The Block (outdoor block party), Beverly, MA 7/13/13
It’s pretty cool when you can just happen to walk by an amazing free outdoor show. Such is the case when I decide to check out the Beverly street fair, The Block, and find myself in a sea of well over one thousand attentive fans cheering on Caspian, who is more than half way through their set. The street is minimally lit so the figures on the stage appear like animals spotted in the woods. I make out three guitarists, one bassist, and a drummer. I hear samples and even a glockenspiel. Most of the all-instrumental songs start off quietly with Phil Jamieson on his Fender Jazzmaster. Like a bedtime story, the gentle guitar lines allow you to snuggle up with the band. Slowly they build. The other guitars and drums join in, and without noticing the transition, they produce a roaring swirling din—massively heavy with soft edges. Echo smears droning strings while piercing melodies manage to cut through. Visually they’re like a family of gorillas swaying to the beats—gradually leading to a semi-choreographed acts of aggression on their individual instruments. Exhilaration streams through me just being a part of this happening. It’s over too soon—but I missed more than half of the show. I later read Chris Pearson’s 2005 Noise story on Caspian—he described them as a “neutron bomb being dropped by a dove.” A perfect description. Beverly must be honored to be the home of such an amazing band. (T Max)
PS: On a sad note: Caspian bassist CHRIS FRIEDRICH passed away (cause unknown) the day before I picked up the September print issue of The Noise from the printer. He is in the photo above.
T.T. the Bears, Cambridge MA 7/25/13
It’s 500 billion degrees on a weekday with an older crowd at T.T.’s with only two bands but the show starts late somehow. I’m sweating in my Snoopy underwear and ready to escape but Aykroyd finally takes the stage and saves the day. Up until maybe a few minutes ago they were called the Needy Visions and were already one of my favorite Boston bands. Tonight the double guitar, bass, and drums band is a little more rock and less noisy, but still great. Dan has his guitar and vocals modified by the soundman, perhaps as a nod to Roger Miller’s other band, I’m not sure. Aykroyd rocked in the way Pere Ubu and Blind Idiot God did, which is to say awesome. This is way too short a set. We want more, but that’s all we’re going to get.
Sproton Layer comes out next to warm applause and a full house. Sproton Layer is Roger Miller of Mission of Burma, his two brothers, and a trumpet player. In Burma, Roger plays guitar but sticks to the bass in this outfit. This is Roger’s band from 40 years ago. It has more in common with the first two Pink Floyd albums than anything Burma has ever done. Roger is just about the most melodic bassist I’ve heard and his brothers (from Destroy All Monsters) are pretty adept at their instruments as well. They somehow turn back time and set the controls for the heart of the sun simultaneously. (Eric Baylies)
MUCK & THE MIRES/
Frank Strom’s Birthday Bash
Radio, Somerville MA 8/3/13
Frank Strom, my fellow Noise writer and arbiter of all that is cool in garage rock locally is having his birthday bash at Radio, in Somerville’s newest rock hotspot, Union Square. Aimee McGrath and Josh Banville, bar and booking manager of Davis Square’s Rosebud are Radio’s owners. Chef, Jim Seery and Ashley Williard of Boston Band Crush are taking care of food and booking, respectively.
The Monsieurs open the festivities with a bang! While the band is new, the reputations of the individual members are solid. Singer Andy McBain whose rep proceeds him as a Noise cover boy as a member of Tunnel of Love. Guitarist Hilken Mancini’s resume includes Fuzzy and Shepherdess. Mancini also helped us punks stay svelte with her punk rock aerobics! Erin King of Where My Beat At plays a floor tom and snare. The Monsieurs have a great raw, primal sound a la the Konks. McBain has a confrontational demeanor that brings to mind James Siegfried aka James White or James Chance, repeatedly challenging people by getting in their faces and slamming his mike stand to the floor.
It has been awhile since I have seen Muck & the Mires, but each song is as immediately appealing and as tight as ever! I have been a fan of these Merseybeat aficionados since moving to the area in 2001. In fact, they played one of my first birthday bashes at O’Brien’s in Allston just short of twelve years ago. Since I’ve last seen them, Evan Shore (guitar/vocals), John Quincy Mire (bass), and Jessie Best (drums) have been joined by lead guitarist, David Mirehoff (formerly of The Bosstones, The Shods, and The Pills) who has an appearance that is just as polished as their pop rock gems, are wearing black long sleeve shirts with white collars, cuffs, and placket fronts. This crisp two-tone look perfectly sets of the two-tone Rickenbackers. In the fast paced set, there is not a moment that lags. Time doesn’t permit to list all highlights, but some are—“The King of the Beat,” “I’m Down With That,” and the sexy, fierce closer “Doreen.” However my personal fave is “I Never Got Over You,” a song of star crossed heartbreak that reminds me of my North Carolina friends, the Spongetones.
