Sunday November 19th 2017

Carissa Johnson / Michael Kane & The Morning Afters / Bundles / Coffin Salesman


Carissa Johnson / Michael Kane & The Morning Afters / Bundles / Coffin Salesman
Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA     11/4/17


Coffin Salesman is Aria Rad’s solo project, and with his black jacket, black shirt and black tie he does look a bit like a funeral home attendant. He writes songs about, as he mentions during the set- “eternal disappointment and… eternal disappointment.” And he also sings and dances just as good as he wants.

Before the set I ask him if he may be playing any new songs tonight? And he coyly replies, “Well, maybe.”

You’d have figured he would have learned something from our last encounter. I slam his face several times into the bar, possibly dislocating his nose. I signal to Lenny for a wet bar rag and though bloody, he seems fairly conscious. As I looked forwards to tonight’s performance.

He has a voice that settles somewhere between Bob Dylan and a young Elvis Costello, but also reminds me a lot of Tom Verlaine from Television but he’s never heard of that band.

He also has the distinction of being the only acoustic performer who’s had his recorded music reviewed by Thrash N Bang during our six glorious years. That’s because his lyrics are very raw, true and city life like, which makes them punk to me, and his delivery is aggressive and intense- much like punk, more in your face than folky.

He plays a great set, seems to be bleeding only intermittently, and his last song, “White Girl, Wasted,” gets Michael Kane onstage to sing along on the last line of the song, “You do a pretty good impression of you.” I’m very impressed with this young man, unchanged by our frequently violent encounters.

Bundles hit the stage next with bundles of exuberance and energy. They’re a trio that mix melodic punk with a bit of indi and alternative with some moody rhythmic changes.

The vocals have that exasperated, emotional yelling- much like Frank Black of the Pixies but even more frantic! And I do enjoy the vocals and wonder if this style first started with David Byrne of Talking Heads?

Though I do enjoy them and the crowd roars out for more, they’re a little bit off of my punk radar, but for you- they could be the hit on the bulls-eye that might make you smile forever, so check them out.

Michael Kane & The Morning Afters kicks off their set with Michael solo, singing and strumming his blaring guitar, but soon he’s met with the whole band and that’s when the fun begins.

This band is a bit like if Bruce Springsteen fronted The Ramones and that’s not such a bad idea.

And I won’t complain when the second song of their set is a cover of “Knock Me Down,” originally done by the Boston band, The Outlets, in 1980. That was a band that Andy and I used to follow and, I think, more or less created the pop/punk style in America, being just fifteen years too early to cash in.

This band plays a fiery, rousing set which also includes a cover of “I Can’t Wait” by The Replacements and ends with a near, note perfect rendition of “Born To Run,” (not sure who that’s by). This causes the Coffin Salesman to leap on stage to sing along where he is apprehended by the band, and then drawn and quartered with his remains being fed to the Midway mice.

Now, Carissa Johnson I’ve never seen perform live before. Well, that not entirely true.

There’s this band called Exit Academy and they are the strangest band I know and if you know of them then I believe, this sentence could’ve been written by you.

They are not a punk band but do play punk shows only because, I believe they would be stoned to death as witches at any other “normal” type of show. At a show I saw by them, during their set a person dressed as a horse, with a full horses head, stood perfectly still at the back of the stage during the entire set.

That is until the final song where the horse proceeded to attack the lead singer and pummel him into the floor of the stage.

It turned out the horse was Carissa Johnson! And it was by far the finest performance of someone playing a horse, I’ve ever seen.

But Gadzooks! We still have a musical set to appraise.

Let me say she is very talented, very popular and mixes equal parts of indi, alternative and punk to arrive at her sound. Her band is a trio, with an able female guitarist, who also adds great harmonies and a drummer who plays good for a boy.

She has strong, melodic vocals and an intense, stage presence and though this may not be my favorite style of music, she is with the best in her style.

And they do a kick ass version of “Sonic Reducer” by the Dead Boys. I just watched a set of that band from 1977 at CBGB’s on youtube, and though this band doesn’t quite match the wildness of the Dead Boys they probably have a much better chance of being alive next year.

During their set a slim, balding fellow, well dressed arrives with a statuesque, provocatively dressed young lady, along with a few other ladies all dressed like they might be going to a disco on Landsdowne Street instead of a skuzzy bar like the Midway. (I’m assuming they still have discos there, well I’m sure there’s dance clubs in Boston somewhere.)

Conferring with the soundmen/doormen Derek and Dylan, I declare him to be an art director/photographer from Europe, possibly Finland and he is here with his model/girlfriend and a few of her friends.

They depart before the show is finished.

But I do believe they were Finnish.

And now, I do believe, I’m finished.


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