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The Early November – Middle East Show Review

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On a rainy Wednesday night, The Early November took the stage at The Middle East Downstairs as part of their autumn headlining tour, bringing Seahaven and Cartel along for the ride. What followed was one of the most exuberant shows ever to grace Central Square—The Early November made clear their love of Boston, and Boston showed the love right back.

SoCal California based band Seahaven started the evening with a fantastic set full of great melodies and drums. The crowd joined in on “Black & White” and “Head In The Sand (Blinding Son),” the latter an anthemic tune that captured what this band could do: indie/punk with genuine emotion. At the end of Seahaven’s set, vocalist Kyle Soto changed it up for an acoustic solo accompanied by his dollar bill with GOD-written-in-marker adorned guitar, performing “Honeybee.” On the album, “Honeybee” has a lo-fi quality, but it sounded remarkable live. It was a performance that had the crowd swooning.

Cartel took the stage next, whom I haven’t seen since Grad Nite 2007 in Disney! But they’ve since had another album and EP, and all members fist bumped one another before jumping into the set. Opening with oldie “Luckie St,” the crowd swarmed the stage. The night’s performance was a good blend of old and new, just what fans were thrilled to hear. From “Runaway,” “The Perfect Mistake,” to “Say Anything Else,” Cartel had the room shouting and singing. “Burn the City” earned another clap-along, and “Conduit” from the recent EP In Stereo had a neat Flock of Seagulls type riff tucked in the beginning amongst the solid guitar work. Cartel closed with “Honestly” from 2009’s Chroma, a true pop punk gem.

When The Early November came on, they unveiled their set—a sparkling green drum kit, flanked by lamps as per the “In Currents” video motif. Almost immediately, the crowd pressed forward, reaching out as Ace Enders, Joe Marro, and Sergio Anello reached their hands out to fans during songs. The Early November started with new track “Digital Age” before segueing right into 2003’s “Something That Produces Results.” This set, too, was a great balanced working of tracks—though in support of In Currents, this was a part of their reunion and it was good to hear the past acknowledged. A fair amount of new material made it into the night, including the title track, “Frayed in Doubt,” and “Stain on the Carpet.” Things slowed down a little once with the pretty and well belted “Tell Me Why,” but The Early November kept things pumped and full of energy. Sergio worked up a tremendous sweat throughout the night, stepping up on to the speakers and shaking his soaked head at the fans. He ultimately surfed the crowd as his mic cord was funneled out to him—somehow an audience member floated up to the stage along with Sergio.

The Early November put on a fantastic performance that left many voices hoarse by the end. This being their third stop in Boston in the last 10 months, they most definitely are welcome back for more. And they’re more than welcome after 6 long years.

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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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