I know some members of the audience were wondering how Lyres would keep the pace going, but as a friend said, “Lyres did it by cranking up the dynamics several levels!” Lyres open the set with a new audience favorite “Take A Look At A Fool.” I am having a blast dancing with my former fellow Psych-O-Daisy keyboard player and videographer Rachel Lee. “How Do You Know” has fans literally running to the dance floor. Moreover, it is “Don’t Give It Up Now” that keeps them dancing wildly! Lyres crank up the fire with the Norton single, “Give Your Love To Me.” Fans who have the single are pleased by the relatively rare opportunity to enjoy the live version. “Love Is Fading Away” is such a melodic treasure and works as a cool companion piece for “I Confess.” Hearing this takes me right back to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ where Lyres blew my mind with it for the first time. I prefer their soulful delivery to New Colony Six’s more robotic rendition. Good choice putting “Help You Ann” about halfway through the set to continue whipping the crowd into a frenzy. It seems impossible but “Soapy” keeps the night’s excitement mounting! “I’m Your Guy” is a nice poppy transition. The highlight of the closing numbers is “Nobody Does This Anymore,” highlighting soulful vocals and an arrangement that’s a study in musical dynamics.
Sadly, my ride is leaving and must miss the Sprained Ankles whom several friends describe as very cool. (Nancy Neon)
THE CAPT. WOLF BAND
Kowloon, Saugus, MA 8/8/13
Iconic Chinese restaurant Kowloon is typical of what is happening on the local scene today. Amid a current atmosphere where new clubs for bands to play are more and more scarce than at any other time in decades, restaurants with liquor and entertainment licenses are opening their doors to a crowd hungry for good food and good music. I haven’t been to Kowloon in many years but I am looking forward to seeing my new friends The Capt. Wolf Band open up for my old friends, The Cowsills. The Capt. Wolf Band is a bunch of young and talented artists with women playing the flute, the violin, and the cello. Their lead singer, Daniella, has a great voice and their long-haired lead guitarist, Dan Whitelock (son of former lead singer for The Lines, Bob Whitelock) is red hot. Originals “What’s It Like?” and “Will I Be the One” are R&B with a rock edge. Their covers, “Rolling In the Deep” by Adele and “Pay Phone” by Maroon 5, are pretty cool too. This North Shore band is setting the mood in the packed, sold out upstairs club and all of a sudden the owner Andy Wong and booker Phil Hopkins (from The Vindicators) rush up to me and ask me to announce the Cowsills. I have been talking to Ernie Boch (Ernie & the Automatics) and his charity’s exec director, Carla Tardiff, from Music Drives Us backstage, and she also asks me to announce the band. So I do, and the crowd is treated to a rare Cowsills unplugged set that includes Bob and Susan on acoustic guitars and Paul singing. They play all their hits—“We Can Fly,” “Indian Lake,” “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things,” “Love American Style” the TV show’s theme song, and “Hair” in perfect three part harmony. Then there’s a non-stop plethora of audial magnificence: “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles, “Helplessly Hoping” by CS&N, and a great encore of The Hollies’ “Bus Stop.” Throughout the night, Susan, Bob, and Paul tell family stories and jokes and at one point they even laugh, “Is Uncle Bob in the audience?” (He lives in Newport, RI). Even my designated driver, Des (from The Bentmen, owner of the Sound Museum and father of the very talented Casey Desmond) is impressed with the family’s performance and doesn’t stop thanking me for a great night out all the way home. Kowloon—just a stone’s throw north of Boston, I will be back soon. (A.J. Wachtel)
JULIE DOUGHERTY BAND
Salem Common Bandstand, Salem MA 7/18/13
It’s a beautiful summer Thursday night and Anne and I grab some Thai and head over to Salem Common with our straw mats to pick a spot to sit, eat, and take in the musical festivities. Julie Dougherty (guitar and vocals) and Woody Woodward (bass) are setting up the PA in front of the old stone gazebo they call the Salem Common Bandstand. Tonight Jack O’Saro (drums) and Bobby Keyes (lead guitar) join the married couple to entertain the scattered picnickers, dog owners, and bicycle riders. Julie soundchecks with Donovan’s “Try And Catch the Wind.” These pros have shaped a perfect mix without a sound man standing out in the crowd adjusting 307 knobs on a big board. The musicians continue by flipping between songs from Julie’s latest CD, In This Place, and popular covers. Julie’s originals (“I’m Standing In This Place,” “Salvation and Second Chances,” and “Tender”) stand right up to mega hits of the past (“Up On the Roof,” “Tell Her No,” and “Ain’t That Peculiar”). Jack and Woody lay a perfect foundation for Bobby to work his masterful guitar applications—Julie’s voice stands out perfectly. She ends with new song (“Land of Dreams”) from another yet-to-be-released CD coming our way soon. Julie and her talented friends are always a pleasure. (T Max)
