MusicReview

Master Of Art: Laura Stevenson and The Cans Light Up The Great Scott

Gabby Catalano ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Laura Stevenson and The Cans.
Laura Stevenson and The Cans.

Great Scott may seem like a cheap Irish pub from the exterior, but inside it comes alive when indie rock and folk bands shred away till midnight, attracting visionary college students and young locals and rocking the quirky town of Allston away. Laura Stevenson and The Cans set fire at the dimmed lighting, “grunge” style venue last Sunday night. And the opening acts, The Box Tiger and Destry, were hard to miss.

“We sound like inoffensive folk rock,” said Laura Stevenson as she sat outside the venue wearing a denim top, black skirt and oxford heels, resembling a Lena Dunham style.

“Whenever I say we sound like “rock & roll,” parents get scared, but our music is the most inoffensive, electric guitar sounds you’ll ever hear.”

Stevenson, founder and lead vocalist-guitarist of The Cans, began writing songs at just five-years-old, though she decided to take music seriously by the age of 18 and produce more personal pieces.

She categorizes her style as “insular” and “free association,” and carries themes pertaining to aloneness, depression, and heartbreak.

“I didn’t have a goal. It [my music] just kind of unfolded as it happened. I didn’t even want to play shows or have records. Just wanted to do it for myself,” she said.

Stevenson was the keyboard player for the New York-based musical collective Bomb the Music Industry! (BtMI!) in 2005. While recording and touring, what “unfolded” was the formation of her own band, The Cans, which initially consisted of some members from BtMI!.

When asked why she created The Cans, her answer was simple: “It just happened.”

“Friends of mine in the music industry said “show me your songs.” I played some songs, they played along, and then they encouraged me to play a show opening for them. When things got more serious, we decided to start touring.”

The Cans released their first album “A Record” in 2010 and began touring globally with Maps & Atlases, Cults, and Cheap Girls. One year later, Stevenson dropped her own album “Sit Resist” along with a music video titled “Master of Art.”

“For the music video, we painted a bunch of stuff and my dad bought everybody boxed wine. It was my kind of party,” Stevenson said.

“My friend who made the video is also working on a documentary now about Bomb the Music Industry!, the band I was in previously. It’s going to be awesome.”

Stevenson’s third album, “Wheel,” was released in 2013, featuring musicians Rob Moose and Kelly Pratt who’ve worked with Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, and St. Vincent.

Stevenson’s intimate voice and poetic lyrics alongside the soft acoustics make for a soothing musical experience in all three of the albums. Though her performance is even more surreal live — capturing the audience’s attention with songs like “8-08” and “A Shine To It” that are instrumentally rich.

Her vocals resembled a mix of Madeline and Paramore, having a voice powerful enough to hold long and high-pitch notes but also sing softly to the strums of her guitar. “Master of Art” most exemplifies this talent.

Stevenson’s collected but awkward character shined on stage. She shared stories of her day-to-day life and struggles.

“I worked today till noon, went home and exercised to Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred (I’m on Day 10) and now I’m playing for you guys,” she said.

Depressing themes make up most of her songs, Stevenson said. Even on stage, she would mention “this song is about depression” or “this is a sad song.” However these melancholy statements hardly undervalued her performance.

Before Stevenson performed, The Box Tiger owned the stage. They’re an “indie rock” and Bad Books-sounding group from Toronto, Ontario who made an appearance at this year’s Boston Calling Music Festival.

The lead vocalist-guitarist, Sonia Sturino, had a voice of vulnerability and incredible force. The bands riffing sound and heavy drum beats resembled groups like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills. The Box Tiger can be found at www.theboxtigermusic.com.

The second opening act was a Boston-native folk band, Destry, who blended calm harmonies and texturized melodies. Their songs resembled the Academy Award-winning soundtrack to the film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and also mirrored the hopeful lyrics and acoustic tunes heard in the band Night Driving In Small Towns. Destry’s bluesy tunes can be heard at http://destry.bandcamp.com.

Venues, like Great Scott, that feature both emerging and already established artists in a small but intimate setting, call to concert goers. Boston is the haven of music, and the city thrives off of original sounds, forceful vocals, and emotionally compelling performances.

Stevenson will begin her East Coast tour starting on Oct. 24. Although her next performance in Boston won’t be until 2015, this isn’t the end to her songwriting career.

“I’ve been writing new songs and am working on a future record,” Stevenson concluded.

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