Review: Flavor Crystals, Chui Wan, Magic Shoppe at Club Bohemia 5-14-2015

I was still getting over a cold or allergies or the plague from being in Austin for the last week, but I really wanted to see this show. So, despite my nagging cough, I took a short ride on the T to Central Square and the Cantab Lounge, which has a basement space known as Club Bohemia. This was my first time at Club Bohemia and man, is this room small. It kind of felt like I was in someone’s basement for a house show or something. I had gotten there too late to see Guillermo Sexo, but Flavor Crystals had just gone on as I arrived, so I grabbed a Long Trail IPA and found a spot close to the stage.

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Flavor Crystals

Minneapolis’ Flavor Crystals are a band I first saw in Austin at the kickoff party for Austin Psych Fest in 2013. With a shoegaze, bordering on space rock sound, the band seemed to be having a great time playing. Singer/guitarist Josh Richardson was really getting into it moving all over the stage. It’s great when you can just tell a band loves playing and doesn’t want to stop and I didn’t want them to stop.

I ordered another Long Trail IPA and ran into a coworker who was at the show. We chatted for a bit as Chui Wan were getting ready to go on.

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Chui Wan

I just saw Chui Wan a few days ago at Levitation 2015 (aka Austin Psych Fest) and they played an amazing set there. It was even cooler seeing them play this very small room though. This band from Beijing has been getting a lot of buzz lately and rightfully so. Their shows are absolutely amazing, ranging from experimental, drone, and psychedelia, using everything from drum pads, keyboards, and even a violin at times. There was a pretty good size crowd, that mostly cleared out after their set.

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Magic Shoppe

Magic Shoppe were up next. They were down a guitar player so their set was kind of short, but they still rocked through their psychedelic tinged rock set. Man they were fun!

I was still on a high from being in Austin, and this was my 6th show in 9 days, so it was really cool to keep that going. I had a lot of fun on this night and even chatted with Josh from Flavor Crystals for a while (as well as picked up a t-shirt) before heading out to catch one of the last trains of the night.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 3 5-04-2014

It’s the final day of the Austin Psych Fest and my dust filled lungs are killing me, but it’s still not as bad as last years terrible allergies that had me leaving Austin with a severe 2 week case of laryngitis. I was in no rush to get to the festival as there wasn’t really anyone I wanted to see until around 5pm, so I killed time at the nearby Starbucks (which has a great view of the Austin skyline) for a while. I finally made my way to the shuttle stop where there were a few others waiting and we chatted about the bands from the previous two days. The shuttle ride was awesome with the driver blasting the Stone Roses and the Warlocks amongst others, which included a sing along by those of us on the bus. It was a fun way to bond with some other fans!

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Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

I got to the festival just in time to catch the last two songs from shoegazers Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, who were playing to an overflow of people at the tent. These guys were really good and I wished I had caught more of their set.

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Christian Bland and the Revelators

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Kikagaku Moyo

From there, I went over to check out the Reverberation Stage where Christian Bland and the Revelators were playing. The sun was a little too bright and beating down on me, so I made my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater and watched Kikagaku Moyo for a bit. They featured a guy jamming on a sitar and the music was pretty trippy.

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Secret Colours

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Toy

I went back to the Levitation Tent and to see Secret Colours for a little while, then wandered around with yet another drink until Toy went on. I wasn’t familiar with them before the festival, but I wanted to check them out based on a conversation I had with some people on the shuttle the day before, and I was glad I did! These guys (and girl) absolutely blew away everyone in the tent and for me, it was the best set of the day, perhaps the weekend. I also managed to get a setlist, but couldn’t find any members to sign it. Either way, I’ll end up framing it with a vinyl copy of their newest album Join The Dots. My night was made!

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Sleepy Sun

As I left the tent, Mikal Cronin was playing on the main stage and I stayed for a couple of songs, but I really wanted to see Sleepy Sun down at the river stage. Sleepy Sun were kind of trippy and loud, with really cool visuals projected onto the trees across the river behind them. There was definitely an awesome atmosphere going on down there.

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Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band

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The War On Drugs

I went back to the tent to catch Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio’s other project, Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band. Although I’m not too into TV On The Radio, I was really feeling their hypnotic sound, which in turn, created a mood that fit in with the night. After they finished their set, I went over to the main stage to see The War On Drugs. These guys killed it, with a very Pink Floyd sound at times. I really enjoyed this set.

