Review: Boston Fuzzstival 2014 at the Middle East 8-02-14

I had missed the first Fuzzstival last year because it conflicted with another event I already had plans to go to, so I was really looking forward to it this year. Although the Boston Fuzzstival 2014 actually started at 1pm, I wasn’t able to go until the evening, which meant that I missed some bands that I really like. After a pretty quick ride on the T, I was at the Middle East downstairs in Central Square, where Magic Shoppe were already playing to sort of a small crowd. I went to the bar and ordered some sort of dunkelweiss that the bartender assured me was “smooth”, then proceeded to get closer to the stage.

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Magic Shoppe

Magic Shoppe are a psychedelic band from Boston that had six people on the stage. Their music reminded me of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and they would definitely fit in perfectly on one of the stages at Austin Psych Fest. At one point, they announced that their cassettes would be free at the back table and there was a mad rush to get one (I was unsuccessful).

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28 Degrees Taurus

After a short break, 28 Degrees Taurus were up next. These guys and girl are one of my favorite local bands and not just because singer/guitarist Jinsen Leiu is the guy behind the great Deep Heaven Now festivals, but because they are an awesome band and seem like pretty cool people as well. I was up front for their set and really feeling their psych/dream pop music. They even played a couple of brand new songs that were really good.

Back to the bar for a Harpoon UFO, which has become my “go to” beer while at shows lately as I waited for The Fagettes to set up.

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The Fagettes

The Fagettes played a pretty wild set of garage rock on what seemed to be a pretty crowded stage, due to all of the people in the band. These guys were really fun!

I decided to switch up my drink this time around and opted for a Harpoon Dark. This was a mistake as this beer was a little harsh and I didn’t really like it, but forced it down as I waited for the Fat Creeps to go on.

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Fat Creeps

Fat Creeps were one of several local bands that I like and wanted to see live. They had kind of a dreamy indie rock sound with a little bit of surf pop that worked really well.

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Doug Tuttle

I started having issues with my earplugs, probably due to taking them out too many times, but finally managed to get them to work. Doug Tuttle were up next and admittedly I wasn’t all that familiar with them, although I did see some of their set at Austin Psych Fest this year. This was probably the most mellow set of the night, at least during the time I was there. A really tall girl in the crowd seemed to like them…a lot! I don’t know what the name of it was, but the last song they played, with its feedback at the end was pretty cool.

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Ghost Box Orchestra

Ghost Box Orchestra, a band I really like but never saw live for one reason or another were up next. With a mix of synthesizers and long droney sounding songs, they did not disappoint. This was one of my favorite sets of the night.

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New Highway Hymnal

The final band of the night and festival were The New Highway Hymnal. I first heard of them from a coworker a couple of years ago, but never got a chance to see them live until now. They shut the place down with an absolutely amazing set of noisy psychedelia! It was a very high energy way to end the festival!

I picked up a Fuzzstival t-shirt and sought out a slice of pizza from ABC Pizza, which was quite an experience due to the conversations of a few drunk girls. I was regretting not getting to the show earlier and seeing all of the bands, especially considering how fast this night went by. It was a fun time with a pretty cool crowd and I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next one!

Review: 28 Degrees Taurus, Sleep Studies, Soccer Mom, Dead Leaf Echo at Church of Boston 8-30-14

After plans to spend the long weekend in the White Mountains fell through, I was able to make it out to this show after all. I took the T to Kenmore and as I walked by Fenway Park, the sound of Tom Petty playing “Freefallin” could be heard. Church was only about a block away and is a venue that I have never been to before. There wasn’t much going on when I arrived, a few people sitting at the bar and some at tables, so I assumed that I had missed the first band but thankfully, I was wrong. The problem with getting to a club early, especially when going to shows by yourself, is all of the standing around and waiting, made even more awkward when it’s a place you’ve never been to before.