THE SUN LIONS/
The Middle East, Cambridge MA 7/31/13
Another summer night in this familiar venue begins with an eccentric Allston rock ’n’ roll band, The Fagettes. The first thing I notice about them is lead singer Ryan Major’s androgynous fashion—he’s sporting dark sunglasses and a red bandana around his neck, and even though the stage lights aren’t on yet, he’s striking a pose with his guitar dangling from his shoulder. The band’s music style is a unique clash of garage and indie rock, and it keeps the audience swinging. Bassist Emeen Zarookian and vocalist Melanie Bernier begin swinging their heads, changing the mood in the room. Melanie is multi-talented as she keeps the tempo with a tambourine while dancing around the stage. Peaches Goodrich stands above his drumset with his hair shielding his face completely. It’s hard to see him on the small stage with Melanie standing front and center with her own pair of drums. She addresses the crowd with a stark, “Hey, what’s up? Stop being so quiet.” Ryan wipes the sweat from his forehead, raking his hair back with his sunglasses. The room is finally heating up; a young lady in the crowd begins to dance on her tiptoes in front of the stage, her eyes closed to the sensation of melody in her ears. At the start of another song, The Fagettes startle the crowd when Ryan turns around with a harmonica hanging from his neck. Carefully, he balances the harmonica on his lips as he continues to play his guitar, stopping briefly to sing a few lines before placing the harmonica back on his lips. The amount of instruments this rock ’n’ roll band uses during their live performance is genius. The Fagettes are quite an animated group.
Sun Lions (previously The Images) are from Boston. Bassist Mike O’Brien, guitarist Pete Schluter, and drummer Jeff Walsh casually take the stage then get the room bouncing with wholesome garage rock ’n’ roll. They open with a newly written song, very alternative/ grunge rock guitar riffs with occasional anger-induced lyrics. Everyone in the room is singing, dancing, or cheering along with these guys. Mike sings a few songs himself, as does Peter; both have strong, raspy voices in a ’90s grunge style. Peter acknowledges the rowdiness of the crowd and speaks of a previous incident when an audience member was arrested for being so rough. During their last string of songs, Peter welcomes his brother Ben onto the stage as backup guitarist. A female from the crowd passes an unlit cigarette to her friend and responds to their introduction of “We’re the Sun Lions” with, “I’m obsessed!”
Both bands tonight are definitely crowd pleasers. (Ashley Magown)
FROGGY & THE FRIENDSHIP/
& THE GRITS & GROCERIES ORCHESTRA
The Block (outdoor block party), Beverly MA 8/3/13
We’re on the streets of Beverly—Barrence Whitfield & the Grits & Groceries Orchestra are shakin’ the asphalt with their slip-slop jumpin’ soulful roots. Between songs Barrence talks about the Grover House—an old Beverly club—and mentions that when you walked through the doors, his photo was on the wall alongside Peter Wolf’s. He’s actually a humble man and appreciates that he can walk his hometown streets without people bothering him—go to Salem’s Record Exchange if you want to do that. “Come on and ride that train—next stop the Beverly depot”… and the shakers come to the front of the stage. “Bip Bop Bip” riles the tribe into a frenzy with a manic guitar solo by Charlie O’Neil, and Barrence wailing. They get swampy with a minor key romp in “Go Ahead and Burn” with Robert Lyons leanin’ into his sax. Then Barrence totally takes me by surprise, he says, “This will only take a minute,” bends forward, and lets out a bellow that rivals a honkin’ Beverly firetruck in emergency mode. He tells me later it’s his Tibetan throat singing. I’ve never heard throat singing like that. We’re thrown into “Big Fat Momma” and “Stop Twistin’ My Arm” while Barrence climbs to the highest level of the stage and displays how to shake it with bassist Dave Walker. He gets everyone clapping in time trying to let all the neighboring towns know that there’s excitement going on in Beverly. They end with “What’s So Funny ’Bout Peace, Love and Understanding” but it ain’t over—Kemp Dunn drives his drums right into “Shake Rattle & Roll” for a totally free unforgettable outdoor performance.
