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Middle East Corner, Cambridge
Benefit for a Free Tibet
9:50 pm: A solid crowd has packed the Mideast Corner tonight and narry a table is available. Another good sign is that most of the people at these tables are largely Temper fans. T Max himself is in the crowd tonight, seated with friends—he’s interested to know if I’m reviewing this set, so I’ll try not to disappoint (and promise him 150 words on this tonight, bwahahahahaha). Aside from a worthy cause, we’re here for a rare presentation of acoustic Temper. If it we’re the ’90s we’d call it unplugged. From left to right, and seated: Pete Sutton (on the trusty ol’ Fender Precision bass), Carlene Barous (who is without her keyboard, but has still brought along her striking voice), Skyla Fey (who’s left the SG at home tonight and brought along the acoustic Takimame instead), and behind them, Nancy Delaney (who, despite the reduced kit, still manages to look as cool as ever)
10:00 pm: Pete strikes the opening chords to “Wee Regret,” and to a blind man, things may sound like “business as usual” (um, for Temper, not Men At Work—sorry). When the vocals hit, my brain aurally hallucinates to the chords Carlene normally comes in with. Instead, there is an incredibly crisp sound rising from Skyla’s guitar—this sounds wonderful. Pete, Carlene, and Skyla are spot-on again with the harmony and Nancy has us entranced in a steady pulse on her one tom-drum. This is quite the opener, and we barely have time to digest it before “Aquamarine” comes along sounding lush as usual. Those “oooo-la-la-la”s, conjuring the texture of Rubber Soul. We applaud instantly at the chance. Pete responds simply with, “We’re Temper and we’re happy to be here”; we’re then presented with the end of the world, L.A. style—“Out West, Pt.2.” All of the great parts of this song are exposed even further with the stripped down sound—the major/minor chord-play of the verses, the transient zen of “is it over or just begun, which ever it is you chose,” the driving bass line that runs up until all we’re left with is the last a capella verse of “where do you go when you see the bright white light?” And soon the room is silent, only to be broken by our applause. Admittedly “very nervous, but relaxed now”—Temper continues “layin’ it out” with the pining ballad “Day And Night.” Pete and Skyla gently walk the song through which is (once again) amazing to hear. Normally, Carlene’s keyboard is an integral part to this the song—but tonight she only has to worry about the vocals. And that doesn’t stop her from displaying some lecherous leg movements to the crowd (as reported to me from Roberta—sitting up front); we are otherwise oblivious to this in back at the bar—and instead I have one eye on this Cambrige police officer who’s been standing next to me for a couple songs now. Strangely enough, he looks like the cop from Sanford & Son (Smitty, the black dude)—I’m hoping I don’t wind up emptying my pockets onto the bar a’la Big Lebowski, if ya know what I mean. Which is a good segue into the next song, “March For Drugs.” This is one song I don’t think they’ve played in a while. Yet, the singing is still so strong. The next song is “Tough Luck,” another rarity these days on the Temper set list. There are probably no less than two-dozen different chords to this song and Skyla is performing flawlessly; I can’t hear enough of the sound from that Takimame and it goes so well with her voice. Blending in perfectly, Carlene delivers the beautifully-jaded theme of the song, “If you never saw my face again, would it change how you’re feeling now?” Temper’s latest sad and pining song, “More Regret,” easily picks up where “Wee Regret” leaves off—effectively being handed a box of Kleenex from its predecessor as if it was a baton in a relay-race held at the local Prozac convention. “Not Bitter” closes out the set tonight, which again features keyboards that normally hint at White Album-era George Harrison. But not to worry as tonight has been a demonstration in consistency, execution, and harmony. The closing number is no exception—backed again by some nice guitar work that leaves me with a new perspective of Skyla’s skills as she’s been more of the focus during every song tonight. And this is not to overlook the fact that Nancy has been in the zone throughout the whole set, keeping us mellowly-rivited with her Floydian mastery behind the kit. Bravo, Temper, we look forward to more unorthodox approaches in the future! (H.Cheese)
The Middle East, Cambridge
You go to shows with the hope of a good time, with sugar plums dancing in your filthy frontal lobes, with the hope of a mind blowing circus of musical madness whose electric flesh paints the eyes of mother creation herself. However hard the ladder is to find, sometimes you get lucky and stumble upon a monolith of goodness.
This is the case at the Middle East where the band Jaggery conjures up an impressively unique set, dancing between Bjork, Diamanda Galas and Jack Kerouac. Mali Sastri (the lead vocalist and pianist) has a vocal style all her own, infused with petals of passion and rubies of inspiration. The singing crawls, runs, and soars over an instrumental sea of piano, contrabass and drums. The piano playing paints a brilliant horizon of tradition meeting innovation. The contrabass fills the oceans of planet Jaggery with waves of experimentation and skill. Suddenly out of the clouds come the percussive mountains and foothills laid down by Daniel Schubmehl crashing and smashing to the highest peaks, tracing the shorelines and splashing into the water with jazz flecks, rock specks, and magick tricks. Jaggery is for those who want beautiful original music that’s dark in the vein of Van Goghs Starry Night. Don’t wait pluck this jewel post haste! (Dr. Tumblety)
DISASTER STRIKES, SHALLOW WATERS, LOLITA BLACK
Thunderdome, Providence, RI
Thunderdome hosts another one of their torrid affairs on this 95 degree day, with a mixed bag of noise, hardcore, punk, and apocalyptic sound. Coinciding with the show is a DIY style pot luck barbeque that feeds the bands and the gathering squad alike.
