Category Archives: Live Reviews
Andrew McMahon and I go way back. He may not know it, but through those angsty teenage years and developmental phases, he was right there with me, evoking intense emotion with the words to “Punk Rock Princess,” “Dark Blue,” “The Mixed Tape” and of course, “Konstantine.”
So when I enter The Paradise in Boston, MA tonight, it’s a bit like seeing an old friend for the first time. Literally.
As I weave through the audience trying to find my spot for this sold out show, I can already feel the energy of the evening mounting, and the second their 9:30 set time hits so do the first beats from the band.
I don’t know what I would do without Chuck Ragan. He doesn’t let me crash on his floor, or buy me thoughtful birthday presents (that’s not to say that he wouldn’t, because I think he totally would), but without even knowing it, he has restored my faith in the music industry. All too often you go to a show and you leave thinking how nice it was. Nice? Personally, I feel that when it comes to music, the only time “nice” should suffice is if you’re sitting in an elementary school cafeteria listening to a rousing rendition of “Silent Night.” Thankfully, there is nothing nice about The Revival Tour.
Garbage are at a unique point in the typical life span for a band of their stature. Nearly two decades and five albums in, some may begin to expect a “going through the motions”, “reunion tour” vibe to their performances. The fact that they remain at all is a testament to the ambition of the group, which began essentially as nothing more than a studio project for members Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker. But when they took the Boston House of Blues stage on March 26th, they began with and maintained throughout the evening, an automatic systematic habit of their own. A dark and sonically seductive groove that has them prowling around the stage like musical beasts in a cage of pop-industrial emotion. Anthemic and catchy, so much so to make you want to scream their words at the top of your lungs and dance until you (hopefully don’t) collapse. The confidence of knowing who they are and how they do it shown brightly throughout their two hour set list, one which resembelled what you might see in a ‘fan-made’ playlist as opposed to a ‘greatest hits’ or ‘singles’ only tour.
The stage is set. Inside Northampton’s best-kept secret, Pearl Street Night Club, stand nearly 700 of the East Coast’s biggest Frank Turner fans. As they pay their respects to a killer opening performance by The Sidekicks, there is only one thing left on everyone’s mind: “Is it 9:20 yet?”
Before long, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls rush the stage, launching directly into “Four Simple Words”-an appropriate opening track for what is about to be an awe-inspiring show.
Tonight at the House of Blues in Boston, the Take Action Tour is here and in full swing. With monstrous acts like We Came As Romans and The Used, how could anyone say no? The House of Blues is packed and the energy in the crowd is electric as the We Came As Romans sound check comes and goes.
You know that moment where someone in the audience screams because a roadie walked out on stage? Yes. Pure and excited energy.
Finally, one of the shouts called what we’re all waiting for, We Came As Romans! The guys in the band rushed out on stage and went immediately into the good stuff. These guys absolutely take the stage by the horns and put on a fantastic live performance. Between synchronizing the onstage jumps and the technical skill with which they’re executing the performance, We Came As Romans really put all of their effort in to what they do. This became apparent as the WCAR set comes to a close and the vocalists take a moment to remind everyone that we are all standing at this venue for the same reason; that we all have a common link within the music. It was very awesome.
To say I’m a little excited for The Used…would be…the understatement of the year, and we’re only in February. What I love about this show is that The Used brought a crowd made up of such a large demographic. A band like The Used, in today’s music market, is absolutely classic. The guys busts on to stage in a blaze of glory and start playing through some of their most timeless songs from every album. For a hardcore fan, this is heaven on stage. It’s an incredible thing to see the personality and raw emotion of such an amazing band.
Review by: Eric Monfette
The stage at T.T. The Bears Place in Cambridge, MA was rushed towards on Sunday, November 25th with a passionate battle cry, as fans, friends and family alike came to say goodbye to their coveted allies, Life on Hold as they played their final show. Taking an hour plus to blaze through time-tested fan favorites, new tunes and an Eddie Money cover of “Take Me Home Tonight”, the band kept the tempo high and the spirits higher. And while tonight may have been their final curtain call, fans will likely see the birth of side-projects, watching their friends grow and mature as musicians and songwriters, while hopefully holding onto a similar youthful spark. (Justin Goodrich)
Check out the live video of the show right here.
