Tag Archives: Boston

forget the blog, shows

Another day, another forgetters/Blake Schwarzenbach post.

Now, the band has a blog. Does this make it official?

Well, it sure is nice of them to post some show info… and the band is hitting up some places that Thorns of Life overlooked… including Boston!

Here are the dates, with more info on the blog:

9/18: NYC (Lit Lounge)

9/25: Philly (The Barbary)

10/2: Providence (AS220)

10/4: Boston (Great Scott)

Also, it looks like the rumor of Against Me’s Kevin Mahon in the drummer spot is true. And the bass player is Caroline Paquita, an artist extraordinare living in Brooklyn.

Aaaand the band has an email too, though I won’t post it here: check out their blogger profile.

What’s next? An album? A national tour? forgetters Rock Band? All of the above?!?!?!

Interview with Geoff Farina

I’d been meaning to post this up for quite a while, and here goes…

I met up with Geoff Farina, frontman of the now-defunct and beloved band Karate, for an interview to be included in America Is Just A Word. Karate is one of a handful of bands that really challenged the ideals for what emo can do and where it can go. Where other bands stayed their ground, traveling in much of the same sonic ranges, tempos, and even cliches that emo had wrought in the mid-90s, Karate moved into areas of jazz, indie, and slowcore all while growing to an organic stop at 2004’s Pockets. In the emoverse, there really is no other band like Karate.

In terms of how the band is perceived in the realm of emo, it’s a pretty close-focused view. Andy Greenwald halts the band’s evolution down to zero in Nothing Feels Good, hardly mentioning the band outside of their early roots in Allston and their first record. It’s with a certain frustration towards Greenwald’s single-mindedness towards emo that was, in part, a reason I decided to expand America Is Just A Word and get in touch with Geoff Farina in the first place. So much can be said for the depth, breadth, and places emo can go with the entire Karate catalogue, and they’re a fantastic band to put to print for the argument that emo is more than just melodramatic pop-punk rife with suburban angst.

In June, I met up with Geoff Farina at the Porter Exchange, a mall in Porter Square filled with tiny restaurants that specialize in various Southeast Asian cuisines. Farina is an intelligent, humble guy with plenty to say, and a lot of wise commentary to throw into the America Is Just A Word mix. Below are a couple of selections from the interview, with some pretty heavy stuff in the second clip. Enjoy!

On getting into music:

On inspiration for songwriting and personal experience versus autobiographical in song:

Good Ole’ Metro

I rarely read The Metro, the free daily rag in Boston and other US locations (and yes, “rag” is the appropriate term here).

But, the following listing that I peeked at while scrolling through the paper today takes the cake:

‘The NeverEnding Story’
Sunday and Monday
Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Harvard
$8-$10 night, 617-876-6837

Another entry in Brattle’s “Class of 1984,” this fantasy was the trippiest experience a first-grader was allowed to have back in the day. It mostly concerns the story of a boy named Atreyu who ventures through the magical land of Fantasia and encounters giant flying dog-things, werewolves and giant sentient rock-beasts. If it truly was neverending though, he’d probably eventually have started a mediocre emocore band, or something.

Oh silly Metro: Atreyu is a metalcore band, not emo. That’s the “or something” you folks were looking for!

Taking Back Sunday at Government Center

It’s hard to turn down a free concert, even if that means watching Taking Back Sunday. Especially considering the underlying theme o’ this blog.

I’ve never been entirely “in” to TBS. Just something about them never really caught me, even though I was their prime target when they first hit it big. I can understand the positives and the negatives for and against the band, and in most ways they really epitomize the 3rd wave version of emo that was being cranked out five some years ago. Dashboard was the band on every journalist’s lisps, but TBS was the band like all the other emo bands; their lyrics and music was thoroughly average. Average as in they could easily fit in the middle of a set by any guitar-oriented emo band coming out in that period of time… they sounded just like everyone else and vice versa. Not too many folks took to the acoustic troubadeour style in the emo realm, and in that TBS really are representative of the then-hottest word in the music world.

Anyway, back to Friday night, where TBS were set to play at Boston’s Government Center.

