Tattooists, record shops, clubs and cafes – the 10 places you need to visit.
We have a ton of record stores in town. And when I say records, I mean exactly that. In Your Ear is packed wall-to-wall with vinyl. Their conservative estimate is 100,000 albums, but it’s probably a million. It’s in a dusty basement that is also jammed with vintage stereo equipment, 70s Playboy magazines, porno movie posters, 8 track tapes, VHS tapes, cassettes, etc. etc. Heaven, basically.
The Delta Spirit live at the Middle East
**The Middle East **
The go-to rock club in town. There’s four separate rooms of varying sizes (probably 50 people can fit into the bakery on the corner, you can jam 600 or so in the downstairs room), all of them filled with bands every single night of the year. If it was the only club in town, we’d still have a ridiculously busy music scene.
**WEMF Radio **
Traditional ‘terrestrial’ radio is on the wane, podcasting and online streaming are on the rise. WEMF scratches both itches. It’s a fully-functioning radio station broadcasting live on-line that is quickly becoming the hub of the Boston rock scene, with bands either dropping in for interviews or live performances every day. Full disclosure: it’s the home of the Sleazegrinder Super Rock Power Hour, but that only sweetens the pot, really.
The city of Boston is broken up into many distinctive neighbourhoods. The part you’re probably thinking of when you think of Boston – the accents and the fist-fights and all the Marky Mark bullshit – is called Southie. That part’s not that rock’n’roll. On the other side of town lies Allston, known colloquially as Allston Rock City, since that’s where most of the rock bands in town live. It’s cheap and mostly disgusting and there’s a bed bug outbreak every so often, but there’s some great rock clubs (O’Briens, Great Scott, Brighton Music Hall), classic dive bars, and cheap restaurants everywhere. It’s also the best place to find local rock gods face-down in the gutter in puddles of their own puke.
Do you remember the band Waltham? They were tongue-in-cheek arena rockers from a few years ago, who came this close to making it. While waltzing with major labels, the band invested their rock dollars wisely and opened this award-winning tattoo shop. Amazing artists and a general air of rock’n’roll royalty.
On the other hand, if you lean more towards the metal side of art and ink, you’d wanna get your tattoos here. They’ve got an unreadable death metal sign out front, they blast Motorhead and Slayer all day, the walls are covered with bloody hell-scapes, and their tattoo artists specialise in stuff like HR Giger reproductions and photo-realistic Glenn Danzig portraits.
The Slaughterhouse Sweethearts
Oberon is the second stage of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, right across the river from Boston. While that doesn’t sound all that rock’n’roll at first glance, it is the home of Boston’s thriving burlesque scene, and routinely features rowdy crews of dancers like the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts, a horror-themed burlesque troupe that puts on metal themed extravaganzas featuring tattooed beauties baring skin (and blood and guts) to their favourite thrash and black metal hits.
Speaking of Cambridge (and metal), Armageddon Records is a unique record store tucked in a basement on an obscure corner in Harvard Square. Inside the walls are painted black, and the bins are packed with rare and vintage metal on vinyl, CD, and cassette. What I’m telling you is that there is an an all-black store in a basement in this town that sells nothing but metal records. Ok, some punk too. And metal t-shirts and fanzines and patches. It’s like 1987 forever in there. It’s fucking crazy, man.
I’m not sure what happens there the rest of the time, but for several months a year, this busted-up auditorium 20 minutes outside of town is the home of the Derby Dames, Boston’s all-girl roller derby league. If you are not familiar with roller derby, basically it’s punk rock girls on skates zipping around in a circle and knocking the shit out of each other. It’s the greatest sport ever invented. Bands play between bouts. There’s beer and pizza. It’s pretty much the most rock’n’roll thing ever.
There’s definitely no models to be found at the Model, but you will find every local rock star there at some point. Nestled in the heart of Allston Rock City, this unassuming dive bar is the beating heart of the rock scene. I don’t know why. I mean, it’s a dump. But it’s where everybody hangs out. In fact, every month they even throw a “Rock’N’Roll Social”, where bands, writers, radio people, and scenesters of all stripes and occupations are encouraged to mingle, drink, and listen to the Misfits on the jukebox.