I pick up a lobster roll from Rowand’s outdoor vending tent and Anne grabs a wrap from Wrapture. We munch a hundred yards from the stage but can easily hear the next band blasting away. We take our time, strolling back as the decibels rise, and see an active seven-piece group on stage (Froggy & the Friendship—a Beverly band) and I recognize the keyboard player as Nick from Robby Roadsteamer’s old outfit. He’d got one of those Roland strap-on synths running wireless so he’s just all over the places, constantly with the antics. Meanwhile they’ve got a barefoot horn section, a cigar box guitarist, an unrelentless drummer, a bassist with what I think is Cookie Monster under his bow tie, and the leader of the insane, Frog, who wears a kilt, mismatched socks, and a normal button-down short-sleeve shirt (Anne can’t stop talking about the normal shirt). Long-haired Frog and Nick seem to battle for who can be more over-the-top with their entertaining. Nick splatters on the street while Frog continuously spastically sings about being a crazy guy (in “I’m A Crazy Guy”). They’re like a Frank Zappa band with Red Bull energy. They bounce off the non-existent walls rivaling the Mighty Mighty Bosstones with their energetic performance. “Eat Your Vegetable” is a crowd favorite with specific vegetables being named as if their consumption caused the manic excitement in today’s display of each individual’s actions. Frog gets about 40 people in front (of the close to a thousand) to do a hands-in for a big “Whoa Beverly!” I don’t think Beverly has seen this much excitement since… maybe their last block party. Who knew this was Beverly? (T Max)
91 South Restaurant and Wine Bar, Gorham, ME 7/4/13
Rather than face the crowds in larger celebrations of the Fourth, we decide to hear jazz clarinetist Brad Terry, who is playing with clarinet buddy Barry Saunders and virtuoso guitarist Peter Herman. What a feast for the ears! Brad is a white-haired, white-bearded, smooth-playing jazz clarinetist, who is most famous for his work in the ’70s and ’80s with Maine guitar genius Lenny Breau.
Brad’s clarinet playing and incredible extemporaneous whistling are just wonderful. His phrasing and tone are soothing and effortless. The delicacy of Peter’s guitar playing is astounding—precise and flexible—his fingers display staggering accuracy and musicality, while a hat pulled down over his eyes nearly hides him from view. No ego here, just exceptional interpretations of standards by Duke Ellington and Antonio Carlos Jobim. I half expect Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald to stroll out and sing with them on “Summertime” or “Take the A Train.”
Barry Saunders is primarily a saxophonist but is taking on clarinet under Brad’s tutelage. Hard to believe he is a clarinet student. The duets and interplay between the three are transporting. Brad jokes that even though they represent three generations, that they all love this music equally. We enjoy gourmet appetizers and entrees with this very classy entertainment. I highly recommend that jazz fans drive to Gorham for the Thursday night gigs! (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
Peabody Street Park, Salem MA 6/30/13
I had to figure out that Peabody Street Park was a back corner of some open space behind Wendy’s in Salem. I arrive too early (2:30 pm) so I take a walk around the corner and run into Barrence Whitfield playing a Sunday Brunch at the Grapevine—he’s boppin’ it to “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” but when he tries to buy my hat off my head, I skidaddle back to the “park.” Now there’s a strange mix of a crowd gathered and they’re all grooving to electronic beats, samples, and a sitar! This is a five-piece Machine 475. As the songs progress, I hear more interesting sounds: vocoder-type vocals, a theremin, washy synths, lots of percussion, and cool Pink Floyd-like guitar solos. The band brings back one of their old tunes, “Love is All Around,” which fits the setting perfectly on a beautiful day in the park. Machine 475 is doing something pretty unique by creating these electronic soundscapes and keeping it accessible to a large range audience. (T Max)
EYES SET WEST/
The Amato Center for the Performing Arts, Milford NH 7/20/13
Rock at the Riverbend is the name of this charity event to support the Boys and Girls Club in Milford, New Hampshire, that sponsors local bands with a battle of the bands competition. This show is unique, taking place within a private theater inside the Boys and Girls Club. There aren’t many people here; most are family and friends of the band members. Two emcees introduce the first band and explain the details of the battle. Each performing band is being scored on performance, stage presence, arrangement, sound, and talent. The winning band gains satisfaction and congratulations in place of a trophy or prize. The competing band members are all under age 24, some still in high school and a few with an album release but unsigned. The first band is Studio Two, a tribute to the Beatles from Boston, MA. They begin with a quick jam out on stage; their entire set takes us in a time warp with their bowl-shaped haircuts and collared shirts. Their first song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” is almost an exact rendition from the famous ’60s band down to the sound and style of vocals. The awkward silence between sets is a bit unsettling, and the crowd isn’t as alive as other shows because of the seating arrangement.
