There must be a factory in the UK where they churn out snarling "The Next Oasis" bands. But as long as they keep writing songs with Paul Weller's eye for detail and Joe Strummer's pint-raising choruses, we'll fall for it every time. (The Enemy performs at Great Scott Sunday.)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
There must be a factory in the UK where they churn out snarling "The Next Oasis" bands. But as long as they keep writing songs with Paul Weller's eye for detail and Joe Strummer's pint-raising choruses, we'll fall for it every time. (The Enemy performs at Great Scott Sunday.)
With special celebrity guests, a series of receptions and parties, workshops and panels, and most importantly lots and lots of films, the 10th Annual Roxbury Film Festival is a unique opportunity for filmgoers to take in a series of movies made for, by and about people of color. Running through August 3, highlights of the festival include a screening of the film “Of Boys and Men“ followed by a q+a with its inimitable star Robert Townsend. (7:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave. Boston. 800-440-6975. mfa.org) On Sunday August 3, the powerful actress Ruby Dee will appear after a showing of her new film “Steam.” (5:30 p.m., MFA). Tonight at 5 p.m. things get started with a “Clean Mic” local comedy showcase (Slades 958 Tremont St., Roxbury Crossing. 617-442-4600) hosted by Corey Manning. For a complete list of venues, films, events and festival pass tickets: 617-541-3900. roxburyfilmfestival.org.
Hotdogs at the ballpark is a nice bit of Americana mythology and all, but come on; the last place you’ll catch us eating is at a sports stadium. That doesn’t mean we don’t like to chow down while watching other people exercise, so perhaps a trip to Sebastians Interactive Kitchen for their Gourmet Baseball Dinner is in order. Tonight chef Michael Fuller will prepare a multi-course bbq dinner featuring items like Stadium Beer-Basted Baby Back Ribs and Ballpark Smokehouse Sausages while diners gather round the kitchen, watch the Sox game on TV and interact with the cooks while they prepare your meal. It’s the restaurant equivalent of having seats behind home plate, although heckling is probably discouraged. 6:30 p.m. $75. Sebastians, 1 Devonshire Place, Boston. 888-563-8334. InteractiveKitchen@Sebastians.com
Considering that the proceeds from most concerts usually go to such great causes as beer money and repairing the broken-down van, the benefit tonight for Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace seems a little more weighty and worthy of your hard-earned rocking out dollar. With the folk rock of Celia Slattery, the Katrina Degel Jazz Quartet, the powerful folk songwriter Deb Pasternak, power-pop rockers Media Made and the country blues of the Porch Party Mamas it’s a collection of musicians as diverse as the veterans they’re supporting. 21+. 8:30 p.m. $15. Johnny D’s, 17 Holland St., Somerville. 617-776-2004. johnnyds.com
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Red Sky, neon dreams
One thing you might notice wandering into Red Sky on a Tuesday night, past the DJ set up by the open windows overlooking the low-slung lounge couches, is that the room is filled almost exclusively with young women. They're at the bar and crowded around the plush banquettes tucked in the corners of a dining room that stretches deep and narrow toward an open-air kitchen. They're everywhere. What sort of strange paradise is this?
What it is, in fact, is "Ladies '80s Night," a weekly promotion that offers women a free three-course meal - with a $10 drink minimum. So, in honor of that most fluorescent of decades, we ordered drinks perfectly suited to the scenery. The Funky Monkey (SV Silk vodka, banana liquor, OJ, grenadine, Galliano float, $10) served in a stemless martini glass, was a saccharine explosion of neon pink typical of Red Sky's cocktail menu. "That's like a space drink," our friend said. "I thought it would be bright, but that's some Technicolor action."
"This tastes like a million bucks," he continued, "but it's not sophisticated at all." No, but perhaps it doesn't need to be. A quick glance around the room found groups of women wielding the cocktails like boozy, glowing light sabers.
