So many musical things have happened in the past few days that I’m breaking this weekend into three posts. Crazy!
WFNX asked their listeners to choose their favorite bands of the year, and put together a huge, free, outdoor concert at City Hall on August 1st with The Boston Phoenix. In my opinion, it was a pretty big success.
I made the venture in because I really wanted to see The Gaslight Anthem play. After a strange train ride into the city I met up with a friend at Quincy Market and we headed over to City Hall to watch the show. Before the bands began to play, the crowd was greeted by Patty. Patty was the event coordinator, I think, and was some employ of the city of Boston. She had three rules for us: no sticks or water bottles in the pit, no children under 14 in the pit, and no moshing in the wheelchair section. Because obviously, if you're going to mosh, it's going to be in the wheelchairs. She told us these rules about 6 or 7 times throughout the show, all while yelling at us to shut up and listen to her. Now, this may have been necessary if the crowd was angry or fighting or upset. But we weren’t. We were all either peacefully standing or sitting on the stairs, and yet she was treating us like misbehaving four year olds. “I have tattoos too,” she screamed at one point, “so I get you people!” Um, alright Patty. Sure. The crowd booed her and she deserved it because she was obnoxious. There was no reason to treat us like that.
Anyways, Ra Ra Riot was on first. They were really, really good. There was an electric cello and violin, guys rocking out on guitars, and a bouncy vocalist. The music was much prettier than I expected it to be as well. I like ‘Dying is Fine” a lot, and need to go out and buy their CD. I’d love to see them live again, somewhere with better acoustics than the side of City Hall, but the next time they’re playing in Boston (October 3rd) I have Red Sox tickets. Sad.
Next up (after Patty of course) was Passion Pit. I’ve heard so much about Passion Pit, seeing as they’re from Cambridge and created a huge buzz with their music last year. The beats are great, the music is great, and they sounded awesome. Until the vocalist started to sing. The music itself is electric, both in tonal quality and excitement factor, and it is fun and hip and fresh, but Michael Angelakos voice is very sharp and high, and I did not find it pleasant live. Listening to their songs on myspace, it’s not so bad and I like the music. It makes me wonder if either his voice just doesn’t hold up live, or if maybe the venue was having issues with the sound. There was evidence of the latter throughout the show, with microphones dropping out and barely audible singing at times, and performers having problems with the onstage monitors. I don’t know which caused the vocals to be off yesterday, but it wasn’t great. They were fun to watch, though, and had great energy onstage.
Metric was next, and they played an acoustic set, which I was a little disappointed by. I had really been looking forward to rocking out during their set, but everything was slowed down and mellow. However the reason for it was that one of the band members had just had a baby and couldn’t make it, which is a wonderful and joyous reason for an acoustic, so I wasn’t upset at all. It was pretty music, though the crowd wasn’t really feeling the slowed down pace and started to wander away. “Help, I’m Alive” was weird slow, but it was more meaningful without the electronic beats and fast pace.
Finally, The Gaslight Anthem. I was so excited to see them, so pumped. There were some technical glitches (damn you city of Boston and your lack of sound knowledge!) with Brian Fallon’s mic not being on at the beginning, and a strangely muddy sound quality through the first song, but they cleared up fast and it was amazing. I’ve always found them to be real and genuine people in the interviews they give, and they play the same way. Their hearts are on their sleeves and they pour their souls into the music. They also look like they’re having an awesome time. They played a 45 minute set and got through most of The ’59 Sound. Brian Fallon talked about how much he loved Boston, and the fact that maybe he was a little scared of us too, and that he doesn’t say that to just any city. There was East Coast love and rock music filled with soul. I did not want the set to end. They had fun, they related to the crowd, and they played some great, high powered, feel good music. What more could you ask for from a free concert?
I left at this point and ventured into the North End for dinner before I had to catch my train back home. I stumbled upon the St. Agrippina festival and bought delicious calzone and gelato from a street vendor while watching little kids play carnival games and run around in the flashing lights. I missed the last two bands, but wasn’t the least bit disappointed.