Show Review: Creaturos, Black Beach, The Fagettes, Magic Shoppe @ Middle East Upstairs (12/11/14)

Review by Joanna Trachtenberg

I guess you could call this Fuzzmas. Illegally Blind mastermind Jason Trefts did it again. 4 of the best bands who all played Fuzzstival in August come together once more for one magical night. First it was Magic Shoppe‘s turn to cast their spell on the awaiting audience. This was their first time ever playing with 4 guitarists. So of course they were louder than usual. I could barely hear the vocals with all of the guitar noise. I don’t necessarily mind that though because I feel like I’m surrounded by both a wave and a wall of psychedelic fury. They played most of their hits. Sadly they ran out of time before they got to Midnight In The Garden Of Evil.

Set-List:
No Place To Go
Dead Poplar
Trip Inside This House
Burn Right Through
Shangri-La In Reverse
All The Way
Haunted HollywoodHere come 1/2 of the Nice Guys to take the stage with Ryan, Melanie, Peachy & the rest of The Fagettes. I am a big fan of their retro inspired fuzzpop. I love their energy live. I noticed that they added a few newer songs to their mix. The swagger came to a climax with the last song about feelin’ good. Ryan and Mel were bouncing around the stage. Throughout the whole show the light shows were going off. Major props to Video Joe and Wax House AV on the amazing visuals. This was one of the best light show performances I have ever seen. I love the combination of the digital projections with the liquid light show.

Set-List:
Jake
National Geographic
Luv
Bad Catholics
Sleep Talk
Street Queens In Heat
On Drugs
WTA
I Wanna Feel Good

Black Beach got everyone wild. This was not only Fuzzmas but also Black Beach’s record release show for their new EP Play Loud, Die. They did a few stompers from that album. There was a major pit in the middle of the Middle East during their whole set. I think I got punched in the jaw. Even worse though at one point one of the light show projectors got smashed by someone getting powerslammed towards the stage. There was a reason why this was all going down BLACK BEACH ROCKED MAJOR COCKS! They are just loud dirty rock n roll which there needs to be a lot more of.

Set-List:
Rats
Ego Death Ritual
In Circles
Born To Lose
You’re A Ghost
Untitled new song
Kreep
Youth Is Out There

Psych rock heavyweights and Boston Music Awards nominees CreaturoS closed the night. (I know all good things must come to an end). They showered everyone with psychedelic bliss sending everyone home happy. They put on a helluva fun show every time and tonight was no exception. I think I had more fun than usual tonight. I’m hoping for more nights filled with this scuzzy goodness.

Set-List:
James Days’ Milkshake
Last Summers’ #1 Hit Single
Hand In My Pocket
Sunrise Wedding
Weird Queen
Going Out In Style
The Mole
The Master’s Dope
Ruff Puff

Show Review: Bass Drum of Death, The People’s Temple, Black Beach @ Middle East Upstairs (10/6/14)

By Joanna Trachtenberg

This was the Illegally Blind show I have been waiting for for quite a while. That’s right: 2 Time Super Bowl Champions The Mighty Bass Drum of Death are back in town! For those of you who don’t know. Illegally Blind is Jason Trefts’s booking company.

I saw the opening band Black Beach only about a week earlier blow the roof off of Thieves Grotto. They were probably my favorite band at that party so I was looking forward to seeing them again. They were the perfect local band to open this show. They played pretty much the same set as a week ago but they sounded and looked even better with the lights and projections around the stage. They rip hard and are a force to be reckoned with. John from Bass Drum of Death even commented that they are the best opener he has seen so far on their tour. Big props to Jason for adding them to the bill.

After a brief break Michigan psych 5 piece The People’s Temple came on. This was my first time seeing them. I have heard their recordings and I think that they rock much harder live than on those recordings. For some reason I thought they were going to be more laid back. I guess to keep up with Bass Drum of Death you really gotta rip it. Their singer reminded me a little of Hadden from The New Highway Hymnal. They impressed me.