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Bo Ningen

I made my way back to the tent and stumbled on Japanese noise-psych band, Bo Ningen. They made a *lot* of noise, including an 18 minute jam that blew everyone away with it’s screeching loudness. It was a pretty cool experience and I don’t think anyone was disappointed with what they just witnessed. By the time Bo Ningen were done, Loop had taken the main stage. A lot of people I chatted with over the weekend were looking forward to this band. I caught a couple of songs then called it a night since I was getting tired. Even though it was killing me to leave, I made my way back to the shuttle stop for the last time of Austin Psych Fest 7.

This was by far the best time I have ever had at a festival. I loved every single minute of it (and yes…even the choking dust)! It was 4 days of good food, friendly people, and some really amazing bands. I am already looking forward to going back in 2015 for Austin Psych Fest 8!

Here are a few random shots from around the festival grounds, enjoy!

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Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 2 5-03-2014

After a few hours of sleep and a trip to the Starbucks next door for some much needed caffeine, I left a little later than planned for the second day of Austin Pysch Fest. I went over to the shuttle pickup spot and ended up chatting with a few people which was fun. Once we arrived at Carson Creek Ranch, Austin’s own Pure X were playing on the main stage.

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Pure X

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This guy had a pretty sweet Pee-wee Herman patch at Pure X’s set

Pure X were one of the bands I really wanted to see and they did not disappoint with their slow and hazy sound on the Reverberation Stage. There was a fairly small crowd trying to huddle in the shadow of the stage to escape the bright sun.

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Zombie Zombie

Next, I caught Zombie Zombie in the Levitation Tent. The band consisted of 2 drummers and a guy playing some synths. They were pretty experimental sounding, reminding me of some of the bands I used to see in Providence at AS220. After their set, I went over to get a Sailor Jerry and ginger brew, which was pretty damn refreshing on this very hot day.

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Jacco Gardner

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Morgan Delt

Jacco Gardner was playing down at the Elevation Amphitheater. I stuck around for his mellow set for a few minutes before moving on. I ended up back at the main stage for a while to see Morgan Delt. There was lots of reverb and it was pretty good.

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Bardo Pond

Back down to the river where I grabbed another drink and relaxed for a bit as I waited for Bardo Pond to go on. There was a flute being played along with the slow, droney indie rock sounds, which the really big crowd was loving. A lot of people in hammocks down by the river seemed to be chilling out and enjoying the atmosphere of music, water, and shade.

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Bombino

At this point, my phone needed to be charged (damn you iPhone and your constant battery drain!) so I hit up the only open spot for a 30 pin connector on the solar charging station. I have to say that if it takes 30 minutes for a phone to be charged 3%, the technology isn’t going to catch on. Phone went back to airplane mode for most of the rest of the day. While chatting with others waiting for their phones to charge, I saw most of Bombino’s pretty loud and blues rock set.

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Octopus Project

I gave up on the charger and made my way over to the tent to get out of the setting, but still bright sun for a while. A band called Octopus Project were playing to a huge crowd that overflowed out of the tent, probably because they were also from Austin. They had an electronic sound with really heavy bass. It was awesome!

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Temples

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Mono

Next were Temples on the Reverberation Stage, where a huge crowd had gathered. I wasn’t really feeling it too much, so I went to see what was going on in the tent. Mono was playing to a very small and intimate crowd, probably due to Temples being on the other stage. Mono’s music was very cinematic that would get noisy at times. I was really digging it.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

From there, back to the main stage where Unknown Mortal Orchestra were now playing. I made my way up front and got super close to the stage, so close in fact that the bass was literally shaking my clothes. At one point there was a crazy sort of drum solo and the band totally killed it. This was for me an unexpected and very enjoyable set, especially since I wasn’t all that familiar with their stuff.

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Medicine

I had almost forgotten that Medicine were playing, so I went back to the tent. This band is probably best known for the song “Time Baby III” from The Crow soundtrack as well as an appearance in that film. They sounded great and had more than a few diehard fans in the audience. At one point the band was told that they had to end their set and called it bullshit, but with the crowd chanting “one more song!”, they came back out and did one more. The band seemed genuinely pissed off that they had to stop playing, especially since they really seemed to be having a good time on stage, which was evident by singer Beth Thompson’s non stop dancing.

