ATN Boston correspondent Seth "Sleepless in Somerville"
Mnookin reports: It's cold in Boston, and I'm tired. By all accounts, I should
be asleep: it's 2 AM, I spent hours of the day biking through the snow-lined
mush that currently makes up the Boston landscape, and I had to make plans with
my family. Exhausting, indeed. But every damn time I close my eyes and try to
get some shut-eye, I hear beautiful choruses of the Beach Boys' "Be My Baby."
Except the Beach Boys aren't playing. It's Papas Fritas I keep hearing, and to
make matters worse, "Be My Baby" isn't even on their first and only album
(released this year on Minty Fresh and cited by Spin as one of the ten
best albums you didn't hear) so I can't just play the fucking thing and get it
out of my head. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck I'm tired.
Back up. Papas Fritas, a
Boston based band made up of recent Tuft's grads, has been the rage around
town, and increasingly, around the country, for the past couple of months.
They've been playing together for a couple of years (I first heard them when a
short-lived band I played drums in opened for them in Central Square's Middle
East...and suffice to say, they've improved a lot since then and my band called
it quits) and in February will be leaving the Land of the Free and heading
across the Atlantic to do a month-long stint opening for Urge Overkill in
Europe. Tonight, for all intents and purposes, was their last gig in Boston
before their leave of absence, and recent press from The Boston Phoenix
,Spin, and others, ticket giveaways on the top-alternative based
WFNX made tonight's show at T.T. the Bear's one packed affair‹capacity ranges
around 300, but there were a minimum of 400 or so in the club. Papas Fritas's
show, despite the fact that singer/guitarist Tony Goddess and drummer Shivika
Asthana were somewhat sidelined with the flu (leaving bassist Keith Gendel the
only fully healthy member of the band) was amazing. Goddess, displaying his
total mastery of his guitar, mixed sharp, clanging chords with occasional solos
and lots of bounce, led the trio, and Asthana and Gendel's amazingly tight and
always coherent rhythm section were indispensable to the Papas Fritas sound:
tight, rhythmic, to the point, and catchy as all hell. Their songs, regardless
of vocal content, and relentlessly cheery, punctuated by "na-na-na-na"s
"ba-ba-ba"s and "la-la-la"s. Goddess's guitar attack‹equal parts early U2
(think Boy), Crayon, and the Modern Lovers, is nothing short of
exquisite, and Asthana and Gendel never let the rhythm lag for a minute,
keeping up a punch-happy beat throughout the 12+ song-set. When the band, after
going through their entire set list, tried to leave the stage, the audience
virtually forced them to do some encores; two short, kick-in-the-pants,
emo-core songs followed. If I had left then, it have been a good night. Indeed,
I might be asleep right now, instead of pounding away at this damn
With the crowd in a frenzy, Tony, Shivika, and Keith decided to do
a no-holds barred version of "Be My Baby" and, journalistic objectivity aside,
I sat there rocking back and forth singing along in bliss along with the rest
of the crowd. (Okay, so I hid my notebook at this point.) Only problem is now,
Brian Wilson et. al. just won't cut it. And Papas Fritas won't be back in town
at least until mid-March. Woe is me.
Oh, and if you get a chance, pick up
PF's album. It won't disappoint.