Now it was time for 2 Time Super Bowl Champions The Mighty Bass Drum of Death to rip everyone a new asshole. The crowd started jostling as soon as John Barrett strummed the opening riff of Velvet Itch. As the heavy hitting jams continued, the crowd just got more wild. The band members long hair went flying around the stage nonstop as they played. Bass Drum of Death just put out a rippin’ new album appropriately titled RIP THIS! So obviously they featured a number of songs from it. They also did a number of my favorite older songs of their such as I Wanna Be Forgotten, Nerve Jamming & Get Found. For some songs there were girls that jumped onstage and danced. Just watch the video of Crawling After You. For their encore they did GB City track Religious Girls and a cover of Spirit In The Sky which at first I wondered if it was BRMC’s Spread Your Love because those songs have similar chord progressions. After the show I got to chill with the guys. They are some of the most awesome nice guys ever. Finally it was time for me to go home and let my bruises heal. This was not the first time I was bruised at a BDOD show.

Review: White Fang @ Middle East Upstairs (4/20)

By Joanna Trachtenberg

The next night (which was 4/20 by the way) I saw White Fang who are The Band To See On 4/20™. That’s right, Boston was the lucky city to be graced by White Fang’s presence on that glorious day this year. Free Pizza were up first in this jam packed bill. This band is fairly new and I had never seen them before but I was quite impressed. They played power punk that I wouldn’t exactly call poppy. Their songs were for the most part short fast and not very sweet (by the way I mean that as a compliment). Next up were Boston’s version of FIDLAR, the Nice Guys. They like to party and rock hard. I am hoping for big things coming from them. Next up were Boston’s best synth punkers Earthquake Party! They recently recorded a bunch of new songs for an upcoming album and they played a number of them tonight. The one non local opener was Denney and The Jets from Nashville who at first I thought were gonna be an Elton John cover band or something. They were not. The name comes from the fact that their singer’s name is Denney. They played good ol’ fashioned rock n roll. They are homeboys of Natural Child who I saw the previous night with the Black Lips.

Now it was time for the mighty White Fang! Guitarist Kyle Handley, Drummer Jimmy Leslie and Bassist Chris Uehlein started playing with lead singer Erik Gage in the background. When he was ready to sing Gage stormed to the front of the stage and started jumping around like a madman. Their songs border between punk, hardcore, metal and hard rock with the band into it the whole time. Some of the funnier moments included when Gage backhumped the stage for about a minute and when Gage lifted Uehlein while he was playing bass and spun him around. I am planning on seeing Gage and Handley again later this month with The Memories, their mellower other band. After the show I saw for merch they had a number of gnarly Gnar Tapes.

 

Review: Beware The Dangers Of A Ghost Scorpion! and Sun Lions @ Middle East Upstairs (3/22/14)

Beware
Bands: Beware The Dangers Of A Ghost Scorpion!, Sun Lions, Soft Pyramids, Whiskey Warpath
Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

We missed Whiskey Warpath and Soft Pyramids. Damn, next time!

Sun Lions – I have mixed feelings about this band. They are pleasant in some respects, especially in a live setting, but I’m not going bonkers over them either. It’s just too clean and proper for my savage tastes. I need an extra kick in the gut to loosen me up a little bit. This set feels like it lasts forever too. http://thesunlions.bandcamp.com/

Beware The Dangers Of A Ghost Scorpion! – Now, here is a band more to my liking. BTDOAGS is a trippy, all instrumental surf rock outfit, a surf nut’s wet dream, if you will.

Staying true to their name, the guys bear an air of mystery to them. Dressed in black shirts and blue jeans and wearing bandannas that cover most of their faces, they never verbally interact with their audience, not once. Instead, they communicate with their music.

I am always biased when it comes to surf music. I find it hard not to enjoy it, even if it is extremely generic. Frankly, it actually all sounds the same to me, but that’s just it, it’s a sound and one that I never get tired of hearing. Still, BTDOAGS picks it up a notch with their sinister, horror punk take on the genre. Anyway you look at it, it’s fun.

