LIVE REVIEWS: September 2011

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Club Passim, Cambridge, MA


I arrive at Club Passim
just a few minutes after Sarah’s taken the stage with her band, All
Kinds of Sugar, that includes Sean McLaughlin on bass and Chuck Fisher
on drums. The place is packed, but that’s no surprise. Sarah’s got
a singing voice I’ve yet to see matched, one that moves gracefully
through the lyrics, flowing among different tones and pitches. She and
the band play tunes from her first album,
Only Way Out Is Through
, her
newest CD,
Come What
, and even a few new songs.
The crowd tonight is more than just fans. From the reaction, you can
tell that Sarah’s music has touched more than a few, and she knows
plenty of them by name. She takes some time to talk about the story
behind some of the songs, which include a tribute to a home she grew
up in, and a message for her parents explaining why she went into music.
In the end she creates an experience that leaves this crowd eager for
more, encouraging encores after the set is over. (Max




The Elevens, Northampton, MA

August 13th
and Planetoid will forever go together for me. One year ago today, at
the Lucky 13th Bash featuring Planetoid at Church Boston,
I had my first date with my girl. We ate dinner, watched the show, and
drove all night searching for the most beautiful seascape we could find.
Exactly one year later, Planetoid is playing in a far off land known
as Northampton, and I can’t think of any place I’d rather spend
my night. Thankfully, the girl agreed and we set out for Northampton
MA, which is easily a two-hour drive.

We get to the Elevens, a small club with a few pool tables, couches,
bench seats along the wall, and various flyers from shows past that
substitute as wall paper. I grab a couch that sits directly in front
of the sound guy, about twenty feet away from the stage. Stone Titan,
a three-piece band, comes out. Kyle (singer/bass) has long dreads that
he flails about the whole set. I watch Kyle snap his neck around, hoping
I won’t be witness to the final fatal snap that literally separates
his head from his shoulders. The band is actually really good, though
they don’t try to hide their heavy Black Sabbath influence. I like
that Kyle and Scott (singer/guitar) switch off on vocals. Stone Titan
has to be the loudest band I’ve ever heard, and I don’t last very
long on the couch. I retreat to outside, the safety of the door dampens
the sound enough for me to fully enjoy Stone Titan’s set, which is
still crystal clear out on the street.

I walk back to the couch, in the hopes that Problem With Dragons won’t
be as loud. I’m not able to pay attention to the first two songs of
their set, because a drunken guy falls onto the cushion to my right,
and instantly starts to hit on me. He seriously says, “Do you like Star Wars?
I have an unopened Darth Vader at my house, want to come and see it?”
When he realizes that the girl sitting on my left is with me, he jumps
up, and disappears into the crowd. Now my attention is directed on Problem
With Dragons. Rob (singer/guitar), is bald, with a massively bushy beard,
his vocals change from a high falsetto, to a gut-wrenching scream. The
band plays a very extensive distortion- filled jam, and when it winds
down, Rob says, “That took a lot of concentration guys.” Joe (bass)
pounds a beer, grabs what looks like a broken string and ties it to
the tuning fork. Rob stares over at him, “Well are we going to do
this? It’s all you dude.” Smiling at the crowd, which has quickly
filled the club, Joe starts off the next song shrugging his shoulders.
These guys get the crowd moving, I see a girl with six- inch heals slam-dancing.
The last song is amazing. It builds from a small slow-moving dirge into
a massive distortion filled epic.

