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.

Review: Golden Dawn Arkestra, Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar, Fantasmes at the Scoot Inn 5-1-2016

In an attempt at least salvage some part of the cancelled Levitation 2016 weekend and not being able to get tickets for any of the announced last minute shows (ahem…Slowdive), I somehow managed to get a ticket for this one, which isn’t a bad thing as I love Golden Dawn Arkestra. I have never been to the Scoot Inn so I was kind of excited to check out a new venue. If I had one complaint, it would be the lack of information about set times. Multiple Twitter requests about this went unanswered, including those by several other people. The tickets said 5pm, one band posted 7pm, another 9pm. Ugh!

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The Scoot Inn

I got to the Scoot Inn, which is tucked in the middle of a residential neighborhood just east of downtown Austin, around 6:45pm and missed Blondi’s Salvation, who I was really hoping to see. Once inside, it sort of looked like an old fort or saloon and the stage area was much smaller than I expected. It was a pretty cool outside area though, with a lot of people hanging out and waiting. I went to the bar area and got a Fireman’s #4 beer and walked around for a bit as Fantasmes were getting ready to go on.

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Fantasmes

Fantasmes are a band from Puerto Rico and were the first band I got to see on this night. With droning guitars and lots of reverb, they mesmerized the crowd with atmospheric psychedelic jams that went well with the fading sunlight.

I moved to an area near the bar area, which is on a deck that overlooks the grounds and stage. I ordered an Austin Beerworks Black Thunder, which was a nice dark German style beer. I stood on the deck and ended up talking with a couple of people when Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar started playing.

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Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar

Indrajit Banerjee & Gourisankar just kind of walked onto the stage and sat down with their sitar and tabla and started playing. I honestly don’t think many people even realized that their set had started, but instead, thinking as I did that it was the music being pumped over the speakers before the band plays. Either way, these guys sounded really cool. It was kind of hard to see them on the stage, even though I was on the upper deck area near the bar, but there were just too many people in front. It was pretty chill music though, and I’ve said it before, I’m a big fan of the sitar.

I ordered one more Black Thunder before the night’s headliners, Golden Dawn Arkestra went on.

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Golden Dawn Arkestra

A Golden Dawn Arkestra show is something that you actually experience as opposed to something you just see. The first time I saw Golden Dawn Arkestra was at last year’s Levitation kick off party at Red 7 and they were one of the best things I saw all weekend. Tonight was no exception as they were equally as good.

The band made their way to the stage by dancing and singing their way through a crowd that made room for the costumed members to pass through. If you have ever seen Golden Dawn Arkestra, you know there are a *lot* of people in this band, which made me wonder how they were all going to fit on the stage. Somehow, they did, although it did look a bit cramped up there.

The band launched into “Osaka” and had the crowd dancing for the rest of the night. I was a little bummed they didn’t play my favorite song “Dimensions”, but that’s ok, because every song is truly a group experience and everybody was having a good time. They ended their set with “Masakayli” right at 10pm to a crowd that was chanting “one more song! one more song!”. A member of the band came out and explained that they wanted to play more, but there was a curfew so they couldn’t. At that point, most people filtered out.

This was an amazing night of music, and I at least got to see some bands from Levitation, so it wasn’t a 100% bust of a weekend. I took a walk over to East 6th street since I had never really been to this side of Austin and wandered around. I found a cool little bbq stand called Rolling Smoke BBQ and ordered a couple of brisket tacos which tasted amazing, then headed back to my hotel and called it a night.

Levitation 2016 Kick Off Party at Empire Control Room and Barracuda in Austin, TX 4-28-2016

This was a long and very strange day. After getting up at the ungodly hour of 3am to catch a flight to Austin for Levitation 2016 and very little sleep, I was really looking forward to these two shows. I got some lunch at Javi’s Best of Tex Mex, which is one my favorite places near my hotel, then went back to my room for a much needed nap. I woke up around 5pm, checked Twitter real quick and saw the extremely disappointing news that Levitation 2016 was cancelled. I thought this was a joke at first.

So, the festival was cancelled due to the threat of strong thunderstorms in Austin. I don’t think the 2 raindrops that fell all day counts as a storm, but whatever. There’s nothing as devastating as having something you were looking forward to for a year just pulled away at literally the last minute. Levitation/Austin Psych Fest has always been my favorite festival, even more so than Lollapalooza, so yeah, this really sucked. But, I was determined to make the best of the situation and with my weekend now freed up, I had time to do some apartment hunting (I’m looking for some leads on apartments that aren’t filled with waterbugs and possible jobs in Austin) and hang out in some of my favorite coffee shops and restaurants, so that was definitely a plus.

When these shows were announced, I had a hard time deciding where to go to the one at Empire Control Room or Barracuda (the third and much larger show was at the Mohawk, but I didn’t even consider it just because it would have been a pain to run between three clubs), so I bought a ticket for both. Since the show at Empire had an earlier start time and that’s where I began the night.

I got to Empire around 7:45pm, a little later than planned. I really love this venue! It’s small, but you can get a pretty good view of the inside stage from almost anywhere. I ordered a Karbach Weekend Warrior, which wasn’t bad, but had a little more of a sour taste than I like. Beer in hand, I made my way over to the room for Hidden Ritual.

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Hidden Ritual

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The Golden Dawn

With visuals projected onto every wall surrounding the stage, Austin’s own Hidden Ritual played a set full of reverb soaked psychedelia to a pretty good sized crowd. I ended up liking these guys a lot. From there, I went to the outdoor garage stage to see The Golden Dawn. I stuck around for a few songs, but it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe a little too much twang for my tastes. That being said, they had a pretty good crowd packed into the covered garage area as a few raindrops began to fall.

