Lemuria @ Great Scott 12.30.13

by Jackie Swisshelm (Journalism), published January 13th 2014

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Rumbling electric guitars and emo-tinged vocals lured in Allston indie rock fans at Great Scott on December 30th, as Holliston, MA quintet Save Ends kicked off the night’s show. Hardly visible behind the bottlenecked crowd facing the stage, singer and guitarist Christine Atturio checked sound over clinking bottles and pre-show chatter. Complimentary harmonies from vocalist Brendan Cahill soon joined her, along with loud guitar melodies and cymbal-driven drum beats, and soon Great Scott’s small bar was filled with intoxicated fans pumped with admiration for Save Ends’ pop-punk edge.

Though Atturio’s sugary vocals were sometimes lost beneath Cahill’s rough ones and the three guitars on stage, the band’s pure enthusiasm during their set was heartening, not to mention invigorating. Promoting tunes from their most recent full-length release on the Tiny Engines label, Cold Hands, Warm Hearts, Save Ends featured distinctive lyrics about life lessons, along with an unexpected rhythmic charge. Lined up against Lemuria, however, Save Ends’ sweet vs. rough harmonic rock seemed a little too obvious—definitely repetitious in this particular lineup.

Second on stage was Sundials, an all-male trio from Richmond, VA. Their set, heavy on electric guitar and the whiney vocals that pop-punk is known for, had a compactness to it, though they sometimes verged on a 90s college rock sound. The band certainly played an energetic, distinguishing set alongside Save Ends and Lemuria, but overall they seemed like another punk band from the East Coast, with lyrics evidently trying to evoke a raw, melancholy scene and songs with predictable, short melodies.

Next, headliner Lemuria from Buffalo, NY, took the stage as an obvious crowd favorite. Beaming, Sheena Ozzella launched the triad’s set with ease and familiarity, as crowd members sang along loudly to songs from 2008’s Get Better as well as their 2013 LP The Distance Is So Big. Ozzella’s pure enthusiasm provoked the crowd to actually start dancing in the small venue, and to return her gloomy calls in songs like “Dogs.” Other throwbacks from Get Better included “Lipstick,” “Dog,” and “Pants.” The majority of their set, though, came from their more recent work – songs with minimal instrumentation that would blur into one another if not for Lemuria’s distinctly catchy, intricate drum kicks, poppy guitar riffs and punk bass lines. The contrast of Alex Kerns’ deep voice with Ozzella’s vulnerable one certainly works in the studio, but the same can’t be said about their sound in a venue with limited acoustic capabilities. Lemuria’s set also seemed abbreviated, and the crowd seemed to agree. After some short provocation, they returned to play a couple encore songs. “Mechanical,” an apparent old favorite, perhaps exemplified the band’s peak sound.

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