As I walk up to the front of The Orpheum, through the sea of people taking pictures of the old fashioned sign that read “Conor Oberst,” I notice the variety of people that I’m seeing shuffle in are quite the mixed bunch. It’s a reminder of how I love shows like this one. It’s as if all the melodies and meanings to the lyrics have created a cocoon around the auditorium, that holds the audience in close to the performer. It’s because Conor Oberst is not just a musician or a songwriter. He’s somehow found a way to be each and every one of us with the music he writes. He finds ways to express his inner most desires and demons that reflect his audience’s feelings so perfectly it’s like everyone sitting next to me is here for proof that someone else feels the way they do. That and Mr. Oberst’s timeless music. Laid out on stage is a xylophone, a multitude of small amps, guitars and a baby grand piano. The songs begin slowly, as Oberst moves from guitar to guitar, making sure each song is related perfectly. Eventually another musician joined Oberst on stage, filling in backing guitar lines and piano lines. Another thing I love about concerts like this is how free-form things feel. Instead of some random set of acoustic songs, Oberst has opened up this stage and auditorium into something much more profound and much more telling. Telling in how it shows Oberst as more than just a lyricist and a songwriter. He’s a scientist whose greatest achievement is in each day when he can take hold of another unwary listener’s heart with his experiments. (Eric Monfette)
So, Copperfields, huh? The “place” to get a drink after a baseball game? The “place” to pre-game for the Sox? Don’t get too excited, the real treasures here are the bands that take the time to sate the hunger of us, New England fans. Trust me, I love my little corner of the country but this is, increasingly, becoming a problem amongst venues in the area. Bands bring people to your venue! They ease the sting of 6-dollar beers, a wait staff caught in the rut of a bad day and give your establishment a reason to celebrate something other than a potential loss by your favorite team. So where’s the problem? Even if you don’t expect a record breaking night of customers at your bar/club/pub, the people who DID show WILL show up again; not just for a show but because they enjoyed the atmosphere and experience. Thank you for listening/reading my PSA. Onwards.
Luckily for the lack of great venues, there is a plethora of great bands to populate them and change minds. As is the case with the band stopping in tonight, The Royalty. The mood of the room seems lazy and lackluster as I sip on…something, concocted by the guy with white hair standing at the bar. Outside of my earlier strife with the venue, as artists begin setting up and the crowd moves in, I feel the want to be a part of this event, this show, growing.
The time has arrived and The Royalty grace the stage. From the start of their set the energy was unfathomable. Literally taking me by surprise with how powerful her voice is, lead vocalist Nicole Boudreau led the charge with soulful, spot on melodies that seemed effortlessly channeled. Maybe what they say about things being bigger in Texas is true? Based off of her voice, I’d say that’s a fair assumption. Honestly, this may be the most energetic set I’ve seen in a good long while. The emotional qualities of the soulful 60′s and 70′s influences mixed with upbeat, in your face, alternative/indie rock completely tears my feet from the spots they are in and gets me moving.
The cool part about this band is they are so hard to really, classify; there isn’t much in the music scene that connects rootsy soul music and indie, two genres completely enveloped in style. As the show evolved and I look around I notice, or more like didn’t notice, anything about my surroundings grabbing my attention, I became fixated on how this band is an immovable wall of awesome, live, sound.
You know, I never really saw myself being a fan of any kind of royal family. Well, The Royalty sure proved me wrong.
Who could forget Infectious’ interview with Brian Cag of Action Item, in August of 2012? When talking about giving back to the fans, Cag commented that the fans of Action Item are die-hard fans. Tonight, at The Paradise in Boston, MA on Owl City’s The Midsummer Station tour, that fact continues to ring true.
While the Paradise isn’t as spacious as say, The House of Blues, tonight it’s packed; and as much as this is Owl City’s tour, I dare say this crowd is just as excited for what the boys of Action Item have to offer, which as it turns out, is quite a lot.