The Melo Grand Martini (New Amsterdam gin, midori, pomegranate, lime juice, Sprite, $10) and the Key Lime (Triple 8 Vodka, Triple Sec, lime juice, sour, star fruit garnish, $10) were a bit more complex. It still wasn't high-end mixology, nor was it particularly well suited for pairing with food, but after a few of them a strange thing started happening. Between the colorful, sugary drinks and the irresistible '80s songs, everything coalesced into hazy fun. A group of girls behind us started singing along to "
Red Sky Restaurant & Lounge, 16-18 North St., Boston. 617-742-3333. redskyboston.com
Thursday, July 24, 2008
WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST WARPED TOUR AS A FAN AND AS A PERFORMER?
Phil Labonte (All That Remains): It was actually 10 years ago. I was singing for Shadows Fall—we had won a battle of the bands and got to play the "local" stage. We played right after Hatebreed got done on a bigger stage directly opposite us. They finished and said, "Thank you, we're Hatebreed! Now turn around and check out our friends in Shadows Fall!"
Michael Guy Chislett (The Academy Is ... ): This is my first time as a performer and as a fan! I'm Australian and it doesn't reach my shores, but I have always known about it. It sounded like festival heaven ... and it is!
Stephen Christian (Anberlin): I went in high school. I saw all these amazing bands, but never thought that I would ever play at one—the thought never even crossed my mind. A year later, one of our friends got to play one date, and we were so jealous. Eight years later, we are playing the main stage, and I couldn't be happier. In your face, Upperoom!
WHAT ARE THE BEST AND WORST PARTS ABOUT PLAYING THE TOUR?
Nathaniel Motte (3OH!3): Best: getting to watch Justin Timberlake Live From Madison Square Garden on repeat at all times. Worst: having to sometimes sleep and not being able to watch Justin Timberlake Live From Madison Square Garden on repeat at all times.
Billy Pruden (Confide): The best part is all the people we get to meet and play to, but the worst part has to be the weather and the heat.
WHO IS THE BAND THAT IS KILLING IT EVERY NIGHT?
Matt Wilson (Set Your Goals): August Burns Red consistently killed it. They were the only band I saw that wasn't on the main stage who drew a huge crowd.
Charlotte Sometimes: Evergreen Terrace tears it up with their huge rock sound and their synchronized flying tiger kicks.
WHAT'S THE WEIRDEST SHIT YOU'VE SEEN GO DOWN THIS YEAR?
Jake Turner (Say Anything): In St. Louis, during Gym Class Heroes, a fan said some shit to (lead singer) Travis from the crowd, and Travis hit him over the head with the microphone. Really crazy, but the dude totally deserved it!
Joey LaRocca (The Briggs): Andrew WK played on an off-day of the tour, but he just played on a keyboard and an iPod. He mostly just said random things and danced around like an idiot. It was kinda sad.
Matt Manning (From First to Last): Kids getting carried off in an ambulance after chugging hot sauce.
Warren Oakes (Against Me!): Two dirty weirdos go into a port-a-potty, in 100-degree heat, in Miami. They proceeded to "get it on" in the hot, stinky port-a-potty. Is that weird or just gross?
Matt McGinley (Gym Class Heroes): My bassist and I were caught out in a gnarly Kansas rainstorm when an anonymous band member comes streaking by with a Solo cup covering his privates, all the while screaming, "Where's the BBQ?!?"
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
“Its like really weird, the crowd is like a really mixed group of people,” explains Greg Fournier, host of the extremely popular bi-weekly dance party Hearthrob. “Like sometimes I’m looking around the room and I say ‘Whoa. That goth dude that comes here is talking to my dentist, who's sitting next to some kid in a rabbit suit and they all happen to know each other. Weird.’" Sounds awesome. Having a dentist, we mean. But the night itself it off the chain too, with the best DJs around and packed dance floors full of kids just blasting off. “It’s like a house party but then like some ill international DJs show up and play. Everyone goes nuts and dancing ensues.” Tonight DJs Baltimoroder, Redfoxxx and Morgan Louis hold it down. 21+. Free. 10 p.m. Middlesex Lounge, 315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-868-6739. middlesexlounge.com
Cartoon bluebirds and friendly woodland creatures frolic through the space animated here by the cutest little Czech band ever. It's French pop expérimentale, like the synth and brass playtime pop of Stereolab, but without the downer politics.
