Live Review: ACLU Benefit, Bong Wish, Willy Mason, Goat Of Arms @ Lilypad (11/29/14)

Willy
Bands: ACLU Benefit, Willy Mason, Bong Wish, Goat Of Arms
Date: Saturday, November 29, 2014
Venue: Lilypad (Cambridge, MA)

ACLU Benefit – Mr. Benefit is one of our favorite guys around Boston, no shit. I don’t mean to ass kiss, but it’s true. We’ve had the pleasure of catching him two weeks in a row. Last week was at Noah’s (Mr. Benefit) favorite venue in Boston and possibly the whole world, the Whitehaus. That show was superior (more environmental, can’t compete with ACLU in a basement), but this doobie is on the level.

Everyone is seated, gazing as Noah in sweat pants (I think) starts to strum his guitar. He invites anyone up to the front and Glen and I make our way, why not? Noah’s voice calmly roars – an oxymoron that is amazingly accurate. Ahh those deep baritone vocals start to serenade the audience. He’s got the “mmmmmmmm” down pat, rivaling Calvin Johnson, Adam Green, Leonard Cohen, and that Crash Test Dummies guy. I’m way too lazy to actually look his name up, come on now.

The set begins with “Love Your Family,” one of the dude’s strongest hits. It should be a hit and Noah could play in front of thousands, but then it wouldn’t be as fun. It would lose those campfire, sing along vibes that are a vital part of any ACLU Benefit set and is what largely separates the man from most other singers and performers.

Audience participation is key and as Glen mentioned in his review last week or whenever that was, you feel the desire to sing along more here than you typically would in other performances. Often, singers will ask everyone to sing along or say this word/phrase over and over again or clap or tap or do this or do that and I just don’t feel it. It feels like they’re just trying to get a crowd going and that’s fine, but it doesn’t feel like a real moment for me, it’s not really about me or anyone else in the crowd, it’s about the singer, it’s about the band. When Noah asks the crowd to sing a line or clap their hands together (which is minimally requested and he also suggests stomping, which I prefer!) it matters.

Many of his songs are seemingly written with an audience in mind, meaning a physical group of people singing a certain part, otherwise the songs don’t work. A chief example is the classic (alright, alright I’ll do my best to lay off the ass kissing) “Love Of My Life.” Noah instructs us to sing “Love of my life, I’ll never get over you” the entire song while he sings his own thing, eventually joining us in what becomes the chorus “Love of my life, I’ll never get over you.” It’s hard to articulate it in print, but trust me it’s riveting. You’ll just have to see it and sing it for yourself at an ACLU Benefit show coming soon to you.

A more professional writer would have gone out on that last line, but I’m not a professional writer. Thank God. “Don’t worry about professional, worry about it being good” – Ian Mackaye. Thanks Mr. Mackaye.  Anywho, another terrific and distinguished quality to an ACLU show is Noah’s constant interaction with the audience. This is in addition to all of the sing along instructions and so forth. Before, in the middle, and after songs, Noah converses with the crowd, often recounting stories that led to the creation of the song, and not in a boring lecturey way or corny “unplugged” way, God I hate that shit. He tells a different story each time he plays and in this way you never see the same ACLU Benefit show twice. With most bands (even the best I’ve seen) they end up doing the same stuff practically every time, it’s only natural, and even Noah isn’t totally free of this, no one is. Here though, hearing these amusing little anecdotes and seeing how they bounce off the crowd makes for a fresh experience.

ACLU Benefit provides a range of emotions, ultimately uplifting. There’s a striking amount of humanity in Noah’s music and in particular in the performance, where the songs really come to life. I know that sounds hackneyed, but in this instance for the reasons stated in previous paragraphs, it’s true. These songs aren’t just Noah’s, they’re for everyone in the room.  He’s the Bill Hicks of music, transcending their given medium and reaching out into the audience and becoming one. It’s a catharsis. More on this Bill Hicks comparisons in future “reviews” I assure you. I’m a nut.

