Monday, August 31, 2015

A Whole Lot of Slackin' Going On

I'm the first to admit that sometimes I don't get things done when I should. Like posting in this blog, for example. Sure, I've been regular with the CompCon, SITG and Trust Fund Challenge posts, but actual writing of stuff has been lacking, that's for damn sure. I've had ideas, just haven't carved out the time to follow through. Another thing I've slacked on is uploading and posting the gazillions of photos I take, most of which are from concerts I've attended; and of course, I haven't written reviews of said shows because I like to wait until I can also post the photos with them. As it happens, the last time I wrote such a review was LAST NOVEMBER. Holy crap! Talk about letting things slide.

So tonight, I uploaded photos from my iPhone to my laptop and then went through the process of doing same to Flickr. As a result, I'm now posting slideshows from each of those concerts along with a few lines of so-called text. Get a drink and settle in, we've got a bunch of stuff to go through here. Hopefully I won't wait this long to post the next batch.

12/12/14: Speedy Ortiz, Big Ups, Shark?, Sneeze, The Shills at Great Scott, Allston
This was the second of a three-night residency held on consecutive Fridays at Great Scott by the ascendant Speedy Ortiz. The show featured some great young local bands in Sneeze and The Shills and New York-based Shark?, as well as surprise guests Big Ups, who amped up the excitement level with their kickass live show.

Speedy Ortiz, Big Ups et al at Great Scott 12/12/14 

12/16/14: Noise for Toys Benefit featuring Palehound, Chandos, Coaches and Worms at TT the Bear's
This show was co-presented by my buddies Bryan at The Ash Gray Proclamation and Jay at Clicky Clicky Music and it was another terrific bill. It was my first time seeing Palehound and I was sold right away. Excellent band, and one that will come up again later in the exhaustive post.

Noise for Toys at TT the Bears, 12/16/14

1/25/15: The Tragically Hip at House of Blues
I've seen this band a ton of times over the last 24 years and they've never disappointed. This tour, they were playing their classic 1992 album Fully Completely front to back and it was a ripper of a show.

The Tragically Hip at HOB, 1/24/15

2/22/15: Sleater-Kinney at House of Blues
Although I had seen two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney playing with Wild Flag a few years earlier, I had never seen S-K live. Touring for the first time in a decade behind their first album in that time, S-K was a hot ticket and I was lucky to get balcony tickets to this show. Hence the distant view and the lack of photos in general. The show was great, though. Just a lot farther away than I'm used to.
Sleater-Kinney at HOB, 2/22/15

3/28/15: Swervedriver and Gateway Drugs at The Sinclair
This was another of those "great bands reunited" shows, with Swervedriver touring behind their first album since '98. I had seen them open for Soundgarden at Avalon in '92, so it had been awhile. As with their new album, the band sounded like they hadn't missed a beat. Oh-so-shoegazey and gloriously loud.

Swervedriver and Gateway Drugs, The Sinclair, 3/28/15

4/24/15: Ex Hex and Kuroma at Great Scott
This was the third time I'd seen Mary Timony's great band Ex Hex in a little over a year: they opened for Rocket From the Crypt in April 2014 and then played a show with Speedy Ortiz later in the year. This was the first time I'd seen them as a headliner, which meant they played pretty much the entirety of their excellent debut album and added a few covers (Sweet's "Fox on the Run" and the Real Kids' "All Kindsa Girls"). The band was all about big riffs, hot solos and glammy choruses. Great, great stuff. Opener Kuroma played a top-notch set of glam-pop-psych rock from their fine debut record.
Ex Hex and Kuroma, Great Scott, 4/24/15

4/30/15: Rough Francis and Varsity Drag at Great Scott
This was a last-minute decision when I realized I had nothing going on and I could go see what was billed as Varsity Drag's last show ever (they ended up playing one more, I believe). I've been FB friends with Varsity Drag drummer Josh Pickering for a while so it was cool to actually meet the dude in person. The band fronted by ex-Lemonheads member Ben Deily played a hot set of rock. I didn't see their entire set, but headliner Rough Francis was a pretty intense and rockin' act. Featuring three sons of one of the dudes from the band Death (featured in the doc "A Band Called Death"), RF had an MC5 vibe going on. Pretty strong stuff. Unfortunately, I had to take off a little early, but I definitely want to catch them in the future.

