James Alex is truly a force to be reckoned with - dressed in a velvet green jacket, red bowtie, ruffled 1980s style tuxedo shirt, and maroon pants - he growls into the microphone and strikes every chord on his guitar with a ferocity that belies the small crowd on this Monday night in September at Rumba Cafe. Monday nights can be tough for concerts, with smaller less enthusiastic audiences struggling to throw off their weekend hangovers, and the life-sucking force of the start of the work week.
Yes, the crowd was probably smaller than it would have been on another night, but those in attendance, along with both Beach Slang and *repeat repeat, gave everything they had, making this show the perfect cure for what could have been just another boring Monday evening.
Last time Beach Slang was in town, this past October while opening for Bleached, the band was in turmoil. Having just parted ways with their drummer and lead guitarist, frontman James Alex (vocals/guitar) played that Columbus show and many others all by himself. It was unclear at the time what the future held for Beach Slang, but now, nearly a year later, the band was back, headlining at Rumba Cafe, whole again, with Aurore Ounjian (guitar) and Cully Symington (drums) joining Alex and Ed McNulty (bass), and seemingly stronger than ever. Alex seemed in a particularly playful and happy mood, interacting with the crowd, his tour manager Charlie, and the band throughout the set.
Beach Slang fired through the great post-punk tracks from their first two albums, The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (2015) and A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings (2016). Despite the angsty introspection of many of his songs, Alex kept the mood light by first breaking into a brief vignette featuring parts of three Santana songs, and then later, a 90s mixtape featuring pieces of Lit, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Beach Slang then launched into a serious and faithful cover of “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies, which Alex declared to be his favorite song by any band to come out of Boston.
One of the highlights of Beach Slang’s set was “Dirty Cigarettes” off of their 2014 EP, Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street, with its lyrics that seem to perfectly illustrate Alex’s mission with Beach Slang: “I write a lot. It's mostly lies. // I fall in love to pass the time. // I never fit. I never tried. // I need the struggle to feel alive.” After closing out a pounding main set with “Atom Bomb,” the band dipped off stage briefly before returning for an extended encore.
During the encore, Alex gave the crowd a glimpse of a cover he’s working on, The Replacements’ “Unsatisfied,” which he promised to play it in full next time around. Acquiescing to a request from the crowd, Alex treated everyone to a blast from his past by playing “New Shirt/Heather Lewis” from his former band, Weston. Despite a feeling from the crowd and band that this night shouldn’t have to end, the show did finally draw to a close with the impassioned “Young & Alive,” featuring everyone in Rumba singing the lyrics “We are young and alive” over and over with Alex until it all slowly faded away into the late Monday night hours.
Opening the show was Nashville band *repeat repeat, who were gearing up to release their brand new second album, Floral Canyon, just a week after the show. With a feeling of somewhere between garage punk, California surf rock, and indie pop, *repeat repeat was a perfect blend of cool, fun, and intensity to kick off the show. Jared Corder (vocals/guitar) brought a fiery punk rock mentality to the stage, which somehow perfectly intertwined with the ethereal harmonies of his wife, Kristyn Corder (keys/vocals) to form their unique sound. Highlights of their set included “Mostly” and “Girlfriend,” both from the band’s then just about to be released sophomore album. “Mostly” has a mysterious dark, and somewhat fuzzy driving rock vibe that just immediately hooks the listener, while “Girlfriend” starts out with a dreamy surf pop feel highlighting the dual vocals of the Corders before building into a more distorted rock sound.
Check out the photo galleries below for both bands.
More photos can be found over on our Flickr page.