Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

You know it's been a good week when you have to consult your notes to remember all the bands you saw. The demands of my *real* life have seriously impaired my imaginary productivity of late, but I still managed to rock myself silly.

On Friday night (5/4), I was on the run. Starting the evening with delicious Chinese food from New Asia in Somerville, I proceeded to the Sky Bar for a set by hard rock band Living Syndication. I'm not a fan of the style of music (think Godsmack, maybe? I'm so unacquainted with the genre, I can't even make comparisons), but my friend Andy from high school is their bassist and I went out to see him play. There were all kinds of sound problems, causing the singer to spend the bulk of the set walking around the bar instead of planted firmly onstage, where feedback abounded. Luckily he had a wireless mic and could traverse the room with ease; in fact, Andy and the guitarist were also wireless, and they all had the hard rocker stance down — you know, legs spread wide, lots of thrashing and headbanging. Despite my distaste for the genre, I was quite proud of my old friend and the success his band seems to have found in their market.

Then on to P.A.'s Lounge, where I caught a set by a new-ish band called Me and Joan Collins. Having not heard of them before, I had no idea I was in for such fun. The band used a projector to light the stage in lasercolors, something I've seen a lot lately and like a whole lot (though it makes taking fotos near impossible). Their sexy glam-pop style was accentuated by singer/guitarist Bo playing sans pants (perhaps the heat got to him?) while keyboardist/singer Jess danced in a lovely little black dress, at one point dancing her way off stage and into the crowd with a tambourine in hand. The whole band was exciting to watch, engaging to listen to, and worth checking out again.

The Octave Museum. Photo by Betsy Boston.From there, it was on to a party hosted by Audrey Ryan at a loft rehearsal space nearby. Ryan throws frequent Friday night parties with kegs and bands, where $5 gets you a cup for the night. We got there late when no cups remained (though the keg was still flowing), and watched a set by The Octave Museum, whose funk-rock set was psychedelic and worthy of a good booty shake, if not for the fact that the room was packed and there wasn't much room for gettin' down. One of the bandmembers wore a giant pink afro wig (I have *got* to get my hands on one of those) and at the end of the set, Morphine's Dana Colley joined in on sax, marking the second time in three nights that I saw a Morphine alum (see last week's entry with The Chip Smith Project).

On Saturday I almost resigned to a quiet night at home before being enticed to a rooftop party in downtown Boston. I picked up Sofia and headed across the Charles. A quick geography lesson for y'all West Coasters: Boston proper, as in the city itself, is not all that big, and most people I know live in one of the surrounding cities, ie: Cambridge, Somerville, Allston, Brighton, Brookline, etc. I myself live in Somerville. Rent is not cheap in Boston proper. The party was being held on a rooftop because the guy's apartment was closet-sized. Though members of Kalvin Koolidge, Girls Guns & Glory and Three Day Threshold were in attendance, I apparently arrived too late to catch them playing. I did however arrive just in time to see the party get busted up by some rent-a-cop, after an angry passive-aggressive tenant came up to ask when the party would be ending.

Sunday 5/6 was rock 'n' roll paydirt. The annual Harvard Square Mayfair was taking place, so me and my best rock bud Andy Be pahked our bicycles in Hahvahd Yahd and spent the whole day listening to bands, perusing tents upon tents of arts and crafts, and eating and drinking to merriment. The first band we caught was The Everday Visuals, who've been picking up steam lately with the release of their latest, Things Will Look Up. They played just ok — I found the music very same-y, meaning it sounded a lot like what everybody on the alternaradio seems to sound like these days, and their cover of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" was shaky, as the singer couldn't seem to hit the notes, though the rest of the band had it together.

Next we caught singer/songwriter Kristin Cifelli, who was a force of just herself and her guitar, but she bellowed out lovely little folksongs with ease. Andy Be, who's more folk-rock friendly than I, has seen her before with a full band and speaks well of the ensemble. Lots of familiar faces watched her set, including members of Bon Savants who were lunching pre-set with local promoter extraordinaire Honah Lee.

Bon Savants came on around 4pm and stole my imaginary heart. It gets better every time with them. You already know how good their album Post Rock Defends the Nation is, and they're every bit as delicious to see live. Frontman Thom Moran is always dressed to the nines, and early in the set he jumped offstage into the crowd, playing his guitar with ferocity that broke a string while the also-dapper band pounded away onstage. Since the recording of the album, the band's lineup has seen some changes, but the now five-piece gels perfectly and put on a show that impressed and inspired. Andy Be, who'd never seen them before, turned to me after and said, "They've got it." With heavy-hearted indie rock songs and smooth live performances, they flaunt it.

