Concert Review: Colleen Green, Plateaus, Empty Phrases @ unchARTed (9/10/12)


Artists: Colleen Green, Plateaus, Empty Phrases
Date: Monday, September 10, 2012
Venue: unchARTed (Lowell, MA)

Comments: Tonight is my first time stepping foot into the unchARTed gallery in downtown Lowell and I am impressed by its small, but cozy and enticing atmosphere. The walls are covered with various, intriguing portraits, I don’t know much about art, but I can recommend art enthusiasts and purveyors to check this place out! Though, this is my first unchARTed show, I have heard of the place for a while now, so I am glad my introduction is with one of my favorite artists, Colleen Green!

Act I: Empty Phrases– Ahh my boys, the Empty Phrases, a budding four piece fresh out of Lowell and ready to take on the world. Alas, tonight they are missing guitarist Evan Walters :( next time brother! Fortunately, the group manages more than fine as a three piece and I can honestly say this is the finest performance I have experienced from these gentlemen. Tonight, they display a much more aggressive, almost a hardcore/noise rock possessed version of Empty Phrases, giving their summery, dream like sound an oddly  enchanting, sinister touch. All in all, a fun, loud, rocking set from one of Lowell’s most promising bands. http://emptyphrases1.bandcamp.com/album/empty-phrases%20

Act II: Plateaus– Plateaus were sick last night when I saw them at the Middle East Upstairs, but I prefer them even more tonight. The PA at unchARTed is a motherfucker, making all the bands sound quite loud, I love it! This is definitely the case for Plateaus, for their power pop sounds even better with the thunderous volume added to the mix. I don’t know if it’s just me, but their set tonight hit me like a ton of bricks and leaves me with an even greater impression of their music.  Check out this badass band! http://plateausband.bandcamp.com/

Act III: Colleen Green– Wooooooo! Night 2 of my Colleen Green extravaganza. KLYAM has the whole Colleen Green coverage as Empty Phrases vocalist/guitarist Ben Raymond puts it. Indeed, the Massachusetts coverage anyway. It has been a privilege of mine to see one of my favorite singers and her glorious backing band two nights in a row. I say this not to sound like a kiss ass as I am sure it may come off that way haha, but I love her music so as a fan the pleasure is all mine, and who wouldn’t want to experience something they love two nights in a row? Masochists that’s who. Anyway, Colleen and crew delivered a fantastic set last night at the Middle East Upstairs, so going into this performance I was ecstatic, rightfully so. The unchARTEd gallery truly is one of the best venues for a Colleen Green show in all of MASS and definitely the DIY atmosphere of this place feels fitting. Once again, I have to give props to the sound system here, I definitely think this is the best way to experience Colleen. When the bands gets their thing on, Colleen introduces the whole band as “Colleen Green,” which I think is awesome. Just like the previous night they rock into the Descendents tune “Good Good Things,” and transition into the fast, punk, Ramones ode “I Wanna Be Degraded.” The PA is nasty here and from what I am told it often unleashes some unpleasant noises (though tonight everything I have heard has been awesome), but the Colleen Green band is able to make everything sound great; nothing sounds harsh; in fact it’s all very soothing to my ears, which at this point are horribly damaged. Seriously, Colleen is one of my favorite singers, her vocals are so soft,  yet powerful, it’s incredible and I cannot think of anyone else that compares to her. Overall, the Colleen Green band destroys and I am a happy camper. I can’t wait to see her and her band again! KLYAM loves you! http://colleengreen.bandcamp.com/

Concert Review: New Highway Hymnal, The Migs, Friendship, Empty Phrases @ Wilder Zangcraft (4/20/12)

Artists: New Highway Hymnal, The Migs, Friendship, Empty Phrases
Date: Friday, 4/20/12
Venue: Wilder Zangcraft/ Wilder Woodcraft (Lowell)
Comments: So, I am glancing at my 30 rack of Natti Ice and thinking I should start my Spring Weekend festivities off early this year. I have a lot of work to do this week, but nothing is more important than the music. So, here’s a review, if you want to call it that.

Firstly, 420 was so much apart of this show, I might as well give it its own section. So, I will.

