Big Pink/Smith Westerns Cancel Boston Date/Dead Prez Replaces!

The Big Pink and the Smith Westerns were supposed to play July 29 at the Middle East Downstairs. That’s not happening. If you bought tickets, go to the Middle East and get your money back or get tickets to see their replacement –> Dead Prez, the critically acclaimed political hip-hop duo. Check out their songs “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” (2000) and “Far From Over” (2010).

Top 3 Concert Venues In 2009!

Metal railings...seriously? What band is that?!

Middle East Downstairs

Headlining Bands: Black Lips, Sunset Rubdown, The Walkmen, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, King Khan & BBQ Show

Great Scott
Headlining Bands: Handsome Furs, Head Automatica, Warlocks, Rifles, Wavves

Harpers Ferry

Headlining Bands: Jay Reatard, Trevor Hall

Honorable Mentions: Paradise Rock Club (Arctic Monkeys, King Khan & Shrines), House of Blues (Animal Collective, Arctic Monkeys), Wilbur Theatre (Sonic Youth), and Wang Theatre (Pixies).

Concert Review: The Walkmen, Here We Go Magic, The Dig @ Mid East Downstairs (9/19/09)


Bands: The Walkmen, Here We Go Magic, The Dig
Venue: Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Dig
Ben: The Dig was really good. They have great bass work. The bassist/singer looks like John Mayer but dresses and sings like the guy from Vampire Weekend [Ezra Koenig]. The guitarist/singer’s songs kind of remind me of early Radiohead. The Dig does unconventional rhythm very well. I’m getting technical here but they use weird time signatures and timing changes, and sometimes it’s hard to tell where the “center of gravity” is. But it’s a really nice change from your standard timing in music. It’s also a technique that’s *very* hard to pull off. With their stuff it’s often much harder to locate the center of gravity. That’s what really stood out about them for me.  Really great, inventive rhythms.

Glen: The Dig were just as awesome Night Two as Night One and in the end probably slightly better. They changed up their set-list trivially. Both nights the song I loved most was “Penitentiary.” It has all the makings of a mainstream power pop number, yet it still maintains a very distinctive alt-country sound. The bassist/singer’s voice is very distinctive. I think the guitarist/singer’s songs were more experimental, less hard rock. An example of the heavier stuff was the song “Just Wanna Talk To You,” bringing back memories of live Louis XIV but more explosive and…better! The first night they ended with that…the second night it was second-to-last.

Chris: Pretty damn loud and noisy, so of course I liked it. They rocked out and were really passionate about their music.

Here We Go Magic
Ben: Here We Go Magic was great especially considering the drummer situation. It was the first time I heard “Tunnelvision” with electric instruments and I liked the noisy turn it took towards the end. Luke’s vocals were great.

Glen: Go Chad! Once again, I want to recognize him for truly being instrumental to HWGM’s Night Two set. Night One was ambient…Night Two still maintained ambiance, but all songs especially “Tunnelvision” and “Fangela” sounded far greater with Chad. It takes a lot for an experimental folk band like HWGM to perform a well-executed set; each band member was up to task and enthusiastic.

Chris: I liked it, but not as much as the first band. I commend Chad, the fill-in drummer for having the chops to play on par with the band. Also the bass guitarist and the pianist were sexy!

The Walkmen
Ben: The Walkmen are a tight group with a good mix of songs. Good mix of alt-country, folk, and noisier rock. Really great singer.

Glen: Showcasing quite a bit of new material (according to the band, some old songs they refuse to play), The Walkmen proved that they didn’t need to delve too deep into their repertoire to be awesome. Both nights were astonishing (mind-blowing), but Night Two took the cake! Night Two was quite similar to Night One in a lot of ways; a brass section was featured notably on “Canadian Girl,” “Louisiana,” and “Red Moon,” Ham’s veins were popping out of his neck, etc, etc. Both nights featured the best of the Walkmen (at least according to your average fan): “In the New Year” and “The Rat.” BUT only on Night Two did The Walkmen play “Thinking Of A Dream” (incredible audience reception), “Donde Esta La Playa,” and Bows and Arrows classic “138th Street.” The Walkmen are a class act and no less than one of the best active bands in today’s post-punk revival era.

