July 9, 2011
That Was The Show That Was: The Grownup Noise | Johnny D's, Somerville | 8 July
Brilliant, Boston-based folk pop superlatives The Grownup Noise's hour of stirring, upbeat material Friday night marked at least a few milestones. In addition to being accordion-fingerer/keyboard banger Todd Marsten's birthday, the performance was the last Boston date with cellist and back-up singer Katie Franich, who is leaving the band to pursue an advanced degree in Chicago. The set was also billed as the band's summer tour kick-off (dates below), but fronter Paul Hansen mentioned from the stage The Grownup Noise was rounding out a week of dates with lively San Franciscans Blisses B (both bands took to the floor with acoustic instruments for the latter act's rousing final number), so we were a bit confused. But no matter. For those unfamiliar with The Grownup Noise, the quintet trades in smiling, wry pop, blessed with neatly arranged, McCartney-grade composition and an undercurrent of Westerberg-styled depression.
Last night's show drew heavily from the band's sophomore full-length This Time With Feeling, which was released earlier this year on the heels of the rock-solid Shall We? EP sprung in late 2010 (a self-titled record was released in 2007). But there were also a few new songs in the set as well. The breezy winner "Strawmen" opened the evening, and a fully realized and beatific "Outside" -- released as a spare solo composition on the aforementioned Shall We? -- closed out the triumphant set. Between the two the crowd was treated to a transcendent "Six Foot Solemn Oath" -- which features a desperately beautiful duet layering of Mr. Hansen and Ms. Franich's voices in its second half -- as well as the gripping new number "Fight Against Paranoia" and a wacky take on "Midnight Hour." Wacky because as the band jammed toward a finish Hansen and Marsten traded licks including varying themes from the Star Wars soundtrack, the A-Team theme and the lead salvo from "Crazy Train."
Which leads us to this point. One thing we noted last night is just how deft a guitarist fronter Hansen is. He occasionally unfurled some attention-grabbing leads, undulating streams of melody that spread like thrown spools of wide, shiny ribbon. It wasn't flashy, it was just really wonderful, and given how little of it Hansen incorporates, it makes it all the more special when it comes out. We don't envy Mr. Hansen's potential/probable search for a voice as perfectly suited to the job of trading lines with his own as that of Ms. Franich, but we're hopeful. The Grownup Noise has a very busy summer ahead, as evidenced by the cascade of appearances listed below, but really, at this point, we selfishly just want them to stay in town and play for us. Buy This Time With Feeling at Bandcamp right here.
The Grownup Noise: Intertrousers | Facebook | YouTube | Soundcloud
07.31 -- THE ROCK SHOP -- BROOKLYN, NY
08.03 -- DANGER DANGER GALLERY -- PHILADELPHIA, PA
08.04 -- VELVET LOUNGE -- WASHINGTON , DC
08.05 -- KAFE KEROUAC -- COLUMBUS, OH
08.06 -- UNCLE SLAYTON'S -- LOUISVILLE, KY
08.07 -- SOUTH PARK TAVERN -- DAYTON, OH
08.08 -- SCHUBAS -- CHICAGO, IL
08.09 -- THE 5 SPOT -- NASHVILLE, TN
08.11 -- HI-DIVE -- DENVER, CO
08.15 -- SILVERLAKE LOUNGE -- LOS ANGELES, CA
08.17 -- THE UPTOWN -- OAKLAND, CA
08.18 -- HEMLOCK TAVERN -- SAN FRANCISCO , CA
08.19 -- THE DISTILLERY -- SACRAMENTO, CA
08.23 -- THE KNIFE SHOP -- PORTLAND, OR
08.24 -- HI-DIVE -- SEATTLE , WA