Shallow Waters, a power electron-ics/harsh noise outfit, is an idea conceived in March of 2005 by Rob Hill and veteran noise maker Jeff Plummer. Tonight they deliver a torrential wall of feedback and screams. Don’t be fooled by their minimalism: this is a very prolific band that has a plethora of releases coming out now. Their first full length LP Equal Eyes has just come out on Hospital records and Shallow Water IV, a self released 10-minute tape with two tracks of what you would expect from Shallow Waters. This is the fourth installment of their self-released tapes, the most pummeling and condemning yet. “Lets Eat and Inherent Right” make up SW IV, and was recorded in the Thunderdome by Louder Than Life. They are also making an appearance on the Bullshit Detector 2008 compilation, put out by Audio Immolation Industries. Their new LP and cassette are available at Armageddon Shop in Providence.
Next is Boston hardcore band Disaster Strikes. Very traditional in the way of early ’80s DC hardcore, the band also brings live discussion into their shows, about social and economic reformation and can often be heard ‘screaming for change. Disaster Strikes is in the studio this month in Allston, cutting a new seven-inch. Afterwards, they are heading out on a U.S. tour in June, throughout the end of July, with Pennsylvania skate rat thrashers Common Enemy. Disaster Strikes will also be meeting up and playing dates on the west coast with Naked Aggression, A.D.S., and Resistant Culture. Oh yeah, I almost missed to mention that this band is signed to Alternative Tentacles Records. Disaster Strikes has a strong comparison of the socio- anti political industrial band Consolidated and what they did with their 1991 Friendly Fascism albumand tour: a band-to-crowd discussion at the shows on anti-industry-political-corporate profiteering and the exploitation of women. It is ironic that Consolidated are drinking Rolling Rock beers while making that big speech about women’s rights—probably just so the band could get laid after the show. But, Disaster Strikes has a helluva lot more sincerity in their messages and continue to fight for the underdogs (that being you and me).
Last is Lolita Black. This is a pleasant change. With only one red light on, emanating from Lolita Black’s badass drummer Kaleigh’s bass drum, vocalist Jessica rants as though this were a baptism by fire. They have a very heavy sound that is hard to pin down. At times you hear Crass and others you hear Swans. With Bob from Providence’s own Drop Dead on guitar and Jake on bass, they add a very rich and thick sound, following Kaleigh’s navigating tribal skins and Jessica’s forthright vocals. Lolita Black is releasing an eight-song self released CD. I would say it is a potent mix of post punk/ dark rock with elements of metal and punk. They have musical similarities to Killing Joke, the Pain Teens, X, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Siouxsie, and some early anarchopunk. Lolita Black is a band that doesn’t box themselves in with being one particular genre and play what feels right to them. (DJ Matthew Griffin)
THE PLUTO GANG
The Uni, Wakefield, MA
Before the set begins, a guitar player dressed in a motley arrangement of ripped jeans, a cowboy hat, flip flops, a vest and a scarf takes a bad solo that never seems to end. He jumps down in front of the stage and directs his playing at three girls standing in front. The band starts, and the soloist turns out to be the lead singer. They are not tight. The energy level is high, however, and the songs are catchy. The closest comparable band to these guys is the Pixies; the singer’s squeal somehow manages to attract your attention in a good way, and the guitar playing is aggressive but not too busy. The band consists of two guitar players who each take a turn on bass, plugged through their guitar amps, and a drummer. For the entire set they invite up a guest percussionist playing tambourine and cowbell. His dancing keeps the energy going. (Andrew Leader)
THE RUDDS, THE GOBSHITES, ANDREA GILLIS BAND, THE SILVER LINING, ERICA OWEN
Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge
MSPCA Natural Disaster Relief Benefit
8:30 pm (Central Sq.) Another big night of local rock is upon us—a benefit show for the MSPCA Natural Disaster Relief; to which the cat-owner in me immediately identifies as a good cause.
9:00 pm—Erica Owen. I miss part of the set. There is sweat dripping off my brow and down my nose. Erica Owen is a four-piece: cello (Bryan Ennis), drums (Alex Budrow), guitar (Bill Braun), and Erica on vox. Erica and Ennis write most of the material themselves; guitarist Braun is a recent addition to the band, but a seasoned blues-smith easily worth his salt. "Ain't No Sunshine" is sounding very loose and soulful; Steven Stills would be proud (FYI: he played on the orig. recording). The middle of the song with the "I know, I know, I know, I know…" set a record for most-repeated lyrics. Erica's voice easily does justice to the run-on lyrics and in hearing the guitar and cello interpret this song, it is clear that these guys have chops. For the opening act, they have quite a crowd—I have a sense that their inner circle of friends and fans have all come out to support them tonight, it is impressive just in numbers alone. The next song is softer, a waltz—I'm unsure if this is another cover or an original. It is nice to slowly sway to the soft tempo—as any type of breeze right now is very welcome. The closing number is a Bjork cover, "I Miss You." It is pulsing and powerful. Thunderous applause follows, and seems like a good omen to the start of the evening.
