Wednesday, 2 June 2010

469 THE PILLS, NADA SURF, The Details, US Crush, TT The Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA USA, Saturday 21 October 2000

Day 5 and the last full day of this short Boston jaunt, and the only evening where we don't have 2 gigs on! Spend the day with Rachel shopping in Coolidge Corner before hitting the Border Cafe in Harvard. More record shopping, r'n'r, then checking up on tonight's shows. However, the plan to go see the Banjo Spiders at Lillis then head over to see The Pills is ixnayed when the Banjo Spiders are bumped up to headline, thus clashing with The Pills. One agonising (actually, not so agonising really...) choice later, we're off to TTs!

TTs really is the hangout for this trip - that's 3 shows out of 9 in the 5 days here! Unfortunately this time we have to pay to get in as our friend Kevin isn't manning the door, and EdV's not managed to get us on the guest-list via his DMod (tonight's gig sponsor) connections! No matter, we hit TTs early to ensure we get in on this expected-to-be-busy night, and catch US Crush at 9 with the few other early birds. They're a punk band from Orange County, CA, with a couple of decent songs ("Loser" - no, not the Beck number - standing out) and some Offspring-style rabble-rousing. Not too bad really, though.

The Details, on at 10, are a different kettle of fish. Featuring Brett Rosenberg, who we met a couple of days ago and who appears to be a real local guitar-for-hire, ex-Shods vocalist Dave Aaronoff, and Deb Klein of Hi-Fi Records (remember the Jed Parish in-store show? Yeah, there), they play an updated doowop style with some well-constructed songs which recall Posies side-project Chariot in their occasional Tex-Mex style. Groovy and catchy, but overall not my cup of soda-jerk and shake really, although it was good to talk to Brett and Deb again!

By this time it's heaving, and we're joined by James Horrigan and his girlfriend Sarah from North Carolina, who appears to be a female version of James - and I though they'd broken the mould after they made him! Also, John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard show up - not so surprised to see us this time - and Steve Hurley hits TTs, admitting he was "flabbergasted" when his sister, whom we'd seen earlier this week, mentioned we were in town.

"Down the front" appears to be a very crowded place for Nada Surf, a name I'm obviously alone in tonight's audience in being unfamiliar with. Da Surf are an underground 3-piece from Brooklyn, NYC, who are nevertheless ending their tour in Boston! The Beantown massive are obviously quite welcoming, and an unexpected - we're in Boston, after all - moshpit develops as they break into their breakneck, breathless strumalong US alt-guitar rock. Kind of like a Sebadoh on speed in this "live" environment, Da Surf are beautiful, briny, shimmery and shiny, with their occasionally lovelorn paeans portrayed with just the right level of understatement. The set is jolly fine, though, and prompts me to not only make sure I take EdV's word more often (he recommended them), but also to buy their new CD afterward from vocalist Matt Caws.

Everyone I'd spoken to regarding our upsetting Pills/ Banjo Spiders clash, had said to go with the Pills for full-on "live" fun and frolics. Expectations were high, despite a pre-gig chat with Pills vocalist David Thompson, during which he totally fails to remember being introduced to us during our last visit, earlier this year! No matter, The Pills hit the stage just after midnight, and the stage stays well and truly hit! They literally burst into life with a riot of fun, colour, and gloriously happy pop tunes. The Pills are a ridiculously happy melting-pot of styles; power-pop, skinny-tie New Wave-isms, fast and frantic pseudo punk rock, even a little ska and bluebeat to colour the palette. Imagine a happy Elvis Costello pogo-ing with "Flippin' Out" era Gigolo Aunts, with The Knack and Madness in close attendance, all played at breakneck 78 rpm speed. Fast, frantic, frenetic, fun!

Early ones "Devils Song" and "Pop Goes Mandy" are excellent, and set the tone for an uplifting set which I jerkily dance to, stage right, despite my cold and fatigue. The newer, unfamiliar numbers are nevertheless fine and memorable, as the 3-pronged visual attack of Dave Thompson, big presence Corin Ashley and Clyde O'Scope (!) throw shapes with gay abandon. The set is rushed through breathlessly, and the only mystery is why the Nada Surf massive didn't stick around for this superb set.

We stick around afterwards for an entertaining conversation with Corin, who welcomes me as, "the dancing man!" If only I'd been 100% fit, he'd have seen some dancing then! I'm however more intrigued about his forthcoming "Shepherd's Pie evening" with EdV! We eventually leave and flag a taxi down, just after Steve Hurley had managed to do the same! Back to our digs, then a final day shopping before a flight through the night Sunday back to Blighty. For this trip the rock, well, rocked, and The Pills provided the perfect sendoff!

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