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Midway Café, Jamaica Plain, MA 8/23/08
It had been nine long, lonely years since Alvis last performed. Here are some of the terms I used in this very space to describe it at the time:
“Alvis, a.k.a. Allan Sheinfeld… exhumed the Anti-King and shlepped his filthy carcass across the stage… combines every unsavory element of later Elvis, magnifies them into a morbidly hilarious caricature, and plays it out before a five-star band… Sheinfeld has been known to spend days getting into character… by showtime, everyone’s convinced they’re dealing with a lunatic… He lands in a blasphemous heap of sequins and fringe, clutching a bottle of tequila and cursing out the band and audience. Wig, sideburns, shades, and jewelry accentuate the overstuffed jumpsuit, pathetic karate kicks and overall dementia. A stone-faced ‘bodyguard’ kneels, facing the crowd, occasionally throwing the singer a towel, never once cracking a grin. Two eminently boinkable backup girlies, dubbed ‘The Nutra-Sweet Sensations,’ have a bit more trouble keeping straight faces while the carnage unfolds… Alvis stumbles into the ladies’ room, back through the crowd, and out onto the sidewalk, grunting out ‘Love Me Tender’ in a crippled chemical haze. Hardcore Presleyites will recognize obscure gestures and legendary stage banter, as channeled through the Obscenely Undead creature imploding before our very eyes… The fact that you’re hearing some of the greatest songs ever recorded, played to perfection, illuminates the truth behind the parody with ghastly accuracy… it is revolting.”
Well, I’m happy to report that nothing much has changed. All I can add is that the band is even better, the chicks are still hot, and there’s an extra bodyguard now. There’s no finer, more twisted entertainment going on anywhere today, and this could absolutely be a national act. Thank you, Alvis. I love your fucking retarded ass like nothing else on earth. (Joe Coughlin)
THE WILD BUSINESS, CLOUDS
O’Brien’s, Allston MA 9/11/08
Clouds are not pretty, puffy, or airy (although they might be high). They are masters of guitar noise with amps five feet high. You know they mean business when their drummer sheds his shirt before they even start playing. Just when the (barely audible) backing vocals have me thinking, the Beatles on PCP, they segue into a thrash number with double time drum beats colliding with jet engine guitars. It’s enough to knock you silly, and then check out the covers! Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burning For You,” Cheap Trick’s “He’s a Whore,” and even the Kinks’ “Mindless Child of Motherhood” like you’ve never heard them before. It’s a pure catharsis of noise.
The Wild Business sounds like a pop band after this onslaught, even though they rock pretty hard themselves (such as with “Runaway” or “Hot Tears”). “Sinkhole” is a new one with a see sawing, woozy feel fitting for the subject matter (on Pipeline recently, they claimed the song was based on a trip to Foxwoods—one line goes, “I trust the dealer”). With reach-for-the-sky guitar solos and memorable lyrics like those of “Crooked Smile,” this band is going places. I hear they will be recording a demo soon. (Misty Lane)
ROB MYERS, BAWAA
Che’s Lounge, Vineyard Haven, MA 8/30/08
I walk into Che’s Lounge and there’s a guy bowing a two-string square box with a neck—it sounds kinda like an Asian cello. I only hear a song and a half but I get a good idea of how Milo Silva, who goes by the name Bawaa for this project, entertains an audience. He tells a story between the two songs of an ox that is sold but ends up escaping back to the original owner, who then has to eat the evidence to be able to keep the money he made on the sale. Yeah, it was a weird story, but it’s the kind of tale that Milo, I mean Bawaa, picked up while in traipsing around Mongolia.
