José González, Arctic Monkeys, and Annie
By WILL SPITZ  |  April 7, 2006

Did we piss off the hipster-show gods? How else does it happen that three of the month’s best shows take place on the same night? Last Thursday’s options: José González, the Swedish/Argentine Nick Drake disciple, opening for cut-and-paste folktronica deities the Books at the Museum of Fine Arts; shit-hot Brit-rockers Arctic Monkeys at the Paradise; and Pitchfork-approved Norwegian dance-popstress Annie at Great Scott. After some high-level mathematical formulating, your correspondent figured out he’d be able to hit them all. Barely.

José González has been the toast of just about every music blog in the ’sphere for the past six months. At the MFA, armed with an acoustic guitar in a drop-D tuning, he transfixed the crowd with a short set of gentle yet powerful finger-picked originals plus a couple of his celebrated covers, Kylie Minogue’s “Hand on Your Heart” and Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” but no “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “Born in the U.S.A.” After a quiet “Thank you” and a thumbs up from González, the North Adams–based duo the Books took over with a cello, an acoustic guitar, a couple of electric basses, and a video projector synched to pre-recorded backing tracks. Over the course of the set, images of brains and seahorses, not to mention hilarious footage of a children’s watermelon-eating contest, floated behind them as they sang, strummed, and bowed along.

Hopping into a cab, I hightailed it to the Paradise, sneaking in just as the lights were going down. Although I’m in the minority that doesn’t think Arctic Monkeys are the second coming of the Beatles, I found myself with a minor case of goose pimples as four disarmingly young-looking lads walked out to Warren G’s “Regulate,” which was almost drowned out by the crowd’s screaming. Alex Turner, the band’s 20-year-old leader, was as cool and confident as a young Bob Dylan and had the audience, some of whom had to be more than twice his age, eating out of the palm of his hand for the entire show.

When they finished and it became clear they weren’t returning for an encore, I hoofed it up the street to Great Scott, arriving in time to catch Annie and her backing “Anniemals” — a dreadlocked dude on guitar and percussion and a greaser manning synths and samplers. Things got off to a slow start, but eventually Annie had the hipsterati of Allston shaking ass as if they were at a high-school dance in a Molly Ringwald movie.

Somewhere, the local-show gods were smiling.

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