Monday, July 14, 2003

Rock Shows of Note LXVIII

Last night, Jef, Mac, Dave, and I met up at the Middle East to hang out and soak of the sounds spun by our friend TD, who's been DJ'ing most Sunday nights lately. It was a quiet evening, with very few people in the restaurant, and TD's set impressed me as quite different than the other sets he's played. Lots of international music, some long-playing funk, and an ample selection of dance music. One Blondie 45 was so warped that it sounded like a dub remix. Fun!

Not so fun was the fate of two local shows this past weekend. First, a Friday night show at the Berwick Research Institute was shut down by police. According to the institute's online calendar:

The Berwick is temporarily closed this week due to a visit from the City’s Inspectional Services. We are working with the City to put in place the proper licensing so we can continue to bring you quality programming. In the coming weeks, we need your support to make this process go as smoothly as possible. If you can help with legal council, relocation of events, or monetary assistance, please contact us! We are confident that with support and resources we will be up and running in no time.

Then, Saturday night, a show at the Oni Gallery was interrupted by police. During the first couple of songs performed by Laughing Light, which I'm told were primarily a cappella vocal noise -- read: screaming -- plain-clothes police officers in Chinatown were concerned that someone was being attacked. Word is that the windows had been left open and that much of the sound was making it to the street. What police found on the fifth floor was a musical performance.

They warned the organizers about charging admission and closed down the show, which was shut down just as I called Jef to see if Plunge into Death had played yet. They hadn't, but it was unclear what would happen next, so I stayed home. Turns out that Travers performed his video piece without a microphone, and then the show relocated to the Choppin' Block so the Japanese band Peelander Z could play. Word is that their set was amazing, involving hand-drawn signs, costumes, and loads of audience performance. You can access a video online. Plunge into Death did not play.

Is this the start of a Boston-wide police crackdown on musical performances? In Cambridge, the Zeitgeist Gallery has had its own troubles in the past because of not having the appropriate permits -- and instead of charging admission at the door, soliciting "donations." Perhaps we'll see a similar stifling of independent music venues in Boston? I hope not.

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