He Said, She Said: A Two-City Concert Review of Operators

Posted on: July 16th, 2019 at 5:09 am by

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.

Show Location

Elie: Bowery Ballroom, Lower East Side

Holly: Great Scott, Allston MA

Beverages Consumed

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.

Opener

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.

Expectations

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.

Gripes

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.

Operators at Great Scott, Allston

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.

Recent Stories

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation: Memories of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East

While working on our story about the new “Bill Graham and The Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, this reporter started collecting personal stories and memories of Graham’s legendary music venue, the Fillmore East. Located on Second Avenue and East 6th Street, the building began life in 1926 as The Commodore, […]

Chatham Square Library Closed for ‘Building Repairs’ Until Next Month

The Chatham Square Library is currently down for maintenance. The so-called “building repairs and improvements” are scheduled to last through February 29, with the library itself to reopen the following Monday (March 2). Until then, borrowers can return books and periodicals to the Seward Park branch just down East Broadway. The Chatham Square branch of […]

Hua Mei Bird Garden Receives Protective Fence from Flying Balls

You may have noticed the chain-link fence standing toward the Delancey perimeter of the sunken court on Broome Street. The Pit, as it’s nicknamed, was resurfaced with “sports coating” last summer, part of the city’s overarching attempt to redirect park space while the East River Park is bulldozed in the name of coastal resiliency. However, […]

‘Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution’ Opens at the New-York Historical Society

For many who grew up in a certain era, the name Bill Graham sparks Proustian memories of life-changing rock-and-roll shows. And if you were in San Francisco or New York City, the music impresario’s Fillmore concert venues were the greatest places in the world to see live music. Starting in 1965, Graham was booking and […]

Delancey Street Bodega Robbed at Gunpoint, Suspects at Large

Police are after two men suspected of holding up a Delancey Street bodega at gunpoint. The robbery – caught on camera – happened shortly before 4:30pm at the N&N Delancey Smoke Shop near the southwest corner of Allen Street. One suspect asked the clerk for cigarettes, while the other reportedly demanded money with an assault […]