Review: boy pablo at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA 7-8-2018

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I got to Alewife a little later than I wanted to, but soon enough, in a repeat of exactly a week ago, I was at the Middle East in Central Square for yet another show. Tonight it was Norwegian indie pop band boy pablo. I had decided to buy a ticket the night before after putting it off for whatever reason, but it sold out shortly after I purchased the ticket.

I’m guessing a lot of people, including myself first became aware of them as a suggested video on Youtube. I watched the video and fell in love with the song.

boy pablo (yes, in all of it’s lowercase splendor) were the only band playing. Although doors were at 7pm, the show didn’t start until 9:30pm and the Middle East down was completely packed for this sold out show. I ordered a Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union and found a spot near the upper bar.

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boy pablo

When the band came out, the crowd went absolutely crazy! I have to say, this was one of those few times you could actually tell that a band really appreciated the people who came out to see them. Flashing giant smiles and acknowledging the crowd, and hamming it up a bit, they really had the crowd behind them.

Lead singer Pablo Muñoz definitely charmed the crowd and comes off as extremely likable (to be fair, the entire band comes off that way as well). It seemed like they played just about every song they have put out, especially since most songs are pretty short.

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boy pablo

At one point, the band did an acapella version of “Afternoon Delight” as well as covers of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Michael Jackson as seen in the video below. They play for about an hour and 10 minutes with 2 songs during the encore, which became a huge dance party. This was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in a long time and I did not regret buying that ticket at the last minute at all.

boy pablo 2018 tour dates:
10/28/18 – The Button Factory – Dublin, Ireland

10/29/18 – Belgrave Music Hall – Leeds, United Kingdom

10/30/18 – Club Academy – Manchester, United Kingdom

10/31/18 – Fiddlers – Bristol, United Kingdom

11/01/18 – Electric Ballroom – London, United Kingdom

11/02/18 – Pitchfork Music Festival Paris – Paris, France

11/03/18 – LA GRANDE HALLE DE LA VILLETTE – Paris, France

11/14/18 – Shibuya Tsutaya O-Nest – Shinjuku-ku, Japan

11/15/18 – Modeci – Seoul, South Korea

11/16/18 – Omni Space – Beijing, China

11/17/18 – Arkham – Shanghai, China

11/18/18 – The Wall – Taipei City, Taiwan

11/20/18 – Mom Live House – Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong

11/22/18 – Pavilion – Bishan, Singapore

11/23/18 – Kuningan City Ballroom – Jakarta, Indonesia

11/24/18 – Moonstar Studio – Bangkok, Thailand

11/25/18 – Century City Mall – Makati, Philippines

Review: Boston Fuzzstival 2016 Night 2 at the Middle East Downstairs 8-20-2016

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Every year I look forward to Fuzzstival, which is put on by Jason Trefts (a dude I have yet to formerly meet) at the Middle East in Central Square. It really is one of my favorite nights of music because it pretty much puts all of my favorite local-ish bands on one bill over two nights. I skipped the first night since I had something else going on, but got to the Middle East right at 6pm just as Weakend Friends were playing their last notes. I was really hoping to catch them, but definitely next time. I ordered a Sam Adams Octoberfest from the bar and moved closer to the main stage.

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Painted Zeros

The first band I caught was Painted Zeros who came up from Brooklyn. They played a great set of straight up dreamy indie rock and were a great first band to catch. A second stage was set up off to the side of the main stage, in that slight elevated area near the other bar. WAY OUT were up next on this stage.

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WAY OUT

Providence’s WAY OUT played a pretty energetic set of dark sounding, almost gothy punk rock. I really got into these guys and hope to see them again soon.

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Boytoy

Next were one of my other favorites, Boytoy, who I have been trying to see forever and finally got the chance. They did not disappoint and held the entire crowd’s attention with a set of lo-fi pop punk. This was a great set!

I caught a couple of songs during High Pop’s set but ended up leaving to find some food. The hardest part of Fuzzstival is deciding when to leave to get dinner. I ended up at the Dumpling Room across the street from the Middle East. The potstickers there were amazing and hit the spot.

