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SAM REID & THE RIOT ACT
Toad, Cambridge, MA
Toad is a great place to see a show; the small size of this venue makes for an intimate performance where the audience and the musicians can interact, if not practically commingle. Unfortunately for me, for tonight’s Sam Reid & the Riot Act show, the place fills up quick so I am stuck waiting outside in the line enjoying the crisp cool New England winter. As I leer through the front window, I can take some refuge in the fact that at least I can hear most of the show. Aaron Goff on mandolin and Joe Kessler on fiddle exchange licks while front man, Sam Reid, treats the warm crowd to some hot bluegrass flat picking. Backed by a solid rhythm section of John “JC” Campbell and Johnny Ransom, I know this band is worth the wait. My toes and fingers are starting to go numb. I sure hope I can get in to the show soon. (Kier Byrnes)
Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
As I walk into Club Passim I remember why I love and hate this place; an intimate room, perfect for getting up-close with your favorite artist but the crush of tiny tables and uncomfortable chairs often leaves me with a back-ache.
Tonight is night two of Lori’s three-night stint. Her set is heavy with newer releases, particularly from the soon-to-be-released, Lorraine. What’s most exciting to me is that she foregoes her recent country leanings for her folk roots.
I love watching Lori succinctly wrap the glories and disappointments of small-town life into three-minute folk songs. She highlights this tonight on some of her newest songs; “Buy This Town,” “Lorraine,” and “You Get a Love Song,” each telling its own tale of hope and heartbreak.
At the end of this cold December night, Lori leaves the crowd of adoring fans with the perfect primer for the ups and downs of the holiday season. (George Dow)
Precinct, Somerville, MA
What can you say about ending a three-year epic residency? Precinct was the place to go for the past three years for scenesters, hipsters, and lovers of all kinds of live music from all over the scene to hang out and hear the enjoyable musicianship of the Sea Monsters. Led by the talented Jesse Dee and Christian McNeill, the Sea Monsters for the past several years have developed a signature style of funk, soul, and groove. Tonight, the band continues their tradition of bringing up guest musicians to sit in with their band. Tonight’s guest Tim Gearan jumps aboard the Sea Monster train in style and the crowd is appreciative. As their last song dies down, members of the audience, perhaps in their sadness that it’s all over, call for a three-year encore. There aren’t too many bands that could fill the Sea Monsters’ shoes. (Kier Byrnes)
Tremont Temple, Boston, MA
A relaxed group of Bostonians fill the seats of the comfortable and intimate Tremont Temple to worship the almighty power of folk Andrew Bird so naturally exudes. The narrow staircases and crumbling walls of the Baptist Church have not surprisingly witnessed more Nativity pageants than major acts. However, tonight is different, the tiny temple complete with unique chandeliers and intricate wall carvings is appreciated by a sold-out crowd. My friend and I arrive late, taking our seats in the balcony, directly overhead the stage where local soprano, Marissa Nadler, began the evening. Nadler’s Joan Baez-like melodies and syncopated guitar rhythms prove her to be an interesting and suitable opener. Her impressive vocals are highlighted in “Silvia.”
Andrew Bird commences his set with “Nom Intro.” He bends down to remove his loafers and casually throws them aside. This is the first act Bird takes in captivating the audience with his humor. He explains that the bizarre horn speakers that he plays his violin through, aim to accompany this one-man band with multiple loops. Although Bird verbally connects with his audience, his frequent improvisation and experimentation with his violin and guitar exemplify his creative process in a way words cannot. His comical and emotional rendition of “Why?” and the false start in “Effigy” exhibit both the extent of Bird’s talent and the willingness to continue discovering the possibilities in his own music. Bird makes my night when he starts playing the Handsome Family’s “The Giant of Illinois.” He follows with a new version of “The Happy Birthday Song” into “Section 8 City,” concluding the main act. After leaving the stage, Bird quickly returns for his encore, playing “Orpheo Looks Back” and “I’m Goin’ Home.” As the crowd files out I hear multiple attendees expressing their astonishment at how talented Andrew Bird is. (C. Black)
THE DEAD BEATS,
The Ant Cellar, Lowell, MA
It is the benefit show for Take Heart, a local non-profit founded on promoting and spreading awareness about organ donation, and Inspector 34 takes his spot in front of the microphone. He is a solo artist performing acoustically for the first time and he apologizes at the start over the fact that he’s been sick and his voice not up to par. As I listen to him start to play, I have difficulty classifying or describing the sound, except for understanding that it is eccentric and passionate. With elements of punk and alternate folk, it is mesmerizing and one can’t help but be caught up in the show. His singing is passionate and at times rapid and even on the verge of harsh screaming. In the end, both his lyrics and his music draw applause from smiling newfound fans.
Then there are the Dead Beats. They describe themselves as rock ’n’ roll and as they begin their set, I must say I agree with them. Their music is upbeat and catchy and indeed reminiscent of some old-school punk and memorable rock classics as seen in their cover of “Do You Love Me.” The rhythm infects the very air around us and some of the more energetic audience members embrace this atmosphere and start rocking and swaying as the band continues with their songs. Among their other original material are “That’s What She Said” and “PBR” in honor of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which the singer says they got free T-shirts from when they submitted their tribute to the company. When the last note rings out in their set, everyone is pumped up and itching to dance some more.