I vowed to not suck too much cock in this review and I failed. I’ll think of something negative to say. He closes with a new song called “Everyone Will Die,”(not exactly the most life affirming in his catalog, but not the most depressing either) a number he claims is an awful closer. I agree. A good tune, just not a great closer. That’s all I got for now. KLYAM LOVE. http://aclubenefit.bandcamp.com/

Willy Mason – I didn’t realize until now Willy Mason has made quite a name for himself over the last decade. He’s a big deal apparently. On Virgin and EMI and shit. I had never heard of the man or his music until tonight. Willy plays guitar and a woman delivers backing vocals. He plays a bluesy, folksy country set and tells tales of touring and travelling. About halfway during the set, Willy is accompanied by Noah Bond on guitar and Jesse Gallagher on drums. In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that. http://www.willymasonmusic.com/

Bong Wish – This is my first Bong Wish, though this certainly isn’t my first time seeing Mariam Saleh rock out on guitar. I’ve seen Mariam a million times before in Fat Creeps and she’s brought along a friend, a Bongette, Ana Karina Dacosta of local groups, 28 Degrees Taurus and Slowdim. It’s a slower, mellower set, though from what I am told they usually have a full band or something like that. They even throw in a Fat Creeps jam, “Last To Know,” an oldie I had actually never heard live until now. http://bongwish.bandcamp.com/

I only catch a couple minutes of Goat Of Arms, before I have to depart. Ahh well. A pleasure as always at the Lilypad.

Review: ACLU Benefit, Big Buck Hunter, Nice Guys @ Weenie Hut (11/22/14)

ACLU Benefit is on stage at the Weenie Hut, nothing new for Noah, whose been playing his bitingly honest music for decades. It’s only in the past year or so that I have had the fortune of discovering and seeing Benefit play. I say fortune because his performances are spectacles. No outrageous antics – more like a community, participatory atmosphere led by a tall, deep voiced dude on electric guitar. He guides fearless sing-a-longs “It’s a lonely lonely world, it’s a lonely lonely world” and “We will hold you when you fall down” and “BEEEERRRRRRRR” and “Everyone is going to die”. Written after the passing of Robin Williams. I typically feel uncomfortable in these situations and so do you, but there’s something about just not caring and enjoying life’s special moments. ACLU Benefit makes it all well and lively. If I had my way, I’d want him to play a set at every show. Every time I write about ACLU Benefit I have deja vu about writing about ACLU Benefit. I’m satisfied with that. This set was my favorite I have seen – the mixture of new songs and old standards and Lil B MIT lecture references. World music fans (not the genre but like everyone), there’s a real gem here.  Old and young, college student or veteran Axis attendee – you’ve been missing out or you’ve been missing in. [BANDCAMP]

Back to their home after a tour with Sun Young…the Big Buck Hunter trio. Nah maybe foursome, thanks to Kurt’s trusty tape player that was somehow perfectly timed with the band’s set. Not really sure how that came to be, but it was a perfect addition. Buck Hunter’s all over the map stylistically speaking, comedic dissonant pop through and through. Something like “Garden” is a real big, big tune. A mover; it never lets you settle down. That’s admirable. Kurt transforms into guitar hero status early and often, economical playing in tough times. Keyboards hold things down for the most part, but even that dude isn’t afraid to venture off on his own. As long as there’s Couch (drums) powering through, always bearing an acute sense of timing and brute. There’s not really a Boston comparison to ’em though Sun Young (who we missed tonight, damn!) are outstanding complements. At times I felt like I was watching the Grateful Dead Pavement Redux and there ya go I never saw either of them, but pretty sure I’d have a good old time. [BANDCAMP]

