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Concert Review: The Elected at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews, Daily Music News

The Elected
Brighton Music Hall
Allston, MA
June 28, 2011

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Reviewed by:  Dorise Gruber

I’ve been marinating on The Elected’s set at Brighton Music Hall for the past few days, as the bouncy hit “Babyface” bubbles around in my brain.  My peers might recognize front man Blake Sennett as a kid-actor of the 90s featured on Salute Your Shorts and in a semi-regular role on Boy Meets World.  The more musically adventurous, however, may better know him as fellow child-star Jenny Lewis’ main coconspirator in the prolific Aughts band Rilo Kiley.  Now in his late 30s and with well-established musical tenure, Sennett is bringing his side project to the front-lines, touring on The Elected’s third full-length album, Bury Me In Rings – their first new album since 2006.

For a dude who always played kind of a punk on TV, musically Sennett isn’t afraid to cultivate his tender side.  Strumming on his ukulele (the new white belt of hipster instruments), his wispy voice stretches over melodies like caramel.  His ballads are breathy – slow pop hits filled with steel-drummed island sounds, Eastern European violin, and either a bulky bass drum, drum-circle style djembe, or the simple shimmy of a pedal-controlled tambourine to carry them through.  Actually, his vocals occasionally remind me of another child-actor-turned-musician’s alternative-pop band – Jason Schwartzman’s Coconut Records.  I think the two could pull off a pretty killer side-project were their forces to ever combine.

Besides the balmy tunes and the intermittent gut-clenching sandpapery vocals, some of the most interesting moments came from Sennett’s on-stage banter.  We heard snippets about multi-instrumentalist Dre’s life growing up in Alaska, clarifying that she is an eskimo, she chews on “muktuk” (whale blubber), but doesn’t sleep in an igloo.  Igloos are apparently only temporary shelters, and good for igloo raves.  Sennett also went off on a tangent about some trippy books on Singularity and Codependency that the band had been reading, made an oddly self-deprecating comment after what was probably my favorite song of the evening (“Where Are You”), saying “that one kind of sucked,” and shortly thereafter followed it up with the note “that’s one thing you probably shouldn’t say onstage.”  One girl bought the band shots and later called out “I love you, Blake!” and he responded that it was a “one-sided relationship.”  Typing these out it really makes it sound like he was kind of a douche, but quite the contrary – he was relatively good-natured during the set, and while the remarks sometimes went a bit off-kilter, all told it was pretty amusing.  He even kept his cool as a beer-guzzling belligerent fellow first shouted song requests, and then turned to mild heckling, screaming out “Boy Meets World!” and “Salute Your Shorts!”  Sennett responded serenely that it was part of his past, it was a beautiful time, and “That’s what Jesus would do.”

While the music was beautiful, between some periodically awkward banter, troublesome monitors, and a sparse but unrelenting cheering crowd whose hopes of receiving an encore never reached fruition, the energy at Brighton Music Hall read a little choppy overall.  While I’m not convinced that the show reached its full potential, there were some clear show highlights, with crowd favorites of the evening “The Bank and Trust” and “Greetings in Braille,” making their way to the setlist.  The Rilo Kiley fans’ hearts must have skipped a beat when Sennett covered “Ripchord,” – one of his few vocal leads from life in the former squad.  Despite any rough edges, though, those who came to party with floppy-banged Sennett and his Elected crew, with a shout-out to glassy-voiced Tegan-and-Sara-esque opener Tristen, caught a predominantly lovely Tuesday evening show.  I’d absolutely recommend picking up the new Elected album, Bury Me In Rings, post-haste – it is enchanting, and a magnificent rebound album following Sennett’s musical hiatus.

1) Babyface
2) Born to Love You
3) Have You Been Cheated
4) Not Going Home
5) I’ll Be Your Man
6) Sun, Sun, Sun
7) Where Are You
8)  7 September 2003
9) The Bank and Trust
10) Go On
11) Greetings in Braille
12) Ripchord (Rilo Kiley Cover)
13) You Got Lucky (Tom Petty Cover)

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