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Pete’s First 11 of ‘11: 2011 Show Reviews – Della Mae @ Club Passim, 2/13

by Pete on May.11, 2011, under Audio, Live Shows, News, Reviews, Video

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Della Mae: proving you don't need straw hats and beards to kick ass at bluegrass. Photo Credit: Austin Nevins and Amanda Kowalski


If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.

To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Shows one-through-ten were riddled with tags like indie rock, power pop, synth pop, pop punk, shoegaze-y punk, Americana and, yes, metalcore. By now, I figured it was time to include a genre that would at least be recognizable by name to the half-dozen 60-something Jewish relatives that comprise my core readership (Shalom, gang!).

So, for outing #11 of 2011, I went to the Winter Campfire Festival at Club Passim to see Boston-based bluegrass up-and-comers Della Mae (I guess if I really wanted to get some props at the next bar mitzvah I could have gone to Fiddler On The Roof. Oh well).



If you’re into bluegrass, then you probably already know that Della Mae was genetically engineered in a laboratory below the Appalachian Mountains. Imbued with gunslinger solo chops and buttermilk harmonies, the fierce five were originally grown for political assassinations, jewel heists and the like. Realizing that their talents were better suited for pickin’ an’ a-singin’ than robbin’ an’ a-killin’, the girls enraged their engineers and delighted music fans everywhere by forming a bluegrass supergroup… Okay, so I embellished a little, but you get the idea: Della Mae ain’t nuttin to fuck with.

Although they’ve played countless tour gigs, festivals and award shows, Della Mae blazed some new trails for themselves at the Winter Campfire show. For starters, it was their first gig with singer/guitarist Celia Woodsmith. And whereas most bands might hope that their newest member can remember their songs well enough to get through that first show, Della Mae solved this concern by learning an entirely new batch of songs for the gig.

Celia Woodsmith - Photo Credit: Stephen Ide

Celia Woodsmith - Photo Credit: Stephen Ide

It would appear that the band intends for Woodsmith to be much more than just “the new guitar player.” Standing center stage and singing lead on nearly every song (some of which were identified as songs that she had written), Woodsmith quickly established herself as a major cornerstone of the new-look Della Mae. It seems like a good fit. A soul-ar flare burst from her sunny voice as she regaled the house with tails of Big Old Women From San Anton’ (“why you been gone so long?”) and Bottles of Whiskey (“and a bag of shame”). Her disposition was as bright as her melodies; a solemn country waltz called “I Built This Heart” was the only number not sung with a smile.

During each chorus, the voices of Jenni Lyn Gardner and Grace Van’t Hof (who has since left the band to pursue other projects) flanked Woodsmith in a smooth formation that would be the envy of migratory geese. Between harmonies, Gardner (mandolin) and Van’t Hof (banjo) traded Derby-speed solos with reigning National Fiddle Champion Kimber Ludiker while Amanda Jean Kowalski drove the pace on her standup bass.

dellaboots

Photo Credit: Ricky Chapman

Della Mae’s debut full-length is due out in July, but judging from how studio-ready they sounded in mid-February, I’m guessing that most of the time between will be spent deciding which cowboy boots to wear in the press photos.



Della Mae

Club Passim


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Show Review & Photo Gallery: Come Reunion at TraniWrock – Club Oberon 4/14

by Tim B. on May.03, 2011, under Live Shows, Media, News, Photos, Reviews, Video

Come's Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw, performing live with TraniWreck at Club Oberon. Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Come's Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw, performing live with TraniWreck at Club Oberon. Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee


Now in its seventh year, TraniWreck, the brainchild of Aliza Shapiro (aka Heywood Wakefield) combines many facets of LBGT culture and entertainment for an experience that is ribald, kitschy, and just plain fun. In their own words, ”TraniWreck is the legendary, award-winning, cabaret variety show featuring genderbending irreverence: Drag, Burlesque, Aerials and Performance Art. Since 2004, TraniWreck has been the home of brilliantly revealing costumes, inconceivably long nails, facial hair of astronomic proportions, gold lamé, debauchery and more attitude than a $13 cocktail” – and that’s 100% accurate. TraniWreck’s “TraniWrock” event at Club Oberon alternated between freewheeling cabaret, stand-up comedy, campy skits, and daring aerial maneuvering – the show was packed with excitement! The evening also included Teenbeat’s Cotton Candy (label honcho and ex-Unrest founder Mark Robinson, and ex-Blast Off Country Style singer Evelyn Hurley) to provide some mutated jingles to cover costume changeovers.


