MEandJOANCOLLINS, I HAVE EARS, AD FRANK
Cantab, Cambridge MA
MARLENE SILVA photo show closing
Zuzu, Cambridge, MA
I head out early in the evening to Zuzu to see Marlene Silva’s photo show before it comes down. The place is already full and it’s a little hard to seriously take in the photos while people are still dining. But I find one photo that stands out. It looks like strange palm trees in rural Africa. I’m sure I’ve seen this same scene in the original King Kong. Then there’s an interactive part of the show that looks like a seven-year-old girl. She says her name is No and she keeps stepping on my foot. Before I head out to the Cantab, I learn that the palm trees in the photo are short wilting kale plants and that No is Marlene’s daughter.
I bop down the now familiar Cantab stairs that lead to the home of Mickey Bliss’s Club Bohemia. Ad Frank (minus his Fast Easy Women) is on stage strumming an acoustic guitar and churning his distinctive baritone voice. He switches over to a Kurzweil keyboard to play a song that uses sections of Queen’s “Bohemian Rapsody” but it repeats the line “timing is everything.” Back on guitar he takes a stab at Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted” and a fantasy song called “I Shot Dick Cheney.” He steps up the entertainment when he honestly tells the audience that most of them are assholes—maybe they were talking too much—or maybe that didn’t make any difference.
I Have Ears is playing their tenth show and they’ve got something special going for them. There’s a natural flow of coolness, good playing, and charisma coming off the stage. Dana Jee is the frontman; he’s full of relaxed confidence and a cool looking Rickenbacker guitar. Sherwin is the active mugging drummer. Sepe is the excellent gutsy lead guitar player, and Steve O is the bass player who’s leaving for Florida—it’s his last gig. These guys shouldn’t have any trouble acquiring a good bass player. They’ve got great songs and a good visual show. What do they sound like? Well, during their set, photographer Kelly Davidson comes over and writes on my paper “Can you say Strokes?” She’s right, but it doesn’t take away from what these handsome boys have going for them. The band says goodbye to Jen Richardson—a beautiful gal who’s leaving town. Wherever she is going is lucky.
By the time Meandjoancollins noisily takes the stage the club is fuller than I’ve ever seen it. The guitars have a sharp edge and remind me of “Psychotic Reaction”—but this band isn’t retro sounding. They’ve got this primal thing going that exudes a sexy sensuality—kinda like a white Prince. Bo Barringer and Jen Grygiel are the guitarists/vocalists that give this band a double shotgun effect. Drummer Jason Marchionna (Fluttr Effect) adds to the forward drive—he knows when to turn it on and when to lay back. And Noah Scanlon steps up to fill the bass space, as Chris Mascara recently parted with the band. They keep their subject matter edgy and interesting—“I masturbate a little too much,” “take off your clothes,” “feel the electricity in the air around her.” Kelly Davidson drags me up in front of the stage to dance with her and… Jen Richardson! Meandjoancollins’ presentation is sweaty, rough around the edges, honest indie rock—and it’s fun to dance to. (T Max)
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES, DARKBUSTER, WESTBOUND TRAIN
The Middle East, Cambridge, MA
I don’t remember the last time I’ve been at the Middle East when it’s been packed before the first band hits the stage. Hell, it might have been the last time The Hometown Throwdown took place here. Showing up early proves to be a collectively wise decision as Westbound Train does a fantastic job getting the crowd going. They play a rather pure form of ska; it’s somewhat relaxed but very danceable, with flashes of reggae and soul thrown in. I had seen them before on an otherwise strictly punk bill, and they just didn’t seem to click with the audience. But tonight is a different story, as the crowd gives them the boost that energy music like ska needs. They make me want to go buy their records, so mission accomplished on their part.