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Ravi Shavi

I made it back in time to see Ravi Shavi, who are from Providence. This is another band that I’ve been trying to see for a while. With a garage pop sound and frontman Rafay Rashid moving and posing all around the small stage, they brought the room’s energy level up a notch.

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Ghost Box Orchestra

Next were one of my favorite Boston area bands, Ghost Box Orchestra, who I have seen many times. With a pulsing beat throughout most of their epically large sounding set, they pretty much won the night for me. They ended with a cover of the Pixies. This was probably my favorite set of the night.

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Zip-Tie Handcuffs

Another one of my favorites, 2015 Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble winners Zip-Tie Handcuffs melted faces with a very energetic set of garage rock.

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Major Stars

Major Stars, who I didn’t know too much about, started out a little slower than the previous few bands, but then it built up in to long jamming songs and totally won me over.

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Las Rosas

Brooklyn’s Las Rosas had a few people in the crowd dancing with their garage psych sound which at timed seemed to veer almost into punk territory.

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Quilt

This was my 4th time seeing Quilt, and second time within the last couple of months. With a quieter sound, Quilt were a little more subdued than the bands that played before them and there was still a pretty large crowd.

I was starting to get really tired at this point and considered leaving. I stayed until Quilt finished and as much as it killed me to miss Mini Dresses and Doug Tuttle’s sets, 6 hours was long enough combined with ear fatigue setting in from wearing my earplugs for almost that entire time.

I bought a t-shirt and was bummed to miss out on the awesome silk screened t-shirts (I really have to stop waiting til the end of shows to get these things), then headed out to catch the train back home.

As I said before, Fuzzstival is one of my favorite things to go to every year. Much thanks to Jason Trefts who puts it all together and makes it fun while helping to support local music as well as those smaller bands that are not so local.

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: 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. 

Review: Boston Fuzzstival 2015 at the Middle East Downstairs 8-08-2015

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The bands

After still being pretty pumped from last weekends Lollapalooza, I wanted to keep that whole music festival kind of thing going, as I do every year. It was a little bit of a tough choice as AS220’s Foo Fest was happening in Providence, and Fuzzstival was going on in Cambridge. I decided to stay local and hit up Fuzzstival, since I was more familiar with the bands. I drove to Alewife, hopped on the T, and got to the Middle East by 4pm. It was a little weird to be there while it was still bright and sunny out. As I got my wristband and walked downstairs as Magic Shoppe had just started playing.

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Magic Shoppe

Magic Shoppe, who are currently my favorite local band, featured a couple of new members from Moontower (or is Moontowers? I still don’t know which one is correct). As usual, they sounded amazing with their dark and psychedelic sounds. On a side note, they are doing an IndieGoGo to fund their upcoming E.P. “Interstellar Car Crash” this fall. More info here.

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The Midriffs

Garage rockers The Midriffs started playing right away on the side stage, which was near the smaller bar. It was kind of hard to see if you weren’t standing directly in front of the band or along the side railing. One guy was trying to mosh, but it didn’t really quite work out. The Midriffs played an awesome set of surf tinged rock.

It was getting kind of hot, so I ordered a Jacks Abby Hoponius Union and made my way to the front of the main stage for 2015 Rock n Roll Rumble winners Zip-Tie Handcuffs.

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Zip-Tie Handcuffs

Zip-Tie Handcuffs definitely lived up to the hype and I can see why the won the Rumble. It was a high energy set of garage and punk rock that never slowed down.

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Wakes

Wakes were up next. They totally killed on the side stage with their lo-fi rock. After their set I grabbed a Harpoon UFO White.

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ADVAETA

ADVAETA who came from New York, were incredible with a noisy rock sound and a lot of distortion. They were one of my favorite bands of the day, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again when they come back to the area in September.