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Acid Mothers Temple selling their merch

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Acid Mothers Temple

Back to the river stage where Acid Mothers Temple were busy lighting their instruments on fire and sounding amazing. Playing in near darkness with just a hint of blue lighting and cool projections on the trees behind them, the band was creating a frenzy of noise. This was simply amazing and they may have won the night because of the cool ass fire on the guitar and cymbals. These guys also get mad props for being real and selling their merch old school out of trunks while taking pictures with fans. Admittedly I couldn’t get into them last year when they played in the tent, but maybe it was the atmosphere down at the river this year that seemed more fitting. Either way, I loved it!

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks were playing in the tent. The people who were there seemed really into them, and they were ok, just not my thing. From there I went over to the main stage for the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

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The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre were on the main stage. I stuck around for a couple of songs then decided to call it a night as I was getting tired and a few days of alcohol, junky food, dust, and lack of sleep were beginning to catch up to me. Once again, the shuttles were a clusterfuck. You’d think that they would have it figured out by now, but that might be asking too much. Two downtown shuttles came buy as a large group of us still waited for a hotel shuttle. People were really getting pissed off about this. When it finally arrived, people calmed down and were just happy to be able to go back to their hotels and/or the nearby Waffle House. Now, to try to get some sleep before the 3rd and final day.

Austin Psych Fest 2014 – Day 1 5-02-2014

Austin Psych Fest 7 Sign

I didn’t get much sleep but I was ready for the first day of Austin Psych Fest! This is my second year going and it’s a little easier since I have a better idea of what to expect. The new shuttle bus stop was located about a block from my hotel, between the Hampton Inn and Microtel. I ended up chatting with a couple of people who were also waiting and found out that we had missed the shuttle by 5 minutes. About 25 minutes later the bus finally arrived to pick up the now sizable crowd and take us to Carson Creek Ranch. I always love this part, because everyone is excited, very friendly, and talkative (this would never happen in Boston).

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

We finally arrived at Carson Creek Ranch where there was a bit of a line to get in, but once through the gates, the layout was pretty much the same as last year, with the exception of a fenced off area on the side of the main stage for those who opted for the deluxe ticket upgrade. Honestly, I didn’t see anything that made it worth $100 extra other than maybe nicer bathrooms. As I walked by the main stage, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were playing and I watched them for a couple of songs before making my way down to the Elevation Amphitheater to see Quilt.

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Quilt

Quilt are a band from Boston, that strangely, I haven’t had a chance to see yet, but today I did and they were great! They played a pretty mellow indie rock set that went nicely with the afternoon and the river behind them. By the end of their set, I was pretty hungry, so I found some food in the form of pulled pork on Texas toast which was amazing!

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Terakaft

While eating, a guy sitting across me and a new friend was telling us about Terakaft, so we made our way down to the river stage to see them. This band is from Mali, Africa. It is hard not to draw comparisons to last year’s Psych Fest headliners Tinariwen. Their sound is similar with Middle Eastern influences. A lot of people walked away impressed.

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Aqua Nebula Oscillator

I made my way over to the Elevation Tent for the first time of the day and caught Aqua Nebula Oscillator. who were playing some crazy music.

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Graveyard

From there, I went back to the main stage to see Graveyard, who had a bluesy, psych rock sound. I was really liking this band and it seemed a lot of other people did too, since I heard a lot of talking about these guys and how much they enjoyed them.

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White Hills

I went back to the Levitation Tent and watched White Hills. They were really awesome psych rock and had a pretty good sized crowd in the tent to see them.

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Black Lips

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Peaking Lights

As the sun was going down, the Black Lips were on the Reverberation Stage. I really like these guys, but wasn’t really feeling it at this point, so I wandered around some more. I ended up at the really dark Elevation Amphitheater to watch Peaking Lights‘s really, really visual set. By that, I mean the images projected onto the trees behind the stage were really cool and trippy. This is always one of the best places to be at night.

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Kadavar

I made my way back to the Levitation Tent for Kadavar, who totally blew me and the rest of the large crowd away! In fact, this was probably one of the best sets of the day. Everyone (including a random guy in front of me at the Frank’s Hot Dogs stand) were talking about them. Kadavar were like hair metal with a tinge of the psych sound. They completely rocked the tent!

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The Zombies

I grabbed what would be my first beer of the day (after multiple vodka based drinks with names that were embarrassing to say out loud), a Newcastle Brown and waited near the main stage for this year’s classic psych band…The Zombies. The Zombies sounded really tight and lead singer Colin Blunstone’s voice sounded practically the same as it did in the 60’s. They did “Time of the Season” and ended with “She’s Not There”, both of which sounded great through the loud sound system! Their set seemed kind of short though.

