Show Review: Midday Records, 95.5 WBRU, & Naragansett Beer Presents: The Sweet Release, The Skinny Millionaires, The Brother Kite, & The Morgana Phase at Mardi Gras in Cranston, RI

95.5 WBRULast night (Friday, April 18) was another fantastic night celebrating local music for Midday Records, 95.5 WBRU, Narragansett Beer, and Mardi Gras MultiClub Presents: The Sweet Release, The Skinny Millionaires, The Brother Kite, & The Morgana Phase at Mardi Gras in Cranston, RI

The Sweet ReleaseThe Sweat Release kicked off the night and we can say that everything you have been hearing about The Sweet Release is true. Musically, they borrow from 70’s punk, hard rock, and some classic rock. Frontman, Austin Sheridan is a combination of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop with a dash of GG Allin (without all the self-mutilation, defecation, and beating up fans). And we don’t say that lightly. Austin brings the sex, controversy and provocation, and one hell of a performance. When you see them you’ll either get it or you won’t. You’ll either love them or hate them. There is no in between.

10259706_844689025548644_5054199807491904484_nUp next were The Skinny Millionaires. Anyone who saw Mike O’Donnell play an acoustic set at The Midday Social and were expecting a similar sound with some drums, as we were, were in for a surprise. Mike gave an amazing performance at The Social but the full band brought more of a punk rock element to the table. They describe themselves as folk rock n roll and while their is plenty of rock there is also plenty of good old fashion punk. Especially in how they approach their backing vocals and harmonies. Pure bliss.

The Brother KiteThings shifted gears when The Brother Kite took the stage. Incredibly tight and absolutely beautiful. Last time we saw them was over at Fete Ballroom in Providence, RI opening for Civil Twilight. They’ve been around for some time and are just one of those bands that capture the beauty of local, independent music. Their sound is ethereal at times and rhythmic at others. As a musician watching other acts you often unintentionally zone in on the strengths as well as the weaknesses. There were no weaknesses. These guys are damn near flawless. Interesting and beautiful guitar work, extremely tight rhythm section, and vocals with harmonies that were spot on. I heard elements of Arcade Fire, Death Cab, and even some Cure (good Cure) in the lead lines of some of their older material.


The Morgana Phase95.5 WBRU were up last. These guys pull from post-hardcore with some punk/emo. It was definitely evident before they covered a Taking Back Sunday song that they were heavily influenced by them and bands like Brand New. They gave a very energetic performance, engaging the crowd and getting every last person in the venue up on their feet. Could not have asked for a better closing to the night

The great thing about events like this, other than the performances, is hanging out and getting to know artists. We spent much of the night hanging with Mike O’Donnell of The Skinny Millionaires, a man who is as sincere as he is polarizing at times. And while we won’t go into details, we want to publicly give props to The Sweet Release for their willingness to step up and do whatever it took to make the night a success and run smoothly.

The Brother Kite, Skinny Millionaires, The Morgana Phase, The Sweet ReleaseThanks to the BRU crew for coming out and giving away some great swag and for their continued support of local artists. Also, thanks to 95.5 WBRU and Narragansett Beer for sponsoring the event and their help promoting. Thanks to Mardi Gras for hosting these events and allowing Midday to bring in local artists. Also, thanks to our friends from Providence Night Out,, Downcity Armory, and The October Accord for constantly coming out to support local artists and our events.

52 Shows: SHOW #2 – Unplanned trip to see Dan Blakeslee at The Plough and Stars

As I advertised on the 52 Shows Facebook page, I was planning for show number 2 to be Sunday at TT The Bears (which will now be show number 3), but plans change. I live in Central Square Cambridge, something I highly recommend. So I was at the Cambridge YMCA gym when I got a text from my friend Dan (keyboardist of The Steve Walther Orchestra and formerly of Southern Lust Club). Dan and I were supposed to grab a drink that evening, and he was texting a potential location change. He and some of his SWO bandmates had decided to head over to The Plough & Stars on Mass Ave and extended the invite my way.