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Flea Bite

Flea Bite were on at the smaller stage and I ended up leaving during their set to find some food. I’m rarely in Central Square during the daytime, so I wasn’t sure where to find something good and fast. I played it safe and ended up at H Mart for some curry chicken, then made my way back to the Middle East. Looking at posts tagged with #fuzzstival, it sounded like I missed an amazing set by the Televibes. Dammit, I picked the wrong time to leave (but was there really a good time to leave?).

I got back just as Earthquake Party were finishing up and the Middle East seemed to have filled with a noticeably larger and different crowd.

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Vundabar

Vundabar were next. This is another local band I have been trying to see for a while. There was a lot of funny banter between songs, including a lot of stuff about Starbucks. They ended up doing a cool cover of Black Sabbath’s “Warpigs“, but changing the lyrics to be about Starbucks.

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Black Beach

Black Beach on the side stage played loud, oh so loud, grungy punk rock.

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Doug Tuttle

Doug Tuttle, another favorite, were on next. What can I say, they played a pretty rocking set of psych goodness.

Atlantic Thrills, another local favorite, played the side stage. I made sure to stay far enough away so none of their beer ended up in mine. They played a fast and wild set that had the crowd going crazy up front!

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Quilt

Quilt kind of brought things down a notch with a more mellow set than the last few bands. I saw them at Austin Psych Fest last year and their music went really well with the late afternoon sun. It was a little different seeing them in a club, but they were still pretty good.

Gymshorts, well I couldn’t actually see them because of all the people gathered at the side stage, but uh, they sounded good.

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Drug Rug

Drug Rug had an indie rock sound with some twang thrown in. They seemed to be a crowd favorite, which at this point, the place was full of people.

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Nice Guys

Nice Guys are a band I got to see for the first time last month and were really fun. Again, due to the stage layout, I didn’t have a good view of them, until the singer got up on a table. They totally rocked and had a small mosh pit at the front of the stage and the set was completely insane!

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CreaturoS

Closing out the night were psych fuzz rockers CreaturoS, who were surrounded by friends and members of other bands around the stage. I ended up leaving during their set since it was a long day and I was getting tired. I picked up a Fuzzstival t-shirt on my way out, although not the design I wanted, but they were sold out of the other ones (mental note: buy t-shirts before the end of the show). This whole day/night was fun and I am already looking forward to next year’s Fuzzstival.

Review: Holly Hunt, Mono at the Middle East Downstairs 6-13-2015

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I took the T on this fairly warm night into Central Square for a rare (at least for me) show at Middle East downstairs. It’s always kind of weird to be there since most of the shows I go to are at the upstairs. Once I got inside, Holly Hunt had just started, so I ordered a Harpoon UFO White and found a spot to watch the band.

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Holly Hunt

Miami’s Holly Hunt are Beatriz Monteavaro on drums and Gavin Perry on guitar and the two of them make a lot of very loud noise. With a heaviness that builds up into a slow wall of guitar and drums without any lyrics, they never stopped between songs. This band was intense!

After their set, I ended up getting a Sam Adams Lager, after the bartender, who was really cool, suggested I might not care for the Harpoon Dark (which I’ve had before, but couldn’t remember if I liked it). He gave me a sample and was right. At this point, a most of the crowd made their way to the front of the stage as Mono were getting set up.

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Mono

I first saw Mono, who are on tour from Japan, at Austin Psych Fest last year and really liked them. As the band came out to a cheering crowd, they took their places and began to play. Starting out slowly and building up to at times, a frenzy of sound, there was a very cinematic feel to the music. In fact, the air vent above me, combined with some of the more ethereal tinged music, helped to set the mood for the night. I don’t think there was a single person that wasn’t fully mesmerized by the music.

After Mono finished, there was a really long line at the merch table in the back. Since the night ended pretty early, I made a pit stop in Harvard Square for some of my beloved Tasty Burger (I highly recommend the Big Tasty with bacon) for some food. This was an amazing night of really cool music and Holly Hunt and Mono are both amazing live bands that I would definitely recommend seeing if you have the chance.