Live Reviews


Radio, Somerville MA

With so many music venues in one place, Union Square is one of the cities hot spots to see local music. Tonight there is a big show at Radio, an eclectic bar with two floors of music. I walk in and am immediately impressed by the band on stage. Their singer is small and spritely, yet she makes up for her size with an enormous amount of stage presence and confidence. She strangles the mic as she hops around the stage like a shaman as the band plays new wave punk rock smeared with touches of psychedelic pop. The band reminds me of something I would see if I walked in to CBGB back in its heyday; The singer reminds me of a young Patti Smith, completely owning the stage and the crowd. Her vocals and delivery are great, and it isn’t long before the band draws an early crowd around the stage.

Vary Lumar is up next. Center stage is a keyboardist who hides behind an open Mac Power Book. Despite the band’s great tunes, it’s just bad form as well as a literal and figurative wall between the band and the audience. How much stage preence can you have when the audience’s eyes keep getting drawn to a glowing white apple logo at the front of the stage? I hear someone tell their friend that they came here to see music not watch someone type on their computer. I understand synth rock needs drum loops and special sound effects that only a computer can supply, however I wish their stage set-up felt a little more organic. I think the band is great but based upon the feedback I get from people I talk to, the band may want to reconsider their stage plot.

There’s one cover to get access to the shows on the first floor and another cover to get access to the basement but due to the fact that Radio’s bathrooms are only in the basement, you can pretty much slip up and down to see whatever show you want. None of the bands seem to mind and from an audience perspective that seems pretty cool too. I am fortunate to catch Death Waltz ’76. The band features a rowdy drummer by the name of Barry Thompson who shot punk rock energy out of his drumsticks as if they were laser beams. Meanwhile, all the boys (and some of the girls) had their eyes on singer Steph Santos. Her retro style and strong vocal delivery captivated the crowd while guitar and bass battled out hot licks and screaming solos. This is a band I’d definitely like to see more of; alas it is back upstairs for me to catch Doom Lover, the band I had been aching to see perform.

The bar has all eyes on Doom Lover as they take the stage. The band wastes no time kicking into full gear and doesn’t disappoint. Performing with a group of musicians stacked with talent and songwriting ability, the band rips it up and have the whole room spinning in a daze of trippy music and sweaty rock ’n’ roll. A light show coordinated to the songs put on by technical gurus from The Murdock Manor enhances the ambiance of the theremin played by multi-instrumentalist, Nikki Dessingue.  It’s a great show and a fun night.        (Kier Byrnes)


The Middle East, Cambridge MA

The local punk scene gathers downstairs for another good night. Silver Screams, a three-piece band from Boston, opens the show with an old-school vibe. They admit it’s their first live performance, but if they didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t have known. The lead vocalist thanks the crowd for coming out early for the opening acts, and I stare at the hypnotic images on the small screen next to the stage—a kaleidoscope of spider webs and stars. Silver Screams’ sound is hard-edged but less aggressive than punk bands from the newer era. The vocals are guttural as the drummer taps the cymbals, meticulously echoing the short notes of the bass. The band transitions from song to song with ease, as the guitarist pumps up the pace for a faster song. The small TV beside the bar is playing a baseball game, but everyone is transfixed by the band’s performance on the stage. Their set ends with a classic jump-kick in the air and a heavy crash of the cymbals.

Rebuilder’s vocalist Sal Ellington wears a denim vest with the words “Suicide Machines” and a Starbucks logo on the back—it makes me chuckle. The band’s alternative-punk rock sound is peppy with lots of drums and lyrics. Craig Stanton, guitarist and backup vocalist reminisces about another show the band played in the area. After their first couple of songs, Craig apologizes for forgetting some of the lyrics—several ladies in the crowd squeal in unison when he smiles. During the group’s performance, I hardly notice the bassist, Daniel Carsbad—he seems off in his own world. Sal sings, “And were singing for our future,” his eyes closed and face scrunched with dedication to the music. He mentions “the bullshit” they have for sale at their merch table, but kindly asks that we grab a free Rebuilder sticker and support the local music scene.

