The Best Concerts of March 2008

Blitzen Trapper, Eels, Caribou and Others Offer Refuge from Emergenza

March can be a pretty bleak time for music in a college town like Boston. This is true for a number of reasons. It’s halfway through the semester, so students are stressing out and staying in. It’s right around vacation, so they’ve got less to spend on extravagant tickets. Most importantly, every week, there’s at least some school on Spring Break, which means a large population of the city up and vanishes.

Some venues turn to Emergenza Music Festival, a pay-to-play series of concerts in which the most desperate and idiotic acts in college rock sell tickets that benefit the suits, all the while holding on to the unlikely hope that they’ll either profit or make it big at this scam-fest. So by making money off the bands and the concertgoers, venues can make up for all the music fans who’ve gone home for the week. It’s a great way for them to keep up business, really. I’d hate to see another club close in Boston. The bummer is that Emergenza takes up a ton of nights this month, and I have no desire to see any of it.

It seems, however, that fate will save Boston from turning into at a second-rate BOTB this year: Canadian indies, 90s rock stars and experimental ensembles are all coming to town.

Good thing I’m not going anywhere for Spring Break.

Good. Thing.

Sunday, March 2

Band Marino

The Middle East (Upstairs), 18+, $10

Band Marino is a terrific outfit from Orlando, FL. It’s tough to describe their sound; it’s some combo of Latin-y, sea chantey and rock ‘n roll. Apart from their debut, The Sea and the Beast, I’ve also heard their live show is quite impressive, complete with a 20 foot sea serpent (?!).

Wednesday, March 5

The Black Crowes

Somerville Theatre, AA, $45

The Black Crowes are making headlines for their upcoming album, Warpaint, and not because anyone thinks it’s any good. No, the Robinsons and co. are in the spotlight because they feel wronged by Maxim magazine, who published a negative review of Warpaint without ever hearing it. Maxim claims it was an “educated guess” review. Maybe they’ll offer an “educated guess” about how this concert went, too.

Tuesday, March 18

The Gutter Twins

Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $15

I’m a sucker for gravel-throated dudes, musically speaking, and Mark Lanegan (noted for his vocals in 90s Seattle grunge group The Screaming Trees) is one of those types. He and Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs fame now form a Sub Pop alt-rock-frontmen superduo. Based on where they’ve come from, I can only expect good things for this show.

Friday, March 21

Xiu Xiu

Museum of Fine Arts, AA, $15 (Adult) / $12 (Student)

Do you know the way to San José? No? Well, you’d better get to the MFA and ask one of those post-punk percussionists making all that ruckus. They may be experimental and noisy, but I hear they’re hella’ good with directions.

Saturday, March 22

The Most Serene Republic

The Middle East (Upstairs), 18+, $10

Arts & Crafts grand-scale septet tour in support of last year’s sophomore release, Population. They hold the distinction of being the first band signed to their label that isn’t related to Broken Social Scene, but fans of that indie supergroup will find things to love in this one, too.

Sunday, March 23

Matthew Good

The Middle East (Downstairs), 18+, $20

According to the Middle East’s box office, this show was moved downstairs due to popular demand. I had no idea anybody else in the United States was in to Matthew Good, but I do know a lot of Canadians that like his brand of political Canuck hard rock. Barkeep, beer me a Molson!

Wednesday, March 26


Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $15

Another friendly neighbor from the north, Ontario songwriter Dan Snaith is a man of many names. He chose the most recent title for his musical persona while tripping on acid in the woods of Canada. His sonically vast and detailed compositions could fit in the past or the future, and I’m glad they’re happening in the present. No LSD required to enjoy.

Thursday, March 27

Blitzen Trapper

The Middle East (Upstairs), 18, $10

Blizten Trapper should be a shitty band. Then I could call them Blitzen Crapper and all would be well. The problem is that they are actually awesome (as evidenced by their number seven ranking on The Tech’s “Ten Best Albums of 2007.”).

In the spirit of MIT, here’s an equation to describe them:

2.5(Pavement) + (Apples in Stereo – The Beatles) + (Wilco – Your Dad) + 0.5(The Band) = Blitzen Trapper

Cool, okay. I’ll see you at the show.

Presidents of the United States of America (with Joe Jack Talcum and Ludo)

Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $16

This is a theme show, and the theme is brain-deadness. Said theme’s application to PUSA is obvious — “she’s lump / she’s in my head / she’s lump / she might be dead,” they sang on the second hit off their debut album. Joe Jack Talcum’s credentials include guitarist and vocalist of Dead Milkmen, and there’s your connection. Ludo needs first-hand knowledge to fit the trend, but I’ll hand it to you: they’re named after a muppet from Labyrinth and wrote a rock opera about a city beset with zombies. What could be more brainless? Try not to lose your head at this one.

Friday, March 28

They Might Be Giants

Sommerville Theatre, 14+, $25

Note the age restriction: 14+. Do you think some of TMBG’s younger devotees might actually commission fakes for this show?

Saturday, March 29


Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $17

Japanoise tribal drummers do anything but spread the emotion of their moniker. Last summer on July 7, they performed a concert titled 77 Boadrum featuring — you got it — 77 drummers. Some audience members watched from atop the Brooklyn Bridge. Hopefully, you’ll get closer at this show.

Sunday, March 30

Dirty Projectors

Museum of Fine Arts, AA, $15 (Adult) / $12 (Student)

The weird yet inspired Dave Longstreth is undoubtedly brilliant but can get a little emotional on stage. It’d be all too much to stand if he weren’t flanked by two lovely leading ladies (I like to refer to them as French Hottie and Mom Butt), who pluck their instruments with pride and howl in perfect dissonance. We can only hope this touring iteration features them when Dirty Projectors make an artistic statement at the MFA.

Monday, March 31


Somerville Theatre, AA, $21

Mr. E’s beautiful blues roll into town to meet you, jack your soul and take you away to the daisies of the galaxy. Prepare for some electro-shock with love from California, you beautiful freak.