Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Live Shows: The Sheila Divine and Orbit, Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA 11/22/23

The Sheila Divine and Orbit are bands I've been a fan of for roughly a quarter of a century. They're not fully active bands, so seeing them can be spotty. The Sheila Divine seem to be playing annual shows around Thanksgiving at this point, and while Orbit has played live somewhat recently, I believe the last time I saw them might have been at The Sheila Divine's very first farewell shows at the Paradise many, many years ago. When I saw the pair were playing together the night before Thanksgiving this year, it became a can't miss show.

Orbit came out to a clip of them on 120 Minutes where Matt Pinfield introduced their video for "Come Inside." It's kind of easy to remember that Orbit were a pretty big deal and quite buzzworthy in 1995, and this was a great reminder. Opening with "Come Inside" and following that with "Bicycle Song" made me feel like Orbit was frontloading their set a bit too much, but it's easy to forget just how many truly great songs they have. They had a little bit of rust throughout their set, but it's been about a decade since they've played, so it's to be expected. Plus, the crowd was thrilled to just be seeing Orbit play again, so we were all more than forgiving. That's one of the truly great thing about a local band like Orbit playing a show again. The crowd is just thrilled to be seeing them, and any mistakes are appreciated more than a perfect show would be. A song like "Medicine" is just a perfect snapshot of the Boston music scene in the mid and late 90's that it's impossible to not associate it with fantastic memories. The band promised to play more shows soon, so keep an eye out for those! (They were one of the first wave bands announced for The Town & the City Festival in Lowell in April, so we definitely won't need to wait ten years to see them again!)

The Sheila Divine came out to "Beautiful Midnight," a song from 2015's The Morbs, which set the tone for their set. The band played the big singles you'd expect ("Hum," "Like a Criminal," and "Automatic Buffalo"), but they leaned into a lot more B-sides and rarities than I would have expected. This was definitely a show for diehards, but I don't think The Sheila Divine have casual fans. They even broke out the B-side for the "Like a Criminal" single back when it was on Cherry Disc, which is a song I'm fairly certain I haven't heard in my decades of fandom. One highlight of every set is the cover song medley that comes during "Hum." This year, they only included one cover: Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield." As always, it was a bit trainwrecky, but that's part of the charm of the Sheila Divine cover break. They also played an impromptu version of Sisqo's "Thong Song," which worked out better than anyone could have expected. Skipping the traditional encore, The Sheila Divine decided to forgo leaving the stage and went straight into what would have been their three song encore: "Wanting is Wasted," "Like a Criminal," and "Back to the Cradle." As always, it was a perfect ending for a unique night of music.

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