The seductive stare of lead vocalist Glen Fant of the Fatal Flaw melts my heart, as he pessimistically sings of love and forgotten opportunities. The Fatal Flaw is an indie rock band from Boston with roots in melodic pop-punk similar to bands such as Oasis and Jimmy Eat World. Drummer Randy Tartow stands out with his black collared shirt and tie, as the rest of the band bounces around the stage in comfortable street clothes. I feel the beginning of tears with the sound of their poetic lyrics, until a few sound problems catch the band off guard. The Fatal Flaw’s best song of the night is definitely “The Last Cassingle,” as I find myself singing the song in my head. Another catchy song begins called “Narrow Hours,” and I am without words. Although the band’s Californian style is obvious, especially in their songs “California Evergreen” and “Watsonville, CA,” this local band makes me proud of my Boston roots.

Doc Hopper brings a feeling of nostalgia to the stage as the members recall the days of performing at the Middle East and getting toilets thrown at them from the audience. The crowd grows larger as Chris Pierce flies across the stage, holding onto his thick-rimmed glasses before they slide down his face as he belts out, “I don’t wanna be without you, don’t wanna be without your love.” As Chris shares the memories Doc Hopper has of playing at this venue since it was built, I feel honored to be here. This night will definitely be another milestone for these punk rockers.   (Ashley Magown)


Church, Boston MA

Satellites Fall starts the night off with a rock set that’s barely contained within the walls of Church. The opening song gets the crowd pumped, and the follow-up picks right up and keeps the energy high. Vocalist Mark Charron has commanding skills, which flow around the hard rock instrumentals of the band to reach right into the audience. He throws in a few dance moves for good measure, probably showing the crowd the right way to groove to a Satellites Fall performance. The music takes me back to some bands I grew up with, and it’s a sound I never get tired of hearing. We get to hear a new tune from the band that shows off Mark’s higher vocal ranges and features a pounding instrumentation with a little synth added to the mix.

The music of Four Point Restraints blends the raw power of rock with the nuances of a Celtic or folk band. They give an impassioned, intense performance that doesn’t demand attention: they come right up and take it. “Casualty” takes it all the way to 11, while “Night Shift” slows things down a bit, the style easy to absorb and enjoy. As the set comes to a close, the band chooses “Dead Reckoning” as the final song, and I am so damn glad that they do. The music is like a jaunty pirate tune, and without a doubt my favorite. I’m singing along to this one, and my fist pumps to the chorus. Happens every time.

I’ve been a fan of Totem for a few years, ever since I saw them at Church a couple years ago. Their live sets have always rocked the roof off of any venue they play in, and tonight is no exception. This six-piece rock ensemble brings so much to their sets, and at one point, one of their fans starts dancing all over the place, with more quickly following her lead—that’s just the effect these guys have when they’re on stage. “Grateful” and “Black Sheep” are part of the set list. These two songs are staples of the bands. A Totem set doesn’t seem complete if I don’t hear them. Lead singer David Kaslauskas rocks some cool dance moves throughout the set. Maybe he and Moore should have a dance-off next time.

This is my first time seeing The Daily Pravda, and I hope it’s not my last. The tempo and intensity is brought down a little during this set, but by no means do things slow down at Church. This five-member alt-rock band creates a beautiful blend of rock and synth sounds, and adds some haunting vocals to match it. It’s no surprise that this band made it to the Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble. They’ve got a great stage presence and the kind of sound that is only heard once in a great while.

Camden brings things to a close with their high-energy pop/rock sounds that no doubt has the T crowd wondering how long stay before making that mad dash to catch the last train. Drummer Brandon Neuburger sets a quick pace that the others have no trouble keeping up with. The style is tight and precise. One fan shows their love by making a trip to Tasty Burger to keep them fueled up and ready for more. Sadly, the show has to come to an end, and the crowd is loving the music of this young quartet right up until the final song.      (Max Bowen)


