O’Brien’s, Allston, MA
I’m eagerly huffing down Harvard Ave. to see the soon-to-be legendary band that is Gozu. Featuring members of Superhoney, Wargasm, Trip Hammer, I am expecting this set to rock! To my chagrin, Gozu’s first show has sold out the meager capacity at the newly renovated O’Brien’s. Luckily it’s a warm night for January in Rock City. I’m forced to hang out in line with all the other hipsters. I finally get inside and Gozu open-fires! Their first song blows the crust from my underpants onto the person behind me. I’m really enjoying the Hendrix/ Deftones influences and stoner-ish hard rock sounds as they pound through their set. The twin guitars of Dug Sherman and vocalist Marc Gaffney are blaring into the crowd like the winds of a thunderstorm. When Marc sings out, “I’m running fuckin’ to your town,” I wonder if I should leave before he gets there! The band continues to delight as the set goes through some nice dynamic changes and leaves me wanting one more. (Lance Woodward)
TONI LYNN WASHINGTON
The North End Tavern, Plymouth, MA
It’s 8:30 and Toni Lynn walks gingerly to the tiny stage at this tiny bar somewhere in the middle of North Plymouth. Once safely on stage she belts out the blues in the style of the ever-thinning population of greats which includes the likes of Katie Webster, Koko Taylor, and others. With a powerful delivery, this 71 year-old veteran of the blues runs through the first of two sets without missing a beat. Highlights of the set include a version of “Alright, OK, You Win,” and ”Are You Happy Now?” She also does a killer version of “I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” during which one of the 50 or so present is asked to leave for dancing like an idiot in Toni Lynn’s confined space. He is escorted out the door to the delight of the remaining 49 patrons. (Mark Bryant)
T.T. the Bear’s, Cambridge, MA
I'm here at T.T.’s to check out Hymns. A friend described them to me as “quite good in that post Strokes/Kings of Leon kind of way.” Hymns get into their set and I'm immediately diggin’ their indie rock with country undertones—not surprising considering most members hail from below the Mason-Dixon Line. These guys are a well-oiled music machine with a professional presence on stage. Jason Roberts (guitar, Wurlitzer and occasional tambourine) in particular is on fire throughout the entire set. Vocals by Brian Harding are confident, memorable and polished. The set consists of “Stop Talking,” “It's a Shame,” and the title track from the 2006 Brother/Sister album, but they pay mostly a ton of new material from the upcoming March release, Travel in Herds. Sounds so good I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the new album and anticipating the next Hymns appearance in Boston. (Kitty Speedway)
T.T. The Bear’s, 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 30 thousand. The Lemonheads’ classic “7 Powers” pleases the nostalgic attendees hoping 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 notices the unsupervised merchandise table in the back and announces that the honor system is in effect. A few in the crowd giggle. Despite continuous monitor difficulties, spirits are 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 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 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 aim at the boxed off stage which has 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 not only brings in the usual rock crowd but a bunch of college-age folks who hug the bar area and do 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 rock material. Alex consistently supplies the background vocals while tending to the drums—which could use a little more bottom tonight. Carl (Classic Ruins) never lets up with his bass fills between lines; 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. “Think Big” and “Rat Bastard” are the standouts.
My Own Worst Enemy, a three-piece with no bass, 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.” They definitely are able to bring the set to a peak, despite playing “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 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 by 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) appears more active now than he was in the ’80s, and Dennis McCarthy is drumming nothing like Keith Moon anymore. Their newest songs, like “Back in Line,” sound like their old songs, only better. Cam is tempted to put the mic stand though the dropped ceiling, but falls short—but 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 but the older rockers wouldn’t mind messin’ it up a bit. (T Max)
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)