Review: The New Highway Hymnal, Empty Phrases, The Lonely Machines, Spooky Future @ The Tip (5/3/13)

Bands: The New Highway Hymnal, Empty Phrases, The Lonely Machines, Spooky Future
Date: Friday, May 3, 2013
Venue: The Tip (Lowell, MA)

Spooky Future – Spooky Future is a first for me and I don’t know anything about them. Luckily, by the end of their performance, my interest is piqued. I am not the easiest guy to impress either; I tend to be more of a fan of the straight forward, loose rock ‘n’ roll style and it’s infinite number of imitators. Yet, the sophisticated musicians in Spooky Future don’t bore me at all like most sophistsos do, instead they provide a fairly entertaining set. They are “tight” for lack of a better term. I hate using that description because it sounds like I’m reviewing a bunch of pre-pubescent girls, but the sharp connotations it has does a better job of articulating how the band sounds to me than the wacky characterizations I typically implant in these write ups.

All of Spooky Future’s songs are instrumental and they remind me of another all instrumental band from Lowell: Big Mess. Like Big Mess,  they are heavy, sludgey, and have a fierce, take no prisoners attitude. Whatever that means. I also hear a lot of Melvins and Primus in this band. So, if you dig those bands, keep your eyes peeled for Spooky Future.

The Lonely Machines –  I’m not as into this group as the first band, but the crowd appears to enjoy them. Their set consists of grundgey, emo fused songs with perhaps a leaning towards metal and/or post-hardcore. They definitely have a lot of passion, especially in the vocals (though at times they are difficult to hear). Not the style of  music I dig, but maybe you do, give them a shot:

Empty Phrases – The Empties are back and packing the basements with their dreamy post-punk. Like the last Empty Phrases show I caught, kids are moshing, headbanging, and just having an overall good time. These past couple of shows have had quite the positive feedback, unlike any other I’ve seen at previous Empty Phrases hootenannies. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication the band has put forth over the years, making themselves a familiar face in the Lowell music scene.

Tonight, I particularly note that Ben Raymond’s vocals sound better than ever, he sure has some sweet pipes. Get a taste of Empty Phrases here: and then go see them live!

The New Highway Hymnal – Speaking of familiar faces in the Lowell music scene, The New Highway Hymnal are some of the most recognizable and celebrated figures; along with Big Mess they are my favorite Lowell based band. Though, they have expanded far beyond the Lowell community playing a big role in the Boston underground and even touring the nation a few times including two trips to SXSW.

Indeed (yes, I feel this is “indeed” worthy), this trio has dazzled many a doe eyed college student in both the crowded clubs and crowded basements, and tonight is no different. The band plays a solid, psychedelic fueled set and the crowd responds with typical moshing, though it’s a little bit more reserved on this evening. Still, a fun time, hopefully had by all. I know I enjoy this set and with it being my last night in college, I can’t think of a better way to say good bye to Lowell.

Until I return for another kick ass show! In any case,  The New Highway Hymnal play a shit ton of shows around Boston and beyond, do yourself a favor and listen to them here:

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