Aerial acrobatics abound at Club Oberon during TraniWreck's TraniWrock performance. Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Aerial acrobatics abound at Club Oberon during TraniWreck's TraniWrock performance. Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Once the parade of glitter, latex, fishnet and lycra was over, it was time for the return of Come. For those not in the know, Come was an amazingly powerful band during their reign in the ’90s, and for my money, hands-down the best Boston band I’ve ever heard! They did a two-date world tour last year (a warmup gig at TT’s the week before Matador’s 21st ‘Lost Weekend‘ anniversary blowout in Vegas), and tonight would be the first of another two-parter (they played in Brooklyn on Saturday, along with Eleventh Dream Day). The bristling, spiky, blues-soaked dual guitar attack of Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw remained intact, and original rhythm section Sean O’Brien and Arthur Johnson just crackled with power and precision. I can’t really think of another band that can meld two distinct guitar sounds so well; certainly they are up there in the pantheon of greats like Television, Thin White Rope, and The Church (though sounding wildly different from any of those).




 


Chris Brokaw of Come - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Chris Brokaw of Come - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Sticking with early material, (aside from the scintillating “Cimmaron”  when Michael David Curry joined in with violin,) the set list didn’t vary too much from last year’s show, except that it was a bit shorter. While I would have loved to hear even more of their second record, the sublimely brooding “German Song” and “String” were played, with the latter featuring the kind of guitar work that should be held up as an example nonpareil in regards to a two-guitar attack. Breathtaking stuff indeed, and the venue was filled with people gasping at their luck to hear it once again. I don’t expect to see Come play again in the near future, but I’m extremely grateful that I was able to see them again at the height of their prodigious powers not just once but thrice.



DISCLAIMER: Depending on your place of employment, these pictures might be considered to be Not Safe For Work. If you’re worried about it, just wait until you get home to check them out… but make sure to give them a look because this spectacle is not to be missed!




Thanks to Tim Bugbee for the amazing photos, and the review as well! See more of his work at Tinnitus Photography!


TraniWreck is produced by Truth Serum Productions. You can catch their next show on May 19th, see their website for details! 


Come

TraniWreck

Club Oberon

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Pete’s First 11 of ‘11: 2011 Show Reviews – Rusted Root @ The Paradise, 2/10

by Pete on Apr.12, 2011, under Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

Rusted Root

Whether you're in college or taking some time off to snowboard, Rusted Root has you covered.

 

If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.

To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Before this show, my tenth outing of the year (which was still young at that point), the only Rusted Root song I knew was, of course, “Send Me On My Way.” I don’t even remember liking it until my high school graduation where a few kids in my class sang it on a lovely mid-May afternoon in a field in Beverly. Actually, it wasn’t so much “lovely” as it was “cold as fuck and sleeting.” Not exactly an experience I want to relive, but what can I say? Nostalgia works in strange ways.



And anyway, the ticket was free, thanks to my buddy Nick. After definitely not smoking a joint in my car in a spot that left me with a parking ticket that I definitely paid, we froze our fannies off for the short walk to the Paradise. This was my first visit to the newly refurbished ‘Dise and, I’ve got to say, it was a little disheartening to see that the makeover did not include the removal of those huge, obstructive pillars in the middle of the room (easily the worst feature of the venue). They did, however install some industrial strength cooling fans in the ceiling, which struck me as a great idea until I stood under them. They make it feel like you’re standing on a tarmac at Chicago O’Hare. Nick was optimistic that we could maneuver towards the stage and out of their path once the music started and “the hippies start hippie-ing about.” But alas, there was no accessible spot that offered shelter from the storm. Oh well, maybe I’ll be a little more grateful for the “breeze” when I go there for a show in the summertime.

Michael Glabicki photo by Andy Argyrakis

Michael Glabicki - Photo Credit: Andy Argyrakis

What’s that? Oh right! The band! I figured I wouldn’t recognize any songs other than the big hit, but they were generous enough to include some spirited covers of “Cinnamon Girl” and “Suspicious Minds.” I later found out that two of the songs that got the biggest crowd response were closer “Ecstacy” and “Back To The Earth,” both off When I Woke. Both numbers included an epic (as in “long”) build-up – as you can imagine (I mean, they’re something of a jam band. Epic build-ups are pretty much their raison d’être right?)

Any hardcore fan reading this will likely roll their eyes, but “Send Me” was the highlight for me. Nostalgia aside, it was a notable moment for being the first time I’ve ever really felt somewhat mindblown by a hand-drum solo. Looking like he just got back from the gym in a sleeveless tee and baggy shorts, drummer Preach Freedom stepped out from behind the kit and floored the crowd with all manner of polyrhythmic pummeling.

