Each year the Hub sees a massive bodily sea change, with large portions of the population moving into town for the first time as well as others moving out for the last. And as the surge of students is sure to bring fresh-faced cherubs to town, it’s just as sure to be the catalyst for our annual Student Guide. So keep this bookmarked through the school year, and, in the words of the patron saint of getting wild, Andrew W.K.: “Party till you puke.”
A GREATER BOSTON PRIMER ON CAMPUS CONTROVERSIES
BY DIG STAFF @DIGBOSTON
As a non-native and noob in these parts, there will be times when you hear conversations about sensational campus happenings of years past. You can either pretend that you know what people are talking about, like you do in class with your professors, or you can participate, like a learned individual. The choice is yours—though this isn’t exactly boring university lore, and we included a few life tips, so you should probably pay close attention.
THOSE TIMES THE COPS KILLED COLLEGE STUDENTS
Some might not consider these to be campus scandals per se, since they happened in the area of Fenway Park, but they’re scandalous regardless, and should serve as severe warnings for anyone who plans to celebrate sports wins in public. In 2004, Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove was with friends near Kenmore Square after that Red Sox season’s historic ALCS win over the New York Yankees when a Boston police officer fired a pepper spray projectile into her eye, causing her to bleed out and subsequently die. Just a couple blocks away from where that incident took place, in June 2008, 22-year-old Emmanuel College student David Woodman got into a verbal confrontation with police while celebrating the Boston Celtics NBA Championship win in Los Angeles. After being tackled by BPD officer Michael McManus, Woodman’s heart stopped while he was in custody, and he passed away 11 days later.
THE WHOLE BU RACE THING
Some of us here at the Dig attended Boston University, so we’re criticizing out of love. In any case, students of color in particular may want to check out the enormous uproar from last year involving new hire Saida Grundy, her controversial Twitter feed, less-than-supportive administrators, and white supremacist outcry. As reported by Emily Hopkins, our Free Radical columnist who is currently on a short hiatus:
Boston University President Robert Brown wrote a letter in regard to the recent controversy around tweets by incoming professor Saida Grundy, a black woman, feminist and sociologist set to start teaching African American studies in July. Brown said he supported Grundy’s right to free speech, but added that her comments could be classified as racist.
As of the end of April, the BU African Presidential Center was set to close in June for lack of funding. Also, the school’s undergraduate student body is only about 5 percent black. In 2012, BU reported having “an extremely low percentage of African American/Black faculty” compared to other comparable institutions; approximately 2 percent of 2,000 full-timers self-identified as Black or African American.
BC WILL SELL YOU OUT
Researchers at Boston College had the right idea when they recorded an unrestricted, bloody history of the Irish Republican Army. In doing so, they promised some of the most controversial voices behind the Troubles, which tore Northern Ireland apart in the 1970s, that said record would remain sealed until after their deaths. When police from Northern Ireland came knocking, though, BC caved like a pathetic bunch of cowards, setting off a hellstorm far across the pond.
There are cults among us, and they’re not as cool as Skull and Bones. More like perpetual and ongoing scandals, in which countless tuition dollars are diverted to trite basement preachers and old-school religious hucksters. The first sleazy institution to avoid is the Boston Church of Christ, a seemingly innocuous order that nevertheless suckers naive undergrads into forking over thousands. On the political end of the cultural separation spectrum, run the other way if you spy sycophants who flank perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche. While you’re at it, look out for all churches and strange political parties that are lobbying a little bit too hard for you to join. This is the big city, not some podunk backcountry shitbed, and if a person invites you to their cool new church that suspiciously meets in hotel ballrooms or rock and roll clubs early on the weekends, nine times out of ten, they just want your money or virginity. Or both.
Long-simmering public skate park project is finally nearing completion.
