Thursday, March 6, 2008

Last Night's Concert: Syme, The Modern Skirts

Last night I had free tickets to the Paradise Lounge (thanks, Brad!*). As previously mentioned, I have no idea how to write about music, so I’ll stick to personal reflection here. Someday I'll attempt to write a proper concert review.

E has a nasty 3-day flu, so the lovely Sarah joined me—haven’t seen her in months! After quickly glancing at one of the artists’ Myspace pages, I sold the concert to Sarah as "folksy". Further investigation showed that the four bands were an eclectic bunch, and only one group fit that category. So being unfamiliar with Sarah's musical tastes, I was afraid I'd be 0-2 after the "Funny Ha Ha" fiasco (oh, A.O. Scott, the only time you’ve failed me, and I’m still bitter).

Fortunately, Sarah’s open-minded and enjoyed Syme, the first act. In fact, I learned she was in a hip-hop/funk band in college called "Trace Element". Awesome!

Sarah always has great stories. Turns out we’ve both traveled around Chiapas. Finally, I found someone with whom to gripe about San Cristobal! She agreed the town was full of ex-pat drug addicted “revolutionaries” who romanticized poverty while infuriating the locals. Sarah's Chiapas stories totally beat mine. Though we both traveled in rural, Zapatista country, I stayed in hotels, and she slept on dirt floors. Oh, and did I mention she had typhoid fever? Sheesh!

On to the music.

Syme was the opener--great recommendation from Brad, Boston’s most reliable, informative music blogger. With the risk of being unnecessarily vague, Syme’s sound is, uh, eclectic. One song would be electronica / experimental. The next would be straight up pop / indie rock. The next would combine all of this into a percussion-heavy, prog-rock sound. Obligatory band mash up description? Low + Wheat + Zero 7 + UNKLE + the Doves. In all, it’s a great sound – good energy, upbeat, not too sleepy experimental stuff. Also, Syme throws down some great falsettos, and you know how I love falsetto! Whether it’s R&B (Maxwell), alterna-folk (Bon Iver) or electronica (Syme), the falsettos get me every time. I wonder, is Syme the first Scandinavian experimental band not to include a female member? Hmmm.

The next band, Modern Skirts, was your standard fun, happy-go-lucky Athens, GA rock band. Good stuff—it’s just not really my thing. It would be my thing if I were picnicking on a campus green, basking in the ephemeral joys of life without responsibility, but alas. Those days are over and so is my tolerance for college rock.

The guitar player wore a Michael Dukasis campaign t-shirt, saying it was in honor of the competitive race for the democratic nomination. I honestly don't think he realized Dukakis was from Massachusetts, the far more obvious connection. I’m guessing these guys won’t be receiving any Vampire Weekend, nerd rock comparisons.

He also said he voted for Dukakis in his kindergarten mock election, and I was like, dude! I voted for Dukakis in my fourth grade mock election. Doing the math, that makes me… OLD. True story: I attended a conservative private school outside of Philadelphia from first grade through high school. With about 100 people per grade, I was one of 4 who voted for Dukakis in 4th grade, one of 8 who voted for Clinton in 8th grade, and one of 12 who voted for Clinton again in 12th grade. Crazy.

Sarah couldn’t wait around for the folk group, and Brad left early, too, so I spent the rest of the Modern Skirts set with the bass player from Syme. He scarfed down a salad as though it was the only thing he ate that day (probably was). I totally feel for these bands touring in unfamiliar places. Of course, it’s tons of fun, but you make no money, get no sleep and completely depend on the kindness of strangers. I was inclined to invite them to crash at my place, but my man is sick as a dog and probably wouldn't have appreciated tripping over four Norwegian boys on his way to work.

Alright, new goal: this summer, when E is off from school, we’ll invite bands to our house after shows.

The bass player and I bonded over the fact that my bill came in this insane Camel cigarettes sponsored leather holder that glowed a bright green upon opening. Each time we opened it, we reenacted the briefcase scene from "Pulp Fiction", exclaiming its contents: "It's cocaine!" "It's millions of dollars!" "It's the answer to who shot JFK!" Trust me; this was hilarious in context.

I left before the other two bands played: one folksy, one poppy. When I first moved to Boston seven years ago, I really loved the Boston folk scene, but I just can’t get into it anymore. And the other group seemed similar to the Modern Skirts, so I wasn’t that motivated to stay. I got home before 11 – rock star!

*E and I are forever in debt to this awesome Boston music blogger for posting the Arcade Fire concert we went to at the Orpheum last year--so good! Bonus points for Brad being a regular dj at River Gods---Best. Bar. Ever.

My only disappointment with the Arcade Fire show was that they didn't play "Wake Up". This is hands down one of the best concert sing-along songs ever. When we saw U2 in Boston for the Vertigo tour, they played this as their start-up song before approaching the stage. E might disown me for saying this, but I thought it was one of the best moments of the concert. Speaking of that concert, can we throw this photo up here?

WHO IS THAT GUY? He's like a skeleton! This was when E was in crazy marathon training. Ah, ban comic sans t-shirt. So sorry I washed you with E's red soccer uniform. You were once a great shirt--an easy way to find kindred spirits in a crowd of strangers.

One final side story. On my subway ride over to the concert, I’m pretty sure I was standing next to a guy from Doannie’s karaoke birthday party. Hopefully he didn’t recognize me as the girl who posted video of him dancing to the Spice Girls. Awkward.

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