We’ve had our ska, so now it’s time for our punk. And who better to deliver it than good old reliable Darkbuster? Squeezed down to a shorter set than when they headline, the amount of legitimately great songs this band has really becomes noticeable, and, frankly, the band always plays a little better when there’s some separation from their rambunctious fans. This is easily one of the best Darkbuster sets I’ve caught. Old favorites like “Happy Days” and “Hometown Zero” hit their usual mark, but I’m even more pleased to hear a strong new tune squeezed in early on. These guys and gal have been playing out like crazy over the last year or so, and it really shows. They are tight as hell and haven’t lost any of the joy and humor that sets them apart. My partner-in-crime for the evening expresses some interest in picking up a CD, so mission accomplished part two on the evening. Both openers deserve a lot of credit for taking what could have been an antsy crowd and drawing them in.
That said, we all would have sat through a four-hour Celine Dion set if that’s what it took to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones again. The question is whether the band can live up to the massive anticipation that has surrounded these shows. Well, the minute they hit the stage and blast into “Kinder Words,” any doubt is erased. The crowd goes apeshit just like it used to; Dicky growls like he used to, and, perhaps most impressively given the time off, Ben tirelessly dances like he used to. I feel like a missing piece of my world has been restored. Truth be told, they absolutely sound better than they did at the tail end of their initial run, and every bit as good as I remember them during their height. The horn section, in particular, sounds outstanding. The set is very nicely balanced. As much as people always want to hear the older Taang!-era stuff, the just released “Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker” and the major label radio hits like “Royal Oil” hit the mark every bit as strongly as old stalwarts like “Cowboy Coffee.” The last few years have seen a bunch of high-profile Boston reunions, but this is the one I enjoy the most. Maybe Mission of Burma, The Pixies, and Dinosaur Jr. are considered the more “important” bands, but The Bosstones bring pure joy, which very few can do. Here’s hoping The Throwdown regains its annual status. (Kevin Finn)
THE KONKS, THE COFFIN LIDS, THE TAMPOFFS, THE THROWAWAYS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville MA
Aside from the typical lame-ass justifications, there’s actually a real reason for celebration this New Year’s Eve here at the Abbey: The Throwaways! Remember one review back I was complaining about the lack of outstanding punk rock acts these days? Well, here’s another one helping fill the void. The Throwaways are something like four-fifths of The Marvels, but whereas that band was straddling the fence between punk and hardcore, this band is more the former than the latter (and with a tiny dose of harmonizing, no less). Good deal! Great to have vocalist Staffy back in action.
Next on the bill are The Tampoffs, who fly through what seems like an abbreviated set, though that’s likely just my imagination. Solid as a rock, as always. Locally, there’s a long list of crummy bands, a couple handfuls of really good bands, a wide array of individually talented people… and a fair number of totally dependable acts that quietly get the job done and get little thanks. The Tampoffs can always be counted on to serve up the solid rock ’n’ roll and give a mixed-bag show lineup some foundation. We should all take up a pool and buy them a nice present. Next year we can do the same thing for Electrolux. Get back to me on that, okay?
The Coffin Lids take over and I am shocked—this is the first Coffin Lids set in awhile that didn’t feature a beer-flooded stage, crowd mingling, or at least some flying bottles and cans. Conversely, we’ve got a bigger, more appreciative crowd than there’s been lately. Just pointing out the facts here, not building a theory! An awesome set, but it’s over too soon (no encore?!?). Mike does some stalling to cue things up for the stroke of midnight, then they leap into a weird (but nice!) cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” (or at least something that incorporates the “hey ho, let’s go” chant). My conclusion? Time for a new album, goddamn it!
