LIVE REVIEWS:June 2010

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LIVE REVIEWS JUNE 2010

Live-Darlings.jpg

THE DARLINGS, THE
SATIN KITTENS

Cantab Lounge, Cambridge
MA

5/14/10

The Satin Kittens’
set opens with some seriously ear-splitting amp feedback—fingernails
on a chalkboard stuff. A moment later I realize it’s not the amp,
but the keyboard player pulling a bit of vocal trickery. It’s really
impressive and sets the tone for their whole performance, which is a
mix of garage and new wave styles but made unique and individualized.
They’re a fairly stripped down duo (Jane Elizabeth and Dianna Maneksha)
switching off on guitars and keyboards, but much like the Konks, they
generate a hell of a racket from minimal instrumentation. Definitely
intriguing and definitely worth keeping an eye (and ear) on.

There’s absolutely
not enough crossover in the local country/roots scene and the so-called
“straight” rock scene. This theory is proven by the fact that I
personally have seen the Darlings play only once a year for the last
four or five years. I see no reason why they couldn’t share a bill
with the Egos and a reunited Monkey Butlers. The Darlings say that they’re
doing country and rock, but let’s not be coy—it’s
serious C&W, daddy-o. Kelly Knapp and Simon Ritt share the vocal
spot and are supported by a gaggle of first-rate musicians (including
an invaluable pedal-steel). Everyone knows the corporate country music
complex isn’t serving up the goods, so ya gotta get your fix somewhere.
Other than Old Crow Medicine Show, the Darlings are your best bet. (Frank
Strom)

 

ANAIS MITCHELL (& THE HADESTOWN CAST), MICHAEL CHORNEY SEXTET

Club Passim, Cambridge,
MA

4/16/10

Last month I
waxed enthusiastic about Anais Mitchell’s newest album, Hadestown.
This issue, I celebrate her three sold-out performances at Club Passim!
With the songs even more beautifully delivered than on the disc, the
current touring troupe takes the Orpheus folk-opera material and imbues
the story with even more humor, pathos, tenderness, anger, and intense
poignancy. I am totally floored.

After a short
jazzy, ragtime intro set by the Michael Chorney Sextet, who also serves
as the opera orchestra, Anais and her fellow local “actors” (Peter
Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Tim Gearan, and Dinty Child) settle around a
front table with just two microphones and slip into their characters
with amazing subtlety and grace. The Three Fates (Rose Polenzani, Anne
Heaton, and Melissa Myers) sit off to the side, a Greek chorus offering
wry commentary with angelic voices. In the tiny club environment, it
seems like a radio drama brought to life. They simply perform the entire
work and then receive a five-minute standing ovation! Anais is overwhelmed
and thanks all her fans: “You’re the best opera crowd ever. We don’t
want this to stop!” Kudos to all involved.
(Harry C. Tuniese)

 

HEY NOW MORRIS FADER,
THE SNEAKS

T.T. the Bear’s,
Cambridge, MA

4/22/10

The Sneaks take the
stage in what has been advertised as their final show. This band’s
been one of the most underrated bands around Boston and not surprisingly,
it’s a packed room tonight in their honor. “Monument” sounds like
the classic Boston indie band called Hip Tanaka. Rich Adkins is sitting
in on drums and sounds great. Lead singer
Johnny
Arguedas is on fire both musically and with his stage banter. The crowd
is hanging on his every word. Johnny, who kind of reminds me of a cross
between a young Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, announces that they are
going to cover a Monkees song. The five girls next to me start singing
the Monkees theme song, but the band catches them off guard, launching
into an excellent version of “She.” The set has numerous highlights,
one of which is Matt Girard sitting in on trumpet for a few songs which
adds a Neutral Milk Hotel feel to the Sneaks’ set. Their set ends
with grand applause and a little bit of sadness, as we say goodbye to
the Sneaks.

