Review: The New Highway Hymnal, CreaturoS, Fagettes, Big Mess @ Mid East Up (5/16/13)

Bands: The New Highway Hymnal, CreaturoS, Fagettes, Big Mess
Date: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

Big Mess – Big Mess are one of my favorite Boston/New England bands and it’s always fun to see them live.  It’s been a few months since I’ve had the pleasure and in that time the Lowell based trio has played a shit ton of shows including a gigantic tour with Allston rockers, Kal Marks ( My friend Justin Cole, who has seen the band more times than I have (which is a lot), claims the band has gotten even better since the tour. I am going to go and agree with Mr. Cole on this account.

As always, Big Mess creates a colossal assault on the ears with massive, noisy guitar hooks and piledriver drums. Indeed, Justin Cole is correct, Big Mess appear to be more diabolical than ever before. Heavy songs like “The Hook” and “Side A” (on their Split w/ S’eance) truly come alive when the band is on stage and at the Middle East they sound better than ever. The latter is a slow, lingering menace that like most Big Mess songs is easy to head bang to, but it’s the song’s quietest moments that are the most menacing. Just listen to the song here: If you listen at 2:29-2:54 then you’ll know what I mean. It hits you pretty hard on bandcamp, but live is even crazier. I am especially fond of the sound system at Middle East and it is cool to see Big Mess in this setting as opposed to a crowded basement in Lowell,  which is my usual preference. Either way, see these guys any way you can and they play a lot!

Fagettes – Big Mess is a tough act to follow, but Fagettes are sound competitors and as far as I am concerned they take the cake. Also like Big Mess, Fagettes are one of my favorite local bands and just a favorite overall. Much of this admiration stems from the fact that Fagettes play a dirty, loose style of  rock ‘n’ roll that we at KLYAM  repeatedly gush over, over and over and over again. It fits in the lineage of flabbergasting, modern day garage punk (particularly on the West Coast a la Nobunny, Hunx and His Punx, and Shannon and the Clams).

I’ve seen Fagettes five times now and by far this is the best show. It’s not only the best show, it’s also the sloppiest and when it comes to garage/punk slime/beer guzzlin’, finger poppin’, good times music, whatever you like to call it, I like it sloppy, rough around the edges – as long as the songs are still intact and everyone is having fun. Otherwise, what’s the point? These guys and gal look like they are having a fun, drunken, wild time on stage; Vocalist/guitarist, harmonica guy, Ryan Fagette looks like he can barely stand up at times, yet he still keeps his cool as always. No one else in Boston makes this kind of music like Fagettes! Providence’s Atlantic Thrills and New Hampshire’s Migs are on the same level, but in beantown it’s Fagettes turf. They just get it. They have the sound and style down pat, they have the songs to back it up, and they put on a sweet show.

Speaking of the songs, the usual intoxicant themed favorites are on display: “The AA Took My Baby Away,” “Water, Tea, And Alcohol,” and the pointedly titled “On Drugs,” among other notable gems like “My Girl Looks Like Johnny Thunders,” which is dedicated to Cam Smithers of Nice Guys.

The set closes with an extended (or I am just really fucked and it seems longer than usual), extra rowdy version of “Water, Tea, and Alcohol,” culminating  with vocalist/drummer, Melanie Bernier kicking a monitor into my face, sending  some tingles down my wee body.

Set List:
“Street Queens”
“The AA Took My Baby Away”
“On Drugs”
“My Girl Looks Like Johnny Thunders”
“Gonna Die Out Here”
“Water, Tea, and Alcohol”

CreaturoS – Unfortunately, we miss a portion of CreaturoS set, but upon our arrival back into the mighty Middle East, we see CreaturoS up on stage and they are accompanied by the colorful, psychedelic mind fuck that is the Lysergic Factory Light Show, a perfect visual for a freshly lit concertgoer.

During this set, I spot Domenic (SKIMASK, Viva Via) on drums, which is new to me. In my previous two CreaturoS experiences they had a different drummer. Well, he is a solid fit for the band.

CreaturoS are a fine band and they have elements of psych and garage that I can surely get behind. On the other hand, I feel like they drone on for longer than I would have liked. Still, I can recommend their music and I advise you to give it some ear time:

The New Highway Hymnal – Here’s a trio that I never get tired of seeing. If you take a gander at the KLYAM Concert Calendar (Do iT!) you will see that we have attended and adored many a hip shakin’, gut bustin’, saliva drippin’ New Highway set. Though, we have never seen them at the Middle East before, tis a pleasure. The PA is terrific, further accentuating the group’s furious sonic attack.

The Lysergic Factory Light Show can make pretty much any band look cool with all of their swirling, acid trippy visuals, but the light show fits best with The New Highway Hymnal, at least in my experience. Their music is already trippy, so when you toss those fancy lights on them it’s a striking presentation.

Tonight’s performance is riveting per usual, though the crowd is a bit mellower than most audiences at a NHH show. Nonetheless, the place is packed (if not sold out) and kids seem to dig the onslaught of psych grit that NHH has to offer. Most, if not all, of the songs are from last year’s Whispers, a record I cannot recommend enough.


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