Though well rehearsed and true to their performance tactics, Action Item avoids a mechanical performance with smart playing, clever anecdotes and the careful attention to their audience. It isn’t often you see bands take care to move around the stage, facing every angle of their audience-but Action Item does it.
As the band flies through tracks like “Last Day of Summer” and “Somewhere Out There”, it’s obvious that these five are not only band mates, but best friends. Through sidelong glances and inside jokes, it’s apparent that these guys are just soaking up every second of what they do. To me, that’s one of the most appealing things artists can give to their fans.
One of the more entertaining moments of the night is when the band gives the audience an opportunity to take the ‘perfect concert photo’ of them, explaining that while they’re flattered to be tagged in everyone’s photos, they’re not always the most flattering. In turn, the band asks their audience’s permission to snap a photo of the crowd. Do we oblige? You better believe it.
As the set comes to a close and the screams of giddy girls and doting boyfriends come to a silence, Action Item gives one last shout out to the city.
“Thank you Boston! We love you!” The city responds with thunderous applause.
The All Stars Tour is in full swing, here at the Palladium in Worcester, Mass. Having had bands from all corners of the movement on stage to rile the crowd up and prepare them for the various headliners, I’d say the crowd has done nothing but get more excitable as the show drives forward. Starting at 1 pm bands that blend the ever changing faces of genre boundaries turned on their amps, and plugged in their computers for this, surely unique, celebration of youthful passion. Thus comes the interesting part of this concert. I tentatively say that as the night pushes onwards, I notice the age of the bands increasing. Which, honestly, makes me feel a little more comfortable, considering I almost spit out my drink as the lead vocalist from the last band announced that he is only 20! Talk about an obviously supportive group of musicians to learn from and share experiences. As if knowingly tearing me from my thoughts, The Word Alive runs out on to the stage.
Seemingly blessed with an inner distinguishing factor, these guys have taken over the energy level of the crowd with just their presence. The breakdowns are heavy, melodies are smoothly sung and the vocalist is clearly a front man’s front man. Well spoken and easy to understand between songs, he amps the crowd up into a frenzied mess of bobbing heads and fists in the air. Aesthetically, I notice The Word Alive lacks the obviously less thought out approach to the verse – chorus – verse mentality and actually make the majority of their breakdowns a transition worthy of ending in a heavy handed, rhythmic guitar riff meant to make everyone in the pit freak out. It’s a nice escape from the earlier bands on the tour with less push button, dubstep infused, genre stylings and a more organic sound held together by the emotional context of a song.
The day is hot and the general attitude is very…sweaty. The House of Blues in Boston is surrounded by blue and yellow shirted venue workers and as I walk closer to the building I could all but feel the tension in the air. Attempting to get my ticket from the ticket booth is a complete monstrosity of a task considering there we’re no signs and the blue shirted workers were more apt to hand out supposed lessons in ethics than actually help their PAYING CUSTOMERS through the maze of ropes and misdirected people. As a side note, I’ve never been happy going to the House of Blues in Boston. But, that is another story for another time.
I walk into the venue, empty my pockets and push through the security line towards the double doors leading to the stage. The completely awesome part about the House of Blues in Boston is the fact that when you walk in, the feeling is reminiscent of walking into an old cathedral in Europe. Between the amount of people there to see the same bands, the vast ceiling and pitted floor space leading to the front of the stage, there is only one thing missing in this picture; the iconic look and sound of a band like God Forbid. Now, if you don’t know God Forbid, well, I’m sorry to hear that. You missed a hell of a show. But, it’s never too late to become acquainted. Considering my contentions with the venue, I was amazed to find myself smiling as the road crew broke down the last band’s equipment and set up for God Forbid.
