Fresh off their performance at the Austin City Limits festival and perhaps a bit less fresh after the long drive straight over from Austin… Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. found themselves very well-loved in the intimate environs of the Drunken Unicorn. The duo, with their audience-tested, “more attractive” drummer, Mike, brought some of the special light of Detroit to the LED-lit cellar that is the Unicorn. Dropping their famous race suits for a nod to the Detroit Tigers, with matching Tigers jackets and shirts featuring their album, Esptein and Zott brought the crowd to a fever pitch almost from the get-go, throwing energy into every one of the album cuts from It’s A Corporate World they slung to a both packed and energetic crowd.
A highlight of the evening included an over-the-top rendition of We Almost Lost Detroit, played to an appreciative Michigan-heavy, stage-side crowd. Perhaps the most soulful and also frenetic moment of the night came with their amazing cover of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
Jr. Jr followed the bulk of the set with an encore lit by blacklight and their requisite glow-in-the-dark patchwork “JR” jackets, taking us to the close on a surreal and wonderfully ridiculous note. Alternating between soulful pop vocals, dance breakdowns, copious bubbles, and a thoroughly bro-mantic stage presence, the chemistry and fun-loving garage origins of the group could not be more evident… or lovable.
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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