Music is a funny thing. There are bands that excel in the recording studio and then can’t seem to repeat that magic in front of an audience. Then there are bands that put out totally mediocre records but put on a damn fine show. Cold War Kids’ show at the Masquerade last night fits squarely in that second category.
I was less than unimpressed with the band’s latest release, finding it far too broad and watered down musically, as though they were trying their hardest to move out of the indie scene and find a place for themselves on top-40 radio. The album left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, which I carried with me into the first few moments of their show.
It turns out I was in for a wonderful surprise. Within minutes of the first song I found myself looking around in the room in utter amazement, wondering if everyone else there had already known what I hadn’t- that Cold War Kids are a fantastic band when they are in front of a live audience.
Gone was the non-descript, mainstream sound of their album and in its place was in incredible energy and raw emotion that came out in every note. Lead singer Nathan Willet brought passion and excitement to the very same songs that I had found so boring on their album and bassist Matt Maust danced and played like he was performing the final show of his life.
These guys had the audience dancing and singing for almost two hours with out a break. Clearly, Cold War Kids are at home in front of crowd, and for good reason. The band’s excitement was infectious and it translated into one of the most surprisingly satisfying shows I have seen this year.
Pictures by Emily Kelsey
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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