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The Mass Media

Musical Potpourri: Sweetfist

Musical Potpourri: Sweetfist
Toni Carolina

Outside in a treacherous downpour disgruntled people huddled in corners or under overhangs. If they had only taken off their raincoats and stepped inside the warm and welcoming Middle East Downstairs this past Friday May 12th, 2006 they might have cheered up. The downstairs was pumping and the people who ventured through the storm were rewarded with a blissful musical performance by the band Sweetfist. From Salem, Sweetfist’s unique style, equal parts folk, rock, and alternative mystified the audience and whether they were rocking on their tip- toes or spinning free, everyone was affected by the music that infiltrated our souls.

I caught the tail end of a Sweetfist show a few months back when I snuck in a door left open by cigarette smokers: what I stepped into surprised me – it was like an underground club; a secret society – a musical movement: devoted fans singing the words of this music that has no real description, their style is something too hard to define. On the CD website www.cdbaby.com I found what has put into words a clear idea of what this band is, “It’s difficult to explain precisely, the Sweetfist sound. It has to be experienced. But, just for the hell of it, imagine Metallica, Marley and Matthews in a musical blender” After sneaking in that night and getting a taste of Sweetfist I knew I had to see a full length show – and stat.

I was impressed that a band like Sweetfist was around this area. I’m used to going to shows that end with me climbing out of the dark hole of a dank club smelling of punk-funk with a heavy ache in my heart from the mood set by the emo or screamo music of local bands, watching the herds of boys and girls with their black eyeliner running, but that is not Sweetfist’s style by any stretch of the imagination! After Friday’s show I had music in my heart and I was dancing for the rest of the evening. The entire audience was smiling by the end of their set, people were hugging one and other, giving their friends “Cheers” and yelling “Fist” in response to lead singer Dan’s “Sweet”. The crowd was yelling for an encore long after the band left the stage. “Sweet!”…”Fist!” is all I heard.

Sweetfist is extremely important to the music world today. It is something new, crisp and different than what is on the radio or filling up the club scenes in Boston and Cambridge. Sweetfist makes you feel like you’re in another place at another time, where the sun is shining and the air is warm and clean, even in the cold rain. The lead singer Dan Carlson’s voice captures a genuine urgency he is also a guitar playing dancer who sets the mood for the audience, with Chris Fuller on guitars, Dave Gale on Bass and Dave Share on drums these guys make up the quartet which formed in 2003

This Friday was their full-length album release for Then is Now, which consists of 11 songs that each have their own personality, message, and style. The sick drum beats in the song “Phat Chance” are accompanied by what sounds like organic free styled lyrics by Carlson. This was one of the crowd’s favorites and the first song of the debut CD. The song “Don’t Stop” makes you want to do just that – don’t stop dancing. Dan’s voice takes on a reggae feel when he sings about “spitting bullets” and “mullets!” and the guitar riffs that open the song are impeccable.

“Cigarette” describes the struggles of life with low cash funds, “Trying to live life with no cigarette money” and it has a feel similar to some Sublime tunes. The band slowed it down with “Liar” a poignant song of love and loneliness, which only enhances their depth as a band, like their song “Beyond” a gentle and melodic love tune.

Sweetfist is a band that doesn’t adhere to any specific genre, whose message goes in more than one direction: at times optimistic and dance ready; and at other times reflective and urgently poignant.

To support and check out the regional band Sweetfist check their website www.sweetfist.com where you can find a link to listen to some of their tunes or purchase their CD for the low price of 12.97, They are on Myspace.com as well.

Up & Coming Sweetfist Shows:

Wed. May 24, 2005: Lucky Dog Music Hall, 89 Green Street, Worcester, MA: 9pm No cover 21

Sat. May 27, 2005: Max’s Blues Café, 68 Field Street, Brockton, MA: All Ages @ 6pm Sat. June 24, 2006: Palladium, Worcester, MA: Doors @ 4pm w/ BADFISH (a tribute to Sublime): Tickets – $16