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: 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: Secret Lover, Honduras, Sunflower Bean at the Middle East Upstairs 2-27-2016

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There were a lot of good shows on this night, so it was tough to decide where to go. I ended up at the Middle East upstairs for an early show featuring Secret Lover, Honduras, and Sunflower Bean. Secret Lover had just gone on when I got there.

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Secret Lover

Worcester’s Secret Lover are a band that I first saw last year and really liked. With singer Sally Horowitz moving around all around the stage singing somewhat dark songs of love and breakups amongst other things, they played a really good set to kick off the night.

As I waited for Honduras to go on, I ordered a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union from the bar, which as usual, was delicious.

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Honduras

Honduras are a four piece from Brooklyn and they played an energetic set of fuzzy indie rock. I ended up really liking these guys a lot.

One more Hoponius Union, which has become my new “go-to” beer when I’m out, as I waited for Sunflower Bean to take the stage.

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Sunflower Bean

I don’t know if this show was sold out, but it sure felt like it by the time Sunflower Bean took the stage because the Upstairs was completely filled with people. There is a lot of hype about this Brooklyn trio, partly because the members are all under 21 and sound like they have been playing for years, but mostly because they are really fucking good! Tearing through a set of rock that seemed to cross a lot of genres ranging from psych to dream pop to a bit of noise rock that would have made Sonic Youth proud, the band absolutely killed it. At one point, singer/bassist Julia Cumming jumped down into the crowd while still playing, which was really cool! They even played a new song that isn’t available anywhere. After their set, there was a long line at their merch table where I saw more than a few people with the vinyl version of their newest album “Human Ceremony“, which I also recommend. The band also posed for pictures and chatted with fans, which was really cool too.

This night of music went beyond my expectations and I’m glad I went. All three bands were great. I picked up Honduras new EP called “Gathering Rust”, which can be preordered on their Bandcamp site but doesn’t ship until April, so it was nice to have a preview of this very excellent CD. I ended the night by stopping through Harvard Square for a Big Tasty at Tasty Burger, then made my way home for some much needed sleep.

Review: Gravel, Kal Marks, CreaturoS, Nice Guys at the Middle East Upstairs 1-28-2016

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It has been a while since I’ve gone out to a show, and after what can only be described as a shitty week (avoid working for big pharma if you can!), I really needed this. So it was off to Alewife where I caught the red line to the Middle East Upstairs in Central Square. I got there kind of early and the place already had a pretty big crowd, especially for a weeknight show. Gravel were up first.

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Gravel

Gravel are from Salem, MA and have a riot grrrl/punk rock sound. They seemed to be having fun on stage, with the lead singer jumping down into the crowd a couple of times and creating a mini mosh pit. I really liked this band a lot!

After their set, I went over to the bar to get a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, which tasted amazingly awesome!

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Kal Marks

Kal Marks were up next as more and more people filtered in. It has been a while since I’ve seen these guys and they didn’t disappoint. After a broken guitar string during the first song, the band played some cool funk jams. Once the string was replaced, the band played an intense set of music that at times, built up into a frenzy of noise and screaming then come right back down again.

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CreaturoS

With another Hoponius Union in hand, I made my way back through a pretty large crowd and found a spot off to the side to see CreaturoS. They played a really good set of psychedelic garage rock and everyone around me was really into it.

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Nice Guys

Nice Guys were the final band of the night. They started off by playing songs from their new WSM EP cassette, which is really good, as well as some of their older stuff. Things got pretty insane during the set with a few mosh pits breaking out and a few people braver than me crowd surfing. Beers and cups were thrown at the band (in a good way as the band said it only made them stronger), but I’d like to thank the douchebag standing in front of me for covering me in beer when he thought that throwing a full can at the band would be a good idea. Regardless, this was a really fun, crazy set!

This was a much needed night out and a really fun show despite getting covered in beer. All of the bands were great and I had a pretty good time. I stopped by Falafel Palace for a delicious falafel wrap, then caught the train back to Alewife, and called it a night.

Review: G. Gordon Gritty, Atlantic Thrills, Nice Guys, The Barbazons at the Middle East Upstairs 7-01-15

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After a very quick drive to Alewife, I was on the T heading to the Middle East Up in Central Square for the Kids Like You And Me 6th anniversary show! I ordered a Hoponius Union and waited for G. Gordon Gritty to go on.

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G. Gordon Gritty


I wasn’t familiar with G. Gordon Gritty, but this ended up being my favorite band of the night!! Playing most of a pretty rocking set down on the floor amongst the crowd, then band even let other people in the crowd sing. Tambourine guy danced through the crowd and shook it like nobody’s business. Tambourine guy…you fucking rule! It was time for another drink, so I ordered a Harpoon UFO White and waited for the Atlantic Thrills to go on.

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Atlantic Thrills

Providence’s Atlantic Thrills play surf rock with a psych edge to it. The constant spitting of beer into the crowd by one of the members got old real fast though, especially when some of it got into mine. Not cool. That being said, I have seen these guys a few times and they always put on a fun show!

Nice guys were up next.

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Nice Guys

This was my first time seeing the Nice Guys, who played a set of dirty garage rock with a punk edge that whipped the crowd up into a dancing frenzy. At one point, the drummer left his spot behind the drums and sang one of the songs, which was really awesome. These guys were a lot of fun! One more Hoponius Union to replace my tainted drink as one of my favorite local bands, The Barbazons were setting up.

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The Barbazons

My god, I loves me some Barbazons! Really, what more can I say about this band after having seen them so many times? They rocked an all request set with the usual fun energy. I had to leave before they finished because it was a weeknight and the T doesn’t run all that late.

I saw some fun bands, drank some good beers, and had a great time! Thanks to Kids Like Me And You for putting this show on, it was a blast!

Review: Bedroom Eyes, Guerilla Toss, No Joy at the Middle East Upstairs 6-26-2015

I had just missed the red line train by seconds, so I had a bit of a long wait at Alewife, but I was finally on my way to the Middle East for what was a pretty good lineup. Making my way through a very busy Central Square, and subsequently a very busy Middle East restaurant (which if you don’t already know, you have to cut through in order to get to the Upstairs), I paid and walked into a packed room, where Bedroom Eyes were already on.

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Bedroom Eyes

Bedroom Eyes have been around for a couple of years now, but this was the first time I have seen them. They were full of the kind of shoegazey goodness that I haven’t heard in quite a while and I was loving it! I will definitely have to see them again.

It was time for my first beer of the night, which was a Hoponius Union from Jack’s Abby and went down way too fast, making me think that I probably should have eaten dinner before heading out. Guerrilla Toss were up next.

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Guerilla Toss

Guerilla Toss are a band that I’ve read a lot about but have never seen live until tonight. Playing a pretty wild set of experimental noise rock, the crowd was dancing and going nuts during every song. It’s very easy to compare them to Arab on Radar, but it was a really fun set that was full of energy from both the band and the crowd.

It got really hot after their set, so I ordered a Harpoon UFO White and waited for No Joy to go on for the last show of their current tour.

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No Joy

It took a little while for Canada’s No Joy to set up their equipment, but once everything was good to go, they launched right into the music. Singer Jasamine White-Gluz’s vocals were barely audible over all of the distortion from the guitars. It should be noted that they were loud, *very* loud, so I’d highly recommend wearing earplugs if you’re going to see them live (and you should, because they were awesome!).

Although the show ended kind of early, I had a really fun time seeing some great bands. After a quick stop in Harvard Square for some much needed food at Tasty Burger, I was on my way back home, happy and satisfied.