Tuesday, 13 July 2010

445 SENOR HAPPY, FRANCINE, Trocadero, The Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA USA, Wednesday 24 May 2000

Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the rain precedes a fine lunchtime in the company of Gary Waleik, formerly of my all-time favourite band The Big Dipper. Then, a trip to Boston Aquarium for Rachel and myself this afternoon, before meeting friends for late tea in the upstairs restaurant of tonight's gig venue! I try the clam chowder on EdV's previous recommendation. Tastes like... chicken! (It does!). We head downstairs at 1/4 to 10, just as first band Trocadero play their last number. Again, I can't honestly say I take much notice of them as I'm busy saying hey to people. EdV and Carrie show up, as do Pete Stone and ex Letters To Cleo drummer Stacy Jones (more of him next gig!). Ed also introduces me to Jim Gilbert of The Sheila Divine, and I do the same to a wobbly-kneed Rachel!

Francine come on just after 10, with Clayton Scoble, vocalist and main inspiration, starting off with a solo acoustic number. Their subsequent set is very fine; full of intelligently crafted songs, thoughtful without being too clever, played with understated yet obvious charm. Clayton is evidently a pop kid and a Brit-ophile, and it shows, with Kinks, XTC and even Squeeze as notable influences in their warm, hooky and melodic pop. Speak briefly to Clayton afterwards, and gratefully receive free copies of the new EP. I introduce myself as "Bill from Arlington," following previous e-mail conversations with the man. Clayton, that is, not Bill.

Senor Happy headline and come on at 11. I'd spent some of Francine's set in conversation with Joe McMahon and "awesome" Tom Polce of the Happy - poor Joe had lost the only pair of glasses he owns, and was squinting at everybody! Nevertheless, he and the rest of the Happy boys play a blinder (sorry Joe!) with a really toughened up set of their introspective bedsit guitar pop. "Soon" was particularly rocking, and a clutch of newer, more countrified songs augment a fine set. Derek Skanky, Happy vocalist and the awkward lump that jumped onto 2 enthusiastic Brits at the Bills Pit show, is again an excellent frontman, dynamic and forceful. I must confess, however, my attention wanders at the presence of Gigolo Aunt John Skibic in the audience. He totally fails to recognise me, and why not? I'm seriously out of context!

Congrats to the Happy chappies afterwards. Josh is heading out on tour with Juliana Hatfield, accompanied by the Aunts backline John and Fred, and John tries to persuade us to come out to Vermont tomorrow to see them. A lovely idea, but we already have plans...

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