BY DAN MCCARTHY @ACUTALPROOF
Attention all skaters, wheelchair athletes, BMX-ers, rollerbladers, scooter tricksters, and anyone else interested in the 40,000-square-foot skate park that’s taken over 10 years to come to light: It’s time to rejoice. Because the Lynch Family Skatepark being built underneath I-93 in the shadow of Boston Sand and Gravel is reportedly looking at completing construction in late fall or early winter. Which means the three “shotcrete” bowl areas, and all the grind ledges, handrails, ramps and quarter pipes being installed (and designed with the collective input of local skaters and an eye to Boston’s skating history) will soon be yours for the shredding. The Charles River Conservancy is posting regular Wednesday updates to Facebook and Twitter to follow progress. Just don’t complain if you think it’s taking too long. You just got here.
The team behind beloved local online streetwear brand-slash-headshop opening first storefront
BY DAN MCCARTHY @ACUTALPROOF
Any company that describes its inception as the desire to be “an expressions brand for city stoners” is hard to not immediately become enamored with. The fact that the crew over at Kush Groove, the eponymous online e-commerce retail portal celebrating urban lifestyle and the cannabis life just happen to hawk really awesome urban apparel, streetwear, graphic tees, hats, jackets, sweaters, and Air Jordans as well as cannabis accessories—from glass pipes to rolling papers and blunts—makes it all the more easy.
And as it turns out, the co-founders (who met at Northeastern) are stepping up their game this fall. They’re opening a full brick-and-mortar storefront in Mission Hill, and as soon as they open up on Sept 19 they’re going to bring their energetic blend of head shop goodies and slick threads to life.
I caught up with co-founder Marcus Johnson-Smith to get the skinny on the new shop, their connection to the Boston college scene, and why local up-and-coming DJs should be very excited this place is opening.
Tell someone who is just coming into town for their first semester, or even someone who’s a returning student but has never heard of you, what you guys are all about.
Kush Groove is a lifestyle brand. What we do is create products, apparel, and fashion accessories, as well as cannabis accessories.
Was Kush Groove fully formed as an idea from the start?
The vision wasn’t as clear as it is today, right? We definitely had the idea that we wanted to do something, just didn’t know what that something was. But we wanted to do something entrepreneurial [that spoke] to our cultural and community roots as well.
Did launching first as an online store make it easier to open your first physical storefront?
Our focus [was] really about building a brand following here in our hometown. That was our focus when coming out the gate. We started with a focus on being grassroots and working within our capacity. But once we figured out we had a following in the city, we decided the traction meant the retail option was the next step, in addition to the online channel. That’s how we approached it: Assess the market, take it phase by phase, and the brand, seizing the opportunity at the right time.
How did you settle on the area where the store would open?
We’re both Northeastern grads, and we’re native to Boston and Cambridge, so figured out we’ve been here our whole lives and gone to school in this area, so [Mission Hill] felt like it was right for us.
Why should people check the store out if they can get everything online?
Well, our grand opening will have a DJ and a party and all that hype. But moving forward, every Friday we’ll have a new local DJ spinning tunes in the store. The focus here is on the younger, up-and-coming DJs from the community. We wanted to give them a space to showcase their talent, but also create an awesome experience [for customers] in our store.
KUSH GROOVE. OPENS 9.19. 1536 TREMONT ST., BOSTON. KUSHGROOVE.COM
KNOW YOUR VENUES
Build the ultimate show experience
BY NINA CORCORAN @NINA_CORCORAN
Ahoy, students, and welcome to the city of nonstop music. We’ve got a mega map of all the venues you will likely hit up, but instead of settling for a show at face value, amp things up by turning that show into an experience based off what you’re looking for, be it sloppy eyeliner or a romantic dinner date. Or both. Now go say hello to these spots around the Hub.
Club Passim: Plan a quiet dinner date with a reliably good show here, especially if your guest has a penchant for folk music, petite tables, and the espionage allure of an underground descent.
Elk’s Lodge: When you’re looking for a DIY scene that doesn’t involve knocking on a stranger’s door for a house show, head here. Be respectful, though it should always go without saying to observe a venue’s rules.
House of Blues: Remember the first time you went to stadium concert and felt overwhelmed by it all? Hit this place up for that same feeling at a “small” size, all the more enhanced by its three-story setup.
Machine: Shameless dancing has a place here. Revisit the days when you wore full-on eyeliner more than one night a week and grab your buds. Machine is for loose dancing, whether you’re gay, straight, trans, bi, or anything else.
