Review: My Bloody Valentine at the House of Blues Boston 11-07-2013

After giving some serious thought to flying to London back in March for My Bloody Valentine’s 2 shows at Hammersmith Apollo, I was surprised to hear that they were going to do a small US tour and actually shocked that Boston was one of the stops on this tour. The only downside was that it was taking place at the House of Blues, a venue I personally boycott due to the ridiculous security which takes away from any enjoyment of actually seeing a show there. I managed to put that aside on this night (to be fair, it wasn’t as bad this time, but when one of the people with us wanted to lean against the rail because her foot hurt and security yelled at her, I remembered why I hate this venue).

I left early enough, but got stuck on the green line where we sat in a holding pattern for 15 minutes, which in turn caused me to miss the opening band, Dumb Numbers. The consensus via text messages from my friends who were already there, was that I didn’t miss much. I arrived at the House of Blues and immediately got a Harpoon UFO White, then tried to find my friends amongst the large crowd. Once I found them, we caught up a bit and waited patiently for the band to go on.

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As Kevin Shields and the rest of the band walked on stage, the sold out crowd erupted with cheers and applause. Kicking things off with “Sometimes” and going into “I Only Said“, the band sounded amazing. It seemed as if Shields switched guitars for every song, including acoustic guitars amongst the many electric ones. He pretty much stayed on his side of the stage, flanked by a tower of speakers that he seemed to be playing to at times. Songs like “Only Shallow” and “To Here Knows When” sounded incredible live, although bassist Bilinda Butcher’s vocals were kind of hard to hear over all of the other sounds going on. When they went into “Wonder 2“, from the mbv album released earlier this year, it felt as if there really was a jet engine running in the building.

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They ended the night with “You Made Me Realize” and it’s famed middle section that consists purely of sonic noise, which is also known as the “holocaust”. I took out my earplugs briefly which gave it an entirely different sound, as in you could almost make out the guitars as opposed to just hearing noise and yeah, it was LOUD! I was excited to finally experience this in person and I’m not really sure how long it lasted, but we guessed that it was somewhere around 8 minutes.

After playing for what was probably the fastest hour and a half of my life, the band was done and walked off stage to an extremely appreciative audience. All of the conversations I overheard agreed with my thoughts of this being an amazing show, and perhaps show of the year. It really was more of an experience rather than just another concert. I’m still seeing the swirling visuals that were projected behind the band in my head. I don’t know if it was just me or what, but I expected this to be a much louder show than it actually was, which is not to say that you should go without earplugs, because it was still tinitus inducing loud.

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My Bloody Valentine

The only bummer of the night was that I didn’t pick up a long desired mbv shirt because I didn’t realize there was a merch table and only found out about after I met up with friends outside. Now, if only someone could get a Ride reunion to happen!

Review: Doze, Boogie Boy Metal Mouth, Marconi, Guillermo Sexo at the Middle East Upstairs 9-29-2013

With it being a Sunday, the Patriots playing, and the finale of Breaking Bad, this was a rough night for any band to have a show in the Boston area. I arrived at the Middle East Upstairs, where there was much less of a crowd than I expected. I grabbed a Sam Adams Octoberfest , then took a spot in front of the stage and waiting for Boogie Boy Metal Mouth to go on. Unfortunately, I had missed the opening band Doze.

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A coworker, who I also ran into at the show, had told me about Boogie Boy Metal Mouth a few months ago. This duo consists of J. Ring who does the rapping and Emoh Betta who took care of the scratching and beats. Using rock, metal, and blues backing tracks with heavy bass, distortion, and reverb, it was a pretty interesting sound and worked really well. Never really standing still and even jumping off the stage into the crowd at times, you could tell these guys were into it. The set ended a little more quietly with rapping over a blues rock track.

I went to bar to get another beer, this giving the Harpoon Munich Dark a try. It was smooth and went down nicely..a good choice.

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Marconi were up next and this was their last show ever. To be honest, I had never heard of them, but they played pretty low key indie rock and I was really getting into it. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage by cracking jokes. I kind of wish I known about them sooner because they were really good.

