WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS/ THE RATIONALES/
THE FIELD EFFECTS/
RUBY ROSE FOX
Brighton Music Hall,
Allston MA 3/23/13
I arrive at Brighton Music Hall before any bands have started playing and I’m impressed at how many people are already here this early in the evening. There’s a burlesque act onstage, to which I’m only half paying attention as I seek out familiar faces in the sizable crowd. Ruby Rose Fox starts their set and plays a few old-timey lounge-pop songs that sound great, but they lose me when they downshift to a slower tempo mid-set.
Ruby Rose Fox finishes with little fanfare, making way for more burlesque, and then the Field Effect. Tonight you can’t hear any vocals if you’re standing to the side of the stage, so I’m forced to move to the rear of the crowd, but a few songs later I’m swooning with music-love. Take the chorus of “Dancing with Earthquakes,” a song about a girlfriend moving to California: “I set my clocks back to feel closer to you.” COME ON! My heart! The deal is sealed with a cover of the Weakerthans’ “Aside.” Yup, new favorite Boston band right here, and I’m now officially stoked to see them at the Rumble in a couple weeks. Someone near me gripes that the band overstayed its welcome by three songs, but I think this set was the night’s standout.
The show is sold out by this point, and BMH is packed. The Rationales play next, and something has clicked for these guys since I saw them about a year ago. They’ve always been good, but they sound especially great tonight. Everyone around me seems totally entranced by the music—this is not the half-paying-attention-while-texting kind of crowd. At the risk of sounding like a nerd, I feel reminded that this is what it’s all about—why I wile away my weekends by getting tinnitus at dimly-lit rock clubs whilst my peers are downtown drinking Bud Lights from aluminum bottles and getting hit on by dudes in flat brim hats. This is good rock ’n’ roll. This is Boston.
After a David Bowie/ Labyrinth burlesque performance, which includes a shower of blood spewed from a headless baby doll, Walter Sickert and his multitude of band members arrive onstage. Tonight’s occasion is the release of their crowdfunded record “Soft Time Traveler,” and the ardor of those benefactors is present here tonight. This being my first Walter Sickert experience, I’m not sure what to expect, though the burlesque and general vibe of the evening certainly conditioned me to be less overwhelmed than I might have been (earlier, I overheard a woman exclaim, “Honey, a woman just asked me to lace up her corset in the bathroom—aren’t you jealous?”). Sickert, sporting a massive crown of feathers and steampunk goggles, is joined by a trippy Victorian carnival of a band, which includes a human marionette who jerks and sways creepily throughout the entire set; a young child dressed as a jester holding a xylophone for its vehement player; someone wearing a horse mask and period clothing; an upright bassist, an accordionist, and a ukulele-ist; and of course, a swirl of burlesque dancers. A guy near me remarks that they’d be a great band without the spectacle—I do agree that the theatrics are distracting, as the music by itself is transcendent, alluring, and kaleidoscopic. The finale, fittingly, is a cover of “Paint It Black,” which is executed raucously but proficiently amidst the distraction of boobs flying everywhere and the unrestrained enthusiasm of the crowd. (Emily Diggins)
Beverly MA 4/6/13
I find myself in another beautiful old theatre, built in 1912, waiting for the postponed Mardi Gras show to begin. I count about 480 seats but confirm that it’s a 550-seater including the big horseshoe-shaped balcony. Le Grand David (the famous Beverly magician) welcomes us to the theatre and introduce producer Peter Van Ness who prepares us for the celebration of authentic New Orleans jumbalaya musico.