Act I: 420– I myself am never overly enthusiastic about 420, because I don’t smoke “on the reg,” so to speak, but it seems to bring out the party in everyone. And I am glad for that because that always makes a show special. If people are joyous, then the occasion will be spectacular. High spirits (no pun intended) always makes an excellent concert dish. I’ve had some fun 420s in the past, but this one will go down as my favorite thus far. This is the first basement show at the Wilder Zangcraft and I am happy to have been apart of it. I hope they put on many more shows! Before the music begins, I take a gander at the space. Walking down the narrow staircase, using my poorly lit, 2001 model flip phone, I do my best to find my way to the basement and not fall flat on my ass, which has happened before. When I reach the floor, I see an interesting space indeed, which I was promised. The set up is odd in a good way. I suck describing shit like this, but basically the basement is more rectangular shaped. So,  if one was to walk down the steps they would see a group of kids facing the band to the right of them, if that makes any sense. Also, I have to mention there is a nice little “stage,” here, which is in fact just a little step up, but it sure is fun to leap off of when you are rocking out! Tonight, we have Empty Phrases, Friendship, The Migs, and none other than the New Highway Hymnal. I like to write about my life experiences, so here is my reaction to what I saw. Happy 420 kids.

Act II: Empty Phrases– Empty Phrases are a Lowell based quartet and it is always a pleausre of mine to see them do what they love. I have dubbed them “The Empties,” and I am hoping that others will continue this trend, though it seems I am alone in this. Speaking of empties, I need to grab a few more beers. What’s a lowell basement show without a few beers or many beers or my lovely back pack full of beers as singer/guitarist, Ben Raymond points out to me. Yeah, that is right this back pack is locked and loaded, and no studying will be taking place tonight. I left the books behind. As the band is about to go on, I crack open another beer. Everyone is feeling pretty high at this point and Empty Phrases, thee empties themselves, begin their set. A great transition I must say. I have always thought their music had summery vibes to it, even in the dead of winter when I froze my balls off many a night. On those cold evenings I could have made myself a cup of hot cocoa or turned the nozzle up on the thermostat, but instead I turned on Empty Phrases, and a feeling of warmth ran through my soul. On this evening, I am practically sweating, but even in April it feels like Summer and the band’s music becomes a fitting soundtrack. Perhaps that is where the Incubus vibes people (including myself) speak of come from; a mellow, almost psychedelic tone, but with an ability to rock and get you moving at the same time, hopefully get you moving, unless you are a square. Earlier in the evening I discussed Incubus with some fine gentlemen and I believe one of them spoke of Incubus’s albums having this seasonal appeal. Incubus aside, I think the empties have got a great sound and this is my favorite performance by them. They are astounding young musicians, but what is even more astounding is how they got J Cole to this show on such late notice. Haha, I just had to say that! J Cole core is the next big thing.
http://emptyphrases1.bandcamp.com/

Act III: Friendship– Friendship is a local band that I have heard of, but I have not seen yet. They are a three piece and behind their set up they are accompanied by an inverted American flag, which I love by the way. I love America too, but the American flag is a piece of cloth after all and at the end of the day no matter how great America may be it still is totally fucked up, unjust, inequal, and simply upside down. A fitting backdrop.  Friendship is a fun live band and they have a pretty sweet dynamic to them.  I love how they opened the set, playing a clip of Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumping” from a vintage cassette player before rocking right into their set.  Friendship is tight and the jams roll out within a blink of an eye. Anthony’s drumming stands out the most to me, he is defintely a powerhouse with those drum sticks. My favorite moment is definitely when Anthony starts mumbling the lines to Linkin Park’s “In The End” at an extremely rapid rate while Nick Eggs from Big Mess standing in the crowd joins in unison. When they reach the line “in the end” the band starts rocking instantaneously, right where they left off. I walk away impressed, cannot wait to see them again.

