review and photos by Joshua Bernard
When I was younger, I used to be really into local, underground music. I would find local bands and follow their careers, attend their shows, and watch some of them go from being little local bands to somewhat major bands. I loved the intimacy of being able to be right up front, in a small room, and really experience the power of these bands who just had so much energy. They seemed less like rockstars and more like people my age living the dream. But then as I got older, got married and had kids, I didn’t have the energy to go to a small club. I just didn’t go to as many shows, and those that I did see were bigger bands at larger clubs and theatres. It lacked the intimacy that those earlier shows did.
This show reminded me of a time that I didn’t know I missed until that night. There was a core part of my being that was lit up with life the other night due to four great bands.
I had discovered Long Island’s Moon Tooth via the discover playlist on Spotify. They were a perfect mix of heavy and melodic. Somewhere in between Killswitch Engage and Queens of the Stone Age. Just wonderful music. They became my go-to band of 2018, and they topped my Spotify Rewind list as well. So when I heard they were coming to Boston, I knew I had to go.
The show was held in one of the most unusual venues that I have ever been to. Dubbed the “Zero Gravity Room”, what it actually is, is a big open room on the second floor across from Guitar Center on Boylston Street. It’s not a concert venue. There is no bar, no stage, no lighting system other than the fluorescent fixtures above. It’s just a room. All the gear (including lights) were brought by the bands themselves, and the only stage was a perimeter of cords and speakers set up by the bands. I was not sure what I was in for. Along one wall was the merchandise tables, manned by members of each band.
Prior to the show, I had looked up the other bands of the schedules, so I was able to talk a bit with someone from each band with a bit of knowledge. Everyone was nice, and I was reminded of how long it has been since I talked to an actual musician.
The music started around 7. First up was a band from Boston called Sundress. They play very emotional metalcore, with a mature sense of musicianship. They look young, and while the singer had stage presence, his attempts to whip up the crowd were not well received, most likely due to there only being 30 of us in attendance. Still, you have to treat each crowd like they are important, and once he got the feel of the room the band played a comfortable, crushing set. I’m keeping an eye out for these guys.
Next up was another Boston band called Chuggernaut. This four-piece frankly blew me away. I had been listening to them since I looked them up on the bill, and they were even better live. They play what they call “Regressive Metal” – Mix a bit of Soundgarden with Pantera and somewhere in the middle is Chuggernaut. Their six-song set was cut short when the power went out during their last song. Yes, they rocked so hard they blew out the power.
Third on the bill was Cryptodira, who I will describe as somewhere between Tool and Dillinger Escape Plan. These guys were very competent musicians, and they put on a hell of a performance, but I just don’t think they were my cup of tea. There is a certain type of screamy vocal that I don’t like, and sadly, these guys had it. It’s not that they are untalented, it just wasn’t a match for me. Due to the power issue, Cryptodira played with limited lights, so this entire set was rather dark, and had a purple hue the entire time.
Lastly, the band I came here to see – Moon Tooth. I love this band, and they put on a great show, but a few things hampered my enjoyment of their set. For one, I stood too close to the speaker earlier, and I practically had gone deaf in one ear by this point in the show. Second, As Moon Tooth had a new album coming out in a few months, they played about four new songs, none of them which I knew. But putting the bitching aside, these guys kicked ass. Singer John Carbone had a great stage presence, engaging with the crowd, running through and around it throughout the show. His energy was contagious from the opening wails of ebb/flow off of their first EP. The drummer, Ray Marte had a lot of power and technical grace, and I just loved that he played the whole set with a huge shit-eating grin on his face the whole time. Bassist Vincent Romanelli carried the low end, and was also the guy manning the merch table. I had the fortune of talking to Vincent for a bit before and after the show and his passion and love for this music comes through clearly. Guitarist Nick Lee came off like a virtuoso, but one that was having the time of his life. I guess he gives guitar lessons before shows, and during one of the songs, a kid jumped on stage, and Nick handed him a guitar where he took over and played the song he learned during the lesson earlier in the day! How cool is that!
Moon Tooth also played songs from their debut EP, Freaks, as well as their first LP Chromaparagon, and it was during those songs that the crowd lit up. The new songs were great also, but the familiarity of the Chromaparagon songs is what made people go apeshit. I banged my head like it has not been banged in years.
When talking to the crowd about their upcoming new release, John said “The new album is going to be about pursuing your dreams. Do you have a dream? There’s one thing I have to tell you. Don’t quit. People will tell you to quit, but keep doing what you do. Don’t quit. Keep at it. Don’t quit.” They were inspiring words, for all struggling creative types.
I had forgotten the joy of being so up close to a band, and then being able to shake their hands afterward. I loved the FEEL of the thing, it was very DIY and seemed more like a practice jam that friends were invited over to. I felt welcome, as if I was among my tribe once again.
If you get the chance, check out these bands. I know I’ll be seeing them again soon. Also, keep an eye out for Moon Tooth’s next album, Crux, due out in March of 2019.