Review: Belly at The Parlor in Newport, RI 7-09-2016

I drove down to Providence to pick up one of my best friends before heading to Newport for the second night of Belly’s hometown shows. We started out with some dinner and drinks at one of my favorite Newport restaurants, the Salvation Cafe. I had the short rib burger and a Foolproof Backyahd IPA (can you tell it’s a RI beer?) and she had the, always delicious pad thai. After dinner we walked the block or so over to The Parlor, where there was a decent sized crowd eagerly waiting for Belly to go on.

Once inside, you could actually feel the excitement in the air as people were chatting with each other and catching up with each other. Newport is a very small town and everyone knows everyone else, trust me on this. When Belly came out, their was thunderous applause and cheers and the band were all smiles while acknowledging this hometown crowd. I chose the wrong time to get a Brooklyn Lager, which to be honest, shouldn’t have taken the entirety of the first 3 songs for me to get. Either way, with my drink in hand, I tried to find a spot where I could see the band play.

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Belly

This was Belly’s first show in many years, although I swear I saw them somewhere once in the 90’s (Waterplace Park maybe?). It also served as a warmup show for their upcoming tour as well. Featuring a good mix songs, the majority being from the Star and King albums with a few new ones thrown as well. The band joked around and talked to people in the audience between songs. Bassist Gail Greenwood was very animated throughout the night and seemed to be having a great time. Before launching into what is by far their biggest hit, “Feed The Tree”, singer Tanya Donelly called the song their “bastard child”, which drew laughs from the crowd.

After a break, the band came back out and played a somewhat slower, more acoustic based set of music. They ended the night with “Thief” as the final song for an encore.

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Belly

After the show, they band hung around and talked to people, which only made sense as it seemed most people there new them personally. We decided to take off and get one more drink somewhere and ended up at Pour Judgement, which was a really cool little spot that had a band playing lots of older surf rock. This was a really fun night, especially with getting to catch up with a good friend, seeing some people I knew in my hometown, and of course Belly were great.

Belly 2016 tour dates:

Jul 28 The Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
Jul 31 Drais Beach Club Night Club – Las Vegas, NV
Aug 09 Royale Boston – Boston, MA
Aug 10 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
Aug 11 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
Aug 12 Royale Boston – Boston, MA
Aug 13 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
Aug 14 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
Aug 24 Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA
Aug 25 Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA
Aug 26 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
Aug 27 Revolution Hall – Portland, OR
Aug 28 Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA
Sep 17 Vic Theater – Chicago, IL
Sep 18 First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN

Review: Quilt, Widowspeak, Doug Tuttle at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA 6-24-2016

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After a much needed short nap, I made my way to The Sinclair in Harvard Square for this show, which I was really looking forward to. Once inside, I went straight to the bar for a Six Point Sweet Action beer and then made my way close to the stage. There wasn’t that big of a crowd just yet, so it was pretty easy to get up front as Doug Tuttle had just started playing.

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Doug Tuttle

I have seen Boston’s Doug Tuttle many times, but this seemed to be one of the mellowest sets I’ve seen them play. That’s not to say they didn’t rock, because they totally did and it was a good way to start the night. About half of the songs were from their latest album, It Calls On Me, which is pretty good. As the band ended with the chilled out “Turn This Love”, which morphs into a psychedelic feedback filled jam, the now bigger crowd erupted in cheers and applause. I never get tired of seeing that song played live.

Between bands, I went to the bar for another beer, this time around being a Wormtown Be Hoppy which was recommended to me and it was really good.

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Widowspeak

Keeping the mellow sounds going, Widowspeak, who are from Brooklyn, were the only band of the night not to have ties to the Boston area. With singer Molly Hamilton’s voice setting the tone of dreamy indie rock that never got too crazy, except for the part where guitarist Robert Earl Thomas started playing guitar behind his head, they held the attention of the crowd for nearly the whole set. This was a band that I have tried to see for a while now and I was not disappointed.

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Quilt

Previously having seen Quilt at Austin Psych Fest and Fuzztival (and they are playing it again this year), this was my third time seeing them and it might have been the best I have ever heard them sound. Playing a few songs that singer Anna Fox Rochinski said were about the Boston area, the band seemed to be having a great time on stage, even joking around at times. I ended up having to leave during the encore to make sure I didn’t miss one of the last trains back to Alewife.