The stage shifts performers and so does audience in the comfy vintage couches and chairs. While that’s happening I talk to PJ, the owner, who tells me that Che’s does just as well in the off-season because of the lack of competition. So keep that in mind if you’re on the Vineyard this fall or winter. You can’t miss the place; it’s down an alley right in the center of Main Street, Vineyard Haven. Rob Myers, the next performer, is ready to go. I know him as one of the guitarists in Kahoots. Playing solo, he sounds like a small version of the band with his Converse sneakers tapping out the part of the drummer. The songs have strange meters, untraditional progressions, and as few repeats as possible, but somehow still come out sounding like listenable songs. He covers a song by Ponies in the Surf and although I’m not familiar with the song, I can sense it’s not his because the line “What a year it’s been” is repeated many times. Kahoots bandmate Elisha approaches me and asks if I’d mention that he’s great—“he” being Elisha, not Rob. Let’s just say they’re both great. And I like Che’s even better. (T Max)
THE CRASH SOCIETY
KC’s Tap/Cat’s, Pawtucket , RI 8/1/08
Supported tonight by the Luxury, the Crash Society comes on with a quick guitar burst that fades into feedback, as the bass and seductive vocals enter. “You and Your X” tempts me to piss caution to the wind with the animalistic line, “you really are a dirty girl.” It’s got a retro Bowie-esque swagger with an immediate hook laden sensibility driven hard by the rhythm section. Other songs feature soundscapes of analog machine noise, interwoven rhythms, tasteful guitar, and strong choruses, while questioning your purpose. It’s obvious that this band is not the flavor of the month or a one trick pony.
The Crash Society is not afraid to let their ’70s, ’80s and ’90s influence shine through like the Ranconteurs, Wolfmother, and others of this genre of retro-flavoured energetic rock. With a charismatic front person and a band focused on good songwriting, let’s hope that their influence will be broad enough to keep this new wave in motion. (DJ Matthew Griffin)
ALOUD, THE LIGHTS OUT, BRIAN McGEE & THE HOLLOW SPEED
Church, Boston, MA 6/27/08
For Brian McGee & the Hollow Speed, the crowd in Church is grouped in the back of the room by the bar. The area directly in front of the stage is empty. The band consists of Brian on lead vocals and acoustic guitar accompanied by a fiddle and drums. The band plays a mixed set including elements of rockabilly, folk, and punk. Brian’s distorted acoustic guitar, played through the dirty sound of his Fender amp, allows this group to be more versatile than one might expect. The band is tight, and McGee’s baritone does fit nicely with the arrangements. Lacking their regular bass player, however, the group does not achieve as high an energy level as they seem to be capable of. Nevertheless, the trio achieves some great dynamic changes, keeping the attention of the few who are watching the band.
By the time the Lights Out start to play (their CD release party), the crowd has made the migration from the bar to the area in front of the stage. The band gives away free copies of their new EP ¡Heist! They’ve got great energy as they tear through their songs in rapid fire. The rhythm section is tight, and the guitar and vocal hooks are catchy. As I check out their merch stand, I notice their large three-ring binder, full of press clippings about the group. I could go on and on about these guys, but since, evidently, they’ve already been well covered, I’ll just recommend Googling them.
Aloud starts at about midnight. The crowd has thinned, but they play a strong set nonetheless. They open up with “Fan the Fury,” the catchy title track off their latest release. Henry Beguiristain and Jen de la Osa, co-lead singers, guitarists, and keyboard players, share an interesting dynamic. At times, they sing together in super-tight harmony that leaves little to be desired. When Henry takes the keys midway through the set, Aloud transitions from their regular indie/mod-rock sound to a Jefferson Airplane feel, showcasing the vocals of Jen, whose voice is comparable at times to Joan Jett and Ann Wilson. The energy builds steadily until the end of the show. Although the band is extremely tight, there seems at times to be a disconnect between Henry and Jen and their rhythm section, who seem less passionate and energized. Overall, though, a great performance. (Andrew Leader)
The Middle East, Cambridge, MA 7/23/08
Though onstage energy goes a long way live, it can’t compensate for lifeless music in getting the crowd engaged. Cowboy bop band Hot Molasses learns that lesson the hard way as the rip-roaring good time the band seems to be having never quite translates to everyone else. Busting out as many ten-gallon hat rock star moves as he can muster, bassist Aaron Cohen leads the power trio (plus a girl idly hitting a tambourine) through one loud country rock song after another, high-kickin’ and lip-pursin’ with every note. However, with generic tunes, indecipherable lyrics, and a band that appears to have only recently learned to play their instruments, any attempts at audience participation fall painfully flat. The collective level of audience inebriation would have had to be significantly higher for anyone to get much out of what sounds like a Skynyrd cover band minus the good songs. (Ray Padgett)