Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let it Go, Let it Go

Fake Problems at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA - May 11, 2011

I missed Fake Problems when they came through the area with Tim Barry a couple of months ago, and had decided to go see them when they came through this time, but then the end of my senior year got in the way and I never bought tickets. But when a friend called with an extra ticket and a need for a concert buddy, I couldn't turn it down.

First up was Into It. Over It. Just a guy and his acoustic and I loved it. he talked to the crowd and described the stories that formed the songs and it was great. The crowd was also the most silent crowd I have ever heard, politely and raptly paying attention. Good stuff.

Next up, Pomegranates. The music was cute and they were kind of bouncy but the vocals were just okay and everything was distorted to the point of sounding watery.

Laura Stevenson and the Cans. I think she might have been having an off night. She sounded good but she was obviously unhappy with it and they were having trouble with getting their monitors right and it was just a bit off. But the accordion backed guitars were very pretty and her songs were sweet. I didn't realize until she was playing that I'd actually heard her before, in the following video. It's not really my style, but it's kinda cute indie.

And finally, Fake Problems. They bounced out onto stage and launched into "Soulless" with so much energy that even though I'd been falling asleep on my feet I had to dance and bounce and sing along. Most of what they played was super upbeat, so I was afraid they wouldn't add "Songs for Teenagers" in, but they ended the set with it and I couldn't have been happier. It wasn't a huge crowd, didn't even fill upstairs, but they were screaming along and loving it. The energy was overwhelming and I do not understand why these boys aren't bigger.

This kind of energy and feel on a tiny live stage:

Loved it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm Who I've Got to Be

My Chemical Romance at the House of Blues Boston, May 5, 2011

Last Friday was my thesis defense, my last hurdle of college and arguably the day that I had spent the past two years working towards. This meant that I spent most of last Thursday panicked, chest tight and heart racing. So I went out to a concert.

The Architects and Thursday were first and they were good but I was still trying to calm down here and find my place in the crowd. My brain was not in that club. Springfest, the annual University concert, had been the weekend before and some friends and I had been pretty close to the stage when the crowd started to press in before the final band. Surrounded by bodies and jumping and movement I was ready for music, but my friends were uncomfortable and dragged us out of the crush. Out in the open, the music didn’t feel right.

So on Thursday, I slowly pressed my way into the crowd before My Chemical Romance took the stage. I moved up slowly, politely, but wound up surrounded by people who were screaming along and jumping and moving and not caring about looking like fools. Some of them were teenage girls, but the chunk I wound up in was mostly kids in their 20s. It makes sense, I guess, that all of us who started off listening to this stuff as teenagers are growing up.

They started the set with music from the new album, and I forgot everything outside the venue. Sure, it tried to sneak its way in, but the music and the crowd were overwhelming. These are songs that the entire audience had screamed along to in cars and bedrooms, and now they were pouring their hearts out together. It was the kids upstairs, the ones leaning over the balcony with open mouths and pounding fists, clutching onto the railing with their hands and the music with their hearts who got my attention, whose faces were scattered with happiness, release, and anger.

Down on the floor, it was as though we were of one collective mind. Conducted by Gerard, we simultaneously jumped and waved and pounded our fists, sang and danced and moved. But even without his direction, there were points in the songs where our fists would all rise, where our hands would open on cymbal crashes, or entire sections of the crowd would just start jumping. This sounds a little crazy, but it’s no exaggeration that we had sacrificed our minds to the music.

And up on stage, the first band I have seen that might actually deserve the title “rockstars.” I know they used to dress in black, in uniforms and makeup and bulletproof vests, but this was the first time I’ve seen them live and their outfits will probably be stuck in my head as a violent mix of punk glam forever. Gerard practically pranced about the stage, growling and smiling and conducting, while the other three focused on pure rocking out. Gerard seemed a little meaner than I’d seen in interviews, though his mid show blown kisses to a family member and heart hands make me think it’s for the benefit of an intense show experience.

His words to us throughout the show were interesting too. He asked who in the crowd had never been to an MCR show before, and there was a huge emphasis on the “old kids” always helping out the “new kids.” It’s a great point to make, especially at shows where fans have been sticking around forever, to avoid the stupid hipster bullshit of “well, I liked them before you did.”

There was also one great line thrown at the crowd. “Belief in Rock and Roll is a smell, and I can smell it on you.”

Sure, a lot of their songs are about vampires and death and wreaking havoc, but there are also a lot of songs about not giving a fuck and believing in yourself. Stupid as it may sound, a crowd of one thousand people singing about holding on and fighting back renewed my confidence in my thesis presentation. “Girl, you’ve got to be what tomorrow needs.”

