Thursday, June 26, 2014

A review of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Gaslight Anthem at City Hall Plaza

A few months back when Dicky Barrett announced he would be celebrating his 50th birthday party in the city of Boston, excitement rose for the occasion from many of the band's fans in.  What could be better than seeing one of Boston's finest punk rock and ska combination live at City Hall Plaza right in the middle of Downtown Boston, all the more on a beautiful summer's night?  The Bosstones didn't come alone on this ride, they brought a band called Barrence Whitfield and the Savages and New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem. This line up made for an extremely well rounded show.

I wasn't very familiar with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages and I walked in toward the tail end of their set.  I'm not entirely sure what to describe them as but regardless, they were good for what they were.  After enjoying some BBQ with the family, I headed toward the crowd for the Gaslight Anthem.  The last time I caught them, it was the tail end of their set in New Hampshire with Rise Against over five years ago.  I have relatively enjoyed their music, particularly American Slang and so I was looking forward to seeing a full set this time.  They walked on out and opened up with The 59' Sound and the more recent, Handwritten.  The majority of their setlist was older material from their second record and a fewer recent songs.  I was really pleased to hear the catchy Biloxi Parsh from their fourth full length, Handwritten as well as the sing along, 45.  

Roughly mid set, the Birthday boy (or man for that matter...) was invited out to sing on The Patient Farris Wheel which really warmed up the crowd.  The next three songs were some more of my favorites including Howl, Old Haunts and American Slang.  As a side note, I personally wish these guys got a little bit longer time to play but as we all know, there are restrictions (especially with the cities curfew for music).  The rest of the set came from their older records and included Great Expectations,   and Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts.  Lastly, I'm not positive but the last number of their set may have been a cover called Backseat.  Not entirely sure who wrote it or if it was an original but I do believe Brian mentioned it was a cover toward the end of their show.  Overall, I enjoyed the Gaslight Anthem.  They were better than I thought they were but not entirely as great as I was expecting. Perhaps when I see them next in a smaller (indoor) venue, that will change things.

After a half hour or so of changeover, the lights on stage went out but before their intro, the video screen cued up.  A little Happy 50th Birthday tribute came on screen featuring a slew of Dicky's family, friends, and childhood friends from his past.  Much of the video included popular faces such as Jon Stewart, Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys, Mike McColgan and Johnny Rioux of the Street Dogs, and much more.  You can tell that Dicky is a very popular guy with the diverse amount of friends this video displayed.  Easily a very entertaining way to open the show.

After the video, it was lights out and the intro music came on.  Not long after, the lights came up, a lit up Mighty Mighty Bosstones banner came down and the band stormed up on stage.  The crowd embraced the band with energy and Dicky asked the crowd to scream and they kicked into Dr. D.  I was really surprised with the set they played and how diverse it was, especially for a commercial/out door concert.  The as per usual ranged from old and new.  I was really happy to hear Wasted Summers, Old School Off The Bright, and He's Back.  The set included many regular tunes such as Rascal King, Someday I Suppose (With Brian Fallon), and The Daylights. I was really excited to hear some older songs such as HowWhyWuzz, HowWhyAm , Let's Face It, and I Know More.  This was simply one of the best sets I have seen performed by these guys.

In case you haven't noticed already, the night was full of special guests including Lenny Lashley (Street Dogs/Darkbuster/Piss Poor Boys) on A Bricklayer's Story, which he sang and played guitar on.     Other more recent track's included were Like A Shot Gun, They Will Need Music and the b-side, The One With The Woes All Over It.  The crowd got themselves into a circle pit for the energetic 1-2-8,  and the very upbeat and personal favorite, They Came To Boston.  After a mini speech about friendship, Dicky dedicated Don't Worry Desmond Dekker to an old friend of his.  Speaking of friends, talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel came out on stage to play saxophone during The Impression The I Get. Lastly the main set ended with The Impossible Dream which is one I haven't seen in a few years.  The encore included three songs with former guitarist, Nate Albert.  What was really interesting and great to see was that it was two songs he did not write and clearly learned just for the show.  That is dedication!  These included I Want My City Back, Where'd You Go? and A Pretty Sad Excuse.  Overall, this was an excellent show and night at City Hall Plaza for seeing one of my favorite bands.  By the way, for those who were not there, the Hometown Throwdown this year is December 26th, 27th, and 28th!  Not sure when tickets go on sale but I would book your reservations now!  See you all in December!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cro-Mags live at the Middle East Downstairs- June 1st, 2014

Seeing Cro-Mags for the first time in my life last Sunday was an unreal experience and because it was at my favorite venue in Cambridge, the Middle East Downstairs, it was all the better!  The last time these guys were in town, I missed the show and so I didn't hesitate to grab myself a ticket and to finally see these hardcore legends live.  Not only them, but some local greats as well rounded off the bill.  With the young bucks, Neighborhood Shit from Southie with their thrash and hardcore sound, Taxi Driver hailing from all over New England with their brand of hardcore punk and Boston greats, Death Before Dishonor who are simply one of the best hardcore bands around. Not to mention, the infamous Anti-Nowhere League was on the bill, too!  These bands rounded the bill off nicely and I must say, it was simply one of the best shows I have been to in sometime.

