Massy Ferguson: Chasing Anti-Heroes and Hitting The Mark at The Triple Door
A Massy Ferguson show always turns into one big audience-participation party, but this night was even more festive because each guest received a copy of their new album, Run It Right Into The Wall with the purchase of their ticket. Hence the official name for the evening: “Everyone Gets An Album” Release Party.
A few weeks before the show, Massy Ferguson hyped it up online, blasting us with Facebook and Twitter posts, videos, teasers, pictures, and album review links. Paul Kerr, prolific writer of the music blog Blabber ‘n’ Smoke recently gave a thumbs up to Massy’s new album, calling it a “solid slice of gritty roots rock”. Check out his lively review here.
By showtime, The Triple Door was nearly sold out, with only a few empty seats scattered about the venue. People who purchased VIP tickets (a mere $16 more than regular admission) were also treated to a pre-show party and meet ‘n’ greet in The Green Room which included food, signed CD’s, and a cassette (yes, an actual audio cassette) of the new album. Dig out the boom boxes and find a pencil!
Ethan Anderson, bassist and frontman for MF, officially kicked off the night by reading a heartfelt speech about the conception of this album, calling it the record Massy Ferguson was born to write. He spoke of all of the steps it took to get to this point in the life of the band. He spoke of his anti-heroes–those bands who were on the fringe, who didn’t swim in the main stream, such as The Replacements, Wilco, Son Volt, and The Boss himself, back in his Nebraska days. They were his mentors, his idols–just out of reach. Some he literally just missed in a green room or on a stage. Their latest album sonically touches these anti-heroes, but as more of an homage–never an imitation. They have a signature sound, and this one hits all the marks that make them Massy Ferguson. Maybe it’s a little more rockin’ than their previous albums; but as Ethan said, “They always were at their best with rock first, twang after.”
Keeping a band together for ten years is quite a feat these days, especially when one is on the left side of the dial, trying to make ends meet–trying to make it. Roll the video…
Following the speech and video, Nick Foster Band, a seven-piece Americana ensemble, primed the audience for party time. Foster, on acoustic guitar and vocals, shared beautiful harmonies with Jazmarae Beebe. The rest of the band was equally impressive on soulful folk songs and full-bodied jams.
DJ Indica Jones kept the festivities going between sets with some great spins from 80’s and 90’s pop, rock, and hip-hop. He involved the audience in sing-alongs and let them finish choruses with songs like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. He danced along, grooving to his own beat.
The curtain rose and Massy Ferguson started their long set with five new tracks from Run It Right Into The Wall. All songs on the album except one were written by Massy Ferguson. The exception is “Firewater”, written by UK rocker Dave Woodcock (Dave Woodcock and the Dead Comedians). This up-tempo, jangling rocker fired up the audience as Adam Monda fueled them with his trusty #5 Fender. A makeshift dance floor started in the aisle.
They continued with some favorites, including “Renegade” and “Backwoods”, the latter receiving help from the audience as they clapped along to the beat.
Another new one, “Dogbone” includes a Creedence-inspired riff. During the song, Rainier tallboys magically appeared on the stage. While Adam dove into a psychedelic solo, Ethan rolled over onto the stage (with his bass, which is quite a feat), grabbed a beer, took a sip, and popped back up.
Ethan interrupted the show to mention they have two new t-shirts designed by rockin’ drummer Dave Goedde in the merch booth. Dave also designed the album’s cool cover. Ethan then threw two shirts out to the cheering audience before raising his Rainier for his traditional toast, in several languages.
“Every time I say Hello, you answer…Hello!” Ethan yelled to the crowd, and they happily shouted along to this poppy tune from Victory & Ruins.
Ethan later dedicated “Set The Sun” to a friend in the crowd who was having a birthday this evening.What a perfect way to celebrate.
“Lagrande” from the EP Damaged Goods featured Tony Mann on keys, filling in for Fred Slater. Tony just recently moved back to the US from Costa Rica, and was a member of Massy Ferguson from its inception. It was great to see Tony play with the band again.
“Atlantic City”, a cover by Bruce Springsteen, reminded Ethan of driving home with Adam after a late night in Roslyn, a tiny resort town east of the mountains. The audience sang along to the somber, repetitive chorus.
Massy Ferguson blasted back from “Atlantic City” with “Front Page News”, an angry rocker, and the dance floor spread into the aisles. They kept the momentum going with “Powder Blue” –always a great song to do near the end when everyone is primed to yell “Powder Blue!” at the top of their lungs on Ethan’s cue.
The last song, “Into The Wall” allowed the crowd to breathe briefly while nodding their heads to the pensive title track.
Ethan then invited the entire audience onstage, and soon the stage was packed with happy revelers and dancers. He handed his bass to another capable musician while he brought out his almighty flute, a bittersweet sign that the rowdy night was coming to an end. They finished their high-energy set with a cover of “Can’t You See”, but the flute malfunctioned. It was missing an end piece. A roadie tried to do an emergency repair, but it didn’t hold. Ethan tore that thing apart as the dancers and revelers continued on, not caring or noticing that the flute solo was abandoned.
Ethan Anderson might have missed his anti-heroes; but tonight, he and the band hit their mark.”They exceeded the hype!” said a friend when the party was over.
A few days later, Massy Ferguson revived the party and ran it right into The UK the rest of June and into the first week of July. The tour included shows in Bath, Brighton, London, and Scheffield, among others, culminating with a grand finale at Maverick Festival in Suffolk where they shared the stage with the brilliant UK-Americana artist Peter Bruntnell.
See their website for news, merch, and upcoming shows here: http://massyfergusonband.com/
Photo Credits: Rich Zollner Photography. Ethan Anderson’s speech photo by Jacob Knight
Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play small clubs and venues. Support quality music.