He Said, She Said: A Two-City Concert Review of Operators
Some musicians are serial frontmen. Count John Boeckner in that category. He currently fronts Operators, but is known for stints in both Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs. We caught Operators in both Boston and on the Bowery for our latest “He Said, She Said” segment.
Elie: Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side
Holly: Great Scott, Allston MA
Elie: Two beers – Tecate and Bud-heavy.
Holly: A pint of brown ale that was decidedly not a Newcastle, but filled to the brim with buyer’s remorse.
Elie: Doomsquad. Experimental electronic music with flutes, and even a ginormous recorder, that paired elements of Gary Neumann with the un-tiss four on the floor beat. Intriguing at first, then just annoying.
Holly: All I kept thinking about during Toronto-based Doomsquad’s set was “The Safety Dance.” The trio had a lot going on – there were flutes and loops and echoes, offset by jerky bob and weaves, a lot of swaying, and full on gyrations. All signs point to some facet of bedroom pop, but if your bedroom was on Mars in the eighties. They paid homage to Instagram in one song, not only with a name drop, but also the refrain, “I am following you, when I should be following me.” Compelling. It wasn’t my bag, but they had a pretty massive applause from the crowd, so maybe it’s just me.
Elie: I liked some of the songs I heard earlier this summer, so I was definitely excited to hear more.
Holly: Expectations weren’t particularly high – I typically favor rock shows over music made by buttons, played live. But I love Great Scott – one of the last venues in Boston still serving beer in glasses during a gig. So I was happy to be there, and ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Favorite Part of the Set
Elie: Boeckner’s energy was pretty great, culminating with his jumping into the crowd during the encore. Fans were quite pleased, especially because Boeckner had plenty of hugs to give.
Holly: Truth be told, it didn’t dawn on me until the third Handsome Furs cover that I knew the lead singer’s voice beyond what I had heard of Operators. A quick internet search confirmed that I was, in fact, watching Dan Boeckner’s (Handsome Furs, Wolf Parade) latest project. It, uh, happens to the best of us?
Boeckner was pretty energetic on stage, despite the limited space to move. “I Feel Emotion” sounded like a peppy War On Drugs song. And despite my preconceived notions of button-based music, they had a guitar, drums – the whole bit. They were tight. Boeckner’s baritone vocals sounded great backed by the band’s blitzy, upbeat melodies. And their sixties video backdrop was perfect eye candy paired with their music.
Elie: being soaked head to toe from the deluge last Thursday night. And a sound mix that drowned out the guitar and vocals.
Holly: According to the venue website, Doomsquad was supposed to go on at 9:15pm. Instead, the crowd was treated to space age mood music for an additional eighteen minutes, while they tried to get their shit together. Operators weren’t ready to, well, operate until 10:35pm. C’mon, it’s a mid-week show. What is this, New York?
Wouldn’t have minded a Wolf Parade “This Hearts on Fire” cover.
Best Song Performed
Elie: Half the set was Handsome Furs covers, a band I had not previously seen. I liked hearing “I’m Confused” during the encore. However, of the Operators fare, “Faithless” was as good live as on the record.
Holly: Toss up between “Terminal Beach” and “I Feel Emotion.” Also, the Handsome Furs “Memories of the Future” cover was pretty great.
Something You Saw That the Rest of the Crowd Didn’t
Elie: I spent much of the show evading the most annoying of superfans. Or that said superfans appeared to be giving pre-show advice to Boeckner about how to plug in his equipment.
Holly: The two overdressed entitleds standing across the way, right under the “PLEASE DO NOT BLOCK THIS PATHWAY TO THE BATHROOM – YOU’LL JUST WIND UP ANNOYED ANYWAY” sign, getting visibly irritated every time Great Scott staff and weak bladders had to push past them. Kids, don’t be those guys.
Would You See Them Again?
Elie: Damn straight.
Holly: For sure.