But the main thing I learned about the eclectic Pittsburghers that night is that Michael Glabicki may be the Michael Jordan of soulful-singin’, acoustic-strummin’ white boys with knitted hats (that must have been a HUGE hit a few days earlier when they played for the snowboarders up at Sugarloaf)



Rusted Root

The Paradise


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Pete’s First 11 of ’11: 2011 Show Reviews – David Wax Museum @ Club Oberon, 2/3

by Pete on Mar.29, 2011, under Audio, Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

David Wax Museum - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

David Wax Museum - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas


If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.

To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Ever since Pete Townshend first murdered a guitar on stage (and probably before, for all I know), rock bands have constantly sought ways to add a little something extra to their concerts. By now, we pretty much assume it’s all been done, right? I mean, once you’ve seen a person in a Sharon Osbourne costume get its oversized tits cut off, spraying the audience with green fluid, what else is there to see?

And yet, here I was at Club Oberon for my ninth concert of the year and four-hundredth-or-so of my lifetime and, somehow, the David Wax Museum managed to show me a good two or three things I’ve never before seen at a show.


David Wax Museum – “That’s Not True” – Everything Is Saved
(PGB Track of the Week #72 – Feb. 2011)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


The CD Release Party for their third LP Everything Is Saved started innocently enough. Six pieces of the band’s ever-fluctuating lineup (including mainstays David Wax and Suz Slezak) took the stage, looking quite at home in front of Club Oberon’s grand, old-timey red curtain, and opened their set with a seemingly straight-forward rendition of “That’s Not True,” a mid-paced folk tune from the new album.

David Wax Museum - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

David Wax Museum - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas


Halfway through the song, everyone on the stage went silent… but before you could wonder why they’d stopped, the song resumed – only from a different place, and with different instrumentation. The audience whirled in unison towards the back of the club, where another phalanx of musicians had appeared in one corner of the theater’s balcony. As the song continued, they paraded down the steps, through the crowd and up to the stage, uniting horns, percussion and a second accordion with the ensemble that commenced the soirée.

The Americana-gone-Son Jarocho phenoms used every talent offered by their cast of 12 multi-instrumentalists, and every conceivable amenity of the Club Oberon space. On one song, crepe paper streamers came flying from above like a Blue Man Group show. On a few others, the band split off into smaller teams who played their parts on one or more of the balconies… or the staircases… or even the bar tops! At one point, Slezak put down her fiddle to rattle a fleshless jawbone as she does on certain numbers (fun fact: the donkey jaw, or “quijada” is one of the main instruments of Afro-Peruvian percussion), only this time she was joined moments later by another quijadist (or, if you prefer, “jawboner”… huh-huh, huh-huh), and then another, and then another until half of the band was playing dead animal parts! I’m assuming that the band has since received a threatening letter or two from outraged PETA members.



Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

The most unusual bit of theatrics happened late in the set, when a trapeze aerialist performed some human origami in the middle of the crowd, while two accordions and a percussionist provided the soundtrack. Later, as always, the core members of the band stood in a tight circle among the audience while they played their gospel-waltz lullaby, “Let Me Rest.”

After the last song, the crowd was treated to a screening of the music video for “Born With A Broken Heart,” the first single from Everything Is Saved. The video shows Wax and Slezak busking around Harvard Square and beyond, riding in pick-ups, playing with dandelions, flirtatiously shadow-boxing, standing on milk-crates and doing other spunky-free-spirit stuff on a partly cloudy Autumn day. I was reminded of the old SNL skit where Christopher Walken tells the Census taker: “When you say it like that, my life sounds pretty damn good.”

Pretty damn fun to watch, too.





La Quijada De Burro - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

La Quijada De Burro - Photo Credit: Johnny Arguedas

You can see Johnny Arguedas’ full photo gallery from this show on the Arguedas Photography website




David Wax Museum

Club Oberon


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Ladies Rock Camp Boston!

by Pete on Mar.24, 2011, under Interviews, Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

Ladies Rock Camp concert flyer for their showcase at TT The Bears in Cambridge, February 20th 2011The songs had never been heard on the radio… or on a podcast… or on Myspace, Bandcamp or Reverbnation. In fact, none of the songs even existed up until a day or two earlier.

But here they were, erupting through the confines of TT the Bear’s while a packed crowd hollered its appreciation. A delirious multitude of voices could even be heard singing along, knowing the lyrics to every tune like they were Ramones covers. It was the first showcase for Ladies Rock Camp Boston, an intensive, three-day program that took nearly 40 women out of their normal routines and them rock stars.