9:30 pm—The Silver Lining. I'm nursing a cold beer now but the room is still packed and steamy. Open up those backdoors, guys—if only for 10 seconds! Well, scratch that—The Silver Lining has taken the stage. The opening song, "Crimson Scarf" has a riff that sounds like it should be on "Exile on Main Street.” Immediately, I'm reminded of the last time I saw them in early 2007—Matt's fretwork and his advanced songwriting skills, Anna's powerful, soulful voice, wonderful keyboard fills and a perfect rhythm section—this is one complete band. Doug Fuller (drums) and Greg Radawich (bass) play off each other well. My only criticism right now is that I can't really hear Ted Collins' keyboard (and I'm standing front and center). This is quickly corrected for the next number, "Glass Valentine.” Now I can hear Ted, providing ear-candy in the form of psychedelia-inspired dizziness melting against a retro-styled patch. The next tune, "In The Future" actually goes back in time—to 2006's release "Well Dressed Blues"; while the first 2 songs are off their new release entitled “Everyday Someday.” And before we hear the next number, Anna happily informs us that their new CD is available FREE tonight—just stop by and find her with the box of CDs after the set! So, why not dive right into the title track? Immediately, I'm assaulted with an "Am—C" progression that screams of The Pixies' "Holiday Song.” The verse continues… Am—C, Am—C, Am, G, F… this has great punch and is accompanied by quick lyrics and nice harmony. To completely blow my mind away, the chorus switches to a ’60s pop trifecta invoking The Turtles, The Association, and The Mamas & The Papas. They have the skill and context to pull this off while providing a lovely sing-along towards the end… "ba ba bomp-ba bomp baa-bomp-baaaa…" Is it 1967 all over again? Is this really their last gig? Next up is a song called "Cemented Steps" (again, from "Well Dressed Blues"). I can recall digging this tune at past shows. It’s mid-60s-Stonesy-upbeat-blues in E with some nice minor chords thrown in, which only reinforces Matt's songwriting prowess. The last 5 songs of the set are all off the new CD (or, "rekkid" as the band likes to call it—very cool!). Some notable highlights include "Fastest Way" (Motown soul meets its Philly cousin), "Blueberry Farm" (a down-home cow-poke song evoking images of Sweetheart of the Rodeo—or Gram Parsons after he's done an entire eight-ball), and "Might as Well Love You" (Matt takes a solo here that would earn him tuition at Oxford Univ.—courtesy of Brian May!). "Blueberry Farm" features a nice lyric to the effect of "Jesus don't seem quite so bad / When you think you're livin' free / but you've just been had.” Can we summarize the past 8 years of the Bush Administration with this line? Can Obama use this as his campaign slogan? The last song, "Heart's Content,” is prefaced with Anna's admission to the crowd. "It's been a great ride for four years, but we need to take a hiatus now." It's a slow 12/8 number, and I’m hoping for something more upbeat. Well, I don't make the setlist, folks. For now, it's best just to enjoy it—there are more cool breezes floating around the room and I'm no longer the sweaty pig I was an hour ago. As the set ends, the Silver Lining say their bittersweet goodbyes; eventually I spot Anna on the side of the stage with the box of those much-purported "free CDs." As she hands me one, I really try to express some sincere praise in the form of "I've only seen you guys a handful of times before—but those couple of hours were very well spent! Matt sounds like Keith Richards meets Brian May. All those comparisons to the ’60s are spot-on! Good luck with the family and a well-deserved break!" This gets me a huge smile.
10:20 pm—Andrea Gillis Band. And now, after 2007's WBCN Rumble runners-up have played—it's time for this year's runners-up, The Andrea Gillis Band. Simply put, Andrea's music is an amalgamation of some of the past decade's rockin'ist bands around these parts: bands like the Gravel Pit, the Coffin Lids, Muck & the Mires, and (tonight's closer) the Rudds—and that, friends, only scratches the surface. Tonight's line-up (identical to that which played the Rumble some weeks ago) is as strong as any she's ever had; another "who's who" of well-respected rockers: Michelle Paulhaus (bass—the Dents), Charles Hansen (lead guitar—Ross Phasor), Melissa Gibbs (rhythm guitar—Heavy Stud), and Bruce Caporal (drums—Auto Interiors). The opening number is the anthemic "Hey Gillis.” Andrea grooves between nailing the melody and outright screaming. The consistency of the band is such that Charles and Melissa provide great texture in terms of sound while Michelle and Bruce do the same thing with the tempo—all four are tight and I'm trying to soak it all in. "Sexy Singer" is the next tune; you'll find it on 2004's release "Want Another?"—a curious title from someone who tends bar during the daylight hours. Known for her energy and great vocals, Andrea has paid her dues well with Red Chord, The Rudds, and now her own band. I can see how some felt the Rumble title would just be a formality, her reputation now is such that when she takes the stage the end result always has you rocking-out in some way or another. And that is a perfect description for the next song "Keep A Knockin'"—which is a kick-ass interpretation of "I Hear You Knocking.” Michelle is up and down the neck of that bass guitar and Charles is shredding notes during a flurry of energy. This is all summed up afterwards as Andrea is gasping for air after having screamed her lungs out for the last three minutes—"Don't you wish you wrote that song?" I'm happy just to witness their take on it. Charles later keys me in to the secret of shredding: "Make sure you have your chord punctuations down first." Hmmm … I'll try that next time I'm in Cambridge Music. Newer material is played in the form of the title track to the 2007 EP "One Eye Open.” The band also chats it up between songs at this point and shouts out to all the animal lovers out there who were able to adopt a pet into a stable home (my cats Boomer and Kato also thank you) and Michelle shares her story of her cat, adopted 10 years ago. Then it's back to kickin' out the jams. But not without a special surprise: Anna Price has been standing in front for the last few songs and it's clear she's a fan and knows the words—why not a duet? We're treated to exactly that—I'd like to tell you the name of the song but when I ask Andrea later for the title, I can barely hear what she's saying (sigh, oh well—and a good reason why you should be wearing earplugs, kids). The band wraps up with "Electrocute," which should wind up on her next full-length release, sometime in 2008. Drained and sweating once again, it's back to the great outdoors—in the form of Mass Ave. Time to scrawl more notes down and eventually make it back in for The Gobshites.
