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By : Christopher Strunk

9 min read

Neptune/Rong/Hive Mind Brass Quintet/Andrea Pensado at the Midway Cafe, Saturday June 24th.

In October 2000, I moved to Boston to take a job at the Boston Public Library. The first couple weeks after I arrived in town, I felt lonely, missed my friends, and was regretting my move. I often thought “What have I done?” About a month after my arrival, I went to see the angular Czech post punk band Uz Jsme Doma at the Middle East, and Neptune was the opening band. As I watched Neptune bludgeon their instruments made of scrap metal and saw blades that night, I felt a sense of relief, and thought “If a band this good and weird is from Boston, I think living here is going to work out”.

Neptune began in 1994 as a sculpture project by Jason Sanford, the band’s one constant member. After constructing fully working guitars out of scrap metal, he assembled a band to play them. There were many different line-ups over the years. Over time, the scrap metal guitars were joined by various homemade percussion instruments and synths. By the time I arrived in Boston, they were an absolute staple of Boston’s indie music scene, pretty much opening for every oddball touring rock band that came through town. They also toured themselves, through both the US and Europe, and acted as ambassadors for Boston’s music scene. They released numerous records. I saw them so often that if a month passed and I hadn’t seen a Neptune live set, things felt “off”. Neptune kind of ground to a halt around 2012.

After so many years, it was great to see the Neptune lineup of Jason, Mark Pierson, and Dan Boucher back in action at the Midway. This lineup of the band was the longest lasting and definitive configuration. It felt pretty astounding that after not playing for seven or eight years, Neptune sounded as tight and hammering as ever. It was a wonderful walk down memory lane, but at the same time they sounded so alive and vital. I hope they decide to keep playing and record new material.

Socially, this show was a class reunion for various Boston music weirdos who saw each other a lot at shows from the late 90s up until about 2010. The show sold out early, and though it was frustrating that a lot of people couldn’t get in, a kind of party developed on the sidewalk outside the Midway during the course of the night as everyone caught up with old friends.

Rong, a younger band, who sit at the intersection of hardcore, noise rock, and metal, played a really excellent set before Neptune, and also brought out a younger crowd, so the Midway was full of both young and old Boston music weirdos, which was great to see. Hive Mind Brass Quintet was a five trumpet free improv group, and seeing Salem’s noise kingpin Andrea Pensado play is always cathartic.

What an excellent night.

—Chris Strunk

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #160 August 2023


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