Review: The Best Come Out for Boston’s WFNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll 2007* - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-11-2007, 09:57 PM   #1
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Review: The Best Come Out for Boston’s WFNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll 2007*

By Kimberly Egolf, Editor

Bloc Party and Bang Camaro steal the show as fourteen bands play on Boston’s famous Lansdowne Street.

After three days of rain and a couple of Red Sox losses to arch-nemesis the New York Yankees, Bostonians were notably pessimistic as a cloudy and chilly Wednesday, June 6th dawned over the city. Yet midday, as roadies and sponsors prepared for the WFNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll 2007, fate smiled as the sun came out over Fenway Park and neighboring Lansdowne Street.

For each of the past nineteen years, listeners of Boston’s WFNX radio station and readers of the Boston Phoenix have been invited to vote on the best local and national bands. The winners and runners-up are invited to the stage at what has become Boston’s best (not only in name) music revue. The marathon party on Lansdowne Street – which houses a tight row of clubs and bars – ushers in the summer music season and allows Bostonians a chance to experience festival-style concert going.

Promptly at five o’clock, the gates opened to the eager line of people already stretching down the street. A bit of the pessimism returned as these fans were greeted with the news that the Kings of Leon – touted as one of the headlining acts on the main stage – would not be performing due to the lead singer’s illness. Instead, Glaswegian-bred The Cinematics were bumped from their 12:30 am slot at the Avalon to the opening spot on the main stage.

A good crowd had gathered around the stage as the band performed a largely nondescript, though clearly heartfelt, set of indie-rock anthems, including their hit single “Keep Forgetting” and the catchy “Maybe Someday.”

The Cinematics (Photo credit: Kimberly Egolf)

After a short set change, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! appeared onstage to warble out a mixture of songs from their debut album and their sophomore effort Some Loud Thunder, released earlier this year. Called “the hardest working band in rock ‘n’ roll” by the ‘FNX DJ who introduced them, the band had to work hard to hold the attention of the crowd, who seemed easily distracted from the set by the abundance of celebrity band members innocuously roaming the streets.

Around 8:20 pm, however, all eyes were concentrated on the main stage as the sold-out crowd packed in to see one of the most anticipated acts of the evening. Bloc Party burst onto the stage and launched right into their hit single “I Still Remember” from second album “A Weekend in the City.”

Lead singer Kele Okereke expertly riled the crowd throughout the hour-long set by repeatedly exhorting them to sing along with popular tracks like “Positive Tension,” “Banquet,” and “This Modern Love.”

As the sun set over Boston, Bloc Party brought the conviction of soaring vocal arrangements, chiming guitars, and driving beats to counter the disillusionment often expressed in their lyrics. On “The Prayer” – a track from the new album featuring heavy tribal beats and chanting – the band prays to be made unstoppable. And with Bostonians along the street pogoing to the last song of the set (the frantic “Like Eating Glass”) the band achieved their goal.

As the set ended and the night turned cooler, the music continued inside the assortment of small bars and clubs lining Lansdowne Street. Bill’s Bar hosted popular local acts World’s Greatest Sinners – known for their inspired R&B stylings, Snowden, and Bon Savants (Best Music Poll runners-up for Favorite Local Album). Axis gathered together the country stylings of Girls Guns and Glory and the indie stylings of Say Anything and Silversun Pickups. Other bars along the street hosted local DJs spinning collections of great dance music. An abundance of excellent music in almost every genre could be had if one cared to walk a few steps down the road.

By far the most popular, not to mention the largest, venue of the evening was the Avalon, which played host to Bang Camaro, the most hyped local band of the evening, whose song “Push Push (Lady Lightning)” can currently be heard on the popular video game Guitar Hero II. Not less than sixteen lead vocalists led a not-so-hostile music takeover of Boston’s Avalon stage just as Bloc Party finished their mainstage set. Yanking the audience directly back to the big hair and big guitar days of ‘80s metal, the band crashed through a hard-rocking half-hour set complete with rock fingers, headbanging, and lots of air guitar playing from audience and band alike.

The set revealed that there’s nothing particularly new or complicated about Bang Camaro, and that’s perfectly alright. Their simple lyrics are easy to chant, their riffs threaten to stick interminably in the brain, and the abundance of people onstage makes you feel that just about anyone can be a rock star. Add in the most fun you’ll have at a rock show this year and you’ve got a band on its way to greatness. Watch out, because these boys go to 11.

Carah Faye Charnow of Shiny Toy Guns (Photo credit: Kimberly Egolf)

Shiny Toy Guns were up next, propelled by whirling synthesizers and heavy drums (played with flair by a heavily made-up Mikey Martin). This sound worked perfectly to stir the manic atmosphere created by Bang Camaro. Throwing in shout-outs to Boston, Bloc Party, and glow sticks, the band played a high-energy set which included popular hit and iTunes Single of the Week “Le Disko,” as well as a Depeche Mode cover, and two songs destined to be singles in the US and UK (“Rainy Monday” and “You’re the One”).

Around midnight (and now seven hours into the party), The Bravery ascended the stage in front of the still-packed Avalon. Though they seemed distracted through the first three songs, the band – longtime ‘FNX favorites and adopted Bostonians – finally hit their musical stride, looping dizzying synthesizer and guitar riffs around soaring vocal harmonies.

Confetti explosions drove the crowd into a frenzy as The Bravery raced through a selection of songs from their popular first album and their recently-released second album, The Sun and the Moon. Additionally, fans in attendance were treated to a new song called “The Dandy Rock” and an impromptu cover of Oasis mega-hit “Wonderwall” (for which ‘FNX Music Director Paul Driscoll was invited onstage to play drums).

At almost one in the morning, with beer-sticky shoes, confetti-strewn hair, and a persistent ringing in the ears, what was left of the huge crowd stumbled out into the cool Boston night. Strangers shared stories as they walked to their cars, telling tales of a fantastic and eventful evening of Boston’s best live music and wondering what the rest of the summer will hold.

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