It didn’t make it into the interview we published a little over a month or so ago, but when The Falcon frontman Brendan Kelly and I were chatting about his band’s then-anticipated run of US tour dates and yours truly mentioned that he would be at the Cambridge/Boston stop, the inimitable Kelly remarked in his inimitably tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek style: “that’s the first night of tour…that’s going to be the real dick-in-the-mud show!”
And so it was with those comically tempered expectations that the presently solidified incarnation of the at times historically fluid four piece “supergroup” lineup (we’re allowed to call Brendan Kelly, Dan Andriano, Neil Hennessy and new recruit Dave Hause a supergroup, right? That meets the criteria?) strode to the stage of the upstairs room at the legendary Middle East club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to begin their first run of non-Chicago shows. What followed, though, was a performance that was anything close to worthy of the “dick-in-the-mud” label that Kelly predicted.
Anchored by the criminally underrated backbone (can you use “anchor” and “backbone” in the same descriptor for a drummer or is that lazy? It’s lazy, right?) that is Neil Hennessy on drums, Kelly and his wingmen ripped through an impressively lengthy setlist (18-ish songs by this writer’s count) that covered all of the band’s releases, paying particularly close attention to the brand-spankin’-new Gather Up The Chaps (released March 18th on Red Scare Industries). There was a certain amount of depravity and comic relief, to be sure; it’s punk rock and it’s The Falcon after all, so not taking one’s self to seriously is written in to the job description. (One particularly comedic between-song exchange found Andriano mocking Hause’s customized denim jacket, to which Hause returned fire with a comment about taking fashion advice from a guy who dressed like a bat for fifteen years.) And though the music is occasionally designed to sound a bit like a multi-car pileup at freeway speeds, the sheer number of years of professional musicianship on stage kept the tempo up and the melodies tight and kept matters from hurling themselves too far into the abyss. It’s worth noting that watching The Falcon live, one could easily be fooled into thinking that the project had been doing this together for quite some time. It’s also worth noting that they seemed to be having enough fun that maybe, just maybe, the problem will remain a fairly regular project going forward. (Also, as a bit of a related aside, Hause, who has made a career out of crafting tight, catchy rhythms and personal, heartfelt lyrics absolutely shreds on guitar, applying layer after layer of tone and texture to the milieu; seriously…who knew?)
Direct support on the evening came by way of The Scandals, who, in spite of hailing from New Jersey, continually receive a hometown welcome in the greater Boston area. Jared Hart and his cronies (drummer Paulie Yaremko, for what it’s worth, is single-handedly this writer’s favorite drummer to photograph) wasted little time and energy with small talk and banter, however, and filled their half-hour-ish set with their group singalong-heavy brand of street punk. It really is genuinely impressive to watch a non-hometown band fill an opening slot at a sold out show with such a high level of uptempo audience participation (including a guest spot from Burning Streets’ Drew Juliano who took Hart’s guitar so the latter could launch himself into the audience himself).
Grand Rapids-based four-piece, and Falcon Red Scare labelmates The Lippies were second out of the gate on the evening. Led by frontwoman Tonia Broucek, the self-described feminist pop punk act served as a bit of a welcome change of pace on the evening, with a style that has drawn obvious comparisons to such influential bands like The Avengers and mid-90s riot grrrl acts like Bikini Kill. Sadly, for time reasons that were not of their own making, the band’s set got cut one song short at the last minute in unfortunate anticlimactic fashion.
Boston’s own Trophy Lungs kicked the evening off, and if you’re going to look for a Boston-area melodic punk band to kick off a show for a national touring act, you could do a hell of a lot worse than the now four-piece band (drummer Brendan Guerin and co-frontmen Kevin Bogart and Kelly McGuire are now joined by second guitarist Dave Isolender, playing only his second show with the band on this particular evening). It’s been fun to watch the buzz build for these dudes, who finally put out their debut full length, Day Jobs, toward the end of last year, and continue to garner positive acclaim, based in large part on their tight, high-energy live show.
Head below to check out our photo album from the legitimately memorable evening.