Act IV: The Migs– When I hear the word migs I instantly think of the psychopath Migs in The Silence of the Lambs.  You know the one that flung his “babies” at Jodie Foster (Agent Starling). Well, these migs do not toss their semen in my face, which is always a good start, NO bodily fluids in my face, maybe at the end. The Migs are great though, a garage/rock and roll kid’s wet dream. Before each song they start off by stating “We’re the Migs and we love you!” What an introduction! Reminds me of great one liner intros such as “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” or “We’re the Black Lips from Atlanta, GA.”  More bands should do this or maybe less bands should do this, because they are not cool enough. On this evening,  the crowd is a little mellow, 420 really kicking in at this point, but the Migs do not give a fuck, they just have fun and rock, jumping into the crowd and rolling around on the floor, playing guitar. I appreciate the energy,  it really gets me going. This is why I love this music, it is just all about fun. The band has a nice grip on the garage sound, but they venture off into other territories, dishing out doo wop and R&B numbers as well. Lukas from New Highway Hymnal joins the boys on “stage” for a cover of Them’s “Gloria,” and my balls drop, never to be found again.

Set List:
We Da Migs
What I Want
Follow Me Home
Take Take Take
You & Me
All The Things
Soul Records
Hate You More Than Satan
Gloria*
Achy Breaky*

http://themigs.bandcamp.com/

Act V: New Highway Hymnal: The New Highway Hizzle, always an act I look forward to seeing.  NHH are one of Boston’s finest and I cannot recommend them to you enough. NHH keep the Migs’s spirit alive and provide plenty of vigor and showmanship. Singer/guitarist Hadden Stemp and bassist Amelia Gormely hop into the crowd in classic NHH fashion. Every member is exciting to watch. In particular, I love how drummer Travis Hagan bashes away at his set and often makes use of the wall as a source of percussion. Guitarist/vocalist, Lukas Goudreault, keeps the garage rock flowing and his guitar playing reminds me of Thee Oh Sees; both bands are definitely on the same psych wavelength. Alas, the set has to be curtailed because of some pesky policemen in the surrounding area. Overall, it is a solid show as I expected.

Set List:
Through Stained Glass
Beach Glass
Killing Town
Factory Song
Breath, Bleed, Dream
Whispers
Hey Kid!
Destroy
*Bo Diddley*

http://thenewhighwayhymnal.bandcamp.com/

Concert Review: Empty Phrases@ UML Fox Common (2/9/12)

Artists: Empty Phrases, Twin Cyclist, Josh Tracy (of Big Mess)
Date: 2/9/12
Location: UMass Lowell Fox Common Room, Lowell, MA

Comments
:
Act I: Josh Tracy – Unfortunately, Big Mess can not make it as planned :( , but no need to worry, 1/3 of the band is here, ready to kick off the show. Josh sings and strums away on an acoustic guitar, singing songs about great friends (made at UMass Lowell), relationships, and overweight girls on campus. It is not my cup of tea and in fact it is a style of music I personally dread, but the kid sure can belt out these tunes and honestly I’ve never seen so many enthusiastic fans,  passionately singing along; for a second I think these are covers, since these kids know all of the words, but they are in fact originals. Tastebuds aside, good job dude!

Act II: Twin Cyclist-  Once again Mr. Tracy graces us with his prescence, now in the noisey rock group, Twin Cyclist. Twin Cyclist is pretty loud (or the PA at Fox Common is, I think a little bit of both), and they have a lot of energy in their performance.  They are fun to watch, but I am still trying to get into their songs.  I said this in an earlier review, but I hear a little bit of No Age, like No Age, but a bit more hardcore.  I know I compare bands to No Age WAYYY too much, but for whatever reason, I see elements of them in many bands. Rest assured that is not a bad thing.

Act III: Empty Phrases–  Empty Phrases cap off the evening and in my opinion are the best band on the bill. After seeing them a couple of months back  in an impressive performance, I have been anticipating  my second experience for a while now. Needless to say, I am excited and the group definitely satisfies my expectations. This time around they sound heavier and better; I do not know if it is me, but sonically this performance is superior and the vocals hit me harder. I am able to rock out more to them more than before. Also, for my money, they are better live than in the studio. I am not exactly sure why I feel this way, but I plan on attending as many EP shows as I can.