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This was a record release for the night’s headliners, Guillermo Sexo. Playing songs from their new album “Dark Spring“, including “Meow Metal“, “Dark Spring“, and ending with the nearly 8 minute long “Coyote“, the new tracks sounded great live! The band seemed to go off into some indie rock jams at times and it was great!

All in all, it was definitely worth missing Breaking Bad (which was on when I got home) to see a bunch of really good local music. I picked up Guillermo Sexo’s new album “Dark Spring” which is excellent and a t-shirt because, hey why not?

Review: Sleep Studies, Ghost Modern, Heliotropes, Japanese Monster at TT the Bears 9-06-2013

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Although I was a little out of it after a full day of work and getting very little sleep the night before, I forced myself to go out on this slightly chilly September night, because this seemed like it was going to be an awesome show. A quick ride on the red line and I arrived at TT the Bear’s in Central Square.

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Sleep Studies were already on and playing to a decent sized crowd. I only caught the last couple of songs, but the band seemed to have dream pop/shoegaze sound and were pretty good. I was kind of bummed to have missed the majority of their set, but will definitely see them again at Deep Heaven Now 8 in October in Somerville.

At this point, I decided to get a drink and ordered the UFO seasonal, but have no idea which one it was (definitely not pumpkin). It was ok, not anything special though. I made my way near the front of the stage to catch Ghost Modern, who were setting up.

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Ghost Modern are a new local band that features ex-members of the excellent Autochrome and Squall. Trading off on boy/girl vocals, with the male vocal being deep and dark and the female vocal counteracting that with a lighter sound, it all came together very well. They are also playing Deep Heaven Now 8, so I’ll get to see them again too.

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Brooklyn based Heliotropes, just killed it during their set. Their sound can probably best be described as fuzz rock with harmonies. Guitarist and singer Jessica Numsuwankijkul went into several guitar solos and seemed to play off of Amber Myers tambourine and backing vocals. These 4 ladies really seemed to be having fun and it showed. I may have developed a little crush on this band and can’t wait for them to come back to the area. I wanted to buy a physical copy of their CD (their label, Manimal Vinyl doesn’t seem to have one listed on their website), but will end up buying it on iTunes, because this band is that good!

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Most of the crowd had cleared out by the time the final band of the night, Japanese Monster went on. They had set up a couple of synthesizers on the stage, but I wasn’t sure what to expect as I haven’t heard any of their music before. Those that left missed out on some really good post punk, slightly dance music and the band was appreciative of those of us that did stay. The visuals being projected onto the band helped enhanced the mood as well. I saw them do about 6 songs before having to leave to catch the train back to my car.

Despite being really tired, I had a pretty good time and enjoyed every band at this show. I would highly recommend seeing any of these bands, as well as seeking out their music. I ended the night with an attempt to get some food at Falafel Palace, but the line was literally out the door and I would have missed the last train. I decided to hit up a McDonalds on my way home, where a very terse little old lady was working the counter and very unintentionally awesomely hilarious!

AS220 Foo Fest 2013 in Providence RI

I had a huge dilemma as to which show to go to. There was the Fuzzstival in Cambridge, which had a great lineup, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Providence and Foo Fest. I decided to keep my annual tradition of hitting up AS220’s Foo Fest just days after Lollapalooza going, because 1, I love Providence, and 2, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make friends at shows in Providence than it is the Boston area. Foo Fest is an annual block party, with a lot of very unique bands on Empire Street in downtown Providence. It’s crazy cheap to get in (only $7), the beers are also cheap, and there are hipsters…a lot of hipsters because hey, it’s Providence.

After getting a much needed coffee at one of my favorite Providence coffee shops, the Coffee Exchange, I got down to the Foo Fest a bit later than planned. Once through the gate, I got a Zeppelin Heif beer, but can’t remember what the brand was, but it was pretty good. I had just missed Medusah Black on the outside stage, so I went inside to check out the Maker Faire, where there were a lot of people showing off 3D printers as well as a lot of homemade gadgets and robots. It was some pretty interesting stuff if you like geeking out to that kind of thing.

