Doin’ it live

By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  October 27, 2008

George Carlin, comedy’s first rock star, is at Boston’s Wang Theatre on February 25, and Nine Inch Nails, who put on dynamic live shows but are always, alas, sparing on laughs, play the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland on February 28.

The Paradise Rock Club (967 Comm Ave, Boston) has some sizzlers in its main room. The “Hot Stove Cool Music” fundraising series for the Red Sox Foundation has another two-show streak next week, January 7 and 8, with Averi, Downbeat 5, and others rockin’ on Saturday and former Letters to Cleo frontwoman Kay Hanley, Buffalo Tom, the Gentlemen, and Furvis on Sunday. Nashville tip-jar journeymen BR549 play the three-decade-old Boston concert space on January 19; Supergrass take over February 10. New England music’s “it” girl, Grace Potter, and her folk-rock troupers the Nocturnals perform February 18, just two nights after reborn rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club bring their new rawer, roots-derived approach to Avalon. Bob Pollard, a late riser since he quit his day job as a schoolteacher for Guided by Voices, won’t arrive at the Paradise till April 21.

As always, Cambridge’s Middle East club (472 Mass Ave) is shakin’ plenty of action. Camper Van Beethoven roll into the downstairs room on January 13 with openers Trampled By Turtles, an alt-bluegrass outfit from Minnesota. Although CVB have been doing reunion shows since 2000, this time they’ve actually cut a new album, New Times Roman (Pitch a Tent). Leader David Lowery says it’s a concept disc: “The main character is a soldier from the Fundamentalist Christian Republic of Texas, and the songs follow this soldier and other people through the story. But it’s not really that serious — there’s space aliens, and we blow up the disco at the end.”

Upstairs two days later, it’s the “Maxie Awards” at the blinding hour of 1 pm. That’s a little early for heavy drinking, but many of the presenters — who include Robby Roadsteamer, founder T Max, Peter Moore, Michelle Paulhaus, and Pat McGrath — at the annual event sponsored by durable local fanzine the Noise are likely to make an exception for this splendid affair that honors members of the Boston-area music scene.

The roster of Middle East downstairs shows includes more indie-rock heroes, like rising stars Of Montreal (all ages; March 5), the Smoking Popes (March 6), Magnolia Electric Company (March 27), and veterans the Wedding Present (March 7) and the Silver Jews (March 19). The Middle East is also sponsoring a concert by slow-rockers-turned-, well, rockers Low at the Somerville Theatre on Groundhog Day, February 2. His Name is Alive and Death Vessel share the stage. The bad news is that if any of these musicians sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of moronic music journalists praising the “honesty” and “intimacy” of Ashlee Simpson’s I Am Me (Geffen).

Just around the corner at T.T. the Bear’s Place (10 Brookline St), a band who’ve got a cut on nearly every college hipster’s iPod, Philadelphia’s Marah, play on January 12. They’re eclectic, they’re interesting, they rock like SOBs, and they still can’t quite become the new Replacements, but they’re working hard at it. And local heroes Dear Leader may have come along too late to catch the emo train to the majors, but their hearts-on-sleeves rock songs and former Sheila Devine frontman Aaron Perrino’s soaring, epic voice have captured plenty of fans here, as their January 27–28 booking attests.

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