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Concert Reviews

Menzingers, Flatliners & Broadway Calls @ Middle East

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On their way to The Fest in Gainseville, Florida, The Menzingers joined with The Flatliners and Broadway Calls for a week-long tour down the east coast. After seeing that lineup, I knew that I had to head to The Middle East Upstairs to check it out.

The night began with a pair of young acts from the United Kingdom: Leagues Apart, a four-piece from Manchester, and The Arteries, a five-piece from Swansea. Both played the fast brand of pop punk that fit nicely on the bill – but they didn’t do much to stand out.

Broadway Calls, the lone power trio of the evening, was up next, and they immediately got the crowd going with “Call It Off.” Despite having fewer instruments to work with, they managed to sound plenty loud and full. New bassist Adam Willis seemed very comfortable, moving around the stage and singing backup vocals like he’d been with them from the beginning. He performed admirably on “Life Is In The Air,” a song he said he’d never played before. They played a few other hits, including single “Be All That You Can’t Be” and my personal favorite “Suffer The Kids,” which finally saw the tame circle pit explode. They also played a few songs from their upcoming “Toxic Kids” EP before ending with “Save Our Ship” and “Back To Oregon,” which featured guest vocals from Flatliners singer Chris Cresswell.

Once The Flatliners came on, the stench of punk sweat combined with the room shaking bass was starting to take its toll on me – I was starting to feel old. Still, I held on to hear their darker brand of pop punk along with the occasional reggae tune. They played plenty of songs from 2010’s “Cavalcade,” including “Liver Alone” and “Count Your Bruises.”

After ten minutes of set up time, The Menzingers started playing. Any fatigue I felt was quickly forgotten. The crowd parted in two as some of the more energetic punks pressed up against the stage, and they wouldn’t let up for the rest of the evening. Even though they brought more energy than any of the previous bands, after opening with the first three tracks from “Chamberlain Waits,” I was worried that there was nowhere for the show to go but downhill. They kept a great pace though, packing in other favorites from that album such as “So It Goes,” “Time Tables,” and “Deep Sleep,” and they sounded even better with the crowd singing along. After 45 minutes, which is probably long for a headlining pop punk band, they closed with a faster, less pretty version of EP opener “Sunday Morning,” letting the microphone drop into the crowd so they could shout the final lines. The band walked off stage and the house lights abruptly came on – the lack of encore being expected and yet still feeling anti-climactic.

On the walk back to my car, I imagined I’d have a hard time handling The Fest, which is basically this show stretched over three days. Even though the repetitiveness wore on me more than I was expecting, it was still the fast-paced, fun evening I was hoping for. I’ll be sure to see The Menzingers next time they come around, regardless of how eclectic the bill is.

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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