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5 must-go January shows

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 3, 2012 06:22 PM

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january boston concerts.jpgBy Mike Flanagan

Unless I’m missing something, January is a pretty dead month in terms of great bands rolling through Boston. There may not be seven shows even partially worth your money, but there are still five you’d hate to miss.

Thursday, Jan. 12: Quilt (Great Scott, Allston, $8). Quilt completely redeemed an otherwise dismal Sunday night showing at last year’s Homegrown III Festival; that alone justifies spending a mere $8 to hear their ethereal sound boil over the snug brim of Great Scott. If you’re still not convinced to forgo the price of a couple PBRs, consider the band’s new self-titled debut, one of the best to see the light of Boston day in 2011. The vocal melodies and superbly interwoven guitars, sodden in atmospheric effects, benefit from the open space of the stage and its dense, echo-friendly confines.

Sunday, Jan. 15: Real Estate (Brighton Music Hall, $15). Real Estate won over my skeptical taste with Days, one of the biggest buzz records of 2011. With a sound similar to Quilt’s, but with stronger propulsions toward the mainstream ear, Real Estate earned the hype and then some. As warm, sunny beach day is unattainable in January for Bostonians, Brighton Music Hall is the next best setting to host the tranquil yet upbeat atmosphere that emanates from the brilliantly composed Days.

Wednesday, Jan. 18: The Dear Hunter (Paradise Lounge, Boston, $15). Casey Crescenzo and his rotating cast may have struck out with their past several releases -- their past 10, if you include the nine-disc Color Spectrum project -- but anyone from certain patches of suburban Massachusetts will appreciate the nostalgic pangs that come with seeing The Dear Hunter play any of their early material live. The runaway fan favorite “Red Hands” might be rare these days, but Crescenzo has almost no choice but to indulge longtime fans with “Black Sandy Beaches,” “Dear Ms. Leading,” or, at the very least, “Smiling Swine” or “The Church and the Dime.”

Saturday, Jan. 28: Pile (O’Brien’s Pub, Allston, $8). Pile gives Allston a rare shadow of genuine grunge with their professional yet dingy bar-oriented sound. The band’s exceptional vocals are as warm as they are relentless, paneled by crashing drums and thunderous guitar and bass riffs. With a live show reminiscent of Mudhoney for its energy and Fugazi for its flawless execution, Pile is ready to offer most underground concertgoers in Boston at least something worth the meager cover.

Saturday, Jan. 28: Bruce in the USA (Paradise Rock Club, Boston, $18). The only thing a bit fishy about videos like this one of the self-proclaimed no. 1 tribute to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is the size of the crowds; other than that, it’s nearly impossible, both physically and sonically, to distinguish these imposters from their heroes. Although the real Springsteen is set to announce the dates of his upcoming tour, seeing Bruce in the USA at the Boss’s old stomping ground may be the most frugal way to catch a glimpse of the living legend -- and, sadly, the only way to catch a glimpse of his deceased best friend and saxophonist, Clarence Clemons.

Did you go to any shows in December? Give us your review, and tell us what shows you're excited for this month!

Photo by givikat (Flickr)

About Mike -- I graduated with a degree in journalism from Emerson College 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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