“You know how, sometimes, when you play an instrument through an amplifier that’s turned up really loud, you can physically feel it?” asked Hilken Mancini, co-founder and Program Director of the camp and its parent organization, Girls Rock Camp Boston. “It was the same feeling. I could feel the energy from the women behind me waiting for the next band to play, to see the women they had just made friends with get up and do it.”

Even after witnessing it in person, the sheer scope of what these women had just pulled off is not an easy thing to comprehend (much less believe). Nearly all of the campers who performed that night arrived at LRC on February 18 having never played an instrument, much less played in a band. With the help of more than 30 volunteers, each of the women (whose ages ranged from 19 to over 50) learned how to play a rock instrument, formed bands with fellow campers and wrote the songs that they would play on February 20 at the showcase.


Ladies' Rock Camp - Photo by JJ Gonson

Ladies' Rock Camp - Photo by JJ Gonson


Mancini, herself a long-time guitarist with such Boston bands as Fuzzy and Shepherdess, started GRCB after volunteering at the original Girls Rock Camp in Portland, OR – an experience that she says changed her life. It was there that she met Nora Allen-Wiles, a fellow Bay Sate resident who was volunteering with an administrative role at the camp. The two teamed up with Mancini’s friend and fellow musician Mary Lou Lord to establish a camp in Boston modeled after the one in Portland and the growing number of programs around the nation that have come to form the Girls Rock Camp Alliance.

For those who are unfamiliar, Girls Rock Camp runs summer programs for girls aged 8-16 with the stated mission of building self-esteem and leadership through music education and performance. Ladies Rock Camp was started as way to raise funds for the GRC while giving women over the age of 18 the opportunity to enjoy an experience similar to the one offered by the girls’ camp. It was held at the Spontaneous Celebrations Community Center in Jamaica Plain, which houses a large auditorium, a small gymnasium and various rooms that were used for workshops and rehearsal spaces.

GRCB Founders Nora, Hilken Mancini, and Mary Lou Lord

GRCB Founders Nora Allen-Wiles, Hilken Mancini, and Mary Lou Lord

As Administrative Director Allen-Wiles explains, LRC consisted of much more than guitar and drum lessons.

“We do a lot of empowerment exercises to build self-esteem,” she said. “We also do a lot of group-building and ice-breakers and things to get the women to feel more comfortable in their bodies before starting their day. A lot of it is things that we do with the girls camp, but they’re just as important for the women to feel more comfortable around each other and with themselves.”

Of course, running all of these activities takes a lot of work. Fortunately, LRC found no shortage of talented women eager to lend a hand, and many of them are names that might be familiar to those who follow the local music scene. Ex-Darkbuster guitarist Amy Griffin, now of Full Body Anchor and Movers & Shakers taught guitar lessons, as did Apple Betty guitar slinger (not to mention Boston Band Crush blogger) Kerri-Ann Richard. Hayley Thompson-King of Banditas worked as a vocal instructor, while Aerochix drummer Joni Scimone taught campers how to hit the skins. Many of the instructors also served as “band coaches,” offering support and guidance to the newly formed bands.

As for the campers themselves, many of them were women who have been attending concerts in the Boston area for years but had never gotten on stage themselves. Some heard about LRC by word of mouth, while others had some prior involvement in a GRC program. With the number of applicants vastly outweighing the number of available spots, campers were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Girls Rock Camp Boston 2010 in action - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Girls Rock Camp Boston 2010 in action - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

The very first person to sign up was Erin King, who was eager to take part in LRC after volunteering at last summer’s inaugural Girls Rock Camp Boston. It was there that she got her first and – until this year – only experience behind a drumkit when one of the girls in the band she was coaching stayed home sick one day. King spent 20 minutes tapping out the simple rhythm of the song her girls were playing so that the members who were present could rehearse. At LRC, she decided to give the skins another go.

In one large room of the Spontaneous Celebrations complex, nine kits were set up for the nine girls who had chosen to play the drums. 15 (presumably cacophonous) minutes of freestyle pounding were followed by more structured workshops. King learned how to keep a beat using only the kick and snare, and gradually worked in the toms and cymbals. By Sunday, she had learned enough fills to get through an entire song without entering or exiting two verses the same way.

To decide what kind of band they wanted to play in, campers were given the choice between several different genres in the rock spectrum (punk, glam, metal etc.). King went with “pop,” forming a quartet along with guitarist Rebecca Mitchell, bassist Wendy Grus and vocalist Ashley Willard (also of BBC fame). They decided to call their band The Boobytraps.

