The third annual 48 Hour Music Festival led off with Charlemagne, a lurching prog-pop unit that offered one of the most indie-friendly sets of the night, sounding a bit like Built to Spill or Dinosaur Jr., but with odd time arrangements. Bathroom Zeta Jones, fronted by a cloaked and venomous Tom Mahoney (of Corpse Pose) adopting Rollins postures, were exuberant and engaging as they plowed through numerous rock clichés. Both Mahoney's punk ethos and Ian Paige's drone-rock sorcery were folded into the group's solid rock and roll core.
Junkie Brewster took the award for group with the most foils. Seamless cohesion is never the goal of the festival, and one of the highlights of the night was watching their four members tug implacably at the wheel of their ship. Though it was eventually ruddered by Space Versus Speed drummer Nate Nadeau's pummeling kraut rhythms, the cat's cradle of Eric Rancourt's chug, Caitlin King's soporific drumming, and Mat Zaro's 'CYY-friendly crooning made for an anxious vessel indeed.
Halfway through their set, the Assless Chaps let down their frenetic energy long enough to drop a weirdly good goth-rock number, probably the first in festival history, but the spirit of the night was reclaimed by Vermin Bride, who hung an impressive banner of a feral rodent behind them before launching into a by-then predictable and welcome Maiden-heavy metal.
The issue of quality is a uselessly subjective concern. Were the winners of the night those who were pushed far beyond their boundaries, like Junkie Brewster? Or were they Vermin Bride, who got to throw down the gauntlet with metal dogs they've never met before? Who's to say? However, with the presence of only one woman on stage in the last four bands (and two all night), it's clear where the festival might improve, though it might also be true that city dudes are more likely (read: self-destructive) to brave these trials. Nonetheless, three successful years means the festival is here to stay. Next year, maybe someone from the PSO wants in.
: New England Music News
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