We’ve Got History: Beloved indie-pop trio Pants Yell!! reunite for Boston Marathon benefit
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You can come back, baby, indie-pop never forgets.
And, well, if it does, there’s always the internet, points out Andrew Churchman, singer and guitarist for defunct Boston indie pop heroes Pants Yell!!
That trio, which Churchman led through much of the first decade of the millennium, reunites this weekend for its first live date in about seven years. And while half of its songs remain committed to the group’s collective muscle memory and “jump[ed] right out” during rehearsal, Churchman tells Vanyaland the rest required some homework.
“Studying old live videos on YouTube was… most helpful!” Churchman admits cheerfully.
Sunday’s matinee at Cambridge’s Atwood’s Tavern is a benefit proposed by 2017 Boston Marathon runner Heidi Smith, who is not only a Pants Yell! fan, but also the fiancée of the band’s drummer Casey Keenan (the pair even met at a Pants Yell!! show).
For those not in the know, runners who don’t automatically gain entry to the marathon by earning a qualifying time in a prior race must obtain their bib number — think of it like the wristband you get when you walk into The Paradise — by raising funds for a charity. Smith is running this year’s 26.2 to support the important work of Boston Children’s Hospital, and proceeds from ticket sales for Sunday’s show will accrete to her final donation to the top-ranked hospital.
From 2003 until amicably disbanding in 2010, Pants Yell!! were Boston’s standard-bearers for a softer, more mannered post-punk sound championed in the ’80s by bands like Josef K and Weekend (the latter act’s Alison Statton inspired the title of the cracking, penultimate Pants Yell!! long-player). Career pinnacles include signing to legendary American indie label Slumberland Records, which released the act’s final LP Received Pronunciation in 2009, and mounting successful tours of the U.S., U.K. and Sweden.
Churchman, Keenan and sometime-collaborator Martin Pavlinic keep the indie pop flame alive with their current band CUFFS, which gigs infrequently and whose discography includes a pair of 7-inch records and at least one excellent compilation cut. Churchman says he’s grateful about the excitement surrounding Sunday’s show, but Pants Yell!! have no further plans.
“This show is it,” he says succinctly. “We’re flattered that some people are excited to see us play again, and happy we can do something like this to help support our friend and the Boston Children’s Hospital.”
Pants Yell!! are joined Sunday by at-least-spiritual labelmates and stylistic brethren Bent Shapes, current Boston indie-pop leading lights whose bracing, most-recent long-player Wolves Of Want was issued by Slumberland a year ago. Shapes fans will note a similarity between the title of its single “86’d in ’03” and Pants Yell!!’s own out-of-print song and EP “’83 in ’05.” Bent Shapes’ singer and guitarist Ben Potrykus enthusiastically acknowledges the influence.
“Clearly, I’m a fan!” he says.
Potrykus tells us that Bent Shapes are currently writing and playing occasional shows, but for the moment the act isn’t rushing “to do what an indie-pop… band ‘should’ do in 2017,” but just “what we want to do.”
Potrykus’ prior band Girlfriends played with CUFFS a fair amount, so Sunday’s matinee is a reunion in more ways than just one. Be advised that advance tickets are gone, but fans can get in on the door for $20 space permitting (Atwood’s has an 85-person cap, according to its website).
Finally, a special note for Pants Yell!/Shapes fans with kids: This is an all-ages show, and kids under 10 get in free.
PANTS YELL!! + BENT SHAPES :: Sunday, March 26 at Atwood’s Tavern, 877 Cambridge St. in Cambridge, MA :: 2 p.m., all ages, $20 :: Advance ticket link :: Featured Pants Yell!! photo by Jessica Amaya