Finally we round out the night with The Konks. But again, I am shocked. And confused. And scared. They arrive dressed as ZZ Top—not something I want to see sober, let alone drunk. And they’re doing covers! Sure, they sound better than the originals, but I can’t help thinking this is the horror movie element that was supposed to be in The Coffin Lids set! As usual, I am truly impressed by the huge sound The Konks generate—Kurt Konk alone raises a gigantic ruckus and from only two drums! That part is amazing. The ZZ Top thing is just plain disturbing. If they’d masqueraded as The Ronettes, that would be disturbing, too… but the material would make it worthwhile! (Frank Strom)
SALVATORE BAGLIO, BIRD MANCINI
International Pop Overthrow Festival
Great Scott’s, Allston, MA
and Perks Coffee House, Norwood, MA
It’s a rare thing to see two acts struttin’ their stuff in two different venues within the same week, so it helps the situation when they’re so overtly talented as Salvatore Baglio (ex-leader of The Stompers, one of Boston’s premier ’80s rock bands) and Bird Mancini (Ruby Bird and Billy Carl Mancini), a charming husband/ wife duo with exceptionally tight, sharp tunes.
First up is the final night of the IPO Festival at Great Scott’s, where I witness them among several other groups skirting a pop format (which should epitomize crispness, clarity, and melodic conviction), but it’s more of a rock feel tonight, as both S.B. and B.M. are using a rhythm section and electric guitars. Look out! I’m a bit disappointed that they choose to disguise their intricate poptimism for a “big stage” approach.
Sal’s clever solipstic sojourns through his past (from his brilliant new CD Memory Theatre) carry the night with sheer personality. “Starboy” and “The Boy with the Amplifier Head” shine with delicacy and dynamics before he decides to crank it up on “45” and “Rock Band.” It’s a thrill to see him churning out radiant solos with acoustic bassist Sven Larson matching him note for note. Sal always puts out 100 percent—doesn’t matter the size of the crowd or the venue. The trio finishes to a rousing ovation.
Bird Mancini also wows the small fervent crowd with soaring harmonies and fine accordian/ guitar interplay, which is the instrumental forte of their tunes like “Better Man,” “The Other Side,” or “So Cool.” But tonight, Bill is blasting out on his black Strat and bends and twists his songs into a harder shape, which make them a bit tougher to digest. Am I just being an ole soft/hard nut to impress?
The answer comes quickly at week’s end as I witness their current graceful callings at Perks Coffeehouse in Norwood. Both acts are tremendous and offer their pop-adventures with a crystaline acumen that translates even better in a low-key setting. Same levels of talent—just a whole contrasting feel with acoustic guitars, melodica, and harmonica. Bird Mancini’s short set is highlighted with more tunes from their Funny Day album, especially the title tune, “Holly,” “Through Your Eyes,” and “Heart of the City.” Their semi-idealistic perspectives and modern psychedelic references have allowed them to bring their past influences (especially Beatles/ Beach Boys) into a modern light. Everything oozes confidence and camaraderie. They are a guaranteed pleasure every time!
What follows is sheer poetry—a poignant suite that places the heart of Salvatore Baglio onto a grand musical scale. It includes most of the sensational tunes from his new album, as well as selected tunes from his Rock E. Rollins period interspersed with personal favorites like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” offering sordid stories about his flamboyant past growing up in East Boston, and concluding with his transformation into a reformed, rejuvenated performer. All this laid bare with just an acoustic guitar! For this stunning personal declaration of faith, he receives a standing ovation from the transfixed audience. Phew! (Mr. Curt)
MEN & VOLTS, SLEEPYHEAD
P.A.’s Lounge, Somerville, MA
Ordinarily, if you told me to go see a trio sportin’ their name in glitter on the bass drum, clean clothes and facial hair that played spacious, sometimes Galaxie 500-ish pop with great harmonies, whose songs waver between puffed rice and maple syrup, I’d tell ya I already have a date with a can of Crisco and a paper towel. But holy cannoli, Sleepyhead delivers in ways my spoiled ass isn’t prepared to accommodate. I’d see ’em again in a heartbeat. They have lotsa stuff out, and if it’s half as good as this was, you’d be wise to throw ’em some cash. But I need to break format here, and use up my word-count for the headliners.