Charles Neville gets introduced and he strolls out leading a mixed bag of nine musicians. Some are old established players with impressive background and some are young, graduates of the New England Conservatory. The thin female Asian violinist, Orie Furuta, visually stands out. When sweet sounds aren’t emanating from Charles’s tenor sax, he stands in blissful heaven; his pearly whites fill the room with a wonderful vibe. The nonet swings to a New Orleans romp exchanging solos as if they’re in the mists of a poker game, all individually showing their hands. When Henri Smith takes his place on the stage, it’s clear we have a Jagger/Richards relationship with the two smiling devils strutting their stuff both physically and musically. “That’s When I Know It’s Mardi Gras” gets the audience in the Southern mood. Then Henri states, “We love to develop choirs,” and leads the audience in a Fats Domino singalong with “Ain’t That A Shame” and “”Blueberry Hill.” They dabble in some jump blues that was made popular in the 1940s and it suits the band as well. The group includes two tenor saxes, a trumpet, a clarinet, a violin, a piano, a standup bass, a pair of congas, and a small drum kit. Henri, handkerchief in hand, slows it down with my favorite of the night, “Saint James Infirmary.” “Johannesburg” gets funky and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” stirs up the authentic musical aromas of New Orleans. Son of gun, we’re having fun, on the bayou. (T Max)
ROCK SHOP #25:
PRESSING THE PRESS
HILARY HUGHES, LUKE O’NEIL,
MICHAEL MAROTTA, BRAD SEARLES
The Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge MA 4/8/13
Rock Shop is a monthly event for the Boston music community founded by Kevin Hoskins (Middle East booking agent) and Steve Theo (Pirate! Promotion & Management) to give back to the local music community by helping local musicians develop their careers. Each month, a panel of music industry experts hosts a seminar focusing on a particular aspect of the business. The event is free and open to the public and usually draws a sizable crowd of rock ’n’ roll enthusiasts. A couple of my band-mates and I head on over as tonight’s topic of discussion examines the role of the press supporting local music in Boston. As a struggling musician myself, I am always looking to learn more about the industry. Set up in the back corner of the Middle East Downstairs mezzanine, Kevin, and Steve and a small group of writers are soon berated by a slew of questions from the large semicircle of curious rock ’n’ rollers who are given explanations as to why their CDs haven’t been reviewed. I can’t help to wonder where the Noise’s representative on the panel, as the Noise is Boston’s longest running music magazine; however the group assembled; Luke O’Neill, Hilary Hughes, and Michael Marrotta as well as blogger Brad Searles are amongst the tops in the city. These writers shed a lot of light on the inner workings of the press industry (or what’s left of it) and offer some pointers about how bands can better manage their public relations. The event is pretty helpful in that I get a bunch of useful pointers to promote my band. Thank you Middle East for hosting this! (Kier Byrnes)
JAMES MONTGOMERY BAND
CD Release Party
Sculler’s Jazz Club,
Boston MA 4/10/13
This is the real deal. Blues harp icon James Montgomery is having a party—and just listen to his band! Guitarist George McCann’s playing is incredible. Bassist David Hull (the Joe Perry Project and Aerosmith) is pushing his four strings to the highest levels of lowness, and longtime Barrence Whitfield and John Lincoln Wright drummer Seth Pappas powerfully drives the tight tension and is making the walls of this cool club shake. Add Uptown Horns’ Crispin Cioe and Larry Etkin, and 20-year old ex-Brookline/Berklee sax phenom Grace Kelly and you have all the ingredients of a perfect night on the Boston club circuit. First, the packed house gets treated to chestnut “Good Time Charlie” with Grace wailing along with James and the gang. Then ex-Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau jumps onstage and screams though their version of “Sweet 16,” from James’ last CD. Montgomery tells the crowd: “It’s our version of the Junior Wells version of Al Green’s version of Chuck Berry”..Now the group only selects songs from their new release for the remainder of this electrifying two hour set. “Delta Storm,” then “Same Thing,” a Muddy Waters slow blues that they turn into a Z.Z.Top tidal wave midway through. Just great. Then “Little Johnny,” a song he wrote about his old band mate Johnny Winter. George’s slide guitar is tremendous and I shout, “I will tell Johnny you do it justice!” to his wide onstage smile. James steps off and Hull leads the band in a splendid song from his own recent release “Pay Some Attention” and then James returns for blistering versions of “Intoxicated,” “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” a McCann original, then “the first dance song I ever wrote”: “I Don’t Want to have a Heart” and then a high energy double dose starting with a jazzy Ray Charles “Hit The Road Jack.” It’s impressive listening to an old song done in a brand new way. Hearing Grace solo while The Uptown Horns play their incredibly solid and creative arrangements reading off charts on stands in front of them is one highlight of a night with no bad moments whatsoever. And then Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” with dancing blondes in front of the stage ends the night. Detroit Blues on the banks of the Charles. I love it. (A.J. Wachtel)