The Middle East Upstairs: Don a tank top no matter what season and imagine you’re in a beautiful summer oasis, complete with pyramid paintings, colorful walls, and cheap Narragansett—the unofficial cocktail of New England.
The Paradise: The vertically challenged have a safe space after all. This rectangular layout makes for perfect views of a well-lit stage, especially if an artist with a 3D backdrop or trippy visuals is booked.
Royale: Welcome to the closest you can get to a NYC nightclub without its three-digit receipt. Come ready to dance to electronica or poke around their schedule for emo and indie rock outliers.
The Sinclair: Drag your snobbiest audiophile friend to the main room for the best live mix they’ve ever heard in the city. From rock to dance to metal, this is the spot for meticulous, accurate, crisp audio feed that won’t leave you questioning a band’s talent. Unless they actually suck.
BEST ALL AGES SHOWS
Because music has no age requirements.
BY NINA CORCORAN @NINA_CORCORAN
Waiting for that 21+ or 18+ approval? Don’t worry about it. Our city’s got a handful of great shows lined up for you this fall. Whether you’re looking for a classic rock fix or whiny emo to cry alone to, our city’s best all-ages shows are waiting for you to be in their crowds.
THE ANTLERS W/ PORT ST. WILLOW
Haunting vocals that add solemn jazz to indie rock for the bedroom.
SAT 9.12. THE SINCLAIR, 52 CHURCH ST., CAMBRIDGE. 8PM/ALL AGES/$18. SINCLAIRCAMBRIDGE.COM
PILE W/ KRILL, WAREHOUSE, PALM
Local indie rock acts unite for a proper introduction to the DIY scene.
FRI 9.18. CUISINE EN LOCALE, 159 HIGHLAND AVE., SOMERVILLE. 8PM/ALL AGES/$10.50. CUISINEENLOCALE.COM
JOYCE MANOR W/ CHEAP GIRLS, TRACKS (JASON ANDERSON)
Emo heroes with positive punches that fill the soul.
SUN 9.20. ROYALE BOSTON, 279 TREMONT ST., BOSTON. 6:30PM/ALL AGES/$16. ROYALEBOSTON.COM
German krautrock giants bring their electronic music to life in 3D.
SAT 10.3. WANG THEATRE, 270 TREMONT ST., BOSTON. 8PM/ALL AGES/$59.50. CITICENTER.ORG
GIRLPOOL W/ ESKIMEAUX, TOLD SLANT, IAN
Acoustic songs on adulthood, suburbia, and how we’re all fucked.
MON 10.5. MIDDLE EAST UPSTAIRS, 472 MASS AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 8PM/ALL AGES/$12. MIDEASTOFFERS.COM
New Jersey’s beloved punks bring a rock opera to life with epic guitar solos.
THU 10.15. BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL, 158 BRIGHTON AVE., ALLSTON. 6PM/ALL AGES/$16. CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM
GARBAGE W/ TORRES
Get your alt-rock fix with women who show no mercy.
WED 10.21. ORPHEUM THEATRE, 1 HAMILTON PL., BOSTON. 7:30PM/ALL AGES/$45. CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM
JOANNA GRUESOME W/ AYE NAKO, KING OF CATS, BENT SHAPES
Feisty punk with freshly fixed mental-ward insanity.
WED 10.28. MIDDLE EAST UPSTAIRS, 472 MASS AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 7PM/ALL AGES/$12. MIDEASTOFFERS.COM
THE WHO W/ JOAN JETT
Classic rock icons cross the pond for a final farewell you’ll never forget.
THU 10.29. TD GARDEN, 100 LEGENDS WAY, BOSTON. 7:30PM/ALL AGES/$59.50. TDGARDEN.COM
MY MORNING JACKET W/ WOODS
Jam bands get rowdy in a vintage velvet-adorned theatre.
SAT 11.21. ORPHEUM THEATRE, 1 HAMILTON PL., BOSTON. 7:30PM/ALL AGES/$50. CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM
Discuss the recently departed like you knew them.
