I wouldn’t risk my life to see just any band, but as I drove from Western Mass. through the snow and around the fallen trees that littered Springfield, the only feeling I was aware of was an incredible unworthiness (well—that and a worry I’d arrive late). Hordes of people who’d spent the angst of their adolescence jumping around to the Pixies’ then-new sound were beating down doors (websites), throwing hard-earned money at the prospect of seeing one of the defining sounds of their generation—and then there was me.
The Pixies first formed the year I was born (as opposed to when they formed the second time – the year I entered my senior year of highschool) and went, for many years, unappreciated by me except in the foundations of much of the music I did listen to. But I grew up, and came to appreciate the huge influence The Pixies had, so I was a more than a little awe-struck approaching the gig; the Atlantic at my back, rising and falling and rising the way the Pixies are so well known to have done in their music and their lives.
The Casino Ballroom at Hampton Beach (warning: not an actual casino) with its metal mesh ceiling, high stage, and background screen, was made to make bands to look larger than life. Getting in the door and seeing them, standing tall on a smoke-filled platform, I pushed my way through the room (a difficulty akin to being born), watching each of the band members, hoping to catch a glimpse of what they felt looking out at the lights and the arm-waving fans. I might have just been seeing what I wanted, but it really looked like they were enjoying themselves. First there was Joey Santiago, leaning back and playing with his always-cool air, as if he weren’t on a stage at all, but with friends in a small jam session.
Making my way across the room, I watched Francis Black pour all that he had into the mic, screaming ‘tame!’ to a group of young people who were leaning forward on the divide, banging their heads as if they didn’t have brains to damage (and I salute them for it).
David Lovering moved with an amazing speed and energy (as drummers do), quipping with Kim occasionally from the back between songs. Kim Deal was the last Pixie I came to. If there was any doubt that the others were having a good time, it couldn’t be said about her. She played and waved and led the between-song banter, asking the crowd for New Hampshire’s state motto, and taking mock guesses difficult to hear over the shouts of “live free or die!”
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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