In January, I had the incredible pleasure of seeing La Dispute at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass., a relatively new venue on the Boston music scene. I absolutely fell in love with the venue that night — it’s small, intimate, and run by a staff that is so incredibly nice it’s a little hard to believe. So I’ve taken to checking on their upcoming shows every few weeks so that I can return.
On Saturday, July 13, I did just that. Once again, I went with AR, who’s quickly become one of my favorite gig buddies. We stood on the balcony for the La Dispute show and were grateful for it — the crowd was nuts and we were both somewhat under the weather that night. But on Saturday, we got to the venue early and stood right up against the stage. And it was great.
The Bynars, a Boston-based alternative band that gave me some bizarre Everclear vibes, opened. They hit the stage at around 8:30 p.m. and played for just over half an hour. At first, I thought they were very cute. They had a dapper look with matching suits and the lead singer’s voice was fairly unique. But the longer they played, the less interested I became. I think I would really enjoy The Bynars’ recorded stuff — it has a vibe that I’m into and I enjoyed the sound. But live, it was a bit hard to get into them, because there just wasn’t as much crowd interaction or energy as I would have liked to see.
That lack of energy was brought into stark relief when The Wild (from Atlanta) took the stage. The bass drum on their kit read, “Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep loving. Keep fighting.” And to be honest, the band’s overall aesthetic and sound reminded both me and AR of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Actually, the whole night kind of reminded me of it. (The Bynars were Are You Randy?, obviously). The Wild were fucking great. Their lyrics, vocals, and sound were completely cohesive. The band had a really cute vibe and their energy was off the charts. Watching their set was like being filled with joy. I loved every minute of it.
When The Front Bottoms took the stage just after 10 p.m., the joy only increased. At this point, as it usually does when the headliner takes the stage, the crowd went batshit. There was a lot of pushing and there were a ton of crowdsurfers — many of them repeaters throughout the set, which was about 90 minutes (a perfect length, in my opinion). Reed and I stuck it out, though, and managed to maintain our spot at the corner of the stage.
The Front Bottoms are possibly one of the happiest bands I’ve ever seen live. They just seemed so pleased to be on stage and playing music, and the amount of crowd interaction was great. Lead singer Brian Sella took gifts from the crowd, the entire band tossed out glow sticks and beach balls, and Sella made jokes and even called out the absolutely bullshit verdict on the George Zimmerman case. He handed out water to some of the very overheated fans in the front row and was just generally a super nice dude.
Plus, The Front Bottoms’ music live is so much better than it is on the recorded albums. I got into the band just a few months ago and I love them. There’s a feeling to the music that’s happy but also kind of bitter, and it’s really, really, really lovely. The set on Saturday was a solid mix of old and new material, as well, and the band even took a request from the crowd to play an old favorite (“12 Feet Deep”).
The guys seemed so genuinely nice — we were even given water by the keyboardist/trumpeter, and after the show, he gave Reed the setlist. (It was soaked in what we’re pretty sure was Pabst Blue Ribbon, but might have just been water. At any rate, the handwriting is all smudged but still legible. That adds to the experience, really.)
We briefly met some of The Wild at the merch table and their bassist gave us water during The Front Bottoms’ set as well. He was standing in the “backstage” area but could see us through bars on the side of the stage, and reached over to hand me a bottle. (“It looks hot up there! Do you want some water?” What a cutie.) Both waters were handed around to the girls next to and behind me, as well — despite how crazy and energetic the crowd was, the group at the front pretty much had each other’s backs. It was nice. The whole vibe of the show was just nice. I don’t have another word for it. I had a lovely time.
Once again, The Sinclair provided a concert experienced unparalleled to anything I’ve had before. I can’t wait to go back. And I can’t wait to see some of these bands a second time.