Photo by Billy Korecki

Neighborhood Shit started the night off with a twenty minute set.  It was the first time I saw these guys play and from what I hear they are relatively new to the game.  I personally feel that they are one of those bands that you will constantly evolving from each show they play and practice they attend.  If you're into the thrash and hardcore mix, these guys would be right up your alley, as well.  From what it sounded like, they are a band that talks about what they know and only what they know and with that, I give them props for it.  They took the time every couple of songs to go and talk about their story.  You don't always hear that with some of the younger and newer bands.  You could also tell they were genuine and knew what they were talking about which is something rare for the young generation.  I know at some point, I will see these guys again at the next hardcore show.

Photo by Billy Korecki 
Rounding second was Taxi Driver who have been in the game for a few years now.  I have known these guys as friends for quite awhile but this was only the second time I saw them play.  Either way, they were great.  For those who haven't been up to speed with them like myself, they have written a ton of new songs that were included in their set.  Not to mention, some of the older tunes that give their fan base familiarity at their shows was included as well.  Taxi Driver started with Left For Dead which is off their first E.P. and went right into some newer songs such as Hell Ride, and True Grit.  Included in their set was the song Trench which is one of their older songs and a favorite.  The short six song set rounded out with P.O.I. and what should be the newest skinhead anthem, Taxi Driver ended with Pride.  These guys played a tight and fun set and you can tell they get better and better every time.

Photo by Billy Korecki 
Next up was one of my favorite bands to come out of Boston, Death Before Dishonor.  These guys started out awhile ago and over the years, have made their mark simultaneously in not only the Boston hardcore scene but also are recognized all over the United States and abroad.  They are a band who are always in demand!  I have seen Death Before Dishonor a handful of times and this was easily the best time I have seen them.  The energy was perfect in the club that night and everyone who was a fan there was up front and singing along.  They opened right up with the classic, Born From Misery from their album, Friends, Family, Forever or 666.  From there, they drove straight into Break Through It All  and the upbeat track, Count Me In.  Their set included a great mix of old and new with them playing Peace & Quiet from their latest release, Better Ways To Die as well as Our Glory Days.  Some more older songs that were played were Curl Up & Die, Friends Family Forever and they ended their with with a cover of Boston Belongs To Me (Originally by Cock Sparrer and replaced with England with Boston) featuring Colin from Colin of Arabia.  Every time they end with that, the show ends on a positive and unified note with a gang sing a
Photo by Billy Korecki
long with everybody jumping for the microphone.  What is great about these guys is that they don't stop, they just keep going and getting better!  Excellent set overall and I can't wait for the next one.

Anti-Nowhere League was next!  It was my very first time seeing these guys play and they were a lot of fun.  It's pretty clear they are veterans to the punk scene and they still hold up on stage pretty well. A good thirty to forty minutes of street punk got the crowd warmed up nicely for the ladder.  They opened up with We Are The League which sent a flurry of bodies into circular motion and crowd surfing on top of one another.  You could tell they are well respected by the underground music community with this reaction.  They played a lot of fan favorites such as I Hate People and Let's Break The Law.  Once these guys started, they sure as hell didn't stop either.  You could tell that they work really hard on stage to go and involve the crowd as much as possible.  Other songs included We're Skull and Bones, Chocolate Soldiers, and much more.  To say they played a full set in the slot were given would be a pretty valid statement.  Overall, Anti-Nowhere League was a blast and I hope they come back again soon!

Photo by Billy Korecki
Last but certainly not least was New York Hardcore Legends,  Cro-Mags.  After a brief change over, the lights went down and their intro music came on which eventually faded.  After a few drum clicks, Cro-Mags kicked right into World Peace from their influential album, Age of the Quarrel    Most of their set consisted of most of that album and went right into Show You No Mercy.  Other songs I wasn't entirely familiar with included Malfunction and Crush The Demoniac.  You could tell there were plenty of fans in the crowd who have seen these guys before and have been following them for years.  With much crowd participation, you could tell that the band was feeding off the crowd, and the crowd was feeding off the band.  It was great to see that there is that kind of energy in the punk and hardcore scene still.  The Cro-Mags also went and added in a few covers from Bad Brains.  These covers were Right Brigade and Attitude which both incited much crowd participation.  Other favorites in the set were Street Justice, Sign of the times, and a personal favorite, Life of My Own.  Cro-Mags ended their set with Don't Tread On Me, We Gotta Know, and lastly, Hard Times.  

