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A stormy Monday turned into a clear skies for Mikal Cronin’s show at Great Scott in Allston, MA this Monday. It was an eventful night, with local artists manning a few tables, the Bruins giving a playoff beat-down to the Blackhawks, and free cupcakes, popsicles, and Capri Suns lining the bar. The sold out show packed the small venue as people crowded in for openers The Migs, Roomrunner, and Shannon & The Clams.
Cronin came onto the stage late into the evening alongside his band. Their drummer took her spot at the kit while Cronin and the two other guys stood shoulder to shoulder at the front of the stage with their guitars. All three sported dark greasy hair that swung across their shoulders through the night. The show began without much word from Cronin, as they started to rip on their guitars.
Up until this year, the 27 year-old has been most well-known for his work with garage rocker Ty Segall. The two put out an album together in 2009 called Reverse Shark Attack. Cronin has toured extensively as a member of Segall’s band, and played on his 2012 album Slaughterhouse. He’s breaking through on his own this year, though, with the release of his second solo album, MCII. The album, which came out in May, has been gaining Cronin a lot of attention. Spin Magazine regards it as one of the best albums of 2013 so far, writing “MCII, smartly arranged with a keen, child-of-the-’90s ear for quiet-loud dynamics, is a glimmering feast of sun-licked, surf-spackled melody that benefits from the emotional layering that Cronin finds lacking in ‘fuck it garage-rock.’” The album has also cracked the Billboard 200.
After shredding through the first three songs, including “Situation” from his 2011 debut album, Mikal Cronin, he takes a second to mention that he can watch Peter Jackson’s version of King Kong on the television across the bar while he plays. The Bruins game was over.
Cronin continues on with some tracks from MCII. On the album, and throughout the set, it sounds like Ben Kweller plugged himself into a garage. He starts with the self-doubting “Am I Wrong” where he sings “Am I wrong? It’s a song I’ve sung out before/But this time I’m not alone, I’m just like you.” With the amount of noise the three guitars and drums could potentially pump through the bar it would be easy for the sound to get out of control, but the set was nothing but tight. Within each song there’s a place where the center guitarist can get wild with a solo, even though he barely moves his body while doing so.
While Cronin plays his red and black sunburst guitar during “The Weight”, you can see him look up every now and then at King Kong. The piano featured on the album version of the single is simply replaced by another guitar, of course. Cronin sings, “I’m not ready for the weight again/Take me from myself/Holding on for something, I don’t know.” After another solo, the song strips down to let Cronin finish off the song, singing softly.
Cronin’s frustration come out in the lyrics to the next couple songs, “See It My Way” and “Shout It Out.” On the former he sings, “I’m still dying to get along with you/Trying to show you through/I want you to see it my way,” and on the latter “Sh*t goes on and on and on and on and on.” Both songs are off of MCII. Do I sense a recurring theme? The band continues on into “Again and Again,” off of Mikal Cronin, and finishes off the night with “Change,” from MCII. The song provides a flurry of guitars while the bass pedal visibly smashes into the drum through the clear skins. As they walk off the stage, Cronin leaves the crowd sweaty, pumped by a Bruins playoff win, and still with a chance to finish watching King Kong.