In the days leading up to last Friday’s release of his latest solo album, Kick, Dave Hause and his stellar backing band, The Mermaid, played a small series of sold-out club shows scattered around the country. The shows seemed to serve a dual role involving equal parts getting people fired up for the pending release, and testing the touring waters as a parent for the first time (Hause’s wife recently gave birth to twin boys). If Boston show #2 back on Saturday, April 6th, was any indication, both of those roles seemed to result in overwhelming success.
Hause and the Mermaid, with a lineup on this run consisting of Hause’s younger brother/writing partner Tim on guitar, the immensely talented Kayleigh Goldsworthy on a keys and violin and guitar and I might be missing one, Kevin Conroy on drums and Frank Iero/Brian Fallon drummer Matt Olsson on bass) took the stage at Great Scott by storm on this night, kicking their set off with “Autism Vaccine Blues” from his stellar 2013 release Devour. Hause and I have spoken at length about the importance of that album generally and that song specifically to yours truly over the last handful of years, so for selfish reasons, I’d like to think the set started that way on purpose, though in the larger sense, it did seem to set an uptempo tone for the evening that never really wavered from that point on. The set featured a serviceable number of tracks from each of Hause’s three prior solo releases; it’s worth mentioning that his 2011 debut Resolutions sometimes gets overlooked in the wake of the releases of Devour and Bury Me In Philly in the years that followed, but this night’s full-band workups of “C’Mon Kid” and the title track are just as poignant and cathartic as ever. As you might imagine, the set also consisted of a healthy dose of Kick, an album that the vast majority of the audience had yet to hear in its entirety, though tracks like “The Ditch” and “Saboteurs” have already become seeming crowd favorites. A particularly meaningful moment in the evening came when the Kick track “Bearing Down,” inspired by the death of Hause friend and Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, was followed immediately by the singalong-heavy “The Shine,” a song that Hutchison shared vocal duties for on Devour.
Opening duties for the back-to-back Boston shows were perfectly executed by Portland, Maine’s Weakened Friends. The trio channel everything that was right about 90s alternative music and its more recent stylistic revival. The guitar-heavy buzzsaw attack and guttural vocals evoke Dinosaur Jr. or Sleater-Kinney but with catchy, pop-driven hooks that would make Veruca Salt or early Smashing Pumpkins fans wistfully nostalgic. If you haven’t checked out their 2018 full-length debut, Common Blah, yet, you should really do yourself the favor.
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