Review: Beach Toys, Sun Voyager, Midriffs, The Televibes at the Middle East Upstairs 3-18-2016

After a faster than expected drive to Alewife to catch the Red Line train to Central Square, I was at the Middle East Upstairs for what could only be called a damn good lineup! Beach Toys had just started when I arrived, so I found a spot amongst the decent sized crowd to watch their set.

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Beach Toys

With only drums, bass, and an organ, Cambridge based Beach Toys had a psych-surf-groove kind of thing going. It was a good start to the night.

As Sun Voyager were getting set up, I ordered my new favorite beer…Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union.

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Sun Voyager

The first thing I noticed about Brooklyn’s Sun Voyager, was how much singer Carlos Francisco looked like the guy who used to live downstairs from me. But that was soon forgotten when the band started playing because I was totally memorized! Completely soaking the crowd in reverb and psychedelic garage sounds, they made more than a few new fans and were my favorite band of the night.

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The Midriffs

Next were lo-fi punk/garage rockers The Midriffs whose thrashy sounds had people moving. That was a fun set!

I had another Hoponius Union and wandered around a bit as The Televibes were getting set up.

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The Televibes

This was originally supposed to be a “farewell to Boston” show as The Televibes were going to relocate to my beloved Austin, but I guess things change (in a weird coincidence, I might not be moving there either…damn you high rents and low paying jobs!). Perhaps this could be called a “we’re staying in Boston” show instead. The band played a very high energy set that had the crowd dancing nearly the whole time. They even brought up a guy named Pete to dance during “Asyd” (video above) and his energy was not lost on a crowd that followed his lead. I saw this dude do the same thing at Fuzzstival last year and it makes for a fun set.

I had a really fun time at this show and was totally blown away by Sun Voyager, but really all of the bands were great! You can’t go wrong with seeing any of them.

Review: HÆLOS, Radclyffe Hall at the Middle East Upstairs 4-1-2016

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I rushed through my usual after work workout in record time in order to try and get to the Middle East Upstairs before the first band went on. After getting stuck in a lot of traffic and a few other annoyances, I finally made it to Central Square where Radclyffe Hall were already well into their set.

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Radclyffe Hall

I first saw Radclyffe Hall when they played the Boston En Mass festival last year and thought they were great! With synthesizers on each side of the stage and 2 drummers in the middle all angled towards the audience, they were well into their set of dark synth music. I only caught their last three songs and I was kind of bummed to miss the full set because they were really good.

It was time for a drink, so I ordered a Hoponius Union as HÆLOS were getting set up. I expected a larger, if not sold out crowd since there was a lot of buzz about this band, but maybe it was due to competition from a lot of other shows on this night. But there was a pretty decent amount of people, so it was all good.

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HÆLOS

HÆLOS started out with the first track from their new album “Full Circle” called “Intro/Spectrum”, which and things only got better from there when they went into “Pray”. Seriously, from the moment they started playing, I was in love. With six members on stage, they had a hazy, ethereal sound that was definitely influenced by the 90’s trip hop scene. Singers Lotti Bernardout and Arthur Delaney seemed to play off of each other very well, with contrasting boy/girl vocals on many of the songs. If I had any complaints at all it would be that this was a really short set that lasted around 45 minutes or so, although I could have watched them for another 45. This was probably due to them not having many songs just yet.

There was no question about me picking up their first full length CD called “Full Circle”. After the show, I talked a little bit with Arthur Delaney, who was really cool. In fact, all of the band members seemed happy to sign the albums and CD’s they were selling while chatting and taking pictures with the crowd. I can’t wait to seem them again at Lollapalooza this summer and hopefully they will play one of the after parties at the Hard Rock or Virgin Hotels.

Since the show ended so early, like, before 9pm, I made plans to meet up with a friend at the Foundry On Elm in Davis Square for some much needed food and drinks. The food was amazing, the beer was good, and the company was great. This was seriously one of the best nights I’ve had out in a while, and there definitely needs to be more nights like this soon.

Review: Mac Sabbath, White Dynomite, The Humanoids at the Middle East 3-22-2016

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There was a lot of hype surrounding this show from the moment it was announced a few months ago. It sold out pretty quick, but I managed to get a ticket after the Middle East released a few extras on the day of the show. I made my way to Central Square as usual, for what should be an awesome if not strange night of music. Despite getting to the Middle East downstairs pretty early, there was already a pretty big crowd waiting for the first band of the night to go on.