T.T.’s is a great
place to see a show not just because of the great sound system and cool
vibe of the place, but because they book a diverse collection of great
talent. With that being said, up next is a band called Hey Now Morris
Fader. While the name of the band is confusing, the music is pretty
well polished and easy to relate to. Their main vocalist sets up main
stage, playing the keyboard, and give the band the feel of a heavier
Ben Folds. On bass is Justin from the Luxury adding to the band’s
tight sound and professional look but I swear, any one of the guys in
the band could be on American Idol. These guys truly have their
shit together. Good show and what a night! (Kier Byrnes)

 

WILD MAPLE, RANDOM ACTS
OF HARMONY

Cat in the Cradle Coffeehouse,
Byfield, MA

4/16/10

Random Acts of Harmony
are on the four-foot high stage as I enter Cat in the Cradle Coffeehouse.
I’m reminded how nice this big square room is with tables and chairs
set up for comfort and a sweet sounding P.A. Rob, Dick, and Peter
are talented singing musicians who focus on early folk music (Kingston
Trio/ Merle Travis/ John Prine). Their sound is pure with fantastic
harmonies. They gather around one mic with their guitar, stand-up bass,
and banjo totally acoustic. An old-fashioned sign on stage includes
their name, contact info, and website. All their songs have substance.
The total experience transports me back in time. They have so many standout
songs that I’ll just highlight my favorite—Merle Travis’ coal
mining song “Dark As a Dungeon.” It’s a song that tells the truth
about mining, originally used to discourage men from entering this dangerous
field of work. The cruncher line is “one slip of the slate and you’re
buried alive.” Not one instrumental break gets in the way of the trio’s
storytelling. I could listen to this gentle band and their beautiful
harmonies all night long.

Trish (vocal/ fiddle),
Gary (vocal/guitar), and Roger (percussion) make up the new traditional
and modern folk band Wild Maple. While each player has the necessary
experience to make this project great, they have yet to reach their
full potential. The attractive Trish sings in a very sincere way and
her fiddle playing is excellent. Gary tells a funny story from when
he was young of how his parents belonged to the record of the month
club. When his dad rejected a Peter, Paul, and Mary disc as some beatnik
trash, Gary gave it the love it deserved. Roger adds a thumb piano to
“Gone the Rainbow” that mixes a nice texture into the song. His
three sky-blue congas with matching bongos look, and sometimes sound,
out of place. I like that the band includes two different bird songs
(“Red Wing Blackbird” and “The Cuckoo Song”). They perform Dylan’s
“Wagon Wheel” and it’s the third time I’ve heard this song being
sung in the Byfield/Georgetown area. It’s a great sing along song.
(T Max)

 


GIRLS GUNS & GLORY

One Longfellow Square,
Portland, ME

4/16/10

I have been to shows
in numbers so staggering that even I can’t fully comprehend them,
but I have never been to a show in a place like One Longfellow Square
in Portland, Maine. PBR is in my lap, yes, that is familiar, but I am
sitting in a fold up chair situated in movie-theater rows. The murmuring
crowd looks more like the theatre set than anything else. On an elevated
stage backed by a curved curtained wall, Ward breaks the ice as Girls
Guns & Glory take to their instruments. Initially self-accompanied,
Ward’s painfully beautiful, mellifluous voice literally gives me chills.

I think Johnny Depp
from Gilbert Grape is on bass, the guitarist grants us a conspiratorial
wink every time he drives the crowd mad with awesome, and a more-than-competent
drummer round out this copiously talented group, but dammit, it’s
the voice: acrobatic, always with an edge. Even when Ward
is smiling there’s a mournful abrasion that just floods memories of
every playground scrape as a lullaby of pain that celebrates the greatest
time of your life. It’s the voice and the chills in this theatre-in-the-round
leaving me stunned; smiling with tears in my eyes. If you are one of
those people who think at first blush that this style of music is not
for you, just go. Hear. Believe. Don’t be a douche.
(Stace)

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Open Mic, Lizard Lounge,
Cambridge, MA