Stream the album at mintyfresh.com
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
What may just be the single greatest rock band in history to ever come out of Escatawpa, Mississippi, 3 Doors Down have been rocking bros the world over since the release of their hard-charging modern rock smash “Kryptonite” in 2000. With some fifteen million in album sales on the strength of parking lot power ballads like “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone” the band have kept the success rolling this year with their #1, self-titled album. Tracks like the earnest “It’s Not My Time” and the support-the-troops rock of “Citizen Soldier” find the band in top form. They perform tonight with brothers in stadium rock balladry Staind and Hinder. 6:30 p.m. $18-$68. Comcast Center, 885 South Main St., Mansfield. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com
It’s one of the worst reasons you could ever come up with to vote for a politician, but thinking “that’s the type of guy I’d like to have a beer with” about a novelist, well that’s just fine by us. Andre Dubus III fits the bill nicely, and with his reading at the Newtonville Books “Books and Brews” series tonight, we may get to the chance to do just that. The celebrated Massachusetts-based author of the bestseller “House of Sand and Fog” returns with another portrait of our all too human failures, a book about the darkness of sex, love and violence. He reads from “The Garden of Last Days” tonight and at Porter Square Books on Tuesday, July 29. 7 p.m. Free. Newtonville Books, 296 Walnut St., Newtonville. 617-244-6619. newtonvillebooks.com
Saturday, July 19, 2008
While a lot of the pubs in the neighborhood are more cattle staging areas littered with TVs and Irish kitsch, there's a sense of the authentic (or at least what passes for it) at this small pub with no food and a long wooden bar. The low ceilings, musty books, and tea-cup and biscuit-tin décor enhance the sort of poetic pint-glass musings an Irish pub is supposed to engender - just be prepared to strike up a conversation with the person you're literally rubbing elbows with. Over the course of a Smithwick's ($4) we heard at least four languages/English dialects and saw at least five stages of inebriation.
Durty Nelly's, 108 Blackstone St., Boston. 617-367-2114. somersirishpubs.com
Just around the cobblestone corner is the popular Green Dragon, established in 1654. Like Nelly's, it's owned by the Somers Pubs group, but we found it a lot less inviting. The antique mirrors and ornate curtains expressed a charm of sorts, but the collection of loosened-tie after-work types, children, fanny packers, popped-collar college bros, and hungry men wolfing down shepherd's pie somehow made us homesick even amid the American Patriot vibe. The Irish pub here is as American as take-out Chinese food.
In a way, the bar seemed a metaphor for Boston itself: filthy with history, but not entirely sure how to carry all that weight into the future. On the way out, the theme from "Cheers" of all things came on. Outside, a camera-toting dad hustled his son in front of a Revolutionary War soldier statue. "Let's take your picture with this guy," he said.
"Why?" asked the boy.
Green Dragon Tavern, 11 Marshall St., Boston. 617-367-0055. somersirishpubs.com
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Veteran rocker and longtime critical favorite Alejandro Escovedo walked an adoring crowd through the steps of his long and varied career on Thursday. The show invoked his history as a pioneering punk act and alt-country innovator in the '70s and '80s. But the performance drew mostly from solo recordings of a more recent vintage, particularly his new album, the roots-minded "Real Animal." The six-piece rock band eased into a stirring cello and violin instrumental to begin the show before transitioning into the foreboding bass funk and joyful chorus of "Put You Down." Every bit the showman, Escovedo chanced a few windmill swipes at his guitar during an extended outro climax. The lengthy instrumental passage, driven by some seriously rocking cello, laid out the band's blueprint early on. (That's right, rocking cello).