The latest version of the legendary (that is correct) Men & Volts features founding member Phil Kaplan (The Roys, Bangalore, Funeral Barkers and more) on guitar and vocals, his sons Cas (of Day Sleeper, on same) and Wes (of The Craters, on drums), plus Jeff Keithline on thoroughly crucial bass and vocals as well. As a huge, longtime fan, I fear this’ll be a nostalgic run-through of their later, (relatively) simpler stuff. (Not a bad thing, but only one other appearance in maybe ten years left me starved.) Well, fuck me. I’m seeing a band as vital as it ever was, rejuvenating songs that were already ahead of their time as far back as 1980-ish. There are twisted, Beefheart-ian lunacies, soul-crushingly gorgeous ballads, and massive slabs of sheer, flattening rock. The interplay is controlled and explosive at once, and Cas uses tones and textures never heard in this material, to dazzling effect. Special props to Wes for nailing (and beyond) some of the most intricate drum parts ever recorded by a local act. (There’s also some hilarious banter between dad and the kids.) And the newcomers are just as floored as us old-timers. One lass, likely unborn when their first record came out, impulsively screams, “You guys are great!” I just hope this isn’t a one-off, ’cause they could really teach some people how it’s done. Miraculous. (Joe Coughlin)
MUCK & THE MIRES, THE CURSES, THE MAINTAINERS
Abbey Lounge, Somerville MA
I love shows where the band that I’m totally clueless about turns out to be great…or at least reasonably pleasant. If not the former, The Maintainers are certainly way more than the latter. R&B and soul played in stripped down fashion—two guitars, harmonica, and no bass. There’s a 1950s vibe, too, as some of this stuff sounds vaguely like Little Richard. Pretty weird considering the lack of piano and bass, but that’s what I’m hearing. It’s a difficult to explain phenomenon—like Bigfoot or many a Sid and Marty Krofft TV series.
How is it that I’ve seen The Curses a million times but never written about them before? Guess it’s another hard to explain phenomenon. The Curses, on the other hand, are easily explained: tight, polished punk rock—they hit a happy medium between your serious/ relevant punk rock and your camp humor/artistic punk rock. That’s a vast middle ground, admittedly, but it is tempo and melody dictated, so it’s all to the good. And this band has it down cold. As there isn’t any one outstanding local punk act these days, The Curses are needed more than ever! Like Bigfoot or many a Sid and Marty Krofft TV series…
After many months of Muckless misery, it’s a relief to have The Mires back in action. Again, they come bearing fresh material. The new Brian Mire songs are harder-edged than usual—by no means a misstep, but it almost seems a waste of his sweet pop voice. He’s got it, so why not make use of it? Dare I say it? He’s the McCartney to Evan’s Lennon. I’m thrown for a loop as they open with “Doreen,” which is typically their late-in-the-set showstopper. How can you follow that one up? Somehow they manage. In fact, one of the new songs, “Hypnotic,” is another huge gem in the already heavy Muck & the Mires crown. Yet for all that, this band still gets about as much attention as… (wait for it)… Bigfoot or many a Sid & Marty Krofft TV series. Is there any wonder why these bars make a fortune selling drinks? (Frank Strom)
T.T. The Bears, Cambridge, MA
It’s just shy of midnight and the good-sized crowd at T.T.’s waits in anticipation of Varsity Drag. The band, led by ex-Lemonheads co-founder Ben Deily, features his wife Lisa on bass and his brother Jonno on skins. Sporting a straight-from-the-office look with Ben in a dress shirt/sweater vest combo and Lisa in her trademark skirt and Deeto cap, the band rips into an absolute power frenzy of tunes from their latest CD, For Crying Out Loud by churning out such tracks as “Summertime” and “Miles of Ocean” with the intensity of a band performing in front of a crowd of thirty-thousand. The Lemonheads classic “7 Powers” please the nostalgic attendees in hopes for a piece of the past. Before Ben introduces “Billy Ruane” as an ode to his friend, whom he met on this very stage twenty-years earlier, he noticesf the unsupervised merchandise table in the back and announces that the honor system is in effect. This is met with a few giggles in the crowd. Despite the continuous monitor issues, spirits are held high right until the final song. It’s refreshing to watch Ben carry on with his musical legacy rather than resting on his Lemonheads catalog from the Taang Records days. (Rob Watts)