I get there a little after 9, which was when TBS were supposed to go on, only to find some random metal band, Crooked X, doing a really terrible cover of “Another Brick In The Wall” that allowed them to show off their wicketd skillzzzz. ZZZ is more like it. Boring and more than a little trite, and they managed to pack in all the rock’N’roll stereotypes into a solid ten minute perfomance of the song (seriously, how many times do you have to introduce every band member while playing the same riff for five minutes and declaring your love for the audience?) Then some random dude from MTV2 (or some MTV offshoot) did his whole routine of pumping up the audience and shouting one of the most redundant questions that there is: “who likes free stuff?!?!” (ans: everyone) …and it’s more like free advertising, w/free t-shirts with some odd company logo on it (who can keep up these days) while a big Verizon sign stood monolithically in the background.

In the half hour it took to set up, people were busy texting to the big Verizon screen next to the stage, while every once in a while someone would come onstage in order to direct a lost kid to their guardian or cousin for the show. It’s really nice to know that, even with all the mass advertisement and corporate machismo, kids of all ages are able to see what is a fairley big and well known band. And for free. Unfortunately, at several points, many in the crowd would shout the name of the lost kid in a taunting manner… as if they were never some lost confused kid in a crowd.

Anyway, half an hour later and the band went on, with what’s probably 4 new band members. I’d seen TBS perform in that very spot two summers ago, and I distinctly remember a bunch of completely different musicians, save the original guitarist (Eddie Reyes) and frontman (Adam Lazzara). It turns out they’ve now got a bit of a history for a revolving cast of musicians, and it’s good to see they’ve got a sense of humor about it with selling “I Used To Be In Taking Back Sunday” t-shirts for $20.

ALL IT TAKES IS $20 TO HAVE BEEN IN TAKING BACK SUNDAY. ($15.99 online + tax + shipping)

And get a nice yellow t-shirt to boot.

Anyway, they played a couple of new tunes to start out, which seem kinda glossed over radio-pop that sort of resemble their previous material, but in a washed up manner. With the sound cutting in and out, and three guitarists, and Lazzara’s vocal rarely audible for some reason or another, it seemed kinda… well, meh. Meh is the perfect describing word.

Then they launched into some of their older material. And there was a difference. Back in the day, I would always wonder at how they were on the radio. Crammed between the average Creed and circa-90s Green Day song, it would focus on how odd they sounded on the radio. It literally sounded like a revolution was happening, that musical change was occuring on corporate radio. Lazzara’s vocals are the least bit typical of anything you could hear on the radio – neither particularly strong or confident, and yes a bit whiny. And the lyrics crammed every word viable into a short amount of space. And the chug-a-lug of the songs mixed in with these blasts of noise around the chorus, even given what grunge did, so odd.

And yet I forgot how damn catchy they are. TBS now aren’t nearly as catchy now, their lyrics are even more bland, etc etc etc. But man, is there this blast that just hits you and it’s unexpected, and the vocal harmonies. You don’t expect it. Especially today, when they’ve gotten so formulaic.

I left a couple of songs after “A Decade Under The Influence,” because there was nothing more I really needed to see. The band was slopy and a bit of a shadow of what they once were. Even in that one moment, I could somehow, somehow overlook the malintented lyrics and overall bland output of the band recently. But, it was a solid few minutes, and that’s all I could ask for from that band and on a Friday when there really wasn’t much going on at 9:30. Backhanded compliment? Perhaps. But it might be the best I could ever give ’em. It could be the nostalgia speaking (but really, I’m not terribly nostalgic for high school), but those few minutes were O-KAY.

Neon Shirt

Saw the above t-shirt at Warped on Tuesday. It may just be a shirt, but nowadays fashion is oft as important – if not the important – as the music that a band chooses to define itself. In My So Called Punk, Matt Diehl notes the clashes between “emo” kids and traditional “punk” kids at Warped came out in the t-shirts they wore. Just like during the earlier part of this decade, the same thing is happening currently, but pitted between scrunk and traditional “punk” acts. There were more black punk shirts in support of traditional punk virtues – though none as straightforward anti-scrunk/crunkcore as the photo above. And they faced a host of bright, neon colored shirts from acts such as 3OH!3, brokeNCYDE, Millionaires, Jeffree Star, etc. Take a look at some of the designs below:

3OH!3 shirt. They also had a shirt that said "This is a 3OH!3 Shirt," which I wasn't sure if it was a humorous send up of the "This Is Not A Fugazi Shirt" or not


brokeNCYDE shirt. Their crowns, when done by hand in concert, is similar to the 3OH!3 hand design. Also, not the most annoying brokencyde shirt

brokeNCYDE shirt. Their "crowns," when done by hand in concert, is similar to the 3OH!3 hand design. Also, not the most annoying brokencyde shirt

Even check out the Babycakes shirt, which screams (pardon the pun… or play on the situation) scrunk:

Anyway, that was an interesting aspect of Warped I took notice of.