One might have expected the combined effect of the busy instrumentation and four vocalists to amount to sonic clutter, but each piece resounded clearly. Susan Voelz's violin was particularly strident, doing much of the melodic heavy lifting and coloring in around the edges. The band's harmonies coalesced throughout, but nowhere so well as on the rousing, Springsteen-style rock of "Always a Friend" and the aching "Sister Lost Soul." The latter was a road-weary slice of jangly Southwestern Americana, a winding, dusty trail of a song, almost exuberant in its heartbreak.
Further along the band stirred up a swirling maelstrom of harmonic strings, but it also proved capable of quieter, more introspective moments as on the acoustic, border song romance of "Rosalie."
More exciting was the country punk of "Chelsea Hotel '78" and "Real as an Animal." "Get animalistic," Escovedo instructed the audience as he stalked the stage and jerked the mike stand, "but not with each other."
The final song, "Castanets," he explained, had the misfortune of somehow ending up on President Bush's iPod, according to a story in The
If that anecdote wasn't enough to have the medium-size crowd eating out of Escovedo's hand, a double encore of covers of "All the Young Dudes" and "Beast of Burden" certainly did the trick.
At: Paradise Rock Club, Thursday
The ruby-colored fruits of the Désirée-chocolate-infused zinfandel port were matched with a bittersweet chocolate infused with Guinness. The dark, cloudy cream of the stout made the bitter truffle's flavor leap forward. Likewise with the white chocolate and lime truffle paired with an Italian muscat. You don't taste the citrus until you sip the muscat, and then it's right there. Woah. Magic. The middle course here works as a sort of palate cleanser. Too many flavors in a row, explained the couple, and you lose some of the flavor.
The final step of the flight pairs a Broadbent 7-year tawny and a bittersweet chocolate infused with earl grey and dipped in milk chocolate. The complex bergamot aromas of the tea presented themselves with the introduction of the Tawny's spice.
"Try to coordinate the two in your mouth," instructed Michael. "Taste the experience of both simultaneously. You don't want to wash it down." Good advice. These flavors, with a beginning, middle, and end, are meant to be savored.
Townsend's, 81 Fairmount Ave., Hyde Park. 617-333-0306. townsendsrestaurant.com
Friday, July 11, 2008
"This Is Just a Modern Rock Song"
Belle and Sebastian
It'd be hard to miss the bevy of literary references littered throughout the catalogue of these twee Scottish indie folkies, but just in case you did, head book worm Stuart Murdoch spells out the band's thesis pretty clearly in this one: "I'm not as sad as Dostoevsky, I'm not as clever as Mark Twain…" he sings. He's right, of course. No one is. But as far as rock goes, their rare blend of pithy humor and sad sack introspection make B&S about as close as it gets to these two literary giants.
What is it about Scottish bands and books? Perhaps one of the most intelligent and referential lyricists in the past decade, Idlewild's Roddy Woomble and band have made a career out of draping huge guitar anthems over even huger philosophical queries about post-modernism and the line between fiction and reality. If you ever thought the stream of consciousness writings of Modernist American Gertrude Stein were difficult to parse ("There is no there there"; "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose") then good luck figuring out the meaning behind this cryptic, scorching rocker.
"Killing an Arab"
The French existentialist Albert Camus cast a long shadow over the history of rock, influencing everyone from The Fall, who took their name from one of his books, to Magnetic Fields, who poked fun at his moping acolytes in song, but this classic of Lit Rock is the best known example. Taking its cues from Camus' The Stranger, the song follows the book's narrative of a man lashing out at the perceived indifference of the world through violence. As if Cure fans didn't have enough to be depressed about already.