Overall, a strong set, but I’ve seen better from the band. The venue is mostly filled and the crowd is digging the band, rightfully so, but I’d rather see at least one of the members leap off the stage and dance around with the audience or entice them to move more as I have seen in the past. Regardless, always a pleasure to see these dudes. BTDOAGS in a basement/underground setting, now that is something I need to see next.  http://ghostscorpion.bandcamp.com/

Review: Fagettes, Sun Lions, Earthquake Party, The Migs @ Mid East Upstairs (7/31/13)

Bands: Fagettes, The Sun Lions, Earthquake Party!, The Migs
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)
Date: Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This is the kind of bill that should easily draw loads of local attention, any day. And it did. Eager onlookers slowly packed into the Middle East as my kinda band – The Fagettes – started playing their music. Sometimes these reviews can sound awfully repetitious, especially when describing some KLYAM faves, but singing the praises of Fagettes never gets old for me. Their sublimely catchy garage/pop is highly stimulating, more so than most bands in this ole Boston scene. They stick out visually – two stand-up drummers is pretty uncommon – and of course audibly; three singers trading words and ba ba ba’s more often than not. Entertainment. Tonight they play a couple cuts from last year’s impressive 7″ If I See Him Again (“On Drugs” and “My Girl Looks Like Johnny Thunders”), which along with “Gonna Die Out Here,” really showcase the Fagettes sound – sweet guitar tones bleeding from the amps of Ryan and Matt. They toss in a couple of brand new, full battery jams that oughta be trademarked soon. And then there was “I Hear Noises”. Not sure if I remember the last time I heard them play this, but it’s one of those tunes that calls for the late arrivals to be slapped around a little for missing out. People who’ve seen Fagettes live know what I’m trying to get at here. If you haven’t, they are playing a big show: August 23 opening for Hunx and His Punx at Brighton Music Hall. Can’t recommend that one enough. And remember to show up way early.

Next, we hear from The Sun Lions – formerly The Images. By either name, I was unfamiliar with their music. They had some passionate fans constantly dancing near the front of the stage. The first half of their set quite honestly didn’t too much for me. They sounded like any number of vocal-centric pop-rock alternative groups that had their heyday in the ’90s. That kind of familiar sound obviously has appeal to some, but around this site, you know, the slimier, the better. So once a second guitarist jumped on stage and joined the group, Sun Lions’ set became night and day to my ears. They transformed into a looser band, showing a knack for ’60s pop (covering “Heatwave”) and garage (another cover was “Have Love, Will Travel”…I think). I had much more fun rocking out to this side of the band and I wish the whole set would have been of this variety.

Earthquake Party! is a trio that like Sun Lions dabbles toward the more accessible fringes of pop ‘n roll. Their set consists of many very very brief tunes that are wild explosions of noise, fuzz, but most importantly melody. The guitarist Justin moves around the stage passionately while playing. So while he’s frantically singing and blasting away, Mallory (keyboard) and J-Raff (drums) keep things relatively in check. The energy of Earthquake Party! is perhaps their greatest attribute. They capture my attention immediately and always. I’ve seen them a few times before. This was the most fun I’ve had seeing them. To me they’re like a more catchy, snappy, ADD, Lost Sounds.

Last and hopefully not literally last (show) is New Hampshire’s pride and soul, The Migs. Kicking off with a cover of Rolling Stones “The Last Time” (remember they finished off their set at Great Scott with this a few weeks ago?), tonight felt like a cumulative continuation of all the good time vibes these guys have created over the years. Out of all the local-ish bands I’ve seen, it is the MIGS that capture the sonics of psychedelic garage nuggets the best. They nail this to a tee. I recently bought a compilation called Teenage Shutdown which features some gunk from young ’60s bands. If the Migs were around back then, you’d find them included. No doubt at all. “You and Me” is my nomination. Revved up and rowdy rockers. When Keven frequently takes off from the stage into the crowd while still hammering away on his guitar, it’s only natural to join in on the fun, shoving your neighbors around to the sounds of “Follow Me Home” and “We’re The Migs”. Moshing, freaky dancing, jumping up and down. A Migs show for the ages. For the thirty or so minutes they were up there, everyone was all smiles. Just incredible stuff.