The Midway, Jamaica Plain, MA
Despite the sidesplitting antics of a dark haired young man who is very excited about chicken fingers, a same sex version of Popeye and Olive Oyl, and a Louise Brooks clone that couldn’t keep her hands out of her “Pandora’s Box,” Two Saints have the power and the attitude to take control of the crowd. These guys are a no-bullshit, hard rock outfit in the vein of pub rock greats like AC/DC. There is Joe Mazzari (guitar, vocals) who is internationally known as a member of The Daughters who backed up Johnny Thunders in the ’80s. Marky Mussel has an impressive history with Marky Mussel & The Clams, The Varmints, The Fugitives, and American Pulverizer. The rhythm section of Pat Moynihan on bass and Will Wrenn on drums proceed to rock our faces off. We are treated to classic singles like “Tequila 213” which immediately brings to mind the killer riff in the Nervous Eaters’ “She’s Gonna Be My Baby” and the equally pulverizing “Lost At Sea.” Other highlights are “Stand Up” and “747” and Eaters covers— “Degenerate” and “Just Head,” the latter which they make their own. Mazzari and Mussel both have immense presence. Mazzari’s moves are energized and natural, truly punctuating the music. Mussel’s vocals are raw and pure punk. Maybe it’s having a band blastin’ with a backline of vintage Marshalls, but the Midway is sounding better than I remember. (Nancy Neon)
The Milky Way, Jamaica Plain, MA
You Shriek, an electronic/goth three-piece, teleports the room to the feral industrial landscape of singer Raziel Panic’s desolate dreams. John O’Leary stalks the stage and strokes the keyboard on “Concerning Life Support.” Electronic drummer Skot Kremin pounds away to tracks “Alone,” “6 Million Miles,” and “Berlin,” and Raziel Panic exudes despair in the wrist-cutting track “Grim.” A crowd of people up front sways to the beats and dances to the band-—who is about to blow the sound system in the club to smithereens with their electro-high energy “New Romantic Circuitry.” They depart the stage loftily with a cover of Einsturzende Neubauten’s “Haus Der Luge.” You Shriek still plays some of their classics out live yet continues to make music relevant for today. The band has new music videos available on their website. Also, they will perform at the Gotharama Festival on Saturday, 3/8/08, at the Middle East. (DJ Matthew Griffin)
CHEATER PINT, GHOULS NIGHT OUT, THE TAKEBACK
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA
The Takeback (your standard earnest Irish punk rock act) have the Abbey packed early in the evening with (apparently) friends and relations. The band is okay—they deliver on effort and energy, but the material is straight-faced and routine. I get the impression this stuff is intended as relevant and full of depth, so I suppose I’m the wrong audience. I’m the goof who’s looking for art, personality or humor. Still, they are trying, so the least I can do is be polite and acknowledge that fact.
Some of the crowd here for The Takeback must have started their serious drinking around noon, and that’s bad news for Ghouls Night Out. Let’s consider what we’ve got here: three cute defenseless girls alone on stage…and a room full of drunken yahoos (masculine variety). Amazingly, by only one guy proves problematic screwing with the mic stands, lolling backwards on stage and looking up Myra’s skirt. He’s pissing me off…mostly because I didn’t think of doing it first. Asshole. Amidst GNO’s usual spooky surf rock-a-go-go, Abbey regular Dave points out a truism I’d managed to overlook, lo these many months: that drummer Lily is really hot. How did I miss this before? Excuses: (1) You can’t see the drummer way in the back and (2) Myra’s pretty distracting. Apologies to Lily are in order! Either for not confirming her awesomeness in past reviews, or for greatly embarrassing her in print like this. Ladies’ choice.