This was a really good night of music that was more on the mellow side, and I had a pretty good time. After quick run through Tasty Burger for some food, I caught the train and made my way home.

Review: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult at the Middle East Downstairs 6-10-2016

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I really struggled with whether or not to go to this show. I used to really be into My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult in the 90’s when I went through a goth/industrial phase that…uhh…we won’t talk about. But there were some other good shows happening this night too (the Bearstronaut record release, amongst other things). Worried that I would stick out like a sore thumb because of the goth dance night that was taking place immediately after (which by the way, leads me to the “dress code” of goth/fetish/all black at those kinds of nights…really? 1, I’m too old for that shit, 2, why would I want to dress like and encourage a stereotype?, and 3, what if I just really enjoy the genre and want to go out somewhere to hear some music, meet some new people, and have a couple of beers? Don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasons, but still…Ok…rant over).

When I arrived at the Middle East Downstairs, there was a line stretching through the restaurant portion of the club, with a lot of people waiting to get in. There was no opener for this show and the band had already started while I was waiting in line. The people waiting around me were really friendly, which is at times, hard to find in Boston. Also, my fears of not being in some sort of goth-wear were alleviated when I noticed that most of the people there were dressed in regular clothes.

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My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

Once inside, the club was only about half full and I grabbed a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union to watch the band as they were already playing “Leathersex”. Thrill Kill Kult pretty much played a nonstop set. The crowd erupted into cheers every time one of the hits like “Sex on Wheelz”, “The Days of Swine and Roses”, and “Kooler Than Jesus” started. They left the stage for a few minutes and the crowd started chanting for more songs. There were loud cheers when they came back out and did an encore which seemed to be a little more on the electronic side of things.

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My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

This was an early show, with no opener, so it was over around 9:30pm. I thought about heading over to The Sinclair for the Bearstronaut show, but was kind of hungry, so I ended up Shake Shack in Harvard Square for some food that really hit the spot. Back on the T to Alewife and I was home by 11pm, which felt really strange. Either way, I had a really good time at the show and it was cool to see Thrill Kill Kult for the first time since the 90’s.

Review: Modern English, Shadow Age, The Milling Gowns at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA 6-7-2016

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Since this was an early show, I cut out of work a few minutes early so I could go home and change. I got to Alewife and took the train to Central Square and after a short walk, I was at the Middle East downstairs for a show I had been looking forward to all day. I started with a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union and got closer to the stage to see Boston’s own The Milling Gowns.

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The Milling Gowns

For one reason or another, I have never seen The Milling Gowns live before. I don’t know what took so long but I was loving this band. They were soo dark and moody, invoking Joy Division-esque sounds. With lead singer M. holding his head down at times, as the band played, there was a very cinematic element to their gloomy songs and it worked well. Gloom pop indeed.

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Shadow Age

To be honest, I didn’t know too much about Shadow Age, who are from Richmond, Virginia. Once they started playing, things got a little more rocking. It was hard to miss lead singer Aaron Tyree, who with a towering presence was front and center, moving around the stage as he wailed on the guitar. Their dark and moody post punk sound kept the tone of the night going.

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Modern English

From the moment Modern English (yes, that band) stepped on stage, they were all smiles as the crowd cheered loudly. With this being the last show of their Mesh & Lace tour, named after their 1981 debut album, things were probably a little looser and relaxed and you could tell they were genuinely having a good time.

Once Modern English started playing, I was surprised, in the best possible way, that most of their music was very different than their popular 80’s hit “I Melt With You”. Starting off the set with “Dance of Devotion”, with it’s pulsating guitars and singer Robbie Grey howling and convulsing around the stage, it was a good way to start off the show. The majority of songs were from the Mesh & Lace album and ranged from dark post punk to almost droning at times. Grey held the audience’s attention throughout the show with stories and banter between songs. After playing through their set, the band left the stage, only to come back out a few minutes later for an encore. They ended the night with as Grey called it “that one song”, of course referring to “I Melt With You“, which turned into a giant sing along and it was awesome!

This was an amazing night that far exceeded my expectations. All three bands were great and Modern English were really fun. I’d highly recommend seeing any of them if you get the chance.