Concert Review: Yankee Power, Space Bums, Moontowers, Your 33 Black Angels @ Middle East Upstairs (12/29/12)

Yankee

Bands: Yankee Power, Space Bums, Moontowers, Your 33 Black Angels
Date: Saturday, December 29, 2012
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

Act I: Yankee Power– Ahh, let’s take a look back at December 29, 2012. As I recall, a “major” snowstorm hit town and everyone was freaking out over the snow. Well, we braved the weather and entered the Middle East Upstairs, in intense anticipation for local favorites, Yankee Power.  The Yanks, I think that’s going to be my new nickname for them, are Jeff Gallagher on vocals/guitar, Tom Calvert on vocals/guitar, Mark Fallon on bass/vocals and CJ Kanouff on drums, and tonight they are joined by one of my best friends, the one and only, Ben “BBT” Tan on keyboards. These five upstanding gents look like ancient Greek warriors up on stage, but instead of spears they defeat their enemies with killer guitars, thunderous drums, and the frenetic keyboard stylings of Ben Tan. The idea is big.  There’s a big quality to Yankee Power’s music underneath their humble, every day man exterior.  The Yanks open with “Swing,” a flipping catchy tune from their magnum opus, Zoo Traffic, an LP that I devoured like a big chocolate cake, you know the kind that your grandmother brings out for dessert? yeah, that delicious. Listen to this bad boy right now: http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/ So yeah, “Swing,” one of my favorites from ZT is the first song of the evening and it’s a great rockabilly, country tune, an Elvis man’s kind of song.  They then pick up the pace with “Adopted Love Doll,” another stand out from the aforementioned album, there’s also a slick music video to accompany it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uorPdif39qs  With ‘Adopted’ the band rocks out even harder; it’s a heavier jam with howling lead vocals from Jeff and excellent backing vocals from Tom and Mark.  Not to mention CJ’s powerhouse drums.  This song and all the songs actually, translate very well in a live setting.  ZT has a nice, clean production style, and often when that is the case with bands, their songs don’t have the same impact when performed live, but with these dudes that is hardly the case.  The Yanks don’t simply mimic their studio work, but they produce a live set that is equally stunning.  I honestly can’t think of anyone around that I can compare to these dudes. My only comparisons are the best of the best in the canon of  rock and roll, many of which the band clearly derives their sound from. Two of which they cover; Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” which is outstanding and lives up to the original and The Beatles (or “The Be Atles”) “Hey Bulldog,” my favorite Beatles song and a fitting one (being on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack) considering the band also plays a select batch of “children songs,” including a tune that places the listener under water. Use your imagination! Other memorable moments (for me) include Jeff’s humorous, robotic-like dancing (Glen compares this to that of The Lovely Feathers) and Tom’s classic, shouted line “they’re insincere in all the answers they give” in the track “Real Folk.” Moral of the story, go see Yankee Power, listen to their music, and please give your mom a kiss goodnight, and an extra one for me.

Set List:
“Swing”
“Devo” (“Adopted Love Doll”)
“Real Folk”
“Wilco”
“Nautical”
“Bounty”
“Gepetto”
“Shiver” (“Shiver Of Sharks”)
“Oscapello”
“Neil Young” (“Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young)
“Hey Bulldog” (The Beatles)
“HHJ” (“Hot Honey Jazz”)

