Ezra Furman & The Boy-friends At The Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA — Live Review

ezra_furman_and_the_boyfriends
Ezra Furman and the Boy-Friends

The Boston trio Krill is fronted by Ezra Furman’s brother. He wore a red baseball cap with a hoodie over it, effectively hiding before getting into their set. Vocally, he had a higher range than expected, with a bit of a Hank William whine going on. The lyrics were clever if not a bit infantile, as subjects ranged from turds in the bowl to a dumb-ass in a pair of shorts. This song in retrospect must have been for his brother, Ezra, who was sporting a blue and white culotte romper under his leather.

Ezra and his brother both talked about working at the Fresh Pond Theatre, and both thanked Spirit Kid who opened. Ezra said of Krill that they were the best band in Boston in his opinion, but he is biologically biased. Krill have a record of their own coming out in February. Complex guitar runs in quirky pop-punk make for catchy tunes, but the subjects head towards the intentionally obscure or obscene.

Ezra has talent, I’ll give you that, as do his boyfriends. But he also sports a bit of pretentious smart-ass wit and a dollop of smarmy sycophantic fawning. A penchant for the plaintive, vocally, Ezra still comes off as smirking even when the subject is self-loathing. He has been compared to the likes of Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, but I found myself thinking of the New York Dolls and early Lou Reed. Maybe it was the dress. They also tend towards a bit of quirky casbah craziness like They Might Be Giants, and if you throw in a little Green Day for looks, ie, Billie Joe Armstrong and Ezra have a similar look, you’re getting close. They’re good, no doubt – drums, sax, bass, guitar and keys work together to keep the sound swinging from jumpin’ jive to punk rockabilly, and they’re hard working, barely taking a breath between songs for most of the set. Ezra got into his Dylan-esque persona as the set progressed breaking out the acoustics guitars and the harp. An androgynous hispster hero in the making if he can only live down his own internal legend.

“Day of the Dog,” Ezra Furman and his band the Boy-Friends. Available now on Bar/None Records.

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