TEN FOOT POLECATS
Record Release Party for Undertow
The Wonder Bar,
Allston MA 3/24/13
The place is filling up as I enter, and I can see bartender Ariel Bjorkman dancing behind the bar as she serves the drinks. She’s not dancing alone. As Jay Scheffler (vocals/harp), Jim Chilson (guitar), and Chad Rousseau (drums) play, there’s movement everywhere. People are dancing in front of the stage to killer new songs “Do That Thing,” “Moonshine and Mud,” “Worried Sick,” and the title track, “Undertow.” Couples are moving to the rhythms made by guest artists Helen Beaumont (Worcester’s the Farmer’s Union Players) singing “Tears On My Windshield” from the Polecats’ first CD, Gracie Curren (the High Falutin’ Band) singing “BrokenHearted Blues,” Erin Harpe and Rosy Rosenblatt (the Delta Swingers) on vocals and harp for “Big Road,” saxman Marty Phillips, vocalist Eric Savoie (the Throwdown Band), and harpist Satch Romano (the Houserockers) killing “Smokestack Lightening,” guitarist Satoru Nakagawa (the Tokyo Tramps) up for “Chickenhead Man,” guitarist Peter Parcak plays “Thought I Heard” and “Goin’ Crazy” from their first CD, Sonny Jim (Coyote Kolb) plays harp on “Nobody But You”), and Mark Milloff (the Cannibal Ramblers) up for “Boogie Chillin’ .” Tonight the local blues community is getting together to celebrate a new release from one of their own. Do you think this stuff happens in Duluth? (A.J. Wachtel)
ADAM EZRA GROUP/
SARAH BLACKER & THE ALTERNATE ROUTES/
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER/
HOT DAY AT THE ZOO/
JESSICA PROUTY BAND/
New England Music Awards,
Lowell Memorial Auditorium,
Lowell MA 4/13/13
The Luxury gets the show rolling with an amazing synth-infused pop-rock set. Between the bass and guitar riffs that fill every corner of the venue and the intense lighting and smoke effects, the set has an arena rock feel to it, and it’s one I can easily see the Luxury succeeding at. The keyboard adds a melodic element to this great four-piece rock band, and the band debuts a brand new song, “This House,” which builds to a powerful crescendo blending with the vocal skills of Brandon Erdos and Daanen Krouth.
Hip-hop artist Effect-—one of the nominees for best of his genre—only has one song, but he makes the most of it. This guy has a great stage presence, the kind of confidence that’s hard to come by when you’re alone before the crowd. He’s got precise vocal control, and a fast, surgical lyrical style that’s hard to come by.
Katherine and Kristen Veayo are the youngest of the evening’s performers, but what they may lack in experience, they make up for with a great stage presence, vocals that are hard to -ignore and an obvious love for the stage. “Screaming at the Walls” looks at the effect that bullying can have as you get older—and that’s a place that too many of us have been. Clearly, this duo is hoping to bring some important issues to light.
Charlie Farren, best known for work in the bands the Joe Perry Project and Farrenheit, is a presence on the stage, even as a soloist. He’s got a commanding voice with an impressive rock flair, and plays a casual, folk/rock set that puts the crowd at ease.
The Jessica Prouty Band won a battle of the bands to be here, and they show us just how they did it—with face-smashing rock and power-packed vocal styles. Cam Pelkey on drums pounds out the intense heartbeat of the one song the band plays, reinforced by Andy Covino (keyboard) Jessica (lead vocals/bass), Aaron Shuman (guitar/backup vocals) and Cody Nilsen, (guitar/backup vocals).
Hot Day at the Zoo brings a heavy dose of American roots to the evening with some heavy twang-laced rock to keep those feet tapping. The five-member band shares vocal duties and brings an array of instrumentation to the set, such as the ukulele, upright bass, mandolin and lap steel, blending the diverse sounds into a set ranging from more mellow tunes to songs that damn near break the speed of sound. (Max Bowen)
You can read more live reviews on www.thenoise-boston.com.
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 New England. If you’re doing something even remotely exceptional, we’ll be the first to tell the world. If you’re horrible, same thing. If you’re based in New England, send CDs to the Noise, PO Box 353, Gloucester MA 01930, and digital releases to firstname.lastname@example.org.