11:10 pm—The Gobshites. By now, half the room has cleared out. Fine by me as there is more air to breathe and the room temperature has probably dropped 10 degrees due to the lack of bodies. Most folks have shown up for Andrea and the Silver Lining (and weren't disappointed) and they aren't necessarily sticking around for this punk-yet-authentic septet called The Gobshites (it's announced later that one member is off getting married, so tonight they are a sextet instead). Known for covering Black 47 and The Ramones, they have built quite a following and are being featured here tonight at the Mideast. I wonder about that following as the crowd is dwindling even further as the opening song ("Let's Get Drunk") starts off. And just as the song is titled, the lead singer is screaming "Lettttttttt's giiiittttt drrrrunnnnnnk!" (oh boy…). He screams so loud at times that the other instruments are being drowned out. This is inspiration enough to stop drinking—my car is parked behind city hall and I have to move it tonight or else. Time to trade in my warm-Pabst-backwash for an ice-cold Coke. Making my way to the side bar, there is no one there—yet still challenging to order a drink as I feel I need to shout above the vocals. The Gobshites present an alcoholic's rusty-edged view of the world—if only taken literally from the perspective of the lyrics. Some of the songs that follow feature titles like "Guinness Boys" and "Can't Drink Here.” But underneath the drunken ruse of being down-n-out is a very authentic Irish band—celtic and kinetic, brogue and brawny. Among the guitars and drums, there is a stand up bass, a fiddle, a mandolin, and at times, a second fiddle (to fill in for the guy who's getting hitched). Aside from the screaming vocals, each performer gets their own space to jam and/or solo and eventually I start to appreciate this. It really is a shame as the performer-to-crowd ratio is dead-even right now: 6 people on stage; 6 in the crowd (and those six are: some dude in a baseball cap, yours truly, John Powhida and his friend Lisa, and Brett Milano and Roy (who earlier had educated me on The Silver Lining). I'm the only one standing anywhere close to the stage and am trying to give some applause (albeit sympathetically)—everyone else is standing/sitting in the shadows—such that when our weak applause follows, the lead singer says "thank you, both of you!” It is not far from the truth. There is a photographer who's been walking around, taking snaps of the band; he walks up to me and asks, "Have you been here this whole evening? The room was PACKED—what happened? These guys are great!” I can see his point. I don't know how you explain to somebody that an Irish band, playing in the Boston scene no less, would end up clearing the room and be met with indifference—but that's what we are seeing here tonight. By now, I've downed that Coke and need another one—all these songs about drinking and I have to deal with car keys in about an hour or so. And when I walk up to the bar, there's more screaming from our vocalist: "I ONLY DRINK STOUT, MOTHERFUCKERS!” And that, as you can guess, is the title of the next song. This was preceded by a tune called "Drinking Again.” The next song is simply called "Drink, Fuck, Fight"—and sounds like an old SNL skit (Dana Carvey/John Lovitz era) that had a fake commercial for a recording of "authentic Irish songs"—one song goes, "we'lllllll drink-n-drink-n-drink-n-drink, then we'll fight-n-fight-n-fight-n-fight.” Again, sadly, this is not far from the truth. When the set has wrapped up, the room has the atmosphere of a funeral home without any bodies or flowers inside it. I feel bad for these guys, but I think they should cut out some of the profanity and stick to their roots—they can still be punk enough to take advantage of the instrumentation and maybe do less songs about drinking? You can't play every night like it’s St. Patrick's Day, can you? I give a "chin up" to the lead singer as he makes his way to the back of the room, but it is little, if any, consolation. And as John Powhida and the rest of the Rudds are making their way to the stage, I give them a very quiet request to "please rock my world right now"—to get me out of the collective funk that has befallen the Gobshites.
Midnight—The Rudds. Okay, time for an enema—Middle-East style. The Rudds have a more traditional lineup for this gig—Nathan Logus is back on drums; Tony Goddess is back on bass. No keys tonight though—so we won't hear "Roslindale,” “Stand a Chance,” or any other keyboard-centric songs. But we do get to hear Dave Leib on guitar, and there’s nothing wrong with that logic. Powhida remarks about how they haven't even practiced since the last gig (opening for Urge Overkill)—this is no matter; if the Rudds can't tear it up right now, then who can? The opening songs, "Astrological Sign Choker" and "Oh No!" are cranking and after seeing Nathan pound on the drums in his familiar fashion, I feel back in my element. And well I should, once the sound of the Rudds hits the restaurant—others start coming back in and now the room is half-full again (much to the chagrin of any of the Gobshites who are still hanging around). "Boot Camp of Love" is the third song tonight—another rocker and at the moment provides some very welcomed punch to my tiring bones. I'm thinking they must have heard my earlier request to rock my world. Other highlights include "Older Girls,” "DowntownFreddyBrown,” "Rock World" (from the self-titled 2005 release), and "Burnin' Up,” their famous (and better) version of the Madonna song. This has been a much-needed set with lots of energy; maybe it was a bit of luck not to have the keyboards along tonight—exposing more of the Rudds' heavier side. "The Femuline Hang On" closes out a strong set, one last chance to rock out tonight, and we are all moving. And in "keepin' it non-traditional,” how the hell am I going to condense tonight into 150 words per band? It won't be easy and I may as well send T Max another brain dump of content. We'll see, folks, we'll see… (H.Cheese)
AD FRANK, TEMPER
7:00 pm (Toad, Mass Ave.—Porter Sq.)—Ahhh, Derby Day—the first Saturday in May. As expected, the favorite (Big Brown) pulled away down the stretch making armchair gamblers across America ecstatic, if only for today. I normally refrain from such misinformed wagering and this year is no exception; if you told me I was going to walk up to a counter and hand over money for Big Brown, I would’ve sworn I was drunk and staggered into a porn shop for all the wrong reasons.