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Rhode Island Maker Faire

I made my way back outside in time to see Providence’s own Littlefoot, who played a mix of 60’s surf rock with a bit of dreampop. They totally blew me away and were my favorite band of the day. This was also probably the most mellow band I saw.

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On the inside stage, the most insane set of the night goes to garage rock band, Atlantic Thrills. The crowd went nuts moshing to every song the band played. At one point, lead singer Eric Aguiar asked for the head of the paper mache donkey that was on the side of the stage, which ended up in the pit and was completely torn apart by the crowd and subsequently left pieces of newspaper everywhere. It was great!! This band was much louder live than their recorded stuff would have you believe, and that’s always good thing!

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Atlantic Thrills

After Atlantic Thrills’ set ended, I went back outside to get another beer and to see VulGarrity. This brother and sister duo’s music was a nice change from the insanity that I had just witnessed on the inside stage. A little bit glam and a lot of rock, the two members kept trading off on guitar and drums (and synth). It was pretty interesting to watch them create live loops as they played as well. I was really liking this band a lot.

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I went back inside to see Downtown Boys, who put on a show almost as crazy as Atlantic Thrills. It’s not that often you see a thrash/punk band that is fronted by a female and featuring not one, but two saxophone players. Their songs were short at about a minute and a half each, but I’d definitely recommend experiencing their live shows. I even helped people up that fell while in the pit.

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Back outside, Lolita Black was already playing and I caught the majority of their set. With a dark and heavy sound, the band had a pretty good sized audience who were really into it. Singer Scarlett Delgado made her way into the crowd to sing for a bit, which was pretty cool. This was one of those Providence bands I never got around to seeing, but was glad I finally did.

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Next was the night’s big headliner Ssion (pronounced “shun”), who I never heard of until the Foo Fest lineup was announced. I caught a good portion of his set, but left a bit early since I was starting to get tired and still had an hour drive back home. The first song had a sample of “Rock On” by David Essex and sounded pretty cool with visual on a large screen behind him. For the time that I was there, Ssion’s set consisted of pretty mellow dance music that people really seemed into.

Although it would have been more fun to have people to hang out with during the shows, especially since last year’s Foo Fest was epic in soo many ways. I was bummed about not hitting up Olneyville N.Y. Systems for some delicious 3am junk food, but Haven Bros had to suffice for my ride back home. All in all, I still had a great time by myself and look forward to next year’s fest!

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Concert Review: KMFDM at The Paradise in Boston 3-20-2013

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I got a late start for what is usually a pretty long ride on the T. Red line to Green line and back at the end of the night (before it stops running ), but for some reason, tonight, it went by pretty fast. I got to the Paradise, bought a ticket at the door (where I also noticed several people buying earplugs) and made my way to the bar for a much needed Harpoon IPA.

The first thing I noticed was that a lot of people were wearing black leather trenchcoats, had long hair, and/or were gothed out at this show. Was I in the Matrix? I thought the industrial “look” died out in the 90’s (and yeah, I went through that phase in the early 90’s) but apparently not. Maybe people are getting ready for Man Ray to reopen soon.

I managed to catch the last 5 songs of Legion Within‘s set. They weren’t bad, and a good portion of the crowd seemed to like them, but I just wasn’t really into it. The lead singer seemed really nice and was chatting with people at the merch table though. Also, I was kind of surprised to find out they were from Seattle, as this isn’t the kind of music usually associated with that city. It was back to the bar for a Harpoon UFO and then to find a good spot to watch KMFDM.

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KMFDM took the stage to chants of “KMFDM sucks!” and went right into “D.I.Y.“. They also played “Kunst“, which is my favorite song off of the new album of the same name. It was a pretty straightfoward set, with very few breaks between songs. As expected, the crowd was really into every song. The band came out for 2 encores. They started to play “Sucks” but went into another song. The night ended with “A Drug Against War” which had the crowd fired up.