Admiral Time walks out; he stands over six feet tall, his bright shiny
silver robot head gleams in the dark. He walks slowly, purposefully,
to stand behind the drum set on stage. He slowly turns his head back
and forth scanning the crowd. Locrius (the blue one/singer) shouts into
his mic, “Sonic Transducer check, check” full of smiles he looks
out at the crowd, “It’s time for a rock ’n’ roll show.” They
rip through several songs, the club is packed now, and I’m always
amazed how their music gets people to move. I’ve seen this band several
times, but the Elevens crowd has to be the liveliest one yet. There
is not a single person sitting down; everyone is gyrating their bodies.
Locrius introduces “Alpha God” with “There is an instrument that
people are scared to use. I’m talking the cowbell people. Ain’t
that right Admiral?” Admiral Time lifts one massive arm straight up,
then slams it down on that cowbell. The room starts filling with smoke,
the lights are already low; this just adds to the atmosphere. Locrius
teases the crowd with, “This is the very first song we ever wrote,
it is the first song off our CD.” I scream “Yes!” excitedly; “Lord
of this Asteroid” is my all-time favorite song, but he stops, looks
back and says, “Oh sorry, actually this isn’t that song.” I only
have to wait for another song and I again scream in excitement as “Lord
of this Asteroid” starts. The band leave the stage, and they return
a few minutes later play an encore. Locrius and Ovatus start to leave
the stage, but Admiral Time keeps pounding on the drums. “Unexpected,
but acceptable.” says Locrius. They end the night with “Chain Reaction.”
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary present.
(Melvin O)


Citi Performing Arts

Wang Theatre, Boston,


This all-star act features
members of Boston, RTZ, John Cafferty & Beaver Brown, and are opening
for Deep Purple. As their set starts, I can hear the difference a state-of-the-art
sound system makes: Brian Maes’ incredible vocals surround the room
and I’m swept away by the tight power pop of “Good As Gone” with
Barry Goudreau’s great slide guitar, “Horseshoes and Handgrenades,”
and the more hooky “Apple Hill.” I also dig another original, “It’s
a Good Thing” from their new CD, and a song they dedicate to local
guitar slinger Johnny A, “There Are No Friends in Rock And Roll.”
Highpoints include: Barry and Ernie Boch’s dueling guitar romp. The
great sax of Mike “Tunes” Atunes, and the feel of one of the best
rhythm sections in music, drummer Sib Hashian along with bassist Tim
Archibald. At the end of their set they do a 15 minute, four-song medley
of the band Boston’s hits including “More Than a Feeling,” “Rock
and Roll Band,” “Smokin’,” and “Longtime” which they rename
“Stonehenge” but the familiar tunes sound as fresh and important
as ever. This band rocks with a capital R.
(A.J. Wachtel)


Atwood’s Tavern,
Cambridge, MA


There is no better
way to follow up a nice dinner in the warm summer air at Atwood’s
new outdoor patio than chasing it down with some hot live music. Fortunately
the Pot Hole Crew is up for the challenge. They’re a roots- rock super
group featuring Ed Arnold on drums, Joe Kessler on fiddle, Jimmy Ryan
on mandolin, and Dave Westner on bass. Each member takes turns singing
while dishing out heavy doses of instrumental virtuosity. In addition
to all the work Atwood’s has done on their patio, they have also made
some improvements to their stage as well. Joe Kessler takes every advantage
of this as he dances and struts about the beautiful woodwork on stage
like he was Fred Astaire. It’s a great show and fun to see so many
talented artists get a chance to collaborate. (Kier Byrnes)



Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA


Please forgive me if
this review is less a review and more a gushing tribute to some of my
favorite local bands. I got here just after the Young Leaves finished
playing, and I’m bummed I missed them, but on the plus side, the Fatal
Flaw is just getting started. They play a bunch of songs from their
new album,
We Are What
We Pretend to Be
, which I hadn’t
heard before. They sound really good, but the crowd is still trickling
in. The crowd that is here, though, seems to be liking what they’re
hearing. Unfortunately I’m stuck by the bar with a broken ankle, so
it feels a bit like watching Scrooge eat his Christmas dinner from outside
in the cold.
As Taxpayer gets onstage it occurs to me that this show is pretty much
a Noise Board reunion. At this point I’m a few tallboys in and Taxpayer
is sounding great. The crowd is into them but I’m having a hard time
paying attention. A wayward tumbleweed of a thought rolls through my
brain: Taxpayer is what it would sound like if the Fatal Flaw had a
baby with Harris. Hmm. What are the odds they’d all be playing the
same show together!?

