Category Archives: boston concerts

On Of Montreal.

Photo by Eric Baumann for the Boston Phoenix

The Of Montreal show at the Paradise Tuesday night, the second of their two sold-out shows at that venue this week, wasn’t just a concert — it was an interpretive dance performance, an assemblage of trippy video installations, an excuse to parade a multitude of animal-head masks across the stage, and one giant homage to Flaming Lips–style stage antics. Of Montreal’s previous appearances in town, at Avalon and the Middle East downstairs, had merely hinted at their theatrical aptitude. At Avalon they’d incorporated video projections from the cover art for 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? At the Middle East, lead singer Kevin Barnes had donned a wedding dress and proposed to the audience.

This time, the Athens-based outfit brought along a hype man in a white tiger head and a team of ambiguous, unitarded dancers who transmorphed themselves with silver Buddha costumes, platinum-blond wigs, and plastic pig masks in a confusing series of skits. It was a spectacle, for sure, but it didn’t always work to the band’s advantage. At times, it felt like commotion meant to distract us from the weaker songs in the set, which consisted of tunes from Hissing Fauna and the band’s most recent release, Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl), with a few staples peppered in between. “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” and “Forecast Fascist Future,” both from 2005’s The Sunlandic Twins, were highlights.

Read the full review I wrote for the Boston Phoenix here.

On Antje Duvekot.

Midway through her set at Club Passim last Friday, right before covering Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” Antje Duvekot remarked on something she’d read about the Great Depression. “Lighthearted entertainment became important to people,” said the Somerville-based singer-songwriter. “They needed it to get them through it.” A beat of silence, and then laughter rose from the crammed, brick-walled, basement folk club.

The unstated punch line of Duvekot’s self-depreciating joke had been made evident by the first half of her show, the second of four sold-out gigs promoting her just-released second studio album, The Near Demise of the High Wire Dancer (Black Wolf Records). Duvekot, who’s become one of Boston’s folk darlings over the past five years or so, writes songs soaked in forlorn wisdom, with lyrics like “the moonlight has made it plain that nobody needs me to call them home,” sung in her trademark weather-worn throatiness. They’re the opposite of lighthearted entertainment, but without the generic, maudlin cheese that plagues less skilled folkies.

The Economic Crisis 2009 crowd seemed cool with a gloomier tone, perhaps because the formerly dry Club Passim now serves wine and beer. Or perhaps because they knew what to expect.

Read the full review here.

Lovers’ rock

081212_drugrug_main

Drug Rug
When we first started doing press, that’s all people wanted to talk about. And we were like, “Fuck, that’s so annoying.”

Despite their fatigue with the topic — being in a relationship that exists within a band (or vice versa) — Sarah Cronin and Tommy Allen (who’s quoted above), of the Cambridge-based, Beatles-esque, lo-fi rock band Drug Rug, are surprisingly welcoming and amicable when I visit them at their Inman Square apartment on a Friday afternoon. Cronin and Allen know what I’m there to talk about, but apparently they’re not holding it against me.

Their frustrations are understandable. Much like Jenny Lewis would rather not be known for her childhood acting gigs — starring in Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard and Jakob Dylan probably wishes just one journalist would neglect to mention his legendary-rocker father, most couples in bands don’t want the “couple” part to loom over the “band” part. But like rock musicians, music journalists are always looking for hooks, and romance is a tempting element to any band’s narrative.

Still, there’s telling the story, and then there’s selling the story — for example, an early press release described Drug Rug, much to their chagrin, as a “magical love duo.” Even for Cronin and Allen, though, the line between bandmates and boyfriend/girlfriend is often vague, and sometimes nonexistent.

Read the full article here.

The meme show.


Leslie Hall, photo by Kate Raynes-Goldie


Tron Guy photo by TrespassersWill


Ben Romans (from the Click Five), photo by varmazis

Weaving through the packed Middle East upstairs Friday night was not quite like gallivanting, IRL, through the “Most Viewed” page on YouTube — neither the Evolution of Dance dude nor the laughing baby was in attendance — but it was a surreal gathering of Internet video celebrities nonetheless. It was “The Music Show of the Memes,” the concert to celebrate the opening of ROFLCon (a conference of experts on Internet stardom and I Can Has Cheezburger). The memes were indeed out in full force.

