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7 Must-Go November Shows

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 2, 2011 08:47 AM

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concertstagecrowd.jpgBy Mike Flanagan

November announced itself with some epic winter weather, but that doesn't mean you should go into hibernation just yet. The month is chock-full of great concerts, so scrounge up some singles for the coat check and remember to duck if a crowd-surfer in snow boots comes near your head.

Here are seven of November's can't-miss shows.

Thursday, Nov. 3: Girlfriends (TT the Bear’s, Cambridge, $8). That Girlfriends frontman Ben Potrykus is almost too hip to be a hipster is the ultimate irony. The formerly transient lead singer of many of suburban Massachusetts’ most important bands has seemingly -- finally -- found his stride with Girlfriends, the J.P.-based, punk-inspired trio that beat everyone this side of Y2K to the lo-fi punch with their debut cassette in 2009. Since then, they’ve broken from the tartly hip basement rock sound that has been bought, sold, and left unwrapped on too many Allston kitchen counters. If you’re curious to see how a fuzzy punk trio clad in thick-rimmed glasses and strategically torn skinny jeans can avoid committing the banalities of their contemporaries, you’ll undoubtedly be intrigued and impressed by the genius of Potrykus’s universal and genre-defying songwriting.

Friday, Nov. 4: St. Vincent (Royale Boston, $12). There’s no denying Annie Clark’s musical prowess, but something about her overwhelming (at times overbearing) orchestral sound never quite clicked with me in recorded form. I’d be very interested to see, though, if it might have more room to breathe in an intimate yet wide-walled venue like Royale. Having just seen Kevin Devine there last week, I have no doubt it would.

Sunday, Nov. 6: Crooked Fingers (TT the Bear’s, Cambridge, $12). Before 2011, Crooked Fingers was the closest anyone who was too young in the '90s could get to seeing Archers of Loaf live. Although the seminal indie (yes, here we can use the term without quotes) band has reunited, they rarely play out, aside from a few festivals here and there. Fortunately, frontman Eric Bachmann hasn’t lost a step since penning the classic “Web In Front” in 1994. In fact, Crooked Fingers’ latest, Breaks In The Armor, might be one of his greatest accomplishments as a songwriter. Expect several cuts from the band’s fifth LP, as well as a few classics. If you’re lucky, Bachmann might even play an Archers song or two.

Saturday, Nov. 12: Manchester Orchestra (House of Blues, Boston, $29). Even though Andy Hull broke my heart with the insultingly self-indulgent Simple Math, Manchester Orchestra has consistently been an otherworldly live band since they opened for Brand New and subsequently exploded five years ago. The downside: Hull has a history of minimizing the amount of old material in the band’s live sets, a somewhat arrogant dismissal of the material that won the young songwriter acclaim beyond his years. The upside: Manchester Orchestra is so good live that they might even convince you to enjoy the new songs, if only for that hour or so. If Hull can find it in him to play “Where Have You Been” or anything else from the band’s debut LP Like A Virgin Losing A Child, it’ll be well worth the somewhat extravagant price tag.

Wednesday, Nov. 16: Foo Fighters (TD Garden, Boston, $45+). It pains me to say it, but it’s looking less and less likely that we’ll see any basketball in TD Garden this year. Thus, the closest thrill that building will see to a Ray Allen buzzer-beating three-pointer may well be the Foo Fighters. Admittedly, I must’ve missed the Foo ferry while I was listening to Blink 182 and New Found Glory pretty much exclusively as a kid, but having said that, only the soulless don’t get riled up when Dave Grohl jumps around and screams along to the songs we’ve all learned to love over the 15+ years, whether we wanted to or not.

Friday, Nov. 18: The Felice Brothers/Deer Tick (Royale Boston, $21). I’ve never fallen in and out of love with a band as quickly as I did with Deer Tick. Over the course of four full-length albums, frontman John McCauley has made enough ill-calculated turns to lose himself forever in the miry forest of bands that refuse to acknowledge any and all cultural progress after 1940. The Felice Brothers, however, have embraced the melting pot of contemporary culture that Deer Tick fervently denies, and the result is one of the year’s best records, the recklessly yet appropriately eccentric Celebration, Florida. While their older material is shamelessly folk- and country-inspired, it is spirited and expertly composed enough to excuse it from the lack of authenticity that bogs down similar bands. They have consistently been one of the best live bands I have ever seen, and they’re almost sure to include all the classics -- “Whiskey In My Whiskey,” “Frankie’s Gun,” and “Love Me Tenderly,” to name a few -- as well as the essentials from Celebration. Don’t miss one of the best shows of the year. And try to learn most of the words, because you’re going to want to sing along.

Sunday, Nov. 27: Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TD Garden, Boston, $30+). There’s not a red-blooded American who doesn’t enjoy guitar solos, heavy metal, Christmas, volume, or really, really awesome light shows. Ergo, there isn’t a red-blooded American who wouldn’t enjoy the awesome spectacle of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It’s amazing how music that is virtually unlistenable 11 months of the year becomes so…awesome…during the holiday season. It’s not cheap, but hey, you’re bound to come into some Christmas/Hanukka/Kwaanza money, right?

Did you go to any shows on our October list? What did you think? What shows are on your calendar this month?

Photo by BockBilbo (Flickr)

About Mike -- I am a journalism student at Emerson College getting ready to graduate in December. I've done investigative work for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and covered beats in Bridgewater and Dorchester, but my passion is music. When I'm not blurring the line between obsession and enjoyment while listening to Pavement or Bruce Springsteen, I'm punching walls over the Celtics. Twitter: @mikeflanagan2.

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