The Middle East upstairs looked like The Foot Clan hideout from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; pop punk fans who didn’t look much older than 18 with their Vans sneakers and shaggy hair, skanking their hearts out to Goldfinger blasting over the PA. Adorable snacks lined up on a folding table sat between merch stands. All that was missing were some half pipes and arcade cabinets.
The manic energy kept up for all the bands that played at Super Prime and The American Spirit’s double EP release show. The small floor made space for the skank bunch, all of whom managed to shuffle around, kick, and pump their fists for four hours. It was fun and admirable.
Me vs. Gravity opened the night with an entertaining set–Zach Nelson, Ben Meyers, Dave Colicchio and Jeff Kinsey, all from Boston, played “Walls” to a thrilled group, and even covered Iyaz’s “Replay” as just about everyone sang along. A mix of danceable tracks and lighter waving material (“Crash into Consciousness”), Me vs. Gravity impressively switched up their sound on occasion, fusing alt-country elements with punk on songs like “Favorite Ghost.”
Ska band A Guy Named Guy followed. All eight members managed to fit onto the stage: Dylan Zobel Alex Pickert , Joe Soldati, Phillip Peloubet, Julia Hoffman, Adam Elmarakby, Jacob Rego, and Kyle Gaffney, who all formed the band at Berklee. They regaled the room with their signature song and mission statement “Ska’s Not Dead,” “Sell Out,” and the first song they ever wrote called “Loser.” A cover of “All Star,” coming on the eve of the weekend that Smash Mouth consumed 24 eggs for charity, may have been a slick little acknowledgement. Julia joined Dylan on vocals for “Toy Shop,” before closing with “The Life I’m Not Used To” and “You Suck (And You Know It).”
Super Prime hit the stage, and got fancy with the lights; darkened room, strobes, and then lights up again. The inspiration from Green Day was clear not only in the music — Adam Newell’s hair and facial expressions seemed to emulate Billy Joy Armstrong,too. Austin Bond created some amalgam of Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt with his mugging. Marcus James was his own man, going with the flow and drumming his heart out; hitting heavy and loud, but meshing perfectly with the trashing sounds of Super Prime. The band’s influences proved to be many, spanning Jimmy Eat World’s power pop, and a dash of Sum 41. Yet they still broke some new ground that deviated from the usual pop punk sound, and kept up a frenetic pace throughout their set. There was a good mix of the last EP and new stuff from Sun’s Out Guns Out. “Just Like You,” “GTA,” “Vow,” “Laundry” were performed brilliantly, and a nice, heartfelt acoustic set from Adam during which he performed “Song for Gabbi,” added a welcome depth to the set. Super Prime thanked everyone happily, and told us to hold on tight for The American Spirit.
The American Spirit set up, and was just about ready to play when they called their manager up, a young tall blond fellow with seersucker pants, tan blazer and white leather dress shoes. He gamely turned to the mic and announced, “I’m Christian Lyman, and I approve this message!” The band thrashed away immediately, heavier in sound than the other groups of the night. They infused some alt-rock into songs like “Run for Cover or Bust,” “Fight Club,” and a cover of The Starting Line’s “The Best of Me.” Members Devin Wojtanek , Danny Santos, Mike Burkowsky, and Steve Conzo put on a firm set, wrapping up a carefree night of boundless energy from Boston bands.
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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