The 2013 Time Capsule lineup explodes (in sound) at the Cambridge Elks Lodge.

11/8/2017 – Cambridge Elks Lodge

It truly felt like an older era of the Boston music scene last Wednesday at the Cambridge Elks Lodge. Pile shared a bill with OvlovBad History Month just put out a new album, and everyone was gathered in a musty function room to see the heavy grunge that used to be ubiquitous in the Boston underground music scene. Small, local shows with bands of this caliber were more common in 2013, but few bands have found more individual success. While Pile sold out the Sinclair earlier this year, it’s been less common to unite such an impressive lineup of old local favorites together under one roof.

Ovlov started the show early with their fast-paced, guitar-driven rock. The musicians performed stoically at first, matching the mood of the crowd that was mostly standing around the hall motionless. But when Steve Hartlett started screaming the lyrics to “Really Bees,” everyone in the crowd started violently bobbing their heads in unison as the fuzzed out guitars and relentless drums jump-started the energy of the show.

Bad History Month’s tourmates, Longface, played second to a quiet, attentive crowd. The Chicago four-piece played sparse, brooding songs that were often punctuated by loud bursts of dissonance from distorted guitars. One highlight was in the beginning of “Crescent Moon,” from their new album Hillbilly Wit. The songs often had long moments where the musicians played very softly, or sometimes not at all, which created an atmosphere that allowed the vocals of lead singer Anthony Focareto to shine before going into heavier, guitar-dominated riffs in the next song.

By the time Bad History Month, the solo version of Fat History Month (whose songwriter now goes by the moniker Sean Bean), set up on stage, the entirety of the crowd was packed in to hear music from Bean’s first album since 2013, Dead and Loving It. The new songs are philosophically nihilistic and were served well by minimal arrangements from Bean, who simultaneously plays guitar, drums, and sings. Having just one person onstage helped highlight the theme of existential loneliness in the new songs—realizing that nothing matters and we’re all gonna die but that’s okay. Bean expertly played his guitar to suit the mood of each song, where the guitar went from airy accompaniment to gigantic and menacing counterpoint at a moment’s notice. His playing created a captivating environment, one where songs seemed to end too soon, even when several songs were over ten minutes long and full of metaphysical woe.

After the emotionally heavy set from Bad History Month, Pile provided the perfect catharsis to end the night. From the first downbeat the angular guitars and thunderous drums got the crowd pushing and shoving each other, matching the furious energy of the song. The band continued to play a selection of songs off of last spring’s A Hairshirt of Purpose. Guitarist Rick Maguire could hardly sing the opening words to a song without the crowd cheering and singing along. There were slight differences in the way certain parts were played, a different drum beat here or there, a bass part starting earlier than on record. Playing the road-tested versions of their songs, Pile demonstrated the constant evolution that keeps avid fans coming back.

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