Because we were late in making our way over, I was concerned that we’d walk in halfway through the first band. Turns out our timing was perfect. This was one of the many Friday nights that Great Scott was sporting a two-show bill. The first show was, as it often is, “The Gas” hosted by Anderson Comedy – a comedy show featuring some of the top local, regional and national comedic acts. I’ve seen acts as big as Marc Maron in there, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Many of the comics were still milling about as we walked in at around 9:09 pm. Their show had wrapped and the stage was being built for The Fagettes, the night’s opening band. We were met at the door by a friendly door guy who took our IDs and our $10 cover charge (apiece) while reminding us (in a helpful, non-obnoxious way) that Great Scott was a cash-only establishment. In fact, hanging over the bar at Great Scott is a sign that says “CASH ONLY Great Scott encourages you to live within your means” – a knowing nod to the neighborhood and clientele.
Let’s talk about the neighborhood first. Corner of Comm Ave and Harvard Ave in Allston. As an alum of Boston University, I know the neighborhood exceptionally well. Friends from the suburbs have described it as dirty and dangerous. It is neither. It is busy, it is gritty and it is full. If you want clubs, you are in the wrong neck of town. There is beer, there is music, there is food and the T runs right up its spine. We were using Uber that night (because we were cold and lazy) but it would have been 2 buses and 30 min if I didn’t feel like using Uber – not undoable at all. If I’d driven, there are meters pretty much everywhere and they never seem to be full.
Back inside the club, I recognized three groups of people – the first was a table of comics, recapping their recently-ended show. The second was a group with Chris Decarlo, a writer for The Noise – a local music mag. I had gone to high school with Chris’ brothers and gotten to know him better when he stumbled across my band a few years ago at a show at the now-closed Rosebud Cafe. The third group was members of local rock group, The Luxury. Their lead singer, Jason Dunn, is another musician that goes into the ‘socially affable’ bucket, for sure. I spent time conversing with people in all three groups throughout the night and also spent some time on my own with my girlfriend, just enjoying the music. Point being – none of these people were my best friends – most of them I had met only 2-5 times prior to that night. But local shows are kind of like parties and, when you show up, most everyone is glad to see you.
Fagettes at The Rock & Roll Rumble.
(Photo courtesy of Daykamp Music.)
PBRs are cheap at Great Scott – $3.50 for a tallboy, cheap. Since I’d splurged on scotch at the last stop and was paying for the rides, I joined about 80% of the crowd in drinking Milwaukee’s finest Union Made lager. The girlfriend would suffer no such swill. So beer snobs, rejoice – there are options for both demographics. The show, advertised for a 9:30 start, began at 10:01 (this is typical) when The Fagettes took the stage. I have stated before that this is not a band review blog, so I’m not going to review their performance, or anyone else’s.
When the show started, I counted approximately 60 people in the room. During the first band, probably the least overpoweringly loud of the three, the crowd was even dispersed – about 25 right up front by the stage, about 20 in the narrow channel/hallway between the bar and the stage and about 25 standing at the high-top tables facing the stage in the back near the bar. We stood at the high-top in the bar that was closest to the stage, as my failure to protect my ears on stage lo these past 9 years has taken its toll. The fact that I had an option is a very strong endorsement of Great Scott as a place to catch a show.
After a 34 minute set from The Fagettes, the turnover for the second band began. For the next twenty-eight minutes, people socialized, smoked, refreshed their drinks, took shots and hit up the restroom. The second band (Earthquake Party!) was much, much louder than their predecessors. Their guitarist was, by his own admission, trying out a LARGE new amp rig and he was getting his money’s worth. I expected the distribution of the audience to shift when they started – and they did – the crowd actually went CLOSER. The bar all but cleared out and the area by the stage filled in. Take a lesson, noobs – loud can be fun. There was no hope of conversing while they played, so the crowd did something that shouldn’t seem so surprising – they listened to the music they came to see, instead.
It was around this time we learned that we were at a benefit for a girl named Lianne Segar, whom I have never met. She was hit by a car while crossing the street and the show’s organizers had pulled together a hasty raffle offering tickets to local venues and gift certificates to local businesses. Tickets were five bucks, I only had a twenty and felt like a dick asking for change from charity – so I bought four. Also, random aside – if you really want to go catch a local show at its best, go to a benefit. Local musicians love doing them, their friends love being a part of them, everyone (for the most part) tends to drop their rockstar bullshit for a night and play like a part of a community – a community they’re only too happy to welcome you into.
Mean Creek (Photo from The Hard Rock in FL)
Earthquake Party! wrapped their set at 31 minutes, and 27 minutes after that, at exactly midnight, Mean Creek took the stage. Sometimes in local music “headliner” means “the band that a promoter or organizing band is fucking over by making them wait the longest and making sure the crowds from the other three bands have had a chance to leave before you go on”. Sorry, but it does – if you disagree go have a nice warm bowl of ‘getoveryourself’. That said, every once in a great while “headliner” means what it’s supposed to mean – “the band that people will wait all night to watch.” That certainly seemed to be the case.
The crowd stayed roughly the same size from start to finish – between 60-75. A solid (and happy) crowd, but well below the club’s capacity. The room’s booker, Carl Lavin, was hanging around so I asked him what his feelings were on the night. He acknowledged that he’d always prefer to see the club sold out, but was definitely happy with the turnout and the result. He cited the holiday and the weather as reasons why a night like this typically carried low expectations, but refereed to the crowd in the room as “the home team” who had rallied for the cause for which funds were being raised. Very cool.
Halfway through Mean Creek‘s set, they halted to draw for the raffle. Turns out I won twice (whoops), so I auctioned one of my winning tickets right there on stage to try to drum up a little extra cash. I am known in some corners of the scene, but not super well in this one – taking home two prizes wasn’t really the intro I was looking for. I was just there to say some hellos, make some new friends and see some music.
At the conclusion of Mean Creek‘s set, we said our goodbyes and hooked a ride home. With three rides, 2 admissions, 4 raffle tickets (two of them won), 9 beers, two shots and one scotch between us – total out of pocket for gf and I was under a hundred bucks.
Good start, Boston.
Get well, Lianne.
– Mick Greenwood
Read part 1: (Show #1)