Photo by Billy Korecki 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Drago 10 Year Anniversary at Beachcomber

Hey everyone,

It's been a bit but I am back.  Between finishing school, working a lot, and all the other good stuff in life, it becomes a sidetrack.  Good news is that I am back with some good shows, interviews and more so keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks and in the next month.  Last Saturday, I headed over to the Beachcomber in Quincy to see Spitshiner, Duck & Cover, the Dents, the Blue Bloods, and Drago!  Some of these bands I haven't seen before and/or are combined of some of my friends who decided to start new projects.  Its always great to see some of the longer standing bands support some of the smaller and newer bands which Drago does a great job doing.

So up first was Spitshiner with Josh Ayola and Chad from the Beantown Boozehounds along with their counterparts.  Their blend of americana folk music with their punk rock roots was refreshing as it was something I haven't seen for awhile.  Especially with the fiddle incorporated, and other traditional instruments.  Its great to see musicians try other genres that float along well with the punk rock scene and branch out.  Josh's lyrics give us a perspective of life from his point of view and his life experience that he has been through.  You can see a great comparison of lyrics between their work with the Beantown Boozehounds, the Snipes and the other projects as well.  I really look
forward to seeing Spitshiner play again and hear more music from them in the future.  Next was Duck & Cover and once again sporting their garage punk sound.  I saw these guys less than a month ago at the firefighter's benefit at Great Scott and honestly, they have improved quite a bit.  They played a quick twenty minute set or so and sounded really tight.  For anybody who is interested in the likes of the Ramones, the Dead Boys, Buzzcocks and bands from the 70s era, I highly suggest these guys.

After Duck & Cover was a band called the Dents which I have heard so much about but haven't seen at all.  I must say I was really impressed with this female fronted punk rock and roll band.  For all of you Street Dogs fans out there, the Dents did a split with them in the early days of the Street Dogs.  A fun fact would be that Mike McColgan sang Last One Standing on there and another fun fact was that  Michelle Paulus who is the vocalist and bassist of the Dents also played with Street Dogs in one point in time.  Anyways, their brand of punk rock and roll was extremely enjoyable.  It was really cool to hear some familiar songs such as Mental Defective, Last One Standing and some more. Sadly, I am not all that familiar with their material because it was my first time and outside of their split, I haven't found much material.  On a brighter note, I highly suggest you all see them play if they come back again for a show.  They are highly enjoyable for your straight up punk rock and roll fan with catchy riffs and a tight sound, as well.  I hope to hear some more of them because they have something good going on.

One of my favorite Boston bands, the Blue Bloods were up and ready to tear Quincy a new one like Intro and straight into Twice As Strong which is a rousing street punk anthem from their first recorOn Your Own from their upcoming record (coming soon!) and the catchy, Burning Bridges Light The Way.  Other fan favorites that were included were Kowalski, Written Off, and more.  Some other new ones that were performed was a fast tune called Alligator and the more sentimental yet musically upbeat, A Sad Silence and the socially conscious Deaf, Dumb, & Blind.

One of Boston's finest ended with a cover of This One's For You by the Trouble which was dedicated to Troy from Razors In The Night (who was in attendance that night).  As always, the Blue Bloods killed it and if you haven't seen them, you're missing out.
they always do!  I have been following these guys around for quite sometime now with their latest line up (Featuring Jim Burke and Tom O'Connell of the Pug Uglies) and they never disappoint.  Their set ranged from old and new as they opened with their

Lastly, Drago was up next. This was my first time seeing them play and I have to say, that band is funny as hell and very enjoyable.  Drago is a perfect example of a band who just loves to have fun and loves to joke around on stage.  How can you go wrong with that?  You just can't!  Fronted by Mike Gurley (from Darkbuster fame), he makes it for an entertaining set!  Songs such as Hiking Sucks had the audience at a laugh.  I personally got a kick out of, Skateboarding Isn't A Crime, Its Just Stupid!  Drago has an 80's hardcore influence with their music and that is for fans of Gang Green, DYS, and more. It is always a blast to see bands go and have a good time on stage and take everything lightly with a pinch of salt.  For those of you who couldn't make it this year, you missed out but that is okay because they play once a year!  Next time they announce a show, go and tear it up with Drago!  You won't regret it!

Band Info:
The Blue Bloods
The Dents
Duck & Cover