassler sorta way, so that even an avowed “guitar god” hater like myself can dig it. They’ve got a surprise gem up their sleeve with a surf instrumental cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” with lead guitar doubling for vocals – As God is my witness, this is absolutely brilliant. Now I want to hear them tackle The Munsters theme—sure, it’s been done, but I’m positive Gein & the Graverobbers could bring something fresh to it. Zounds! (Frank Strom)
THE CELLO CHIX
Grand Opening of the new Club Bohemia
Cantab, Cambridge MA
I take the steps down to the basement of the Cantab for the first time and I hear what sounds like a jazz band covering Stevie Wonder. As I get to the door of the room the sound is more distinctive—it’s The Cello Chix, an odd three-piece of two cellists and one drummer—all women. For some reason I expected this group to be more classical than jazz/rock based. They take classic rock tunes and, believe it or not, add a little edge to them. The musicianship is lively and excellent; Becca Thomblade is the manic artist with a strong attack on her four-string instrument. Susanna Porte is a shade more studious, unless you include her freakout ending of “Purple Haze” where two bows crisscross and jab at her strings. Nancy Delaney plays the beat keeper. They invite their friend Alicia DiDonato to join them on flute and of course they start with a Jethro Tull tune (“Living in the Past”) followed by a rousting version of The Stones’ “Paint it Black.” I love it when Susanna admits she steals her arrangements from supermarket Muzak. (T Max)
The Middle East, Cambridge MA
Fox Pass sounds rejuvenated with their new drummer, Tom Landers, who hits as hard as John Jules but has a more nuanced style. The band opens in high gear with the long time fave “Wanda.” It’s not hard to see that their original inspiration was The Modern Lovers. “Child’s Play” and “Love For Love” have a more Brit-pop feel. “One More Song,” a brand new number written and sung by lead guitarist Mike Roy, is about imploring one’s muse for inspiration. The lyrics pique my interest. “Amtrak” rocks like fuck, and proves these guys don’t belong on the nostalgia circuit. “Front Page Girl” is revamped with a sexy sounding spy theme intro. Fox Pass has shimmering vocal arrangements and they play off each other with camaraderie like you don’t often see today. “Downtown Talk” calls up Macey’s and Roy’s NYC days with Tom Dickie & the Desires. The closer, “Hit or Miss” metaphorically covers the subject of addiction. (Nancy Neon)
MUCK & THE MIRES, ANDREA GILLIS BAND, JAY ALLEN & THE ARCH-CRIMINALS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville MA
Let me set the scene: I’m helplessly bound to a giant adamantium wheel (with Kryptonite shackles) while fiendish Jay Allen outlines his master scheme. It involves overthrowing the local music scene with the creation of a band situation—kinda like solo acoustic Jay only bigger. “You’ll never get away with this, you monster!” I growl, but he pulls out Chrissie from The Killer Abs and the foul machinations are underway. It’s a mix of Jay Allen standards plus new (or at least unfamiliar) material. Much as I’m fond of solo acoustic Jay, there’s no arguing how good this stuff sounds blown up to rock band proportions. Sounds like serious business. If he’s not stopped now, who knows where this will lead. The local bookers may be forced to stop using him as between-band filler. (That’s a hint, you assholes.)
Plied with alcohol, Jay sets me free in time for the Muck set. Fresh from a U.K. single, recording in California, and armed with lots of new tunes, Muck and crew get to work. Aside from a couple of slips on the new songs, they sound stronger and tighter than ever (and that’s a statement). Like DB5, these guys are the genuine article (though largely overlooked by the mentally-challenged Boston music pundits). The Mires are so gifted, one can only imagine how they’d really terrorize the city if they actually had some local support! As usual, Europe has finer taste in American art/culture than we do. Sigh.
