Getting acquainted with a city involves a lot of missteps. Maybe you take the wrong train or bus. Maybe you go down the street the opposite way you are meaning to. Maybe you just wander aimlessly in the void. Maybe you do not like to do those things at all and instead of messing up, you go directly to music venues and figure your way around the city so you do not miss a second of music. If you do the last one then you might be me.
I have been slowly making the rounds in Boston and trying out a ton of new venues and with my luck seeing a lot of music I have never seen before. This past week there were two back to back nights of these experiences. Yes I have been to The Sinclair and The Royale before, but overall these are both new venues to me. I am still getting accustomed to where in the venue I can or cannot go and how strict the three and out rule is. To be honest it seems I can go almost anywhere and the three in and out is not too harshly enforced so far.
First I arrived late to Joshua Hedley due to a prior commitment and I found out why he is called Mr. Jukebox. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with Joshua and his band The Headliners, ripping up the stage with their brand of old school country music, the kind of country music I can get behind. No hints of a bunch of the pop nonsense coming out today, but a by the books country music in the vein of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. I felt as though the band could play anything you threw at them too. After a few more songs The Headliners left and Joshua was just left on stage with his voice, his guitar, and his humor. He had the crowd in fits between songs and had them call out famous artists to cover. Watching him sing these songs by the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Merle Haggard perfectly was amazing. After Joshua would pick one of the artists yelled out by the crowd, he would mull it over a second out loud about what song he would choose, while the crowd would egg him on. It really was stunning to see. This part of the set lasted quite a while and could have continued forever, but it was time to bring the band back out and bring the show to a close. There’s a reason he is signed on to Third Man Records, he has the talent and won’t be playing small places much longer.
The next night I had a lot of options musically, but wound up getting on down to Surfbort and The Growlers. The crowd definitely was young and without a barrier it was not a great experience photographing the show. Luckily a friend of mine was right up front with me, another photographer Ben Stas, and we did the best we could under the conditions. The openers Surfbort are something right out of the 1970’s and would have fit right in at CBGB’s. The four piece was pure punk and the crowd reveled in it. Lead singer Dani Miller hopped into the crowd for a bit in the middle of the set and danced along with the fans. The songs were short and sweet in a Ramones way. In the short amount of time they were given it felt like they played 30 songs. Honestly I cannot wait to see them again hopefully sooner than later.
It was then time for The Growlers. The crowd moved closer to the stage and the screams of girls in utter joy filled the room as the six piece band strode on to the stage. They did their mixture of psychedelic, synthpop, and garage rock to perfection. My only complaint might have been that they weren’t moving about on stage a lot, but that also may have been because Surfbort were all over the place. Back to the music though and really these guys have come into their own on stage. Their fantastic latest record City Club had the most songs played from it, but they did cover their entire discography. These guys are definitely worth seeing right now, as is any band who is completely locked in. There’s nothing better than seeing a band firing on all cylinders.