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The Humanoids

Boston’s The Humanoids were up first. These guys had were straight up punk metal and it was great! They had quite a few fans that made their way to front of the stage, singing along with every song. This was a really great way to start the night.

In between sets, I ordered my usual Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union and wandered around a bit before White Dynomite went on.

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White Dynomite

Dressed in white suits as if they just played a wedding or birthday party, White Dynomite took the stage and brought the energy level in the room to 11! The only way I could describe their sound is funk metal, which in turn, had the crowd moving non stop through the whole set. They reminded me a little bit of The Vines. They were really fun and seemed to be having a good time playing to a full house that was ready to party.

As I grabbed one more Hoponius Union, a curtain hid the stage as the night’s headliners, Mac Sabbath were getting set up. A few people were really got into the spirit of the night, such as someone dressed as Colonel Sanders and another person wearing a Burger King crown along with a lot of seemingly older metal heads in jean jackets covered in patches.

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Mac Sabbath

Sure, the idea of a Black Sabbath cover band dressed as freaky satanic McDonald’s characters is a gimmick, but it’s a fun gimmick that was done very well! They started out behind a curtain as the beginnings of a version of “War Pigs” called “More Ribs” began and immediately had the full attention of the sold out crowd as singer Ronald Osbourne (I see what you did there!) escaped from a straitjacket. With what sounded like a parody of Ozzy, there were lots of stories and jokes in between the songs. Other songs had titles such as “Cherries Are Fruits” (Fairies Wear Boots) and “Frying Pan” (Iron Man) and they ended with “Pair a Buns” (Paranoid). People were starting to filter out a little early to catch the T since it was a weeknight, but there was still a decent amount of people at the end of the show.

This was a strange but very fun night of music and all of the bands totally rocked. If you didn’t leave this show with a smile on your face, then you don’t know how to have a good time. Upon entering Central T stop, there was a broken train attempting to pull into the station and a very unhappy group of passengers waiting to get back home. One good thing to come out of that kind of experience is that you make new friends pretty quickly, and about 45 minutes later, I was on my way home after a pretty awesome night. 

Lollapalooza announces 25th Anniversary lineup!

Lollapalooza 2016 poster

Lollapalooza 2016 also happens to be the festival’s 25th anniversary and it has expanded to 4 days this year in honor of that achievement. The Lolla 2016 lineup came out this morning and with something like 170 bands, there’s a lot to go through. Headlining bands include Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers (again…ugh!), and LCD Soundsystem, who I’m really looking forward to finally seeing. There is a pretty good undercard with a lot of bands I’ve wanted to see but for some reason, never have or wouldn’t mind seeing again. These include Wavves, Alessia Cara, Foals, Saint Motel, Wolf Alice, Grimes, St. Lucia, Chairlift, Haim, Zhu, and Third Eye Blind…yes, that band. The Sunday lineup seems to be the best day, at least for me. I have already booked a room at the Virgin Hotel, which is supposed to be pretty cool, plus I needed a change from the Hard Rock after last year’s not-so-great experience. One thing to consider is the after parties, which, if you can get in, are my favorite thing about Lollapalooza weekend and I’m looking forward to hitting some of those up as well.

4 day passes went on sale yesterday and are sold out, but single day tickets are on sale now for $120 per day.

First bands announced for Desert Stars Festival 2016

The Desert Stars Festival, now in it’s 9th year, has announced their initial 2016 lineup and so far, it’s a good one with Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh headlining. The festival takes place at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, located near Joshua Tree National Park. Other bands announced are Magic Wands, Tennis System, Winter, and one of my personal favorites…Ancient River. I’m giving some serious thought to going this year, but I’ll have to wait until the date is a little closer to make that decision.

The festival takes place from 9/23/16 – 9/24/16 and early bird weekend passes are on sale now for $100 and single days are $65.

The Desert Stars Festival 2016 lineup so far:

Dinosaur Jr.
Sebadoh
Moon Duo
Kurt Heasley of Lilys
Magic Wands
Tennis System
Highlands
Cellar Doors
Ancient River
Blood Candy
Band Aparte
Annie Girl and The Flight
Down Dirty Shake
Winter

Review: Secret Lover, Honduras, Sunflower Bean at the Middle East Upstairs 2-27-2016

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There were a lot of good shows on this night, so it was tough to decide where to go. I ended up at the Middle East upstairs for an early show featuring Secret Lover, Honduras, and Sunflower Bean. Secret Lover had just gone on when I got there.

