Rockin' With Papas Fritas

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

machine.

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.