REVIEW: together PANGEA w/ Tall Juan & Daddy Issues at Sonia (10/1)

Less than a week after releasing their latest album, Bulls and Roosters, together PANGEA kicked off October by playing one of Boston’s newest venues, Sonia, alongside Tall Juan and Daddy Issues. Being just the fifth stop, Boston fans were treated to a rare sweet spot along the band’s tour. They benefitted from all the best perks of a new record, as the band had several nights under their belt, but were still far from worn out. Needless to say, it was a great show.

With doors at 7:00pm, Sonia was still curiously empty when Daddy Issues began setting up on stage. At 7:30pm, with still almost no one there, Tall Juan stuck out even more than usual, towering over the meager pool of fans in his red windbreaker and long, long, red patterned pants–––even when sitting down. By 8:00pm, the floor had filled in some (but not much), and Daddy Issues took to the stage.

Despite the poor showing, the trio of grunge-pop Nashville musicians commanded a strong stage presence, filling the gaps in the crowd with their charisma and cool vibes. And when drummer Emily Maxwell ran into problems with her floor tom after the second song, “Locked Out,” vocalist/guitarist Jenna Moynihan and bassist Jenna Mitchell didn’t miss a beat, introducing the next song while Tall Juan’s drummer lent Maxwell a helping hand. When the tom was fixed, the crowd clapped and cheered, and Daddy Issues introduced their next song about “breaking up and flipping out.” Throughout the set, Moynihan continued her quirky and comical introductions, following up with “another one about being single,” and a second about “not wanting to do anything–––ever.” Daddy Issues finished around 8:30pm, walking off stage to an encore call for “Dog Years,” which they shyly yet proudly declined, having already unplugged with no expectations for an encore response.

As Daddy Issues cleared the stage, Tall Juan began setting up, pulling their drum kit and amplifiers right to the edge of the stage. Juan checked his microphone, revealing his heavy Argentinian accent, and his band mates poked fun at the rip in the cheek of his pants as they tested their instruments with beats and riffs from “Iron Man.” At 9:00pm, Juan picked up his beat up old acoustic guitar and began to strum, playing a showy Spanish riff. But after just one song, he announced that he was “so tired,” and needed someone to come on stage and help him out on the drums. After a moment of awkward prodding and backwards glances, a sleepy looking kid sporting a blue tee shirt emblazoned with the Garelick Farms milk logo climbed up and sat behind the kit. Craning his neck back, he looked up at a grinning Juan for guidance and asked, “So, do I just play anything?” to which he replied, “Just follow me!” The two played a surprisingly cohesive few songs, after which Juan offered his temporary drummer a warm thanks and handshake. He then invited his drummer, Dante, and bassist, Pat, to join him for the remainder of the set. As the night went on, Juan continued to indulge the crowd in his quirky and spontaneous personality, ripping through a cover of “Breed,” pulling off his tee shirt, and rolling around on the floor licking the microphone stand. Every song was played at breakneck speed, and when combined with his height and flashy style, Juan sounded and looked like an Argentinian Joey Ramone. In an all too short set, Tall Juan finished around 9:30, with Juan hugging both of his band mates before walking off stage.

With the crowd still roaring from Tall Juan’s performance, together PANGEA wasted no time, jumping on stage and preparing their gear. At 9:30pm, the band picked up their instruments and vocalist William Keegan launched into the one-two punch of “Alive,” and “Looked In Too.” Next, they finally cracked into their new material with “Kenmore,” receiving a positive response from members of the crowd, many of which had already memorized the lyrics. After “Kenmore,” the flood gates were left wide open, and the band jumped freely between songs from their now impressively extensive discography. Highlights included “Badillac,” and “Is It Real?,” both led by the lively and powerful drumming of Erik Jimenez and wonderfully polished guitar of Roland Cosio. Feeding off of Jimenez’s raw energy, bassist Danny Bengston danced around the stage, swinging his bass to songs like “The Cold,” a new track that sounds like a Black Lips song written after a movie marathon of Spaghetti Westerns.

Halfway through the set, the band paused for a bit of banter with the crowd. Keegan commented that he’d never played a venue that didn’t serve alcohol (Sonia does not have its liquor licence yet), to which Bengston responded by cheerfully taking a swig from his can of Polar Seltzer. To end the set, together PANGEA played three of their strongest tracks: the always uproarious “Too Drunk to Cum,” the fast-paced and upbeat “River,” and the heavy mosh-friendly “Sick Shit.” But after a quick flick of the house lights, together PANGEA returned to the stage for a fantastic two-song encore. Unexpectedly, Keegan began by handing the microphone over to Bengston for “Alison,” the last track on Bulls and Roosters and undoubtedly one of the album’s most catchy ones. Sung by Bengston, “Alison” is a slower yet steady love song, driven by persistent tambourine shakes from Jimenez, overdriven guitars from Cosio and Keegan, and a catchy bass groove from Bengston. To close the night, together PANGEA shifted back to their darker more grungy roots with “Night of the Living Dummy.” By the end of the song, Keegan was howling the lyrics with everything he had, but just as their instruments began to fade out, the band dove into the chorus of The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” ending the night on a strange yet perfectly fitting high note.