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review - QUILT, NEW HIGHWAY HYMNAL, SAND RECKONER, CREATUROS

It is accurate to say that last Thursday, the Great Scott was a sponge, saturated with reverb and weirdness. I have always had my crushes on particular psychedelic bands in Boston, but it wasn’t until I witnessed this crazy bill that I realized just how much the scene as a whole is thriving.

Creaturos, a local supergroup of sorts, featuring Spenser Gralla and Noah Bond of Doomstar!, and Joe Marrett of Ketman/Hallelujah the Hills, kicked the night off with experienced power-trio ferocity. Still in their infancy, Creaturos only have a 13 minute, four song, single track available on their bandcamp, but played a healthy-sized set with enough heat to deep-fry the cockles of my heart. Marrett’s punchy bass locked up perfectly with Bond on the kit, creating a solid platform for Gralla’s frenzied wails. Their set drew resemblance to some of the Doomstar! stuff we’ve always loved, but had a vacuum-sealed freshness that reminded me a bit of modern wonders like Tame Impala.

Sand Reckoner is a band we’ve been stalking for some time now and their set at the Scott was everything I anticipated in the most unpredictable way possible. They couldn’t have picked a better night to introduce their new two-song demo, and did a hell of a job with both tunes, especially “Morning Star,” which saw Matthew Reverdy Rhodes whip out some heavy slide guitar licks. Whether they’re trading off instruments or sharing vocal duties, this trio shows immense talent and lots of promise. At points, they reflect modern shades of Zeppelin, with Benjamin Louis Hughes’ attack drumming style or Jonathan Lesh’s loose left-hand on the bass. At other points, they show a grungy recklessness that is more endearing and engaging than it is distracting. Sand Reckoner left me a bit zonked, and we were only halfway through the bill.

The New Highway Hymnal have had an incredible past few months. They were one of the first bands we had the opportunity to feature on Allston Pudding and from that point, to seeing jaws drop during their sets at the Allston DIY Fest, to witnessing near-riots of passion break out during various basement shows, they have worked hard to accrue quite the following and it’s clear that Boston is starting to have their back. Their set last Thursday didn’t falter. Lukas Goudreault's amp was cranked up to a million, providing a pleasant punishment for my front-row ear sockets. “Blackened Hands” was the southern stomp needed to turn audience unfamiliars from a bit frightened to soulfully quenched. My favorite, the closing “Hey Kid (Gotta Run)” featured a double-time breakdown towards the ending, which was a chaotic icing on the cake. Overall, it was the second loudest show I’ve heard in a while, after Clouds’ early summer reunion show, which put my ears out of commission for the Stanley cup. The New Highway Hymnal train keeps rolling, and the next stop is a 7” release in February on Vanya Records.

Being at the helm of this bill speaks volumes of Quilt and the waves they’ve made in Boston and beyond. Their brand of freak-folk psychedelic isn’t nearly as furious as the previous bands who played, but their vintage harmonies can be haunting in their own right. The trio takes a more technical approach, going from times of finger-plucking gallops, to hammering powerchords on tunes like “Cowboys in the Void.” Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler have a like-minded vocal style that comes together extremely well for a Mamas & the Papas-esque synergy. Quilt have made frequent stops at the Great Scott, but following the release of their eponymous debut and a culmination of tireless gigging at DIY venues and small rooms, this particular show won them a large and invested audience. The strange hippie factor can be daunting to some at first, but their songs, both in writing and in tune, can be quite beautiful, and it seems that many are starting to notice that.

This show looked good on paper weeks ago and truly didn’t disappoint. If it wasn’t evident beforehand, not only is there an incredibly healthy psych scene in Boston, but it seems to take on a “birds of a feather” type of mentality. With bands like these sprouting from our scene, Boston 2012 is like the new San Francisco 1967.

-Perry Eaton

Photo Credit: Daniel Schiffer