The last person to stand before the microphone is Susanne Gerry. Perhaps best known as the bassist for now-defunct dance-rock outfit the Bay State, Gerry has recently continued her musical career as a solo artist which treads on a mellower path of indie pop. Her set is short but well-done, starting with a rendition of Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I” followed by an original song called “Kind Of Like.” Next, she shares her personal connection to the group Take Heart and how her father passed away while he was in need of a lung transplant. In light of her story, she dedicates her next song to him, which is “When You Come Back Down” as made famous by Nickel Creek. Her performance is awe-inspiring as she sings gently yet with all of her being. Her set closes with emphatic applause and a newfound collection of listeners. (Michael O. Linehan)
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA
This is not your grandmother’s Nutcracker—unless she was really, really kinky old woman and in which case, kudos to your grandfather. The Slutcracker is an erotic take on Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece ballet by adding a burlesque flair and a comedic twist to a classic holiday tale. Going for their third year, Sugardish, Queen of the Babes in Boinkland burlesque troop and leader of the Slutcracker brigade has yet again out- done herself. Sugardish’s production of the Slutcracker has enjoyed an unprecedented sold out run and tonight is no exception. Tonight’s show is well choreographed, the story is entertaining and the girls are hot. I for one have found a new Christmas tradition. (Kier Byrnes)
OPEN MIC HOSTED BY DON WHITE
Walnut Street Cafe, Lynn, MA
Walnut Street Cafe is a lovely little venue with a comfortable atmosphere. Family owned and operated, it gives you the feeling of community as soon as you walk in the door. Every Sunday night, Don White hosts a wonderful open mic with a great bunch of performers. This particular week, Mike Cassetta is the feature performer. He performs a thirty-minute set while the other performers get ten. Mike is an excellent guitarist and a great local personality. Other performers of note are guitarist Eric Houde and sixteen-year-old songwriter Kristina Musto. Their original songs definitely had me in awe, two incredibly talented youths. The evening is as always a success and the full house is quite satisfied with the performances. Awesome venue and many of the open mic performers also play gigs at the Cafe so check it out! (Patrick Fitzpatrick)
The Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA
The Lizard lounge is a small, basement club where bands play in what amounts to the middle of the room. Peter Parcek takes the stage around ten o’clock looking dapper in his three-button, pinstriped suit and black fedora. He proceeds to bleed his guitar dry for the next hour or so. It’s amazing see someone so stoic play the guitar with such virtuosity. His body movements during the set are at a premium but his fingers fly over the frets at the speed of light. The incongruity of someone standing so still while moving so fast is striking. At times he stands so still you think he may have drifted off to sleep, all the while his guitar screams onward through the song.
The set drifts through a variety of styles. From the traditional bluesy pop of “The Mathematics of Love,” to the country-tinged “Rollin’ With Zah,” featuring its Johnny Cash-style backbeat. The songs split between vocal blues and instrumentals, some stretching out pleasantly into jam-band territory with Santana-esque Latin rhythms. Peter ends his set on a high note with an amazing slide guitar jam that leaves everyone pleading for more. (George Dow)
AGAIN SHE SAID,
WHAT MATTERS MOST,
SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD,
DIE ANOTHER DAY
Ground Zero, Allenstown, NH
At Ground Zero, the premiere all-ages and alcohol-free venue in southern New Hampshire, the teens gather for a night of spectacular music. First up is post-hardcore outfit Die Another Day hailing all the way from Providence, Rhode Island. As the opening act for the night’s show, they receive little obvious reaction from the fans who, aside from a few energetic moshers, remain stoic throughout the set. Nevertheless, it is plain to see that they put all their effort and talent into their performance, playing a number of original songs including an old classic called “Emerge” as well as “Adele Capraro” which they just shot a music video for. Even if they aren’t able to draw a response from the crowd, I know that I am happily surprised and impressed with their act.
Next up is Shot Heard Around the World, again in the vein of the hardcore genre. However, they add their own personal touch to the music by making it incredibly fast-paced and even chaotic, only to be contrasted by ambient and experimental portions that create a mellow atmosphere. Meanwhile, the vocals transition well from discordant and screeching screams to high-pitched softer singing. Throughout their performance, they are stumbling across the small stage, crashing into one another yet still maintaining rhythm. All the same, their songs have great depth to them as the singer explains that one of them is about standing up to one’s addictions and saying “never again.” The climax of their set is at its conclusion when the song dissolves into rampant distortion and the band members demolish their instruments on-stage, casting the dismembered drum set into the audience.
After the debris is cleared away, What Matters Most takes the stage. Following in the footsteps of the previous bands, the musicians provide a hardcore sound that encourages the avid music enthusiast to thrash and flail about in the circle that has opened at the crowd’s center. The vocalist’s voice is noticeably more guttural than his predecessors’ and their set is more straight-up brutal than before. Aside from that, there is nothing remarkable about their set. Nevertheless, the vocals and the music complement well to conjure up the right atmosphere and I can clearly tell that they are enjoying themselves up there on the stage. All in all, they perform really well and have great stage presence and interaction with the fans.
Last to perform is Again She Said. In contrast to their fellow rockers, the band constructs a sound that maintains the post-hardcore atmosphere yet also adds an upbeat and almost pop-rock element to their music. This adds a new surprise for the crowd, as the energetic moshers are joined by their peers bobbing their heads and jumping to the beat. Moreover, there is a stable balance of both strong screams and gentle clean vocals that complement each other. Their performance is entertaining and invigorating and they have smiles spread across their faces during the entire set. At one point, the guitarist gets a little too enthusiastic and breaks off part of the instrument’s head as he swings it about. Despite this slight downside, all is well and the band gets everybody moving in some form or another. (Michael O. Linehan)
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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