"Love and Destroy"
This wouldn't be the first rock song influenced by The Master and Margarita, Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov's brilliant and biting political allegory about a mysterious magician who wreaks mischief and judgment on 1930's Moscow. Its influence can be seen in everything from the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" to songs from Pearl Jam, Elefant and The Lawrence Arms. This song, with its refrain "welcoming black, the queen of the ball/ It's dark beneath the Muscovites' sky…Margarita. love and destroy…" is adapted directly from the books harrowing third passage.
It took us roughly a hundred listens to get past the glorious celestial harmonies and beat driven euphoria of this new rave track and pay attention to the lyrics. But once we did the allusions to British sci fi author J.G. Ballard became apparent. Taken from their album Myths of the Near Future, which is also the name of a Ballard short story, "Golden Skans" is, like much of Ballard's work, a head trip into science fiction dystopia. "Light touch my hand, in a dream of Golden Skans, from now on. / You can forget our future plans."
"Song for Myla Goldberg"
Probably the most literarily dense, and lyrically dexterous band playing today, The Decemberists, and lyricist Colin Meloy, offer no shortage of allusions throughout their work. Much of this song, and in particular the lyric "Put paper to pen/ to spell out 'Eliza'" follows the plot of contemporary American novelist Myla Goldberg's "Bee Season" about a girl named Eliza, who, amidst a variety of familial melodramas takes part in a series of spelling bees. Lines like "seraphim and seaweed swim where stick-limbed Myla lies…" only further bolster Meloy's poetic bona fides.
Drunken, shambling, religiously defiant, perversely eloquent poet laureates of American decay…Charles Bukowski and Modest Mouse' Isaac Brock have at least a couple things in common. Although from the sounds of this track it's not necessarily a connection that Brock and band exactly relish anymore: Scraping off a bit of the rust and downplaying the glamour of self-destruction, Brock sings: "Woke up this morning and it seemed to me/ that every night turns out to be / A little more like Bukowski. /And yeah, I know he's a pretty good read/ But God who'd wanna be such an asshole?" Good question.
"Talking of Michelangelo"
Chuck D, Tori Amos, Rush and the Manic Street Preachers, not to mention everyone else ever, have all wrestled with T.S. Eliot's towering achievement of Modernist poetry. The New York band Bayside tackle it head on with a song that takes its title from the poem's refrain. Echoing the premise of a lonely, introspective, perhaps suicidal man wandering the streets at night reflecting on beauty and regret, both narrators struggle with Hamlet's existential conundrum -- which Eliot alludes to himself -- and conclude with meditations on drowning. Perfectly apt inspiration for an emo band, come to think of it, as Eliot presages future stylistic concerns with lines like "arms that are braceleted and white and bare…" and turns an obsession with talking to a girl into a life and death matter.
The Divine Comedy
Taking the name from Dante's epic poem, Irishman Neil Hannon set the bar pretty high literarily speaking. References throughout his songs to Wordsworth, Fitzgerald and Chekov only upped the ante. But this track, name-checking some seventy writers from throughout history, has to have set some sort of referential record. A catalogue of names followed in each line by an aside: ("Katherine Mansfield: [cough cough]"; "Vladimir Nabokov: hello, little girl…"; "Umberto Eco: I don't understand this either…") are packed with enough literary in-jokes on the authors' lives and work to keep NPR beard-strokers captivated for weeks.
"Sun in My Mouth"
Perhaps one of the only vocalists capable of matching the idiosyncrasies of avant-garde American poet e.e. cummings in song form, Bjork sets the entirety of his poem "I Will Wade Out" to music. It's a stunning collision of styles, and Bjork's vocal haunts the lyric ("In the sleeping curves of my body/ Shall enter fingers / Of smooth mastery / With chasteness of sea-girls / Will I complete the mystery /Of my flesh") with a sensual wash of beauty.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The graphics on the package have been streamlined and stylized with bolder metallic colors and the cigarette has been enhanced with a blue stripe. It's still too early to tell what, if any effect the rebranding, launched in March, will have on sales, says RJ Reynolds Tobacco spokesperson David Howard. Camel Lights sell higher than all other Camel styles but Howard says, "part of the push behind this packaging refresh" was that the Lights' share of the market had become relatively flat. "In our focus group testing with adult smokers, both franchise smokers—current Camel smokers—as well as smokers of competitive brands, the response was very positive. Franchise smokers said that they liked the packaging as much if not more than the current packaging, they also liked the blend as much and found it at parity with Camel."