Cheater Pint gets underway—they don’t even finish the first song and I’m already regretting that I’ve never crossed paths with this band before now. Been missing out on an excellent band. They are like the great Boston rock of old—Robin Lane or Private Lightning only with more gusto. I dunno about art, but there’s huge helpings of humor and personality here. Lauran Pint’s vocals are powerhouse but never to the point that they eclipse the material or the rest of the band. That’s whatcha call craft. The whole band has it—they play like a seasoned star act. (Frank Strom)
SUZUKI SMITH, THE JOPO’S, THE MURDER, REFUSE RESIST
Midway Café, Jamaica Plain, MA
Punk is dead. So is barbershop—yet allegedly, people still sing it, and there’s an audience for it. I can’t confirm the existence of a thriving barbershop scene, but the Midway was full of people psyched to see a punk show Sunday afternoon. Maybe there’s hope for barbershop, after all.
Refuse Resist starts the ball rolling, and my inner cynic says, “Ooooh, this band is heavily influenced by ’80s hardcore. Seen it.” The rest of me says, “Minor Threat covers never get old, so fuck you—drink.” Even if you qualify sticking to the tried and true formula as a negative, there’re plenty of positives here. Refuse Resist plays unusually tight for a band opening a matinee show, and the bassist plucks sans pick, leading me to think they possess musical chops they’re not necessarily displaying. A big ole circle pit breaks out for “Fashion Show,” which smacks of In God We Trust era DKs. Good times. Cheryl Article, formerly of the Definite Article (probably not the last band the Indefinite Article will threaten to sue) accidently drinks my beer while I’m taking notes. I guilt trip her into buying me two more. I am a genius. There seem to be a few kids here with their parents, evoking memories of my adolescence misspent wandering around all-ages South Shore punk shows. Back then, Roach McKrackin was at the helm of Entrophy, that era and region’s grand poobah of pogo-punk party time. Roach has reemerged with The Murder, and unlike Entrophy, The Murder plays their instruments well. Therefore, it pains me to confess that The Murder is already much better than Entrophy was. Their delivery is dangerously fast, and laden with monster guitar solos and sing-along-after-first-listen choruses. The room gets amped, and even bassist J-Lanz, usually void of any discernable emotion, looks like he’s having fun. When interviewed before the show, J-Lanz refused to whip his junk out on stage, to the great disappoint of the women and bi-curious men in attendance.
The JoPo’s kind of look like they’re 14. However, they are actually significantly older. Their set makes me want to listen to Tegan and Sara, drink some herbal tea, and snuggle a kitten. They have amazing energy, but it feels like there’s too much happening at once for anything resembling a song to cut through. Bluntly, they’re too hardcore for me. I just can’t handle it. Much of the audience doesn’t share my problem, and appreciatively flail around in a circle like happy baboons. The guitar player shreds like it’s his fucking job, and this onslaught of guitar solos makes me wonder if punk is the new metal. It isn’t, but the thought crossed my mind.
