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Concert Reviews

Io Echo + Garbage at House of Blues Boston

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Shirley Manson herself said Ioanna Gika was a star in the making, if not one already.

The crowd at Garbage’s House of Blues show Tuesday evening was wise to be there for Io Echo’s set, because it’s only a matter of time before they explode. One can’t help but be hypnotized watching Ioanna sway on the stage in her loose kimono, summoning the live instruments and booming synth with her siren call.

In recordings, Io Echo’s songs have a found quality to them; Ioanna’s vocals are produced with a scratchy affect that help to make Io Echo’s songs nebulous but close at the same time; it’s shoegaze at its finest. Live, however, Miss Gika’s voice took over the room—her pairing with Leopold Ross’s instrumentals broke from the confines of headphones and blasted through the speakers to soar and shake the room like thunder.

Io Echo performed a lot of gems that night; “Doorway” was a good Garbage companion with its lip biting attitude and screeching melody and that doesn’t let go. “I’m On Fire” was another moody work that dug into the skin. They saved the best for last with “Ministry of Love” and “When the Lillies Die”—these songs are also due to explode if anyone hasn’t caught on to them already. “Ministry” also happens to be the title track of Io Echo’s full length (that’s out tomorrow!); the track and “Lillies” are truly stellar standouts that will whisk you off your feet. They’ll be back one day, and, as Ioanna said to the crowd, they’ll be in touch.

As for that other band, Garbage, well…they knocked it out of the park. The stop at House of Blues was part of an extended leg in support of Not Your Kind of People (the title track which, a day after this show, found its way into the Metal Gear Solid 5 trailer). The set opened with “Automatic Systematic Habit,” the first song on the album that was only destined to kick off Garbage’s performances.

Shirley looked like she was ready to seize the Mad Men set after the dominating this show. She took the stage in a mod black dress and chiffon caplet that fluttered as she sang, a top knot and neon nails. Shirley was happy to return to “hallowed grounds” in Boston, having been at the House of Blues space back when it was still Avalon. She later snagged a sign from a fan that read “Thank You Garbage” in glitter letters, a missive that everyone was totally in agreement with by the end of the night.

Garbage did a great job of balancing the old and new; most of the material was from Not Your Kind of People, but it was outnumbered by one track as everyone was treated to tracks from their masterpiece Version 2.0. “Queer,” “I Think I’m Paranoid,” and “Only Happy When it Rains,” drove the crowd wild. “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)”—a favorite of mine—was dedicated to all the boys who like to dress up and all the girls who like to dress down.

Garbage departed after the gorgeous “Beloved Freak,” but they came back for an encore, ripping right into “Stupid Girl.” After, Shirley announced that a very special girl was becoming a teenager, Steve Marker’s daughter Ruby, turning the big 1-3 (Shirley’s her godmother and she’s super lucky). Corralling the audience into singing “Happy Birthday,” Shirley plopped a birthday candle headband onto Ruby’s head as Steve helped bring out a lit cake. “Special” was then dedicated to the birthday girl, before the show wrapped with “You Look So Fine” with a tease of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

Shirley said that Garbage plans to be in the studio by August once this leg gets through. Boston will be waiting for another amazing tour.

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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