Monday, August 7, 2023

Live Shows: Sparta, Geoff Rickly, and Zeta, Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA 8/3/23

Photo by Ken Sears

Due to bad timing on my part, I showed up at Brighton Music Hall while Zeta was onstage. I'm pretty sure I only missed a minute or two, but after seeing what I did, I have massive regrets. Zeta are a band out of Venezuela that play one of the most intriguing mixes of music I have ever seen. At the surface level, it's a psychedelic blend of hardcore, as trippy as it is heavy. But throughout the set they sprinkle in elements of hip hop, electronic music, and Latin. I've never experienced music that made me confused if I should dance, mosh, or just stand there while my face was melted off. The musicians shuffled around between various instruments, so that sometimes there were two guitars being played, sometimes there were three percussionists, and others they added some ? and the Mysterians style keys. Of all the live shows I've seen, Zeta might have been the most beautiful while being the most pummeling. I haven't been this blown away and as enamored with an opening band since Mogwai opened for Pavement in 1997. If it's at all possible, make sure you see them while they're still in the States.

Photo by Ken Sears

Geoff Rickly of Thursday played next. It was just him and his guitar, telling stories in between songs. In fact, he might have spent as much time explaining songs or what was going on when each song came out as he did actually playing the songs. No complaints, as the man knows how to weave a tale. Thursday were one of those bands I never quite gave a chance to during my early 00's anti-emo period, but I'm slowly coming around to them lately. Rickly was definitely a draw this evening and had fans thrilled to see him in such an intimate setting.

Geoff Rickly
Photo by Ken Sears

Sparta closed out the evening with a performance of Wiretap Scars. They're celebrating the album's twentieth anniversary, even though it's the twenty-first. In an opposite of Rickly's set, Sparta chose to play the entire album without saying anything in between songs to give the true experience of the album. By playing their debut album, they opened with "Cut Your Ribbon," which is arguably their most well known song. Over the week or so before the show, I broke the album out a few times and was shocked that it was even better than I remembered. Live, the songs didn't pack the same punch as the album did two decades ago, but to be fair, neither did the crowd. (I was surprised by how restrained the crowd was during the set.) Instead, Sparta allowed more beauty to shine through the noise and discordance. Plus, bassist Matt Miller might be one of the coolest people in rock when he's playing. Once album closer "Assemble the Empire" was finished, the band got a bit more chatty and played a collection of favorites before calling it a night. Not a bad way for emo adults to spend a Thursday evening.

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