As the next band sets the stage, the emcees tell several family-friendly jokes, which lightens the mood a bit. New Hampshire band Eyes Set West takes the stage as the crew deals with a few sound issues. They describe their sound as “not locked in by one genre,” though generally they could be described as pop punk or alternative rock. Lead vocalist and guitarist Cory Giove greets the crowd, but doesn’t introduce anyone else in the band. He says, “Hi, I’m Cory, and you’ll never see Batman and I in a room together.” Eyes Set West sounds kind of like All Time Low, but the drums are overpowering the rest of the band. Cory sounds strong as a vocalist, but pitchy at times. At the start of their second song, Cory steps onto drummer Leo John’s platform and jumps into the air. Eyes Set West also consists of Scotty Desmarais on guitar and Dillon Rajaniemi on bass, both backup vocalists. Sadly they can only play a few songs due to the large amount of bands competing. The next band on stage is the only band not from New England: Breckenwood from New York. The next couple of bands competing are unsigned and from New Hampshire: Catatonic and Lucid, both with young musicians.
Obsydian is an alternative band from Salem, New Hampshire, consisting of three young and gifted musicians. Despite some sound issues on stage, they play a cover of Wolfmother’s “Woman,” and Radiohead’s “Creep,” along with an original song. Mammoth Road from Nashua, NH, takes the stage—one of the few unsigned bands to play all their own original songs, ranging from soft rock to indie. They begin right away without introduction, letting their music do the talking. Vocalist Tirso Perez announces the name of their band, letting us know that they aren’t big on introductions. They introduce their next song, “Keep Me Sane,” a song with a softer sound and strong vocals. The band found bassist Ryan Tidwell and a couple of days before the show, saving the band’s performance. Aside from chatting with one of the band members, a new bass player wouldn’t have been obvious, as Ryan fits right in with the rest of the band. Jayson Blacksmith on lead guitar, and Dave Wojtaszek on drums also work meticulously to bring solidity to their lyric-heavy songs. I hope to see Mammoth Road playing in a local bar someday because they are a great listen. As the battle comes to a close, the winners are chosen with local New Hampshire bands Obsydian and Mammoth Road coming in second and third place, and New York band Breckenwood stealing first place. (Ashley Magown)
Annual Pig Pickin’ Block Party and Benefit for Somerville Homeless Coalition,
Somerville, MA 8/5/13
It’s no secret that Redbones has some of the best BBQ in town, but as I walk through Davis Square, I am reminded about how great they are to the community as well. Today, Redbones hosts a big block party outside their restaurant to help support the local homeless coalition. The locals are showing up in droves to grab some BBQ, help support the cause and see the Springhill Rounders play their style of Appalachian bluegrass and folk music. The Rounders set up on a trailer in the middle of a crowded street surrounded by dancing toddlers, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens sampling the delicious food and supporting a noble cause. Similar to many plates stacked with the finest ribs, pulled pork, and collared greens, the band is stacked with some amazing players. The lovely and talented Grace Van’t Hof is on banjo, Neil Helme is super solid on the upright bass, Michael Bean is playing a mean dobro and king of the mandolin, Jimmy Ryan, spins out jaw dropping left and right. Vocalist and guitarist, Dave Rizzuti does a fine job of steering the ship and holding it all together. What a fun night for a great cause. Thank you, Redbones! (Kier Byrnes)
The Middle East, Cambridge MA 7/15/13
The first act on this hot Monday mumbles their name as they enter the stage, “Hey, we’re Luau.” Lead vocalist and guitarist Jake Quarrell begins aggressively; the band’s sound fills the sticky air in the room with a numbing indie rock. A member in the audience shouts out “Lookin’ good” as Luau transitions into their next song, “Going Back to California.” Jake tells us the story behind the lyrics, written when bassist Myke Cameron was convicted. Their next drum-tapping, spine-tingling beat of alternative rock is also about Myke’s life. Drummer Steve Benson’s hair flies in the air with every bounce of the sticks on the cymbals. A lady in the crowd shouts, “Louder!,” and Jake pauses to ponder her words: “Where do you want louder?” The lady responds, “Everything!” I’m not sure that I agree with her. Their sound is perfect for the small room upstairs. Their third song begins too loud but progresses into a mellow tune with a minor bass solo. The bassist strums some notes to keep the crowd’s attention as Jake takes a sip of his beer before their next song. Although they’re from Boston, Luau has a very Pacific-West alternative rock style with upbeat notes and wonderfully jazzy undertones. Two women in the front row lift their beers in a toast to a good night. Jake thanks us for jamming out with them as the next band sets the stage.
