7/15/14 – Kendall Square

On July 15, The Novel Ideas delivered a lighthearted and refreshing show that matched the sunshine and breeze of the pleasant summer’s day. The country folk quintet, composed of Daniel Radin, Danny Hoshino, Sarah Grella, James Parkington and Nick Mitchell proudly hails from “the great state of Massachusetts”, as their website boasts. The band offered a midday mix of songs off of their debut album, “Home” and 10″ single “Lost on the Road.”

Their concert was part of the Kendall Square  summer concert series, organized by Berklee College of Music to provide free concerts at North Plaza for workers and music enthusiasts alike. Every few days at noon, local artists draw employees from their air-conditioned offices to an open pavilion set with chairs and tables in front of a small stage.

Friendly and spirited, The Novel Ideas are a likable bunch. Their almost rustic style of dress gave off a farm-meets-city feel. Had I stumbled upon this concert on my lunch break, I would have been pleasantly surprised by both the level of talent and performance value. The band offered a pleasant afternoon respite from the outside world, drawing in the audience with their winsome spirit.

The audience was mixed—some on a sandwich date with an iPhone and others visibly engaged in the music, rendering the band’s interaction with the crowd minimal. But, it was not for lack of trying. Band members offered humorous anecdotes and observations from time to time, and urged the audience to “boo any bad puns.” At one point, guitarist/vocalist Daniel Radin polled the audience to determine any fellow fans of NPR’s “Car Talk”, although he was met with a dismal reply.

 The folky, upbeat narratives were charming for their romantic themes and raw vocals. Songs like “The Blue Between Us” boasted full-bodied lyrics wrapped up into hearty strums of guitar. And I don’t mean to make their music sound like some sort of appetizer, because the group did deliver a performance of substance.

The Novel Ideas did not fade into the background, nor did they loudly proclaim their presence. As the concert was in a public space, the group performed accordingly. The band played to the audience, but also didn’t let the lack of outward enthusiasm from the lunch crowd affect the energy of their music. Since there was little give-and-take among artist and observer, the band maintained an organization about their performance, but remained nonchalant nonetheless.

Afternoon Delight: The Novel Ideas
Pros
  • Band was engaging, friendly
  • Uplifting, summer vibe
Cons
  • Volume too low at times
  • Felt more like a band practice than concert
8.6Overall Score

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