King likened the grueling practice-and-rehearsal to a “bootcamp,” She often spent the rare moments of down-time working on her beats. Even with the extra practice, King says that there were moments where she feared that her band’s one-song set was destined to be a disaster.


The Boobytraps - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

The Boobytraps - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

“In dress rehearsal, I just couldn’t do it,” she recalls. “My legs were trembling. I thought, ‘I’m not gonna be able to keep my feet on the pedals.’ But when we walked on the stage, I had this level of calmness. I thought, ‘I can do this,’ and I did everything exactly how I wanted to. I went for it and played my heart out.”

Not only did The Boobytraps nail their song, appropriately titled “Shut Your Trap (So I Don’t Fall In),” but they had so much fun doing it that they decided that there was no reason why their first show should be their only one. The four have since pitched in on a practice space at the Sound Museum. If they have it their way, you will be able to catch the Boobytraps playing a full set of original material (and maybe a few covers) on a local stage sometime this summer. (Click here to check their Facebook page for updates!)



Perhaps no camper had seen as many Bay State bands without forming one herself as Anngelle Wood, host of the “Boston Emissions” local music show on WZLX (100.7 FM). Wood found out about the camp when she interviewed Mancini and Lord about GRCB and LRC on her show, which airs on Sunday nights from 10pm-to-midnight. The
long-time local music booster’s only previous band experience was playing bass at a few shows with a short-lived cover band.

Dirty Gold - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Dirty Gold - Photo Credit: Kelly Davidson

Wood decided that LRC was the perfect opportunity to get behind a microphone in an entirely different setting. When it was time to pick genres, Wood’s love of bands like T-Rex and the New York Dolls led her to form a glam rock band with guitarist Charlotte Huffman and drummer Lilia Halpern. The trio decided to call themselves “Dirty Gold.”

The experience of collaborating on an original song was a new one for the three women, but the empowering atmosphere of the camp helped them stay largely undaunted by the challenge of creating and memorizing the tune in such a short timeframe.

“We just kind of riffed a little bit on Friday and I listened for the melody,” Wood explained. “On Saturday, we put more of the pieces together and recorded it on Lilia’s iPhone. We listened back to the melody and then sat down and wrote all of the lyrics in about an hour.”

Dirty Gold had the honor of opening the Sunday night showcase with their song, “Bright Lights.” During the very first verse, Huffman’s guitar strap came undone, but like a true rock n’ roller, she carried on without a trace of panic. A member of the LRC staff snuck onstage and quickly fixed the strap as Huffman continued to strum the chords while grooving in place in a sparkling blouse that would’ve made David Bowie pout with envy.



That moment seemed to set the tone for a night of performances that did not always go exactly as planned – but were always fierce, lively and anything but self-conscious. The voices in the crowd that sang along with every word belonged to the campers and volunteers who had learned the songs, essentially, by accident, simply by being within earshot of the artists who wrote them, as they were being written.

Ladies' Rock Camp, getting ready for the big show! Photo Credit: JJ Gonson

Ladies' Rock Camp, getting ready for the big showcase! Photo Credit: JJ Gonson

It may be tempting to say that the main purpose of these camps is to provide women and girls with a gateway to a field in which they are constantly underrepresented and seem, at times, to be unwelcome if they do not fit a certain image. That’s a big part of it, and a noble, necessary mission to be sure. But, as Mancini explains, it really doesn’t tell you the whole story.

“It’s not often in life that there is no agenda,” she says. “Not that I think poorly of what people are trying to do; everyone’s got to make money and take care of their business. But we’re all so selfish and vain in so many ways that it’s rare to have a pure space where it really is about getting to that place where you’re building each other up and not monetarily driven and not trying to gain anything.”

That, more than anything, is what made this event so special. It was a celebration of friendship, power, pride, guts, blood, sweat, silliness, sisterhood, womanhood and, above all, rock n’ roll. That’s redundant, of course, because rock n’ roll encompasses all of those things. Anyone who was at T.T.’s on February 20 will tell you the same.



Girls Rock Camp Boston begins registration for their Summer Sessions on April 1st. Because of the astronomical success of Ladies Rock Camp, GRCB was able to raise enough funding to be able to host two separate sessions, one running July 17-23 and one August 8-13. E-mail camperinfo@girlsrockboston.org or visit http://www.girlsrockboston.org/Summer_Camp.html for more information!