Banditas are a three-piece folk/ indie rock band from Somerville, fronted by women. Their first song begins slowly with light drums and backup vocals by both the drummer and bassist. The chorus brings a low, “Baby I’m broke” as the lead vocalist stands with her back to the crowd, her long white skirt bouncing to the beat. She expresses her love for the local band Luau, then comments on the temperature in the room. Although the heat is making the crowd weak, the room comes alive again as Banditas move into another song. They keep a steady rhythm as the lead vocalist releases a slow, country drawl: “You fell like a train/ you look like a shame.” The crowd sways to the beat and closes their eyes along with the vocalist. The heat leaves us feeling lightheaded. The vocalist pauses briefly to retune her guitar, which is being affected by the heat. The bassist tells us her Corona has boiled in her cup with the heat in the room. The audience chuckles. Each band member sings along in their next song: “If there is a reason/ blame it on my wild heart,” a catchy tune with a beautifully haunting sound. The song comes to an end with a chorus of “I love you/ I love you/ I love you I do/ blame it on my wild heart!” Their last song includes a country style chant of “let’s go home” that ends abruptly. The audience is reluctant to let them go home. (Ashley Magown)
ROBIN LANE & JOHN PFISTER
Crocker Park, Marblehead MA 7/3/13
Walking up the hill that winds its way to Crocker Park I can hear a female voice leading a band. When the wall of glacier rock is at my back, I recognize Robin Lane and she’s backed by three guys—one of whom is Marblehead resident John Phister on bass. Robin previously lead the Chartbusters in the 1980s and is now the founder and creative director of Songbird Sings, with a mission to transform those silenced by domestic violence. Pop rock music with nice harmonies adds pleasure to the naturally beautiful surroundings.
During the break I chat with Robin Lane, Jim Trick, Terri Lee, Cindy Sisco, Skip and Ann Pardee, and Mamadou Diop, who is just about to go on stage. Up they go and the band conjures up an understated cool groove with “Maria.” The tempo picks up with “Mama Dayzea.” The band consists of Mamadou on guitar/percussion, Steve Davis on bass, Mitch Cohen on drums, Shira Moss on conga, Adam Zampin on keys, Michelle Cherieand on backing vocals and percussion, and Jacob Pardee on guitar. Mamadou wears a colorful African shirt with a baseball cap that keeps his dredds somewhat in control. The members behind him all wear black T-shirts with Mamadou in big white letters across the chest. Most of the calipso/ska/tribal /island sounds are driven by the percussion and colored with sporadic solos from Jacob’s baby blue Strat. Before my favorite song, Mamadou encourages every person to be themselves and not listen to the people who want to change them. “I Am Me” follows. The message and the groove is good. (T Max)
P.A.’s Lounge, Somerville, MA 7/27/13
New York promoter, David Gwiazdawski, has put together an interesting bill—a Lyres show with opening acts: Boston’s Sour Doo Dahs and Providence’s Detroit Rebellion. P.A.’s looks cool since the remodel. With a wide selection of beers in an intimate room with great sound, what rocker could ask for more? Sadly, I missed the opening duo of duos due to a leisurely meal at Zuzu with Matthew Griffin and my better half.
Tonight’s show is a blast with David on bass adding to the dramatic push/pull that is key to Lyres’ dynamic. On guitar, Steve knows how to use subtlety to great effect, coloring each song with nuance. Drummer Paul, drenched in sweat, always gives his all and is at the top of his game. Pokemonojeff sings with immense soul and plays his Vox organ with the utmost assurance.
