The Boston Bruins Stanley Cup debacle might have happened months ago, but for some of us, it’s still too soon to return anywhere near the TD Garden. Emotional and physical wounds, shouting and cursing, and too much time spent face down without scoring comes to mind as the division between your favorite sports team and last relationship completely fades away. But for me, Portland Street’s McGann’s Irish Pub is Full Scene Ahead’s sanctuary where I’ve enjoyed some of my favorite local performances.
So I obviously found myself there last Friday night to watch Dave Crespo’s After Party, The Shakers, The Few and some others. Unfortunately for me, I arrived there fashionably late and missed Nicole Alexandra’s set. (Or more likely. I was running on gutter-punk trailer park time as I was trying to pass off a lace bra crop top as an actual shirt.) I’m really bummed that I missed her set (and not just because I wanted living proof that there’s such thing as a Berklee graduate). I don’t awant to undermine Alexandra’s talent, but her sound brings me back to girl pop one hit wonders like M2M. Of course, her music also comes laced with r&b and soulful roots, and the effect is wonderful. For a moment, the previous decade pop sound helps me forget about growing up, however, the overall polished sound makes Alexandra more than just a guilty pleasure.
At least I got there on time to see Skunkmello. The lead singer is wearing a fedora, headgear that generally makes me want to run. But they start to play, and I stand-up and listen. If Alabama Shakes, Skunkmello grooves, moves, rhythms and blues. The sound is a proper breed of The Blasters, The Black Keys, and The Rolling Stones, yet it has a vintage-pressed authentic sound that transports the audience back to Venice Beach in the 1970s and makes them forget that they are watching some city slack youngsters. (Some of us are still waiting for the fret board to transform into a surfboard instead.) And for this reason, it doesn’t bother me that Skunkmello is semi-stiff on stage, because even between burning guitar solos, they live up to the second half of their name and the set is satisfyingly tranquil. And by the end of it, the lead singer jams on the harmonica and I’m totally hooked.
And if you don’t believe that New York band Skunkmello really got my attention, consider this: The next drink I order is a Long Island Ice Tea.
But I’m still in Boston and our own funk-jam band, The Few is next. While the female vocalist Jaime is often compared to Grace Potter, I’d rather cast her as one of the muses from Disney’s Hercules (and perhaps that has to do with the adorable one-shoulder piece she rocked.) Jaime is also in good company and accompanied by The Few’s other singer, Kevin: The soprano meets baritone effect is something everyone wants to indulge in. The band has a classic rock feel to them but I also pick-up some 90s rock vibes (and if you don’t believe me, you should have seen the skanking in the audience.) And seeing the Few that night could have been a proper pre-gamer for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones show the next day, disregarding of course, that the former might just be the better band.
Dave Crespo’s After Party was the climax of the show and the reason most of us found ourselves there. For me, Crespo resembles Blake from Workaholics and vocalist, Nicole D’Amico sports a hippy-chic style similar to Janis Joplin—and that visual aesthetic alone draws me in. And while their sound draws me in (especially DCAP’s song “Sallie” that suggests a pop-punk Beatles song), the presence is what really does it for me. Not only is everyone on the floor dancing, but there is total hyperactivity on stage. In fact, at one point, Crespo is essentially moshing with the guitarist. There is no divergence between audience, stage, and performance, it all seems to become one. If Full Scene Ahead’s mission is for everyone to participate in local music, DCAP certainly symbolizes that philosophy.
And with that being said, L.A. band, The Shakers had some competition to follow up on; especially because it was the end of the night, and we could all expect a whole lot of rolling and tumbling. Regardless, The Shakers nail it and put on a great performance. Lead singer, Jodie Schell hits all the high notes and with all the raspy-ness and attitude that even the chainsmokers outside of McGann’s couldn’t replicate. And with all due respect, I want to characterize her sound as a princess with a dirty conscience. Even this late in the night, The Shakers are fueled with high-energy, it’s loud, and it’s fast as fuck. And while that can be intimidating, it doesn’t matter because I know I will be stalking their Facebook page in hopes that they’ll be coming back here. Best Coast, you can have your MP3’s back, I’ve found a better California rock band.
Full Scene Ahead shows never disappoint me. Next time you find yourself in Faneuil Hall on a Friday, walk a few blocks over to McGann’s to pay a cover charge that’s actually worth it.