Ladies Rock Camp Boston

Girls Rock Camp Boston

TT’s

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Show Review: Motörhead, Clutch, Valient Thorr @ House of Blues, 3/1

by Pete on Mar.18, 2011, under Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

Who'd win in a wrestling match - Lemmy or God? ...Trick question, Lemmy IS God - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Who'd win in a wrestling match - Lemmy or God? ...Trick question, Lemmy IS God! - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee


I like the old shit. Always have.

If there’s a touring band with more combined prostate exams than albums to its credit, I’ve probably seen them – especially if their stage show has ever included lots of fake blood or needlessly large replica aircrafts.

Motörhead doesn’t tote around their aluminum-tube fighter jet these days, and some older fans will even tell you that their performances are not as hazardous as they used to be. I guess I’ll take their word for it, but it sure seemed like a dubious thing to claim on Tuesday night as the sweaty masses rambled out onto Lansdowne Street. Motörhead had just rocked the House of Blues for the second time since it opened in 2009, and people from all walks of lowlife wore the look of someone who had just seen a great band at the top of their game.

Valient Thorr - Photo Credit: Joshua Lowe

Valient Thorr - Photo Credit: Joshua Lowe

My small crew rolled in to the House as openers Valient Thorr were getting the fists pounding with their sci-fi themed, boot scootin’ boogie metal. What The Who were to decibel levels in the mid-70’s is what Valient Thorr is to beard mass today. It’s not easy to be the most hobo-lookin’ sonofa bitch at a metal show this size, but lead singer/dancer Valient Himself was a legit contender that night – not only because of his unkempt appearance, but also the way he pranced around shirtless while flailing his arms and yelling about corruption and the planet Venus. He was like the vow-of-silence man in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” fiercely defending his juniper bushes - only much sweatier, and (thankfully) with pants on.

Having been around for just one decade, Valient Thorr was, by far, the “newest” band on the bill. Their most recent album, The Stranger, was released last September.


 


Clutch - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Clutch - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Up next was Clutch, as prolific and versatile a band as you could ever lose a tooth while watching. I was still orbiting the bar at the time, so I didn’t get a close look at the pit, but it certainly didn’t resemble the warzones I imagined back when I was in high school and using their first album, Transnational Speedway League, as an excuse to shout “COME ON, MOTHERFUCKER, LET’S THROW DOWN!!!” as often as possible. This was not a major surprise - like a bizarro version of Motörhead, Clutch didn’t play their earliest hits, and their sound has changed dramatically over their 20-year run, diverging from an all-out mosh pit factory to more funk and blues-heavy styles of hard rock. Frontman Neil Fallon did much more singing than shouting… and it turns out he’s a damn good singer! Great stage moves, too – part prime-era Elvis Presley, part middle-years Henry Rollins, and part washed-up Dave Meniketti (from fuckin’ Y&T, dude!).


 


Motörhead - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Motörhead - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

It occurred to me that Clutch and Valient Thorr were as fitting a pair of openers I had seen at any of the six-and-counting Motörhead shows I’ve been to. Both bands play what most people would call “heavy metal,” but there are no blast beats and no more screaming than you’ll find on a James Brown album. In other words, they play rock n’ roll – it’s just a faster and louder version than you might be used to. Hardcore Motörhead fans know that Lemmy has never identified his group as a heavy metal band. He starts every show by proclaiming, “We are Motörhead! And we play rock n’ roll!”

It’s a good reminder of why heavy metal was such a great idea in the first place, before all of the cliquey subgenres and mascara-clad arsonists and motherfucking Zakk Wylde.



Mr. Kilmister and the lads cleared up all of the confusion about who the hell these guys are by opening with the song “We Are Motörhead” off of the 2000 album of the same name (if it’s one thing Motörhead understands, it’s the memory-and-comprehension limitations of their fanbase).

Motörhead - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

Motörhead - Photo Credit: Tim Bugbee

The band played an even mix of selections from their 500- or-so albums, covering a wide range of speeds from fast to very, very fast. The songs from their latest, The World Is Yours, sounded like Motörhead songs, which is all we ever ask for.

As expected, the House of Blues was transformed into the shores of Normandy during uber classics like “Metropolis,” “Killed By Death” and a little ditty called “Ace of Spades.” I did my best to scream along, but was often busy pulling someone’s hair out of my mouth or deflecting the boot of some skyward crowdsurfer.


Motörhead – “Metropolis” – Live in Bostön, 3/1/11


Talking to people outside, I was a little surprised at how many folks had just survived their first Motörhead concert. What was not surprising were the reactions I got from people who had seen them numerous times when I asked, “so, what keeps you coming back?”