One moment, Denny Blaze, who achieved meme-dom with his goofy, grainy “Average Homeboy” video demos in 2006, is handing me his business card and explaining (in ironic sotto voce for a rapper) that he made most of the videos in the ’80s, “before YouTube and before CDs,” with a hint of awe that such a time ever existed. Next, I’m hovering near “Tron Guy,” a mustachio’d man bedecked in glowing blue lights that are affixed to knee pads, a helmet, and a Frisbee — providing excellent illumination for mid-show note taking, along with the camera flashes beaming from every corner of the room.

Indeed, it seems everyone has brought along a camera or an iPhone and is incessantly snapping photos, especially when Leslie Hall (the queen of parodic white-girl rap) strides on stage like Internet royalty, reigning over the fawning crowd in gold spandex and thick glasses, with her ladies-in-waiting the LY’s flanking her in bedazzled sweaters.

Read on here.

Radiohead + the Grizzlys

Posted yesterday, via OTD:

Last week OTD scooped the news about Radiohead’s August 13 concert date at Tweeter Center (tickets go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m.) and set the music blogs abuzz. Today word from ye olde Inbox, via our friends at LiveNation, is that opening duties will be divvied amongst Grizzly Bear, whom Radiohead covered at their recent top-secret London gig, and Liars, who Thom Yorke raved about when he guess DJ’ed NPR’s All Songs Considered in February. So who’ll be gracing Mansfield with their Yorke-approved presence this summer? Grizzly Bear, those Brooklynite kings of fuzzy, buzzing, eerily quiet, then extremely loud indie rock. Their Friend EP was firmly lodged at the top of my “Most Played” list for a solid chunk of 2007, along with In Rainbows, to the point where I thought my iTunes might protest and throw whatever’s at the top of their “Most Purchased” list at me instead. Which means that I’ve now progressed from excited about the show, to high on summer concert plans, Fitter Happier, Everything In It’s Right Place, shaking in my desk chair excited. It’s notable that Pitchfork.tv launched today and, in a perhaps serendipitous, or perhaps expertly calculated move, posted some excellent live footage of Radiohead performing Disc Two’s “Bangers & Mash” in Nigel Godrich’s basement (that’s infinity times cooler than our basement, which mainly just has spiders and an old ping pong table). Of course that shit’s already on You Tube, so here you go:

And, to get you all in the Radiohead/Grizzly Bear combo mood, here’s the video for Grizzly Bear’s “Knife,” made by the San Francisco-based duo Encyclopedia Pictura, who also just released Bjork’s astoundingly trippy/picturesque video for “Wanderlust”:

And here’s that Bjork vid:

Caribou talks math and Zombies

Via OTD:

The Ontario-born, London-dwelling, math-whiz musician Dan Snaith has been kicking around the electronic music world since 2000, when he released an EP called People Eating Fruit, under the moniker Manitoba. Originally, music was a part-time gig, pursued on the side while Snaith taught and pursued a PhD in math. Just before earning that degree, he was forced to abandon his musical claim on Manitoba, when former Dictators frontman Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba decided to sue… even though, you know, Manitoba is the name of a Canadian province, and not just Handsome Dick’s. Luckily, Snaith got over it, and switched to Caribou after a meaningful LSD trip, then ditched math to make music his full-time job. His excellent, multi-instrumental 2007 album, Andorra (Merge), saw Snaith confidently wading into the world of 60s-referencing psych-pop music, and not in a bad way. He’ll play the Paradise with Fuck Buttons tonight, and he chatted with us last weekend, from the snowy roads of Canada (I meant to post this earlier, but I was held back by technical snafus – bummer!).

When asked about his political preferences in a recent interview with XXL magazine, DMX admitted he didn’t know who Barack Obama was. Do you consider yourself well-informed, in terms of world news?

That’s definitely shocking to me. I’m not the most informed, but I definitely can confirm I’ve heard of Barack Obama. If he hasn’t heard of Barack Obama he probably hasn’t heard of previous political leaders in the past decade or so.

