Live review: The Upper Crust and the Lights Out rock New Year’s Eve

Dropping balls at Church in the Fens
By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  January 4, 2011

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THE LIGHTS OUT The Allston band dropped their new CD at the stroke of midnight.

A milder than usual New Year's Eve didn't mean people were hanging out on roof decks in Southie. No, folks still flocked to the nightclubs, and the cavelike confines of Church remained one of the best spots in the city to catch some dirtied-up rocque and roll. An annual tradition, local fop-rock faves the Upper Crust headlined the festivities for a fourth straight year, but rock upstarts the Lights Out provided a healthy bit of rock of their own during 2010's last gasp.

In the wake of their late-'90s/early-'00s heyday (when their gigs included an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien), the Crust these days are criminally underexposed, not playing out nearly as often as they should, given the weighty but brilliant gimmick of a quartet of sneering 18th-century noblemen in powdered wigs, pancake make-up, and velvet pantaloons playing lumpen guitar rock. Maybe the infrequency is why the NYE gigs are so well attended and ripe with enthusiasm. More likely, though, it's the steady blitz of anthems reminiscent of early AC/DC coupled with the Age of Enlightenment lyric vibe of "Let Them Eat Rock," "Cream of the Crust," and "Rabble Rouser." Smart and smug, with over-the-top sexual innuendo that would make Gene Simmons blush, the quartet led by Lord Bendover (Nat Freedberg) lock in on the balance between gigantic 4/4 songs and lively spectacle.

Slotted between the all-girl pop punk of Apple Betty and the Upper Crust were Allston's the Lights Out, who dropped their aptly titled sophomore full-length, Primetime, at the stroke of midnight. The pairing of no-frills classic-rock hooks and a jittery Arctic Monkeys stage presence is destined to continue the upswing of buzz on these guys, especially if the reaction by a mostly there-for-the-headliners congregation swaying into a toe-tapping frenzy is any indication. The arena-ready confidence of the Lights Out is akin to what Foghat must've been like in the mid '70s, and proof that despite the Arcade Fires and Bands of Horses, there'll always be room for unabashed, guitar-driven cock rock.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Late Night with Conan O'Brien,  More more >
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