Here are seven great things that were born, happened, or just existed in 2014.
Somerville. Though I landed in Somerville purely by circumstance, it’s a place that I’m now proud to call home. Between Union Square, Davis Square, the highly underrated Highland Ave (Cuisine En Locale!), and Broadway, there is always a show to see, a new Union Square donut to try, or a strange festival to check out that’s blocking all of the roads (here’s looking at you, Fluff Fest). And having worked inside city limits for the past year and a half, I’ve seen the political and social advantages of Somerville…well, not being a neighborhood of Boston. Or Cambridge. It’s not that I don’t really love Boston and Cambridge, but there’s a lot less red tape when it comes to getting licenses, approval, and even just recognition in Somerville, which in turn makes it a great incubator for creative people and their projects. Just keep your fingers crossed that the Green Line Extension and gentrification—which is happening both because of and in addition to the GLX arrival—doesn’t sap Somerville of its greatest asset: diversity. And cheap rent!
Tredici Bacci. I don’t really know what to say here, except we need a lot more live ensembles playing spaghetti western music, both in Boston and probably in general. Tredici Bacci was one of the highlights of Hasslefest 6.
The Boston Hassle Crew. This has been my second year working/brainstorming/putting on shows/hanging out with the Boston Hassle, and I continued to be awed by the dedication that those involved have for this organization. Nobody’s getting paid around here, yet a solid crew of Hasslers put in the effort of equivalent of a full-time job to keep our website up-to-date, produce the Boston Compass, book and produce shows, and beyond. I mean, we brought Kim Gordon to Cuisine En Locale! That’s pretty fucking incredible. In a city where big business dominates the skyline, both literally and figuratively, and everything and everybody has a cost, the DIY ethic is especially inspiring.
Good Nature (formerly Phaze). So often when I hear new bands the first thing that comes to mind is the band that they sound just like. But this Allston band has a really unique sound—somewhere between rock, blues, folk, and experimental, if you really have to define it—and it’s a sound that’s kept me revisiting the band’s music all year. “Backwards” is probably one of my favorite Boston-born tracks of 2014. Check it out on Bandcamp for free.
MBTA @ Nite. I get that Boston is old and therefore gets an excuse to be stubbornly ass-backwards about a lot of things. But the subway stopping service not long after midnight is especially stupid, and, as many folks pointed out, pretty detrimental to the city’s nightlife. So, huge props to Governor Patrick and co. for making weekend late-night service a reality. It makes it possible for those of us in JP, Allston, Somerville, and Cambridge to enjoy shows in different parts of the city without having to worry about how we’re going to get home if we leave after midnight. And in turn we buy more beers, spend more money, et cetera. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Ringer Park. Thank you to the Hassle crew for a) knowing about this hidden green oasis in the middle of Allston and b) holding a show there on one of the most beautiful Saturdays of 2014. Though it was billed as a show, the Ringer Park event felt like more of a big gathering of friends with permission to play really loud music all day in the park. I hope we get to do a lot more of these in 2015.
Tomboy. Hometown faves Tomboy play gigs around Boston pretty frequently, which is how I discovered them for myself at the Ringer Park show in June. Frontwoman and drummer Madeline Burrows is one of the nuttiest and most energetic live performers I’ve seen, which makes Tomboy stand out from similar riot grrrl groups. (She also killed it at her one-woman show, Mom Baby God, which stopped in Somerville in April on its spring tour.) Also, “I’m In The Fucking Band” is stupid catchy, and pretty baller live.