As another aside, while stopping by the Vagrant merch tent on Tuesday, I noticed the tip sign by the guy running the tent. Most tip signs usually have some gaudy or humorous note to get people to drop a buck. The Vagrant guy’s merely asked people to donate to fly his girlfriend out to Warped. In many ways, this image (and I wish I could have gotten a picture of it, but the weather was really hit-or-miss, and this was a miss moment) is perfectly representative of Vagrant’s take on emo: there’s a clean cut guy with a simple message trying to get his significant other to come accompany him on a big event for the summer. And the guy was nice to boot and quite enthusiastic about their selection of $5 Dashboard Confessional albums. Couldn’t have been a more perfect match. Needless to say I dropped a buck.

That’s all for now… check in to Bostonist in the late morning, as the Warped piece should be online at that point.

Another SDRE presale listing, this time Atlanta

Thank goodness for email posting… otherwise I might not have gotten this stuff up!

Another Sunny Day Real Estate reunion date has been tossed online, this time by the monolith known as Ticketmaster:

United States Of America (1)
• OCT •
Center Stage Theatre
Atlanta, GA
09:00 PM
Sunny Day Real Estate More Info »
presale begins:Fri, 06/26/09
10:00 AM


The presale is this Friday, the 26th, besting the San Francisco date. I’d say Ticketmaster and Live Nation are pretty official… but can we get the ball rolling on Boston? And Chicago? And DC?

Ice Cream Is Gonna Save The Day, Again

A peek at the Scooper Bowl

A peek at the Scooper Bowl

Check out Bostonist today for my recap of the first day of this year’s Scooper Bowl. It’s nice to get away and do a little something different from my usual music and gig reviews .(and even in the course of this blog, discuss something not related to emo every so often!)

For folks in the Boston area, this is a great annual event to attend that also happens to benefit the Jimmy Fund. And for people outside of Boston, well, if you’re the least bit curious what it’s like to have several dozen flavors of free ice cream at your disposal on an unusually chilly day, head over to Bostonist and read on…

TV Eye


Kyp Malone kicks it with the wolf...

Kyp Malone kicks it with the wolf...

Head over to Bostonist for my review of TV On The Radio at Boston’s House of Blues last night. There are pictures and words galore; just go here.

Passion Pit = Electronic-Rock’s Jimmy Eat World?

I rarely mention Pitchfork in the guise of this blog… I won’t go into great details, and I will admit it’s easily one of the best aggregators for independent-related music information, so I do visit the site regularly. But when it comes to reviews, I try to stray from their pieces. Yes, the Pitchfork writers are clearly intelligent, and are articulate… and yet, they voraciously dispense their harshest vocabulary upon criticisms of acts that don’t so much reveal what is necessarily “good” or “bad” about an album, but really display the reviewers’ own unkempt contempt for a particular genre or band. It often feels at times as if they choose a critic who’s distaste towards a musician far outweighs anyone else on staff to give a record its “proper” review.

So I stay wary of Pitchfork reviews. Granted, if one album gets the “Best New Music” seal-of-approval, I’ll check it out; Pitchfork has a select taste, and it’s good. But I’ll also be sure to take a peek at records that get trashed. After all, it doesn’t hurt one to look into a band – it hurts when you purchase the album to find out you hate it. I’ve enjoyed many an act that’s sustained Pitchfork’s wrath and many that have received their praise.

But one genre that never seems to get much respect is emo. Sure, Pitchfork loves the indie-established emo acts – to a point. Fugazi is always tops for them, Sunny Day Real Estate has done well (with the exception of The Rising Tide, though it does get a fair “ok” from em), The Appleseed Cast and Cursive fluctuate on the P-fork scale, and The Promise Ring managed to sneak in with Nothing Feels Good (only for their later material to get trampled).

But a band like Jimmy Eat World? They’re toast, put on a pedastil of emo in its worst essence and burnt to the ground. They’ve yet to achieve a good review from the site… and this isn’t even including the skewering that Clarity received that was less a review and more a transcribed taunt at all the bubbling stereotypes that were about to burst to the surface.