I’m down the street celebrating the completion of a hard afternoon’s “work,” when I find out there’s a fourth band. Like a good little byline slut, I scramble back to the Midway. Apparently I’m not the only one who got confused, as a major chunk of the crowd has vacated. Their loss, as I enjoy Suzuki Smith far more than I predicted. I unfortunately can’t do them justice here, as irresponsible alcohol consumption has rendered my notes incomprehensible. “More melodic than the other bands,” I scribble. “But not melodic melodic.” What the fuck do I mean by that? I feel confident printing that Suzuki Smith reminded me of Pennywise, a little. I have it on good authority that Refuse Resist left all their merch behind after leaving in a hurry when their bassist somehow broke two fingers. If they’re still looking for their swag, Roach McKrackin snatched it for safekeeping. (Barry Thompson)
BURN IN SILENCE, THY WILL BE DONE, THE MILES BETWEEN, TRIAGE
The Middle East, Cambridge, MA
It’s a ritual for me to pregame in the parking garage before every Middle East show. Even when I’m by myself, even after I turned 21, I still do it. This time, due to the disgusting Castillo rum and my wanting to see the first band, I won’t get loaded like usual. I tried out for the first band, Triage, a year or two ago but couldn’t commit to them. This being their vocalist’s last show, it’s unfortunate that I’m still stuck in school. They’ve grown a lot as a dynamic metal band—similar to 36 Crazyfists minus the post-hardcore aspect. As we approach the anniversary of Dimebag Darrell’s death, Triage brings up Chris Herrell (Burn in Silence) to help with their cover of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile.”
The black sheep of the groups performing tonight, straight-edge hardcore band The Miles Between won’t let that keep them down. Their vocalist, Chris, bounces around on stage with the rest of the band, and demands attention. I’m not into them but my buddy John who’s a hardcore kid, is.
I’ve noticed at every Thy Will Be Done show, the lead singer, J. Costa, sneaks around in disguise. Once onstage the glasses, backpack, and tam hat come off to reveal his extremely long hair and inner metal presence. The band quickly launches into the modern day thrash riffs from their recently released debut on Jamey Jasta’s Stillborn Records—Was And Is To Come. During the set, J. attempts to see how high he can jump. Formally known as Kobalt, this band has big things ahead of them and I recommend you check them out.
Burn in Silence has gone through some line up changes recently. They waste no time between their brutal songs, streaming each song into the next. Towards the end of the set, Chris Herrell puts on sunglasses and tells us they’re going to play a cover. I scream out “Robby Roadsteamer!” jokingly, and he gets a few people to clap and sing along to “I Put a Baby in You.” The actual cover they break into is a very metal version of “Danger Zone” from Kenny Loggins’ Top Gun soundtrack. The set ends with their mosh tune “Angel Maker” where Chris jumps off stage, joins the chaos and then brings people together for the hardcore-type sing-along.
Already owning Burn In Silence’s album from the day it came out, I walk out with Thy Will Be Done’s CD. (Brett McCabe)
3rd LEFT, O’NEAL ARMSTRONG
T-Bones Road House, Plymouth MA
It’s a festive Thanksgiving eve at T-Bones Roadhouse in Plymouth—the cleavage is abundant and the crowd is gathered at the bar like it’s a new New Year’s Eve.
Up first is a tight, energetic, heavy funk, jazz instrumental set by O’Neal Armstrong. Their name is not just a clever play on words—it’s their real names and these guys truly belong together. They open with a powerful version of The Meter’s Crescent City classic “Cissy Strut.” Guitarist Charlie O’Neal, who looks like he could be Gordon Gano’s younger brother and has as much stage presence and charisma as well. At times Charlie and his brother Rick on bass follow rhythms of their own on purpose while drummer Jeff Armstrong plays with the delicacy of a surgeon to bring out the thunder at all the right moments.
3rd Left takes the stage and there are over 200 tuned-in fans ready for the show. The band uses that sometimes agonizingly Dave Mathews formula that is far too prevalent in today’s music. But they spin it with a refreshing mix of their own jazzy sound and catchy melodies that thankfully stay far away from the monotony of most bands who attempt it. The vocal parts, which seem to include some well-arranged harmonies, are for the most part inaudible. No fault of the boys here, if T-Bones plans to have this type of entertainment they need to invest in a house system—pronto. The original songs by guitarist and singer/songwriter Brian Hitchings still manage to stand well on their own. (Mark Bryant)
THE PRIME MOVERS, MUCK & THE MIRES, MY OWN WORST ENEMY, THE DOOM BUGGIES
Church, Boston, MA
Going to Church has a new meaning in Boston. Interesting fact about this: The Liz Borden Borden Band was the last band to play the Linwood AND the first band to play Church. The place has taken on a new look. Clean grey walls, a string of spotlights aimed at the boxed off stage with a large Church logo stamped on the back wall. The bathrooms have prepared graffiti that attempts to make you feel like you’re back in the Rat. (Sorry, graffiti is normally an act of vandalism, not prepared by the house.)But who’s to say what’s right. This night of entertainment is not only bringing in the usual rock crowd but a bunch of college-age folks hugging the bar area and doing their own thing.
