While those of us that make up your friendly neighborhood Dying Scene photography staff enjoy shooting punk rock shows of all shapes and sizes, there’s just something special about a bill at a small, cash-only club that’s stacked with kick ass local bands. Such was the case the weekend before last when one of our favorites, Bundles, celebrated the release of their debut full-length, Deaf Dogs. The album was released by Gunner Records earlier this month, just in time for the trio’s recent tour of Europe, and they threw themselves a barn-burner of a homecoming shindig at O’Brien’s in Boston’s legendary Allston neighborhood.
Kicking things off was Michael Kane & The Morning Afters. The foursome are based in Worcester, MA, which is roughly an hour from the city, but have long been staples of the local music scene in various capacities. When we last caught up with the foursome, they were on the big stage kicking off the third and final night of Street Dogs‘ annual Wreck The Halls festivities. While they might have axed the Bruce Springsteen cover from their set on this particular night, their unique blend of punk-infused rock-and-roll (think The Replacements) set the bar pretty high for what was to follow for the remainder of the evening. The infectious “Old Men Die In New Suits” from their 2017 Laughing At The Shape I’m In remains one of the catchier singalongs in the recent chapters of the local punk scene.
Birdwatching were up next, and are rather quickly becoming one of the most must-see bands in or around Boston. The threesome play a high-energy indie rock style that’s equal parts earnest and vulnerable. They dub themselves “nervous underdog pop,” and that seems to be pretty accurate, although perhaps not quite as accurate as how my ten-year-old sums up the sound of Birdwatching’s latest EP, Night Physics – “these guys are really good. They’re interesting, because they’re loud, but they’re not like RAH-RAH-RAH-RAH loud like a lot of other rock bands.”
Dan Webb and the Spiders were up third, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’re no doubt aware that the foursome have long been one of our favorite local acts. DWatS and Bundles put out a split 12-inch on Gunner Records a couple years ago and shared a bill at that album’s record release show at this very same venue, and so it made perfect sense to have the two team up on this night as well given how complimentary the bands sounds are. IT can be a bit tough to encapsulate the Spiders’ garage rock-based sound, as they can pull off gritty aggression and almost Beatlesian melodies interchangeably. I keep saying they’re one of the most underappreciated bands in the area, and I’m nowhere near alone in that mindset.
Which, of course, brings us to the guests of honor, the trio known as Bundles. Much like Michael Kane & the Morning Afters, we last caught Bundles on the big stage across town at Sinclair where they were kicking off the recent Hot Water Music show. Don’t get us wrong; we love watching local buds get cool opportunities like that, especially when their set goes over well, and we’ll always continue to root for more and more of those experiences. But seeing bands like Bundles damn near melt on stage at venues like Obie’s will forever be one of the more comforting things in a local scene that, like so many others, is becoming increasingly gentrified. We’ve seen Bundles and their finely-tuned quads a bunch over the years, and this is probably the most involved and vocal we’ve seen a crowd at a Bundles show, with nearly non-stop vocal involvement from audience members from start to finish, in spite of how very recently released the stellar Deaf Dogs was. Yet another notch on the bedpost in support of Boston being one of the best places for local independent music.