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Secret Lover

Worcester’s Secret Lover are a band that I first saw last year and really liked. With singer Sally Horowitz moving around all around the stage singing somewhat dark songs of love and breakups amongst other things, they played a really good set to kick off the night.

As I waited for Honduras to go on, I ordered a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union from the bar, which as usual, was delicious.

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Honduras

Honduras are a four piece from Brooklyn and they played an energetic set of fuzzy indie rock. I ended up really liking these guys a lot.

One more Hoponius Union, which has become my new “go-to” beer when I’m out, as I waited for Sunflower Bean to take the stage.

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Sunflower Bean

I don’t know if this show was sold out, but it sure felt like it by the time Sunflower Bean took the stage because the Upstairs was completely filled with people. There is a lot of hype about this Brooklyn trio, partly because the members are all under 21 and sound like they have been playing for years, but mostly because they are really fucking good! Tearing through a set of rock that seemed to cross a lot of genres ranging from psych to dream pop to a bit of noise rock that would have made Sonic Youth proud, the band absolutely killed it. At one point, singer/bassist Julia Cumming jumped down into the crowd while still playing, which was really cool! They even played a new song that isn’t available anywhere. After their set, there was a long line at their merch table where I saw more than a few people with the vinyl version of their newest album “Human Ceremony“, which I also recommend. The band also posed for pictures and chatted with fans, which was really cool too.

This night of music went beyond my expectations and I’m glad I went. All three bands were great. I picked up Honduras new EP called “Gathering Rust”, which can be preordered on their Bandcamp site but doesn’t ship until April, so it was nice to have a preview of this very excellent CD. I ended the night by stopping through Harvard Square for a Big Tasty at Tasty Burger, then made my way home for some much needed sleep.

Review: St. Lucia, Tigertown at Royale Boston 2-17-2016

It feels kind of weird to take the T all the way into Boston since I mostly see shows Central Square and the shorter rides have spoiled me. It wasn’t a bad ride though and we got to Royale pretty fast. There are two reasons why I try not to go to Royale for shows, one is the mens bathroom (hey, I drink, I gotta pee) which offers no privacy, and two, the drinks are insanely priced. That being said, it was a St. Lucia show and they are always worth seeing, no matter what.

Although the line to get in was long, it moved quickly and once inside, we were greeted by tables of swag from WERS which I had to pass on since I didn’t really want to carry a t-shirt and other goodies during the show.

Once we got into the main room, the slightly raised dance floor area was completely packed with people, so there was no way to get close to the stage. We waited off to the side, conveniently near one of the bars and were able to get a good view from there to see Tigertown. I started with a Goose IPA which was ok, but beer in a can…meh.

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Tigertown

Tigertown who come from Sydney, Australia, are the opening band on this tour. They played fun synth pop that had the sold out crowd dancing practically the whole time! Although I wasn’t familiar with them, I really enjoyed their set and they were a good opener for St. Lucia!

In between sets I discovered the bathrooms on the other side of the club and they were soo much better! Royale has redeemed themselves! There was also a little stand nearby with a lady selling Harpoon beers on tap, so naturally I got a UFO White while waiting for St. Lucia.

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St. Lucia

This was my third time seeing Brooklyn based St. Lucia, who came out to a roaring crowd and took it all in for a moment. The band went right into “Rescue Me” from their new album, “Matter”, which just came out a few weeks ago and is pretty good. With air blowing lead singer Jean-Philip Grobler’s hair straight up, almost as if it were the wind, it was almost as if you were on the breezy tropical island that their music invokes. A good portion of the set consisted of songs from “Matter” with some older crowd favorites thrown in for good measure, which included two of my favorite St. Lucia songs “September” and as part of the encore they did “Elevate”, which you can’t help but dance to! It was the perfect song to end the show and everyone seemed to leave the venue with smiles on their faces. The only bummer for me personally was that they didn’t play “We Got It Wrong”, which was the song that made me love this band when I saw them in Chicago at a Lollapalooza after party a few years ago (of which, some things are still very hazy, but in a good way).

I was pretty hungry and picked up a delicious steak quesadilla from Maria’s Taqueria in the Theater District before heading home. St. Lucia always put on a fun show and I would highly recommend seeing them if you get the chance, trust me, you won’t regret it (unless you’re against dancing and having fun!).