So I’m a little baffled with the introduction to Pitchfork’s weekly music pick on ABC. When describing Passion Pit’s Manners, Ian Cohen praises the group by saying:

What Passion Pit does is update a real passionate, really sincere, almost emo sound of the early 2000s like a band like Jimmy Eat World, and applies it to an electronic-dance sound.

Strange. He goes further in his review on the site:

Most of the time, singer Michael Angelakos’ half-eunuch/half-Jeremy Enigk voice is likely voicing some sort of commentary on his feelings. There’s an almost archaic belief that a record should have at least four singles and the nagging feeling that Passion Pit could just be another garage/emo band that traded in their guitars for samplers. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, just about all of this works in Manners‘ favor, as it’s the sort of heart-to-heart populist record that’s every bit as sincere as it is infectious– though Angelakos sings in a manner rarely heard outside of a shower with unpredictable temperature control, it feels symbolic of a band that’s completely unashamed, not shameless, in its pursuit of a human connection.

I’m sorry. What? Honestly, that is every bit as revealing of Cohen’s distaste of emo out of sheer blind-hatred than anything about Passion Pit’s music. The description that Cohen gives matches that of many a great emo act – I would hardly call Jim Adkin’s lyrics shameless… perhaps later on “not great,” but it’s sheerly “unashamed in its pursuit of a human connection.”

So why does Passion Pit get the go ahead? Well, it’s not emo for one – it exemplifies many a trait, but the band’s choice to do so with electronic music gives it something of an ironic twist, even in its sincerity. After all, the band was originally nothing more than a cute few ditties made from looped samples by Michael Angelakos for his girlfriend on Valentines Day. It was humorous and cute in its creation, and in many ways continues to be. Because the band doesn’t muddle in familiar musical antics that so many emo bands do, it’s a bit refreshing. And, again, there’s a bit of irony to bringing high-pitched falsetto to over-the-top love ditties. It gives it a twist that some may be able to stomach in a different sonic plane than in a guitar-based state. While it seems purely superficial done with three-chords and loud and noisy, for some reason, it’s high-hopes and dreams are matched with Passion Pit’s sound.

But, as is my interpretation of Cohen’s love of the band and not, well, emo.

As for my take? Well, I like them, but I’m certainly not over-enthusiastic about them. “Sleepyhead” is nearly-impossible to not get stuck in your head and enjoy… but the rest of Manners is up and down and doesn’t seem to have the same, well, passion as their single or a few of the other songs on Chunk Of Change. But, it’s nice to see a Boston band do well for itself; considering the mass of bands and music communities festering in this city, whatever gets any of the odder bands more attention because they’re from the same city as Passion Pit or any other band of the moment that’s cropping up from this town ain’t too bad.

Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead” (video):

Cave In Reunion Show

That’s right! The Massachusetts post-hardcore metal maelstrom known as Cave In is doing a reunion show. So far, it looks like it’s just one show, at Great Scott in Boston. Tickets went on sale this morning at 10 am and sold out.

I’m currently trying to grab frontman Steve Brodsky for an interview for Bostonist. I put on a show with Steve and folkie Elijah Wyman last year at Brandeis, and it was quite a combo. Steve’s a wonderful songwriter and an excellent performer, and a nice and friendly guy to boot.

And as for Cave In? I was lucky enough to catch them before their current hiatus a handful of years ago, in Newbury Comics of all places! Though I wasn’t as familiar with their discography as I am now, it proved to be one of the best sets of that summer, and I can still distinctly remember the set being so loud that some of the merch fell down and hit one of the guys (Adam I think) partway through the set. I hope there are a handful of tickets leftover that I can grab!

Hilarious interview from years ago:

PS: Here’s what the band had to say on their myspace, a brief announcement concerning the reunion just two days ago

“Dear friends,


After 3 1/2 long years, Cave In has decided to end its hiatus. Please

join us for an EP release show at Great Scott’s (1222 Commonwealth

Ave., Allston MA) on Sunday, July 19th @ 9PM. Also playing will be our

friends Disappearer and Phantom Glue. Copies of the “Planets Of Old”

limited 12″ (recorded by Adam Taylor, Alex Hartman & Johnny Northrup @

Camp St. Studio) from Hydra Head Records will be available that night.


We hope to see your lovely selves.


Steve, Adam, J.R., Caleb


Man, talk about a viral response – those tickets went quick!