On a chilly January Thursday, not much was stopping the constituents of Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue from taking in all the city had to offer. And nowhere was this more prevalent than at the Paradise Rock Club, as a crowd gathered to experience an encapsulating live show by Portland-based rock group Typhoon. It was a show for the ages, full of laughs, love, and a couple of pies, making the intimate venue feel like a home away from home.
The night started innocuously, with a growing number of college students, grown adults, and intrigued passersby coming together inside the building; a core group of fans were firmly camped out on and along the barricade. At 8pm, the first of two openers, Sunbathe, took to the stage, carefully stepping around the mess of wires and instruments. The band had a fairly clear vibe going- the graphic t-shirts, PBR, and yearning passion in their music melded right into the style of the crowd. From the start, their set was mystifying: oh-so-beautiful bass riffs flowed under wistful vocals, while the band stood under washes of light that instantly took onlookers back to a simpler, more sunny time. By the third song, Sunbathe had the whole room moving, and even the most resilient listeners couldn’t resist tapping a foot along to the beat. As the night stretched on, they even took some time to share conversation with the audience, reminding everyone present that music can be (and still is) personable and lighthearted.
The second guests of the evening, Minneapolis’s Bad Bad Hats, were quick to keep up the energy. Between pieces off of their first LP, the band took the opportunity to try out unreleased new material, while still promising to play “all the hits”. They were as quirky and candid as they were talented, even sharing a funny story about a show in Wisconsin. Before starting the last few songs of a wildly successful set, the band even promised to hang around after the show to chat with fans, which would end up being a big theme of the night.
As 10pm grew near, the excitement inside the Paradise Rock Club mounted. It was the first Typhoon tour in close to four years, and with a new album to back it, it was destined to be a good show. Once they took to the stage, met with a mix of silent anticipation and gleeful cheers, Typhoon immediately jumped into crowd favorites like “Common Sentiments” and “Hunger and Thirst”, both off of 2013’s White Lighter. The songs were invigorating, with a once-silent crowd now yelling the lyrics they loved back at the band on stage. The mood was unmatched, full of joy and triumph,reminding everyone in the building what unbridled emotion could truly feel like. Before launching into “Rorschach,” the band took a second to reflect; they talked of touring, and how much things have changed over the past four years but also stayed very much the same, and how the new album marked a return of sorts. The repetitions of the lyric “How you gonna hold on” as the song drew to a close was just one example of something the band did expertly throughout the show: involving the audience. To be able to sing along and feel the energy growing in these songs was a feeling that everyone that night won’t soon forget, and something so few bands can capture as well as Typhoon did.
They continued to tear through an immensely enjoyable set, playing a cross section of their entire discography. A highlight was “Summer Home,” a deep cut off of Typhoon’s 2011 EP “A New Kind of House.” Before the song even began, it was received with roaring approval from the audience, as it was prefaced with a brief introduction from the band. Tracks like “The Lake” were tender and balanced out the fuller, more boisterous parts of the set, while “Remember” and “CPR / Claws Pt 2” back-to-back showed the depth of their set, stretching from 2010 to their January 2018 release. Before a thunderous encore, Typhoon closed out with “Young Fathers,” surmounting the set with one of their best tracks and leaving the room full of a tangible electricity as the call of “learn how your mistakes pass down through generations” dimmed.
The band was refreshing to see live, as their energy and enthusiasm was limited only by their poise. Their unique stage setup featured two drum sets and 6 total people on the small stage, but that by and far didn’t hold Typhoon back from putting on a phenomenal show. They even took some time to talk to the audience, discussing pies a fan had given the band before the show and jokingly calling out another fan who shouted an expletive. As the lights came back on and the crowd emptied out back out into the street, one couldn’t help but smile as they reflected. The concert, from start to end, was an experience, and had an edge to it that only Typhoon could have brought. The blend of rock and folk that played out on stage was different, it took the expected and brought an element of the unknown. It was a fun show, yes, but more than that it was a wholesome show, playing out emotions and bringing that mismatched group of Bostonians together for just one night. Above all, it showed what’s made Typhoon such a mainstay for the past eight years- their enthusiasm for music and love of their craft was reassuring and made for a truly unforgettable night.
By: Molly McCaul