Lyres’ set is a brilliant mix of longtime favorite originals, longtime favorite covers, and newer additions to the set. The ‘79 “Sounds Interesting” single has fans dancing by the second number. Each recognized intro is greeted with a cheer, especially “Take a Look at a Fool.” Lyres, the ultimate party combo, are evolving and ascending to new musical heights. (Nancy Neon)
WRITTEN IN STONE/
The Middle East, Cambridge MA 7/9/13
The crowd is small at this early evening show, put together by Brittney Pappas – the main event booker for Troubled Teens, a Boston-based booking agency for local shows in the music scene. At first, I notice the open guitar case on stage, then the acoustic performance by local musician, Ben Burke. The small crowd at this early evening show doesn’t put a damper on the excitement that Burke brings to the stage with his raw, lyrically-woven songs. The audience, although barely thirty people, claps along with Burke’s Johnny Cash-meets-pop-punk vibe. I can tell this is the type of show where everyone knows each other, especially noticing that many people in the crowd are close friends of the bands and musicians. As Burke ends his set, he mentions the song “Wonderwall” by Oasis, causing the audience to shout for an encore performance of the ’90s song. Burke tells the crowd his opinion of playing “Wonderwall” covers, stating that it often ruins the performance of acoustic musicians. Several people in the audience listen to the song on their phones as the next band, Apothecary, sets up.
Apothecary, a hardcore band from Rhode Island, opens their set with electronic, pre-recorded sounds. Their first song can be described as deathcore mixed with electro, with some keyboard instead of drums. The lead vocalist wears a white and gray shirt with an upside cross, but he sports the most enthusiasm on stage between growls and high-pitched screeches. As the vocalist switches his sound, the drummer gets back on stage, solidifying the band’s sound. A couple guys in the crowd begin to mosh, jumping off the speakers on the side of the stage and banging their heads to the drilling cymbals. I move away from the stage and smile when I recognize Burke standing in the crowd, his fist pounding the air with the beat. Before their time is up, the keyboardist returns to the stage and joins the lead vocalist in a growling brawl of metal. An electro-dubstep style beat plays in the background as both musicians get the crowd hot and heavy.
Hailing from New Hampshire, Written in Stone brings a melodic side of metal to the stage, with accelerating guitar riffs and complex vocals. Although the crowd is thinning, members from the previous bands join the crowd and bob their heads wildly to each downbeat. As the music slows down to a quieter riff, the drum picks up and the guitar changes chords. Vocalist Brandon “Roose” Benson states the name of their next song – something about an apocalypse – and the backup vocalist chimes in with melody under the heavy growls. Although these local bands aren’t the stars of the show, opening for both headlining acts, Neurotic November and The Bunny The Bear, Pappas thanks us for coming out to support the local scene. (Ashley Magown)
The Middle East, Cambridge MA 7/19/13
As I stand in line, I realize I may have underestimated the size of the crowd for tonight’s show. By the time I enter the room, Sonic Pulse, a thrash metal band with a pulsating style similar to Metallica, is already ten minutes into their set. I push through the crowd of metal-heads to get a look at the band. I see two guitarists, Dave Carlino and Mick Mayer, and Lauren K. on bass. I hear someone singing, but the guitarists are busy banging their heads to the crash of the beat—their wild, curly hair fanning the air like windmills. Then I notice that drummer, Dan Hammer, is singing lead—a unique aspect to this metal band. This could explain why the vocals are difficult to hear. Although Dan is juggling vocals and rhythm, the drums overpower the sound of his voice. Halfway through their set, another drummer takes over so Dan can focus on vocals. It appears that changing drummers is part of their performance. I later find out the reason for the switch is because Sonic Pulse lacks a permanent drummer. The air in the venue is sticky and sweat is pouring off of everyone’s face. Thankfully, water is at a cheap price and easy to obtain. The temperature is close to 100 degrees outside, and I’m not sure the air conditioner is working. After a few more songs, Dan asks the crowd if anyone is familiar with Sonic Pulse’s music. The Rob Zombie and Slayer fans in the room shout with enthusiasm as the band announces that there are free T-shirts and an arcade machine at their merch table. Unfortunately, during the band’s last song, the power goes out due to the strain on the electric system. The audience waits patiently, as Sonic Pulse begins a “drum-off” between Dan Hammer and their fill-in drummer, to see who can come up with the best beat. Bassist Lauren K. also joins in, as does an experienced drummer from the audience.