In a hallway in a basement two nights a row seeing Nice Guys that’s what we do here at KLYAM. They even got a set-list this time. They’re “Legit”. Well, so the night before last, that was Friday Night at Thieves Grotto. I don’t know what they give the kids there, what’s in that magic marker that brandishes you a number upon entry. But for some good reason, it’s always packed and there’s always some serious moshing and fun when these Nice Guys start wailing. They can go up there and cover who knows, Kaufman’s “I Trusted You” with drummer Soul Eater on vocals and everyone goes ape shit all the same. Well, I think that review is coming soon from Chris, so I’ll stick with last night at the weenie hut. A bit more subdued affair at the hut but the sound and passion, the oozin rampant punk it’s slightly addicting if not more. For no bullshizz rock ‘n roll, these guys remain at top of the Pyramid around here. They’ve played a ton in 2014 so the word tight might come up but really anything can happen. No crowd member is ever safe as this is something of a lively bunch, willing to bring the show to your face. [BANDCAMP / KLYAM RECORDS 7″ ]

So we missed Sun Young and Rosie and the Rosies. Click on their hyperlinks

New ACLU Benefit Release: “FINALLY”

They travel far and wide to see him play and when he does, it is a show experience they do not forget. True T-shirts and postcards in his back pocket I can only assume – Noah Britton is back with a new album (which follows, as order has it, his really spectacular release Love and Fame that I wrote about last year) entitled yes I know you know FINALLY! because these songs finally sound great. Those aren’t my words; I’ve had my way with Benefit’s Bandcamp and I recognize some of FINALLY! from his recorded live sets. Check those out if you have not. The souls of sing-a-long staples “Love of my Life,” “Riding” and “Love Your Family” are kept in tact and beaming. The arrangements and production are courtesy of Dane Filipczak. Such dynamics push these songs further into beautiful abyss – pianos, toy instruments, percussion, extra voices. Noah is quite the minimalist, a master funny man, funny by way of bona fide lyrics. “Let’s sing to chickens, They like cock rock!” on new-to-me you say “You give me hope,” I sing these funny lines. Humor is not the case on “We Forgive You” well I mean it could be but I’m going to go with no. Flinty and affectionate. The cowshed burner, the closer,  is that which I mentioned earlier: “Love Your Family”. If I knew anything about ’50s musicality, I would go on about that, but here we have a dreamy oldie with a striking sense of modernity. It is perfect for feeling bad about missing an ACLU Benefit set in the name of leaving early to attend to family functions and longing for the next. Well well this six songer impresses me further. Noah’s been going at it for decades, knows his capabilities, and rolls the dice – in this case working with an arranger who by the end of it seemed to have just as much fun. Cease and resist.

Linkhttp://aclubenefit.bandcamp.com/album/finally

klyamrecommended

ACLU Benefit ‘Love and Fame’ Out Now On BUFU

ACLU Benefit – Noah Britton – has a new album called Love and Fame out now on beloved BUFU Records. That sentence might sound generic, but the tape is anything but – I assure you. For those unfamiliar with ACLU Benefit (I’m included with you), you may be like hmm. But after listening to this anti-folk charmer, I think I have a better idea about the man behind the music. It’s heart-felt and even if there are some “beautiful lies,” you’d hardly know. The stripped down acoustics paired with Benefit’s deep voice is Adam Green-like, but I’d say ACLU is easier to follow, more straightforward. He touches you. Opener “It’s a Lonely, Lonely World” affects even the most pitiless. I’d hope. The songs that stand out the most to me…hit home the most, if you will: “There’s No Wrong Way To Beat A Drum” which offers inspiration in shunning ‘conventional’ music playing and instruction and from a similar ethos is “Why Aren’t I Famous?” with these two choice lines (among many): ‘Or ‘cuz I don’t believe in marketing I think it’s evil/mental rape forcing you to ruin whats beautiful?’ ACLU Benefit is just doing what he’s doing and, to my ears, carrying along a realistic, necessary message open to whateva you fancy.

Side note: Noah will be playing in a soul band called HOT as part of the BUFU Holiday Quasi-Semi-Formal happening at that ill spot in JP! Y’all know where I mean. FRIDAY DECEMBER 6. Check it out!

Bandcamphttp://aclubenefit.bandcamp.com/album/love-and-fame
BUFU Storehttp://bufurecords.bigcartel.com/product/aclu-benefit-love-and-fame-cassette