BY NINA CORCORAN @NINA_CORCORAN
Don’t freak, but 2015 is a sad year for Boston. Nay, a depressing one. The arts scene along Mass Ave saw two major establishments wave goodbye to their longtime status previously believed to be an unbreakable tenure—T.T. the Bear’s Place and Weirdo Records—with Johnny D’s ready to hop into the grave with them. While they failed to outlive the ever-growing rental rates of our city’s greedy appetite, they will never leave the city’s history. We mourn your missed memories so much that we’ll let you in on the details so you can impress your professors with your culturally aware self. Join the discussion like a true native, even if you never step foot in their doors. RIP.
T.T. THE BEAR’S PLACE
10 BROOKLINE ST., CAMBRIDGE
(March 1984 – July 2015)
“Rock club” has no meaning until you visit a place like T.T. the Bear’s Place. The long-time Cambridge staple hid itself modestly beside the Middle East, marking its location with a rounded paw print above the doors. Inside, a pool table, U-shaped bar, and miniature stage were scattered about above a floor sticky with beer, creating some kind of dingy yet loveable appeal that never seemed to fade. The 330-person club was all about spirit. That, and a stellar roster of acts. The Pixies, Arcade Fire, the Lemonheads, Nelly Furtado, and an endless list of performers were all booked back when they were open. Shut up; we’re not crying. There’s just something in our eyes.
(February 2009 – May 2015)
Remember that bizarre Japanese psych-pop record from 1963 that the friendliest woman you ever met suggested you buy? That secret haven of obscure wax waned for the last time. Weirdo Records was the nine-year business and six-year establishment that crammed more records and tapes into a petite square room than anyone thought possible, always allowing you a listen on the in-store record player before you dropped dough. Audiophiles still cry at the simple mention of the store. Keep your eyes peeled for owner Angela Sawyer, though. In her farewell letter, she promised to perform and do improv around the city’s edge.
17 HOLLAND ST., SOMERVILLE
(1969 – TBA 2016)
Memories last when you combine the senses. In that sense, Johnny D’s will never leave your mind. The Somerville music club and restaurant is a fixture of the scene that closes its doors at the turn of 2016. It, like the others, can’t breathe under the rising rates of property. The experience of watching a band with a stacked burger in your hands is one that doesn’t come often, so scurry over to any of the upcoming shows for a chance to feel the energy before it’s pulled out of the club’s body. The whole watching a band + hearing a band + eating food + smelling food combo makes for concert memories that make you laugh when retelling to friends and bands alike.
GO TO YOUR ROOM!
You’re going to spend a lot of time in there, so knowing where and what the essentials are around town is key.
BY DAN MCCARTHY @ACUTALPROOF
For: Cozy digs and insane authentic ramen.
1923 Mass. Ave., Cambridge.
For: $5 upscale apps and a growing lineup of great live local and national music.
156 Highland Ave., Somerville.
For: Hot dogs. Duh.
108 Brighton Ave., Allston.
For: The filling, flavorful, satisfying glory that is pho.
682 Washington St., Boston.
For: Mass-local everything, great cheese and ramen, and a mixed-use kitchen space to learn to cook out back.
100 Hanover St., Boston.
For: National and local headliners, nary a bad seat in the house.
425 Summer St., Boston.
For: Learning improv, seeing improv, improv improv.
40 Prospect St., Cambridge.
For: The best of indie/underground film.
Brattle Theatre, Harvard Sq., Cambridge.
For: Up and comers, hyperlocal comedy, tons of yuks on the third floor above a Chinese restaurant in Harvard Square.
1238 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge.
For: Great roasted coffee out of a Union Square java shop.
374 Somerville Ave., Somerville.
For: Homework, meet-ups, getting the jitters.
For: Same as Thinking Cup, really.
For: Awesome urban art, loft parties, killer music.
145 Pearl St., Boston.
For: All-around comic geekdom greatness.
407 Highland Ave, Somerville.
For: Great centrally located Kenmore Square store with a fantastic manga/anime section.
464 Comm. Ave., Boston.
For: Indie faves and a wall dedicated to local mini-comic artists in a venerable Harvard Square comic shop.
99 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge.
For: Local repair and slick all-season service shop in Union Square run by ex-bike mechanics.
