Review: Westbound Train, The Scotch Bonnets at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, MA 9-16-2016

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I was still a little tired from the previous night’s Lush show, but a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in quite a while, is in The Scotch Bonnets, so I had to go. Plus I haven’t been to a ska show in a very long time. For the second night in a row, the Red Line had issues and had to “stand by” due to a disabled train…again, This cause me to get to the Middle East much later than planned, which in turn meant I missed openers The New Limits and caught Riki Rocksteady literally playing his last notes. I ordered a Sam Adams Octoberfest and stood among the crowd as The Scotch Bonnets were setting up.

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The Scotch Bonnets

Baltimore’s The Scotch Bonnets are a band I have followed for a while and I was glad that they were playing a Boston show. Fronted by singer/guitarist Kristin Forbes (full disclosure: Kristin is a friend of mine), who along with the rest of the band, kept the energy level pretty high. The bands brand of ska music that the pretty packed club dancing the whole time. This was a really fun set!

One more drink, this time a Hoponius Union before Westbound Train went on.

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Westbound Train

It was kind of interesting to see the 7 members of Boston’s own Westbound Train all try fit on the small stage. Their brand of ska was interesting as it seemed to have a bit of soul mixed into the songs. Frontman Obi Fernandez came off as very personable and held the crowds attention for the whole show, to the point where it seemed like everyone knew him personally. The entire band seemed to be having a really good time on what was the first of their two nights of shows at the Middle East.

Afterwards, I caught up with Kristin for a bit since I haven’t seen her in a long time, and after several hugs, I had to leave to catch one of the last trains back to Alewife. It had been a long time since I’ve been to this kind of show but I had a great time! I really wish I was able to see the two openers though, but I’m hoping they all make back to the area soon, because I will definitely be there.

Review: The Veldt, Dyr Faser, Your 33 Black Angels at Once Lounge in Somerville, MA 9-02-2016

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This was a tough night as there were several really good shows going on that ranged from the last Guillermo Sexo show to Fat Creeps and even Anthony Green, which I was invited to go to, but I had been looking forward to seeing The Veldt again. This was also their tour kickoff. Finding parking around Once Somerville can be a pain at times, but luckily I found one open spot in the lot across the street. There was another show going on in the larger ballroom, but this one took place in the smaller, more intimate Twin Peaks-ish lounge area upstairs. Your 33 Black Angels were just starting their set.

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Your 33 Black Angels

I was at the bar, ordering a Jack’s Abby Copper Legend just as Brooklyn’s Your 33 Black Angels started playing. Before the beer filled the glass, a fuse blew cutting power to the stage and the bar, which brought applause and cheers from the pretty small crowd. A few minutes later, the amps were powered back up and the show continued. I wasn’t familiar with Your 33 Black Angels but they have been around for a while. They had a bit of a psych sound and at times venturing into synth pop territory. It’s kind of hard to describe their music since it seemed to span multiple genres. They were great and I really enjoyed their set.

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Dyr Faser

Dry Faser’s sound is something that needs to be experienced live. The video above as well as me trying to convey just how awesome their reverb drenched music can fill up the small-ish room does it no justice. A project of Eric Boomhower on guitar, with Thalia Zedek on another guitar and keyboardist Kate Murray all jamming over a drum machine, this trio created some seriously dark sounding music that completely wraps itself around you.

After the set, I ordered a Newburyport Brewing Green Head IPA, then tried to find an unobstructed spot to see The Veldt.

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The Veldt

I have now seen The Veldt 3 times in the last 5 months and every time they have been amazing. Tonight was no exception, especially with projections that added to the vibe of their soul-shoegaze sound, it felt more like an experience rather than a mere show. Singer Daniel Chavis’ soulful voice combined with his brother Danny on guitar, brought a lot of emotion to the songs, which was especially evident on the slower ones.

After the show, I chatted with bassist Hayato Nakao as I bought a Veldt t-shirt. I meant to pick up a physical copy of their latest CD The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur since I haven’t gotten around to buying it on Bandcamp yet.

This was an awesome small and intimate show that felt like a private performance by some really great bands, all of which I’d recommend seeing if you get the chance.

The Veldt 2016 European tour dates:

09/22 London, UK – Shacklewell Arms (with Electric Eye, Camera)
09/23 Liverpool, UK – Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia
09/24 Malmo, Sweden – Gatufest // Norra Grängesbergsgatan
09/25 Copenhagen, Denmark – TBC

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.

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.

Music Monday: Sugarglider – Summer Demos

I found Sugarglider (who is now going by his given name, Renny Wilson) on Bandcamp late last year and gave it a listen based on the awesome artwork. The 4 song EP called “Summer Demos“, which was recorded in the basement of his parents house in Edmonton, Canada, is very good and made for an excellent soundtrack as I rode the T to work in downtown Boston every morning. I still find myself going back to these songs pretty often.

The following description from his Bandcamp page sums up the music a lot better than I could and is dead on accurate:

A film starring Hall & Oates set on a cruise ship with Donna Summer playing the woman of interest. Competition for her love nearly tears them apart, but they soon find out she and her accomplice, played by Paul McCartney, are plotting to sink the ship! Also, Al Green is the ships’ resident crooner.

There is a full length album which will be titled “Sugarglider” coming out sometime this year and I am very much looking forward to hearing it.

Also, there is an awesome video for his newest song called “By and By” which is pretty good. Check it out in all of its Napoleon Dynamite-like glory below:

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