Chris: They put on a fantastic show! I loved “Louisiana,” especially the horn section. My favorite song was “In the New Year.” Hamilton clearly has a distinctive voice.

Concert Review: Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Depreciation Guild, Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Mid East Downstairs (9/5/09)

Bands: Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Depreciation Guild, Cymbals Eat Guitars
Venue: Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
Date: Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cymbals Eat Guitars: A very young band that doesn’t sound musically immature in the least. These guys played a very polished set that sometimes bordered on hardcore punk  and power pop at other times. The lead singer, Joseph D’Agostino, said to his fellow band mates after the second song “My left ear is shot. Between soundcheck and this.” That didn’t seem to make a difference at all. Cymbals was about passion all the way through. They played most songs off their debut Why There Are Mountains in addition to a couple new ones off an EP that will be released on September 22. Their most noteworthy song was “And the Hazy Sea.” Their last song “Wind Phoenix” was correctly predicted by a shouting fan in the audience. Neil the bass player responded “whoever just said ‘Wind Phoenix’ wins.” And that was a great song to cap off the set!

The Depreciation Guild: The Depreciation weren’t bad. They had a projector that featured various rainbow-esque patterns. That was different. A little thing that confused me about this band was that there didn’t seem to be a need for a drummer. The drum machine seemed to work fine along with the plethora of effects pedals. Their sound was somewhere between ’80s new wave and modern day neo-psychedelia. Unfortunately, there weren’t many “noteworthy” tracks. They all sounded roughly the same. I don’t think I’d want to watch them again, but they fall in a line of average-ness that seems to be a hallmark of opening acts.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: From the opening chords of “This Love is Fucking Right” I knew the Pains would be awesome! And they did put on a terrific show. Of course, probably like many audience members, I am a very big fan of their self-titled debut. My eyes were fixated on the band so I didn’t get a chance to see audience reaction behind me, but I’m sure people were grooving and singing along. They played “Young Adult Fiction” second, a solid choice…I love the title and play-on song meaning: two people hooking up in the library. They followed with a non-debut album track “103” before playing three more album favorites: “The Tenure Itch” (about student-teacher relationships according to Kip Berman, lead singer), “Stay Alive” (a jangly twee pop number) and “A Teenager in Love” (kick-ass drum beat). After this they stopped for a brief moment as Kip reminded concert-goers that it would be perfectly cool for them to leave if they had to catch a train. He knew the deal from living in Boston. I feel bad if anyone did leave since they sure missed a great second half of the set. A brand new song “Higher Than the Stars” was played then the classic 4 note pop-punk jam “Come Saturday” followed. Another new one “Twins” was showcased before the catchy “Everything With You.” The final song before the encore was “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,” which was well-done as expected. The encore was “Gentle Son,” the album closer off their self-titled. The band, uber-appreciative of the crowd, thanked us and left the stage. It was too bad they couldn’t play each and every song off Pains, but then again I haven’t encountered a band that played an entire album start-to-finish. Maybe someday. A quick note: Peggy Wang’s backing vocals were awesome! They must be appreciated.

Grade: A

Reviews: Sunset Rubdown (6/11/09) & Handsome Furs (7/6/09)

Sunset Rubdown – Middle East Downstairs – June 11
1. Empty threats of little lord
2. Idiot heart
3. Black swan
4. Taming of the hands
5. Silver moons
6. Coming to at dawn
7. You go on ahead
8. Paper lace
9. Winged wicked things
10. Snakes got a leg
11. Dragon
12. Nightengale/December song
13. Apollo and the buffalo…
14. Mending of the gown

An hour and a half filled with a mix of old and new, down-tempo and up-tempo, the genius that is Spencer Krug, and epicness. Sunset Rubdown gave one of the best efforts that I’ve seen from a band.

Continue reading “Reviews: Sunset Rubdown (6/11/09) & Handsome Furs (7/6/09)”