CD Release of Independently Blue
The Regattabar, Harvard Square, Cambridge MA

Jump blues icon Duke Robillard is taking time off from his other gig in Bob Dylan’s touring band to showcase his own group tonight and celebrate the release of their latest CD.  And as the night proceeds, I see how jazz is a big part of the evening. At times during the songs, different band members get silent to let everyone else step out and after each solo the audience applauds, just like a jazz gig. The way the band’s sound dynamics get loud and soft mid-song during the night is also reminding me of a jazz performance. There is a lot going on onstage also: the difference in tone of the two guitarist’s instruments, Duke and his hollow-body, Monster Mike with his trebly Strat, the fact that bassist Brad switches from upright to electric bass, and keyboardist Bruce Bears goes from piano to B-3 to synth. Through it all, drummer Mark Texeira’s sharp percussive pounding keeps it all interesting and tight. This adds so much texture to both the individual songs and to the night as a whole as it proceeds. And hearing these cats’ screaming leads is phenomenal: a school lesson on how to play the blues. Standout songs include the instrumental opening cover of “High Heeled Sneakers,” the rocking “She’s A Real Live Wire,” “My Tears,” from Roomful Of Blues’ second album, the jazzy “Confessing That I Love You”—a song Duke dedicates to Les Paul, “You’re About As Welcome As A Fatal Heart Attack,” and songs from his latest release. “I Wouldn’t-a Done That,” “Below Zero,” and “This Man This Monster.” Duke calls up Sunny Crownover who does a few songs from her own just released CD Right Here Right Now including “Oh Yes I Will,” and “Hands Off.” This woman can sing!  The band also does Bessie Smith’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business But My Own,” and the first song Duke ever wrote, “when I was fourteen,” he laughs— “I Think You Know.” Two guitarists swapping solos and screaming off each other; throughout the night the audience remains silent listening to every note. Very cool. Very jazzed up.               (A.J. Wachtel)


The Middle East, Cambridge MA

As I enter the venue, the air in the tiny room is a shock to my body. The heat is a stark contrast to the comfortable temperature outside. Before the punk rock band St. Ripper begins their set, the drummer devours a banana on stage as he waits for the rest of his band. The keyboardist stands timidly beside her instrument, then crouches behind the speaker to munch on a snack that appears to be a light salad. I wonder how this band fits in with the punk scene. Finally, St. Ripper takes the stage, and the room fills with the smell of sweat and PBR beer. My heart pumps with adrenaline as the spastic lead singer flings her body around the stage like a fish out of water. Her tight red dress falls off her shoulder without a care in the world. She roars into the mic like a celestial being filled with rage, then steps into the crowd and shoes a group of men in playful disgust.

Disaster Strikes, a political hardcore band from the Boston area, takes the stage, and the lead singer addresses the crowd with the voice of a politician, preaching about the fight to end corporate control over humanity.  Before the band finishes a full song, I am already intrigued by their message. Behind the drummer, a sideways American flag hangs with close to a dozen corporation logos instead of stars; corporations such as McDonalds and Walmart to name a couple. The lead singer gives a shout out to the members of St. Ripper, telling us that he has known the members of the band for years. Three guys in the crowd stop moshing momentarily and scream in unison, “Living on your knees, even when you stand,” the lyrics for a song that represents the fight for freedom in the age of power by corporations.

Around 10:40 pm, it’s Empty Vessels’ turn, a doom-punk band from New London, Connecticut. Much of the audience is fading from intoxication, but the deep growls by the vocalist start a small circle pit in the crowd. I admit, although Empty Vessels isn’t very versatile with their sound, they do keep the crowd alive for the non-local headlining act, Barb Wire Dolls. The three local hardcore bands leave the crowd riled up and the show ends with a bang.    (Ashley Magown)


Salem Arts Festival, The Fountain Stage, Salem MA

Taking in some entertainment of the Salem Arts Festival—belly dancers dancing, ghouls in the street, actors acting in the square—and a stage where I creep up from behind on the four-piece Field Trip playing a groovy jazz tune, “The Secrets Behind Your Mistakes.” No, they don’t sound like they’re making mistakes—it’s all instrumental and their accurate playing has a progressive quality. Guitarist Ryan Fleming starts the next tune, “Rollerskaters,” with a melodic chordal refrain phasing through the open mall space. Graham English tickles the keys, while Tim Paul bops the bass and Junko Kang rides a tiny kit. They’re pretty cool jazz players.

Beatles songs are piped in after the jazz dissolves. As I chat and pick up a CD from Field Trip, I hear the Beatles sounding a little different—ahh—it’s the next band starting with a cover of “I’m Only Sleeping” minus a backwards guitar. It’s the Holdouts, a three-piece: two gents with acoustic guitars flanking what looks like, yes it is—our May Big Shot—the attractive Lisa Haley. Glenn French seems to be the mastermind behind the Holdouts, writing their original compositions that range from Beatlesque (“Give Me Something to Look Forward To”) to old-fashioned fun melodies (“It’s No Mystery to Me”). Glenn easily switches from guitar to ukelele to keyboards. Paul Duffy adds the extra harmonies and guitar parts. The three sing together well, often engaging in three-part harmony. They pick some great covers by Simon & Garfunkel (“All Gone to Look For America,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Scarboro Fair”), the Police (“King of Pain”), and Extreme (“More Than Words”). I love Glenn and Lisa’s duet on the old-time classic “Tonight You Belong to Me” with Paul adding a kazoo solo. But the most touching song is a cover of  Christina Perri’s “Distance,” sung beautifully by Lisa. They end the way they started, covering the Beatles—this time it’s “Across the Universe.”    (T Max)


