Fond Experiences @ NEU MF ’14 (Friday, September 5, 2014)

This past weekend, starting September 4th at Club Bohemia and ending on the 6th at Cuisine En Locale, New England Underground Music Festival 2014 took place with dozens of live performances and tables (with records, tapes, and other physically pleasing artifacts) and the focus was NEW ENGLAND. Yep, lots of interesting happenings regularly evolve the participatory culture in this community – and if you don’t know what that means check out the September issue of the Boston Compass for a worthy explanation written by Sam Potrykus. Speaking of which, Sam and Dan Shea, who has long been a foremost advocate of Boston underground arts, deserve some major props for setting up NEUMF 2014 in conjunction with their nonprofit/volunteer organization, the Boston Hassle.

An event like NEUMF is sundry for us KLYAMers; you can usually find us round town at underground R’n’R events of the garage/punk variety so something like NEUMF is a brilliant step away from business as usual into the… unknown. Right on.

As we walk some paces down Highland Ave in an effort to locate Cuisine En Locale (ya gram that place you used to go for baby showers) we finally arrive, greeted by familiar company: members of Nice Guys, Phaze, The Lentils. Most always a fine salute. Then I see Gracie Jackson, the 7:20 PM performa. Aw shit she just finished playing her set! Course I tell her my disenchantment of barely missing her perform with her solo group.  Must have been nice for those who got the privilege.

Walk into the main area, already up and jamming on stage are Soft Eyes. Not like I actually could tell, I mean I did get my eyes checked. Should be wearing those glasses. I step a little closer and recognize hey that’s Luke on guitar. He and crew are serving up some wailing psychedelia, spiraling guitar work with that oh so distinct organ sound. I get more and more into it as the set flows through. The last song is a faster mover in the bunch, bringing me happiness Ty Segall & White Fence style. Luke tells us they got a buncha shows coming, I’m listening!

Next up is Worn Leather who call Connecticut their home. Their three piece punchy punk I hoped would stir up the crowd a bit more, but I enjoyed boppin my head to them, most especially during the guitarist/singer’s axe solos. There are some nice possibilities with solid bass and drum behind ya and he seemed to know that!

Back to that stage that Soft Eyes was on is Lair. I remember Lair markedly well, in fact I could say they were the most memorable group that I saw at NEUMF. A duo – guitar and drums – but that’s simplifying the story. Third member was this looping station thing [i don’t play music I appreciate it it’s probably not called a looping station]. Drummer with headset, guitarist fond of intermittently screaming and talking. Lightning Bolt vibes sometimes, ‘weirder’ but more melodic Guerrilla Toss vibes, and more straight ahead doom and thunder. Lair’s presence did it for me more than the music itself, which I mean ya dawg this is all pretty new to me and maybe hundreds of others. We’ll see!

Next band I peered deep into was Video Nasties. As they’re playing, I’m thinking damn what I am going to say about these guys. I love ’em. Never saw ’em before, never heard of them, but wow I don’t even think I can articulate what I’m hearing! That kinda thing. There was a unique energy to their set – maybe it was the dude who was pacing back and forth dancing. Not just a dude but a singer in the band. I hardly noticed the off-stage microphone until he started speaking into it! Hahaha. No drummer necessary…they got machines for that. Also a dude on synths (who sang, too, I believe) and a tall man guitarist/singer. Their stage presence, clang, and strut like DEVO, maybe a super chilled out Lost Sounds. I was into everything they did. Count me most impressed, keep rockin dudes.

At one time KLYAM delved briefly into the world of Electronic Music courtesy of our Queen’s brother Richard Franke. I am not a rock ‘n roll purist or anti-electronic music… I just happen to really love and prefer raw, fun, exciting, live instrument aided rock ‘n roll music. But I can get down with dance music, finding some sounds pleasing, riveting even, when I hear them. That’s exactly the case with JEROME. I totally dug his mix which I guess some could simply call ‘techno’ but I’ll stick with the term beats. A whole bunch of us were dancing, maybe it looked funny from a far. I dunno, don’t care. Fun times.

The Lentils here we come. Lentil Luke was feeling in a more relaxing mood – he said it himself. And with the aid of Gracie Jackson (guitar) and Ben Katzman (drums) alongside his trusty mate Nehemiah (bass), why not everyone take a seat and bear witness to the mouthy, crisp Velvet autumn reflections of Mister Luke. The way he writes songs, they kinda float along wistfully, and the crew follows along, sprinkling some leads, adding some OoOmph. If Vermont was the United Kingdom, it’s all good! The past couple of inclinations of the band that I saw were harder rockin (they took a seat here too) so a gent like me mighta been surmising something like that but this was a neat surprise and cool to see some familiar faces take part in it.