Then Harris is onstage and people
are cheering almost constantly. It’s a decent-sized crowd of Harris
die-hards, so it’s hard to not get completely caught up in the energy. The
audience is singing along to every song; the “dah dah dah dah dah…
whoooa ohhhhs” keep going for a solid three minutes after the band
finishes playing “Captain,” which is an eight-minute song on its
own. There is a group of five or six guys with their arms around each
other, standing in a circle and singing along. Harris blows me away
every time I see them and tonight is no exception. The band is so intense
about what they’re doing and rocking out so hard. They are the rare
band that is better live than recorded, and everyone, the band included,
seems like they’ve been completely swept up in the moment. Harris
closes the night with “New Color,” and people are screaming the
words at this point. I think everyone is feeling nostalgic. It’s like
the last day of college—sure, you’ll keep in touch, but you can
never go back; we might never all be together again. I leave Brighton
Music Hall feeling a little tipsy, and more than a little sad that we
might never see Harris play again. (Emily Diggins)


Rosebud Bar, Somerville, MA


I used to eat Italian food here,
and now I get to watch Tijuanna Sweetheart. Talk about a big step up.
The pure joy with which these chicks play puts everyone in the crowd in
a good mood, as they achieve the perfect punk rock mix of humor
(playing the theme song of Heathcliff)
and bile (the scathing “Sticks & Stones”).
Highlights include Julie TwoTimes taking over lead vocals for a sweet
cover of Stiff Little Fingers’ “Barbed Wire Love” and the always
crowd-pleasing sing- along of “Fuck the Kells,” a song that has
delightfully outlived its namesake. Also, I love watching LoWreck play
drums. She reminds me of Animal from
, and he’s pretty
much the greatest drummer ever.

I used to eat Italian food here, and now I get to watch Tijuanna Sweetheart. Talk about a big step up. The pure joy with which these chicks play puts everyone in the crowd in a good mood, as they achieve the perfect punk rock mix of humor (playing the theme song of Heathcliff)

Sourpunch bring a lot of energy, smiles, and heart. What they don’t
bring a lot of are songs, as they actually play a four-song set and
then proceed to repeat the same four songs. I can’t help feeling that
doing this simply means that you’re not ready to be playing out. That
said, the four songs are quite good, lacking in neither hooks nor punch.
The lead singer has an appealing Jett-esque rasp, and the band, while
a bit sloppy, plays with an infectious enthusiasm. I’d like to check
them out again when they have their sea legs under them a little more.

Holy shit! This is my first time
seeing Razors in the Night. They are intense, but fun. They are intensely
fun. This is old-school hardcore with big shout-along choruses and musicianship
for which supposedly more musically advanced bands would kill. Frontman
Troy barely uses the stage, preferring to spend most of the time singing
from the joyous pit, often placing a hand on an audience member’s
shoulder and singing directly to that person. This, of course, is when
he’s not standing atop the pool table. As impressive as this display
is, I’m just as amazed at Jeff from Wizard Security’s ability to
keep Troy’s mic cord from getting tangled up in the crowd. This is
the most blown-away by my introduction to a band than I have been in
a long, long time, and it’s a wonderful ending to what until this
wonderful night of music had been a trying day. (Kevin




C Note, Hull, MA


It’s a funny thing
when a band that you like is playing their last show. On one hand you
are bummed out, for it means it’s all over. One the other hand, you
have one last chance to celebrate and really live it up. There is no
band that is a better group of friends than Forgetful Jones and it shows.
These South Shore superstars have been together with the same line up,
playing regularly for over a decade. They have played some serious shows
together too like the Paradise on St. Paddy’s Day, the Rumble at Harpers
Ferry, and the Wilbur Theater most recently, opening for 311. Tonight’s
set features a lot of their classic tunes with a few fun surprises as
well, such as a Police cover. The band is on fire. There are too many
high points in their set to list, but when it’s all done, but the
crowd keeps murmuring how sad they are that it’s over. Cheers to you
Forgetful Jones, you had a great run.
(Kier Byrnes)