Concert Review: Frontrunner, Empty Phrases, Exposure @ Ant Cellar (12/16/11)

Artists: The Exposure, Empty Phrases, and Frontrunner. These are all the bands I saw anyway.
Date: Friday, December 16, 2011
Location: Ant Cellar (Lowell, MA)
Comments:
Act I: The Exposure– Welly welly welly well, let it be known up front, if you cannot or do not see the publication date on this masterpiece that I am horribly overdue in my review of this fine Lowell show. Also, let me apologize for missing the first  (possibly second or third?) band(s), but I had to journey to the local liquor store and throw away what was left in my wallet by making a Christmas donation, and whaddya know in exchange they handed me a twelve pack of keystone. Nice Fellas. Anyway, why am I discussing all of this under The Exposure’s header? Who knows?  The Exposure played one helluva set, that I do know. Seriously, one of the best New England based bands I have seen all year; they hail from the great state of Connecticut. Paris Mygatt rocks out on the guitar and creates some memorable vocals as well. Brian Grochowski is an impressive drummer and complements Paris’s playing  quite well. I was surprised to hear that the pair had only been together since August! I felt like I had seen a band at least a few years into their career. I definitely walked away with No Age vibes; I know I say that often when it comes to two piece bands, but they really did sound like them. I also heard some Page France in the mix. Either way you can tell they are a fairly adventerous, unique group, with a lot of potential. The sound was great too, but what really stood out to me was their ability to communicate with the audience. In an intimate setting like the Ant Cellar (literally a  cellar) everyone is kooked up together and surrounded by the wonderful odor of sweat and steel reserve beer, but during the Exposure’s set, I was briefly taken to another level beyond the basement and it really felt like a show. Their crowd interaction varied from jokes about fucked up films to the relieving announcement that the War in Iraq finally ceased to exist (hopefully). There definitely was a great sense of positivity to them that I would also liken to No Age. You know, as I am writing this now, I’ve realized that this band best resembles No Age in their ability to produce both an atmospheric aura and simultaneously a great rock vibe. Perhaps my favorite moment of the performance, oddly enough, was when the two unleashed some fine theatrics in the form of glow sticks for everyone in the room. The band wore them over their eyes for a song or two and it was pretty funny, but the best was when Paris flung one of the glow sticks into the crowd and it hit me right in the face. Haha, he sincerely apologized, which I thought was hilarious because it was no big deal whatsoever; it was an entertaining moment nonetheless. Following their set, I briefly chatted with the pair, and found them to be upstanding gentlemen, class act all the way. So yeah, if you’re looking for some new music, check out  The Exposure.  http://www.the-exposure.com/ 

Act II: Empty Phrases– The Empties were pretty great. Empties? I know, I created that nickname, and I like it, like the Stones or the Lips; at some point or another a band has to adopt a nickname. I’ve been meaning to see these guys for quite some time now, so it was a real pleasure to finally witness the band in action. I always thought they had Incubus vibes based on their recordings and from what I hear this is a popular interpretation. I don’t know if that was an intention on the part of the band or not, but either way it’s a decent sound and they defintely expand on it. Live however, I felt less of the Incubus feel and more of an experimental-psychedlic side to the band. I noticed a lot of comparisons to bands I love today like Deerhunter and Best Coast, especially in the group’s use of reverb. Perhaps a little bit too much reverb for my tastes, but it was still pretty cool. It was a fun, rocking performance and the highlight for me was definitely “Groundhog Day.” Another excellent moment was when the band brought LeAnne Piepiora up for some guest vocals on the “Void.” I’m seeing them again tonight, so I’m excited. A lot of potential for these fellas. http://emptyphrases1.bandcamp.com/album/empty-phrases

Act III: Frontrunner– Frontrunner closed the show with an impromptu performance that was like one big ode to hardcore punk, which is always fun. I had just been watching American Hardcore (2006) right before I left my dorm to see this show, so I was right in the mood for some good old fashion hardcore. Considering that their performance was off the cuff they did a damn fine job and sounded really tight, a clear indication that the band consists of some talented musicians. It says on their Band Camp page “Flashback to 1984, this ain’t no tough guy bull shit, its yr dad’s hardcore.” Haha, I like it. Check it out. http://frontrunnerhxc.bandcamp.com/