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It’s a big honkin’ stretch to frame The Midway Cafe as merely some sorta ol’ timey rock and roll throwbacky joint. In actuality, the venerable Jamaica Plain institution should be noted for its eclectic sensibilities, rather than fidelity to guitar bands of any stripe. Regardless, when I hear the phrase “The Midway,” my mind immediately conjures one occasion from seven years prior in which I witnessed co-owner Midway Dave happy screaming at Gordon Gano outside on the sidewalk, shortly after Gano stopped in for a performance that happened to include the two (or three?) Violent Femmes songs everyone recognizes.
I should emphasize with italic font that this was happy screaming. Midway Dave was clearly not screaming at Gordon Gano to express anger or sadness; only jubilance. But he was nonetheless screaming, and so while The Midway may be many things, one of them is surely an ol’ timey rock and roll throwbacky joint, because only the co-owner of an ol’ timey rock ‘n roll throwbacky joint can scream at an alt-rock elder statesman and be celebrated for such behavior.
Ergo, seeing as how The Hi-End — an incidental product of the Jamaica Plain Music Fest — must unveil their second EP of thoroughly reverent guitar music somewhere in town, The Midway is probably their best option. And that’s what they’re doing this Friday (March 9).
The seven tracks of Before You Run Out Of Luck (two of which were released online in December and can be heard below via Bandcamp) don’t wear their influences on their sleeve, so much as all of their arms are covered in 1970s band logo and album art tattoos, plus the jacket they’re wearing has a super killer New York Dolls back patch, and there’re probably also some Rolling Stones and AC/DC pins on its lapels.
But to zero in on actual or perceived derivativeness would be missing the point entirely. A germane question surrounding a band like The Hi-End is not, “Will this music win an award for originality in the foreseeable future?” A more worthwhile inquiry goes, “Does this sound sufficient, or more-than sufficient, to entice onlookers to dance and clap following three drinks at the end of the workweek?” The latter answer is in the affirmative, which means Before You Run Out Of Luck succeeds where it needs to succeed.
Much of the same, and then some, can be said of the rest of Friday’s bill. From what I can determine, Nick and the Adversaries are a ska-influenced punk band including Steve Foote of Big D fame and Nick Bacon of Pilfers fame that does not perform the style popularly identified as “ska-punk” …which, actually, means they probably should win an award for originality.
Continental features father-son team of ex-Dropkicks guitarist Rick Barton and bassist Stephen Barton and I’m sorry but THAT’S FUCKING ADORABLE. Speaking of adorable, Pumpkin the one-eyed yippy dog was my roommate in a previous life, and her human went on to become the lead singer of The Gala. Pumpkin and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye (HILARIOUS PUN, RIGHT?) but during our time together, we taught each other value lessons about empathy. Pumpkin is sadly no longer among us, but if she was here today, I’m sure she’d say something like, “Although I generally prefer dog music, I agree that The Gala is a pretty sick band by human music standards.”
THE HI-END + NICK AND THE ADVERSARIES + CONTINENTAL + THE GALA :: Friday, March 9 at The Midway Cafe, 3496 Washington St. in Jamaica Plain, MA :: 8:30 p.m., 21-plus, $10 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page :: Featured image via Bandcamp