While looking for something fun to do this past Friday night, I lucked out and saw that a friend shared the “El Dia De Elvis” flyer for The Mystery Men?, The F’n Heartbreaks, and Pelvis Breastlies at the Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge for a Day of the Dead themed tribute to Elvis’ death day. I was curious to hear music by the all female Elvis tribute band, Pelvis Breastlies, but wasn’t sure quite what to expect – was this going to be a drag king Elvis impersonator band or a burlesque style Elvis show? So, I checked out the ladies website to see what type of show I might attend this past Friday, August 19th. Turns out, the Pelvis Breastlies are five ladies who rock Elvis music in their own feminine style.
When I got to the venue, I ran into two brothers I’ve seen out in the rockabilly and burlesque scene. I was pleasantly surprised and asked them if they’d seen the Pelvis Breastlies before. So as not to incriminate the guilty I will let them remain nameless, but they responded, “Yes, of course, anything with the word ‘breast’ in the title – we’re there!” Breast comment aside, they really were fans of the ladies’ band.
All three of the bands I was about to see were local, but I’d never heard of them. (Not that that means anything, but this was about to be one of the best local lineups that I’ve heard in a while!) The first band on stage was the The Mystery Men?. They were a four piece band (two guitars, a bass, and drums) that played retro-style instrumental surf music. The music was very fun, but the band was a little eerie in their all black outfits with clear plastic masks covering their faces – a nod to a Jason-esque horror movie. One of the guitarists even had a wireless guitar which he walked off stage and played in the audience. This band is such a mystery that even their names are unusual with Mr. JaGa on guitar, Mr. RiHa on guitar, Mr. JaWa on bass, and Mr. TeBa on drums.
The biggest surprise of the evening came in the form of the next band, an eight piece ‘60’s girl group revival band, The F’n Heartbreaks. Headed up by three female lead singers and five backing male musicians, this group really threw me for a loop! The male backing band included B. Bo Cannon on guitar, Hal Haney on bass, Brian Corn on sax, Chris Haney on drums, and Artie Mondello on organ. The three leading ladies, Brook Bolen, Stephanie Hudson, and Carrie Manuel, all work the same black dress with pretty beaded décolletage pieces. What was really unique about this band was that each lady got to sing lead vocals on a few songs. It was also unique that they were different heights and all had different hair color – a redhead, a brunette, and one with black hair. No, that’s not some sleazy joke guys; they did have different hair color and even different vocal ranges, which sounded amazing as they harmonized with each other. I loved their sound and it was great seeing how well they moved in ‘60’s cheesecake pinup-y style. This is one band you should definitely go see – eight people working together to give you some swinging tunes!
Now on to the main event! As the Pelvis Breastlies crew was setting up, you could see Day of the Dead skulls sitting in front of the stage next to a black and white photo of the king himself, Elvis Presley. Elvis…err…the Breastlies were about to enter the building! The girls were face painted in Dias De Los Muertos skull designs by Memorial Tattoo artists. None of the Breastlies wore anything reminiscent of the flashy Elvis jumpsuit or toupees with sideburns (and I’m pretty sure the packed house was very happy about that fact). All the lovely ladies were glammed up and sexified in their heels, bustiers, skirts, tight pants, and/or flowers in their hair. (Now this is how ladies should rock out!) Right out of the gate – You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog was their first song. The five piece band was led by singer Erin Watson, with Katy Keene on keyboard, Elizabeth Hiott on electronic ukulele, Maria Cardarelli on drums, and Leah Maloof on guitar. The girls celebrated the king’s death day in style with popular numbers and even more obscure Elvis songs as well. The audience was singing and dancing along as the lead singer hopped off stage and got her pelvis shakin’ groove on with them. The Pelvis Breastlies really made those Elvis songs their own. What a great way to celebrate the 34th anniversary of Elvis’s death!
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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