[UPDATED with Varsity Drag set list below] Varsity Drag's fiery Friday night headlining set at PA's Lounge was notable for a number of reasons. First, the Cambridge, Mass.-based indie punk stalwarts have maintained the edge to their live show that they brought back from their fall UK tour. Second, the band has apparently fully integrated charming cellist Aliah Rosenthal into its stage show, adding a surprising new dimension to songs we'd never heard him play on. And for fans afraid that the addition of electric cello can only portend ill, un-rocking things for Varsity Drag: fear not. Mr. Rosenthal most certainly rocks.
It was also notable that The Drag played not one of fronter Ben Deily's classic Lemonheads cuts. We suspect that says more about the depth and quality of the Varsity Drag catalog at this point than it does about Mr. Deily's affinity -- and the collective affinity of fans -- for the older tracks. And while our calls for "Ever" at the close of last night's set went unheeded, we were more than pleased with the final selection, Varsity Drag's infrequently aired, wholly gripping cover of The Cure's annihilating "Push" from 1985's The Head On The Door record. As part of its UK label's 20th anniversary Varsity Drag has also been working up and recording a cover of Ipanema's "White Cat In A Snowstorm." The Drag's live performance of the tune was searing, and we look forward to hearing the recording of the track. According to this recent interview Deily gave, Varsity Drag is planning an EP that will contain the Ipanema cover as well as four bonus tracks from the sessions for the band's superlative 2009 long-player Night Owls [review here].
Soccermom, who we profiled here earlier this month, were a revelation. The quartet's quietly determined stage presence belies its dense, visceral guitar attack. Indeed, the recordings we've heard that will grace Soccermom's forthcoming debut single only approximate the squawl and punch of the live renderings of Soccermom's compositions. The tracks on the single, "High On Dad" and "Bill Cosby In Glamorous Chains," bring to mind the relatively more controlled and architected sounds of Polvo. But Soccermom on stage through brute guitar force earn comparisons to the music of the earliest incarnation of Lilys (1991-1992) and even Rodan, although perhaps with less of the melodic sense of the former or the dynamic rhythms of the latter. We look forward to seeing these guys a lot more in the future. Soccermom is slated to play O'Brien's May 5 as part of the E.R. residency.
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