5/17/10

Not only does the Lizard
Lounge have a great beer selection and the best sliders in town, they
also have a pretty kick ass open mic, held each Monday. Today is open
mic number 184. The open mic system they use is modeled after the famous
“Eddie’s Attic” open mic contest in Atlanta, Georgia. Each night,
about 20 acts have two songs (or ten minutes) to perform original music
in front of their peers, music lovers and a celebrity judge who decides
the winner, who will take home cash from that night’s cover from the
door as well as a spot in the grand finalist show, also held in the
Lizard Lounge later this year. Tonight there are acoustic acts of all
kinds, each introduced kindly by Tom Bianci, an accomplished folk musician
in his own right. There are a few girls who sound like they listen to
Jewel a bit too much and a few fellahs who really want to be Jack Johnson
but overall, there are many talented acts; I do not envy the judge.
My favorite is an Asian woman with a complete style of her own who sings
about how she is divorcing her husband. It’s very catchy, a little
bit funny and a little bit sad. She is definitely my favorite of the
night. Unfortunately, she doesn’t win, but there is always hope for
next week! (Kier Byrnes)

MAGNETIC, ROYCE/PRICE/GRAPHITE, UNITED FRONT COMPANY, BADD

Drunken Monkey Tour

All Asia Café, Cambridge
MA

4/22/10

I pull up to the curb
on my bike just as a punk rock matinee is filing out of All Asia. Have
to love a venue like this that manages to play host to such an eclectic
barrage of talent over the course of an entire day… just wish the
Guinness cost the same as it did in Dublin.

The crowd seems to
momentarily melt into the stage and there emerges Badd. The beats are
eery and very lo-fi, but the production seems more like a bad day for
Bobby Digital than a menacing RZA. Still early, the Irish black
stallion is dissolving my focus on the pool table, and for some reason,
I am sucking an incredibly amount of ass today, my balls refuse to go
into the leather padded pockets. Whoop, here is Slicko and EFC. Their
big line of the night, “Do the Jackass,” has never seemed so relevant.
It pounds my perspective as yet another take on the three ball careens
off an invisible barrier and nonchalantly pushes the eight ball into
the side. It would behoove EFC and Slicko to down a few eight balls
before their next performance, so that the intensity of their manic
white boy hip hop can be backed and illuminated by the wiry deranged
energy that is required of the art form.

Ah, here is Project
Hybrid. The stripped down drum and bass section is particularly tight,
and well-seasoned from the last month and half of constant touring around
the country. ORYN has a loud percussive voice that is nicely complimented
by the twangy gospel of Dani Dragon, vocalist and fellow founding member
of Project Hybrid. Even without the rest of the band that includes assorted
horns, keys and guitars, the songs are tight and well executed. They
easily elicit a great response from the crowd, and have little difficulty
producing an encore for a crowd steeped in beats broadcasted from iPods,
ready for a new live sound brimming with intensity. Their standout
line, gloriously shared by an audience thankful for intelligible lyrics
ring: “I WIN, I WIN, I WIN, I WIN” thus cementing the United Front
Company’s status as the new standard bearers for optimism and progressive
involvement in the local music community. Check them out online
for all upcoming events and details on the future of music.

I lose yet another
game of pool. It’s okay: I only really like playing people who are
worse than I am anyway. There is a really hot girl in blue jeans and
blue hoodie hiding behind the taps, aimlessly waiting for service or
something to happen. Some oafish waistrel is clearly her would-be
coterie. (Call me… you have really big beautiful eyes.) Not wanting
to seem like a total creep, I mosey on over and meet the staff of IMP
Nation—cool people, they are an internet radio station specializing
in pre-recorded shows, and booking events such as the one in which I
am wallowing right now. They are going live next week—watch
out! Steve Blake, DJ and commentator, summed up the IPM vibe with
this neologism: “Synergize.”

