Images courtesy of Sidney Gish, Vundabar, and Future Teens Bandcamps
Review by Haley Barhtel
The doors opened at 7 pm. When I arrived at 7:05 pm there was already a long line outside the doors of the Paradise Rock Club to see Vundabar, the headliner, with openers Future Teens and Sidney Gish. Paradise Rock Club is a small venue in Boston, right on Boston University’s campus, where many local artists frequently perform. Vundabar, Sidney Gish, and Future Teens are all Boston-based musicians which made this performance feel very intimate. While waiting in line, it was clear that this was a college scene. Most people in line were young twenty-somethings with their friends, and it honestly could’ve been a concert near Brown’s campus on a Friday night. As I entered the venue, my shoes stuck to the floor in the dimly lit room. The stage was elevated and there was just an open space for general admission, with a small balcony above. I waited around with clumps of other college kids until the concert started at 8 pm.
Future Teens was the first opener. The self-described “bummer pop band” was the smallest group of the night with 7,485 monthly listeners on Spotify (compared to Sidney Gish’s 130,539 and Vundabar’s 183,375). But regardless, they seemed comfortable on stage as they danced with each other and sang. As they got on stage, Amy and Daniel, the two singers of the group, engaged in some banter with the crowd, saying that they were nervous and this was the biggest show they had ever played. The group was very high energy as the drums pounded and they performed choreographed guitar moves. And even though most people in the crowd didn’t know any of their songs, everyone bopped along. After a few songs, the band slowed down and Amy sang a quiet love song, with no drums or bass backing her up, a nice change of pace. Then it was back to their quirky and fun energetic jams. Near the end of their set, they played a song called “What’s My Sign Again?”. Amy probed Daniel to tell the crowd what the song was about. He jokingly objected, saying it was personal and embarrassing, but then proceeded to tell us about his ex-girlfriend, who had found out that their star signs were incompatible.
Next up was Sidney Gish, a 22-year-old college student. She came on stage in a plain black T shirt and jeans with just her electric guitar and a loop pedal. Before she started singing, she laughed at herself and thanked Amy of Future Teens for letting her borrow her guitar strap, because she left hers at home, a moment that showed her relatability and honesty. She opened with “I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance”, whose fun title is a testament to her unique and quirky lyrics. Throughout the performance she had some technical difficulties with the sound monitor, and although she was visibly nervous about it, it was very endearing. Once she started playing, any nerves she had clearly went away as she belted her songs. She had a really personal vibe, as if she was just performing for her best friends as she quickly introduced herself and said hello to her peers she saw in the crowd. I really enjoyed her lyrics, specifically “till I Uber up a giant park and dump my body in my dorm bed” in her song “Presumably Dead Arm” that felt really authentic. When she started playing the first chords of “Imposter Syndrome,” lots of people got excited, recognizing the tune as it’s one of her more popular songs. This song is about not feeling like you’re enough, a common feeling for young people, with lyrics like “Every other day I’m wondering / What’s a human being gotta be like? / What’s a way to just be competent?”. She thanked everyone as she finished her set and introduced Vundabar.
And finally, it was time for the headliner, Vundabar. An indie rock band consisting of Branden Hagen, Grayson Kirtland, and Drew McDonald. They’ have released three albums so far - Antics (2013), Gawk (2015), and Smell Smoke (2017). As they walked on stage, everyone started cheering as they had been anticipating the group all night. The venue was filled to the brim and I was shoulder-to-shoulder with those around me. They started their set off right away with loud upbeat drums, intense vocals, and lots of bright lights. By their second song, the crowd was entranced. Everyone was jumping up and down and it had truly turned into somewhat of a mosh pit. People were trying to crowd surf and I was getting pushed along with everyone as they danced. Branden, the vocalist and leader of the group, seemed very comfortable on stage and danced around confidently as he sang. During their hit “Oulala”, the song started with a guitar riff and muffled vocals and then broke out at the chorus. He encouraged everyone to sing along to the catchy “ououlalalala” that each chorus concluded with. At one point, he asked to slowly dim the lights until it was completely dark and then as the drums started again, the lights shot back on. The drums were so loud that you could feel them in your chest and I started to worry if they were going to break. “Alien Blues” was another favorite of the night with it’s almost mysterious sound and really fast paced lyrics that slow down before the chorus. Vundabar owned the stage and the crowd as they performed.
Overall, I had a great time at this concert. The small venue and the fact that all the artists are from Boston made the show feel very personal. Each performer had a very different sound which made for a great night of music.