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By : Georgia Moore

7 min read

“Children versus wizards.” The obvious answer, given promptly and after little discussion by the members of Boston’s own Ohio State Fair (not to be confused with Ohio’s own Ohio State Fair) when asked what Youtube videos they would like to have playing in the background of their set. Other bands’ selections included carpet deep-cleaning time lapses and early 20th century stop motion puppetry. Maybe it’s a sign of the times along with the Subway Surfers-in-the-sidebar side effects of visual inundation with constant stimulus, but the growing trend of projected visual accompaniment in relatively lofi settings, like the basement surroundings, is simultaneously an elevation of the slouchy attitude of DIY and a goofy counterweight to bring your attention to the seriousness of seriously good rock and roll music.

The night kicks off with crowds moving close to the front, away from the cold entryway where housemates warm their hands over scented candles and steaming ceiling pipes. Part of the close quarters of the crowd, seated on the floor as well as nearby flat surfaces, is the welcoming warmth of the incomparable folk stylings of Sweet Petunia. The acoustic intimacy of the group and, later, Roman Barten-Sherman’s deep blues bring the energy right to the front as Ohio State Fair gets set to play.

“It’s like an anti-Harry Potter Russian movie. Some of it is animated but then it’s also live action, for some reason?”

The bizarre plot compliments the four-piece nicely, playing off of the gritty dreaminess of an omnichord hit with blasting guitars. It’s the band’s third official gig, and many members jump back and forth between other local projects like Rusty Mullet and Joyer, but the sonic clarity of a fully realized outfit gives the room a warm, melodic fullness. Following a mellow and banjo-heavy pair of sets from Sweet Petunia and Roman Barten-Sherman, the noise factor from Ohio State Fair cranked the energy up to 11. Songs bounced between the heavy drone of a slew of pedals and more upbeat moments, carried through by the lightness of the vocals.

Closing out the night, The Croaks carry us out with a combination of the night’s folk undertones with the noise the crowd craves to stave off the brisk wind for a few hours longer. Following up on the release of “Croakus Pokus” this July, the performance by the Croaks runs the gamut from the mesmerizingly nostalgic to screaming, sweaty joy and rage. A strong lineup from start to finish, local favorites and newcomers alike find their place in this lineup of Boston music to watch.

—Georgia Moore

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #164 December 2023


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