Arts & Culture, BOSTON/NE BANDS, Music

The Last Days: Thighs Frontman & Hassle Founder Dan Shea

"I'm glad to say that the Midway is still standing at this point"


Photo by Omari Spears

I am the frontman of a band called Thighs. I shriek and play whatever I can get my hands on during our sets. The final set we played in the before times was on 2/26/20 @ the Midway Cafe. This show was a rare club/bar show for our band*. But, all was well, as the show took place at one of the 2 or 3 decent bars/clubs in the whole Boston area: THE MIDWAY CAFE.

The Midway is a dive and for that, it is rare in the Boston area. Beyond that, it is a real live and legal small music venue in the Boston area. For that it is an even rarer beast.

In my 20 or so years of playing, organizing, and going to shows at this Jamaica Plain institution I fully understand that anyone is welcome to play this space and everyone is welcome. Not only is this so, but you actually get that vibe when you walk into the place. I don’t remember too much about the show. Drinks were had. We played. The other bands, Thought Partner, Freaking, and Pregnancy Mask were cool. Camaraderie was had.

I’m glad to say that the Midway is still standing at this point in the pandemic, even as luxury condos go up in every inch of space around it. The rareness of venues of this ilk makes me sad. It made me sad before the pandemic, and it still makes me sad now. What can possibly be done to make more venues of this variety and caliber come into existence?

The Boston area is and has been trending HARD in the wrong direction in regard to this problem and many others, yet there’s an obvious need. What do you do when an obvious cultural need is made impossible to attain due to the economic forces at work in an area? One option is leaving.

While I am not leaving the city yet, it is getting more and more difficult by the day to stomach living in a city that has no interest in facing the issues that confront the poor people, and hell, just not-rich people, living within its borders. And yes that includes issues surrounding the culture, music, arts, and places to gather for and of these people, of which I am one. Questions remain. Like this big one: Will Boston’s underground and other marginalized music communities bounce back after COVID, or will they get further squashed under the weight of a post-COVID world?

If you care about music and the arts in Boston, please consider getting involved with us by emailing me at [email protected] . com. There are also many other arts organizations in the area like the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers or Makeshift Boston that also need your support.

*Rare because legal smaller live music experiences are nearly extinct in this town. The few venues that do remain rarely open their doors to experimental, punk, techno, hip hop, metal, and other underground music. So, Thighs does not play the legal spaces. We opt for the show houses when we can and other underground spaces. We played two other shows in 2020. One was in an Everett warehouse/practice space. The other was in an Allston basement. Both of those shows were great and more electric than our actual last show. I miss playing and going to shows a lot! I just wish that the Boston area didn’t suck so much, at least in the venue, affordability, and general attitude of populace, etc. department.

— Dan Shea

Follow Dan on Instagram: @les_pred

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