March 29, 2009

That Was The Show That Was: Varsity Drag | Cantab Lounge

Varsity Drag, Cantab Lounge, March 28, 2009
While the sleeping habits of our local rock luminaries are truly none of your business, we think if there is a teaching point to be drawn from last night's air-tight, rock-steady performance by Cambridge-based indie-punk trio Varsity Drag, it is that if your drummer wants to nap before the show, go ahead and let him. Recently ensconced Varsity Drag timekeeper Josh Pickering apparently did just that last night, and when the band took the stage at midnight he set things off with incendiary, sometimes punishing drum work and a firm command of the backing vocal harmonies. We don't break out the phrase "two-fisted pummelation" often -- at least not outside the context of Grant Hutchison -- but we feel like what we saw last night from the drum stool qualifies as just that. Mr. Pickering's energy fueled the evening and locked down the guitar and bass, and the proceedings punched along and turned on a dime with precision. The band, fronted by guitarist Ben Deily and abetted by bassist Lisa Marie Deily, ran through highlights of its 2005 set For Crying Out Loud, selections from Mr. Deily's wonderful contributions to the Lemonheads oeuvre, two new tunes and apparently a Soft Boys cover.

The evening commenced with the infectious anthem "Summertime" and closed with the Lemonheads classic "2nd Chance." The set was filled out with fan favorites "Billy Ruane," "Miles Of Ocean," "Two Weeks In Another Town" and "7 Powers." It was the heaviest of several performances we've seen by the band, and we believe the band wears it very well. With Pickering now ably executing harmonies, we're hoping "Hello It's Me" works its way into the band's live set, as we can't recall whether we've seen that rocker performed live. The new number "Animal" stood out for its strong dynamics; it seemed the song was as much about the music itself as opposed to the music being simply a jaunty bed for lyrics, in a way we don't recall seeing from the trio previously.

Varsity Drag, as readers know from this post Thursday, are prepping the release of the live set Rock & Roll Is Such A Hassle this July, as well as a digital-only EP of new material to tease a full-length that could be completed by year's end. Fans will be pleased to learn the Drag has taken delivery of a new pressing of the For Crying Out Loud 10" and new t-shirts from its European label Boss Tunage, and we recommend getting your mitts on at least the former as soon as possible. We don't see any pending shows listed at Varsity Drag's MySpace outpost right now, but we may have heard and promptly forgotten some relevant banter about forthcoming shows last night. As is our wont, we snapped some digital photos last night and you can watch a slide show of the stuff that passed muster right here. As far as other goodies go, we've got the live recording of the band's minor Boston radio hit "Billy Ruane" that will be offered as part of Rock & Roll Is Such A Hassle when the set is released. So check it out.

Varsity Drag -- "Billy Ruane (Live)" -- Rock & Roll Is Such A Hassle
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[buy in-print Varsity Drag rock and roll music right here]

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