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La Femme

I went back to the tent because I wanted to see La Femme, who were already playing. This French band completely had the crowd sucked in with a very high energy set. Lots of dancing on stage, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. One band member handed the keyboard to the crowd then proceeded to stand on it, surfing through the crowd. This band’s live show is really something to see! Another of my favorite sets of the day.

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The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols were on next. Despite multiple attempts in the past, I never had a chance to see them live, but now I have and they were amazing! At one point, Anton Newcombe and Matt from Brian Jonestown Massacre came out to sing “Oh Lord“. This totally surprised the crowd (and if you have ever seen the Dig! documentary, you know why). I was totally blown away!

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Brown Sabbath

I went back to the tent to see Brown Sabbath, who are actually a Latin band from Austin called Brownout, who did some funky Black Sabbath covers. They were a last minute replacement for Oneohtrix Point Never, who had to cancel due to an injury. Songs like “Warpigs” and “Iron Man”sounded really cool all funked out with a horn section that had the crowd dancing and it was amazing!

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels were on next and I caught a little bit of their set. but It had been a very long day. I left during their set to catch the shuttle back to the hotel for some much needed sleep and to take on day 2!

Review: Austin Psych Fest 7 Kickoff at The Mohawk in Austin 5-01-2014

After attempting to go to bed early and not getting any sleep due to being excited for the trip to Austin, I got up at 3:30am to catch a (delayed) flight from Boston for my second year of going to the Austin Psych Fest. I arrived in Austin around noon, grabbed my luggage, and caught the hotel shuttle to the Courtyard Marriott near the airport, which is convenient for taking the festival shuttle during the weekend. Once settled, I went over to a place I discovered last year called Javi’s Best of Tex Mex in the plaza next door for some much needed food which was delicious! Back to my room for a short nap before heading to downtown Austin.

Javi's Tex Mex

Javi’s Tex Mex

Freshly showered, I took the hotel airport courtesy shuttle back to the airport to catch a bus into downtown Austin, since it seemed like a pain to figure out how to transfer on the only bus that does go near the hotel. I got off at 4th and Congress and walked down to Empire Automotive on 7th, where there was a pretty long line already, to pick up my festival wristband (which also gets you into the kick off show at the Mohawk, unless you opted for the “deluxe” festival pass that also gets you into Red 7, where there was a really long line). From there, I walked around the area a bit, then went over to the Mohawk, where it was really crowded. I probably should have left earlier. That place has such a crazy layout, with multiple levels outside but a very small and cramped inside stage.

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Elephant Stone

Elephant Stone were already playing on the outside stage. This was one of my favorite bands from last year’s festival and I was happy to see them again. They were playing some new stuff, which they said would be out in September and it all sounded good. At this point, I needed a beer, so I headed up to the 3rd level bar and tried something called Firemans #4 Ale, which was really good. I made my way back down to the first floor while Night Beats were getting set up.

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The line to get into the Mohawk

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Outside stage viewing areas

I decided I should probably get some earplugs since I left mine back home in Boston. I asked one of the many bearded bartenders about earplugs and after being given a funny look, was told they don’t sell them there. Seriously? This place is really loud. I went ahead and ordered another drink based on a sign hanging up behind the bar, which was Sailor Jerry mixed with ginger brew and Dos Equis. This turned out to be a pretty potent combination that really kicked my ass. At this point, I was trying to avoid all of the smokers (and there are a LOT of them in Austin) so that I don’t come down with laryngitis like I did last year. I went upstairs and had a nice viewing spot that allowed me to see the stage as well as the now very long line to get in.

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Night Beats

Night Beats went on and absolutely killed it! They played very loud set of what seemed to be a cross between psych and garage rock, which got more than a few people to mosh and crowd surf. This set was very energetic and insane!

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People crowdsurfing

I finished my 3rd beer which was another Firemans #4, then left the Mohawk since it was too crowded at the inside stage, so I set out to find some much needed food. I couldn’t find anything that was portable enough to bring back to my hotel, so I managed to flag down a cab, which only took about 10 minutes compared to 2 1/2 hours last year. The driver got lost getting me back to the hotel and asked me to look up the address. Austin really needs Uber or Lyft or some alternative to their terrible taxis. $33 later, I was back in my room with a couple of slices of 7-11 pizza, which sounded like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight, wasn’t. Now, to get some much needed sleep before Psych Fest officially starts tomorrow.