The Plough and StarsFull disclosure – I love The Plough & Stars. I’ve had two last-second gigs there (the kind of gigs where a promoter puts up a Facebook SOS due to performer cancellations) and enjoyed myself immensely. It’s a small, rectangular shaped room that, at first glance, you’d think “There’s no way they do music in there – where would they put it?” But they do and they put it in the back-left corner of the room. I’ve seen a number of shows in there and it always sounds great – they have an appropriately-sized sound system and book acts that either fit the room, or are smart enough to fit themselves to the room.

Hearts For BostonSo, it wasn’t hard to twist my arm into meeting there. I didn’t know who the act was going to be, but was quite pleasantly surprised to walk in the door and find Dan Blakeslee‘s cheerful and talented self sitting in the performer’s position. For those unfamiliar with Dan’s work, in addition to his numerous accomplishments in the folk music world, he’s most recently known for being the artist that designed the “Hearts for Boston” print that raised a TON of cash for One Fund Boston and other charities in the wake of the marathon bombing.

ASIDE – This is my weekly reminder that this is not a “band review” blog. That said, in rooms so small, it’s hard to describe the night without describing the performance because it tends to dominate the experience.

I showed up around 10:15, which meant it was too late for me to get food (which sucks, because the only thing that sucks about their ever-changing menu is that it never sucks). I found my friends sitting across from the stage at the back and received a cheerful mid-song hello from the performer (not because he recognized me, but because that’s his thing). The chair I selected could not peossibly have been any closer to the performer, but I was still able to immediately make conversation with my friends that were already seated.

DanThe club holds about 60 and, when I walked in, I counted roughly 45 or so (give or take a smoker). It appeared some were there for Dan, some were there to drink and some were there because they were already drunk. Two, in particular, stood out. There was one fan who kept leaning on the attractive girls seated at the corner of the bar and would make a mariachi-style whoop loudly before, after and during Dan’s songs (again – folk music). The other kept yelling out dumb requests by artists that ranged from redundant to terrible.

PERFORMER’S ASIDE: My goal with this blog is to make music accessible to everybody. But, it only took two shows for me to be reminded that what makes it most accessible is for assholes to stay home. So, if you’re the kind of jackass that sees a performance going on and says “How can I make this about me?” – stay home. “Freebird” is every musician’s “Get Your Shinebox”. You’re not funny, you’re impressing no one and you just suck. Rant concluded.

Dan adeptly handled the back/forth of the crowd dialogue, cheerfully forcing his hecklers to come join him on stage and allowing them to recognize what they should have known from their seats – it’s not enjoyable to be in the spotlight if you don’t have any talent. Dan managed to do this in a way that let them off the hook and was non-vindictive, keeping the crowd engaged the whole way – nice work.

DanJust prior to the first set break, Nate, the friendly, bearded bartender, dispatched the assholes and the night was purified. Dan took about 25 min off before re-taking the stage at 1130 and playing straight through till 1am. When he stopped, he still had about 25 people in the bar. Nate confirmed my suspicion that the night was a success by The Plough‘s standards, acquiescing that an end-to-end sellout is always preferable, but there were no complaints on the establishment’s behalf.

For the next hour, up till last call, the crowd organically dwindled and departed. There was no need for anyone to be shown the door, it was a peaceful and civil dissipation that perfectly fit the night.

And so, without grand ceremony, show number two went into the books. End-to-end it was a pleasant experience and I think the most important takeaway for you, the reader, is this: I didn’t set out to go to a show that night, I set out to meet a friend for a drink. We succeeded in that endeavor, had plenty of time to talk and catch up, enjoyed ourselves same as we would had we gone to a pub with a jukebox except the music was way way better and the experience was a lot more unique, inclusive and fun.

 And that’s the point.

– Mick Greenwood