The Night Beats | O'brien's Pub | Allston, MA | 4/5/12 | Review
It’s good to know there are still folks out there fighting the good fight.
Arriving at O'brien’s Pub in Allston a little before nine, I felt as if I’d stepped straight back into 1967 – there was a motley collection of denim, long hair and leather from corner to corner – hazy shades of southern psychedelia. First order of business once inside, I met up with some of the members of The Night Beats sitting at the bar, Narragansett tallboys in hand. They were personable and without airs. I asked them if they minded flash photography - Actually, could you strobe that shit for the whole set? That’d be cool. - I got the idea they were only half joking. We spoke for a while before the band went out for some pre-show smokes. I ordered a Blue Ribbon and settled in for the set.
Listening to the opening acts as one of the uninitiated, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Sets from Apache Dropout and MMOSS were trippy affairs, the former shaking it up with a unique mix of surf-inspired reverb rock and the latter rambling out tight psychedelic jams with impressive focus. These bands were new to me, but the sound was old, classic.
Before The Night Beats went on, I spent some time amongst the openers outside the pub. In talking about their music, they were universally genuine, truly loving of the genre they had taken it upon themselves to preserve – a heady task, but these were the people for the job.
Back inside, The Night Beats walked on stage to a full house, properly warmed up by the previous acts and ready for some kicks. The band wasted no time jumping into it, and soon enough I was surrounded by a collective of acid-washed trippers, swaying and nodding to the raw crunch filling the room. The whole set was a thoroughly vintage affair – there was nothing forced or artificial about the sound – and the crowd responded in kind. I watched girls - underground disciples of the Age of Aquarius - dance about in covetable fashion whilst the males of the crowd embraced the distortion and the jams with stoned attention. Again, trippy.
As for The Night Beats’ sound, comparisons to The Black Keys and their ilk would come quickly to the unversed, but that would be doing the band a serious injustice. These Seattle lads had something unadulterated in their delivery, their mood, and their style that you just don’t find in the more polished acid rock offerings playing these days. They were refreshing, showing this listener that there are still at least a few modern alternatives to another Blue Cheer replay on the turntable. The good old stuff ain’t dead quite yet.
My experience with The Night Beats didn’t end with the music. After the show, I spent some time with the band. Danny, their guitarist and singer, talked about the road over smokes – It’s all spontaneous, you know, never quite knowing what you’re going to get with each gig. It can be exhausting – we’ve traveled the country coast to coast, top to bottom, back and forth - but the payoff is worth it when you play in front of people that really enjoy what we have to offer. That’s what it’s all about.
As the band loaded up their van – exactly what you’d expect, with floral curtains and wood trim lining the innards – I was invited to join them for a few post-show drinks back at their quarters-for-the-night, a friendly’s apartment on the outskirts of town. I accepted, and we headed off, caravan filled to overflow with good spirits and a smoky haze. Some driving, a bit of creative parking, a short walk, and a self-inflicted elevator emergency later, and we had arrived. I stayed for a couple brews – still ‘gansetts, of course – while the folks played dice, lit up a few more, and discussed the vinyl playing in the background with genuine appreciation. I looked on, taking it all in, a fly on the wall to a group of folks trying to preserve the better days of rock and roll in this little loft-sanctuary. Drunk, beat, and anticipating my impending early morning wakeup, I decided to take my leave around three. Shaking hands and heading for the door, I could hear the crackle and break of another record slipping on as I exited for the stairs.