Andy California wasn’t about to let a last-minute cancellation ruin some rock and roll fun.
The Boston garage rocker filled in admirably Friday night for southern hell raisers Thelma and The Sleaze, who dropped off Illegally Blind rock show of outrageous personalities at the Middle East Upstairs after a broken down tour bus forced the cancellation of the final leg of their tour. So it was California who filled the void and got things started right on a bill that included New York’s Dirty Fences and a pair of local misfit bands, the Dazies and Creaturos.
Andy California’s Ty Segall-esque rockabilly got the night off to a huge start. He broke the fourth-wall, he grinded on crowd members, he touched his face to audience members’ faces, and made profane gestures with his guitar. His music transported the audience to swinging ’60s where free love reigned. His antics could have alienated some, but the small crowd of early birds was eager to get to know this bold, unapologetic musician. He spoke more to the audience than the rest of the bands to follow, who kept their dialogue strictly about what song they would play next.
Local power-pop group the Dazies then took the stage with their mellow-yet-upbeat tunes. The crowd chilled out from Andy California’s wild set enough to appreciate the equally captivating harmonies from the Mikey Holland project. Up next were Creaturos, who are now regulars at the Middle East, having opened for King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard there, and also playing the annual three-day Cambridge psychedelic rock festival known as Fuzzstival. In less than a year from those performances, they have matured as a band. They commanded the stage like seasoned veterans, and the crowd was moved enough to dance to their high-speed rock riffing off black metal bands and psychedelic rock groups of the ’60s.
Headliners Dirty Fences were all jokes when they took the stage to a staggering, giggling crowd. Their music video for “Judy (Don’t Go)”, a long-lost Ramones track that never materialized, features the full band in ’60s drag, and the drummer joked his dealer must have laced his weed.
Dirty Fences are a phenomenon that needs to be seen more than just listened to on Bandcamp. Their recordings just do not do justice to the full-bodied high their set invokes. The Fences played songs off of their most recent album, May 2015’s Full Tramp, including “High School Rip” and “Heartbeater”. The band wasn’t static, but ever-moving across the stage: lifting guitars overhead, bowing in unison and performing semi-choreographed stage moves. Even the drummer was standing at certain points of the set.
Despite the set back of losing Thelma and The Sleaze, the rest of the bands still pulled together to throw an unforgettable show.