Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Live Shows: The Sheila Divine, Tugboat Annie, and Vic Firecracker, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 3/10/23

Poster by Daykamp Creative

I'm not usually one for nostalgia shows. I try to have new experiences when I get out to see live music and would rather see a band I've never seen before than see a band I've been going to see since the 90's play the same songs in the same venue. However, there are always exceptions to this, and one of those is The Sheila Divine. I've been to two farewell shows for the band, but Aaron Perrino and company are still getting together to play a show here and there. Plus, this time they were joined by other Boston 90's/early 00's favorites Tugboat Annie and Vic Firecracker, so it was an impossible to miss night of music.

Vic Firecracker are one of those bands I don't think of seen live before, but I don't know how I wouldn't have. They've been around the scene since 1995 and have been playing around steadily for the past few years. They played a set filled with noisy indie rock that combined the art rock of Mission of Burma and Fugazi with a more mainstream slant with the slightest sign of pop influences kicking in at times. This was the kind of indie rock I grew up on that is as catchy as it is noisy, both melodic and discordant at the same time. The band threw in a cover of The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait," and their own song "Sevens" was a highlight of the evening.

Tugboat Annie have been one of the pleasant surprise reunions in recent years. Also starting out in the mid 90's, the band now consists of six members which includes two guitar players. Tugboat Annie were one of the best examples of the mid 90's power pop/alt rock sound which swept through Boston. Despite a brief sound issue during their set opener, they sounded great for a band that doesn't tour regularly. A song like "Jack Knife" has so much nostalgia for me just based on how specific its sound is. Their entire set was filled with these little sonic gems that were perfectly catchy and a little hypnotic. 

I saw The Sheila Divine an embarrassing number of times in college, but I still get excited when I get another chance to see them play live. They also had some sound issues (particularly during the opening song which had the kick drum echoing, along with bizarre muddled sound randomly during their set), but it didn't seem to dampen anyone's enthusiasm. You can easily forget just how many great songs The Sheila Divine have. Songs like "Walking Dead (Who Speak)," "Like a Criminal," and "Automatic Buffalo" just feel like massive hits from my youth. The Sheila Divine have always skirted the line between alt-rock and emo, and it's shocking how much these songs don't sound dated at all. A set highlight lately has been a medley of covers during the song "Hum," and Friday night might have been the best trio of songs yet with Hole's "Miss World," Nirvana's "Love Buzz," and Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing." The band even brought out original bass player Jim Gilbert to close out their main set. When nostalgia is this perfect, we'll be all in every time.

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