All Asia, Cambridge MA

All Asia isn’t crowded at this early hour, and I blend in easily with the other youthful spirits resting on the couch. Rangeway has already started their set. They’re a pop-punk/indie band from Billerica, MA, with a pop-punk/hardcore style similar to Transit and Real Friends. Rangeway sounds like they could be from the late ’90s, with an indie/alternative twist and emotionally charged lyrics. I notice they don’t agree on the tempo until they slow down the pace for a softer song. Vocalist Joe seems to be caught in a different rhythm as he spits words into the mic. He manages to keep a strong stage presence even though the venue lacks an actual stage. The band plays from the corner of the bar in front of several rectangular windows and a brick wall decorated with colored duct tape. The small audience sings along when Rangeway changes up their set with a rendition of Blink 182’s “Josie,” a nostalgic moment for the youth watching the show.

Cannon Hills, another unsigned band from Salem, MA, sets up next. They are a five-piece pop-punk band with an upbeat sound mixed with heartfelt lyrics. I am impressed by the lead vocalist Chris Babbit’s strong voice, and nearly blown away by the haunting lyrics, “Oh, can I come home now?,” in their first song. The band breaks the ice in the room with some casual conversation, and then jumps into a song by Neck Deep. Chris warns they’ve never played this song live before tonight. The band stops playing a few seconds into the song, exchanging a chuckle as they make another attempt. When it comes time for the chorus, backup vocalist James Dee whispers loud enough for all to hear, “Now the chorus,” and the band jumps back into tempo. Their lack of professionalism made no difference with the younger audience cheering them on in support.

The third act of the night is a melodic hardcore, pop-punk band from southern Massachusetts called Agree to Disagree. Their first song is called “Stoop Kid Afraid To Leave His Stoop,” a long whimsical title making reference to the popular ’90s Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold. The repetition of the drums gets the audience clapping along, as everyone’s attention is absorbed. The band apologizes for playing the song too fast, although it makes no difference to the crowd. Before ending their set, Agree to Disagree breaks it down acoustic-style, getting intimate with the lyrics, “You wanna run away and get away from it all,” leaving us spellbound.   (Ashley Magown)


The Channel Reunion/ Benefit for Right Turn
The Royale, Boston, MA

This is a rare night on the local scene that is organized for both a good time and a good cause. Much of the top talent of the ’80s who played at the legendary Channel nightclub are still among the best Boston bands of 2013 and Del Fuegos’ drummer Woody Giessmann is behind the charity Right Turn—a creative place for recovery. Tonight seems like a match made in heaven; having a great show and gaining some financial support for a righteous cause that everyone in the audience can relate to and support.