25th Anniversary First Album Release

Johnny D’s, Somerville,


It’s been a long
time since I’ve seen so many pork-pie hats bobbing up and down on
the dance floor of a ska gig. And it’s been a long time, 25 years,
since the release of Bim Skala Bim’s first album, and that’s why
we’re all here in a very celebratory mood. For two sparkling sets
of pure energy, the original band relentlessly plays covers, and has
old Bim members join in and perform the complete first album in order.
The group just lights the club on fire with their calypso-cadences culled
from their deep catalog. Cover highlights include the traditional “Run
Joe,” Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” and “Hypocrite” by the
Heptunes. Originals “Jah Laundrymat” from the first album, “Bangin’
,” and “Wanders Thru the Park” get me really moving too. At times
there are 10 artists onstage including two trombones and a sax. Even
local sax legend Ken Fields from Skin joins the party. Jackie Starr’s
vocals are right on as is when trombonist extraordinaire John Ferry
jumps into the packed and dancing crowd for a sax solo and wails. Shanty
Dan’s impeccable vocals and stage presence, Jim Jones’ superb guitar,
Mark Ferranti’s incredible low-end, John Cameron’s perfect and rhythmic
keys, and the tireless Jim Anhelger keeping the driving beat are perfect
examples of what’s great about the Boston music scene. What a night.
What a band. (A.J. Wachtel)






The Apartment, Providence RI


or Less Records anniversary show

The Rhode Island-based
label 75 or Less Records celebrates its fifth anniversary in style at
the Apartment with an all-day party, replete with hundreds of giant
balloons filling the stage and spilling into the crowd. I’m brought
back in time to my first shows, when Frisbees and giant beach balls
let the crowd entertain themselves between bands at arena concerts.
The fun starts before the first note is even played. Doll Eyes are one
of the first bands on. It is still super hot and they come out with
wrestling masks on, but have to abandon them to breathe. They play straight-up
punk—very entertaining.

Broadcaster changes things up a bit with a more of an alternative rock
sound from a generation ago, but in a good way.

Hank Sinatra Jr. plays not to a pre-recorded CD but to a DVD. He’s
the between-set entertainment for the entire day with his comedy and

Six Star General is one of the great hidden gems of Providence. Not
only does the band write great songs, you can tell the members are having
fun up there and are great friends beyond the stage. Let me tell you,
this is certainly not always the case! With an added moog player for
the night to round out their sound, they absolutely kill it. A Hüsker
Dü sounding band with keyboards? Bet your bottom dollar that you wish
to see them tomorrow.

Coma Coma ends things with a
mix of rootsy grunge and hooks that leaves the now-drunken revelers
screaming for more. In your face, revelers,
coma coma see them next time. (Eric Baylies)


Granite Rail Tavern, Quincy, MA

Geezer’s Garage Night


Acoustic punk rock
at its best. Rockin’ Bob Cenci from Jerry’s Kids, Gang Green, and
now hardcore punk band the F.U’s joins with bassist Mike Rubin (the
Brooklyns) and pounder Alan Hendry and they sound similar to Social
Distortion and maybe Swinging Utters. They play original songs with
an attitude. “Follow You” has a great rock ’n’ roll hook and
the lyrics are about going into a ladies’ bathroom. My favorite supersonic
songs are probably “Pot Smoking Kids,” which is a funny and ironic
tune that is in the same vein as Arlo Guthrie’s recitation of “Alice’s
Restaurant” if it was done by GG Allin. “Time” is another a good
song about death, and it’s also a tribute to Billy Ruane. Good hooks
and great lyrics performed in the middle of a dive bar make this show
out of the ordinary and you can really hear the hardcore influence at
times. But it’d done with a three-piece band led by an acoustic guitarist
with a singing voice full of sarcasm, aggression, and just angry enough
to sound re-hab bound.
(A.J. Wachtel)


