As small, independent venues seem to be dying out in Boston proper, breweries in the suburbs seem to be filling that gap. The most prominent one is Faces Brewing Co. in Malden, MA, which has a dedicated backroom with a stage that puts on shows regularly. I've been meaning to check it out for a while, and I finally had a chance to with a killer Boston garage rock punk triple bill filled with bands from two of my favorite record labels: Rum Bar Records and Red On Red Records! In a weekend filled with fantastic shows, I could not pass up seeing The Dogmatics, The Shang Hi Los, and The Chelsea Curve!
Opening the night were Boston legends The Dogmatics, who have been kicking around in various forms since 1981. They play a blend of punk and garage rock that has barely slowed down in their forty plus years. It's the kind of gritty rock music that you wouldn't expect to see in a high end venue/restaurant, but that's what happens with a band starts hitting their fifties and sixties. Interestingly enough, they played "Sister Serena" as the second song in their set, which might be their most well known song. Even more interestingly, they closed out their set with "Drop That Needle" and "Automat Kalashnikov," which were two songs from 2022's excellent EP Drop That Needle. It was a move that broke pretty much every setlist rule for a band that's been around over forty years, but The Dogmatics made it work perfectly. "Drop That Needle" seemed to get the biggest response of their set which proves just how great their new songs are. Hopefully it doesn't take me this many years to check them out again.
The night also doubled as an album release for The Shang Hi Los, who released the great Aces Eights & Heartbreaks last month. I expected the Boston garage rock supergroup to be good, but The Shang Hi Los are ridiculously great live. They play a style of garage rock that leans heavily into the 1960's, and Friday night every song sounded like a megahit. Songs like "Takes One to Know One," "Monsieur Valentine," and "Ingenue" simply need to be seen live. They played with the tightness of a band that's been playing large theaters for decades and not a band in a bar that released their first album less than a month ago. "Sway Little Player" sounds like The Oneders needed a second hit to make That Thing You Do! 2. I knew I'd enjoy their set, but I'm now a rabid Shang Hi Los fan.
Closing out the night were The Chelsea Curve. On last year's All the Things, they play a slick as hell version of garage rock borrowing heavily from pop and maybe dipping their toes a bit in oldies rock. Friday night they were much louder than I expected and far more punk sounding. They had much more of a Ramones sound than The Archies. Plus, The Chelsea Curve just emanated cool. Some bands just have that captivating factor as soon as they walk on stage, and The Chelsea Curve are stars just waiting to happen. They're another band you're going to need to check out sooner than later. Just be prepared to get rocked far harder than you thought they could.