Review: Atlantic Thrills, Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion, Doug Tuttle, The Barbazons at the Middle East Up 4-24-2015

There were a lot of options for shows to see in Boston on this night, but I was really looking forward to this one, because it featured some really great local bands, plus having seen all of these bands before, I knew it was going to be a fun night. It as an incredibly fast ride to Central Square, especially for a day where the T was free. There was a pretty good crowd inside of the Middle East Upstairs, and the Atlantic Thrills were already playing.

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Atlantic Thrills

I first saw the Atlantic Thrills at AS220’s Foo Fest in Providence a couple of years ago, where there was an insane mosh pit during their set. Tonight wasn’t quite as crazy (although the guy in front of me was dancing spastically), but their garage rock sound was a good way to kick off the night.

It was time for a much needed beer, so I went with whatever the interesting looking tap at the bar was, which turned out to be Hopponius Union from Jack’s Abby. Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion were setting up.

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Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion

Beware the Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion launched right into their frantic surf rock and the energy never stopped. With their faces hidden with bandanas and wearing scorpion t shirts, they totally killed it. These guys are always fun to see live.

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Doug Tuttle

I liked the first beer so much, that I ordered a second one as Doug Tuttle were going on. They had an unusual set up that featured the drummer close to the front of the stage.There were a few new songs that I was really liking. I had previously seen Doug Tuttle at Fuzzstival last year and the more I listen to them, the more I’ve really gotten into their psych rock goodness! They have really grown on me in the last few months.

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The Barbazons

I have seen The Babarzons several times now…what’s left to say that I haven’t already? Since this was a record release party for their new LP Avec Plaisir (I highly recommend picking this album up, it’s really good!), they played some new songs from it which were full of garage rock goodness! The crowd was really into it, turning the show into a fun dance party.

It was a really fun night of local music and you seriously can’t go wrong with any of these bands. As I was perusing the merch table, one of the guys from Atlantic Thrills handed me a sticker. Since I had skipped dinner, a quest for food was in order. The now defunct HiFi Pizza has become a 24 hour Clover restaurant. Nothing against them, but the last thing I want at 1am is vegetarian food. I ended up at Mass Chicken since my usual spot had a line out the door. I ended the night with a much needed chicken cheese steak wrap with a side of cheese steak fries that totally hit the spot!

Review: Honeyblood, Belle and Sebastian at the House of Blues 3-30-2015

With this show happening on a workday, I got a late start due to trying to take a nap before the show. After switching from the Red Line to the Green Line to Kenmore, I met up with some friends and we were off to the House of Blues to see Belle and Sebastian. Once through the door, we were directed all the way to the top of the venue…like as high as one can possibly get, but not before grabbing some beers first. I started out with a (very overpriced can) of Goose Island IPA, which wasn’t bad. As we waited at the bar, we had a pretty good view of Honeyblood, who were already well into their set.

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Honeyblood

Honeyblood, are a duo from Glasgow, Scotland, with one member on guitar and the other playing drums. These two ladies seemed to be dwarfed by the large stage. We only caught the last 3 songs, but we were liking their garage, indie rock sound. After they were done, we were off to find our seats. These seats seemed to be in what could be considered the “over 40” section, with much of the crowd around us being well over 40 (and obnoxiously loud…which was kind of strange). One more run for another Goose Island IPA before Belle and Sebastian came out for the first show of their North American tour.

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Belle and Sebastian

As Belle and Sebastian, of which there were many members, came out to take their places on stage, the crowd was cheering and clapping. The band started out with the light sounding “Nobody’s Empire” from their new album “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance”. From there, it was a mix of old and new songs including the danceable “The Party Line” (my favorite song off of the new album) and into “Dirty Dream Number Two”. Towards the end of the night, they let people come on stage and dance during “The Boy with the Arab Strap”, which I’m sure was the highlight of more than a few fans year.

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Belle and Sebastian

The band came back and played a couple more songs for the encore, ending with “Judy and the Dream of Horses”, before thanking a very happy and excited crowd that didn’t want it to end. As my friends headed back to Providence, I took at detour because ya know, Tasty Burger. This was a really fun night, with lots of strange characters around us, but it was good to see Belle and Sebastian again.


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