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Monday, March 3, 2014

Recap: A Night at Brady Street’s 2014 East Side Music Tour

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The East Side Music Tour returned for a second year on Saturday, cramming more than 80 bands into 30 venues around Brady Street. It was a snowy, sometimes hectic scene, with a lot of confusion as frantic show-goers tried to take in as many of the night’s short sets as they could and bar staff tried to make the best of entry ways that were far too small for the foot traffic going through them. After getting off of work and parking my car in what may or may not have been a parking spot on Cambridge Avenue, I joined the crowd in trying to take in as much as I could.

7 p.m.: Old Earth @ Brewed Café


Old Earth’s music is like an ancient West Coast forest just woke up from a really crazy, optimistic dream about the future and is trying to explain it to you but can only remember cryptic fragments of dialogue like, “What’s this fire fore? What’s this rage off a stage?” And because it’s all delivered in a baritone over swirling, ruminative looped guitar you believe it. And you want to relay the message, but you’re not sure what the message actually is, so you just listen like you might not get a chance to try and understand it again because you’re not always sure when one song ends and one begins.

7:30 p.m.: Temple @ Hosed on Brady

One of the great things about the Eastside Music Tour this year was the unconventional venues. I didn’t manage to catch a show at Wolski’s or Brady Street Futon or Art Smart’s Dart Mart & Juggling Emporium, but I did see a couple of sets at Hosed on Brady featuring exclusively Breadking Collective acts like the ear-shattering, cathartic Temple, who played a great new song and a stylized rendition of Tupac Shakur’s “Lord Knows” with the disclaimer, “This is by Tupac Shakur—and I’m not trying to be ironic or something.” It was good.

8:30 p.m.: Soul Low @ Roman Coin

I’d like to tell you that Soul Low played another skilled-beyond-their-years set at the Roman Coin, but to be honest, I couldn’t get more than a few feet from the front door, so it was hard to tell. Sorry.

9:30 p.m.: Animals in Human Attire @ Hosed on Brady

I was excited to hear Animals in Human Attire after checking out a single they released from their awesomely titled forthcoming album, Ourmegadawn. But set times were starting to get pushed back and run into each other in part because a lot of the bands playing at the event shared members with other bands at the tour. After Soul Low drummer Charlie Celezena was able to make it from his Roman Coin set to the Animals set and Myles Coyne arrived for his third performance of the night, I managed to catch three or four songs featuring, most distinctly, bucket drums alongside manic guitar rock before singer Jack Tell threw the microphone on the ground with his teeth and I headed off to see…

10 p.m.: Calliope @ Roman Coin

But after only three songs of raucous, bluesy bar-rock, again, not far from the entryway I had to leave to catch…

10:30 p.m. Why? @ Casablanca

…whose set was plagued by some serious technical issues. At points there was no sound, or only single instruments were audible with no vocals. Thankfully, Why? is one of the most poignant and skillfully cynical bands since Pavement. The audience was able to fill in full sections of lyrically dense songs word for word like “These Few Presidents,” singing, “Even though I haven’t seen you in years/ Yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere.” The group played through the difficulties like they never happened only showing strain at a sometimes unattentive audience, “Do you wanna hear more songs? Then wake the fuck up.” The set featured full-band versions of songs from at least as far back as Elephant Eyelash with “Gemini (Birthday Song)” to 2012’s Mumps, Etc.

With passes priced at just $15 and $25, the East Side Music succeeded in its goal of showcasing some of the city’s best independent acts in a way that was accessible (both spatially and fiscally) to people who might not get a chance to check out some of the featured locations or artists otherwise. It’s easy as an audience member to forgive scheduling or technical issues when you’re getting so much for so little.