The Submarines lit up (literally: see Christmas lights and star-spangled glitter cutouts) Brighton Music Hall on Monday, April 25th. They were ushered in by openers Yellowbirds - the alias of former Apollo Sunshine founding father Sam Cohen - and Nik Freitas, the latter whom has been touring with the Subs for the last two weeks.
Cohen demonstrated laudable prowess on his electric guitar and was backed up by solid drums and bass. I will definitely be checking out Yellowbirds' schedule around New England as he shows off his newest album, the Colors. Freitas strummed some sweet melodies on the guitar, but it was an abruptly mellow turn from Yellowbirds' bass-thumping beats.
Then, the Submarines popped on-stage in true indie, DIY style. Just minutes before they perform, beautiful bombshell and co-lead vocals Blake Hazard is happily stringing lights on stage like a little kid to a Christmas tree in winter. I think it's safe to say that the sparkling glitter stars on her xylophone, the lemon-shaped maraca, and Christmas lights are her additions to the set -- not the idea of her counterpart, guitarist, vocals, and husband, John Dragonetti.
It's been the best of times and the worst of times for this musical couple over the years, whose romance first ignited in, fancy that, the city of Boston. Their beautiful, fresh lyrics chronicle the twists and turns their relationship has taken over the years. Knowing this history, and listening live in a venue as intimate as BMH, invites you deep into the show and band.
The mix of professionalism and whimsicalness of the Subs was a perfect potion. Hazard was the spokesperson, wooing the crowd with excited comments and her sparkling personality. The drummer didn't stop smiling the entire time, nor did the bassist; Dragonetti kept it cool for the most part but was clearly happily rocking out. Their music is animated by unparalleled energy, amazing guitar work, and an unconventional use of xylophone and tambourine.
You, Me, and the Bourgouisie was the track that motivated me to go to Brighton to see them in the first place. I walked away with five new tracks that I'll be proselytizing to friends and family: Birds (great guitar intro by Dragonetti), Ivaloo (a street in Somerville friends of the band named their baby), The Thorny Thicket, Xavia, and 1940.
To Hazard's seeming dismay, a fan in the crowd begged for the aforementioned song 1940 during the encore. After a moment of indecision, the band acquiesced. The tone of the song was strikingly different; darker and bass-ier, wholly seductive with its gloomier undertones. The song, though Hazard was principally reluctant to sing it, showed off the dimensions and passion of her voice in a way that hadn't been manifest before. It's a throwback to darker times, conjuring images of bootlegging moonshine in the night, or catching a voyeur outside your window. Hot.
Lastly, as part of a tribute to their newest album, love, and conflict, the Submarines are carrying a box where audience members, after the show, can pick up a note paper entitled "Love Note" or "Letter Bomb" and write a note to their "favorite enemy." These notes will wind up somewhere on the Facebook.
During the show, Hazard said they've had to learn how to say "We are the Submarines" in Spanish and French during this latest tour. "But here we are at home, and we're the motherfuckin' Submarines!" she cried happily. No matter how you say it, the Submarines rock.
Peace and Hate
Swimming Pool (a song about love in the city, according to Hazard)
Tigers (SO much energy)
Ivaloo (named after a street in Somerville)
Brighter Discontent (Hazard soloed this for the most part)
The Thorny Thicket
You, Me & the Bourgeoisie
The Sun Shines at Night