The thing about bands like God Forbid is they literally feed off of the energy of the audience. Front man Byron Davis is a man of mystery in my eyes. So effortlessly exuding a confidence that is received by audience members as ammo to scream louder and mosh harder. I feel my legs carrying me closer and closer to the stage until I find my boundary on the ever-expanding “pit”. God forbid you’re not enjoying yourself, as well. A personal expression of this that became somewhat of a mantra whilst the metal band was on stage was “We’re all gunna have fun tonight!!!” And you know, I’ll be damned if that didn’t infect everyone in the crowd.
It’s too heartwarming to know a band like God Forbid has been around for so long, genuinely pleasing the people they stand in front of everyday. God forbid anyone doubting their legacy as a beacon of sincerity amongst the turmoil that can and always will be the music industry.
The lights are dimming and as I look around the Middle East in Cambridge Massachusetts the impression I get is one of extreme respect and anticipation. “Wait, did he just say respect?” Yes. Very much so. I know it’s a common thing for most people to buy tickets to a show and genuinely share a common bond with other audience members through the headlining band but the intimately perceived space that is downstairs at The Middle East provided a most excellent, first-hand experience in what it means to love a band. As the roadies set up for the oncoming headliner’s set, a lone “Woooo” shoots out of the audience. The sea of heads turns towards the stage and the immediate barrage of woots, yells, and fists in the air startled me. It all makes sense. It was the bassist from the headlining band, Strung Out.
Remember that “respect” we talked about earlier? Here is the very first inkling of a band that’s seen the trenches of life, love and the pursuit of happiness (not to mention die-hard fans!). That fact mirrored in the chants of audience members, as if willing the band to be on stage, even before the sound check. It’s a magnificent sight to behold. No strangers to the stage, the band quickly ups the ante. Bursting onto the scene as only a band of their stature knows how. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that a small group of maybe 120 people suddenly sounded like a giant stadium, or the fact that the band received it as such that added to their mystique and perceived stature. Hell, it could have been the fact that they we’re drawing audience members from every age group, being an all-ages show and being so intertwined in the early days of punk and melodic hardcore, that only makes sense. These guys are absolutely timeless, to say the least. So, make sure to catch them out on tour while you still can!
If there’s one thing any Anchor & Braille fan should know, it is this: The harmonious chords and haunting melodies playing through your iTunes are not easily forgotten. Purposeful and poignant, each new tempo creates new memories and brings to surface long forgotten nostalgias of days gone by. It is this same truth, which I find myself faced with as I stand inside Brighton Music Hall eager and excited to see my first Anchor & Braille show since first becoming a fan back in 2009.
From the time the band steps on stage, complete with a new lineup making this previously acoustic act a full band, it’s apparent that the group is already gaining familiarity with one another, as Stephen Christian and Micah Tawlks engage in clever banter both with band mates and audience members. Through their concentrated and lively wit it is clear that they not only respect the audience that they’re interacting with, but one another also.
As they glide through tracks both new and familiar, we hear “Blur”, Knew Then Know Now”, and “Find Me” among several others. Easily switching from guitar to keyboard, Christian’s voice carries effortlessly throughout the crowd-and they notice. Through cheers and dancing it’s clear that I’m not the only audience member enjoying myself.
Inevitably, the show comes to a close as “Goes Without Saying” resonates through the room and the band thanks their audience, inviting them to come to their merch table, hang out and say hello. Humble, modest, and respectable.
And as I got into my car, windows down and memories of the show still fresh, I began to jot down my notes for this review. I knew I’d wake up in the morning and all the stresses of life would return, but for tonight, for this moment, this was enough. The feelings of inspiration, determination, unity and shear perseverance pervaded the thick July air, which had settled inside the Boston, MA venue. The aura in the air said that dreams were not only meant to be taken seriously, to be followed-but that it was the only true way of life and anything else would be doing ourselves an injustice. When a concert can spark that level of insight, motivation and regeneration of passion….there’s no doubt in my mind-you’ve got one incredible live show; one incredible set of musicians.
There’s something to be said for keeping the dream alive; charging through the trials and tribulations of a “here today, gone tomorrow” music industry climate, The Used carry on with their heads held high, with heavy hearts on tathered sleeves. Judging from the vibe in the room and the reaction from their more than adoring fans whom have stuck by their sides, I’d say all their hard work is paying off.
