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Review: Islands, Idiot Glee


I say with conviction that last night’s Idiot Glee and Islands show at Crescent Ballroom is one my favorites of the year. It’s a little early to be claiming favorites, I know, but of the nine shows I’ve seen to date, Islands was nearly perfect. (I use “nearly” as a buffer because as the cliché goes, “nothing is perfect.”)

Ticket were limited to 250 and chairs were placed in the standing area of the ballroom on both the 21+ and underage sections. If I’m being honest, the seating arrangement was a bit of a buzzkill that definitely mellowed the vibe. People who wanted to sit seemed content. And although Islands frontman Nick Thorburn told the audience to “kick the seats over” and even, “do whatever you want,” people who wanted to stand and dance were at risk of obstructing others’ views in the process.

Chairs aside, the show was “you-had-to-be-there” good.

Lexington-based James Friley, stage name Idiot Glee, was hurting to play, literally. Friley was suffering from an earlier injury in which he cut his finger “into shreds” with a razor blade, or “maybe not shreds” because that “sounds harsh.” He said it hurt to play his Casio.

Despite the pain, the bandaged, one-man act glided through his set of nearly a dozen songs.

My favorite part came towards the end. Friley, who introduced himself as “James, 24 and single,” asked the audience, “Did you guys do anything for Valentine’s Day?” People laughed, unsure of how to answer. “You guys did,” he said, before playing a cover of Bill Withers‘ “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Islands, also known as four dapper men (by me), took the stage shortly after. “Oh. Hi.” were Thorburn’s first of many words to the audience.

As expected, most of the band’s play time was devoted to tracks from A Sleep & a Forgetting. The album, marked by heartbreak, was released on Valentine’s Day.

But Islands’ set doubled as a comedy show.

Thorburn cracked jokes during the set to the glee of some, mostly women, and dismay of others. When one person, or rather heckler, yelled out “get on with the show,” Thorburn said he was going to, but maybe he’d hold off because he didn’t like being told what to do.

Some other standout quotes:

This song is about masturbation.” – before “Lonely Love”

All right, enough of that sad shit.” – after “Lonely Love”

Bass, drums, what else do you need?” – before “In a Dream it Seemed Real”

Shit is so weird” in response to audience members asking permission to dance.

You guys are sweet…and great…delicious…and good looking.

RIP” – before “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby”

This song is about autotune.” – before “Heartbeat”

Swans (Life after Death)” and “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” seemed to produce the most applause, dancing and overall enjoyment, but Thorburn’s smooth voice, and the vocal harmonies between he and Geordie Gordon should not be overlooked.

Islands are great. Here’s further proof:

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