Rosie, a 22 year old from Allston and a Camel Lights smoker, was confused by the under-the-radar switch. "I thought I had mistakenly been sold a package of Camel Turkish Golds." The new design may have colored her impression of the cigarette's flavor at first. "I checked the package and thought maybe the taste was in my head, like I had just gotten a stale pack."
Elizabeth Miller, assistant professor of marketing at Boston College, says history has proven such switches risky. "There is always a danger when you change your formula when you're trying to attract new people, that you might make loyal users upset," she explains. "The classic example, of course, is Coke, when they changed their formula in the 80s. People were extraordinarily upset and they had to change it back."
Retaining the base of their franchise smokers was a priority for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina tobacco company, as was catching the attention of smokers of competitive brands. Whether either goal is ultimately achievable, particularly with smokers—who are, perhaps more than any other type of consumer, drawn to the predictability of ritual and the familiarity of their brand of choice—is debatable.
Susan Fournier, associate professor of marketing at Boston University, conducted six months of research on consumers' reactions to change. Products like cigarettes or caffeine tend to breed more resistance. "These are literally addicted people, and brand-addicted people," she says.
The experiment found that the stronger the subject's relationship was with the brand—"people who had a metaphoric relationship more akin to a partnership"—the more jarring the reaction when a product was altered. People with weaker relationships to brands, what Fournier calls "flings," were more open to change. "For people who were in flings, they thought of changes as exciting, because it brought new vitality to the brand," Fournier says. "Whereas the other people felt betrayal, like, 'Oh! You're not the brand I married!'"
As with romantic relationships, many react to perceived scorn by acting out. "I will definitely try out new brands," says Rosie. "I'll probably switch at least for a while, in the hopes that other folks do too and the new Camel Lights end up losing them money."
Joshua Sheppard, 21, used to buy Camel Lights by the carton. "But now I am hesitant to even pick up another pack," he says. "Even though it breaks my heart, I've been favoring Parliament Lights lately."
These reactions seem incongruous with the intent of Camel Lights' redesign and the new "higher end" recipe which calls for "premium" tobacco, using more leaves from higher on the tobacco plant's stalk.
"It doesn't taste like higher grade tobacco at all," says Rosie. "I suppose it's more 'flavorful,' but personally I think less is more. It's harsher, and the smell is way more intense."
Howard acknowledges iconic branding creates resistance to change, but insists, "Innovation cannot be restricted to brand new things. You've got to be willing to even take something as iconic as your Camel base and say, 'Hey, can we take something that's already great and utilize innovation to make it even better.'"
Perhaps the biggest lesson of the New Coke fiasco—which Fournier dubbed a "marketing Chernobyl"—is that the company learned it didn't really own the brand. "In a cultural interpretation of branding, you're more just the steward of the brand," Fournier explains. "And the consumers own it."
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Watch it here
Sunday, July 6, 2008
"There's no scientific process for determining if a place is a 'best bar,' " explained Esquire's Ross McCammon. "It simply has to do its 'thing' very, very well."
Why they chose it: "World-class cocktails"; impressive size
What we think: ES has become the Dresden Dolls of Boston bars. You can't open a local rag without reading its praises. And for good reason: It's found a niche that wasn't being filled - a spot with old-school, big-city hotel charm and casual fine-dining aspirations.
528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-532-9100. easternstandardboston.com
Why they chose it: Fried oysters, sand dunes, rock bands
What we think: There's something to be said for the bar-at-the-edge-of-the-known-world feel here. Sure, there's some Cape damage issues, but the breathtaking views, rock-club vibe, and daily shotgun wedding of townies and tourists trekking to the source for their Wellfleet oysters make it a worthy road trip.