I decide to leave on
a good note and round up a few quick interviews. Immediately grabbing
my attention is the artist and producer, Magnetic, a raffish chap that
looks a lot younger than his grizzled twenty-eight years would suggest.
He seems ready and eager to perform, and he takes special delight in
introducing me to his crew. Thanks for the hospitality! It is
difficult to meet these people casually and with candidness; the frat
boy collaboration extravaganza known as Rumors/Price/Graphite is honking
and hooting away on stage with the firebrand intensity of Bud Light
and spent blunts whisked together in an old blender. Zeroing in,
I find out I am talking to the very lovely Klassik V’rse—watch out,
her new album, Married, plans to drop soon, and if this plucky
soon-to-be-graduating English major (swoon) can make her publicity pop
as funkily as her eye makeup, we just might be relieved from the never
ending stream of J-Lo impersonators. It is time to go. Enough beers
have been poured down my throat by people itching for attention that
a brisk ride home will clear my head of the chunky headspace of live
hip hop. Carrying my bike off stage, the steel dragon is clearly admired
more than some of the artists, maybe my bike and I should think about
cutting some wax: My new MC name “Pothole: 12 Speeds & the Truth.”
(Trevor Doherty)

THE WATER BUFFALOS

Club 133, East Providence,
RI

5/8/10

A packed crowd is gathered
at Club 133 in East Providence. The beers are ice cold and the dance
floor is red hot; tonight the Water Buffalos are in town. The band plays
a couple sets of hard edged, but very danceable tunes mixing the early
’60s to modern day pop. I’m often not a fan of bands who do mostly
covers but the Water Buffalos do what they do very well. Each one of
the musicians, particularly, drummer Dennis King, are top notch. Their
song list includes everything from Paul McCartney to Metallica and Escape
Club to Judas Priest. They even do a 20 minute Peter Frampton jam, complete
with talk box. The more I’ve gone into writing and performing original
songs and the level of passion that goes with it, I’m not sure I could
ever go the cover band route, but it was sure nice to see people of
multiple generations, ages 21-71, out boogying on the dance floor having
a good time. (Kier Byrnes)

NAME IN VAIN, AGONIZER

JR’s Bourbon Street
Rockhouse, Cranston, RI

4/29/10

As I walk into JR’s
Bourbon Street Rockhouse, all I can think is that I do not fit
in at all. I am surrounded by a mostly middle-aged crowd dressed in
rocker duds and television monitors playing Great White’s “Once
Bitten, Twice Shy” music video. I can tell it is going to be an interesting
night.

The opening act is
a Providence band named Agonizer. The sound is aggressive, fast and
features shredding guitar. The hardcore vocals compliment the music,
but the screaming is not really my cup of tea. Singer/guitarist Victor
Mortis wears a Marvel superheroes T-shirt that adds some comic relief
to his intense approach on stage. Despite Mortis’s enthusiasm, I think
I am one of the only people displaying signs of life. I wait for the
crowd to get engaged, but this does not happen. I wonder why certain
members of the audience even bother to attend if they are just going
to be part of the scenery.

Name In Vain, another
Providence band, is up next performing songs from their previously released
EP, upcoming LP, and some cover songs. The band sounds like a concoction
of Metallica and Pantera with a hint of Black Sabbath. Singer Matt Pelosi’s
vocals are raw and powerful, yet melodic and brooding a la Glenn Danzig.
While singing, Pelosi appears as if he is going to punch someone in
the face; however in between songs he amuses the crowd with some humorous
banter. The band’s sound is tight on original tracks (“Persecuted,”
“Back Down”) and cover songs (Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell
Tolls”). The latter gets the crowd banging their heads and singing
along. Unfortunately, one man’s idea of audience participation involves
drunken dancing, falling, and smacking his head on the floor. It is
both difficult and immensely hilarious to witness. As the night ends,
the crowd thins but continues to rock out. (Anthony
Faccenda)


We get a lot of
calls and emails from bands requesting coverage of their live shows.
Please be advised that shows are never assigned for review. Noise writers
cover what they choose to attend. It’s logistically impossible for
us to honor or acknowledge these requests. The Noise has always had
its ears close to the ground in Greater Boston. If you’re doing something
even remotely exceptional, we’ll be the first to tell the world. If
you’re horrible, same thing.

 

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