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Hot Rod Circuit / Cartel: live in Cambridgelive in Cambridge (2011)
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: InaGreendaseInaGreendase
(others by this writer | submit your own)
New Hampshire's Smoke Signals was in the midst of their opening set when I arrived. Middle-of-the-road alt-country rock I'm not too into. Competent stuff but a little boring. The Appreciation Post was next. Apparently they're one of those longer-running locals that don't find much success or reco.
New Hampshire's Smoke Signals was in the midst of their opening set when I arrived. Middle-of-the-road alt-country rock I'm not too into. Competent stuff but a little boring.
But when Hot Rod Circuit came out and kicked it into high gear with the awesome, chugging "Now or Never," the audience began to lose whatever semblance of shit they may have had prior. I don't think I've ever seen an audience react to the band like this, but then, I've never seen them as close to New Haven, Conn. (their sort-of-hometown) as I had before tonight. They were riotous and loving it--without being obnoxious, though, which was cool.
The Middle East has a pretty strict policy about stage-diving and crowd-climbing, but they were letting the first few guys get away with it for a while. Then, during the last few songs, a couple dudes found themselves escorted out when they decided to have a little more fun than the rules allowed. Bummer.
Most of the band's set came from Sorry About Tomorrow, which I was pretty happy about since that was my introduction to the band and remains my favorite record of theirs (as I imagine is the case for many other fans). And while one would think that the presence of guitarist Casey Prestwood would result in a flood of their material receiving a healthy dose of twang as a result, that wasn't at all the case: The songs retained their core emotion and straightforward rocking the band had done so well for a decade, with only a little bit of pedal steel addition on some of the cuts from the last two albums (and a short acoustic break that stripped down two older songs for an interesting stylistic turn). It all came off with the right mix of ruggedness and polish. Sure, they only took a four-year break, but they sounded as strong as ever.
Set list (9:55-11:03):
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