Monday, March 4, 2024

Live Shows: The Freqs, Tysk Tysk Task, Blind Mellencamp, and The Modern Faces, Bit Bar, Salem, MA 3/2/24

With many of Boston's smaller venues closing down during and since COVID, locations in the distant suburbs of the city have started hosting shows. I've wanted to check out a show at Bit Bar in Salem ever since I heard they started having shows. It's a barcade, which are always fun, and I'll take any excuse to wander around Salem for a few hours. Tysk Tysk Task and The Freqs playing a show together finally gave me a chance.

Bit Bar is an interesting place to see a show. The stage is set up over on the side of an area with tables between people playing Mortal Kombat II and Crazy Taxi. There's a TV screen behind the stage that played a selection of vintage commercials, cartoons, and TV shows. (The 1-900 Call Freddy and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! with Elvira were personal favorites.) Despite that or because of it, it turned out to be a fun venue to see a show. Some of the audience was there to see the bands, and others were just there for the games which created a fun and unique energy in the crowd.

The Modern Faces opened the show. The band played a punked up style of alt-rock that was oddly infectious. Their sound was very mid 90's style power pop heavy, but with a punk edge. Despite not really sounding like 90's punk, The Modern Faces reminded me a lot of bands that would have played the Warped Tour back in the tour's glory days. They might have been the perfect fun way to start off a show in a vintage arcade.

Blind Mellencamp are one of the more original bands I've seen play in years. They are a band that consisted of six members, with three guitars and four keyboards among them. They sounded like a hardcore jam band, which I simply can't believe I'm even typing, and somehow that phrase makes complete sense after hearing them. They're equal parts punk and metal, and jam band? They were an absolute force live, and ridiculously fun. Blind Mellencamp are the type of band you simply would not be able to ignore, and I got a little chuckle at the thought of some Top 40 fan being subjected to them while trying to play Dig Dug.

I've seen Tysk Tysk Task a ridiculous number of times, and I always leave their shows happy. No show of theirs is the same as the one before, and their performance at Bit Bar on Saturday night was wildly different from January's show at Hawks & Reed. Their songs continue to evolve with each performance. Even songs from 2022's You're Sorry More keep changing. The combination of "Working On It" and "Working It Out" was slowed down from the recorded version and has become significantly more dark and moody. The band played a new, unreleased song called "City Lights" that both sounds like nothing they've ever played and exactly like themselves. It has a sort of early Smashing Pumpkins meets early Cure sound to it. The biggest change for a song may be "Colors," which has morphed into an epic grungy power ballad.

I hadn't seen The Freqs since their appearance in the Rock and Roll Rumble last year. They're an insanely heavy alt-rock meets metal style band that is also insanely fun, particularly live. Saturday night marked the first live performance with new drummer, Cutty, who you might remember from his term last summer with Tysk Tysk Task and Paper Tigers. The Freqs play a style of music that can be loud and dumb, but they play it in a more clever kind of way. Despite the volume, their songs are strangely catchy, and impossibly fun.

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