Monday, July 18, 2011

What's new with the Brew? Lots, but ...

Saturday afternoon, downtown Newburyport, a sweltering summer day. The air thick, oppressive. It’s a zoo. The streets lousy with tourists and vendors, the air thick with the greasy stink of fried dough. The day-long Riverfront Music Festival will begin in about an hour. Chris Plante, the keyboard player for the Brew, is hustling through Market Square, a tight, focused but weary expression on his face, obviously dragging ass. No, the Brew, the homegrown band Plante has been performing with for nearly a decade, a quartet that will be opening for rock legend Gregg Allman next month in Lowell, will not be playing the Port festival. Lucky for them. The boys were just hours past their last gig at the Spot Underground in Providence at 2 a.m. By the time their trusty tour bus, a Dodge Sprinter that sometimes doubles as wiffle ball field, as fans of Brew video blogs know, pulled into their driveway in Newburyuport, the sun was coming out, giving the band a couple of hours to decompress and grab a little shut-eye before dealing with the brutal, life-and-death struggle for a parking spot and a table at Joe's in this madness and, of course, dancing around questions from the local press about the band's next album. His brother, Brew bassist Joe Plante, who just stepped over the low fence into the dining area, is ready to help out. Bottom line? Yeah, it's been three years since "Back to the Woods" dropped and, yeah, they say, the band is about due for a new album and something is happening, something really big, in fact, "the most important thing we've ever done," says Chris Plante, but ... well, they can't talk about it right now. There will be an announcement by the end of the summer. Brother Joe backs him up. "It's the biggest thing to happen to us," he says. But, but ... "We just can’t talk about it." There's a tired grin on brother Chris' face. Tease! He admits it. "Yup." But says he doesn't enjoy it. "Seriously," he says. "We just can't say anything about it right now."

Friday, July 15, 2011

'Rites' reveals dysthmic shrink in brutal comedy

Had to go to the dictionary to figure this out. First you’ve got anhedonic, which you can almost suss out from its roots. It’s an inability to experience pleasure from activities that used to give you a charge. Then you’ve got dysthymic, which comes from the word/condition dysthymia, a mood disorder characterized by chronic depression, but not quite as nasty as hardcore depression. So, now that the roadblocks to comprehension have been removed, we can put it all together: “Last Rites,” the new play by Lawrence Hennessey, is about is about “an unhinged, misanthropic, anhedonic, dysthymic jerk of a psychologist.” And we have just one question for the guy who wrote the play, seeing how he’s a shrink and everything: Is the play autobiographical? “I hope not,” he says. Good thing, seeing how this nasty piece of work comes to the understanding that the only way he can get right with the world after one of his patients commits suicide is, well, to kill himself. And, this being the modern world, he’s gonna film it so everybody knows what’s going on. And, oh, probably should mention this: It’s a comedy. A dark comedy, granted, but ... what? Ah, it’s a “brutal black comedy,” says Port director Tim Diering, who will stage the show this month at the Players Ring in Portsmouth. “The actors and crew have a hard time keeping a straight face through most of it ... and yet, it has many elements of traditional tragedy amid all the dark laughs.”