Rough Francis and Varsity Drag, Great Scott, 4/30/15

5/29/15: Soccer Mom, Infinity Girl, Chandos at Great Scott 
Speaking of farewell shows, this was the swan song for the great Soccer Mom. Despite releasing a fine debut record, the band was splitting up (although guitarist-singers Will Scales and Dan Parlin are already working a new project called Gold Muse with ex-Swirlies singer Deb Warfield and Justin Lally). SM brought their ear-splittingly loud awesomeness one last time and it was a great as always. I will miss this band. Infinity Girl and Chandos, which had just released a new record, both played fine sets as is their wont. And of course, news just broke that Chandos is breaking up; I'm hoping to catch their last gig in late September.

Soccer Mom, Infinity Girl, Chandos @ Great Scott, 5/29/15

5/30/15: David Bazan at Mingo Art Gallery, Beverly 
This was another last-minute show that was easy to pull the trigger on because it was right down the street from my hizzy. The great Brad Searles is a big Bazan fan and had an extra ticket, so I met him there. It was a different kind of show because there are no seats in the gallery; we all just sat on the floor, which was a tad uncomfortable for my bony arse. I'm not familiar with the Bazan oeuvre, but I know some Pedro the Lion (his old band) and I dug what he played, which featured the Headphones album from 2005.

David Bazan at Mingo Art Gallery, 5/30/15

6/6/15: The Upper Crust, Watts and Humpmuscle at the Dover Brickhouse, NH
I don't usually venture up into the Granite State to see bands these days, but this month I did it twice. The first was to see the mighty Upper Crust, a band that I had somehow managed to miss throughout the '90s when the powdered rock dandies played all over the damn place. My Webnoize buddy Dave Brigham and the always entertaining Jim Corrigan met me in lovely Dovah for dinner and beers at the Brickhouse, which was a bar/restaurant that had a rock club upstairs. We also hung out with Pete Duchesne, who played in the Toastmen with Dave and Jim when they were all at Keene State in the '80s and who is also better known by us as Humpmuscle Pete, because he is the singer of Humpmuscle. Said band is a thunderous hard rock outfit that was active primarily in the '90s but recently reunited for some shows; to say they kicked ass is to do the band a disservice. They were IMMENSE. Watts played an enjoyable set of catchy power pop, but it was the Crust that doth rocked most steadfastly. They played all the hits (i.e., all the songs I knew from their albums) in their most excellent "AC/DC meets the Canterbury Tales" style. Frontman Lord Bendover (aka Nat Freedberg) led the proceedings with air of detached and yet debauched royalty, as it should be. I still chuckle at bassist Count Bassie (aka Chris Cote), who spent pretty much the whole set wearing a pained grimace, although he would very occasionally break into the tiniest of smiles. I had to get up at the crack of dawn to run a 5K the next day, but it didn't matter.

The Upper Crust, Watts, Humpmuscle at Dover Brickhouse, 6/6/15

6/24/15: Mission of Burma at 3S Artspace, Portsmouth 
Back to NH, this time to see the great Mission of Burma at a new venue called the 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. The place is conveniently located near the downtown and is a combination restaurant/art gallery/concert venue. My good friend and fellow Burma devotee John Novack joined me for the show and we got up there early enough to run into Clint Conley, Roger Miller and Bob Weston of Burma as they were hanging out before the gig. We talked to them for a bit and then walked over to local establishment to drink some beverages. Bryan Hamill joined us and later on, Pete Duchesne showed up at the venue. This was the only area show Burma had planned besides the infamous show at Fenway Park opening for the Foo Fighters, and it was the first time I'd seen them since 2010. The band didn't disappoint, ripping through a 70-minute set that included a couple of newer songs that hadn't been recorded yet. It's crazy how this band, especially Miller, seems to get younger every time I see them. Sadly, the same is not true for me.