Speaking of gifted, we’ve got Andrea Gillis keeping us busy until last call. It’s been awhile since last I pathetically fawned over Andrea (in print anyway)—unfortunately I’m not drunk enough to be as creative about it as I would like. How many times can I write “wow” and “Andrea” in the same paragraph? T Max only gives me 150 words, ya know. Andrea’s fresh with new material, too (single forthcoming), which all sounds “wow.” But I’ve gotta say it—I completely miss Flower Gaudette on keyboards! Obviously, Andrea’s trys to bribe me with Michelle Paulhus on bass. Quite clever, Andrea! And it would work… but I’m loyal, damn it! I miss Flower. So FIX it or I will NEVER write “wow” and “Andrea” in the same sentence ever again! Ahem. Empty threat. Best I can manage. (Frank Strom)
ERINN BROWN BAND
The Pickled Onion, Beverly, MA
If you can picture Joni Mitchell fronting a rock band on rhythm guitar, then you’ll have a good idea of what Erinn Brown is like in concert. Brown kicks, claws, and scratches her way through meaningful originals and serves up some tasty arrangements of classic rock songs.
The rhythm section creates a smacking groove for her new tune “Eye For An Eye” and they also hand deliver a stripped down approach to her older number “I Can’t Stick Around.” From there, muscular interplay between Brown’s rhythm and Jeff Buckridge’s lead develope a murkier but fresher version.
“Cool Summer Rain,” another new one, comes off as a slow, torch number with Brown showing off her golden, one-in-a-million, powerhouse vocal that’s been her trademark since studying at Berklee. Buckridge also pulls much emotion out of this piece, his high-pitched emotive style makes it sound like his guitar is crying out. Great show! (Abdullah Zimmerman)
THE DIMWITS, MUNG, TENAFLY VIPERS, THE NO IT ALLS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
I’m back for the second night in a row at The Abbey. The young doorman doesn’t card me like he did the night before. “Back again, huh?” he asks, “You gonna come back tomorrow night too?” “Look,” I say, “You saw my license last night, you know how old I am, I’m lucky to make two nights, let alone three!” Though I’ve got a cold, though I’m past the half century—The Abbey is the best place between purgatory and hell. Seeing the No It Alls first and though Cindy Spoiler claims they “sound like REO Speedwagon, ” I’m not hearing that. What I am hearing is a bone crushing, teeth snarling onslaught of vim, vigor and spice—some pretty nifty, hardcore punk squall to rock you all and it sounds great to me. Brett from The Dimwits singing a Misfits cover into their own “Brazil” is the highlight for me.
Next up is Tenafly Vipers playing a style hard to pigeonhole—but any band that does that to me gets an automatic two points. High end vocals, various stops and starts in the arrangements, energy but a more grooving beat—reminds me more of early ’70s rock on the heavy side, maybe a touch of metal or even death metal here. Now, even though I know this is not my usual choice of poison I do find my head bobbing here and there so it’s not to my disliking.
Up next is the mighty Mung. Let me first say Walter Gustafson is my favorite Boston drummer of all time, having seen him back in the Glacial Age pounding for The Outlets. This band kicks ass and does it cleanly and brutally but with finesse. Their music is the equivalent of a professional mob hit—total and to the point.
Batting cleanup are The Dimwits, a shining glory on the bunghole of our lives—a ray of sunshine shining through the cesspool of lies, hungers, deceits and corruption that we commonly refer to as life. Blistering through “God’s Turd,” “Small Town Cop” and other favorites, I can only hold onto my seat before the very molecules of my existence are ripped to shreds. Or maybe it’s just closing time; I bid adieu, Audrey needs a ride. See Kara Jeanne staggering with the nighttime casualties outside the Alchemist. Briefly stop to aid assistance, and drive home. (Slimedog)
THREE DAY THRESHOLD, TIN CAN TELE, GIRLS GUNS & GLORY, SAM REID & THE RIOT ACT
Cambridge Elks Club, Cambridge, MA
Why are so many gathered at the Elks club when the Middle East is a mere block away? The short answer? Kier Byrnes. It’s the CD release party for Against the Grain, the latest gem from his band, Three Day Threshold. Plus, as advertised, it’s a fine day for a honky tonk jamboree! As if five local bands are not enough, Kier arranges for an assortment of entertainment options as kaleidoscopic as hair colors in Central Square. There are the free fixins from Redbones, Triple 8 vodka, and Whale’s Tail Ale, all served up by pretty young things. Between musical acts is burlesque by the Boston Babydolls—titillating stripteases with twirling tassels. Last but not least, is one mean-ass mechanical bull, complete with menacing red eyes. These distractions get the best of me as I am locked in the line for Redbones pining for a plate of pulled pork while the Hansen Sisters play the opening set (sorry, girls!).