Bang Camaro. Photo by Betsty BostonBang Camaro headlined the street fair, with all 19 (yes 19, if memory serves) members in top form. They drew a huge crowd, and had been buzzed about all afternoon leading up to their set ("Isn't that the band with like 20 guys?" "Oh, Bang Camaro, I heard they're awesome!" "I'm here to see Bang Camaro, who are you here for?", et. al.) The concept is brilliant: Take your basic five-man band, write catchy '80s-style arena rock anthems that are all chorus, and compile a choir of dudes from all across the Boston scene to sing in unison while dancing, headbanging, and breaking hearts. It has working like a charm here in the Northeast, and you can't help but have your pants charmed off while watching the dude choir sing testosteriffic anthems while the musicians show off their licks and sticks up in front. Drummer Andrew Dole also hits the skins in Bon Savants, and lead guitarist Alex Necochea, who stands center stage, has a perma-grin and is constantly egging on the audience in between the kinds of guitar solos that would make Tawny Kitean start a stripshow on the hood of your, well, Camaro. Not at all surprisingly, the band has upcoming gigs scheduled opening for the likes of Winger, Jackyl and Deep Purple. Go see them if you have the chance — not for the so-so songs, but for the amazing show.

Thus wrapped the Mayfair, and after
a pitstop for some Sangria, Andy Be and I headed over to Irish pub The Druid to catch a set by Paddy Saul, an Irish import who recently released his debut album and will tour Ireland this month. Playing a mix of covers and originals, Saul and his band provided just the right soundtrack for a packed Irish pub at dusk, and his impassioned voice was enough to make the Guinness-mustached mouths curve upwards. Covers included songs by U2 and Radiohead, which Saul and co. put their own spin on. After breaking a string and ending the first set two songs early, I slipped out to hit the next and final stop of the day.

Amy Winehouse from a zillion miles away. Photo by Betsy Boston.Antiques performed for a small but enchanted crowd at TT the Bear's Place. Their usual bassist was at an Arcade Fire show so they had a stand-in, but they still impressed with their highly dynamic songs. Both the substitute bassist and guitarist/singer Steven stayed in place, while Tim and Allison switched off on drums and keys. While Steven and Allison remain mostly subdued throughout a set, Tim is a sheer pleasure to watch as he throws himself with unequivical passion into each and every song, often singing along at the top of his lungs without a microphone nearby, creating a unique vocal interplay with Steven. The pair are musical soulmates, and I expect a huge future for them.

Monday was the day of the Winehouse, and after a delicious dinner at Audobon Circle in the Fenway neighborhood, my charming companion and I entered the Avalon Ballroom just in time to see opener Patrick Wolf. Wolf reminded me of a hybrid of the charisma of Rufus Wainwright and the theatrics of The Dresden Dolls, with a sound that mixed in some '80s Britpop over lush arrangements. I've heard his album and am somewhat indifferent about it — don't love it, don't hate it, it is what it is — but to see him live was to gain some interest and respect for him, as he energetically traversed the stage knee-length shorts and suspenders. He was accompanied by an also dynamic female violinist and another musician I think (I was way over to the right and had a stack of speakers impeding my view), as well as laptop-supplied beats. His between-song banter was endearing and even if you didn't love the music, you couldn't help but like the guy.

As would be expected, the venue grew more and more jam-packed as Amy Winehouse and her 10-piece band, the Dap Kings, came on and transported everyone back to the '60s. The band swayed in unison while playing their horns and guitars, as the two male back-up singers danced along feverishly. Winehouse's voice was every bit as strong as it sounds on record, elliciting awe and fanfare from the sold-out crowd. Since me and mine were about a mile away (we had moved around a bit before settling on a minimally obstructed viewpoint), we had a hard time making out what she said between songs, and an even harder time getting photos that show more than a blur of white with big hair, but still the show was fantastic and the audience completely satisfied.

As Avalon's an early-to-bed venue (it turns into a dance club after the rock shows end, forcing comparatively early rock shows), my date and I made it over to Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square to see Antiques again. If I like a band enough to pay to see them two nights in a row, you better believe they're good (cause I'm a cheap imaginary bastard). This time their real bassist was back, and the set gelled a lot more than the previous night's. The lack of a raised stage allowed for lots of audience dancing and interaction, and Antiques charmed their way through another solid set.

Tuesday night I barely made it to P.A.'s Lounge in time to catch Big Digits again (see last week's recap for more on them), and was I ever glad I did. Their white-boy hip-hop stylings, campy lyrics and over-the-top costumes, this time combined with a projected laser light show, made for a hell of a performance. I'm still most crazy about "Hey Birthday" but all of their songs are dynamite and even the coolest of the cool kids can't help but crack a smile watching them do their thing.

Wednesday night was alright for poker, and Thursday was a much-needed night spent home with the Dunder-Mifflin staff.
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK! I'm not sure yet what's on the agenda — looks like a slow week from here, but that's ok, cause I need some sleep. As usual, email me at [email protected] or IM me on AIM: maginarybetsy.