Monday, June 5, 2023

Live Shows: Justine and The Unclean, Barrence Whitfield & His All-Star Band, and Spiller, Faces Brewing Co., Malden, MA 6/2/23

I've been trying to hit up Faces Brewing Co. for shows as much as possible. It's a great small room, and as smaller, independent clubs seem to be going away in Boston, breweries in the suburbs are stepping up as stages. Plus, there's a free garage a block away, and you truly can't beat that. A great show finally worked out with my schedule, and I couldn't pass up the double bill of Justine & The Unclean along with the legendary Barrence Whitfield & His All-Star Band.

Spiller opened the night, and I unfortunately missed about half of their set. I had never heard of them before this show, and I wasn't able to find out much online, so I went in pretty much blind. They have a total 90's sound, injected with some metal riffs. It wasn't 90's alt-metal like Quicksand or Helmet, but more 90's alt-rock with a metal edge. They had the loudest and heaviest set of the night, and made me wish I had made it on time (it was a very rainy drive in with multiple accidents, in my defense), and that I had been following them for a while.

Justine & The Unclean played next for their album release show. They mostly focused on songs from that album, The Signal Light, which was expected and seeing how solid of an album it is, it wasn't unwelcome. The band played their blend of power pop with a punk edge we've come to love from them, and live the songs had an unexpected metal side to them as well. Aside from a mid-set more mellow set of songs, they played a fast and heavier than expected set of songs. Justine & The Unclean were one of the tightest units I've seen in recent memory, most likely since they've apparently been around for much, much longer than I realized. (Justine Covault mentioned playing the Rock & Roll Rumble in 1993, which doesn't seem possible.) This was a set from the highest quality bar band possible, and it was flawless.

The legendary Barrence Whitfield & His All-Star Band closed out the night, and no one in the Boston scene is quite the showman that Whitfield is. No one really does a crossover between soul and punk like he does, either. I've seen this band live once before, and I was just as pleasantly surprised by how great they are this time as I was the first. Whitfield could make an entire song compelling with just his "Yeahs!," and I don't know of anyone else that could. A Barrence Whitfield & His All-Star Band show is just a pure party and celebration of music, led by one of the best frontmen of his generation, or really any generation, in Boston. Somehow he continues to stay one of the best kept secrets in town, even though he truly should be getting much more acclaim.

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