Shortly before eight, Sam Reid & the Riot Act, begin, which coincides with one T Max taking on the bull! Sam and crew are a festive bunch adding violins and mandolins to the mix. I can tell I’m at a genuine hoedown (even the buck mounted on the wall is wearing a cowboy hat)! Indeed, there are some sassy Daisy Duke types trying their luck on the bull but sadly I left my lasso at home! The Riot Act is a mountain-folk jug band on a West Virginia porch. Sam Reid’s ensemble has tight violin solos, toe-tappin’ bluegrass, and acoustic rhythms. Sam shows his roots and respect when he plays an old Three Day Threshold song, “For Russ.” As each song climaxes in a sweeping crescendo, the mercury climbs as well. See, the bull is in the center of a large inflatable pit that forces the audience to its periphery. As a consequence, the body heat begins to build up dramatically and you can feel the sweat droplets in the air.
Camouflaged in checkerboard plaid button-down shirts, Girls Guns & Glory take the stage shortly before nine. By the cheers and raised beers, they prove their fan base is strong! The triple-G lads charge ahead with chugging guitar entrees garnished with tambourine and washboard. The singer croons in an almost Roy Orbison or Chris Isaak kind of way. There is starkness to it like a Gordon Lightfoot tune. Near the end of the set, there is a very rockabilly feel with tattooed dancing gals on stage.
Parched from the heat, I miss the majority of Tin Can Tele’s set. I descend to the bowels of the Elks club for some alcoholic refreshments. By this time the beer lines are much longer than the food ones, which snake in a spiral coil. I catch one Tele tune and it has a jam band feel and gritty harmonica. Shortly thereafter, the Boston Babydolls are doing their best burlesque, dazzling the cowboys and cowgirls until the headliners are ready.
Finally, the celebrities of the hour, Three Day Threshold, appear. Kier and Colt Thompson trade licks on banjo and guitar while Johnny Stump delivers ferocious bass lines. The mood is electrifying as controlled chaos ensues with bucking broncos and bouncing beach balls, the latter knocking out lights here and there! Three Day Threshold runs through several favorites and leans heavily on new material which the audience embraces wholeheartedly. 3DT play crowd favorite, “Uni,” with funny lyrics about a girl split in two (it’s not as morbid as it sounds), “Chicken Shack (Baby’s Got My number),” and several others. During “A Toast to my Dad,” the spirited patrons lift their beers in unison. The perfect encore is a rousing rendition of the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman”! Three Day Threshold’s power lies not only in its infectious rhythms and fine musicianship (i.e., dizzying solos) but in the clever lyrics and the vocal variety and mastery of Mr. Kier Byrnes. He is a chameleon, sounding Irish when singing about whiskey, and even a bit like Jerry Garcia in his quieter moments.
What strikes me most about this sweltering mid-summer Saturday night is the devotion of the fans. Drenched in beer, sweat, and good cheer, I leave the Elks club with a new appreciation for Boston’s country rock scene.(Tony G)
THE FALL LEAVES
CD Release Party, Toad, Somerville, MA
The Fall Leaves—led by one of Boston’s quirky songwriters, Joe Pleiman (ex-Hip Tanaka, Summervikkians, Bourbon Shotgun Party)—take the stage late on a Friday night and to noone’s surprise, Toad is packed. The crowd is antsy at first as The Fall Leaves try out new material, but Joe and company soon win them over with songs like “The Clouds,” “Dewey Beach Bonfire,” and “Skyscraper.” By last call, there are people jumping up on stage singing along to truck driving songs and a minor dance party going on in front of the stage as they do a version of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler.” A fun night. (Kier Byrnes)