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Pits and pendulums
Cave In return, Superlow blast off, and Frank Smith swing

"I wonder if thereís going to be a circle pit," someone joked as an expectant crowd braved a sweaty Great Scott last Monday night for Cave Inís first home-town show in nine months. There was a pit, all right, amid a swaying mass of delirious fans who shouted playful jabs and requests at the band with the easy camaraderie of kids at a basement show. One fan got so aggro that Honeypump promoter Ben Sisto stepped in to settle him down. But the excitement was warranted: the presence of Convergeís Ben Koller on drums had local musicians and fans salivating in advance. And his substitution for injured Cave In drummer J.R. Conners powered a revitalization that suggested this could be the bandís time, even more so than when they got signed to RCA a few years back. Guitarist Adam McGrath headbanged from the first note, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Brodsky windmilled a guitar so damp it appeared to be sweating, and bassist Caleb Scofield unleashed hounds-of-Hell screams under Brodskyís high notes. Scofield made enough false starts on one new song for a fan to joke, "Thatís my new cell-phone ring." But yes, the band have new songs: though Hydra Head isnít releasing their "new" Perfect Pitch Black till September, they unveiled two songs written even more recently. The week before the show, Hydra Headís Mark Thompson had said the band were writing another album with Koller and that Koller would join them for a fall tour. At Great Scott, McGrath revealed that the band have been practicing and writing obsessively for three weeks. And it showed. The new "Rastanaut" lightened the primordial space rock with a hint of dub while remaining taut and torrential. McGrath apologized for not having learned more material: "I promise, next time weíll know more." But the audience left too heat-stroked and happy to care.

There wasnít any kind of pit for the local hard-rock trio Superlow on Wednesday night, but there were plenty of people playing air drums. "You guys must be sick of these songs," laughed guitarist/vocalist Ed Thill to an audience whoíd made it to the Paradise Lounge to celebrate the release of the groupís Going Out Heavy. The room included a few proud parents and enough Abbey Lounge regulars to suggest the Somerville dive had been transported across the river ó especially on a night rounded out by the Dents. Superlow might be the least jaded band in Boston, and they blasted through a set of straightforward, high-energy rock and roll with bright, jangly riffs, a blast-force rhythm section anchored by Edís twin brother, Mark, on drums, and vocals that recall Kurt Cobain, as much in their earnestness as in their vocal timbre.

Earnest, countrified rock suits Aaron Sinclair. At the CD-release show for his band Frank Smithís new album, Think Farm, at the Middle East upstairs Saturday, the singer-songwriter looked serious and dapper in a white shirt and black tie as he shaded indie rock with a melancholy twang, a match heís perfected between gigs as the drummer for local art-rockers the Lot Six. Sinclairís new material has a heavier, electronic edge, but it blended well with the bandís early Dust Bowl alt-rock sound, thanks to his Texas drawl and the jagged waves of electric guitar thrown down by Eyes like Knivesí Scott Toomey. The six-piece line-up fleshed out the songs with old-time banjo and luminous keyboards as they moved from nostalgia-laced ballads to rollicking rockers, and from sin to sincerity.

Sarah Tomlinson | stomlins@mindspring.com

Issue Date: August 5 - 11, 2005
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