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It was a really fun show and I was glad to see KMFDM again. That being said, they put on a much better show when I saw them at Lupos in Providence 10 years ago for the WWIII tour, that included screens with visuals behind them and a lot, I mean a LOT of strobe lights (where they had warnings at the door about not coming in if you’re prone to epileptic siezures from strobe lights). It would have been cool to get a couple of long desired KMFDM t-shirts, but they didn’t have any left in my size, unless I was a small (not happening) or a 2xl or larger (seriously???). Perhaps I’ll have better luck the next time they come through Boston.

Concert Review: The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Paradise in Boston 9-11-12

JAMC Sign at The Paradise

I don’t know why I put myself through the horror of going to shows at The Paradise. It’s a great venue (except for those poles!), but having to take the red line and switch to the green line is soo inconvenient and a huge pain in the ass for those of us who come from the ‘burbs. But I guess it’s still easier than trying to find parking in that area, which is practically impossible. Perhaps, the green line is the lesser of 2 evils.

I arrived at the Paradise much later than planned (and missed The Vandelles, who I will try to see at Deep Heaven Now 6 in Somerville next month), where I met up with a couple of friends, one of which had my ticket. As we made our way in, and went for the bar, where they grabbed some ‘Gansetts and I got a Harpoon Summer Ale. We caught the last few songs of Psychic Paramount, who were playing noisy and droning music, which most people didn’t really seem to be into, myself included, which was weird because I usually like that kind of music.

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The Jesus and Mary Chain, who are from Glasgow, were on next. With the exception of a few shows here and there, this was their first real tour in about 15 years. I went to the first of two nights that they were playing in Boston. I’m not sure how the second night went, but I hope it was better than this one.

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It was a really, really loud show, with lots of squealing and feedback driven guitars for about an hour and then that was that. Seriously. An hour and it was over, although they are notorious for their short live shows. The band even had to restart songs a couple of times because at least once, singer Jim Reid stopped the band because he thought they were playing in the wrong key, amongst other issues.

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There was an unusually large amount of hipsters for this kind of show, including several who tried to push their way in front of me and my friends, but we denied them as it was crowded enough where we were. Also, what was with people throwing their beer cups at the stage?

The band came back out to play a couple of songs for the encore, which got most of the crowd dancing around. Overall it was not an entirely bad show, and definitely not the worst I’ve ever seen, but the word “meh” pretty much sums up the disappointment of this night.

Concert Review: Broken Bells at Royale in Boston 06-04-2010

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Note: I wrote most of this the day after the show. Found it in my drafts folder today and decided to go ahead and post it (after a little cleanup).

After having to take a few shortcuts to get to Alewife Station to catch the T into downtown Boston, due to the unbelievable amount of traffic on the highway, I had finally arrived at Royale Boston (formerly The Roxy), directly across the street from the Wang, where the Conan O’Brien tour had stopped. Unfortunately, I got to Royale too late to see The Morning Benders, except for their very last song, which was some droney guitar thing that I was kind of digging.

More importantly though, I was there to see Broken Bells. If you don’t know by now, Broken Bells is a collaboration between The Shins‘ James Mercer and Danger Mouse aka Brian Burton. It’s no secret that this is one of my favorite bands of 2010.

It was a fairly short set that consisted of them playing the tracks from their self titled CD, but considering that they only have one album out, it was kind of expected. There were a couple of other songs that I didn’t recognize. The main highlight was the predictable High Road singalong with the audience. The second and more interesting one was during the encore when they went into a long High Road jam that just sounded really cool and was stuck in my head for days. I wish I could have gotten a recording of it.

The only downer was the ridiculous price of drinks at Royale. 10 freakin dollars plus another buck for a tip for a jack and coke that was finished within 5 minutes.

Overall it was a very fun, but rather short night with an amazing band. I can’t wait to see them again, hopefully with newer material so that they can play a longer show.