7:05 pm—Ad Frank. And if you’re wondering why a good couple dozen or so of us have crowded into Toad early on a Saturday when the sun is still out? Ad Frank (Ad Frank & The Fast Easy Women, Miles Dethmuffin, Permafrost) is performing the opening set tonight “at the piano bar” as it was described on the Temper mailing list. I’ve got a prime seat as I’m directly to his right. Ad has never suffered from a lack of showmanship and by now, is wrapping up two decades of allowing us to make sense of his world—his latter success is well deserved and a testament to finding his niche along the way. With a healthy shot of whiskey by his side, Ad launches into the opening song, “Cool.” Ad’s breathy vocals fill the room well—the recurring theme, “You used to be cool—you don’t have to be, but you arrrrrrrrre…” hauntingly comes across like Robyn Hitchcock—especially with the last syllables. The next song, “The Vampire Who Opted For Death,” was admittedly written “to win the acceptance of the goth crowd—but I guess I still wear too much brown.” It’s another song by Ad about ruining lives (“I’ve built an empire of the lives that I’ve destroyed”), plus, you gotta love that song title. After another song on keyboard, Ad goes mobile with whiskey in hand to the back of the stage and to his acoustic guitar. We are treated to three numbers—one song in particular laments the performer’s own perspective of the gossip column; Ad name-drops The Noise and a couple of other publications while directing the venom to the meatheads (“assholes”) who post trash on the respective message boards. Such is Ad’s world and we have a glimpse of it here: moments crash between being internalized, painful articulation, and just being blunt (I wanted to use the word “frank” here;). The remainder of the set sees Ad returning to his roost behind the keys. “Uhauls and Ryders” vents Ad’s frustrations at the transient college kids, while another (possibly new) song about “the timing is the most important part…” segues into the coda of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” where, ironically “nothing really matters.” Ad says afterward, “Freddy (Mercury) and my dad are up there in heaven having a drink together. I can only imagine what they have to talk about.” Ad winds down the set and when asked, reports that the Fast Easy Women are on hiatus this summer. Also of note, Ad is back in the studio making a new record—though, it may not see the shelves until 2009. Time to scrawl all my notes down and refuel for Temper’s set.
8:00 pm—Temper. The crowd has grown in size over the past hour; I’m still tucked away to the right as Temper takes the stage. As with the last set at Club Bohemia, they open with the two-part “Out West.” Immediately there is a snafu as Skyla’s mic is not functioning correctly; Pete has to temporarily disrobe the bass and tweak the soundboard (as it is immediately on the wall to his left). Once this glitch has been handled we get to hear the full effects of the vocals; especially with Pt. 2. A nice recovery; I don’t think we should be taking the “end of the world” motif too seriously anyways! The band burns off their frustration with “Enemy” as the next song—this has me moving in my seat. Nancy always gives this song some good snaps and pops—I love this groove! “Honey” is next up and is a recent addition to the setlist. The other newer set addition, “The End” has its own “Soft Parade”-ish qualities (sorry!) where tempos and keys vary greatly from part to part—there is one section reminiscent of Syd Barrett that features whirling, ascending chords. It will take sometime to become familiar with these new songs and while in between hearing both of them, we get “Aquamarine,” another great song that Temper seems to play effortlessly. “Close your eyes and see Aquamarine, serene.” Now which Caribbean island did you write that song in Pete? I will try and find out. “Wee Regrets” and “Day and Night” are swapped out for lesser-played songs that also harken back to Temper’s days of “teething pains”: “Three Tales” and “Can’t/Not/Add.” The latter expresses a viewpoint of the modern world as frustrated and hassled. “I’ve given up trying to do math—I’ve given up trying to add it up!” Think of that next time you do your taxes. And every time I hear this song I swear they’re going to go into the instrumental break in “Good Day Sunshine.” How can you not like songs that could morph into “Revolver”-era Beatles? The songs are delivered with a workmanlike precision and the loyal crowd at Toad has overlooked the earlier problems. Now in full applause, we see Carlene Barous’ keyboard start to wobble and tilt—wanting to nip this in the bud, a roll of duct tape is quickly summoned and Carlene is back to join in on the start of tonight’s last song, “Not Bitter.” You would think a song that rhymes “soon/moon/tune” would come off as trite—but each time I hear it I am amazed of the quality of the harmonies and the song’s overall composition. Great work, Pete! We are shouting out encores (“The Wave,” “Kaleidoscope”) but are left to wait until the next show, (in June) which is rumored to be “unplugged,” accompanied with only one guitar. We'll just have to wait and see—should be good. (H.Cheese)
THE BREEDERS, THE MONTANA BOYS
The Paradise, Boston
NBA Finals Game 1, BankNorth Garden, Boston: Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics.
7:30 pm—Van Ness St., Boston MA—outside of Fenway Park. The streets surrounding Fenway Park are buzzing with anticipation this evening. Partly because Coco Crisp has instigated a bench-clearing brawl after being hit with a pitch—but also because our beloved (and somewhat recently-forgotten) Boston Celtics square off in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers (or as Tommy Heinshon says "Daaa Lay-Kahs"). Now, it doesn't get much better than this folks. The Red Sox are defending World Series champs; the Patriots are coming off the worst 18-1 season in NFL history; and lo and behold—the Celtics/Lakers are meeting in the finals again. David Stern must have slept very soundly after the Celtics clinched on Fri evening to complete the match-up; this is a marketers dream as advertising revenue will come pouring in during a series that is likely going six, if not the full seven games. And not to be forgotten, Johnny Most is somewhere up in heaven, chain-smoking and yelling "Pandemonium!"—while Red Auerbach is at Johnny’s side screaming obscenities at Phil Jackson, “you were a washed up little **%!$* in the ’70s,” “you don’t know how to <bleep>-in’ coach…,” etc… I don’t know if words can truly describe the vibe already present in the city and what will continue to grip the Hub in the weeks to come. Younger fans weren’t around for the golden days of those 16 championships and don’t have the context or the perspective of Boston as hallowed ground in terms of basketball. Back before the brilliance of Bill Belichick and the beauty of the BoSox bouncing the Bronx Bombers, the word in this town was “Bird.” And before that, “Cowens”—and “Havilcek”—and the Lord of Them All: “RUSSELL”! There is still tradition in Boston basketball, this is the danger of waking a sleeping giant—too much history, too much lore. Green Bay has its “frozen tundra” in January and (Sk)ankee fans wax eloquently about Octobers past, but there was nothing like a hot, steamy night at the old “Gahden” in late May/early June. Kareem Abdul Jabbar gasping into an oxygen tank, the triple-overtime game in the ’76 Finals, Game seven of the ’81 Eastern Conference Finals—now those are Boston Sports memories!