Review: Magic Shoppe, Minibeast, DYR FASER, U4IA at Once Ballroom in Somerville, MA 5-28-2016

I was really looking forward to this show because it has been a while since I’ve seen Magic Shoppe play. Taking place at Once Ballroom in Somerville, it was my first time at this venue, which isn’t really T accessible, so that meant having to drive there. I was worried about finding someplace to park, but there was a pretty empty parking lot across the street. I paid, then went inside and was kind of surprised that Once Ballroom was a little bigger than pictures I’ve seen had led me to believe. I ordered a Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA then waited as U4IA were setting up.

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U4IA

U4IA is Tim, who also plays drums in Magic Shoppe. He was filling in for Portland’s S.S. Cretins after they were unable to make it to Somerville from Maine. I first saw U4IA at the Lilypad last year where he played solo and was surrounding by lots of electronics, but this time, there were a couple of people helping out. It was a pretty cool nearly 40 minute set of electronic music.

I ordered my usual Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union from the bar, but they only served it in cans, although I still prefer it on tap. DYR FASER were up next and I was really looking forward to seeing them.

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DYR FASER

DYR FASER is a band I have heard a lot about, but haven’t seen live until now. With drum machines and lots of reverb, frontman Eric Boomhower and Thalia Zedek created a darkly layered sound that was subtle and built up in intensity. I really got into this band and was happy to finally see them.

While waiting for Minibeast to go on, the guy standing next to me commented on how sticky the floor was (and believe me, it was!). When he lifted his foot up, it came right out of his shoe, which gave a few people around us a laugh.

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Minibeast

Minibeast are a 3 piece band from Providence and featuring Pete Prescott of Mission of Burma. Their set was full of really cool beats and grooves and they fit right in with the two bands that played before them in keeping a kind of experimental/electronic vibe going.

I ordered one more Finest Kind as Magic Shoppe were getting ready to go on.

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Magic Shoppe

It had been a while since I’ve seen Magic Shoppe play, so I was really looking forward to this and they did not disappoint. With awesome visuals setting the mood behind them, the band tore through a set of psychedelic garage rock which included a personal favorite, “All The Way“. Although it felt like a too short set (doesn’t it always?), it was a good end to a night of amazing experimental and psych music.

I ended up at Sonic in Wilmington for some quick junk food which was much needed and then made my way home. This was a great night of music and people! Once Ballroom was a pretty cool space and I’ll definitely have to catch some more shows there in the future.

Review: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Murlocs, Doug Tuttle at The Sinclair 5-13-2016

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Due to highway construction, I had to take a detour on my way to Alewife but happened to catch the Red Line train to Harvard Square just in time. I made the short walk to The Sinclair, where there was a little bit of line out in the drizzling rain to get in. At least the line moved fast, so it wasn’t a bad wait. Once inside, I ordered an Honest Weight Venture Paper rye beer and found a spot off to the side to see Doug Tuttle, who were already playing to a packed club.

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Doug Tuttle

Doug Tuttle played a pretty high energy psych rock set and sounded real good. This was my first time seeing them on a stage bigger than the one at the Middle East Upstairs, and it seemed to add to the energy, which in turn had the crowd going wild. They ended with a long, intense feedback filled jam which set the bar pretty high for the rest of the night.

I had a scary moment as I took out my Doppler Labs’ Dubs earplugs to chat with someone and the tip got stuck in my ear. After a few minutes, I managed to fish it out, but this is the third time this has happened in as many shows. So as much as I like these earplugs, I just can’t recommend them anymore (especially with the company, Doppler Labs, being unresponsive to this problem), which sucks, because they are one of the few that fit my ears perfectly. I switched to my backup pair of Planet Waves, which didn’t work quite as well, so the search for a new set is on.

I went to the bar to order another beer, this time a Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lager as I waited for The Murlocs to go on. I’ll give it to The Sinclair, they always have a good selection of beers on tap.

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The Murlocs

I’ll be honest, it took a little bit of time for me to get into Mebourne, Australia’s The Murlocs. About halfway through the set, their bluesy garage rock sound got a little heavier and I came around to liking them. It was a good segue into King Gizzard, who were up next.

