2013 Year Enders

2013 Retrospective by Dan Lawrence

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Dan Lawrence has created and been involved with a bunch of DIY/ underground music projects that I have much enjoyed over the years. His current band is called STORM OR HOWL. THE FUCKTROTS, and BUSHMASK are my favorites of his musical output, but look into it yourself, and watch out for this guy. He’s up to something weird.

2013 (and 2012 for that matter) for me was all about education: witnessing, observing and studying the great contemporary performers, feeling their artistic waves and trying to gleam some of that implicit wisdom. And I honestly cannot imagine a better landscape for such a pursuit than the sprawling, energetic and totally inspiring Boston underground scene. I attended so many great shows these past few years, it’s laborious to try and pinpoint any one specific instance which touched that ephemeral and enigmatic nerve of inspiration. But I’ll try my best. Here’s a select few memories that certainly will not be lost to the sands of time:

Kings of K Records (Calvin, Ian, Arrington) at the Elk’s Lodge, sometime this past spring:

I’ve seen Chain and the Gang before (at their legendary, explosive Whitehaus show, the perfect epilogue to my 2012 summer) and Calvin too (having had the privilege of opening up for him with The Fucktrots at Bard College many moons ago) but to catch the trio of K Records most esteemed and powerful performers- Calvin, Chain and Arrington’s Malaikat Dan Singa in one wallop- I should be so lucky.
All the groups that night were in top form. Believe it or not, I’d never seen Fat History Month up until that night, and their set was transcendent: an awesome display of songwriting talent. Arrington and his boys absolutely tore it apart. At once fiery, hilarious and frightening. Chain and the Gang was fucking awesome. And Calvin, it goes without saying, was Calvin: a master, an enigma, stoic and lovely. It’s so awesome to see these performers, dudes who’ve been fucking with the underground since before I was born, still riding (and leading) that circuit with enthusiasm and glory.

Priests, Krill and Tomboy at the Dreamhaus, this past summer:

The Dreamhaus was (I hear it’s since disbanded) an anomaly. An Allston show house that, unlike so many of it’s contemporaries, was not filled with detritus, stained with cigarette stink or housing the perpetually drunken and disorderly. I only visited the Dreamhaus once, to see Priests, Krill and Tomboy at the end of this past summer, and was pleasantly surprised at the intellectual, politically aware vibe of the place. Show houses need not be havens for the nihilistic and resigned! I digress. The show started out in the backyard. Tomboy was really pushing it. I’d seen them previously on a great bill unfortunately marred by the dumb ass Middle East Upstairs’ gross pomp and circumstance. In the backyard of the Dreamhaus however, surrounded by friends and stalwarts of the underground, Tomboy was in it’s home court, and it made all the difference in the world. They were rude and ferocious. Just how I like my punk rock.
But, honestly, Priest stole the show that night. The shitshow migrated up to the living room and was what ensued (as far as I can recall, my memory fudged by cheap beer and adrenaline) was nothing short of transcendent. A packed room, an angry, tight-ass recital. Need I say more?

Parquet Courts and Woods at TT’s, July:

Alright, this wasn’t an underground show. But god almighty was it thrilling to catch Parquet Courts, undeniably a buzz band and one of my favorite recent discoveries, at a shitty ass venue I played at with my high school band when I was 15 no less. I don’t know too much about Woods, but their set was good even if it lacked the fervor of PC’s fire.

Boston Underground Summit, Elk’s Lodge, September:

I played this weird ass round robin style show with my band, Storm or Howl (a project for which the future is uncertain given my recent relocation to Northampton this fall.) Honestly, it was worth just to play at the Elk’s Lodge. I fucking love that dingy den. It’s definitely my favorite newer show spot. It’s always a bunk ass party in Cambridge and this joint was no exception. We played well and even got to play the last number of the night to a sweaty, exhausted, but still jiving crowd. Plus it was fun to take the piss out of a certain dumb ass metal band (who shall remain nameless) that played next to us after they told me to fuck off when I asked them if we could share equipment. Cool, dude.

Hassle Fest, Night #2, y’already know:

I’m not gonna even bother really trying to describe this night or the one that preceded it. You can check out more reputable blogs for poorly written, hyperbolic transcriptions of the proceedings. However, I will say that this was far and above the best show I’ve ever seen Guerilla Toss play. They fucking blew Lightning Bolt out of the water. Good going my dudes. And then later, at the after party PC Worship played their best set I’ve ever seen. Fucking Swans status shit. Road dogs.

As I’m sitting in my freezing, snow drenched Northampton apartment typing this, all I can think about is how much I miss the crucial Boston scene and how I can’t wait to go back east and rock the fuck out. But the crown jewel of the whole scenario is the inspiring, totally contemporary legacy of the Boston Hassle. These humans have reaffirmed the time old truth that regular-Janes can cultivate something real and alive, without corporate sponsorship or gross commercial sacrifice. No matter where I am, I’ll take that with me and let the possibility of carrying on that legacy thrust me on to the future.

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