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Concert Reviews

Andy Grammer at Vinyl

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It seems like modern mainstream music lacks artists who make songs that really speak from the heart. More often, they seem to speak from the crotch. Of course this is all my opinion, but I think there really isn’t anything in the mainstream that is true. That said, there will be an artist who comes about from time to time who makes it in the pop realm, and still keeps true to the heart.  Andy Grammer is certainly one of them.

Andy Grammer came up as a street musician in Los Angeles.  Over the years, he progressed to where he is now with music that is far more upbeat and positive than one might generally expect from an artist that writes from the heart.  Andy has stated his sound is not intentional, but just naturally develops. His talent as a songwriter makes itself crystal clear when you listen to it because the naturalness shines through. Grammer’s talent is even more apparent in a live setting where his personality and his feelings about each song are displayed.

Up until I was asked to cover the show I had never listened to Andy Grammer.  Even though his music is essentially pop, I could hear the potential in the material: he is more than your typical mainstream artist. As I stood around waiting for Grammer to come on, I observed the crowd that mainly consisted of girls who were 16 or younger and middle-aged parents. I thought that this was actually a good thing because it showed that the people who listen to pop the most were actually there supporting an artist who is a true artist, and not just listening passively on the radio.

Once Andy Grammer hit the stage the crowd exploded with excitement, and the room flooded with positive energy like a crashing wave. For the entire show Andy Grammer and the crowd shot positive energy back and forth, just feeding off of each other.  Grammer utilized it like a true showman by creating an atmosphere that lifted spirits. He ran through the span of his entire debut album, and even threw in covers of songs like ‘Airplanes’ by BoB with charisma and energy most wouldn’t find on the tail end of a tour. He stated that he was going to make sure that this show got a little extra with a analogy that compared adding a little extra to the show with when you grab the last cookie in a container of Dunkaroos, and still have all that leftover frosting to put on the cookie. There was definitely a lot of extra frosting for this show. In between the positive and upbeat energy, and the great crowd reaction and interaction it was a show that stood up and held its own.

For my first pop show, I can say I was certainly impressed. There was no over-exaggerated show antics or songs that lacked feeling.  It was a show that carried an immense amount of positive energy and feeling.  Andy Grammer displayed his talent as an artist, and showed that there are still musicians in the mainstream that care about the music, and not just the popularity.

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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