The Frights Bring Dirty Doo Wop to the East Coast

Erin Hussey ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The Frights have come a long way from Weezer covers and sold out shows at SOMA San Diego and The Ché Café on the weekends.  After signing and releasing their first LP with Dangerbird Records earlier this year, they’re currently on their first national tour with SWMRS.  Now, these dirty dudes are shaking up sold-out venues across the country, such as the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, Massachusetts last weekend.  

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Although a matinee show, the ambiance upstairs was reminiscent of a gritty evening in LA: dark, dense with bodies, and decked in denim.  Two bands worked up the stage before The Frights, including local indie rockers Burglary Years and self-proclaimed “stoner punk” band GYMSHORTS.  During the Burglary Years set, the venue was heightened with enthusiasm.  GYMSHORTS brought it on heavier, angrier, and louder, with pissed off female vocals and slacker attitude on songs such as “Oh Brother” and “Hey Parents!”  They gave the perfect soundtrack for a crowd of college students and the twenty-year-old punk kids who weren’t too cool to care, mosh, and hurl around.

The audience was riled and ready to match the enormous energy that The Frights are known to bring.  The first word to introduce the set—“Fuck!”—led the boys to begin the eponymous track off their new album, You Are Going to Hate This.  A misnomer, fans instantly sang along and vibrated as intensely as Richard Dotson’s bass.

Their second song, “All I Need”, was one of the 2016 releases and truly showed the range in not only the band’s musical style but also Mikey Carnevale’s voice.  Overcharging guitars and pounding drums, Carnevale asked, “Is this what I’m supposed to do?  Blow out my vocal cords for you?” Judging by the screaming crowd; yes, Mikey, it was. The next minute, he tenderly, earnestly wailed, “Kiss me slowly, so I can fall asleep. You are my baby, that’s all I need.”  Although surely exhausted from touring, Carnevale’s voice rang incredibly through the Upstairs.

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Keeping it funky and fresh, these guys wailed into the 2016 versions of their previous 2014 Death Lens Split EP releases, “Tungs” and “Kids”.  The songs touched on themes of heartache and post-teenage angst but with a new groovy and unique beat to give the set just a little weird edge.

Worried that The Frights have left their roots behind?  Fear not. The Frights are a raucous surf-punk trio known for their down-to-earth nature and ridiculous antics, and they haven’t lost it.  Even amongst technical difficulties during their interlude between 2013 classics “Crust Bucket” and “Cold”, the boys kept it lighthearted, joking, “This show is called The Frights fucking break everything.”

Carnevale’s low, throaty voice and Marc Finn’s banging drums finished out the set with “Submarines”, fittingly the last track off their 2013 album.  SWMRS brought their NorCal brand of punk rock through furious drums and pounding bass with an ode to Miley Cyrus’s outrageous behavior in “Miley” and some upbeat alt-rock songs off their 2016, Zac Carper produced album, Drive North.   Among them were fan favorites “Figuring it Out”, “Drive North”, and “Miss Yer Kiss”.

An intimate, tightly packed venue allowed for some crowd conversation between sets and before SWMRS went on stage. Regarding The Frights performance, a sophomore at Boston University and southern California native, Juan Nunez said, “The Frights were the highlight for me.  They ruled.  They struggled through some technical difficulties, but still managed to nail every single song.  Their new songs sound even better live.”  

With dirty doo-wop harmonies and surf guitar melodies fading in and out of the set, these self-made men are a long way from southern California, but still never fail to make the stage their home.  They’ve grown extensively as performers and evolved musically in between their 2013 Postmark release and their most recent sophomore LP.  You can grab The Frights new album, You Are Going to Hate This, on Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp.


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