Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rocks Off

I've been remiss about posting regularly all year, just because I've been pretty damn busy with stuff. But also the last few months I've slacked off because my old laptop went off to that great scrap heap in the sky and it's been a slow process to figure out how shit works with Windows 8 (seriously people, it's crazy bananas). I just figured out how to get photos off my iPhone with this new machine and uploaded a bunch to the Flickr, so here's a quick report of the three kickass rock shows I attended in the last five weeks or so.

Way the hell back in mid-August, I ventured into Great Scott in Allston for the Pretty & Nice farewell show, although I really went to see the opening acts: Ava Luna, Krill and Infinity Girl. And also hang out with my good friend Senor Breitling. Infinity Girl opened with a hot set of shoegazy rock that featured some new songs from an upcoming release. I was especially excited to see Krill and they didn't disappoint. The band's brand of off-kilter indie rock (Shudder to Think is a good comparison) was excellent as expected, with singer-bassist Jonah Furman leading the Krillers through a too-short set. I look forward to seeing them headline a show in the near future. Ava Luna's an interesting act out of NYC, combining quirky indie rock with funk grooves, a la Talking Heads circa Remain in Light. I only caught a bit of Pretty & Nice's set because it was getting super-late and I was super tired, but the tunes were catchy.

Ten days later, I was at the Middle East Upstairs (apparently the downstairs was close for repairs or something) on a Tuesday night to see the mighty Titus Andronicus. It was the band's second straight night at the Middle East and the end of a quick New England tour for the New Jersey stalwarts. I arrived midway through the set of openers Liquor Store, a fellow Jersey act that featured the original Titus drummer as frontman. The trio played punked up hard rock that sounded like Motorhead meets the Dictators; just tons of super-loud fun.

When I last saw Titus at the Sinclair in November 2013, Patrick Stickles and crew played a few songs from their upcoming album, the follow-up to 2012's Local Business. The album was supposed to be out this year, but apparently this tour was a last road run before they went into the studio finish the new record. The set featured a good chunk of new material as well as some old classics, and packed club was throbbing with energy as the band's diehard fans chanted the old ones and listened intently to the new ones. The guys from Liquor Store joined Titus for the set-closing cover of the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash," with Stickles taking off his shirt and doing his best bony Jagger impression. Hot, sweaty and loud, like great rock shows should be.

Fast forward a month and three days to last Friday at Great Scott. A lot of my friends were across town seeing PODS (featuring Ben Deily of the Lemonheads) reunite after many years for one of the Pipeline anniversary shows, but I was fired up to see the great and prolific Ty Segall, whose new album Manipulator has been blowing up. Opening acts Boytoy and La Luz played fine sets, the latter impressing with a surf guitar-girl group sound that was quite good (although this dead-tired individual was getting a little sleepy, lulled by the hypnotic sounds).

Segall came out and the whole joint started shaking, literally. I've seen some raucous rock shows in that place but I'd never experienced the floor shaking like that. Segall ripped through a powerful 70-minute set, firing off screaming psych-rock guitar solos like he was being electrocuted. Segall and his backing band, which featured the talented Mikal Cronin on bass and backing vocals, wore Bowie-esque glitter makeup and their overall sound had a glam punk feel. He played most of Manipulator and several off 2012's Slaughterhouse. At one point, Segall threw himself into the crowd, where he played guitar while being held aloft by the audience. It was an electrifying moment among many. I would've welcomed another 20 to 30 minutes, but Segall and band left it all on the stage. One of the best shows in recent memory for me.

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