By: Vic Abreu
Lvl To The Road is an ongoing segment where our writers will be covering the shows, local scenes, and weird little parts of towns outside Gainesville during their travels. We kick it off with Vic Abreu as he travels around New England and the Southwest.
I didn’t know what to expect flying into Boston. I had no preconceived notions of the area other than good seafood (correct on all accounts) and terrible sports fans (also correct). Boston, and to a greater degree New England, surprised me in every regard. The city itself is pretty small, walkable from north to south end in all of 25 minutes. Back Bay looks like a street ripped from a London suburb, remodeled with beautiful greenery and a kaleidoscope of shops – fairly certain it’s the only place in the country you can buy a 12 gauge shotgun, bolo tie, and a lobster roll next door to each other. Boston is home to a burgeoning coffee scene championed by Pavement Coffeehouse and George Howell Coffee, both slinging killer espresso drinks off their La Marzocco machines. The coolest bit I discovered about the Boston area, though, was Allston. It was the scruffy, punkish answer to the cleanliness of downtown.
I hit up Great Scott on 1222 Commonwealth Avenue, right on the corner of an EXTREMELY busy double intersection. From the outside it looks like it could be any old Irish pub. In all reality, it was sort of indiscriminate from the rest of Allston. Upon opening the door I nearly tripped over the merch g and wound up buying a gold pin off the bassist from Wand. Very good sign. Itasca took the stage.
You ever listen to music that sounds like rays of sunshine reflecting off morning dewdrops on a cattail? Music that makes you remember your afternoons playing on the creek by your family farm (disclaimer: I’ve never lived on a farm.)? Listening to Itasca was a graceful, stunning respite from what I come to expect in a punk venue. Karen Cohen writes music in the vein of 70s folk singer-songwriters, but doesn’t fall prey to the trap of pastiche: it’s all very authentic. She wore bell bottoms and picked her acoustic guitar without missing a note. I fell in love. She drew the crowd in, hard for an opener to do, and had everyone in Great Scott transfixed by the end of the set. I wish I could see Itasca again. Please do yourselves a favor and check them out.
The Spirit of The Beehive
I fucking love The Spirit of The Beehive. Pleasure Suck stands out as one of last year’s most creative releases, and that same creative spirit translates perfectly to their live performance. I can’t remember a single moment where I wasn’t blown away by their seamless switching-off from live instrumentals to electronic sampling. The crowd grew about twice in size halfway through their performance. They used tambourines and other percussion instruments for an emo set. Who the hell does that, and makes it work? I loved it, every second.
So I have to admit, I had no clue what to expect from Wand being that I never really listened to them before the show. Something tells me seeing them in a live setting was the best introduction I could have gotten. Wand themselves looked familiarly scraggly, experts in the art of mismatched outfits. The image followed the music perfectly – sludgy and experimental, noisy and intense, garage punk lost in a psychedelic swirl. Wand started with The Unexplored Map from their 2015 album, Golem. Cory Hanson’s soaring voice was brutally cut from a tom-tom crack the force of Thor’s hammer. The rest of the set was a flurry of pushpits and pure wizardry from the head of Hanson’s guitar. It’s psychedelic punk that makes you feel beautiful.
Boston, I love you. I love your lobster rolls and beautiful architecture. More importantly, I love that there seems to be a thriving underground music scene host to several genres, just minutes outside of Boston proper. Stay scruffy, Allston.
The Spirit Of The Beehive: