Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tater Tots and Balkan Rock

My arteries will not allow me to embark on a Tater Tot Quest, but that's OK, because I doubt any restaurant could top Cambridge Common. (Yep, I've had the famous tots at Garden at the Cellar, but they just didn't do it for me.) Cambridge Common makes them perfectly crispy, just like the ones you devoured in the high school cafeteria back in the day when you could consume buckets of grease and your metabolism would keep things under control. Ah, the good old days.

Tater Tots from heaven
Cambridge Common also has a great beer selection and decent burgers, but more importantly (for me, anyway), it's connected to the Lizard Lounge, where we attended an epic show Tuesday night.

It was the second-to-last show of the Bury Me Standing residency, put together by marimbist/composer Vessela Stoyanova and drummer/composer Nate Greenslit. I had previously seen Nate perform with HUMANWINE, and it was a pleasure to see/hear Vessela for the first time. She is a terrifyingly good marimba player - playing "Happy Birthday" in an outrageous time signature of 17 was no problem - and her face radiates sheer joy as she plays. They put together an amazing night with many guest players, many of whom played with more than one band on the line-up. At times, the stage area was packed with ten or even fifteen musicians, even including three upright basses at one point. Totally impressive.

Molly Zenobia with THREE(!) upright basses. (Gotta give Joel credit for taking this photo while I was sitting lazily in the back of the bar.)

What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? started out the show. A band I'm in, The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, played a show with them at Church earlier this month, but I sadly had to leave before their set as I was (a) sick and (b) wanting to run away from my first ever creepy groupie. (See my bandmate Sophia's lovely comic for the full story.) I was excited to finally see them, and I wasn't disappointed. Lead singer Brian King has an impressive range and an arsenal of different voices, and the band's songs have a dark wit that is endlessly entertaining.

What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? and a volunteer from the audience
Next up was a short set from Molly Zenobia (pictured above). I couldn't see from where I was sitting, but I think she was playing a harmonium or similar instrument while singing eerily. It was a very interesting performance.

Next, Vessela, Nate, and a revolving group of guest musicians played an intense Balkan set in every unusual time signature imaginable - even "seven-f***in'-teen," exclaimed Vessela. The set was full of energy, and some audience members even started up a Balkan line dance. (It resembles the Hora, but more complicated and rhythmic.) For their last song, they covered System of a Down's "War?"; my bandmate Sophia Cacciola (drawer of the aforementioned comic) (also of Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling) sat in as guest vocalist.

Vessela and Sophia covering "War?" by System of a Down
I was so excited to see the last band, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band, which I'd heard of from past HONK! Fest line-ups. I was only able to stay for the first few numbers of their all-Balkan set, but I was totally blown away. Throw everything you know about marching bands out the window. This is a totally different experience.

The existence of a line-up like Tuesday's has landed Lizard Lounge a spot in my mental list of awesome music venues, and I heartily encourage you to check out all of these musicians.

And if you go to Lizard Lounge, be sure to stop by Cambridge Common for some tater tots first!

Cambridge Common:
Cambridge Common on Urbanspoon
Cambridge Common

Lizard Lounge:
Lizard Lounge on Urbanspoon
Lizard Lounge


  1. Good to know, I love a good tot! Have you had the tots at Lower Depths? Those are awesome too!

  2. Ooh, I've never been there! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip :)


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