[In Concert, Odds and Ends] Some of What I Was Up To When I Wasn’t Writing in This Here Blog

9 May

Well, it’s a new month. To say that April was a roller coaster would be a bit of an understatement. I spent the first three weeks feverishly working towards completing my honors thesis. There were too many long days and all-nighters to count, dozens of Pop-Tarts, enumerable coffees and Vaults and Red Bull Power Shots and NOS’s. Somehow I managed to get my thesis stretched out to sixty pages, which was about four times longer than any paper I had written before.

All of this was on top of working 15 – 20 hours a week, and completing the requisite end-of-the-semester big final papers and projects.

And–oh yeah–I went to four concerts last month. In order of greatest to least awesomeness, they were:

1 The Tallest Man on Earth

[April 21st, The Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA]

Nurses was a fine opening band; they vocally reminded me a bit of Band of Horses or Fleet Foxes.

As for The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson’s just so charismatic, charming, unassuming, and generally awesome (but decidedly not tall). He sounds just as good live out there alone on stage with a guitar as he does on record. The sold-out crowd knew a lot of the words (and vocal tics).

Bonus: I got McDonald’s after.

Double bonus: exciting driving, courtesy of “Creepy Krispy.”

2 Frightened Rabbit

[April 29th, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA]

I generally liked both of the openers. I think that Bad Veins could be very good if they had more than just two members–the drummer, while he did beat his drum to a satisfying pulp, was fighting the tape machine almost every song. Maps & Atlases were definitely technically proficient, their bread and butter being odd time signatures. However, I did not like the singer’s voice.

The crowd was treated to most of Fleetwood Mac’s magnum opus Rumours while Frightened Rabbit’s crapload of gear was assembled on stage, so it was basically like there were three openers instead of two. A lot of the people in the crowd, who had decidedly not been born yet when that album came out, knew most of the words. Yay for yuppie offspring.

As for Frightened Rabbit, frontman Scott Hutchison wrote (via @frabbits) “Boston left us speechless. Best show of the year. Hands. Down. Totally made up for losing miserably at Words With Friends.” I’d say that sums it up pretty well.

3 The Hold Steady

[April 6th, Pearl Street, Northampton, MA]

I saw this show on two or three hours of sleep. The opener–The Oranges Band–was not especially good. The members were definitely lifers who had been doing this for a long time; the guitarist/vocalist and drummer were very dad-ish and the bassist was trying desperately to look hip but was betrayed by his receding long hair and sagging tats…but I will never forget “Otto Bar…After Hours.” Never ever.

Craig Finn was his spastic “old” man self. The crowd was rowdy–a mosh pit got going and there was a lot of broken glass on the floor afterwards. I did miss Franz Nicolay’s presence. I pretty much blew out my ears at this show; they were ringing for three days afterwords.

4 The Thermals

[April 18th, The Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA]

Neither of the openers were passable. The Coathangers were sloppy and shrill (neither false mustaches nor an assist from Kathy Foster could save them). Past Lives had their moments but they ain’t no Blood Brothers.

The Thermals were pretty good. They played a lot of new songs (they have a new album coming out in September), but this material was pretty mediocre overall. There was no encore, which was kind of a bummer. To be fair, I wasn’t in a great place because I had a big paper due the next day that needed a lot of work.

A shout out to my companions/drivers/ticket purchasers that made my attendance at these shows possible: Fardeen, Jo, Adam, and Krissy. Well done gang.

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