If you want to understand Boston’s local music, then you’ve got to see our city’s musicians perform live. Take out your calendar and grab a pen. These are five shows you shouldn’t miss this week, each geared toward showing you a different side of what the Boston music scene has to offer, from rock to rap to old-school folk. Don’t worry about price points either; not a single show crosses the $15 mark. Hell, some are even free. So get outside and get to know what our local musicians are brewing. Just don’t forget earplugs.
O’BRIEN’S PUB @ 8 PM / $8 / 18+
THU, MAY 17
There are too many alternative and indie rock bands in our city to see them all in one night. So instead of venue hopping, head over to Allston to catch a perfect platter of local artists who fall under that umbrella. Lowell emo-tinged alt-rock act oldsoul headlines, and some of the sweetest indie rock poppers we know, Elephants, are set to open the night. Sure, NYC acts Hard Pass and Nervous Dater will also perform, but let’s just say their sets—though likely good!—will be measuring tools to see how much more creative Boston’s music scene is compared to New York’s. Hey, we’re just stating facts here.
ONCE SOMERVILLE @ 8 PM, $12, 18+
FRI, MAY 18
If Boston followed Kathleen Hanna’s advice and all the women really did go to the front of the stage, then it wouldn’t look much different than it already does now. Our music scene continues to flourish thanks to hundreds of female and nonbinary artists, each churning out their own style and voice. Spend Friday night with some of our current favorites. Julie Rhodes has an award-winning blues and soul voice that will make your hairs stand up. Carissa Johnson can shred, as evidence by her taking the grand prize (and title!) at last year’s Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble competition. New to the scene is Aubrey Haddard, an indie soul pop singer who recalls some of radio’s brightest and happiest-sounding artists. For $12, this show is more than a steal.
YANI BATTEAU & THE STYLES, BROOK BATTEAU
LILYPAD INMAN @ 5:30 PM / $12 / ALL AGES
SAT, MAY 19
The influx of students in Boston is a product of dozens of colleges rooted in the city. Look closer, though, and a handful of long-term residents will rise from the 20-something crowd, people who’ve learned how to get by here long enough to create art at their own pace. Yani Batteau is one of those musicians. Bringing the traditional folk, Appalachian music, and vintage country music back into style, she sings with an unbothered voice, picking at her banjo in the traditional claw hammer style. It’s a soothing sound and one that often gets overlooked. She and Brook Batteau perform before Saturday’s sunset, leaving you with plenty of time for your normal Saturday night activities.
ATWOOD’S TAVERN @ 10 PM / $8 / 21+
SAT, MAY 19
Right on the cusp of 1990, one of Boston’s most influential bands, though never quite a household name, formed: Morphine. Led by Mark Sandman, Dana Colley, and Jerome Deupree, the Cambridge alt-rock act challenged the genre to get a little weirder and sparser, bringing blues and jazz techniques into the mix while Sandman sang with a deep, lackadaisical drawl. When Sandman died from a heart attack in 1999, it seemed like that was it for the band — until they formed a new, essentially tribute, act called Vapors of Morphine with guitarist Jeremy Lyons 10 years later. The band takes the stage this Saturday evening to what will be a dedicated and zoned-in room at Atwood’s Tavern.
LIZARD LOUNGE @ 7 PM / FREE / 21+
TUE, MAY 22
Boston Calling Music Festival may grab the big names from a sea of international artists, but this Tuesday night show celebrating what the local scene has to offer is a festival all its own. Head over to Cambridge to celebrate Local Calling, an event where homegrown talent can blossom and anyone is allowed to listen in. One of our favorite Americana acts, Honeysuckle, will perform their blend of traditional and modern folk with a roots influence. Dietrich Strause and the Blue Ribbons will work their way through melodic jazz rock, twisting songs with a pop flair. Best of all, Roxbury’s own poet and rapper Oompa, the face of our most recent music cover story, will be there to spread truths about what it’s like losing family and growing up queer, black, and orphaned. Plus, the festival is offering attendees a chance to win two passes to Boston Calling as part of a raffle prize event. And if all of that wasn’t enough, did we mention it’s free?