One by one, they all looked at me as if I had just offered them a tube sock full of dead mice.

“It’s fuckin’ Motörhead!”



Motörhead

Clutch

Valient Thorr

House of Blues

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Pete’s First 11 of ’11: 2011 Show Reviews – RIBS & The Cinnamon Fuzz @ TTs, 1/28

by Pete on Mar.15, 2011, under Audio, Downloads, Giveaways, Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

RIBS Live - Photo Credit: Pete Legasey

RIBS Live - Photo Credit: Pete Legasey


If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.

To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Show 8: RIBS & Cinamon Fuzz @ T.T.’s – 1/28


RIBS Live - Photo Credit: Pete Legasey

RIBS Live - Photo Credit: Pete Legasey

If you’re keeping score, TT the Bear’s Place has been the site of three of my last four outings. I feel compelled to state, for the record, that I do not have an irrational, superstitious dread of traveling beyond the boundaries of the Mass Ave area, nor am I stalking any of the staff at TT’s.

Now that we’re clear on that… my eighth go-round of young 2011 was the Ryan’s Smashing Life 4th Anniversary Show, which featured two local groups (RIBS and The Cinnamon Fuzz) and two gangs of New York (Bridges & Powerlines and Fan-Tan).

Coinciding with the release of their new digital 7”, The Locrian Singles, RIBS’ performance was as demonstrative of their uncongenial aesthetic as the songs themselves. A moment of complete darkness heralded the cold iron bars that open their dirge-y new hit, “Please Don’t Go.” The soul of this classic rock shmendrik was pleased to see them bucking in unison with their instruments like ZZ Top, only with more anxiety… and a functioning razor.


RIBS – “Please Don’t Go” – The Locrian Singles
(Download this album for free at RIBS’ Bandcamp!)

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Of course, the ZZ Top comparisons ended there. Far from a fandango of pentatonic licks and Mexican prostitutes, RIBS channeled energies from distant planes with grave intensity. Folks getting their first live look at RIBS after hearing The Locrian Singles and thinking “cool synth work” may have been shocked to find no keyboards present during their set. On the contrary, most of the sonic apparitions haunting the tracks were conjured by lead guitarchemist Justin Tolan and singer/occasional axeman Keith Freund. Tolan sent these apparitions howling through the T.T.-the-Bear-‘osphere that night, while Freund’s falsetto-flung tales of despair matched their ghostliness.



The Cinnamon Fuzz, not so live - Photo Credit: Mary Lee Desmond

The Cinnamon Fuzz, not so live - Photo Credit: Mary Lee Desmond

The villainous attack waged by RIBS contrasted sharply with the disco pop party thrown moments earlier by The Cinnamon Fuzz. I walked in just as they were discharging their robot love anthem, “Reboot My Heart,” and it struck me that this band had answered the question: “What would it be like if the beats from “Eye of the Tiger” and most of The Cars’ catalogue had a baby, and raised it with an old school Nintendo and a VHS of “Short Circuit” as its only means of stimuli?” (incidentally, this is exactly what my upbringing was like). As you might expect, the result has an unmistakable 80’s flavor and a few helpings of computer nerd goofiness, but so does every slovenly synth-pop six-piece that comes through town. The Fuzz have shinier hooks than many of them.


The Cinnamon Fuzz’s debut LP, Cruise Of The Century, was dedicated to late Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele, and you can hear a little of Steele’s rising bass-from-the-crypt in Jonah Burstein’s vocal style. Although, considering the band’s keytastic alt-rock M.O., a better comparison for Burstein might be the dude from Liquido… without the German accent or epic unibrow.


The Cinnamon Fuzz – “Reboot My Heart”


RIBS

The Cinnamon Fuzz

TTs

Ryan’s Smashing Life


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Pete’s First 11 of ’11 – 2011 Show Reviews: Hello Ninja @ TTs, 1/27

by Pete on Mar.10, 2011, under Audio, Live Shows, Media, Reviews

Hello Ninja - Photo Credit: Kristen Hale

Hello Ninja - Photo Credit: Kristen Hale

If Pete could write about each and every show he sees without jeopardizing his employment status or mental health, he would totally do it. Fortunately for him, he knows better. Fortunately for us, he is just obsessive and irresponsible enough to try it anyway. Ever the enablers, we are posting recaps of each of the first eleven shows that Petey hit in 2011.