So how does this all relate, especially to the Boston rock scene, you may ask? Because, Boston is one of those cities where the sports and music scenes are conscious of each other, if not entwined to a degree (these days Theo Epstein can throw a guitar around his neck and jam with Eddie Vedder; even Bronson Arroyo can grace the cover of the Noise!). Almost everybody in The Hub is a true fan at the core; just you watch—we will all be jumping onto the bandwagon now, as if a 66-win season wasn’t enough to rouse attention. Older farts like myself actually remember the ’80s quite well, even the ’70s. Back in 1986, the Pixies could be found at the Rat, and basketball ruled this town. That was the Celtics’ last championship; they return to the finals tonight, much like (the ex) “Mrs. John Murphy” returns to her adopted hometown tonight as the major headliner she’s been over the past two decades. Her beloved band the Breeders (formed with twin sister Kelly—as we all know) is touring for their first release since 2002’s “Title TK.” The new record is called “Mountain Battles” and hit the shelves back in April of this year—and I have not heard one song off it! Sorry! Internally, there’s been more rehab to contend with—as well as this other band (the Pixies?) that requested Kim’s skills for about over a year or so. Instances of that nature will put a band on hiatus for a while—explaining a six-year gap in releases. But it’s still good to have Kim back in Boston; to the “woody east,” near the “sleepy west” (it’s educational!). Her return is a good enough local tie-in to be confident doing a Breeders review for the Noise.
8:00 pm—Outside the Paradise Rock Club, Boston. I’ve finally reached the Paradise. The show is sold out—fuck! (and I am not schlepping to the MidEast for the Air Guitar Championships as “plan B”—no way!) Sigh. This isn’t like seeing the Grateful Dead at Foxboro—there’s barely anyone hanging outside and nobody looks like they have any extra tickets to part with. Soon I’m pacing about, trying to visualize how this is all gonna work out. Eventually, some people start walking by who look like they’d be going to the show. I mumble the usual lines: “need one,” “who’s got extras?” Someone says, “that guy in that truck does.” So I flag him down, determined not to end up like Lou Graham’s “Juke Box Hero” (“…couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold-out show…”). Paying the “mere nominal service charge,” and I have a ticket in hand—“I will reach nirvana tonight!” I can already hear the opening to “Divine Hammer” in my head. I’ve got time to go grab some coffee and casually make it back for the start of the game… Beat L.A.!
9:00 pm—Paradise Lounge. There are two TVs on the far wall; the left one is carrying the Celts/Lakers, the one on the right has what’s left of the Sox/Rays on NESN—and the Sox hold a 7-1 in the eighth. We are ready for tip-off! After six minutes of play, the first 20 points are split evenly and the score is knotted at 10-10. Ray Allen has immediately hit some open shots; this is good to see—if the Celtics are going to win this series, he’s going to have to play a big part. The Lounge has filled up fast and I see some Pixies T-shirts in the crowd, no doubt they’re heading in later. The first quarter comes to an end with the Celtics up by a hoop, 23-21.
9:30 pm —The Montana Boys. Inside the Paradise… this place smells like puke. I don’t know what your visions of “paradise” are—maybe a coral reef somewhere, like in those Corona ads. Or maybe you think of California, or Oregon, or other areas of splendor in the ol’ USA. But I don’t immediately rush to equate the term with the smell of stomach bile—but its following me even as I stroll up the staircases to the balcony and back—something all too familiar after this past weekend, but that’s another story for another time—well, it’s also the reason I’m not drinking tonight. After getting a “boring old Coke” at the bar, its time to shift focus to the opening band—the Montana Boys. Hmmm, they’re definitely quirky but not complex, especially not the songs. They have syncopation and can work a riff over four chords—vocally, they are meowing and making other odd noises to mix up the melodies. Three songs in and I’m still waiting to hear a middle part of a song that isn’t just one chord or, any middle part at all. I’m losing my patience with these guys—if they want to be Modest Mouse, they’re gonna have to double-up and work two of their songs into a single song and find some way to tie that together—then, maybe, they can pull this off. Besides, Celtics/Lakers is on in the next room and I need an update on the score; I’m outta here. Walking back towards the hallway—it’s sparsely crowded (this show is sold out???) God, it smells like puke. Back at the Paradise Lounge, the Celtics have a 27-23 lead with 10 minutes left until halftime. And the Red Sox have moved into first place with a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Rays—Coco’s gonna get suspended for sure, but we’ll just wait and see. It’s now past 10:oo and getting to be that time to scope out some space back in the ballroom. With five minutes left in the first half, the Celts are up 40-35 and looking good.
