The inimitable Mike Watt brought his Missingmen project through the greater Boston area – Somerville, to be exact – last week on what he’s dubbed the Dick Watt Tour. It’s a little bit of a different lineup than the Missingmen we’ve seen in these here parts in years passed; Watt and his longtime ax-man Tom Watson were joined by the fresh-faced Nick Aguilar behind the drumkit as previous Missingman drummer Raul Morales has retired from the road after starting a family. Aguilar is probably best known on the pages of Dying Scene for his work in Neighborhood Brats, and not only is the son of a fella that Watt and his Minutemen counterparts D. Boon and George Hurley went to high school with, but he’s the precise age that trio was when they started their legendary band. Cool!
The setting on this night was the ONCE Ballroom, a quirky, 300 capacity spot that has the feel of a wedding venue gone sideways; the kind of place that thankfully still exists in the ever-gentrifying greater Boston area. Frankly, in that regard, it’s the perfect venue for a guy such as Watt. If you’ll recall back to our chat on these pages a few weeks ago, the present run constitutes Watt’s sixty-seventh tour, with the caveat that he considers a tour to be anything longer than a month, meaning that he’s seemingly been on the road jamming econo forever. The legendary – a term I don’t use lightly – Watt and his comrades took the stage a few minutes late (local opener Minibeast ran a little over, more on that later) and proceeded to blow through well over two dozen songs over the course of the evening. Sure they played Watt solo material and a handful of requisite Minutemen songs, but they also included covers by such varied – and sometimes obscure – acts like Blue Oyster Cult and Redd Krayola and The Pop Group for good measure. The trio’s unique stage set-up, with Aguilar’s drum kit front-and-center but angled about 45 degrees toward Watt’s stage left, created an interesting stage dynamic, with Watt and Watson trading vocal duties and Watt planting himself almost uncomfortably at Aguilar’s side for chunks of time. Despite the relatively few shows they had under their collective belts and the numerous twists and turns a Mike Watt set can take, this version of the Missingmen sounded tight, largely in sync, and loaded for bear.
As I mentioned above, Minibeast opened the show and I’d never head them before and holy hell I’d been missing out. The Rhode Island-based trio is fronted by Peter Prescott, whom readers of a certain age might recognize from his days in the iconic Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma. Through a combination of vocals and guitar and loops and keyboards and myriad other technological instruments I couldn’t begin to name, Prescott generates an endless array of sounds and textures from his corner of the stage while the duo of Keith Seidel (drums) and Niels LaWhite (bass) combine to form the tightest and goddamned heaviest rhythm section I’ve heard live in quite some time; dynamic, thunderous, rock-steady. Seriously; watch this and see for yourself.
Check out more photos from the dimly lit shindig below. Tough sledding for a rank amateur such as myself, but you get the idea!