I could see a long line across the street at Barracuda and tried to wait it out for a bit. I ended up just going over there and chatting with people around me as we waited in line. In an “only in Austin” kind of thing, I was recognized by Tayler from Magic Shoppe, who was standing in front of me along with singer Josiah. It really is a small freakin world! This at least made the long wait to get inside that much easier. Inside, nobody was playing yet, so I ordered a Fireman’s #4 from the bar, then made my way to the outside stage to see Death Valley Girls

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Death Valley Girls

The outside stage at Barracuda (formerly Red 7) is one of my favorite places to see bands anywhere. Death Valley Girls definitely brought the garage rock sounds to the outdoor space.

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Sugar Candy Mountain

Sugar Candy Mountain were playing inside, so I went to check them out. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with this band, but really enjoyed watching their set as did a lot of the people standing around me, who were having a lot of fun watching them. I thought that they sounded a like a more psychedelic Beatles.

I went back outside to see Levitation Room, but not before changing up my drink to a hard ginger ale, which was too syrupy and sweet for my tastes, so I trashed it. I also ran into the dude I was chatting with in line earlier and we ended up hanging out for a bit, so that was cool. Shows are always more fun with people to chill with.

Levitation Room

Coming from LA, Levitation Room brought a breezy sound that was a throwback to the older psych sound of the 60’s. These guys were great!

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The Turns

Back inside, The Turns kept the psychedelic vibes going. I went back outside and caught some of The Coathangers set. These four ladies totally rocked and had more of punk/grunge sound, which was a little different than most of the bands that played on this night.

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The Veldt

Inside, The Veldt were just getting started. Although they come from the early 90’s shoegaze scene, their set had a more R&B/soul feel to it with singer Daniel Chavis emotionally crooning through the songs. There was an intensity that I’m pretty sure every single person in the room felt. This was by far my favorite band of the night and the weekend!

After The Veldt’s set, I went over to Empire to see Ringo Deathstarr, a band I love and have seen a few times in the past. But it was a little too crowded and hot inside, so I went out to the little side area and could still hear them playing their gazey dream pop.

Once the show was over, I walked up 6th Street in a search for some late night food. I ended up getting a burger and fries at P. Terry’s and then made my way back to the hotel for some very much needed sleep and to figure out the rest of the weekend.

Review: Harmonix PAX East 2016 After Party at the Hard Rock Cafe Boston 4-23-2016

Although I decided to skip PAX East this year, I had soo much fun at last years Harmonix after party that I had to go again. I got to Alewife only to find out that the trains weren’t running from there this weekend, so that meant an annoying and long ass shuttle bus ride to Harvard Square, and then finally onto the Red Line train. Ugh. Eventually I made it to the Hard Rock Cafe and once inside, waited at the bar with one of my two free drink tickets as I could hear The Warning finishing up their set and I was pretty bummed to miss them. I overheard a lot of people talking about how amazing they were. It took about 20 minutes to get a drink, so yeah. Once I had my Sam Adams Brick Red in hand, I made my way to the back room where the stage is located. There was free food everywhere that ranged from veggie sticks to sliders and egg rolls.

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Princess Problems

The first band I managed to catch was Princess Problems. They played through a set of fun indie pop and seemed to be having a great time up on stage, which made for a really fun show! Making jokes and bantering with the crowd, they definitely won over quite a few people.

I decided to use my second drink ticket on a Sam Adams Rebel IPA but it was not to be as the Hard Rock was having issues with the tap. So, another Brick Red and I made my way to a small room on the other side of the club where they had Rock Band 4 set up. I hung out and watched some people take on the challenge of performing before moving back to the stage area to see Autoblaster. There were hamburger sliders near where I was standing, so I grabbed one to hold me over as I was pretty hungry.

One sidenote: Why does the Hard Rock keep the hot water in the bathroom soo damn hot? Like scalding, unusable hot! Ouch!

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Autoblaster

Autoblaster, which most people know from the game Amplitude, consists of members of the Harmonix team. Although they played mostly synth pop video game music, it felt like soo much more than that. They had a very attentive crowd that was loving every song, and the band really seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage.

I went to get one last beer but was told that all of the taps across two bars were down (except for the Bud/Bud Light ones…ick!). So it was a rum and coke to finish out the night as I waited for Bearstronaut to go on.

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Bearstronaut

Bearstronaut were one of the main reasons I wanted to go to this party and they did not disappoint! There was soo much energy and danciness (is that a word?) that it was contagious with the crowd feeling it and joining in. They played a mix of older songs, including my favorite “Moniker” along with some new stuff from their upcoming album “Telecoast”, which comes out on June 10th (there is a record release party at The Sinclair on this date as well). It was my first time seeing them live and they were amazing! More so because I was right in front of the stage and had a great view of the band.

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Freezepop

The crowd thinned out a bit by the time Boston based synth pop band Freezepop went on, probably due to the lack of late night T service, which had me watching the clock as well. Freezepop are another band that I like but have never seen live but damn, they were really good! Also, they are Kickstarting their new album and more info can be found here.

Despite a few issues getting there, I had an amazing time! I made my way back to the Government Center T stop and just barely caught one of the last trains and shuttle buses back to Alewife. The crowd was really cool (props to the girl dressed as Link from Zelda) and the bands were all really fun and brought good vibes! Also, thanks to Harmonix for throwing another great party!

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.