Saturday, 30 January 2010

609 THE DAMN PERSONALS, Runner And The Thermodynamics, SPACESHOTS, American Car, TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA USA, Tuesday 30 September 2003

Billed as a last chance to "Smoke Em While You Can", before Cambridge follows NYC's example and bans smoking in all places of employment, including (amazingly) pubs and clubs, this is also the last Boston gig for Rachel and myself, for this trip. So we get in early, at 8.45, paying to get in after getting bumped from another Damn Personals guest-list! D'oh! We run into Spaceshots boys Patrick Emswiler and Joe McMahon, catching up on my recent health events. We then get a drink and a pew while American Car play the early set. I like their style - starting off with a song about smoking - but we largely ignore their old school FM rock set after that.

We run into "awesome" Tom Polce, chatting with Josh Lattanzi and Derek Skanky, as we wander onto the dancefloor to see the Spaceshots. I tell Tom that we'd heard that the best-sounding record from Boston this year is the Polce-produced Spaceshots CD. Tom chats, and tells us he hopes they live up to the hype. So do we!

We're treated to a few 1950's pro-smoking adverts, which are quite jolly in a "Pathe News" kind of way, promoting smoking's health benefits (!), before the Spaceshots come on. And when they do, jaws drop immediately with an absolutely stunning opener, "Angelesque", which packs too many words into the chorus line and too much brilliantly simple tunefulness into the song for its' own good. The Spaceshots are great - Patrick is a real star, confident and controlled, and the band chemistry between himself, faithful cohort Ben on drums, Big Joe, and Ed's friend Toirm on guitar, is perfect. Another great, tuneful, hooky powerpop band with huge choruses and fresh ideas from Boston - just what do they put into the water here? This strident, toughened up set has us smiling and more than lives up to the promise; more so as Patrick, who later gives us a copy of the CD (cool!) tells us this is only their, "fourth or fifth gig!"

We chat to Pat then get drinks from Pete Caldes - working the TTs bar tonight! - before Runner And The Thermodynamics' set. They do their best to live up to their name, with an energetic performance, but have a very derivative, zeitgeisty Stones/ Stooges garage rock sound, with little to differentiate them from the likes of, say, Jet or the Von Bondies.

The Damn Personals, now minus Jimmy Jax and with a new spindly bass-man instead, then quickly set up and kick-start their set at 11.30. They open with a newie which then merges into my favourite, the incendiary "Better Way", and it becomes clear they're here to rock, in the most furious, determined and Damn Personal way possible. Much like The Gravel Pit on our first night here this time around, this set is as raggedy-arsed as all hell, The Damn Personals walking the fine line between rock genius and chaos with an incendiary performance, the essence of rock and roll. "Fucking In NYC" is the epitome of this performance, all huge awesome hooks and committed powerful rendition. An unexpected "Models And Airliners", with its' clarion call of "We are New England till the day that we die!" is the highlight for me of an awesome set, which ends with Anthony leaping off the speaker stack next to drummer Mike!

We then say goodbye to whomever we can find, then taxi back to our digs for the last time, for an early flight back to Blighty. Another great Boston trip climaxed in a perfect way by the Spaceshots and the Damn Personals!

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