Act II: The Space Bums– Space Bums are quite different from Yankee Power. While Yankee Power play more straight forward pop/50s-60s rock and roll odes, Space Bums seem to be more fixated on the technical side of music. I mean actually I don’t know, I really don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, I’m just jerking off with my words. I’d say this band would appeal to people that like jam bands or The Grateful Dead.  I like some of the Dead, but I’m not a Dead Head, that’s just too much for me.  Moontower Tim Cushing, one of the many Wakefieldians performing tonight, switches back and forth between drums and guitar. Until now, I didn’t realize he was in The Space Bums, so it’s nice to see him up on stage again.  I’m having trouble remembering specifics from their set, but this is the only time I’ve seen them.  “Acid Girl” is a pretty catchy tune. Check it out and all the rest here: http://thespacebums.bandcamp.com/

Set List:
“Veins”
“Wuss”
“Shake”
“Junebugs”
“Acid” (“Acid Girl”)
“Blonde Wig”
“Bangers”
“Gotta See Her”
“Horseman”
“Crumbs”

Act III: Moontowers– Here’s a band I’ve been meaning to see for almost a year now. BBT and Tim Cushing are back again on the keyboards and guitar/vocals, respectively. They are joined by several other kids from my hometown of Wakefield. Some of which I have seen perform many times over the years, but not in this band. There is also a mysterious girl on sitar laying down in the middle of the stage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sitar in person, it’s about time. With Moontowers, it’s a big affair. There are so many bodies on stage, it’s hard to keep up, I lost count. But, they all jam together like one big family. They also have that psych/jam thing going, and I guess the most obvious comparison that could be made is to The Velvet Underground.  Moontowers are like apple pie, just when you think you’ve eaten, it’s eaten you. http://moontowers.bandcamp.com/

Act IV: Your 33 Black Angels– Your 33 Black Angels come all the way from New York for this show, so they really have to brave New England weather to get here. These fellas fit very well with the other bands on the bill and have a similar sound. They seem to have more energy than anyone else and people appear to be more into them than the other bands. The set goes on longer than I would have liked, but I guess they make it worth their trip. It’s not exactly my deal, but I can admire them for their musicianship. I also dig the Fat Creeps shirt on one of the members, that a boy! http://y33ba.bandcamp.com/

Concert Review: Colleen Green, Plateaus, Bent Shapes, Bugs and Rats @ Middle East Upstairs (9/9/12)


Artists: Colleen Green, Plateaus, Bent Shapes, Bugs and Rats
Date: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Venue: Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

Comments:

Act I: Bugs and Rats– These motherfuckers diminish what is left of my eardrums, which is great. Bugs and Rats are a powerhouse band, a three piece that is LOUD and guaranteed to wake up the neighbors. They would serve as a terrific alarm clock, I must say. I’ll admit much of the music I listen to is of the “wimpy” variety so I’m not as big into Bugs and Rats, but damn they are a solid band and they rock pretty hard. Their music is easy to head-bang to – in fact I would find it hard not to. Though it’s not necessarily my cup of tea, I can definitely recommend it. I also admire the band’s overall enthusiasm, which makes this performance even more fun. The drummer looks like he is going berserk! Lastly, I notice there is a picture of Anne Frank on the guitarist’s guitar, I do not know why, but I find this interesting. I mean I think it is Anne Frank. Either it is her or I am a fucking idiot.
Go nuts http://bugsandrats.bandcamp.com/


Act II: Bent Shapes–  So, y’all know Bent Shapes were formerly known as Girlfriends, right? Alright good. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen this band since they opened for Harlem at Great Scott back in April 2010, so it is a real pleasure to see them tonight.  I was always struck by their music before and I have been meaning to see them again for quite some time now, but for whatever reason it just never worked out. Fortunately, tonight is my night and I get a chance to see this excellent band.  Bent Shapes definitely has some outstanding pop hooks and they remind me of one of my favorite bands, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart.  I also hear a lot of pop punk a la Wavves in their music. Glen concurs on this point. Without a doubt my favorite moment is when they play “I Was Here, But I Disappear,” a favorite of mine. Not just a favorite from the band, but one of my favorite songs of all time. I did not expect them to play this song at all, so this is a real treat. Admittedly, I need to listen to more of their material and I plan to. You should too! http://bentshapes.bandcamp.com/

