When I first discovered Those Darlins they were opening for
Black Joe Lewis And The Honeybears downstairs at the Middle East
on a Tuesday night. As raucous as a Black Joe Lewis show can be, Those
Darlins came damn close to stealing the show out from under them.
Less than a year later the girls and their drummer, Linwood,
were back again - this time scoring top billing at the same club for
a coveted Saturday night gig.
First opening act, Providence, Rhode Island-based Atlantic Thrills,
tried hard to find that classic Nuggets garage sound. Instead, most
of their songs sounded like "Stepping Stone" sung by the
guy from The Dead Milkmen.
Fortunately, things took a turn for the better when Boston's Movers
& Shakers took the stage. Picture Jack Black on guitar,
with his younger, better looking brother on bass, playing a southern
rock mash-up of The Black Crowes, The Drive-by Truckers,
and Tom Petty while tossing in a little Bruce Springsteen
and Billy Bragg for good measure. It was a winning combination
of American rock and roll. These guys played their butts off as the
crowd began filtering in for Those Darlins and it was a fan-winning
By the time Those Darlins took the stage the crowd was primed for
a party. Fortunately, there's no band more qualified to bring it than
these girls - Jessi, Nikki, and Kelley. I loved
the fact that they tossed off their hit single, "Be Your Bro",
right up in the front side of the set. It served two worthwhile purposes.
They started the night off on a high note, getting everyone in the
right mood, while heading off an hour of the annoying catcalls of
"play 'Be Your Bro'" from drunken fans.
While each girl takes on a specific persona - Kelley, the haughty
beauty queen, Nikki, the pouty goth girl, and Jessi, the sexy tomboy
- it's Jessi that is the clear showman of the group. She pranced the
stage, meeting the eyes of every fan in the crowd and drawing everyone
in with her crazy, Charlie Manson, bug-eye routine. Each takes
turns on vocals and guitar, churning out spot-on sixties girl-group
garage rock. Their set pulled the best from their latest release,
Screws Get Loose, and their self-titled debut. Each song was
peppered with snarky humor, sexy innuendo, and balls-out rock and
roll. The crowd responded in a crush of singing and dancing and general
Two thirds of the way through the set things took a turn for the
annoying. It's been a long time since I wanted to punch someone at
a show. Mind you, I go to nearly two dozen shows a year. The last
time was when I was in my twenties at a hardcore show at which some
meat-headed skinhead was smacking around punks in the mosh pit. Nearly
two decades later two boneheads from Atlantic Thrills pushed me to
the brink. In a haze of drink and general stupidity they decided that
it was absolutely hilarious to gulp down half of their PBR tallboys
and spray the crowd with spit and beer, over and over again. Thinking
back, I'm still befuddled about how they managed to get so much beer
into the crowd. It was literally dripping off my head and into my
eyes. I actually had to take my shirt off to wipe myself down. The
prospect of driving and hour home at 1:00 a.m. drenched in beer was
not an attractive one.
The good news is that even the antics of those morons couldn't dowse
the party that Those Darlins brought to the Middle East. They continued
to slay the crowd until closing time, at which time they treated the
club to a raucous rendition of "Funstix Party". As the house
lights came up the girls hung around to chat with fans and sign autographs
well into Sunday morning.
Those Darlins, Movers & Shakers, Atlantic Thrills
October 15, 2011
Middle East (downstairs), Cambridge, MA
More Music Features
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!