The Sidekicks are no strangers to Boston, but their venue of choice, Great Scott, was already booked this night with the hyped/lo-fi/Jackson 5-esque Sheer Mag (sold out, naturally). With Allston’s pool of DIY spaces ever-dwindling thanks to local law enforcement’s chokehold, they nestled into the small O’Brien’s Pub with tourmates All Dogs on this warm Monday evening, and made the most of it by selling every available ticket in advance before doors opened.
Locals Save Ends and Fucko opened it up. I missed the latter, unfortunately. The former are locals who often open shows of this variety in Allston, so I’ve caught them a few times previously, and this was definitely the best I’ve seen them; their coed vocal harmonies were smoothed out and the songs felt more urgent than usual.
With the crowd seemingly warmed up, All Dogs took the stage next, plowing through a tidy half-hour of their earnest indie punk with most songs coming from their new album, Kicking Every Day. While a few of their songs get a little muddled in a mid-tempo jangle with little dynamism to give them a special spark, others have more memorable riffs and stop-starts that make things more consistently engaging. Granted, singer/guitarist (and Boston-bred) Maryn Jones’ lyrics tend to be a highlight, ripe with scathing honesty and vulnerability, so normally they’d be a plus; they’re harder to make out live beneath the distortion, though (even on O’Brien’s’ new PA system), so it’s the music that has to carry All Dogs—and more often than not, it certainly did.
The Sidekicks then finally came on to tear through 40 minutes of pure bliss. O’Brien’s is common ground for sloppy punk bands where it’s occasionally hard to make out the vocals, but between the Sidekicks’ energized and professional playing and the venue’s shiny new PA, they sounded all-around excellent. They stuck strictly to their two most recent full-lengths, 2012’s Awkward Breeds and their newest effort, Runners In The Nerved World, which they played about half of (and almost totally from Side A). But it made for an even keel between Breeds’ scrappier slant and Runners’ more polished Band of Horses-esque crispness and Johnny Marr-ish guitars (see “The Kid Who Broke His Wrist”), with the naked emotion of “1940’s Fighter Jet” always a highlight. Though the band opted to sing the chorus of the enlivening “DMT” an octave lower or so than on record (and I’m a sucker for those climactic high notes they would otherwise hit), it was a fun end to the set that sparked some minor pit action.
Set list (10:18 p.m – 10:58 p.m.):
Hell Is Warm
Everything In Twos
Jesus Christ Supermalls
1940’s Fighter Jet
Summer Brings You Closer to Satan
The Kid Who Broke His Wrist
— Substream Magazine (@Substream) August 28, 2015