Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
With the snow about to fall overnight, one of New Zealand's finest, The Beths, warmed up a cold winter night with their well-honed brand of indie rock.
For the most satisfying quartet, that meant somewhat of a punky sound at times combined meshed with straightahead pop leanings.
The Beths – lead singer Elizabeth Stokes (the band is named after her), lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce; bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Tristan Deck – quite simply click well together. Stokes acquitted herself well in commandeering the songs with Deck and Sinclair setting the rhythm. Pearce sometimes added a punky element with his taut guitar work, but much of his work operated beneath the radar screen (the very short "I Want to Listen" and the very melodic lines of "Jump Rope Gazers").
The Beths moved easily between their musical elements, keeping a very fast pace in song after song except for the quiet, very subdued vocally and musically "You Are a Beam of Light."
But that was before they lit into the closing "Little Death" with Deck's light touch quickening the pace before Pearce took over on guitar and Deck then galloped away with his drumming. A strong end to an engaging show.
And while Stokes tended to be the focal point, she certainly wasn't afraid to share the love as she did during one between-song banter as The Beths passed the mic from member to member with each having a chance to yap and joke around.
The Beths are making their stay in the Boston worthwhile as this was the first of two sold-out shows, an indication that this is a band going places. Maybe their time has come. With well-delivered songs and playing, not to mention a playful, warm stage presence from all, it's easy to see why.
Sidney Gish, who started gaining a following while a student at the nearby Northeastern University about five years ago, opened with a fun, sometimes quirky set. Gish performed solo, but you wouldn't know it if you closed your eyes. She created loops with samples of drums, percussion and more percolating her songs. In fact, before starting "Filming School," the title track of her third disc released few weeks ago, Gish took a few minute break, asking the crowd to talk amongst themselves, while she set up the loop. The wait was worth it.
Gish is a left of center artist with song titles like "I Eat Salads Now" and "Not For You, Bunny." While Gish did not shift musical gears all that much, there's a lot to like about her.