The Best Concerts of May 2008

Myriad Shows Amidst Finals and Spring Weather

April showers bring May flowers, and in this case, the downpour of ex-lead-singer shows last month has led to a hefty crop of diverse acts (okay, Jeremy Enigk snuck in there, somehow). There are so many notable groups playing locally this month that I didn’t even get to list (The Teenagers, Los Campesinos!, The New Deal, Firewater, Eyedea & Abilities and Kevin Devine, to name a few), so I highly recommend scouring venue Web sites to see if I skipped over one of your favorites. But this is my column, after all, and so my picks get top billing. With that I present to you May’s best shows; especially notable ones are marked with stars.

Friday, May 2 – Saturday, May 3

Steer Roast

Senior House Courtyard

First Night: Ho-Ag, Oxford Collapse, Neptune and Professor Murder

Second Night: Space Faces, Big Bear, Wzt Hearts, Excepter

Trance, electronica, and easy listening are perhaps not the kinds of musical genres this rockist writer might’ve booked had she been responsible for Steer Roast’s lineup, but it’s certainly worth attending a bacchanal in your own backyard. Avoid Wzt Hearts and Excepter, but be sure to catch Space Faces and Big Bear.

Saturday, May 3

Monsters of Mock IV: Son of Seattle SMACKdown!

Featuring Backseat Lover as Pearl Jam, Angry Chair as Alice in Chains

The Middle East (Downstairs), 18+, $15

Okay, so Pearl Jam is touring nationally and Alice in Chains is working on a new album with William DuVall singing. But tickets for the former will be way too expensive, and replacing your dead lead singer is downright creepy. Consider this Monsters of Mock show your best and cheapest chance at a musical time machine (outside of your own Walkman).


Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $18

The Third Hand is a serious departure from Rjd2’s previous sample-heavy works, because it features him playing instruments and singing on almost every track. Expect more of a pop rock feel at this live performance.

Friday, May 9

El Perro Del Mar*

The Middle East (Upstairs), 18+, $15

Swede singer Sarah Assbring is absolutely miserable, and with her melancholic pop melodies and lo-fi production, she’ll do everything in her power to make you miserable, too. But rest assured, it’s the good kind of miserable; think of a cuter, female Morrissey type dressed as a 50s housewife and singing with The Shangri-Las.

Sunday, May 11

Phantom Planet

Bank of America Pavillion, AA, $33.50

I don’t care what anyone has to say. Phantom Planet’s 2004 self-titled did everything The Strokes ever wanted to do and did it a million times better. The melodies are memorable, Jason Schwartzman’s drumming is powerful, and Greenwald’s formerly O.C.-friendly vocals growl and snarl with the coolest of the cool. New release Raise the Dead partially returns to the land of radio friendly, but maintains at least some rock aesthetic. They’re opening for Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack and The Hush Sound; leave early.

Tuesday, May 13

British Sea Power

Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $15

Brighton quartet asks the question Do You Like Rock Music? on latest LP. Perfect for post-punk lovers.

Friday, May 16

Bell X1

Paradise Rock Club, 18+, $15

This Irish band, formerly called Juniper, once featured troubadour Damien Rice as part of their lineup. Since his eviction, Bell X1 has morphed into a weird but accessible rock act that’s dead on about seventy percent of the time. Let’s hope May 16 will be one of those nights.

Saturday, May 17

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band

The Middle East (Downstairs), 18+, $14

Canadian band commonly abbreviated (for good reason) as Silver Mt Zion shares members with avant-gardist post-rockers Godspeed You Black Emperor!; strings, choir-like vocals and a punk rock ethos characterize this group’s performance.

The Black Keys

Orpheum Theatre, AA, $25

Bluesy duo tours in support of Danger Mouse-produced Attack and Release. Check out leading single “Strange Times” online; it’s less lo-fi as past releases, but you’ll see it’s just as rocking.

Wednesday, May 21

Local H*

Harpers Ferry, 18+, $12

Rock twosome has consistently released albums at fairly regular intervals, grounded by the popularity of single “Bound for the Floor.” Lead singer Scott Lucas is particularly notable for installing bass pickups on his electric guitar. Check out their notoriously high-energy show in Allston Rock City.

Sunday, May 25


The Middle East (Downstairs), AA, $15

J’aime’s departed, Nick’s dropped the Diamonds, and the singles from upcoming Arm’s Way are not even half as good as “Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone.” But this show will probably be better than almost anything else musical happening this month, hence its stamp of approval.

Saturday, May 31

Jeremy Enigk

Great Scott, 21+, $16

Former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman has turned to Christianity and scoring soundtracks (most notably Pixies-heavy The United States of Leland) since the breakup of his emo firstborn. Now he’s about to release his fifth solo album; catch that material live at this underage-unfriendly Fenway Recording Sessions gig.