Oberon, Cambridge MA

Now I wasn’t really
sure what to expect exactly, but it sure as hell wasn’t this. Not
even close. I walk into the place thinking there’d be stadium seating,
balconies, and, of course, a stage. Nope. None of that high-and-mighty
legitimate theater nonsense. What I get is a straight shot of pure Gonzo
theater. No red-velvet curtain, no aisles, not even a fourth wall. What
they do have is a fully stocked bar, a large dance-floor, a projection
screen, and a nearly lethal dose of rock ‘n’ roll. A total nightclub
atmosphere they maintain throughout the show.

It’s an explosive cabaret of over-the-top rock tunes sung with operatic
glass-shattering intensity and accompanied by off-the-wall dance numbers.
The music (played by a real live rock band) has an overall grungy sound
with some heavy-metal spice coming from the dual guitarists. But, they
leave plenty of room to move stylistically, expanding into keyboard-driven
ballads, bone-chilling laments, and beyond. For example, the hilariously
tragic “Why Me?” that’s lifted straight from Kerrigan’s infamous
sound byte after her run-in with a billy club. Or, the tongue-in-cheek
country-esque piece “When You Wake Up Sleeping in Your Car in Escatada,”
sung in the voice of Harding’s unfortunately named ex-hubby/ex-con,
Jeff Gillooly. God, that name is fun to say. Gillooly—but I digress.

The storyline’s so melodramatic, duplicitous, and droll, it’s downright
epic. This story’s got it all: Action, intrigue, ambition, betrayal—it’s
practically Shakespeare on ice. With a sick sense of humor to boot. The
all-singing all-dancing cast is all-fricking over the place. They’re
singing from the dance-floor, yelling from the rafters, dancing on mobile
chunks of stage that are wheeled around the club. Nowhere is off limits,
even on top of the bar. During one of the closing numbers, an aerialist
is introduced who, dangling from the ceiling, gracefully twists her
body up and down on a silken cord. It’s not only clever in its mimicry
of figure skating, it’s un-freekin-forgettable. I’ll never look
at rock ‘n’ roll, theater, or figure skating the same way again.
(Will Barry)



Bank of America Pavillion, Boston,


When Peter confesses
“this isn’t a reunion tour. We just get together when we can,”
I think how lucky I am to have seen them years ago when they were one
of the greatest rock ’n’ roll bands on the planet. It enables me
to appreciate tonight how great they still are. The set list includes
every song I want to hear: “Just Can’t Wait” for openers, then
“Southside Shuffle,” “Detroit Breakdown,” “Must Have Got Lost,”
“Homework,” “I Do,” “Give it to Me,” “Piss on the Wall”
(!!!), “One Last Kiss,” “Freeze Frame,” “Whammer Jammer,”
“Nothing But A Party,” “First I look at the Purse,” “Pack
Square and Fair” and an encore of “Centerfold.” The Uptown Horns,
two fine black chick singers, guitarist extraordinaire Duke Levine,
and drummer Marty Richards join in on the fun and add to the power of
the performance. Wolf, the great showman, twirls, dances, and sings
lying down on the stage and all the while reminiscing with the hometown
crowd about WBCN, the Boston Garden, Chinatown at 3:00 am, and the dinosaur
on Route 1. At one point, he even laughs, “I think it’s time
for… Barry Manilow!” as he starts singing “Mandy” a capella
and then continues, “How about… Barbara Steisand?” and “People”
flies out as the audience goes wild with approval. And Wolf looks the
part too: black vest with a jaguar print shirt, sunglasses, and black
hat. But the tightness of the band makes this night very special. Jay,
Magic, Seth, D.K., and Peter are still magical together. Black Crowes
singer Chris Robinson opens the night with a Grateful Dead inspired
set. At the end of the night, I think how the tent shook with all the
people shouting all the words to every song, how everyone stands for
the entire two and a half hour show and how “Love Stinks” should
be our national anthem. The best show I’ve been to so far this year.
(A.J. Wachtel)


Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA


Taken right out of
the Deep South, Adela and Jude are a much more than just male/female
duo like the White Stripes or more locally, Mr. Airplane Man. They are
concept artists with a repertoire focused on early folk and religious
hymns. The revival seems to be working as the house is full of believers
tonight. It’s a rowdy whooping and hollering kind of crowd. This duet
is on par with Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys for most
stage clutter. Though there are only two of them, they fill the back
section of the Plough with various old instruments and trinkets that
include some light-up Jesus decorations as well as some figurines newly
acquired from a Voo Doo store. Their stories and songs keep the audience
captivated until the wee hours. I haven’t had this much fun on a school
night in a long time. (Kier Byrnes)





Soft Approach, Providence, RI


The venue Soft Approach
is similar to Fight Club. You don’t talk about it, you just go. The
bathroom is broken, there is no air to breathe, and everybody fights.
I’m kidding about the fighting part. Static Era start it up with a
great set. If you are not from Providence you may not remember the band
Miniwatt, but the angular guitar and jagged percussion recall that band,
along with Mission of Burma, the Red Krayola, Gang of Four, and Henry
Cow. That’s some serious stuff to be compared to, but this is a seriously
fun band to see.

Idiot Vehicle is a bit heavier, almost metal at times, but in the best
way possible. With members from the Butcherings, Munch, and Arcing,
this is sort of a Providence all-star heavy noise concoction, recalling
Neurosis, Swans, and Melvins.

My attention is diverted to the parking lot for a spell, so sadly I
am only able to bear witness to the majesty of Police Horse for a few
songs, but they are very cool and worth checking out again. The band
is very different, but not in the way that everyone else is.

Ending the night is one my favorites, the three ladies known collectively
as Whorepaint. Every revolution is a throw of the dice, but this band
crush the dice beneath their well-heeled boots. Fast songs, slow trudge
marches, Whorepaint will destroy you with an incredible live show. You
can’t take your eyes off them or your ears from the transcendant beauty
of their music. (Eric Baylies)




Fred and Ken’s Rock ’n’ Roll Barbeque

Billerica, MA

How the heck did me and my son Harrison
get to a wild, North-shore rock ‘n’ roll fest complete with tents
in the backyard with drunk out-of-staters unwilling to pile their families
into cars for the return trip? There is also a rather large ice-luge
for drinks and we are sitting across the table from a just-released
female ex-con imprisoned for six months for unarmed robbery after passing
a note at a bank. This is definitely a party geared to bikers: the heavily
tattooed two percent of the population who exist primarily to party
and have a good time. And I am having a blast. The Roadkings (two guitarists
who play double leads together with bassist Ron Belban—a vet with
the Joe Mack Band and Revolver) play southern rock well—pure and simple.
Their covers of the Allman Brothers’ “One Way Out” and “Blue
Sky” showcase their similarity more with the Dickie Betts-era then
the Duane Allman days. They also play Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd
tunes and they really set the mood for the afternoon/night cookout.
Then Mason Vincent, ex-Happy Camper, and his rock/ska/blues/reggae band
play an hour and a half set. My favorite songs are ZZ Tops’ “Just
Got Paid,” a few Jimmy Cliff melodies and originals “Lover’s Rock”
and “Funky Houston.” My son loves their version of “Wrong Way”
by Sublime. As the sun sets, Malden-based Brian Bailey Band with it’s
Stevie Ray/Eddie Van Halen sound explodes onstage and I really dig their
covers of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and a hard-rocking take on Traffic’s
“Feelin’ Alright.” This cat can play guitar and his band really
rocks. Two original songs I like are “Dry” and “Branded” both
of which may cause your ears to bleed. A lot of fun hearing great music
in a different environment. I can’t wait until their planned Halloween
party. See you there!       (A.J. Wachtel)


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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