Mission of Burma, 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, 6/24/15

6/27/15: Buffalo Tom and Amanda X at the Sinclair 
Buffalo Tom doesn't play many gigs these days, as the three members all have "real" jobs and families and all that jazz like the rest of us. So when they do announce a show or shows, I try to catch at least one. Deb and I saw them a few years ago at the same venue; this time around, we were joined by my good buddies Phil and Dave. Amanda X, a band out of Philly, played a solid opening set despite a broken drum head. Bill Janovitz and Buff Tom then tore through a terrific set that had them play their 1992 album Let Me Come Over in its entirety. Janovitz and bassist/vocalist Chris Colbourn told funny stories about the album, which came out at a time when the band was a somewhat hot commodity in the great grunge explosion of the early '90s. A fun time was had, especially by Dave, who was being fed beers and shots by some rabid BT fans from North Carolina who flew up for the show (one of whom plays in a band called Lowbrow, which is awesome in and of itself).

Buffalo Tom and Amanda X, The Sinclair, 6/27/15

7/3/15: Swirlies and Kudgel at Great Scott 
Another show, another great '90s act bringing the rock. This time, it was the Swirlies, who I had never seen before and who hadn't played live in quite some time. Opener Kudgel played a pummeling set of what they like to call "chimp rock," with fronter Mark Erdody hunched over the mike as he bellowed out the lyrics. The Swirlies, led by founders Damon Tutunjian and Seana Carmody, sounded terrific playing the shoegazey noise-rock. Tutunjian in particular was impressive on the guitar. The band has had many members over the years, and on this night, I believe there were six crowded on the tiny Great Scott stage. Well worth losing sleep for on the night before the 4th of July.

Swirlies and Kudgel, Great Scott, 7/3/15

7/9/15: Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo, Havania Whaal at Great Scott 
Another killer bill presented by Clicky Clicky with two known commodities (Infinity Girl and G. Sexo) and two unknown (Portland, Oregon's Lubec and Havania Whaal). Erstwhile Clicky Clicky contributor Ed Charlton sings and plays guitar in Lubec (and it was cool to meet him afterward) and organist Caroline Jackson also is the bassist of Havania Whaal; the two bands were embarking on an East Coast tour starting with this show. Both bands play an interesting brand of dream pop that's peppered with just the right amount of lacerating guitar edge. Psych-pop concern Guillermo Sexo, in addition to having an amazing name, played songs from their forthcoming album, which sounds like it will be pretty damn good. And Infinity Girl, which just released its new Topshelf Records album Harm last week, was excellent as usual with a fine set of the shoegaze that the kids (and the old doodz) like.

Infinity Girl, Lubec, Guillermo Sexo,  Havania Whaal @ Great Scott, 7/9/15

8/22/15: Exploding in Sound's Thank You For Being a Friend, featuring Krill, LVL UP, Big Ups, Stove and Palehound at the Sinclair 
This monster bill wasn't close to selling out, which was kind of a bummer; maybe if school was in session it would have been. Nonetheless, it seemed like it was fairly crowded for Palehound's opening set and then emptied out gradually as the night wore on. Granted, there was a TON of rock to be had on this night. Palehound's excellent new record, Dry Food, just came out and the band has some good buzz, so I'm guessing that drew in some folks. Ellen Kempner and crew (the lineup has changed a bit since the last time I saw them) are poised for great things. Kempner is playing with more confidence than a year ago. I was excited to see Stove, which is the new band from Ovlov's Steve Hartlett. The self-deprecating Hartlett played pretty much all new material (I didn't recognize any Ovlov songs), ripped some hot-shit solos and even brought Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis (who was DJing the event between sets) up to sing a duet with him. Looking forward to the new Stove record in the near future. Big Ups played a typically frenetic set, with singer/Iggy-esque wildman Joe Galarraga roaring while guitarist Amar Lal ripped waves of guitar noise. LVL UP has a new EP called Three Songs out and the band has chops for days; I was only marginally familiar with them but they won me over. Headliner Krill sounded super-tight as they played a set comprised mainly of songs from their excellent 2015 album A Distant Fist Unclenching. Jonah Furman and his group of "rising rock weirdos" (as Rolling Stone referred to theme earlier this year) play off-kilter, thoughtful rock that bounds and careens around the stage. They're a challenging listen, and that's a good thing.

EIS Thank You for Being a Friend, The Sinclair, 8/22/15

EIS Thank You for Being a Friend (Part 2), The Sinclair, 8/22/15

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