In order to relax a bit, I started out with an Allagash White while waiting for the first band to go on. There was a pool table in the middle of the room, which was calling my name, but I wasn’t going to ask random people if they wanted to play (I’ve made that mistake before and people looked at me like I had 2 heads). I could see 28 Degrees Taurus setting up.

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This is by no means the first time I’ve seen 28 Degrees Taurus and they were just as awesome as always. At one point singer/bassist Karina Dacosta traded places with their drummer for a bit. It seemed like a really short set of their dreampop tinged with a bit of psychedelia though. Also, this may have been the first time I have seen the band not do shots on stage (although I was standing next to them after their set and did get to witness some shots happen).

During the break I decided to try a Harpoon Boston Irish Stout. It was a creamy, smooth beer and not bad at all. More awkward standing around as I waited for Sleep Studies to go on.

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Sleep Studies
are a 3 piece band, who are also from Boston and have an ethereal, dreamy, bordering on cinematic sound. Although I have seen them a few times before, they sounded really good tonight. Their Last Leaves album, which came out earlier this year is highly recommended and can be found on their Bandcamp page. (Note to Sleep Studies: I tried to introduce myself at one point, but you were in a conversation that I didn’t want to interrupt. Next time!)

I ordered another Allagash White and at this point, was starving. Oh Tasty Burger…you shall be mine after this show, oh yes! Thoughts of delicious burgers aside, Soccer Mom began to set up.

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Soccer Mom were the third band from Boston to play on this night. They have a sort of indie/post rock sound and seemed to have the longest set of the night, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. They also released an excellent self titled album that came out a few months ago.

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Brooklyn’s Dead Leaf Echo were the final band of the night. Even though I have been enjoying their true.deep.sleeper EP for a little while now, this was my first time seeing them live. Bathed in awesome visuals that seemed to make the band blend into the screen behind them, the mood was set for their swirly, shoegazey, dream pop. It seemed to be an extremely short set, although it may just felt that way because I wanted to hear more.

This was a really awesome lineup put on by Illegally Blind, who have been putting on some great shows around the Boston area. It was a pretty good night of music by four bands that I really like. I had never been to Church before, but it was a cool venue and I will be back again to see more shows there for sure (maybe someone will take me up on playing a game of pool). Oh, and that Tasty Burger was the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten as I made my way back home.

Concert Review: Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA 7-29-14

Because this show was on a work night and I hit some traffic on the way down to Mansfield, we got to the Xfinity Center (I cringe every time I say “Xfinity”) a little late. Soundgarden could be heard all the way from the back parking lot, which meant that we had missed Oneohtrix Point Never. As we got out of the car, the faint sounds of “Spoonman” could be heard as we made our way through the parking lot to the entrance, where there were a lot of strangely dressed characters, although this was not unexpected. As we got closer to the entrance, there were very long lines to get in and a lot of people complaining about how long it was taking to get through the gates.

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Once inside, I grabbed a cup of beer ($11.75…really?) and tried to find our seats in section 4. This would be my second time seeing Soundgarden, with the first being at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago. They were just finishing up “Black Hole Sun” as we prepared to relive the 90’s for a bit with a crowd, at least around us, that seemed to be a little older. The band went into “Jesus Christ Pose” and continued on playing hits such as “Fell on Black Days“, “Superunknown“, and “Rusty Cage“. It still amazes me how Chris Cornell can hit those high notes. They ended with guitarist Kim Thayil going into a spastic noise feedback freakout which lasted several minutes and was awesome!

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Up next were Nine Inch Nails, who I have seen several times in the past. Their stage shows are always visually amazing and tonight was no exception, perhaps providing the best multimedia show I’ve seen in a long time. The band, shrouded behind white curtains, started with “Copy of A” from last year’s “Hesitation Marks” album and from there it was a good mix of their older and newer stuff. “March of the Pigs” always gets the crowd fired up as does “Terrible Lie“. The highlight of the night for me was “The Great Destroyer” with all kinds of images and strobe lights flashing on panels behind Trent Reznor, as he twiddled knobs on a keyboard creating some really heavy bass that shook the whole venue! I’m still having visions of it! They ended the set with “Head Like a Hole” and played “Hurt” as an encore.

