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Concert Reviews

Saves The Day at the Royale!

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If I had to guess, “Stay What You Are” is probably the album I’ve listened to more than any other in my life. Saves The Day’s other albums never pleased me as much, but I always liked what I heard. With that in mind it’s hard to say exactly when I fell out of love with the band. Chris Conley’s increasingly nasal vocals, the loss of all the original members, not even the divisive (and nearly career-killing) “In Reverie” could dissuade me. Over the years I suppose my enthusiasm simply went away, and other bands grabbed my attention. It got to the point where I never felt like I would need to see them live again, even though they toured regularly.

Nostalgia eventually got the better of me, though, and this past June I bought tickets for their co-headlining tour with The Get Up Kids. The latter put on a performance that was, frankly, disappointing, but at least gave me some closure – I knew I wouldn’t be missing out if I never saw them again. I only caught the end of Saves The Day’s set, but they vaguely reminded me of the high esteem I used to hold them in. The next day, I found their CDs in my basement and ripped them to my computer. My enthusiasm renewing itself, they soon shot to the top 5 of my last.fm. I was even anticipating the release of “Daybreak” – an album I’d forgot they were even making. And of course, I was excited for my next opportunity to see them live, even if it was on a co-headlining tour with Bayside.

Boston was lucky enough to get two stops on this tour, both at the Royale – formerly the Roxy. I opted to go on the second night, mainly because that was the night Saves The Day was closing, but also because the first night had sold out. These factors, along with the fact that it was an early Sunday show, resulted in a crowd that was nowhere near capacity. It might have been nicer, and probably more practical, to see them in a more intimate venue, but this way made it easy to get a good spot on the floor.

I’ve never had any emotional connection to Bayside, so I wasn’t disappointed to see that they were nearly finished when I first walked into the room. To their credit, they played a faithful cover of Weezer’s “My Name Is Jonas,” before ending with their standard closer “Devotion and Desire.”
The crowd thinned slightly. At 8:30, after a quick set up time, Chris Conley and company strolled on stage, picked up their instruments, and went right into “All-Star Me.” All of my setlist worries instantly vanished. “See You” followed without so much as a break for applause. The crowd sang and danced along while Conley gazed down at them, smile never leaving his face. New members (though they’ve actually been in the band for two years) Arun Bali and Rodrigo Palma were mostly stoic, though they occasionally sang along on some more well-known songs.

The band rarely stopped to address the crowd, or even to catch their breath. Instead, they tried to pack as many songs as they could into their hour of stage time, each starting as soon as the last ended. “We have too many damn songs,” Conley noted about halfway through the evening. They did their best to keep the crowd guessing, representing five of their seven albums (Can’t Slow Down and Under The Boards receiving no attention that evening). Everything sounded as tight and energetic as I hoped, although slightly slower than the album versions.

The only downside to the variety is that it meant I’d miss out on some of my favorites. The possibility only occurred to me when he announced that they only had a handful of songs left. “Freakish” followed, sounding as beautiful as ever and leaving me no time to complain. Soon after, “You Vandal” caused the largest circle pit up to that point and the first crowd surfers of the evening. The band took a moment to noodle on their instruments, then the chords of “Daybreak,”my favorite song they’ve written in the last several years, echoed over the suddenly mellow crowd. Every movement of the five part, ten minute song sounded flawless.

“Normally we’d get off stage, but we’re just gonna keep going,” he said before an encore consisting of fan favorites “Nightingale,” “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic,” and “A Drag In D Flat.” It was far too soon when he announced “We’re gonna leave the stage after this song… we totally are!” The last song they played was “At Your Funeral,” their standard closer – as it’s been since the first time I saw them, way back in 2002. Bali and Palma pumped up the crowd and mouthed the words as Conley sang them. The crowd showed more energy than they had the entire night; crowd surfers ran back into the fray just to climb back on top of everyone, and everyone shouted along. At last the tempo slowed, the final chords rang out, and Conley said he hoped to see us in the spring.

I heard a mixed reaction from the crowd as we exited. Some people were disappointed – a couple next to me noted that they weren’t as good as they once were. It’s an understandable (and fairly true) complaint, one that I share for many bands from my teenage years, but no longer for Saves The Day. Rather than remind me of something I no longer feel, they restored the love I thought had left me. I’ll be sure to see them whenever they come back, hoping they’ll play for at least a half hour longer.

Setlist:
Allstar Me
See You
Deranged and Desperate
The End
Certain Tragedy
Shoulder to the Wheel
Let It All Go
Third Engine
Dying Day
Anywhere With You
Living Without Love
Freakish
Bones
You Vandal
Daybreak

Encore:
Nightingale
Rocks Tonic Juice Magic
A Drag In D Flat
At Your Funeral

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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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.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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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.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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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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