Concert Mini-Reviews: Tiger Lillies (7/15/2013), Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys (7/19/2013), Hot Club of Somerville (7/20/2013)

I had to work too much overtime this week to keep up with my concert reviews, so I’m giving you a quick three-fer of theatrical musical performances from the past week.

Last Monday I went to the always-lovely Oberon in Harvard Square to see the Tiger Lillies. I think of them as a real “love it or hate it” kind of band, although I may be the exception that proves the rule – I’m more in the “like” camp. They’re a lot of fun, and they know how to put on a good concert, but I can’t say their music really reaches me on any deeper level. That said, there’s definitely a place in my life for bands that are just fun!

They are a unique three-piece band featuring mostly-falsetto lead vocals and a variety of instruments including accordion, drums, upright bass, piano, and theremin. Their music recalls theatrical styles like cabaret and vaudeville, while their lyrics tend to be both filthy and macabre. Monday night’s show was a lot of fun, they received a very enthusiastic response from a fairly diverse audience. (I’ll be honest, the people sitting next to me were scaring me a little. But that’s a story for another day.) The band took some requests for the encore, which made a lot of their fans very happy.

This video will give you a good idea of their sound and style:

The other two concerts of the week were part of the Outside the Box Festival on Boston Common, at the Spiegeltent, which turned out to be a (more…)

Concert Reviews: Hot Club of Somerville (2/28/2013), Victor Gama, EVIYAN (3/2/2013)

Last week, the Boston Circus Guild put on a couple of variety shows at Oberon in Harvard Square – they had live music, comedy acts, burlesque/sirlesque and various circus-type performances like juggling and acrobatics. I won a pair of tickets from a Facebook contest (thank you, Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band!), so I convinced my brother to come with me and we made a night of it. We were lucky enough to see the live debut of the Hot Club of Somerville, a jazz/swing offshoot of ENSMB. We both really enjoyed their short set – I was dancing on my sprained ankle! It was particularly fun that they played some Squirrel Nut Zipper tunes, since that was the last concert my brother and I went to together, a few years back. I think my favorite part was when the accordion player sang a tune; I was really impressed by her voice and her singing talent. (I wish I’d caught her name! I will have to ask around, because I can’t find that info online.)

On Saturday I made a last-minute decision to check out the EVIYAN concert at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. I really like the Kresge – it’s big (~1200 capacity), with good sight-lines, good sound, and it has an enormous stage allowing for large, complex performances. They present a lot of new music there (in the sense of contemporary classical / avant garde type stuff, not just “music that is new”). I’ve had a lot of really interesting nights at the Kresge under their strange-looking wavy acoustic ceiling panels.

I didn’t know until I showed up that there was going to be a solo set by Victor Gama, which turned out to be a lovely surprise. He is a composer, performer, and instrument maker, and he brought three of his own instruments to perform on: the acrux, the toha, and the dino. I unfortunately did not catch which instrument had which name, but I thought they were all fascinating. Here are two of them:


The one on the left had a sound somewhere in the harp/guitar/pizzicato-cello neighborhood, and the other sounded very much like a thumb piano. The third instrument he played (not pictured) was a single-stringed instrument played with a bow; that one had a really interesting timbre. I thought there might be some electronics involved in the piece he played on the single-string instrument, but I couldn’t see well enough from where I was sitting to say for sure. I found his performance really interesting and beautiful – I would definitely go see him again.

EVIYAN was, to my ears, a (more…)