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The Mass Media

Read Yellow: Leaves Audience Black and Blue

Why would any 18 year-old kid from New York choose to move up to Boston? Well, Boston naissance of the Pixies could offer me an alternative the overbearing hipness of New York. Surely there are cool bands from Boston, I can make a humble life for myself discovering little bands that I can fall in love with, right? NO! What did I actually discover? Nautical star punk rock, people who actually respect the Mighty Mighty Bostones, and 80-thousand watered-down shit bands that look like 1976 and sound like Blink 182. On rare occasions, I have seen some cool bands-the bands they played with were either of the generic variety, or some other brand of loser-suck. Now, I am not saying that there aren’t any bands in Boston that are good, worth going to see, or even buying their record. It could easily be the case that I am just not cool enough to recognize some worthwhile happenings in Boston. I can, however, attest for my disappointment in what I found when I moved here, and have talked to many of you people out there, and I think a lot of you agree with me.

Perhaps that is my roundabout critique of how dissatisfied I have been with Boston bands and their cookie-cutter fans, but I am pleased to endorse a band through record and live show. Read Yellow is a group I was first interested in through listening to The Left End on WERS. I picked up their record over the summer and had a heart attack at the idea that I could genuinely think a band in Boston is actually cool. After reading the music issue of the Improper Bostonian (with a lovely cover shot of the band) and finding out they were playing at Great Scott in Allston, I got all excited.

Allston, of course, can also be annoying with its own brand of Fisher Price hip-kids, BUT I have to admit that I am happy to see Great Scott emerging as a cool little place to drink beer with your friends and see bands for cheap. Also, I have to admit that I missed the first band, Oil, on account of drinking beer in my apartment is even cheaper. If it makes anyone feel better, my friend Ryan said they were cool-and they’re from Holland, which also means they are from the Netherlands…any band that is from two places at the same time must be good, right?

Transistor Transistor, who I watched from my tiny stool and half sized table, actually surprised me. I think it’s a good sign when you have no intention of paying attention to an opening band, but they end up being good and MAKE you pay attention. I was even more surprised when I was trying to find some information on the band and stumbled across a bio that included 20 years worth of records and band members with names the likes of ‘vomit’ and ‘dead’. Let us not be confused, local Transistor Transistor is not the Norwegian deathmachine with the same name. However, just because they didn’t have gwar-esk costumes, have been together for over 20 years, or indicate otherwise that they had names such as ‘dead’ and ‘vomit,’ doesn’t mean that they aren’t as cool. They’re getting a lot of press on their live show and bonus points for just releasing a split with the band Wolves.

I feel confident endorsing Read Yellow and agreeing with most everyone who writes about the intensity of their live show, despite two factors. One, it’s easier to get into at band when you’ve had a nice quantity of booze…we all know this. Two: if you’ve been listening to the record in your bedroom obsessively and know every single song, it’s easier to get into the live show. Let’s pretend those factors weren’t apparent when I saw them last week, because I want to tell you a few things and I need to be credible here. The singer, Evan Kenney, made some appearances in the crowed basement-show style screaming and sweating in everyone’s face. This is not to be confused with the performance-type lead singer aching to be dramatic. I believe our pal Evan wanted us all to share in his rocking-out. It must be said that all the dudes were drooling over the hot bass player (ok maybe I was too), but she wasn’t a nominal brain-dead add-in; her vocals put some sweetness in all the sweating. I refuse to make the often-cited comparison to Kim Deal in this situation. So what if Read Yellow is Boston via UMass Amherst? So what if they have a hot bass player who does backing vocals to contrast with the singer’s yelps? I will not associate their story with The Pixies, but I will speculate that they may bring some pride back to Boston. They have toured Europe, had sex with John Peel and, most importantly, impressed me.

It’s nice to know that a band often labeled as “art punks” don’t remind you of a bad MassArt show. Basically they were awesome, go see them-you’ll know why the Reading Festival wanted them, you’ll believe me when I tell you the too-cool kids flailed and floundered around, and if you too are unsatisfied by Boston bands, you can at least look forward to Read Yellow, ’cause maybe the singer will get sweat on you too.