Get with the brogram

The Constantines at T.T. the Bear's Place, April 18, 2008
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 22, 2008
teuten_U7N0029inside
The Constantines

Just shy of midnight, one of the few dozen of us hardcore Constantines disciples at T.T. the Bear’s warns his girlfriend (one of not many women in a nearly full room): “You might not like them. They’re really manly.”

The Cons might never look like the toughest guys in the room — frontman Bryan Webb is a tall, curly-haired Paul Reubens (a/k/a Pee-wee Herman), and guitarist Steve Lambke’s solo project is named Baby Eagle for a reason — but their music is raw and pulverizing, flanks of post-punk guitar skronk anchored by militant rhythms. Their best songs — brooding, dignified, and urgent monoliths of working-class angst — bemoan the daily struggles everyone likes to associate with Springsteen these days.

Toss in a little Ian McKaye and you’re just about there: it’s arena rock for latter-day punks, a church of fiery devotion (albeit one that could’ve used a set list with a bit more momentum). We pump our fists along with them because, for once, it doesn’t feel cheesy. We labor through the muddy vocal mix, and Webb’s scant audible howls (“We got hard feelings, WORKING FULL-TIME!”) are a combative soundtrack to the recession.

We tolerate the few songs Lambke sings, because “Shower of Stones” surrounds his whiny voice with a torrent of swirling fuzz and surging kick drum. We wonder what the deal is when Webb nonchalantly removes his red dress shirt to reveal a pink, skin-tight girl’s T that he yanks down to hide his love handles.

Our resolve sobers when the set ends with a few slower, shambling numbers from the new — and excellent — Kensington Heights (Arts & Crafts). We sway when we’d prefer to shout; we idly wonder where the girls that were standing next to us went.

Afterward, it’s agreed that we’ve all seen or conceived of better Cons sets, but to pull a line from “Do What You Can Do” (the final song on Kensington Heights), “You do what you can/With what you’ve got.” If that means a serviceably rocking hour-long bro-down, we’ll take it.

Related: The Constantines + Sontiago & Dilly Dilly + Kid Koala, Review: Shrek Forever After, Stand-up guys, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Bryan Webb, Ian McKaye, Paul Reubens
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   GIRLS (AND BOYS) ON FILM  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine International Film Festival, now in its 17th year in Waterville, remains one of the region’s more ambitious cultural institutions, less bound by a singular ambition than a desire to convey the breadth and depth of cinema’s past and present. (This, and a healthy dose of music and human-interest documentaries.) On that account, MIFF ’14 is an impressive achievement, offering area filmgoers its best program in years. With so much to survey, let’s make haste with the recommendations. (Particularly emphatic suggestions are marked in bold print.)  
  •   AMERICAN VALUES  |  June 11, 2014
    The Immigrant  seamlessly folds elements of New York history and the American promise into a story about the varieties of captivity and loyalty.
  •   CHARACTER IS POLITICAL  |  April 10, 2014
    Kelly Reichardt, one of the most admired and resourceful voices in American independent cinema, appears at the Portland Museum of Art Friday night to participate in a weekend-long retrospective of her three most recent films.
  •   LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX  |  April 09, 2014
    Throughout its two volumes and four hours of explicit sexuality, masochism, philosophical debate, and self-analysis, Nymphomaniac remains the steadfast vision of a director talking to himself, and assuming you’ll be interested enough in him to listen and pay close attention.
  •   ASHES AND DIORAMAS  |  March 28, 2014
    History, rather than ennui, is the incursion that motivates this, his most antic and most somber work.

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY