No Moves Required (No-Dance Bar Nights In Boston)(Phoenix 3.1.2010)

Posted on April 22, 2010


Phoenix Cover Story, February 25, 2010 Issue:

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but dance nights are absolutely mobbing our clubs and bars. Non-stop four-on-the-floor beats, DJs with stickers all over their laptops, hordes throwing hands up for party pics — it’s enough to make any long-time Boston codger step outside, pout, and ponder his place in the world while waiting for a bus to splash cold gutter water on him.

This may be a grouchy, no-fun sentiment to cling to, but it’s not without its charms. Some of us are just better off not shaking it in public. So here are a few recurring options for rad nights of music that require not an ounce of dance mojo on your part. Dig around — there’s plenty more out there.

Take the newly launched BORN OF FIRE at O’Brien’s. Headed up by long-time local-scene rat Zack Wells, it’s designed as a sort of streamlined version of the classic overstuffed metal bill, where the amps often outnumber the audience. “There are tons of metal shows at clubs and in the underground scene,” says Wells. “But the older I get, the less exciting the thought of going to a show with five to eight bands has become.”

Born of Fire, which takes place on the first and third Thursdays of each month, cuts it down to two bands and a DJ set throughout the night, the latter generally stretching from Black Sabbath to Megadeth and Dillinger Escape Plan. Unholy videos, documentaries, and horror flicks roll on the TVs. “There was Blackout Bar for a while,” Wells recalls. “But beyond shows, there isn’t anything for people to get their metal fix at beyond the Charlie’s-upstairs jukebox.”

“I still go to and support those other shows,” he adds. “But with Born of Fire, I wanted to provide a change of pace.” This week, you can catch local ear annihilators Blacktail and Whitey (that’s two bands, not a racy performance-art/comedy duo).

Around the corner, Allston’s longstanding den of rock casualties, the Model, offers another chance to nurse PBRs under the spell of maladjusted playlists. Metal monologuist Duncan Wilder Johnson and Wonderdrug Records boss Ken Cmar team up on the fourth Wednesday of each month for WONDERTWINS ACTIVATE. The theme seems to be jarring, senseless transitions from disco to punk.

“Ken’s idea of heaven is a disco competition in a bowling alley,” says Johnson. “My idea of heaven is an all-ages hardcore show with Sam Black Church and Overcast, with Howard Cosell giving the play-by-play.”

Helpless barflies can expect one-two punches from Minor Threat and the Ohio Players while Janet Jackson grabs the baton from the Misfits. Why not? You’re in Allston — you probably left your defenses at the Silhouette’s last call. “It’s the only place in town where you can see kids in Phobia T-shirts kicking it to Abba,” says Johnson.

Across the Charles at River Gods, you’ll find a whole calendar full of obsessive DJ programming that, truth be told, you’d have a hard time dancing to even if you wanted to without impaling yourself on the Viking décor. French pop, film music, and free jazz all reign here on selected nights of the month. For IMPERIALISMS, Weirdo Records impresario Angela Sawyer and WMBR’s Jesse Kominsky join forces to show off “disgustingly rare” vinyl from waterlogged record bins all over the world.

“Our focus is world psychedelia,” says Sawyer. “Which basically means ’60s records in foreign languages.” Don’t cry if you feel lost — that’s sort of the point. Sawyer’s got you covered as you wander through distant lands of oddly flavored kitsch. “I’m always a sucker for some harmony-drenched Peruvian psych by bands like Telegraph Avenue, a zippy Group Sounds act like the Carnabeats, or a cumbia-friendly lounge hipster like Eduardo Zurita. I’m also a long-time fan of Ros Sereysothea — who is pretty much the Cambodian answer to, oh, say, Nancy Sinatra.”

Screens hanging on the walls show scratchy classics of Eastern cinema — the most recent night featured a “Turkish James Bond knockoff.” Their next wax exploration leaves March 23.

This article originally appeared in the Phoenix here.