Thursday, June 1, 2023

Live Shows: En Attendant Ana, Adult Learners, and Hands & Knees, O'Brien's Pub, Allston, MA 5/29/23

Memorial Day weekend was pretty bonkers in the Boston area. There was the massive Boston Calling that took over everyone's attention, plus just about every other music venue was hosting a killer line up of bands. It was such a strong weekend of live music that I was starting to regret my plans of seeing En Attendant Ana at O'Brien's, even if it was the French band's first time playing in Boston in five years. Turns out my decision was perfect as Monday night had one of the best performances of the year.

En Attendant Ana didn't have to be great. They were playing a dive bar with a capacity of seventy-five, and it wasn't sold out. It was the kind of night that saw the TV still on with people angrily yelling about the Celtics game instead of watching the bands play. But En Attendant Ana pulled off a mystifying performance. Stereolab is the obvious band to compare them to, due to musical style and their country of origin, but live they ended up being so much more. There was a much more focus on rock that offset the French pop/twee sound to a stunning degree. Songs like "Same Old Story" and "Principia" were mesmerizing live. The crowd started off with the standard five foot indie rock semicircle around the stage, but as the night went on we were all slowly pulled closer and closer to band without even realizing it. It was a night of pure joy, as any expectation was met and exceeded wildly. By the time they closed with "Wonder," the dozens in attendance were enraptured. The song was the perfect choice to close, as it just builds and builds into a perfect crescendo for the night. And then they ended with a perfect cover of The Pogues' classic "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day." It was just a perfect night of music.

Adult Learners played second Monday night. They played a set of ultra-sugary sweet indie rock/power pop songs, but sped up at a furious rate. It was such a fast set that they appeared to run out of songs on the setlist, so they had to choose a few on the fly to close out their set. They were truly fun with catchy songs, so let's hope they end up playing more shows soon.

Hands & Knees opened up the night, playing their first show in five years. They seemed a bit rusty, but in a way that worked with their sound. They play music that also qualifies as twee, but with too heavy of a guitar sound. And just a little of a country/Americana twang. Hopefully they don't wait until 2028 to play another show, because they have a really fun vibe.

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