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Ten Rounds
By John Brodeur

Paranoid Social Club, Peter Prince & Moon Boot Lover
Revolution Hall, March 26

There’s something about get ting totally bombed at a rock show on the eve of Christ’s resurrection that just feels so heathen, so right. And what better band to celebrate with than Paranoid Social Club, a band whose lyrics—and music, in a way—extol the virtues of general debauchery. I enter Revolution Hall at the advertised start time of 9 PM and get started with a pint of beer.

By the actual start time of 9:45, I’m on to round two. The crowd has filled in nicely when the members of Moon Boot Lover—sorry, that’s Peter

Prince & Moon Boot Lover—stagger onstage. They string together the first three tunes without interruption . . . or any distinguishing features, or intelligible lyrics. Prince, looking like a grown-up version of Family Guy’s Stewie, pulls off some impressive funk and metal licks, string-rake arpeggios and whatnot, but everything that comes out of his mouth is as marble-mouthed as Bon Scott after a two-day bender.

The next two rounds fly by as I’ve decided to take a slug from my pint every time Prince does that skeet-shooting maneuver with his guitar. (I don’t recall seeing any birds in the balcony, but Prince just kept on aiming and firing like there was a fucking aviary up there.) The band jams on a tune that sounds an awful lot like the Stones’ “Bitch,” and a bluesy “Cryin’ Won’t Help You Now” makes a brief impression, but by the time the group wind down their lengthy set with the meandering “Ali,” it’s time to walk it off.

I grab another pint and head to the back deck, where I bump in to Paranoid Social Club frontman Dave Gutter. He’s in the midst of delivering a beautiful line of bullshit: A female fan has requested a song by his old band, and he’s explaining that they “don’t do those songs anymore,” that they’re “a different band,” etc. Nevermind that PSC closed their last local show (one month prior) with a rendition of the Rustic hit “Combustible.”

That’s Gutter’s charm, in a nutshell. It’s impossible to tell when he’s being completely earnest or totally shitting you. His verses pack in clever, half-rapped-half-sung turns of phrase; his choruses are single-entendre punchlines. (Go ahead and try to eke some deeper meaning out of “We got fucked up and wasted.”) He’s a mischievous bastard; the kind of guy who will ask you to punch him in the face one minute, then hug you around the neck the next.

Paranoid Social Club’s music incorporates elements of pop, hiphop, reggae and hard rock; consider them a smart and scrappy younger sibling to Sublime’s dope-smoking frat boy and 311’s embroidered-blazer-wearing grad student. On this, the last of 15 straight days playing, they sound as fresh, tight, and ready to rumble as ever. Early in the set, I burn through rounds six and seven as they burn through “Basketball” (a song “about Kobe Bryant”), the groovy gun-control rocker “Ricochet,” and a new one called “The Fuzz,” a song about—ahem—fucking the police.

The band members take a few shots during “Wasted,” so I knock back a few to keep up. As I grow foggier, I notice that bassist Jon Roods is doubling on keyboard while hard-fretting his bass with his free hand. Drummer Mark Boisvert also pulls double duty, touch-triggering samples and adjusting his glasses on the third beat of every second measure. Hypnotizing.

More songs for the depraved follow: “Lunatic” is introduced as a song about “killing my girl” (“Remember when we used to walk the beach holding hands/I’m gonna bury you up to your teeth in the sand”); “Fucking With My Head,” a nod to the band’s titular paranoia, is extended into an absurd and menacing jam. To balance those, they reveal their, um, romantic side with “Rhythm Is . . . ” and last summer’s radio hit “Two Girls.” The band ask for more shots. Everyone gets more shots. Gutter announces, “I need another drink like I need another dick.” I know exactly how he feels.

New Experience

World Saxophone Quartet and Youth Alive!
Berkshire Music Hall, Pittsfield, Mass., March 26

You’d think that a show of Jimi Hendrix’s music performed by the World Saxophone Quartet would leave you thinking about Hendrix and saxophones, right? There was plenty of that stuff at Saturday’s brilliant show, a tsunami-victim benefit co-produced by Club Helsinki and Great Barrington’s Railroad Street Youth Project. But the killer soloing by the WSQ (Hamiett Bluiett, David Murray, Oliver Lake, and Bruce Williams) got a run for its money from an explosive young drummer, a trancelike didgeridoo solo, and a bunch of street step-dancing local girls.

Put simply, it was all good.

The Hendrix factor was surprisingly small, all things considered. Sure WSQ played Hendrix songs, but more to the point, they played with Hendrix songs. And Hendrix is certainly more significant for what he did with the guitar than for his songwriting, and the sonic boundaries Hendrix shattered were only echoed, if that, by WSQ’s blistering solos. And WSQ would play blistering solos if they were doing a tribute to, say, the songs of John Denver. There was none of the facial mimicry of the guitar sounds like those on the Kronos Quartet’s cover of Purple Haze. The closest we got to Jimi’s-in-the-room was when trombonist Craig Harris recited the lyrics to And the Wind Cries Mary, while the band generated an impressionistic sound wash.

So, the Hendrix songs were really a vehicle with which WSQ did what they do, that is, explore the landscape of modern jazz, flying effortlessly through bluesy funk, chamber jazz, and all-bets-off free improvisation. Which is better than fine. A ride with WSQ is about as good as it gets, and they rode hard Saturday night. But wait! There’s more!

Young unheralded drummer Lee Pearson was deadly and fun throughout, routinely straying far, far from home, but always making it back just in time, precisely in time, for supper. Then, toward the end of the show, Oliver Lake deadpanned “Every show we play, we gotta give the drummer some.” And off went Pearson into the magical realm of the impossible, rocking his body to one beat, and playing several others, both in and out of time, with and with out sticks, with various simultaneous combinations of his four limbs. Then he balanced a stick on his head, and as the grooves continued unabated, tipped his head back, catching the stick behind his back, and continued relentlessly with both hands behind his back, and the sticks hitting the drums from around the sides of his body. Showboating and stupid? Oh, yes. But when you got the chops, the smarts, and what may be the most accurate internal clock a human could have, why not? Watch out for drummer Lee Pearson, if you dare. He’s coming.

The show closed with Harris, on the floor, doing ungodly things with a didgideroo, providing a sound bed to the gospelly Hear My Train a-Comin. Numerous sounds came out of the long aboriginal wind instrument, from wet guttural rhythms to otherworldly scare-the-bejesus shrieks.

The show was opened by Pittsfield youth group Youth Alive!, featuring tasty tub-drumming and wicked, theatrical step-dancing, which combined military precision, humor, the Funk, and a ton of ’tude. Youth Alive! could have tripled the length of their quick showcase, and no one in the room would have minded one bit.

—Paul Rapp

I Want to Rock You Like an Animal

Jason Martin unleashed a set of fun, innovative songs with topical messages about human error, the Bush administration and the future of the world on his audience at a packed Lark Street Bookshop show Tuesday (March 29) night. Aaron Smith and Ross Goldstein backed Martin up with vocals, beats, guitar and cassette-tape-playing. Armed with reel-to-reel and a fox mask, Martin put forth an energetic, entertaining performance. He involved the audience at every opportunity, from conducting mini-Q&A sessions between a couple songs (offering his audience insight into the metaphysical profoundness of his music) to enlisting the audience to provide the chorus on the last couple of songs. The Suggestions’ John Brodeur opened the intimate show with a set of mostly new songs, peppered by some more familiar ones that are on the Suggestions’ soon-to-be-released album Get Through.



—Kathryn Lurie


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