[23 February 2010]
Despite the fact that Roger Miller once sang, “Fame and fortune is the game I play”, recognition and success clearly eluded Mission of Burma during their brief initial run. So it’s hard to resent the band for their decision to reform, especially since, unlike some other, recently reunited, Bostonian indie-rock legends, they’ve justified their existence by releasing three new records that make a strong argument for continued relevance.
On Saturday night at the Black Cat, it was those three new records that the band leaned on the most heavily, as they worked their way through an energetic, spirited set for a fittingly enthusiastic crowd. True to form, the band delivered both old and new songs with the sort of wallop that only the newer records hint at, reminding those in attendance that Mission of Burma are, at their core, a punk rock act. As Miller and Clint Conley wrung noise from their instruments, the unseen hand of Bob Weston manipulated, reversed and looped their output, adding an almost spectral air to the proceedings. Still, the primary focus was very much on anthemic stompers, as evidenced by newer numbers like “1, 2, 3, Partyy!” and the dusting off of old favorites like “Academy Fight Song” toward the close of the set. In hindsight, it’s hard to decide which was more surprising: the aging band’s seemingly limitless energy, or the fact that the mostly thirty-something audience danced, sweated and sang right along with them.
Also worthy of note were opening act Office of Future Plans, the latest project from J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels). While the band has only played a handful of shows around the D.C. area so far, they already have the chemistry and stage presence of a road-tested touring band. Fans of Robbins’ previous work won’t be disappointed with OFP’s jagged, post-hardcore sound, while the addition of cellist Gordon Withers adds an extra dimension to Robbins’ tightly-wound songs.
Mission of Burma
Office of Future Plans