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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Soundtrack of summer

Published: September 2, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

Intro: June
The endless days of basking in the sun on a beautiful beach;

these are the moments that remind people of those glorious months of summer. Yet, Im not one of those people;

I tend to burn whenever I go to the beach. This doesnt bother me at all, because I still enjoy summer as much as the next person. What I love about summer is something I love every day of the year: music. For me, summer provides the ability to see almost any band in concert, discover new bands, and just enjoy it all.

Its hard to pick out what some of the more eventful musical experiences that the summer of 2005 has put on were. So, Ive decided to try and sum it all up in a way which I usually choose to share my music with both close friends and casual acquaintances: by making a mix. No, its not just any mix;

in fact, this mix is a summation of all the highlights of the summer.

Track I: No Wave (pt1) Terrible Lie
On May 13th, Nine Inch Nails captivated a sea of black-cloaked fans at the Orpheum Theater, lighting the fans into a dancing fury with the first seconds of Terrible Lie. After a six-year hiatus, Trent Reznor and the newly reformed NIN blasted back onto the rock scene with the release of With Teeth. Reznor put his entire essence into every second of the two hour set, blasting emotion and voracity through their entire catalog, from the new single The Hand That Feeds, to the classic song that started it all, Head Like a Hole. Every second of the sold-out show was a wonderful look, albeit brief, into Reznors brilliant, damaged, and revolutionary mind.

Track II: No Wave (pt2) Alive
I told you VHS or Beta would steal the show, a giddy fan shouted after the Kentucky band finished their set at Siren Music Festival. VHS not only put on the best performance of the entire free festival at Coney Island, but managed to play one of the best shows of the summer. The disco-fused rock group, who sound like a soulful Robert Smith (of the Cure) singing alongside the Bee Gees, shook the stage and wooed the crowd with sonic dance numbers. VHS or Beta was the only band that got people to dance at the festival;

as soon as a group of teenagers destroyed a gigantic Incredible Hulk beach ball, a gigantic dance pit formed near the front of the stage and drew in gleeful fans waving their hands in the air to songs like Alive and No Cabaret. At the end of the set, a crowd of smiling, sweating fans joyfully embraced each other after seeing what may have been the best performance of July.

Track III: Boston Bands (pt1) Escape Clause
Escaping is just what happened to three of the Boston areas most prominent acts on the local scene. Clickers, a post-punk collective, held their last show at Great Scott on June 13th. The bands sound, celebrated by many in the area, resembled much of Fugazis material, with fast-paced instrumentals and full-throttle lyrics injected into every song. Yet, their last album, ep002, showed an interesting progression of their sound, with a slight splash of electronica beats and slightly reserved instrumentation, such as the hand clap-inducing track Youth In Transit.

The Stairs, a college band from Dedham, Massachusetts, played their funeral show at OBriens on August 11th. The critics darlings released their last album, On Sleep Lab, just months beforehand, but the inevitable pull of grad school is what ended the band. It also ended a band which created some of the most melodic indie rock around;

with songs such as Escape Clause, and Forty Two, the Stairs were able to create songs with pop catchiness without damaging their rock leanings.

Karate, the Allston-grown experimental jazz trio, broke up rather suddenly after their last show in Rome on July 10th, due to frontman Geoff Farinas continual hearing problems. The group, which has been playing for over a decade, was riding high off their latest album, Pockets, and having drawn a cult following in America and Europe, leaves in its exit the complete loss of their unique sound. Although many continually drew comparisons to Steely Dan, the groups mix of jazz and indie rock, combined with post-punk and emo undertones, which flowed as freely and effortlessly as their songs, is something that wont be heard anytime soon.

Track IV: Boston Bands (pt2) Where is my Mind?
That was the question I found myself asking by the end of Pixies surprise concert on August 8th at the Paradise. I cant tell which is more of a surprise: Pixies playing a show in a cramped venue after selling out arenas, or Pixies playing a show before my eyes. Somehow, I was one of the lucky 500 or so in the audience who get to attend what one fan in line deemed, the best show of the summer. It may or may not have been, but for whatever it was, it was something: here was a group of middle-aged musicians who look nearly as unrecognizable as some washed up bar band, playing slightly odd songs. Yet, they managed to turn the entire club on its head, playing everything from classics such as Bone Machine and Hey to a cover of Neil Youngs Winterlong. As Kim Deal let her siren-like howl fill the air during their performance of Where is my Mind?, I felt chills rise up my back as I realized just how surreal, yet phenomenal, the entire night was.

Outro: How it Ends
Just as fast as a Minutemen song, the summer came and went. While I found enjoyment in an oddball set of music, I certainly know everyone has their separate perfect summer day. Mine just happens to be one of me crammed in a small club, blasted by music instead of sunbeams.