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Concert Reviews

Holiday with Will Hoge and Drivin n Cryin

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Over the last several years the coming of October has, for me, brought with it a heightened anticipation of Drivin n Cryin’s annual Holiday show. It is the culmination of a year of traveling with the band to clubs, theaters and festivals; a year of truck stops, La Quintas, and Denny’s.  Most of you, I’m sure, look forward to the Holiday season as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, unwind, relax, and reflect on a year that is rapidly reaching its end.  Each year, many of you take time out of your busy holiday schedules to spend a few hours with Drivin n Cryin.  And each year, the band looks forward to spending a few hours with you, bringing it all back home.

The Drivin n Cryin Holiday Extravaganza stage has often featured a cavalcade of musicians, sometimes, perhaps, to the delight of fans, but also, perhaps, not so.  This year’s stage saw only the four members of the band delivering a joyous and blistering 2 ½-hour rock marathon, giving nearly two thousand fans in attendance a peek into the future of the band.  For many in the audience, it was the first opportunity to see the band since the recent addition of guitarist Sadler Vaden. Quite a few videos of the new lineup were posted on Drivin n Cryin’s Facebook page in recent months, creating a buzz amongst fans anxious to experience the magic live.  Immediately noticeable to many was frontman Kevn Kinney’s move to stage right, highlighting Sadler front-and-center and placing him in a position that allows the other three members to feed off the energy that he brings to the band.  And what energy he brings!  His guitar work is, of course, stellar, but he also adds an additional layer to the band as a vocalist, opening the door for tight four-part harmony and allowing Kevn an occasional vocal break.  The future’s so bright…well, you know how the rest of that line goes.

The band recently spent a few days at Atlanta’s Sonica Recording, laying down tracks for a highly anticipated EP that will be released early next year.  All four tracks from that EP—“Where’s My Country,” “Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow,” “Baloney,” and the appropriately named tribute to R.E.M., “REM”—were played at the Tabernacle.  Those wishing to hear all the classics were not disappointed, with favorites like “Fly Me Courageous,” “Scarred But Smarter,” and the perpetually popular drunken sing along, “Straight to Hell” thrown into the mix. A number of now rarely played songs were dusted off, and a spate of cover tunes from the Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care” to the Kinks’ “Father Christmas” gave the band a chance to relax and hopefully delighted fans.  As a fan myself, I can say that last Friday’s show at the Tabernacle was one of the best that I’ve ever seen.

The upcoming year promises to be a great one for Drivin n Cryin.  That means that 2012 promises to be a great year to be a Drivin n Cryin fan!  All the cool kids have signed up for the band newsletter, which is how they always know what is going on with the band, know the tour dates, read wisdom from Drivin n Cryin’s own version of Mark Twain—guitar tech, Clay Johnson—and have access to secret songs.  You can sign up at www.drivinncryin.com.  You can also “Like” Drivin n Cryin on Facebook so you’ll always know what’s up.  And that’s what’s up.

Check out these great pics from John Adams. John recently caught the show at The Tabernacle on Friday, Dec. 23!

 Will Hoge

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 Drivin n Cryin

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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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