I had a great time especially with this being the first bigger show I’ve been to in a while, and the visuals completely blew my mind! Both bands sounded great and it was cool to relive a little bit of the 90’s again.

Concert Review: Morrissey at the Boston Opera House 6-7-2014

With all of the drama that a Morrissey tour brings, it was a 50/50 bet as to whether or not he would actually show up, especially with the week’s previous two shows being cancelled/postponed and opener Kristeen Young dropping out of the tour. As I arrived in downtown Boston to meet up with a friend in Chinatown, I walked by the Boston Opera House to make sure the show was still happening, which was apparent once I saw Morrissey’s tour bus sitting out front. We found out later that the show had been pushed back from 7:30pm to 9pm, so that left us a lot of time to pre-game with some drinks at the Rattlesnake bar and dinner at Q Restaurant (along with more and very potent drinks) in Chinatown.

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Nicely buzzed, we made our way a couple of blocks down the street to the Boston Opera House, where we met up with a couple of people. After making our way to practically the top of the theater to what is technically called the “nose bleed” section, we got settled and waited patiently. A movie started playing for the next 20 minutes or so, then Morrissey flanked by five guys where white t-shirts that said “DIRT” on them, came out on stage to loud cheers. Going straight into the “The Queen Is Dead”, which seemed to surprise a lot of people, there wasn’t much of a break between songs. In fact, the whole night flew by pretty fast, although it was closer to an hour and a half.

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At one point, Morrissey talked about all of the famous people who have been on the stage of the Boston Opera House and when he started saying names, my friend caught on that it was really just the names of the Golden Girls (and this is the part that made her night as she’s a major Golden Girls fan). He also played “Kick The Bride Down The Aisle” for the first time ever and it sounded good. Later, he played another Smiths song, “Meat Is Murder”, which I kind of expected. With a movie showing the slaughter of chickens as a backdrop and lots of red lighting for effect, Morrissey laid down on the stage in a fetal position as the band kind of jammed for a bit. There was one more song, then they left the stage. After a couple of minutes, the band came back out and played a couple more songs, with people trying to get on stage to hug Morrissey (and let’s face it, the guy could use some hugs). A few were successful but security threw them right back into the crowd. Morrissey ended by ripping his shirt off and throwing it into the crowd, the house lights came up and that was the end of the show.

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For something that was in doubt all week, it was a pretty good show even though the sound at the Boston Opera House wasn’t all that great. To be fair, that could have been due to where we were sitting regardless, I had a lot of fun and was glad I finally got to see Morrissey live, even if as some walking out said, there was no “How Soon Is Now“.

Barbara Manning, Dump, The Bevis Frond at TT the Bear’s 4-2-2014

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Let me start out with saying that I hate buying tickets in advance, mostly because something will always go wrong or someone will cancel and then it becomes a huge pain in the ass to find someone to takeoff the extra ticket. This is what happened in the hours leading up to this show and at that point, I wasn’t really feeling it. Despite the drama, I arrived at TT the Bear’s for a show titled “Jon Bernhardt’s Midlife Crisis of Champions” in honor of WMBR’s Breakfast of Champions host Jon Bernhardt. For the first time I can remember, there was a bit of a line to get in, but it moved quickly. The best part about waiting in lines at events are the conversations you overhear, such as the two guys talking about a radio show and the girl behind me getting offended because it turns out she was a DJ. Once inside, I ordered a very much needed Sam Adams Rebel IPA, which was damn good! Beer in hand, I attempted to find a spot through the large, albeit older and hairy crowd to watch Barbara Manning’s set.