10:10 pm —Paradise Ballroom. I’ve wandered back into the Paradise for the start of the Breeder’s set. The crowd has grown and the Montana Boys are long off the stage. Perhaps I can find a spot on the floor with a view of the whole stage (without any poles in the way!). But the floor is quite full and it’s quite the challenge to get another Coke at the bar and walk around the bodies. Eventually, I wind up mid-level, right-side, with a great view of Jose’s drum kit—a great view of the stage only it looks as if Kim and Kelly will be on the far side. The clock says 10:20 and I expect the usual 90 plus minutes for the set and encore, add 20 minutes for a cab ride home and five hours of sleep… I think I can make my desk by 8:00 am tomorrow, this is doable. The last I had checked on the game, the C’s looked well—however, unbeknownst to us fans in the ballroom—Paul Pierce has apparently injured his ankle and left the game. To add insult to injury, the Celtics trail at halftime, 51-46. Oh why do you mock us, Oh Lord? 21 years since the last finals appearance—we are this close and may have to go down fighting without one of our biggest guns. It’s a good thing the Breeders are about to rock out—when up comes a roar from the far side of the stage—Kim and Kelly have appeared (with Jose the drummer, a bass player, and Cheryl—on rhythm guitar and keys). I feel some good energy coming on. Kim casually greets the crowd with “Hi, we’re the Breeders—we’re gonna play some songs.” Immediately there’s a demonstration of the nonchalant savant-like mannerisms that endure us to the band (and to Kim’s other projects).
10:30 pm —The Breeders. The first song is actually an Amps’ song (“Tipp City”), which is introduced as a “song about Dayton.” I happen to notice that the bass player is playing a left-handed bass upside down but grooving well. As an opener, the band is loosening up—Jose keeps things in gear while Kim and Kelly get comfortable with their space. “Huffer” is the second song (and the closer on Title TK); and in these days of four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline, the tune seems almost apocalyptical (for 2002) with a line like “If you want it bad you gotta steal your own fuel.” Kim’s voice sounds great singing “torn, toiled and troubled.” “Bang On,” a new tune from Mountain Battles features some nice vocals from Kelly (“I love no one, no one loves me… I’m missing”) as well as a decent surf-riff solo! As the band’s real hometown is Dayton, Kim happily name-drops Guided By Voices in cuing up the next song, their cover of “Shocker In Gloomtown” (someday I would luuvvvv to hear them cover something off Bee Thousand—please?). The song ends and as the next one starts, there’s that bass chord which starts “Divine Hammer”—eeeeyesss! Definitely one of my favorite Breeders songs, they rip through it well; only Kelly has altered her backing vocal so that it’s slightly lagging and having a dragging effect to the beat. I’m unsure if this is intentional or not, but its my only complaint and a small one; so far, the verses sound crisp, perfect! The applause is building between songs as we’re now getting into some good Last Splash material—can’t wait for some stuff from Pod as well! “Night Of Joy” follows (another new song from Mountain Battles—as I hardly recognize it)—but we’re soon back to 1993 when Kim shouts out, “No bye!” The crowd roars! “No bye! No aloha.” The guitars are right there with that stringy riff. “Gone with a rock promoter…” This is awesome, for all us “freezeheads.” And then we kick it into gear as the up-tempo section starts to tear through—the bass player is nailing his riff and I can see the room flowing from my vantage point. Although the vocals are shifting slightly again (“no alohaaaaaaa…”), almost tentative, but the core of the song doesn’t skip a beat. They follow this up with “Pacer,” the Amps’ first single if memory serves me. After the song Kim has to remind us “Amps songs? We do those too!” “We do Beatles covers also.” She also clues us into how Jose found “Cheryl from Florida” (keys, rhythm guitar) “by answering their ad on Craigslist”—she looks a little “granola-ish” which helps reinforce this statement. “We’re Gonna Rise” is another song off the new release; a waltz that again sounds a bit hesitant. After this song ends Kim and Cheryl head to the side of the stage as Kim clues us into Kelly’s band back in Dayton, the Tasties. Kelly, the bass player, and Jose are now a trio, playing her song, “It’s the Love.” The song ends with Kelly attempting a solo and running quite well with it, until she eventually (and predictably) flairs out—she shrugs her shoulders as the song ends immediately and by this time Kim is back at her side ready to start the next tune, “Mercury.” As we keep applauding, anticipating some better-known material, it’s reported that the Lakers have a 62-59 lead in the third quarter. What did I tell you about Boston—even Kim wants an update to the game! The crowd moans ever so briefly—as Kim and Kelly pour into Last Splash’s opener “New Year”—no time to be down! But again, the syncopation of “I am the sun, I am the new year” seems off. Weird. Has is been that long since Kim and Kelly refreshed themselves with these tunes? The rest of the band still manages to play tight, however. Kim breaks the eventual applause with the instantly-recognizable words: “check—check… one, two. Aahoooo-ahh, aahoooo-ah.” And the crowd erupts, pavlovian-dog style, for “Cannonball.” Time to hit the bathroom as I’m quite sure I know how this song goes. It rocks and I get a new sound perspective, walking around the back of the floor to the hallway. Although, I’m thinking, “they’ve got a B minus going right now—we’ll see how the rest of the set plays out.” The trance of the two-chord beat permeates the back hallway and I reach the Paradise Lounge to find the Celtics leading 67-64 with four minutes left in the third quarter! Paul Pierce is in the game, but again, I’m oblivious at this point of him leaving due to injury and then returning to play. “Cannonball” is winding down and I’m at the mouth of the back entrance. The Deal sisters are still on the 1993 trip as “I Just Want To Get Along” (again from Last Splash) kicks into gear. The backbeat could stir your grandma out of her wheelchair, “we were rich once, ’til your head exploded—imagine that’s just what the big bang did”—now that’s some sexually repressed imagery! They absolutely nail the hooks on the chorus; they nail it so well, I have to play air-guitar along to it. “I Just Wanna Get Along, I Just Wanna Get Along.” Damn! Next up is the chance to come true on that Beatles’ cover—“Happiness Is A Warm Gun” from Pod. Damn! It’s still ironic to hear Kelly sing “I need a fix cause I’m goin’ down,” and hear her sing it so well. Kim comes in with the thrashing outbursts of “Mother Superior jumped the gun!” leaving Kelly to handle the verses of “Happiness…” (while Kim softly whispers, “bang, bang, shoot, shoot”). Even the tempo change is pulled off with ease—now what was I saying earlier about a B minus? 