Set List:
Public
Brat (“Brat Poison”)
Panel (“Panel of Experts”)
Bites (“Bits and Scratches”)
Big M (“Big Machines”)
Space
Bhead?
Disappear (“I Was Here But I Disappear”)
Hex (“Hex Maneuvers”)
Leave (“Leave It Till You Need It”)
Boys (“Boys to Men”)


Act III
: Plateaus– Before tonight’s performance I have never heard of Plateaus, but now I am convinced they are a sound band and I plan on checking out their music. Their songs are not as stripped down and catchy as those of Bent Shapes, but they keep up the same power pop/ pop punk sensibility. I am also feeling some strong garage vibes and in this way I can see them fitting well with the kind of music we typically champion on KLYAM. Their set is definitely fun and gets me pumped up for Colleen, even more so than I already was. http://plateausband.bandcamp.com/


Act IV
: Colleen Green– Before I start my little babbling, I am going to take a mini trip back to April 2011. April 29, 2011 to be exact. Glen and I had had little exposure to basement venues (a couple of shows in Lowell and that was about it) and so when we arrived at the Starlab in Somerville to see one of Ottawa’s finest, The White Wires, we were a bit perplexed. As I recall we paid the seven bucks or so for admission (which included a stamp of the word “fuck” on my hand) and then we left the venue momentarily to smoke a bowl. One of the dudes running the show caught up with us and said that it was cool for us to smoke inside. So, we did. More importantly, why am I telling this story?! What I forgot to mention was that Colleen Green was headlining this bill, but at the time we had no idea who Colleen Green was, we came to see White Wires as I had mentioned earlier. I remember sitting down Indian style in the basement of the Starlab, waiting for the band to play- actually the dudes from Luau (also on the bill that evening) were setting up their equipment and I began to aggressively converse about G.G. Allin and Charles Manson the way I often do when I’m left unsupervised. Around this time, Colleen approached Glen and me, oh and Dan, damn I forgot that motherfucker came with us, he’s the man! She sarcastically said something to the effect of “You aren’t those guys that are smoking weed are you?” She then politely introduced herself as Colleen and within seconds I began vigorously raving about my favorite bands as I tend to do if given even the slightest opportunity. I stated that my top three current favorite bands were/are 1)Black Lips 2)Deerhunter, and 3) Hunx and His Punx. This led to a brief discussion of the Hunx tune “Cruisin,” a fabulous song indeed. Alas, we weren’t able to stay long enough to catch Colleen’s set that night, but I remember thinking anyone that appreciates greats like Hunx and His Punx is worth checking out. So, I YouTube’d a few songs and live vids and I was instantly hooked. But, between 21+ shows and lack of transportation we KLYAMERS missed out on all the remaining Colleen Boston gigs :( Until now! Ahh shit, it’s 4:20 (I didn’t plan this btw) why am I still writing this? Why am I still up? I need to be awake and alert in a vapid classroom setting within four hours. Oh well. So yeah, tonight is very exciting on the account that not only do Glen and I get to see Colleen Green live for the first time, but with a whole band including members of Plateaus. The Colleen Green Band opens with a cover of the fine Descendents tune, “Good Good Things,” before moving into what may just be my favorite Colleen number “I Wanna Be Degraded,” goddamn that song is catchy! The whole set is spectacular. Colleen can be pure rock ‘n’ roll and totally mellow all at once. It’s like she doesn’t have to shout, but you can hear every little nuance of her vocals. I don’t know what I’m talking about- to quote a friend of mine-“I don’t know art, but I know what I like!” One of my other favorites is “Dance the Night Away,” a killer tune that surely stood out as one of 2011’s finest. Colleen and crew close the set with “Nice Boy (I Want A),” another classic that leaves me in great anticipation for tomorrow night’s performance in Lowell. I can’t wait! http://colleengreen.bandcamp.com/