Touring in support of their latest studio offerings, “Vulnerable”, The Used appeared in fine form at Boston’s House of Blues on Saturday May 19, 2012. What has always separated The Used from many of their fallen or struggling brethren is that they are equal parts vulnerability and good humored, both in tone, lyric and stage presence. Their stage bore a banner of their most recent album cover, with giant NES (pardon me, geek moment, ‘old school Nintendo’) game controllers on both stage left and right. The band is precisely what their fans have always want and needed them to be, cathartic. Having it in you enough to stand up for yourself but not afraid to admit that you’ve been hurt. “If you want me back, you’re gonna have to ask”.
Throughout their set, the band played a small handful of selections from their new album, and like any good rock and roll band, played a healthy helping of fan favorites and classics. Old dogs may not necessarily be able to learn new tricks, but they don’t always have to.
Now, most reviews, I enjoy a leisurely stroll through a sentence or two, stopping to smell peculiar roses grown from the usually, amiable surroundings of the noted venue. Not this time. Let’s just say my superfluously sarcastic tone will serve as a catalyst whose intentions are merely to rebut the overly confident and professionally exhausting misconceptions seemingly harbored by…basically everyone I met on the MIT campus; that’s unfair, there was one kid sitting, cross-legged on a table, checking tickets. I wish I got his name; he actually seemed pleased to help out. However, in summation, MIT (believe it or not) averages out to a sub-par, irrational, mess of “numbers” all but ostracizing their own benefactors with a righteous lack of information, anchored by the fact that you, said benefactor, has paid to see this show. Ok, that was fun.
On to something more meaningful, something less aesthetic. As my photographer and I take our seats, (refer to the first paragraph for a hint as to why there are no pictures) members from A Rocket to the Moon take the stage. The popularly styled barrage of upbeat hooks and pre-Bieber teeny bopping lyrics quickly possess the stage, as audience members in the bleachers find their ears perking up, and the addictive melodies pulling them to their feet. Any stragglers willing to give in to the infectious vibes were probably stunned at how quickly they we’re ushered to the floor. As the energy surrounding the stage plateaus and the pleasantries of opening a show wear off, a band like A Rocket to the Moon certainly knows how to keep it interesting, going into a timely rendition of “Free Falling,” backed by a chorus of audience members, and believably, security guards! It’s bands like these that remind us of how music unifies us through our most basic of emotions without any reference to looks or situational infidelities. With the proclamation “the Rejects are up next!” A Rocket to the Moon exits the stage as roadies swarm in, tearing down and tuning up.
With the members of the band nowhere in sight, lights dim and a solid…mmm, let’s say, dance beat, permeates the air. Space filling, tension building, bump and grind beats. Honestly flabbergasted by the whole to-do of it all, I sit back, put up my feet and get prepared for an act I’ve personally been in the market to see for a while now. Out of the gates and onto the stage, lead singer/bassist, Tyson Ritter, comes barreling into view on a herald of “Swing, Swing,” warranting my excitement for these self-proclaimed dissenters. Ritter seems, oddly on top of his game, as if the cause for the formulation of the name The All-American Rejects is still, burning a hole in his head. He clutches the microphone like a wound and holds nothing back as he relieves himself of the bass guitar. This is wild. Ritter, who seems so unassuming and charming, hits a rather dissonant chord with his bantering interludes about songs like “Dirty Little Secret”, obviously striking a nerve with certain members of the staff. This puts a smile on my face and gives my cohort and I a good laugh of relief. This is what music is about. Feeling the moments and living within them. Something, I feel as though Ritter and all of the guys from the Rejects whole-heartedly understand after seeing such a performance. I almost feel bad for an audience catching them on a happy day ; the Rejects sure know how to share their convictions.
We Came As Romans have been picking up momentum since their second label release, Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be. Recently, they played a slew of dates across the globe and embarked on a tour across the United States. In March, their second headlining tour since the album came out, The Fire and Ice Tour, kicked off. I attended the Worcester, MA date. The venue is buzzing with anticipation. This is one solid lineup, and the fans know it. This is also the first We Came As Romans headlining show in Massachusetts. Every sound coming from the instruments being checked causes the audience to go wild and hope for the speedy arrival of the bands.
