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  • Rich Kassirer

Concert Review: The Submarines at Brighton Music Hall, 4/25/11

The Submarines at Brighton Music Hall.
The Submarines at Brighton Music Hall.

You have to make the most of Mondays, especially the dismal ones in April. Luckily for us, the Submarines came around just at the right time. If you’ve never seen or heard the Submarines — ostensibly, Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti, though they brought a drummer and bassist with them on tour — they are quite the opposite weather equivalent: sunshine, fresh air and the promise of summer approaching.

On this particular Monday at the new Brighton Music Hall, the California band with Boston roots played to a small but enthusiastic crowd, who seemed to know all the tunes from their popular “Honeysuckle Weeks” album and certainly appreciated the new material from the group’s just released “Love Notes/Letter Bombs.” (Our review of the album HERE.)

Songs like “Birds” and “Plans” from the new album mixed seamlessly into the set with their great tunes “The Wake Up Song” and “Swimming Pool” from Honeysuckle. Some highlights: “Shoelaces,” one I really like from the new album  (Dragonetti sings, “I’ve had better days than this/ words trip like untied shoelaces/ Still you’re worth falling down for once in a while.”) was stellar as was “Ivaloo,” a tune Hazard said was written about their friend’s baby who was named after a street in Somerville. Older tune “1940,” which was played as an encore was outstanding. And “You, Me & the Bourgeoisie” remains a killer tune, definitely their showstopper and crowdpleaser. Most songs have a poppy-rock beat but the lyrics, which sadly were lost in a poor vocal mix, concern the ups and downs of relationships.

Hazard is the shining light of the band. She is adorable, personable and just seems like she’d be a fun person to hang out with. Her husband and bandmate Dragonetti is a great musician and holds the group’s reigns, working not only his guitar but the computer keypad that controls their keyboard backing tracks. I’ve seen him in interviews where he too is very personable but, for the most part, he seems to leave the stage banter to Hazard. Also the drummer Jason Stare is a blast to watch. He reminds me a little of Animal from the Muppets back there (see my review from previous concert HERE), pounding away and smiling the whole time.

Two things: First, the band doesn’t venture too far from the structure of the original recordings, probably because of the computer-generated backing tracks. It would be fun to hear them change up some of their older songs a bit, either with extended solos (Dragonetti is a skilled guitarist) or some kind of new sound (He is known for taking songs such as “You, Me…” and remixing them to great effect.

The second thing is that the Brighton Music Hall is a pretty neat place. Originally Harpers Ferry, the club has been redesigned recently with a nice open floor plan and has a small capacity for an intimate setting to hear live music. Mondays are not a good night to judge a club’s atmosphere so we’ll have to make a return trip on a night when the place if filled and buzzing with excitement. Hopefully also, the sound mix will be improved.

To see more of my photos from the night, click HERE.

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