Scrooged off the Islands

Islands in the photostream: Photos courtesy Will Spitz

Your pretty face is going to hell: photos copyright Mike Magee.

Last night the Canadian septet Islands -- the new band from Nick Diamonds and J’aime Tambour from the Unicorns -- made the final stop on their first tour at the Cambridge YWCA. They took the stage, one by one, looking like mental patients in all white and proceeded to play as such. Turns out they had all grabbed the wrong instruments as a joke. It was more annoying than funny, as was Diamonds’ endless stage banter. (Although he did shout out local dudes Mr. Lif and Edan at one point, even if the majority of the crowd didn't seem to know who they were.) Thankfully they made up for it with a solid set of pop whimsy culled mostly from their stellar forthcoming album Return to the Sea. Highlight: the young, violin-playing Chow brothers, whom Diamonds referred to as “child prodigies,” busting out an impromptu foot-stompin’ country jam.

As soon as Islands wrapped up, we hightailed it back across the river to Allston where the Christmas season was officially being kicked off. In other parts of the country, people bust out the holiday decorations and start thinking about sugarplums and malls as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey tryptophan wears off. But around here, it’s not Christmastime until six dudes in Santa suits do a Stooges cover set. The Scrooges' first gig this year was at the Model. That’s right — the Model Café, which hasn’t seen live music in two or three years, according to co-owner Bill Anthony. It wasn’t quite the crazy-as-shit show we were expecting (probably the only time you'll hear a ho-hum about a show that ends with the drummer throwing his kit across the room) but they did manage to pack over 100 people in the tiny space on the other side of the bar. Singer Dave Unger (of the recently disbanded Fast Actin’ Fuses), whom you can usually find behind the bar, is built more like Kris Kringle than Iggy Pop, but as usual he did a fine job of channeling Ann Arbor’s forgotten boy. Highlights: actually seeing a band play “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Search and Destroy” rather than hearing them on the jukebox -- again.
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