The show starts when MC Carter Alan (WBCN, WZLX) talks about the Channel and brings on an acoustic Jon Butcher who does a beautiful solo version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with guitar effects. It is stunning and sets the bar high for the next acts. Carter comes back on and introduces Robin Lane & the Chartbusters.  I see guest growling guitarist Billy Loosigian (The Boom Boom Band) trading licks in the same band with Asa Brebner. The price of admission, in my mind, is worth it just to see this one-time event. I still love “When Things Go Wrong” and drummer Tim Jackson and bassist Scot Baerenwald tightly focus the band’s power tonight. Then there is a break in the show and a video of Steven Paul Perry, long associated with Rick Berlin’s bands, is shown. Axminster drummer Mike Lamm ably and passionately sings a patriotic song for Steven and then the clip; set to Rick Berlin—the Movie’s “Rock and Roll Romance.” The crowd goes wild. I wonder why Rick Berlin isn’t there onstage too. Then Charlie Farren (The Joe Perry Project) steps forward and apologizes for his band Farrenheit not playing, but bassist “David Hull is in Australia playing with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry”; so all is forgiven. Farren plays acoustic guitar and with his beautiful voice sings “Tuesday,”  “Hold Me Down,” and “Love Me” from his latest release. Again; the crowd goes nuts. Lizzie Borden & the Axis comes front and center and rock the large audience with a killer set that includes “Out Of Touch” and “House of the Rising Sun” where they bring up Laurie Geltman (Vasco Da Gama) on harp. This show just keeps getting better and better. Next up is New England who is back together for the first time in decades with their original lineup. They haven’t lost any power and Hirsh Gardner and John Fannon drive the band through “Never Let You Go” and “Don’t Ever Want To Lose You.” They’re still powerful, sill great. Now the Stompers take over the stage and raise the bar another level. They open with the Kinks’ “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” and continue with “21st Century Rock and Roll Boy” from Sal Baglio’s same named 2003 release. They bring up Phil Kaplan (Men & Volts) for his own tune “Records Go Round” and finish the set with their hit “Never Tell An Angel.” Onstage with them, for this gig only, are the Stompettes, who include Amy Fairchild, Susan Cattaneo, Erica Rothenberg, and Ruby Mason (Bird Mancini). I think I’m getting a rush! And now the Fools’ version of “Whipping Post” is just as wild as the long list of their own hits. I really dig “Life Sucks Then You Die.” It’s time for the icing on the cake—the All-Star jam with Johnny A, James Montgomery, Tim Archibald (New Man, RTZ), Marty Richards (The J.Geils Band), and Barry Goudreau (Boston). I fasten my seat belt. First, Johnny does “Oh Yeah” from his own catalog, followed by a greasy version of Cream’s “Crossroads.” James comes onstage for the blues classic “Help Me.” This song includes extended solos from both James and Johnny—and again, the crowd goes nuts. Enter Barry Goudreau and the bar is raised again. He does a few songs and then Charlie Farren comes back up and the night closes with covers of the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next To You” (!!!) and the Stones’ “Miss You.” The last composition done in the classic Boston rock ’n’ roll way; loud, power-driven guitars. What a show. What a night.  (A.J. Wachtel)

The Middle East, Cambridge MA

The battle for Warped Tour 2013 begins on a steamy 90-degree afternoon upstairs with a crowd of all ages to support the local music scene. Leonard Lawrence opens the night, a metal hardcore band with heavy riffs and a melodic feel.  Vocalist Mike Lessard tries to excite the crowd with growls and fist pumps into his chest, then by runs in place on the stage. Being the first act of the night, the crowd doesn’t seem to be awake. The vocals lose power after a couple of songs; Mike Lessard looks uncomfortable, sweaty, and tired even before the band finishes their set. The crowd stands very still as drummer Andrew Hitchcock breaks into a solo, which doesn’t last long. Their final song is monotonous once the mesh of soft vocals and growls fades. By the time their last song comes, the band sounds like they are running out of steam—it could be because of the heat. A friend of Leonard Lawrence jumps on stage from his place in the crowd, and joins in on vocals as their set comes to a close. Mike Lessard drops his body onto the floor of the stage with one final growl.

Fallen Empire takes the stage with help from their parents and other adults. The band is from the Boston area whose members are between 15 to 17 years old. Their first song begins, a cover of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Beast and the Harlot”—a very different rendition from the original with more melody than hardcore riffs. It’s an ambitious song to cover for such a young group.

The impressive To Die This Night, a metalcore band from southern Massachusetts, takes the stage next. Lead vocalist Joseph Izayea alternates between gritty vocals and expressive sounds. The band’s style band reminds me of Killswitch Engage, a mainstream Massachusetts metalcore band. Suddenly the crowd isn’t standing still. Joseph thanks the crowd after the second song with, “you guys have such a pulse.”  I stop at the small merch table in the corner, and purchase their CD, In Depths Below. Joseph spills that To Die This Night is playing several shows this week. I vow to see them again.

Sorrow of Saviors steals the audience’s attention with mysterious stage music. The band is a Boston metalcore band fronted by vocalist Brittney Pappas. Her vocals are musically deafening, but they blend into the background of the drums and aggressive guitar. Just before Sorrow of Saviors leaves the stage, Brittney thanks everyone for coming and asks them to stay for the rest of the bands. Before their final song, she introduces their version of Ke$ha’s popular song, “Die Young” with, “Anyone from our generation would recognize this song.”  The song, though familiar to me and my generation, doesn’t sound like the original by Ke$ha, until Brittney sings the first lines of the chorus, and ends with a guttural scream of “We are gonna die young!” I hope these bands make it to the next round of the Warped Tour battle!    (Ashley Magown)


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.