1992’s “Safari” is next (from the EP of the same name). I take a chance to get an update on the score and the Celtics are still leading 81-78 with 11 minutes left in the game. As the banter continues between songs, Kim draws attention to the actual Mr. John Murphy, the ex—who has been setup with reserved seating tonight—the spotlight is thrown on him as Kim starts talking. “I took the T today, John—hey, is that your kid [sitting next to you]?” Now all makes sense to me—the opening act should have been MENTE! That would have been brilliant! Sure, a couple of people in the front row go home smelling like scrod—but I guess you can’t upset the tour schedule which brought us the lovely Montana Boys: “regurgitated Spin Doctors” for the iPod generation—I spied their equipment later and the keyboard player still has the names of the notes taped onto the keys—that helps to explain things. The Breeders set winds up by featuring another new song “German Studies” which features Kim doing her best Nico imitation while Kelly takes a crack at playing bass. More banter with the ex continues—it seems we’re all confused on the name of John’s kid: Dave? Paige?—no one knows, but Kim explains that back then, “sometimes auntie Kim had to sit down because she couldn’t stand and play at the same time.” Lord only knows what she was drinking! And since the set opened with an Amp’s number, why not close with one as well? The band rocks out with “Empty Glasses” and an encore is soon to follow. You guessed it, time for another update on the game. The Celtics are still up, 85-81—halfway through the last quarter. Let’s see if I can’t get any closer to the stage.
11:30 pm —Encore. The floor is still packed—it’s still best to hang by the hallway alcove which allows for a quick bolt into the lounge for score updates; it’s getting down to the crunch time for game one and nobody wants to see the Celtics lose this lead in the closing minutes. The Breeders return rather quickly and “Overglazed” is the first number (again, off of Mountain Battles). The song glides along in a psychedelic drone, “I can feeeeeel it, I can feel it.” Although Kelly later confesses that she “fucked up on the rise.” Oh well Kelly, it’s a new song and I’m sure no one noticed. Maybe Brett Milano did (who’s also hanging in the back entrance by this point)—but it’s not like we’d ask him now anyways. I have to immediately shout out “Nice!” as Kim starts the opening to “Fortunately Gone”—a favorite from Pod. Kelly does her best Tanya Donelly on the backing vocals and I’m happy to help as well: “sweetly as it drops upon your head just like it did today. Fortunately gone—a-bomp-baa-baa, I wait for you.” So, imagine this blissful moment segueing into Kim’s admission of “My mom’s got the Alzheimers!” and she explains the story on how she asked her mom to come up with an ending to the line, “not lost but gone before….” To which her mom actually inspired the title to this twisted waltz, with her response, “Here No More!, Here No More!” I take this opportunity to head back out to the nearest TV—Celtics lead 86-82, then 88-82! The commercials at this point seem endless (what was I saying about the NBA lapping up all that ad-revenue?)—which inspires me to head back for what is likely the last song. And appropriately enough before the song starts—Kim briefly thanks us for coming out, but says, “I know you all want to see the end of the game.” This is a perfect summary to tonight’s action and a great start to this idea of covering bands each night of the NBA finals. Even better, the closing song is “Saints”—always a crowd favorite and goes well with the warm thoughts of basketball returning to Boston in June: “Summer Is Ready When You Are!”
11:50 pm —Outside of T’s Pub, in-and-out of the Paradise Lounge… The lights have come on now and that means it’s time to bolt to the lounge for the next update, to see if we still have that six-point lead. When I get to the TVs they’re in commercial break; okay then, head outdoors for some fresh air maybe? This is a good idea, once outside, it’s back to watching the game through the windows at T’s pub. Speaking of the letter ‘T’, the C line has just passed by and is headed to Park Street—not many more trains left I suppose; a cab is likely in my future, it’s nearing midnight and hopefully, not overtime. Coming back from all that ad revenue, the Celtics have an eight-point lead, 91-86—with just over three minutes left. The Lakers are gritty tonight and they are not going away quietly. They whittle the lead back down to six—when KG slams home a rebound off of his own miss with “authori-tah” which leaves us howling on the sidewalks of Brighton, 94-86! The crowd is finally filtering out of the Paradise (gee that took a while, was there another song?)—they look at us jumping around and you’d think the Celtics had won already, well… almost. I ask a couple of people if there was anything played after “Saints,” which—come to find out later, is the Title TK closer “Full On Idle” (and is also posted at http://noaloha.com/breeders/forum/—for your listening pleasure, look under “past shows”). Time to grab that cab I was thinking about earlier—and shouldn’t be too hard as Comm. Ave has many cruising by right now.
12:00 pm —In a cab going to Harvard Square. And for $20—maybe I could’ve haggled better. But as confirmed over the cab’s AM radio, the Celtics have won game one, 98-88 with Rajon Rondo dribbling away the final seconds—an important win, although I still think we’re going a full seven. This driver knows all the right side streets and within 10 minutes we’re approaching Out of Town news. $20 as agreed and a brisk walk home only reinforces the obvious: better get some rest, dude—yer gonna need it.
Beat L.A. (H.Cheese)