Thursday, May 18, 2023

Live Shows: Matt Charette, Micah Schnabel, Michael Kane, and Christian Marrone, Hotel Vernon, Worcester, MA 5/16/23

At its very best, music can foster friendships and a true community. That was the case Tuesday night, for a quadruple bill of three Worcester musicians (Matt Charette, Michael Kane, and Christian Marrone) playing with Columbus, OH's Micah Schnabel. All four musicians have played together before and are all friends, and it was no secret that it was a show put together at Hotel Vernon to give Schnabel a place to play and make some cash on his way through. Virtually everyone in attendance knew at least one of the musician playing, and the community was truly showcased.

Each of the local musicians played shorter sets to give more time to Micah Schnabel. Matt Charette played five songs, mostly from his excellent new album Lo-Fi High Hopes. I've been trying to get out to see him for months now, and he did not disappoint. He has a certain working class punk rock infused take on folk rock with a heavy emphasis on rock that came through perfectly even playing solo acoustic. His songs are undeniably catchy, and after hearing the in between set music that included Fountains of Wayne, The Hold Steady, and The Replacements, Charette embodies all three of those artists spirits and sounds. I've had his song "4x4" stuck in my head since I saw it played, and I have no complaints.

I had never heard Micah Schnabel before Tuesday night, and if you haven't either, you need to change that immediately. The theme of the night was working class folk-ish acoustic punk rock, and no one was more folk-punk than Schnabel. Playing a set of lefty, anti-capitalist songs, Schnabel softened the politics in songs that were awkwardly catchy, probably because of how engaging a performer he is. Songs like "Remains Silent" and "How to Ride a Bike" may be political, but it's wrapped in a level of personal experience that it's impossible not to love them. He was joined by Vanessa Jean Speckman for one of their Call Me Rita songs, and now I have yet another band I'll need to check out ASAP.

Fresh off his appearance at the Rock & Roll Rumble with his band The Morning Afters, Michael Kane played a solo set of his working class punk inspired rock and roll. A song like "Dark Nights" translated perfectly to this format. If Kane's songs were this intense and engaging solo, I can't imagine how they would sound with a full band. Every performer was playing a set of mostly dark songs, and Kane was no exception, but his songs have a certain joy to them to mask the darkness. It's kind of a cliche to compare every working class rock musician to Bruce Springsteen, but Kane's songs have that darkness masked by anthemic rock thing going for them, so it's basically impossible not to.

Christian Marrone opened the night, and he was the one I was most surprised by. He played a fun set of acoustic rock that stood right up with the nationally touring musicians he played with. A highlight was a cover of Green Day's "Jar," which he dedicated to a friend who had recently passed away. I always like when an artist covers one of the more forgotten songs from a band, and "Jar" is the kind of song I haven't thought of in years. It's always a good sign when a cover makes you want to go back to the original. Let's hope we hear more from Marrone sooner than later.

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