Lansdowne heat up the Middle East

A review of Lansdowne at the Middle East Downstairs on May 31

, Staff Writer

It was sweltering downstairs at the Middle East on Saturday night. It could have been the body heat of a sold out crowd about 575 strong, many bearing magic marker x’s on their hands. It could have been the five opening bands who spent hours getting that crowd warmed up. Or it could all have come pouring off the stage where Lansdowne spent their 45 minute set working up a sweat, rocking out with a collective energy that overpowered the room.

There’s no doubt that Lansdowne are so hot right now. With features in the Herald and Metro in the past two weeks, plus no less than 6 professional looking photographers at the show, it’s clear that people outside of the band’s die-hard following are beginning to take notice.

& Fans of the band’s EP Burn This For Your Friends were treated to glimpses of what is to come from Lansdowne, including show opener “I’ll See You Again”, a song dedicated to the troops overseas that the band met during a USO sponsored tour that took them over to the real Middle East. From the opening tom rumble the band was on fire, hitting every crash in unison and quickly getting on top of the monitors in front of the stage, the better to see and be seen.

“Burn It Down”, another new song, was played with assured ferocity, and lead singer Jon Ricci’s golden voice made the chorus instantly memorable. Guitarist Shaun Lichtenstein and bassist Josh Migliori careened manically around the stage, treating every lick, hit, and chorus like new toys on Christmas morning. Lansdowne are masters of the moment of calm before the storm, and that is thanks in large part to drummer Glenn Mungo’s explosive drumming.

The band gave a preview of their upcoming “Scuffed Tims and Phat Rims” tour, playing their first live cover ever. Their take on Usher’s “U Got It Bad” started out fairly faithfully before a punkified double time chorus, and Lichtenstein tossed in the first of many fiery solos to top off the pretty solid R&B cover.

Lansdowne’s energy remained high for “This Is The Moment” (or maybe just “The Moment”), another new song that shifted effortlessly from half-time to double-time to straight ahead rock. Lichtenstein and Migliori were visibly ecstatic with every hesitation-hit, showing just how much fun it is to be in a real rock band.

“Just Let Go” was the first song from Burn This For Your Friends and started off with a slick pick slide guitar intro. Ricci invited some fans onstage to do an unprofessional but good natured interpretive dance reflecting the song’s lyrics about being cheated on, and a burning solo from Lichtenstein plus a sick stick twirl-throw and catch from Mungo capped off the song.

Lichtenstein and Migliori sported wide eyed smiles during the alternately chugging and driving new tune “OK” and put their best stage moves on display during Burn This standout “Anatomy of a Symphony”. The two have perfected a combination of Metallica’s head-banging, Fallout Boy’s jump spins, and Pete Townshend’s windmill in which they jump, cock their guitars over their heads and to the side, then swing them around their body in unison in a move I’m dubbing the Axis in honor of Lansdowne Street’s late club.

Ricci ended “Symphony” saying, “It is so hot on this stage,” then introduced “Heart of a Lion”, a song written just that morning featuring the fitting words “set a fire.” With its subdued verse and quirky rhythm it was different than the evening’s other songs, and the lyrics “If I had to do it all again / I would do it all again” seemed to reflect the influence of the trip overseas on Ricci’s lyrics.

“All I Ever Wanted”, a song from the band’s forthcoming digital EP, has smash hit written all over it and it’s ready for the radio chorus. It also featured perhaps the best pregnant pauses of the night (speaking of pregnancy, one adoring fan’s sign read “I’m pregnant…It’s Yours”). After the song Ricci noted the heat again, saying, “My God it is hot in here,” but the band didn’t let up for the driving “Ready to Fly”.

Ricci introduced “Her Eyes Will Tell You Everything” as “the last Lansdowne song for four months” as the band set forth on an East Coast tour the day after the show. Mungo absolutely nailed the disjointed rhythms of the verse and the whole band exploded on the chorus, leading everyone in arena-sized “woahs”. The bridge even featured a proposal, to Lichtenstein’s cousin from her boyfriend.

With a few more “woahs” the band was finished, leaving rivers of sweat and a hot and humid Middle East in their wake. Lansdowne clearly have a bright future ahead of them, and once their new material is recorded and released it won’t be long until they’re playing venues big enough to contain them. For now, though, Boston is privileged to have them burning up our club scene.

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