1220 Calhoun Hollow Road, Wellfleet. 508-349-6055. thebeachcomber.com
Why they chose it: Soviet propaganda décor, eccentric regulars, simple pints
What we think: It's good for Cambridge Commies like us to descend from the philosophical tower every now and again to rub elbows with the proletariat for a round of darts or a proper Guinness pint, even if it means getting ours hands a little dirty.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
So this is one of those "funny" columns where I ask you snarky questions to prove how indifferent I am or something. But for some reason I was reluctant to give you a hard time. Do I have the wrong idea about your sense of humor?
Did you think I wouldn't be able to take it? What gives you the impression I can't defend myself and dish out snarks with the best of them? Or are you saying you just didn't want to open the gates and welcome my e-wrath?
Ok fine, I suppose I wouldn't be professional if I didn't try...You're a pretty big get for a little old alt-weekly like us. Did your publicist blow it on this one?
It appears so! Hehehehehe. (Kidding of course)
At every level of the music business, from local, to touring indie, to national and international, you've probably encountered all manner of a-holes you previously never even imagine existed. What's the worst kind for you?
The Fill-Up-Space-With-Unnecessary-Compliments-Wind-Bag Type. With my pals we have an expression: "Having sunshine blown up your ass." Sorry, I guess I should say "butt." It's about when someone is lathering you up in compliments because they think it's a catch-all way to communicate to you. As if the musician is relating to the world through a prism of their own ego. It makes me cringe.
See above answer. (sorry, I had to)
Seems to me you're in this sort of weird position where both the indie kids who read our paper and their moms think you're the shit. Do you feel more drawn to either side of this artificial divide I just made up on the spot?
I was always polite to the moms. You gotta be polite to the moms. And now that half my friends have had kids I'm starting to realize moms are just kids who had kids.
But there must be certain, I don't know, "human" things you miss when you're performing as a "star" on, like, the Grammys and in bigger auditoriums from the days of playing clubs like the Middle East here in Boston or whatever. But I'm sure the pluses are pretty big, right?
Playing the Grammies had nothing to do with music, is what I've decided upon reflection. Actually, I think the larger the "stage" the less potent the reality of what you're doing. Nothing can be defined by a 2 minute 25 second slice of extreme pressure. I'd rather sweat on 100 people at the Middle East than try to stick a bookmark in 50 million peoples' attention span any day.
‘Everyone Thinks You’re the Best’ is more than an album title for Prayers
When was the first time you remember music moving you to a sort of spiritual or overpowering place? Does playing so many shows take some of the luster off that magic or increase it for you?
I knew I wanted to be on stage before I could actually make or write music. This was early college, and that Christmas I asked for and received an electric guitar and a Peavey practice amp, but I couldn’t play it at all. Maybe a few power chords, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. That was it. Anyway, the first time I ever went on stage, it was this “band” called 1660. I signed out a half-hour of time on the coffee house’s Open Stage night and went around gathering anyone who had musical equipment they were willing to lug out. I don’t remember how many people ended up making it, maybe seven or eight. When our turn came, we just plugged in and let ‘er rip … One half-hour of nothing but noise. That was a pretty overpowering place to be, and that’s still my favorite place to be, in the middle of all that volume, swirling around. That’s the best.
When people talk about your band being “soulful” what do you think they mean? What does soul mean to you at this point in musical history?
Soul means the same thing as it always meant. Yes, soul is a style of music, but it’s also an approach to music, one of absolute conviction and sincerity, the sense that someone is withholding nothing. That authenticity is and will always be around. We have our smart-ass numbers … that’s just me writing from the head, pulling from the Randy Newman kit bag, edging into, dare I say it, satirical terrain, but for the most part our music is gorier stuff. When I think of what our music means, I picture unspeakable things.
