Last night, I attended the sold out Loved Ones show at The Middle East upstairs in Cambridge. I got there around 9 pm, and the first opening act, LaGrecia, hit the stage at around 9:15. I'm gonna take a guess that they haven't been together too long, but that's only because they look so young and are the first opening act for a group that just got over being an opening act themselves. This threesome from Brooklyn has some real chops when it comes to playing music. What the lead singer lacks in vocal talent he makes up for with his undying passion for the songs. This band, which features a chick on drums (wink, wink?), was extremely tight and each of their songs faded seamlessly into the next, a feat usually accomplished only by seasoned veterans of the rock club circuit. Bravo, LaGrecia, hope to see you guys around again sometime very soon.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for the next act, The Ergs. This trio looked like three geeks from high school, but I don't like to judge a book by its cover so I decided to check them out. MISTAKE #1!!!! They played like a bunch of geeks, too. The drummer sang, or should I say whined, the ridiculously cheesy lyrics into the mic while trying to keep an honest beat and was for the most part, successful. Now, when it came to the guitarist singing, it might be helpful to think of the sounds made by a dying animal, but luckily he only had lead on a couple of songs. The bass player, aside form looking like he had down syndrome while playing, was actually an incredibly talented musician. However, that was not enough to save this sorry act. NEXT!
By the time The Gaslight Anthem gets up on stage, I'm thinking maybe I wasted my money on this show. MISTAKE #2!!!! This foursome from Jersey absolutely rocked the house. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist belted out the lyrics with a huge smile stretching across his face the whole time. In fact, everybody in the band was smiling and laughing as they played. The crowd sang along the entire time and Brian, the exceedingly charismatic frontman, seemed to love the crowd as much as they loved him. It was the perfect union of man and music. Their setlist included songs that ranged in influence from Sam Cooke to Bruce Springsteen to The Clash. At one point, Brian even sang a few bars from "Stand By Me", the Ben E. King song famously covered by John Lennon. I highly recommend this band to Against Me! fans and any and all serious music fans. Their bass player even looked a little like classic Sid Vicious clips when he brashly stuck his chin out and mouthed the words while smiling and nodding at the crowd like he knew something that they didn't. The only difference, of course, was that he could actually play his instrument, unlike Sid. When it came time for the last song in the set, nobody in the place wanted them to leave. As soon as they were off the stage, I was at the merch table purchasing the debut CD and a t-shirt of my new favorite band. They have a new EP out called Senor and the Queen. GO GET IT!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!! P.S. They're from New Jersey, shocking!? Not even a little.
I don't even need to review The Loved Ones performance. I have now seen them three times, and believe me, they never disappoint. They had an excellent mix of songs from the new album and older tunes in their repertoire. Seeing two amazing acts in one night was so much more than I could ever ask for. Thanks guys for putting on such an awesome show.