Concert Review: Nemes at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA
My sister used to say that it was impossible to eat Cool Whip without smiling, and that’s the same way I feel about listening to local indie-folk-rock-pop-punksters Nemes (pronounced Nee-Miss) – you just can’t help but be in a good mood. Playing as the first opener for Air Traffic Controller’s CD release party earlier this week at Brighton Music Hall, the crowd quintupled in size over the course of their 8-song set, but these guys were able to sustain the same fountain of energy from start to finish, practically hemorrhaging joy.
The bandmates traded off singing duty, though they were all powerhouse wailers. With Dave Anthony (guitar) and Josh Knowles (violin) double-dutying the lead-singing role, they also traded off on backing vocals along with Alex Glover (bassist), while Dave’s brother Chris held it all together on percussion in the back. If their vocals were an octave lower they’d have sounded like death metal growls, but instead their shouting was playful and oddly melodic. They’ve been playing with the current line-up now for the last four years, which has brought them to a performance sweet spot – they were tight and had great on-stage chemistry, but their youth and lack of squeaky-smooth polish was precisely what made the music believable. The first violin blues track they played (appropriately titled “Blues“) was a good example of this more standard vitality. It certainly didn’t hurt the crowd-pleasing nature of the song that they inserted some Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” lyrics into the mix, either.
While many of their songs carried a virile dynamic, they weren’t afraid to show their more tender side. My personal favorite was “Junk Mail,” off of their 2011 Don’t Flush Me album. Dashboard Confessional-meets-luau (I mean this in the best way possible), the song featured lovely three-part harmonies. Dave even signed lyrics (in American Sign Language) for a few of the evening’s verses, at one point asking people to clap along because he wanted to “see the beat,” which I thought was beautiful. If that’s not convincing enough, I’d aver that any band that can comfortably open a song with the intro of The Lion King’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” requires not only good humor, but also ample self confidence, to pull off with panache. These guys rocked it.
If you missed their set this week, the guys will be playing a show on June 28th at Club Passim with a full string quartet. Provided the enormity of force these guys carried as just a foursome, I can only imagine how moving they will be doubled in size – this is a show absolutely not to be missed. Also, Nemes is currently in a Mello Yello competition representing Boston with their new song “Blue Rose,” one of my other favorites from the show. When you find yourself puttering about on the interwebs, go toss in a vote for the fellas –just look how nice they asked you! And yeah, they’re about as awkward with their onstage banter as they are in the video, but I think it adds to their boyish charm. After all, if your band’s name was “semen” spelled backwards, frankly I’d hope you’d be a little awkward, too.
Black Streak (new)
Elocin (Record Store Funeral)
Blue Rose (new) – featured in the Mello Yello “One Track Find” competition. You can check it out and vote 1x/day here!
White Dress (new)