They played old and new songs, and they were fantastic. The crowd screamed just as much for “Vampire Money” as “Helena.” And of course, they played my favorite, and I started laughing.

Because three years ago, I had decided to quit science. Frustrated and angry, I even skipped a physics lab to go to a “funeral.” That funeral was Warped Tour, a celebration of the death of my science career. I spent a lot of that summer listening My Chemical Romance, but it wasn’t until about August that I bought physical copies of the CDs. When I finally did, I was not expecting the uncensored version of “I’m Not Okay.” I have a vivid memory of having headphones on in the heat of summer and dissolving into laughter, feeling like I was falling into the mattress when “I’m not o-fucking-kay” hit me out of nowhere. It was, at the time, so true that it shocked me. So last Thursday, steeped in genetics and neuroscience and confidence in my strength as a researcher, I couldn’t help but laugh at how far I’ve come in two years. “I’m Not Okay” felt like some sort of weird closure to this portion of my science career. Grad school will need a new anthem.

"Your dreams and your hopeless hair."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Perfect, Part 2

Jukebox the Ghost at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA - May 2, 2011

This night lives on as the very best night of college. It was only my third semester, fooling my bio lab partner into staying out late with me the night before our final and spending the night laughing and giggling and dancing to good music. That post, of course, leaves out the details that don't translate well into blog posts, the fact that we were such good kids at the time that we stopped breathing in panic when we thought our TA had just walked in, the fact that it was the night we decided my superpower was making guitars and cute boys appear, and the fact that I will always be ridiculously awkward and lame, throwing double thumbs up at people then giggling the whole ride home. It was our first Jukebox the Ghost show.

So last night, before that bio lab partner (now roommate and best friend) moves across the country, we went to our seventh (my eighth) Jukebox show. It was, in a way no other between has been, just as perfect as the first.

Pretty & Nice opened the show and I was hit by how much I missed indie rock. They were really good and quickly landed themselves into my "Yeah, if they're playing with someone else I want to see I'll be pumped to watch them again" category. It's no surprise to me that the most listened song on their myspace is "Tora Tora Tora" because it was cute and really indicative of their sound. They really were good, but they were just overshadowed by the awesome that was the rest of the night. For that I felt bad.

Wakey!Wakey! wound up in my "I will absolutely want to see them the next time they come through Boston" list almost immediately. Violin and keyboard and bass and drums and synth and great lyrics and good voices and it was the total package of awesome.

I have to pause though and mention the crowd. The crowd was in love and screaming and the band was obviously a little shocked by how loud and responsive we were. The crowd was full of energy and love and that always makes such a difference in how the band plays. And it was so easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm that everyone was dancing and singing and cheering and it made the whole show amazing.

But back to Wakey!Wakey! who was certainly inspiring some of this reaction. All their music was great, the lyrics were perfect, but there were a few shining moments even better than the rest. Though their stripped down piano version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" inspired the most giggles, "Light Outside" was one of the ones that stirred the greatest emotion. "Dance so Good" was also fantastic, as was "Car Crash." Okay, honestly, it was all amazing. They also did a stripped down version of "Got It All Wrong" that I fell in love with, just an acoustic and a violin. I can't find a version of it online so it's just going to have to live in memory.

Finally, Jukebox the Ghost. There's nothing I can say about their live show that I haven't said already. The crowd was in love, we were screaming and dancing and the band literally looked blown away a couple of times. They played two new songs and old and recent songs and filled in the middle with banter and smiles and tambourines. The reason I dragged my bio lab partner out that first night was because the very first time I saw them I realized I'd never seen anyone play the way they did and I had to share it with someone else. They play their instruments perfectly, with bouncing and crazy eyes and silly dance moves.

Fueled by memories of past shows, onstage discussions of the relative locations of Boston and Cleveland, and an adoring crowd who could not keep a clap beat to save their lives, we spent much of the night not breathing because we were laughing so hard. The crowd barely let the band leave the stage before the encore we screamed so loud, and though they told us to choose one song to play they ended up playing both to appease us. Their music is happy, heartbreaking, apocalyptic, and epic.

Perfect bookends to three years of indie concerts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Musical Squares Flash Game

I don't know where this is originally from (I'd love to know) but you absolutely must play with this. It's a flash animation that generates notes based on what squares you hit. I've had a ton of fun making sequences and patterns and "songs" but it's also great to just press a random set and listen to what happens.

Seriously, this is one of the coolest things I've played with in a while. Click!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I am a Pine Tree

I am a pine tree. I am a wildflower.

My Roots Go Down - The Seedy Seeds. Just a cute song on a sunny day.