361 Somerville Ave., Somerville.
For: Nonprofit bike repair services and knowledgeable staff.
18 Bartlett Sq., Jamaica Plain.
For: 15-step personal bike-fitting procedure and everything you could need for your wheels.
366 Comm. Ave., Boston.
For: Artisanal hand-blown glass pipes, bubblers, jewelry, dabber sets, and art.
202 Harvard Ave., Allston.
For: Dedicated and knowledgeable staff, vapes, pocket grinders and other paraphernalia.
472 Comm. Ave., Boston.
For: Historic and annual 420 rally in Boston Common celebrating the anti-prohibition weed movement with lectures, vendors, live music and more.
For: Vintage threads from one of the coolest local shops in the South End
19 Thayer St., Boston.
For: Insane selection and dirt-cheap vintage.
200 Broadway, Cambridge.
For: Consignment threads when you need them.
For: Vintage, consignment, odd finds for your closet.
For: Legendary 35-year-old local record shop beloved by students and Jimmy Page alike.
957 Comm. Ave., Boston.
For: Oddities, rarities, ambient noise, vinyl, comics, zines, and the occasional live show in the basement.
138b South St., Jamaica Plain.
For: Well-curated selection of classic and new vinyl, used books, Bruce Springsteen karaoke nights, and killer Spanish tapas.
470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain.
For: Browsing three decades of vinyl collected from the former Looney Tunes record store, antiques, and vintage stuff down an Allston alleyway.
16 Harvard Ave., Allston.
THE MUSICIAN’S CHECKLIST
A starter guide to becoming a musician in Boston DIY-style
BY NINA CORCORAN @NINA_CORCORAN
Let’s get one thing straight: You don’t have to go to Berklee to be a musician in Boston. The city is buzzing with new bands, many of whom push the envelope by building a musical collage out of instruments and members more bizarre than the street performers on Newbury. You, my friend, can be the next musician to rise to underground fame.
And sure, we occasionally swing by Guitar Center when looking to try out some brand-new six-string, sure, but it’s the unofficial breeding ground of horrible metal riffs, self-righteous employees, and price tags double their worth. So when it’s time to record, maybe skip Q Division Records. The indie recording studio has a laundry list of big names, but you can likely get an equally impressive sound with a cheaper bill by hitting up some of its overlooked neighbors. It’s with trap holes like these in mind that we’ve curated a starter guide to becoming a musician in Boston, DIY-style. Read on and get groovin’.
1) SHIFT GEARS
Whether you’re looking to upgrade guitars or replace cables, head to Allston for the unassuming staff of Mr. Music, Lexington for the acoustic guitar trove of the Music Emporium, Peabody for the vintage guitars of Bill’s Music, Watertown for the amp repairs of Aztech, and (of course) your local internet browser for individualized IFFT searches on Craigslist—no one sells more gear than neighbors you have yet to meet.
2) AHOY, BANDMATES
Speaking of neighbors, that’s the best place to look for bandmates. Sticking fliers up at practice spaces helps, but face-to-face conversation does wonders. The city’s music scene is bursting with outdoor festivals, college events, and basement shows, so get out and watch bands you love. Try your luck striking up conversations with those around you between sets; just don’t talk their heads off about the dream band you have yet to write music for. It sounds obnoxious, but trust us—it isn’t unless you choose to make it so.
3) PRACTICE (OUTER) SPACE
The polite knocking of a broom on the ceiling from your neighbors on the first floor won’t always be that pleasant. Let your sound loose by trying out practice spaces at any of the many facilities Boston hides in its corners. The hourly band room rentals of Sound Museum are worth pinning down, the vending machines and loading dock at Studio 52 are as Allston as it gets, and the room size variety of Jamspot is Somerville’s most comfortably lofty purchase.
4) RECORD THE RECORD
When you’re ready to record, visit several options to see what fits your sound best. Check out Q Division if you want, but look into Galaxy Park in Watertown, Sonelab in Easthampton, Cybersound in Boston, and Peerless Recording in Newton (casually one of the best mastering studios on the east coast). If you’re up for the commute, Machines With Magnets in Rhode Island is worth the trip too—as Battles would agree, given the band recorded its new album there.
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.