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Concert Reviews

Ceremony at the Drunken Unicorn

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Every now and then a band comes along that can truly revitalize a scene; Ceremony is one of those bands. Instead of just trudging through the current Hardcore template of triplet and breakdown galore, they actually went back to the old style of playing as fast and as hard as they could; caring not about how they would be received by people, but more so about expressing themselves with no worries about being accepted.

Now I have been listening to them for years, ever since a friend of mine put their first 7” inch on an old record player he found in his grandparents attic, and I have been a strong fan ever since. So with this being my first time seeing them, I could only imagine what it could be like based on the stories I’ve heard of broken noses and bones. For the first time in a long time at a Hardcore Punk show, I actually felt like I was at a TRUE show with how crazy it got that night.

Before I get into the first band, I need to state – I don’t know their name. I tried hard as hell to find it out, but to no avail. They didn’t introduce themselves; they didn’t pander to the crowd or do anything in between songs. All they worried about was assaulting the audience with violent noise. If I could try to describe them to you, it would have to be put like this; Die Kreuzen vocals, Black Flag instrumental style, and D.R.I. song length. It was something that any old-school fan would drool over and love.

Thankfully I knew the name of the following band – Shaved Christ – that are turning into local stars within the scene, providing it with a fast bombardment of angst. They played fast and angry, plain and simple. With the blasting drum beat and the razor guitar playing, there was no lack in energy to put the crowd in a mosh of madness. The only thing that didn’t sit well with me was how the vocals came off; they didn’t really fit live and I swear it sounded like the whole time the singer was just saying, “Do what”. Other than that though, it was a pretty solid Punk set.

Last, but not least in the slightest, was Ceremony. These guys are stars of the scene, pushing it in a direction that it has long needed a return to. Seeing them live only shows how amazing it could be if more bands took on this approach. This was like no other show I’ve ever seen; the stage presence, the craziness, how they acted on stage – it was all put together into the perfect mixture for an unforgettable show. From the crowd piling up onto the small stage at Drunken Unicorn and the hipsters getting stomped on by Punk kids (using their heads as launching pads to jump into the pit), to the lead singer running around with his shirt pulled over his head and flailing about, it was something different for once. It was a straight up injection of life and adrenalin. Even when they played their newer material, which is more of a 70’s Punk sound and less 80’s Hardcore, there was not a moment that was slowed down in the least. Hands down this is a great show to see, but it is not for someone who can’t handle a very harsh show. You will get hurt if you are not ready. But, as the saying goes, if there is no pain then there is no gain.

The show lasted less than two hours, but this was not bothersome; in that small amount of time all three bands packed more passion and energy into it than any other amount of bands with three or more hours has ever done. It was a great night and no matter how little recognition any of these bands get, they’ll always have the fact that they played one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

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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