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Concert Reviews

Murder by Death and Man Man

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Murder by Death came to Boston Friday, co-headlining a Winter tour with Man Man, one stop before finishing the season in Philly, the birthplace of Man Man.

Samantha Crain gave a solid opening.  She recently released Kid Face to great reviews and has taken it to the road.  Her alto voice carries all the pathos of Johnny Cash, the perfect fit for her songs, whose lyrics are poetic in a plain-spoken, down-to-Earth style.

Man Man’s alternative rock sound drew in a large crowd.  Fans arrived with painted faces and a load of energy ready to be unleashed.  Man Man has a sound at once original (brinking on the bizarre) and catchy.  They rivaled the movement of their enthusiastic fans, stomping around the stage and encouraging the cheers.

“Feather” set the mood with an almost carnival sounding piano.  No two of their songs sound very much alike, but most are a mad, energetic array of different sounds that work together to form a definite melody, most obviously seen in “Mister Jung Stuffed,” “Spider Cider,” and “Haute Tropique.”

They played “Piranhas Club,” a 1950’s rock n roll-sounding tune, “The Fog or China,” a psychedelic song with electronic elements, and “Van Helsing Boombox,” a smoother, softer piece.  They played the very original pieces “Black Mission Goggles” and “Engrish Bwudd” and finished strong with “Sarsparillsa.”

Murder by Death took the stage with “I Came Around,” a passionate rock song from their album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon.  They followed it with “My Ball and Chain,” a tune reminiscent of 1930’s era country folk, if with an added electric sound.

“A Masters in Reverse Psychology,”  a darker, almost gothic tune, took things down a bit.  “The Curse of Elkhart,” “Rumbrave,”, and “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shaving With a Knife)’s” fast tunes brought things back up.  “Steal Away” was a blast with Adam Turla’s Johnny Cash-esque voice and varying pace, which they followed up with the traveling song “King of the Gutter, Prince of the Dogs.”

The crowd roared as Samantha Crain joined them onstage for “Lost River” and “Hard World.”  Adam Turla took a solo in “My Baby Shot Me Down,” and the act finished with “Comin Home.”

The crowd chanted, “Encore!” ‘till they took the stage again, this time to play “Straight at the Sun” and ‘The Desert Is on Fire’ before saying goodnight.  They had a strong stage presence with a straightforward performance—a band without gimmick, a band that doesn’t need a gimmick.

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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