at The Middle East Cafe
by Scott Hefflon
photo by Trevor Whitaker or James McVey
It seemed the whole front row knew every song word for word. I knew it had two cute furry animals on the cover and looked cool as it spun in the clear-top CD player. That and the tunes were catchy. It’s one of the CDs you toss on and pay bills, do dishes, or write Christmas Cards to. You find yourself mouthing the choruses (or at least something close). That’s when you realize that you really dig the band.
When they played the Middle East with Lotion and Boston powerpop faves, The Flying Nuns, they were unassuming and jammed with the passion of non-jaded, well-traveled musicians. It was a surgical strike performance- tight and explosive, the between song banter, loose and personal. The bassist, Bean lived up to his name, jumping all around the stage, smiling a lot, but always arriving back at the mic just in the nick of time to chip in his harmonies. Bean’s bounciness contrasts and compliments singer/guitarist Bob Reed’s stabilizing presence.
Bob’s a big guy. He stood at stage right and led the band through the mid-tempo pop/frantic punk/noise/ melancholy interludes and poured out honest heartfelt vocals. Reed’s voice was hoarse and grungy during the furious guitar assaults yet mellowed and seemed to reach something deeper and personal when the overdrive was off. Reed’s guitar work may not revolutionize playing techniques, but he does seem to have a knack for capturing the mood, whether it be through a blasting drunk-rock chugging or a single, singing lead that builds into a groovy pop song.
They played covers of “Hybrid Moments” (Misfits) and one by San Fran. buds, the Meices, who are constantly compared to The Replacement by journalists who find burglarizing press kits much simpler than actually thinking. The band “ended” with a massive medley of four or so of their bop-punk rages strung together without even pausing to breath.
After a failed attempt at chanting “Overwhelming Colorfast” (perhaps monosyllabic simplicity has its merits after all), the band returned to the stage and joked, “It ain’t over ’til the fat man sings.” They played more songs, the crowd danced and I, your humble reviewer, scribbled more illegible notes.