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To be honest, I wasn’t familiar at all with Barbara Manning or her music, so I really don’t have much to say about her set. There was a pretty large crowd gathered in front of a stage that consisted of just her and a guitar. People seemed to love it, and there was some banter between songs, which caused a few chuckles, but I just couldn’t get into her music, so I drank my beer and tried to enjoy myself.

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Next, the reason people were celebrating this night, Jon Bernhardt came onto the stage and started to play “Video Killed the Radio Star” on a theremin, but something went wrong. After a restart and some encouragement from the audience, he finished out the song. I made my way back to the bar for a Notch Session Ale, which wasn’t too bad, but I preferred the Rebel IPA. Up next was Dump.

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Dump is a solo project of Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew. It was just him, a guitar, and a weird looking box for the whole set, which also didn’t seem to have any breaks between the songs. Granted, I was not familiar with his stuff either (although I am a fan of Yo La Tengo), but at times the music got kind of droney and used loops, which I kind of got into.

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I went for my third and final beer of the night, another Sam Adams Rebel IPA and found a good spot to watch the Bevis Frond. Jon Bernhardt came out to play another song, The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” on the theremin, which sounded pretty awesome! The Bevis Frond finally came on to the stage and played a pretty mellow at first, semi acoustic set that seemed to get progressively better as the night went on, with moments of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t an entirely bad night of music, and perhaps I’m being unfair due to other circumstances, but I just wasn’t that into it by the time the show rolled around, although I did manage to come around once the Bevis Frond started playing.

Here area a few videos I took of The Bevis Frond (I had a little bit of audio issues with my camera):

The Boston Calling Fall Lineup Has Been Announced!

The Boston Calling music festival returns again this fall with a pretty decent lineup! The fall lineup always seems to be a little better than the spring one. The most surprising thing is the recently reunited Replacements, but I don’t get why they have The National…again (probably something to do with The National’s Aaron Dessner being a co-curator).

The festival takes place from September 5-7 in Boston’s City Hall Plaza, which is extremely easy to get to . Pre-sale 3 day passes are on sale now.

The lineup:

The National
Lorde
The Replacements
Nas with The Roots
Neutral Milk Hotel
Childish Gambino
Spoon
Girl Talk
The 1975
Volcano Choir
Twenty One Pilots
The War on Drugs
The Hold Steady
Lake Street Dive
Bleachers
White Denim
Sky Ferreira
Future Islands
San Fermin
S. Carey
Clifflight
Gentlemen Hall

The 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble Dates and Lineup Announced

The dates and nightly lineup for the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble have been announced and it looks like another good year for the Rumble. I’m going to try and get out to at least a few of the nights, since I have a couple of favorites playing (but I’ll keep that info to myself). Good luck to all of the bands playing this year!

The whole thing goes down at TT the Bear’s in Cambridge and tickets are on sale now.

The 2014 lineup:

Night 1 – Sunday, April 6 Facebook event page

7:00pm – Opening night reception
9:00 – Rebuilder
9:45 – tigerman WOAH!
10:30 – Sinnet
11:15 – Guillermo Sexo

Night 2 – Monday, April 7 Facebook event page

9:00 – Doom Lover
9:45 – When Particles Collide
10:30 – Goddamn Draculas
11:15 – Emma Ate The Lion

Night 3 – Tuesday, April 8 Facebook event page

9:00 – Barricades
9:45 – Airport
10:30 – Z*L
11:15 – The Life Electric

Off Wednesday for rest.

Night 4 – Thursday, April 10 Facebook event page

9:30 – Butterknife
10:15 – Slowdim
11:00 – Gondoliers
11:45 – Western Education

Night 5 – Friday, April 11 Facebook event page

9:30 – FEINTS
10:15 – Petty Morals
11:00 – Summoner
11:45 – Vary Lumar

Night 6 – Saturday, April 12 Facebook event page

9:30 – Harris Hawk
10:15 – Await Rescue
11:00 – The Color and Sound
11:45 – Yellabird


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