Black Hearts vs. Cursed Hearts

Two bands. Two venues. One night.

Two completely different fanbases, as well; whereas I was just as perplexed with that of Dallas' The Paper Chase as I was with John Vanderslice's crowd several weeks ago at the same venue. For a band that just released the self-proclaimed "sonic equivalent to George A. Romero's classic zombie films," there was an interesting mix. Examples: the idiot to my left holding up two Buds, "hoooo!"ing at inappropriate moments, and just generally bro-in' down with his brahs, brah. Nonetheless, Congleton. John fucking Congleton. I was given some advance warning as to what sort of explosive frontman he is. In his tall, wiry body, with platinum bleached hair and penetrating, black eyes, he mercilessly addresses the audience with fingers and stares. "You will drop on all fours, get down show me what you're good for." When he sings, every muscle in his body is clenched like a fist, and the band follows suit. Bassist Bobby Weaver sways back and forth with his instrument as though he is rowing a ship, and with the evil tinge of their latest collection of songs, Now You Are One Of Us, alongside the sinister lighting and spasmodic movements between Congleton and keyboard/synth captain, Sean Kirkpatrick, they may as well be steering the shit straight into the mouth of Hades. River Styx, baby. River Styx.

The Paper Chase @ Middle East Upstairs. Boston, MA. 06.25.06

While the dark, disturbed, and undead atmosphere of The Paper Chase's latest work conveyed itself tenfold in a live setting, it was not nearly as "morbid" as the show next door at TT's. Opening-opening openers Humanwine - a local Boston band whose fans get decked out in the likes of fake blood, plastic battle axes, and the higher-end Hot Topic wear - sold the venue out, but didn't purge the club of its attendees once they were finished (as I'd expected). Following Norfolk & Western's set, Denver-based Devotchka took the stage with N&W members ocassionally joining them, and a large part of the performance was accompanied by the presence of Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls. Aside from the fact that "Dearly Departed" nearly stripped me to the core (due partially to running into an old flame at the show), the highlight was their gorgeous cover of "Venus In Furs," which translates just as well as I'm previously mentioned for their latest EP, Curse Your Little Heart.

Devotchka @ TT The Bear's, 06.25.06
Devotchka @ TT The Bear's. Boston, MA.06.25.06

But there is a winner. The Paper Chase. This band will save/change your life if you're good for it. Congleton and Kirkpatrick's movement, added to Aryn Dalton's drumming - where he sits like an overgrown child with a wicked expression in his eyes, distracted - and Weaver's Onward To Hell rhythm equals a mind-boggling mindfuck of a performance. A friend and established music writer that just saw them in Atlanta tonight texted, "That is in my top 5 live music experiences of my life. I can't breathe" once the show ended.

The Paper Chase @ Middle East, 06.25.06

Another black heart hath been blessed.

They will get you in the end....

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