You may be sick of this question, but there’s an obvious transition from psych-electronica to psych-pop on your latest album, Andorra. How did this come about?

It was one conscious decision to switch styles. In the past my music has been made by building loops on top of one another. I wanted to make pop songs with big melodies and not just a hypnotic kind of music. The last 3 of the 4 albums have been psych influenced. I like the ambition and the scope, big headspace music, rather than the stripped down post punky kind of sound. Im kind of a record nerd, so I’ve got piles of obscure psych rock bands that I might only like one or two tracks from. This last record, the Zombies were a big influence – they do this baroque psych pop – and they embodied a lot of what I wanted to do. That’s probably something that won’t continue. I’ve done what I wanted to do with that.

You studied and taught math for several years, but now you’re a full-time musician. Have you always juggled the two? Now that music is your full-time gig, do you ever miss math?

I‘m a nerd, and I just love learning about things so I ended up learning about both music and math. But there came a time when I had to make a decision. I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I don’t really miss math – I never do mathematics at all since I got my PhD. I grew up in such a mathematic environment – almost everyone in my family has a math degree – so I don’t feel entirely away from it.

Technically Caribou is your solo project; music created while you were holed up in your bedroom. But for live shows, you perform with other musicians. Why?

There’s four of us on stage. I do everything on the records myself. Doing it all day everyday is sort of something that makes more sense on my own, but the live thing is different – it’s better when it’s very much a collaboration.

Your albums are amalgams of instruments and sounds. How many instruments do you play personally?

I’d probably only say that I play piano well, but that’s an open ended question. Other instruments [on the album], I learn enough to get what I want out of them.

When did you start writing music?

I started playing piano when I was 5 but it didn’t really consume me till I switched teachers at 13 or 14, and they started to emphasize improvisation, and understanding how music fits together. It was a weird little town that I grew up in. The kids were into Rush and Yes, or the Grateful Dead so I was into that. But I was also into Aphex Twin, so my high school band was this terrible car crash of the two things. It sounded like a teenage misindulgence in music. But it was a good starting point in learning how to make music.

LISTEN: Caribou on MySpace

Phoenix blogs are down, so this can’t go up on the Phlog yet, unforch.

For those of you not at SXSW: If I may be so bold, I’d like to offer you a list of things to do this weekend (besides going to see Justice, or dancing your ass off at Hearthrob – which sounds like a tough decision for the types into those activities, aka moi), in flier form. LAB Boston is an unclassifiable Allston hotspot. I’d call it part clothing store, part art gallery, part party venue, and part space for graf artists to paint on semi-clothed women’s bodies on a Saturday afternoon. This weekend, they’re one year old and, of course, there’ll be a celebration:

artopening3-15-081.jpg

Sunday is obviously going to be mainly about consuming beer and claiming to be Irish for most Bostonians, but if you’re in the mood to do something cause-worthy for the sake of Boston’s independent film scene (and also drink more, and maybe catch a sneak preview of an awesome, not-yet-released movie), the crew behind Twelve, a film I wrote about for the Phoenix, are throwing a fundraiser shindig. The obligatory flier:

12fundflyer.jpg

There are other good things happening (not in Southie) on Sunday as well. A non-flier tidbit from my inbox:

READING AND PARTY: Sunday, March 16, 2008, 7pm, The Dirty Water Reading Series presents “Get Lucky”
“Get Lucky” is a St. Patty’s-themed reading at Grub Street Headquarters, featuring mad-libs of famous Irish writers and short readings by Sommer Browning, Steve Himmer, Nina MacLaughlin, and Felicia C. Sullivan. Organized by local journals Quick Fiction, Redivider, and Fringe, along with Black Ocean Press. Free food and drinks, plus door prizes. Come on down and have a pint!
FREE, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street

Nina MacLaughlin is a co-worker at the Phoenix, and a fantastic writer – check this awesome piece she wrote about Andre Dubus for last fall’s literary supplement.

And finally, Will will (sorry, had to do it) be DJing it up at ZuZu on Sunday around 10 pm – I’ve been eyeing up his record collection for months, and I can safely say the kid’s got good taste, and it’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Oh, and if you’re the “stay at home on the net”-type, maybe you should customize a shirt?

Au revoir!