Your song “Good Voodoo” also seems to have a really positive vibe. That seems surprising. It’s so rare to hear anything besides negativity lately.
I’m glad you find it positive. I don’t want to elaborate too much on that. As David Lynch says, “If things get too specific, the dream stops.”
Girls on Prayers
It’s been a while since we heard from WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble winners Girls Guns & Glory, so we asked Ward Hayden, singer for the local alt-country act about tonight’s show. “I’ve always said to them that if I had any money that Cassavettes would be the band I’d like to invest in. ... They just own the stage each and every time they play. ... And Teenage Prayers are incredible as well. They have a ton of energy and emotion in their music and have a great indie rock, alt-country sound.”
Q. How did the styling opportunity with Simmons come about?
A. We understand that someone from Kimora's team, or her stylist Lauri Eisenberg's team, came into our store and liked it and took a card. We were in total disbelief when Eisenberg contacted us and told us we would be helping style [Simmons]. We were very honored and excited to be asked.
Q. What impact does that sort of thing have on sales or the profile of the store?
A. We hope that this opportunity will broaden our client base and make us available to work with more personal and celebrity stylists.
Q. As a retailer, what do you do to set yourself apart?
A. Most of the clothing we carry you won't find at the other boutiques in Boston. We use a combination of small independent designers mixed with major companies and then we add in the vintage pieces that are one of a kind. Anyone who buys a vintage garment we take a Polaroid of and put up on our bulletin board to help us catalog what we sell and because there are no two garments alike. Most days Lorrinda and I are here helping personally outfit our customers while some of our great regular customers come in to lounge on the couches and offer advice while looking for their own outfit to wear out that night. We have a lot of fun. That's the best part of the job.
Q. How have you been keeping things affordable?
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
There comes a certain point toward the apex of any electro dance night where things start to blur and you think you’re hallucinating monsters in the corner. Maybe that’s just us. Tonight, however, we can assure you that the monsters are 100% real when the Kaiju Big Battel host a sweaty dance throw down with a performance from our brand new crush of the day, Chicago’s electro DJ duo Rocktapussy. They mash up everything from Debbie Gibson and Robyn to Sonic Youth and Chris Farley. Hawt. Perhaps tonight the Kaiju monsters can be dissuaded from their usual goals of destroying the city, and for once agree to just destroy the dance floor. 9 p.m. 18+. $8- $9. Middle East Upstairs, 480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com
Sorry, Nas, it seems the reports of hip-hop's untimely demise were largely exaggerated. Cincinnati/Brooklyn crew Tanya Morgan trade verses over a pleading '70s soul sample on this summertime loungin' track, breathing life back into the form rhyme by rhyme.
Hear it at audibletreats.com
Part of the deal with tribute bands is not only do the performers have to play the role of great musicians from the past, but so do the audience members. So that means you’re gonna have to scream, tear at your hair and weep like crazy teenagers when Rain, The Beatles Experience takes the stage tonight, or else it’ll ruin the illusion for the rest of us. Rain, the nationally renowned Beatles tribute act run the whole gamut, from the early pop years to the complex psychedelic period, performing many of the songs the Beatles themselves never played live in concert. There’s no telling how much longer this whole Beatles thing is gonna last, so you might as well look into it while you can. 7:30 p.m. $42- $50. North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Rd., Beverly. 978-232-7200. nsmt.org
This may revoke our membership in the Top Secret Indie Snob Society, but so be it: We've always sort of liked Melissa Etheridge. "I'm the Only One" and the Grammy-winning "Come to My Window" from her 1993 smash "Yes I Am," with their desperate pleading emotion, still work that indefinable magic on us to this day. She just seems like the everywoman we want to have a beer with. Aside from the millions of dollars, worldwide success, and celebrity status that is. She performs tonight and tomorrow. 7:30 p.m. $62.75-$107.75. Cape Cod Melody Tent, 21 West Main St., Hyannis. 617-931-2000. ticketmaster.com