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Big and beautiful 

Usually when you throw "stream of conscious" and "guitar player" in the same sentence or on the same stage, folks like Adrian Belew come to mind. New England guitar slinger --- well, I suppose it's not really slinging if you're sitting on a stool --- Johnny A played whatever came to mind Thursday night within a tight musical framework. Rock, blues, jazz and all that frequently bumped around within the same tune as A shifted between genres, styles, and tones. The progressions unfolded like a sort of musical evolution, as tunes went from soft and sublime to oddly augmented to full-on rock 'n' roll roar with A digging in deep before visiting the very last frets on the neck. And though A copped a squat in front of a Marshall combo, the amp had no speakers; he was pre-amped and sent directly into Montage's new beefed-up mains. When you see a guitar-centric band ordinarily you expect to get your head split in half. Johnny A's sound was just plain big and beautiful.

And speaking of big and beautiful --- or big, anyway --- man, you should've seen the mob at The Isotopes, UV Rays, Moustacheshow at the Montage on Saturday night. There had to have been 300 people in the joint. The Rays, though clearly a band of instigators, were fairly diplomatic when handling onstage visits by several drunken idiots (actually, they made the show even better). The band hit on The Dolls and Black Flag to stir things up further. The UV Rays rock.

Split for the Bug Jar to catch The Ponys. The Ponys play that Chicago style of noisy indie-rock, except they play the notes in an order that makes sense. Also, they don't whine. The songs were articulate, punchy and fun.

Guys were still raving about show-openers NYC's The Assault. These gals rock amazingly with only the guitar player's pulchritude threatening to supersede their sound. I dunno, put a hot chick with a guitar in front of us, and we get stupid.

--- Frank De Blase

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