To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Hello Ninja January 27 at T.T.’s


Lucky number seven was the show where I finally got a live look at Hello Ninja, who have been one of my favorite bands in town since I heard their stuff on the radio last year. They played the side stage at TT’s as part of the kick off for Louder Now Boston, a new concert series produced by Anngelle Wood, host of the Boston Emissions show on WZLX (the bill also included Brittany Gray, M.G. Lederman and Ashpark). Between sets, Ms. Wood interviewed each of the bands in the TT’s billiard room, which was rigged like a TV studio with multiple cameras and intensely bright stage lights.


Hello Ninja – “All The Mad Men” – Singles Club Vol. 1

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Hello Ninja was celebrating the release of their E.P., Singles Club Vol. 1, which I bought and later reviewed for The Dig (you can read it here). The band is a much different creature in concert than they are on record, relying on gusto and personality in place of the studio-added mascara and jewelry that make Singles Club so attention-grabbing. They were as animated as the cramped corner next to the bar allowed them to be, particularly frontwoman Cat Basile, who emoted with every muscle in her face and gestured with every limb in her five-foot-not-much frame. In addition to the four power pop gems on their new disc, Hello Ninja also played a mash-up cover of “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. and “Straight to Hell” by The Clash (which, of course, is the song that M.I.A. ripped off – I mean, “sampled” – to get the recurring hook in “Paper Planes”).


Hello Ninja – “I Think Of Me Too” – Singles Club Vol. 1

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It’s hard to say which Hello Ninja I like better (studio or live), and it’s hard to say if they would be a “better band” if the two versions were more alike. They might pack more punch if they added a second guitarist, some back-up singers and something with keys on it… but as it is, the four of them have a good chemistry and are clearly on the same page of the garage pop manual.


Hello Ninja

Louder Now Boston

TT The Bears

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Pete’s First 11 of ’11 – 2011 Show Reviews: The Queers @ TTs, 1/23

by Bryan on Mar.08, 2011, under Live Shows, Media, News, Reviews, Video

The Queers - Photo Credit: Bryan Kremkau

The Queers - Photo Credit: Bryan Kremkau


Whoa! WHOA, Greater Boston Area! You have seriously got to stop rocking so much! These shows are piling up faster than I can write about them. Since things are only about to get crazier with a slew of legit legends (Wanda Jackson, Motorhead, Jonathan Richman, The Pogues etc.) about to hit town in the next month, I figured now might be my best chance to tell you about some of the awesome shit that’s already gone down this year. And so, over the course of a few weeks, we will be taking a look back at the first 11 shows I’ve hit in 2011.

To see the rest of Pete’s First 11 of ‘11, click here!


Show 6: The Queers @ T.T. the Bear’s Place on January 23


He REALLY likes those middle fingers. Photo courtesy of cherrybombed.com

He REALLY likes those middle fingers. Photo courtesy of cherrybombed.com

Wouldn’t you know it? It was only about three weeks into the year before one of my teenhood idols came through town. Show #6 was The Queers, who played right down the street at TT’s with The Apers and The Fatal Flaw. The Queers eschewed their pop punk stylings of old, mostly just playing the experimental synth-funk material from their recent albums.

… just kidding.


The Queers will never change. And if they do, they deserve to get their asses kicked. Sure, some of their stuff on recent albums like Munki Brain and last year’s Back to the Basement have showcased Joe Queer’s ever-progressing ability to craft delicate, multi-layered harmonies… but the reason I pay to see The Queers is to watch them jump around and yell about being bored, stupid, horny, heartbroken, high-as-shit or – depending on the song – all of the above.

Just like they did the last time they played TT’s thirteen months ago, The Queers huffed a few dozen of their classic junior high slacker anthems. The packed crowd bounced and bopped along to sophomoric favorites like “Granola Head” and “Ursula Finally Has Tits,” and went ballistic when original singer Wimpy Rutherford joined the group for a binge through some of the earliest, most obnoxious cuts.


The Queers – Granola Head / Can’t Stop Farting / Night Of The Livid Queers / Noodlebrain


I hope I’m not the only one who feels like Greater Boston is lucky to host The Queers so close to their place of origin. One would assume their Portsmouth shows are on another level, but many of the kids and no-longer-kids who grew up on/with them have, like The Friendly Toast, set up shop in Cambridge. They turn out in disheveled droves for every show, and many of those still in New Hampshire make the trip as well. If you’ve drank enough plastic cups full of PBR, you’ve probably heard at least one story from a Chuck-footed Granite Stater about the pop punk scene that some say died with the Elvis Room. To me, it’s a thrill to vicariously relive those days with them whenever the Queers are in
town.


The Queers

TT The Bears

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