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

I got to see about 15 minutes or so of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s set in Austin last month. By “see”, I mean standing near an open door behind Barracuda with around 20 other people and peeking in, but it was enough to convince me to want to see them when they hit the Boston area. Considering how fired up the sold out crowd was when the 7 members of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, also from Melbourne, took the stage, I knew this was going to be an insane set, and not just because of the “No Moshing” signs that were posted at the front door.

Opening with “Robot Stop”, which is also the first track on their new album Nonagon Infinity, the band had a frenetic energy that caused several mosh pits and crowd surfers to emerge during songs like “Evil Death Roll“. Much like that album, almost all of the songs flowed into each other and only stopping occasionally. With double drummers, and at times, harmonica and flute, they played a set that also featured songs from some of their older albums as well. After they finished, I went down to the front of the stage to see if there was a setlist (there wasn’t), but I ended up talking to a guy who was picking up his broken glasses and just passed it off as an “it was soo worth it!” kind of thing. That pretty much sums up how good of a time people had at this show and I have to agree.

I really wanted to get a King Gizzard t-shirt, but they only had XXL (?) left, so maybe next time. I was getting pretty hungry at this point and even though I swore I’d try something different, I still ended up at Tasty Burger for my usual Big Tasty. The place was filled with people wearing King Gizzard t-shirts and carrying newly purchased King Gizzard records, which was pretty cool. I caught one of the last trains back to Alewife and made my way home after what was a great night of music!

Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Veldt at The Paradise in Boston, MA 5-7-2016

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Since I was unable to see the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the cancelled Levitation 2016, I was hoping to see them locally here in Boston, but didn’t order a ticket in time and the show was sold out. Through a pretty cool set of circumstances, I was able to go after all and I appreciate that more than anything!

After a very fast ride on the Red Line to Park Street, then a change to a very slow ride on the Green Line, I finally got to The Paradise. As I walked in, North Carolina’s The Veldt had just started playing. I ordered a Hoptical Illusion beer and tried to find a spot to see the band.

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The Veldt

It was kind of hard to see 90’s soul shoegazers, The Veldt, who were opening three of the East Coast shows on this tour, and not just because of the massive crowd around the stage, but because the stage was really dark. This was a big difference from seeing them in Austin where there were all kinds of swirly visuals being projected onto the band. One thing was for sure, the sound was much cleaner and louder than when I saw them last week at Barracuda. The first half of their set seemed to consist more of their shoegaze sound and switched to a more soulful sound for the second half. I have really enjoyed seeing The Veldt twice in two weeks and hope they stick around for a while and continue to tour.

After their set, I went outside to get some air and ended up randomly chatting with a really cool couple from RI. Then in a repeat from last week in Austin, I saw Tayler from Magic Shoppe and we chatted for a bit. I have to say, the psych scene is one of the friendliest (and yes, even in the notoriously very unfriendly Boston). I went back inside and ordered another Hoptical Illusion, while waiting for The Brian Jonestown Massacre to go on.

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Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre came out to very loud cheers and applause from a sold out crowd that reached across all age ranges. I’m sure by now everyone knows about the Dig! documentary and the band’s past (and for some reason, if you don’t, I highly recommend see it!). From the very first song, BJM frontman Anton Newcombe held the audiences attention for a nearly 3 hour show that didn’t fixate on any one era of the band’s music. They played an incredible mix of older songs like “Geezer” and my personal favorite “Open Heart Surgery” to some newer stuff, some of which hasn’t been released yet. The crowd sang along with “Who?”, seemingly having fun yelling “whoooo” every time that part of the song came up.

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Evan Dando

They even had Evan Dando of The Lemonheads come out and play a mini set, which was something Newcombe teased earlier. After Dando left the stage, the band came back out and kept playing as the night got later and later. The crowd thinned out a little bit, but by a lot less than you would normally see at a show. This was probably due to the fact that the show went until almost 1am, long after the T stops running, but nobody wanted to miss any part of it. They could have played till 5am for all I care because it was incredible and worth missing the last train! They ended the night with an awesome, high energy jam that fired up the crowd.

I didn’t even care that I had missed the last train (thanks MBTA for cutting late night service), because this night was soo worth it! After wandering down Comm Ave. for a bit to find some food, I ended up at Otto Pizza, where I got a couple of slices to go. I requested an Uber to get me back to my car at Alewife and made my way home. This was an absolutely amazing night of music and will probably go down as one of my favorite shows of the year.