(New England) Patriots there’s no mistaking them. Leaders of the night pack – they play this late for a reason. Crowd flips a lid like no other band performing this night, moshing, crowd surfing. They’ve seen these guys before. I think. I hadn’t. What? Ya thats crazy. Glad I did. Chaotic, noisy – louder than Bob Kraft’s private jet. They’ve garnered the acclaim of many women and men and in between and I am now involved in their schemes, in the front row, seeing these Pats bounce back and forth. Good exercise doesn’t come without some sweat. Alla Boston’s noise outfits of recent years aren’t just spitting distortion and incoherence, there always be some hooks and candied fun to their game. Pats got that. Special Teams.

Now for the grand finale here. Minibeast featuring Peter Prescott (drummer in Mission of Burma) on guitar/keyboard/effects and a few other musicians on other instruments. Not ya typical rock band – off beam experimentation with some poppier flare now and then. One of those ‘wowza’ live experiences that gets you or me confused in a good kind of way. Throw any and all biases and expectations out the window. Course the night was a little fuzzy at this point!

Review: Phaze, Shame Thugs, John Flannelly @ Charlie’s (6/30/14)

Bands: Soft Eyes, Phaze, Shame Thugs, John Flannelly
Date: Monday, June 30, 2014
Venue: Charlie’s Kitchen [Cambridge]

This was SHAMEFUL to admit it, my first Charlie’s Kitchen experience. Don’t get me wrong here, I always see the events, the spectacular musical parties thrown by some of the finest Boston bookers, FAST APPLE, on Monday nights. I was able to make things work, unfortunately not for the entire duration of the show. Very bummed I missed seeing Soft Eyes – the home spun psych ventures of Luke Goudreault (formerly of MMOSS, The MIGS!!!, and New Highway Hymnal) whose live band also includes Rachel Neveu (formerly of MMOSS), drummer Travis Hagan (Fat Creeps, NHH), and possibly some other members that I did not see roaming the venue. Do head over to the SE BC and stream Lazy Life in its mono White Fencian/Migsian chromatic splendor.

John Flannelly of Indiana got things started ground level as he worked on his keyboard and pedals set-up, delivering what sounded like an experimental combo of beats and loop effects. John’s take on music is certainly deeper in the sense that I had not a clue what he was going for and perhaps nobody did except for the performer himself. I found the unpredictability and non-conventional nature of his set-up somewhat more fascinating than the actual rhythmic collage. http://johnflannelly.bandcamp.com/

Next up was the bass/keyboard duo $hame Thug$, also from Indiana and on tour with John Flannelly. I don’t think I will be forgetting their set anytime soon at least not their first song which prominently featured a hip-hop sample of this guy shouting YEAH!. The keyboardist rapped with some voice modulated echo throughout the course of the set. I will say I haven’t really seen any band like SHAME THUGS – the taping of individual keys, the total surreal dreamy r&b mood – though maybe the closest thing to them I’ve heard is Kitty Pryde so take that for whatever, but the Thugs are rawer which I like.

PHAZE get ready KLYAMers, PHAZE is a band you’ll be hearing about a lot more. At least from me and hopefully beyond and beyond. Jesse DeFrancesco is at the helm of this rock ‘n roll band, which, live, we have Nick on drums. PHAZE is riffy rock ‘n roll, bluesy in some spots, anchored in all by Jesse’s prepunk singin and tenacity for going hard and going nuts. On recording PHAZE is chiller (real real neat, just wait and see), but with the drumming, these guys wallop. Being in the audience and hearing PHAZE for the first time was quite like when I first saw The Migs. All excitement, the ‘this is really special, I’m grateful I’m here right now’ feeling. Specially on “Backwards”. Ya know! http://allstontapes.bandcamp.com/releases

SOTD: Soft Eyes – “Follow The Night Moon”

A psych pop tart from Soft EyesLuke Goudreault (you all know this good dude from THE MIGS, Slimers, MMOSS, and formerly The New Highway Hymnal) solo. I’m psyched myself to hear that he – Soft Eyes – has a tape coming sometime soon on Under The Gun Records. Step into the time warp and you’ll surround yourself in a kind of atmosphere White Fence has prolifically bandied around in over the past few years.