The next act, Anaria, asks us to pose for a picture before they begin. Unfortunately, the power is still out and the band must wait on stage for the problem to be resolved. After about twenty-five minutes, the power comes on and the crowd cheers. Anaria, a symphonic metal band, consists of keyboardist Stephen Fullheart, vocalist Mercy Roulette, drummer Bobby James, bassist Kevin H. Brady, and guitarists Dan Spinney and Tod Miller. Mercy sings a mixture of opera and metal. She seems stiff on stage. Her long, scarlet hair covers half her face and her black lipstick shines in the lights. As the song progresses, Mercy lets the gray shawl around her shoulders fall to the floor. The music is somber with a bit of keyboard and heavy riffs. Her voice sounds hollow and airy, until she finally warms up after a few songs. The crowd claps to the beat of the rhythm, as Mercy bats her eyelashes at the crowd and belts out another shrill note. Their last song, with a catchy chorus of “we break hearts, we shatter dreams,” ends strong. Although the temperature is climbing in the room, the crowd throws their devil-horned fists in the air and cheers with enthusiasm. (Ashley Magown)
CASANOVA’S IN HEAT/
THE COLOR AND SOUND
The Lowell Folk Festival, Lowell MA 7/26/13
The annual Lowell Folk Festival is kick-started with an outdoor performance by three New England bands outside the Worthern House Café & Pub in Lowell, Massachusetts. Although the crowd is strictly 21+ and I am underage, I am able to watch from a decent distance. The tiny outdoor stage is in the corner of the parking lot, set up as a main attraction for drinkers and nightlife in the area. A giant mural on the brick building beside the performance catches my eye before the stage does – an image of a group of ethnically diverse people walking in front of a trolley, with smokestacks and the Lowell mills in the background. The image represents the history of Lowell.
Casanova’s in Heat is the first act, taking the stage fifteen minutes later than scheduled. The crowd doesn’t seem very familiar with the Boston melodic punk band, but I wait eagerly as the band warms up on stage, the echo of sound warming the air. The band drowns the hum of conversation as they open with a statement about their friend who recently passed away, whom their performance is dedicated to. The members glow pink from the hidden stage lights, and I listen to the echo of the drums bouncing off the empty brick walls. Sadly, the guitar is louder than the vocals from where I am standing. After a few songs, the band pauses momentarily and more people gather in front of the Newcastle Brown Ale tent. The slight breeze in the air is refreshing and peaceful, even mixed with their high-energy sound. This parking lot feels like the hidden gem of the festival, definitely drawing an obscure, youthful crowd.
Next up, a folk rock band from Boston called the Color and Sound. They begin playing without an introduction, jumping around with enthusiasm and passion for their music. They appear to enjoy performing as much as the crowd loves dancing in front of the stage. Two young females sing back-up vocals on the left side of the stage, and alternate between tambourine and clapping. The vocals are folk-meets-pop-punk with aggressively-sung lyrics and some melodies thrown in, which steal the crowd’s attention. As the wind picks up, the smell of beer wafts toward my nose, adding to the true rock ‘n’ roll experience. The Color and Sound remain in sync as they bob their heads and jump around the small stage. During a slower song, the soft vocals and high notes send chills down my neck. With the quick click of drumsticks, they change to another upbeat melody, with vocals so naked and honest I feel myself falling in love with both the music and lyrics. People across the street at the Worthern House begin to filter through the gate to join the wild crowd in the parking lot. Just before The Color and Sound announce their last song, a passing fire truck honks loudly in our direction, causing several people to raise their beer in salute. What a great way to kickoff this annual summer festival! (Ashley Magown)
MUCK & THE MIRES/
Radio, Somerville MA 8/3/13
Side notes: It sure is funny watching Nancy Neon sit in a corner the entire night, ignoring all the screaming revelry and drunken yahoos as she writes her Noise review (Yes, that’s how all us Noisers do it—strict T Max editorial policy). I just wanted to add a few tidbits of info to whatever she’s writing. Celebrity guests on hand include: B-Face (ex-Queers, Groovie Ghoules, Real Kids, etc), Jay Allen (Jay Allen), Billy Borgioli (Varmints), Eric Law (Lawless Records, Noise), Abunai!-ites Dan Parmenter (Narco Terror), and Joe Turner (7 Levels). The sad story of the night is hearing that our own Roy Rubinstein (NE Pop Festival) is soon leaving us for North Carolina. Can any of you imagine not seeing Roy at live shows? A round of applause for Evan Shore, the real booker for this show, and Radio’s Aimee McGrath and Nicole Tammaro. Every show has a big hero, and the nod tonight goes to ex-Sprained Ankle, Emily, who just showed up and bailed them out on backing vocals! Anyway, the Jessie Best drummer in town is buying another round, so I gotta dash! (Frank Strom)
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.