Bruce Allen, Alex Leacock, Carl Biancucci, and Chuck Freeman are on stage as The Doom Buggies. Bruce handles the lead vocal, plays guitar (very well) and writes the band’s tri-decade rock material. Alex consistently supplies the background vocals while tending to the drums that could use a little more bottom tonight. Carl (Classic Ruins) never lets up with this bass fills between lines where he still holds Boston’s Jack Bruce Titan award. Chuck (ex-Moving Targets) seems under- utilized in the compositions—it isn’t ’til the end of the set when he breaks out of the basic chord program. The songs are melodic and rock with “Think Big” and “Rat Bastard” being the standouts.
The three-piece (with no bass) My Own Worst Enemy plays “Snowflake,” my favorite song of theirs, early on, and I question how they’ll be able to build their set. Steve goes from a sales pitch for their CDs to a “If you don’t know me and want a CD, I’ll give it to you.” They get rocking when they hit their Ramones-like “Come On” and Steve gets extra aggressive on “Hey Hey Sunshine.” Then it’s Sue’s turn to release testosterone in “Pay Attention to Me.” A.J. grabs the spotlight for the elongated drum intro of “Turn Me On.” The definitely were able to bring the set to a peak, even with “Snowflake” up front. They end with the Clash’s “Police on my Back,” and though it’s typical of original bands to end with a cover, MOWE’s own material is more exciting to hear.
Every musician in Boston who plays out should go see Muck & the Mires. Not only have they perfected the sights and sounds of the early British Invasion, they are masters of executing a set of songs to be performed as a whole. They have more prepared segues than a commercial radio station. Their matching black and white outfits are an added pleasure that most of their viewers take for granted. Plus, their songs—ever think about the meaning of “I Never Got Over You”? Muck sends this one out to all the women in attendance. Does that mean he was once in love, and still is, with all of them? Or does it mean he’s never been physically over each and every one of them? Brian Mire delivers a great cover of the Honeycombs’ “Have I the Right”—and that band from the ’60s was also known for having a woman on drums. Introducing Jesse Best—she beats the skins as hard as any man and is totally on top of those segues, and sometimes changes tempo at the point one song stops and the other begins—seamlessly. White belt John Quincy Mire keeps up with Jesse and holds the bottom well. They end with the classic Beatles’ sixth chord to make sure everyone listening knows where they are coming from and where they are going.
The Prime Movers reunited recently for a tour on the opposite side of the pond and are headlining at Church tonight. They’re out of the starting gate with “Slow Down” and put their own stamp on the classic, infusing a harmonica into it. The player of that harmonica is Cam Ackland, the lead singer, who appears to be ageless with his high kick, microphone antics, and physical thin frame. The rest of the band holds up to the test of time too—Dick Tate (guitar) with his bleached blond hair and visible tats, Jeff Sugarman (bass) who appears more active now than he was in the ’80s, and Dennis McCarthy (drums) still attempting to be Keith Moon. Their newest songs, like “Back in Line,” sound like their old songs, only better. Cam is tempted to put the mic stand though the drop ceiling, but falls short, this place isn’t the kind of dive that deserves that kind of play. I get the feeling that the college students prefer the way the club looks and the older rockers wouldn’t mind messin’ it up a bit. (T Max)