The Color Morale kicks things off as vocalist Garret Rapp performs with heart and energy. He also offers words of inspiration to the crowd, telling them to always connect to music and follow your passion in music if you have a message to give to someone. He also insists the fans are the reason they perform each day.
Next, Woe, Is Me takes the stage. Recently, the band had to deal with the departures of vocalist Michael Bohn, vocalist/keyboard player Ben Ferris and bassist Cory Ferris. Stepping up and filling in for the tour is bassist Brian Medley and That’s Outrageous! Screamer Doriano Magliano. Despite these challenges, the band delivers a solid performance. The set is full of electronic samples to get people excited. Overall, an interesting and well executed performance.
Blessthefall are next to take the stage. They never disappoint, as lead singer Beau Bokan always provides a good time when on stage. They play songs from all three of their albums, though the majority of the set is off their latest release, Awakening. Bokan and vocalist Jared Warth, not only sound great, but are constantly energetic and engaging with the crowd.
Now it’s Emmure’s turn to perform, and although they could be more interactive with the crowd, they do sound good live. They, too, play an array of songs from their vast releases. Their guitarists are tight and play some strange, but challenging riffs and chugs. Their musicianship is the highlight of their performance.
After four performances, the crowd is itching to see the headliner. The wait feels very drawn out, as it always does when waiting for “the main event.” The sound checks and people coming on stage cause various screams of anticipation. Finally, the band arrives, one by one. We Came As Romans takes the stage and the crowd raises their now unified voice louder than they have for the entire show. The band goes on to deliver a solid, energizing performance full of sing-a-longs, hits from both records, and crowd interaction. Both Kyle Pavone and David Stephens do not disappoint. They play more recent material, and songs that were missing from their headliner just a few months earlier. Overall, it is one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve seen at the Palladium.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Car Party blasted enthusiastically through the Sunday afternoon wall of heat at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Middle East Club. One heavy hitter after the next, the band stuck tried and true to their well rehearsed, on-the-beat brand of pop-rock, never letting go of the flow, though never in danger of climaxing emotionally in any one direction or another. Touring in support of their latest four song EP High and Low Places, it is clear this band was born and bred in the veins of early 2000′s Warped Tour having done their homework, studying the text books of groups such as The Early November (who’s Ace Enders is featured on High and Low Places as producer and guest vocals on “Please Me”), Jimmy Eat World and Hot Rod Circuit. Standard and solid mid-tempo rock beats blended with lightly distorted, but still punchy guitars (brought to you by Taylor Hughes, Chris Martin and Jim Luparello), with a final layer of angst via the strong, high-register vocals of Michael Natzke to pull on your heartstrings just a little.
While the beat carried on and the music stayed strong for Car Party, lyrically and emotionally the tone seemed dead set on apathy. Hooks such as “Beg me to stay, done within an hour I don’t have all day. You aim to please me, but darling it ain’t so easy. I don’t want you to know that I want you to go” from the song “Please Me” fall in that awkward middle ground between not knowing whether to be assertive or upset, while other songs like the new single “Dollar Sign” proclaim that “You’re clinging on a dream and your losing time, so save your damn breathe and I won’t waste mine” come off as more complacent, making it clear that Car Party is so over you -or not over you. Either way, Car Party is ready, set, go radio blast to the moon, with the sky as their limit. For those of you young or still young at heart and who are happy to be a little bit sad, Car Party invites you along for the ride!
Upon first listen, The Electric Modern’s latest EP, Motives is surprisingly enticing. That is to say, that in a world so clouded with mimicked sounds, and generic tempos, The Electric Modern provides a refreshing taste of what we’ve been missing. Familiar enough to immediately grab you, yet uncharted enough that boredom isn’t an option, it is with this pull that Motives keeps me listening, and pulling for the band’s imminent success.