It’s awfully tough to keep any sort of independent music scene alive in a city like Boston, Massachusetts, circa any time in the 21st century. Continually-expanding gentrification and (sometimes comically bad) law enforcement crackdowns on house shows and DIY spaces have combined to help make it difficult for a really thriving scene to truly take root. Difficult…but not impossible. Enter a space like O’Brien’s bar in the city’s bustling, not 1000% overpriced Allston neighborhood. The cash-only hundred-ish capacity spot is no frills without being truly a dive, and its poorly-lit back-corner stage has been the site of more than its fair share of local and national barn-burning acts over the last handful of years, thanks in no small part to local promoter Ryan “The Terrible” Agate.
Bands like Rebuilder and Dan Webb & The Spiders have each pounded the sweaty confines of O’Brien’s a fair amount of late, and combined to both headline and local-open (in that order) a pretty kick-ass show last weekend. It was a busy night for the local punk community; AFI were headlining a mile or so down the street from O’Brien’s, and Boston-based street punk OC45 were playing an album release show down the road in Jamaica Plain. Yet the crowd was near-capacity as Rebuilder took the stage late into the evening. The five-piece (yes, they have a keyboard player, Patrick Hanlin, and yes he was on stage this night; his lack of appearance in the photo galley below is merely a reflection of the cramped stage and the photographer’s lack of photography skills) just finished tracking a new EP (more on that later) at Jason Maas’s Getaway Recording studio in nearby Haverhill, Massachusetts, and took the occasion to rip through the half-dozen songs in their entirety. Most of the songs were largely unknown to most show-goers, but that didn’t stop the crowd from being surprisingly vocal and ambitiously rowdy.
Dan Webb & The Spiders, in this writer’s humble opinion, are one of better — and more overlooked — bands in the local scene. As I’ve told you a bunch on the pages here at Dying Scene, Webb and the boys play a tight, aggressive style of garage punk rock that is catchy and compelling from the word “go.” The Razorcake review of their recent split release with fellow Massachusetts rockers leads with a comment that “DWATS should be huge,” and yours truly couldn’t say it better himself. There set on this night was punchy and no-nonsense, stylistically different but otherwise a kindred spirit bookend to the aforementioned headliners.
New Jersey’s City Limits and Philly’s In The Pines made the trek up from points south to serve as the delicious, mid-Atlantic filling an otherwise Boston-based sandwich. In The Pines, if you’re not familiar, are a coleslaw-obsessed four-piece who’ve got a new EP, “Sides,” out tomorrow (February 10th) on Black Numbers. They’re a textbook Black Numbers band; raw, intense angular post-punk goodness. City Limits, meanwhile, are a another four-piece band who play a melodic punk style that’s been compared accurately to Off With Their Heads, Dear Landlord and, of course, The Lawrence Arms. Neither of the latter are Boston bands, obviously, but as newer bands, they both represent the sort of musical spark plug that their (and other) local scenes need to keep pushing the needle forward.
Check out our full photo gallery below!