Concert Review: Turtle Ambulance, Dirty Dishes, Lord Jeff at the Middle East Upstairs 08-25-11

Let me start out by saying that I was really excited for this show, which was sponsored by Vice Magazine and Vitaminwater. I haven’t heard of any of the bands before, but checked them all out on Youtube to get a feel for what to expect. So, I took off with high hopes, the promise of free beer, and a gleam in my eye, hoping to be blown away on a Thursday night! After a very slow drive (due to getting stuck behind a friggin Prius, which begs the question of why the hell are Prius drivers the worst drivers ever?), I arrived at the Middle East in Cambridge.

If you have never been, the Middle East Upstairs is a really small space with poles that can block your view if you don’t stake out a good spot immediately. My first mission was to head straight to the bar, where according to the email, there was going to be free drinks. $5+tip and a Corona later, I was wondering what the hell?? Whatever, I really didn’t mind since this was the first small show I have been to in a while.

The first band was Turtle Ambulance, which appeared to be one guy (although their site says 2) and some electronics. To be honest, it was a bit dull and I didn’t really pay much attention, but maybe that’s because I’ve seen this kind of thing done a lot better at shows in Providence. It seemed that I was not the only one wasn’t feeling it, as most people were standing in line at the bar. I will have to see them again to really make any kind of judgement though, because it just seemed like the wrong kind of element for that type of music. By the end of the set, the club started to fill in a bit more, mostly really tall PBR drinking, plaid wearing, hipsters.

Alex Molini, Jenny Tuite, and Mike Thomas of Dirty Dishes
Alex Molini, Jenny Tuite, and Mike Thomas of Dirty Dishes

My faith in the Boston music scene (which has a severe lack of good bands, but I’m open to hearing some recommendations) was renewed when Dirty Dishes hit the stage. With a mostly shoegaze sound, they totally blew me away. This just might be my new favorite Boston band. I noticed that the club got pretty full. This was the only band that people really seemed to pay attention to, with the exception of the 5 douchey fratboys off to one side that were being obnoxious and yelling for the singer to open her eyes when she sings. The band ended with a song that went into a really awesome jam which had every person in the audience bobbing their heads along with the beat. It was a great way to end the set!

Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes
Jenny Tuite of Dirty Dishes

As soon as Dirty Dishes were done, most people left, which leads me to believe they have a pretty decent following. Up next, a band called Lord Jeff. They had a kind of mellow, hippy, jam sound, which is definitely not my thing. Is this the same Lord Jeff band that I saw on Youtube? Definitely didn’t sound like the same one. I stuck around for 4 or 5 songs, hoping it would get better or start rocking, but it all sounded the same. At this point, I came to the conclusion that the night was a huge fail and I should just take off.

Lord Jeff at the Middle East upstairs
Lord Jeff at the Middle East upstairs

I really did expect more from this event. Each band played a half hour set, which was probably way too short to really get a feel for what they were like. Also, most of the people seemed to only be there for the non-existent free beer. I will definitely be seeing Dirty Dishes when they play again in the future though, but why weren’t they selling any merch? I would have loved to buy a CD but will have to wait until next time.

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