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Concert Reviews

Reckless Kelly

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Little Five Points is not a common home to country-rock shows, but the Variety Playhouse was still abuzz with the chatter of a few hundred Reckless Kelly fans on Friday night. Southern rockers Micky and the Motorcars opened the show, and even though there were only two acts performing their sets were long enough to fill the entire night.

The event catered to a very particular audience—most of those in attendance looked further on in years than the average Little Five concertgoers. The audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy all of the music; it was easy to tell since the music was soft enough to hear the conversations of audience members.

The show was atypical in that I thought that the opening band was better than the headliner. The Motorcars’ performance simply had more energy than Reckless Kelly’s, and their songs were far more dynamic. The two’s cover songs were actually the highlight of either set—the Motorcars’ cover of the Faces’ “Stay With Me” and Reckless Kelly’s take on Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” were met with huge reactions from the audience.

Compared to other country shows I’ve attended, this one happened to be pretty uneventful. The bands didn’t have much to say to the crowd, and the songs weren’t very dynamic from one to the next. I was a little perplexed by how much the crowd seemed to be enjoying the music. The songs sounded so similar to one another that it would have been hard to tell when one stopped and the next began if not for the whooping and hollering of the crowd between each one.

Now, simply because the bands didn’t put on an exciting performance doesn’t mean that they didn’t perform their songs well. The execution of their material was adequate on all parts, and the bands both sounded tight and well-practiced. It hardly felt like a live performance, however—it sounded as though both bands’ records were being played through the club’s sound system. The fact that the music was so soft that the audience could talk over the set removed one even further from the feeling of being at a concert. The event simply lacked personality and any semblance of energy or showmanship, except for a few key moments during Micky and the Motorcars’ set.

Even though I was personally bored during the show, I hesitate to say so because so much of the audience appeared to be having a great time. I tried to see in the concert what they obviously saw, but I ultimately failed to understand their point of view. Perhaps they were inebriated to the point that any music would have sufficed, or perhaps they’re observing something that’s passing right over my head. I can’t say which is the true answer, but for the my sake and that of their fans I hope they can learn to please us both.

While there was a sizable audience present, the Variety was nowhere close to full. Most of the seats sat empty during the performance. I was surprised that this lineup had secured the club’s coveted Friday night slot, since the turnout was far from what it could have been. The concert was overall pretty unimpressive—the bands didn’t even seem to be enjoying themselves that much.  Hopefully that night wasn’t representative of the other nights on this tour. These guys should consider trying to change their sets up a bit—any kind of variation would have been helpful to alleviate the pervasive sameness that occurred over the entirety of both bands’ sets.

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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