Live Review: Richard Thompson, Woodbridge, NJ, July 25, 2020

Who knows where the time goes? It’s been months since we last posted something on an actual live concert. But Richard Thompson performed a free, socially distanced set in the athletic field behind Woodbridge High in New Jersey, so we had no choice but to go to summer school. The 71-year-old guitar legend lives in nearby Montclair and wanted to get out of the house for the evening to see the bright lights. He told the audience he’s been making ends meet working at the Purell factory, but on this night, he was in the business of making the kind of music those assembled needed to hear—live, in person—after quarantining since the spring. It felt so good, and Richard Thompson wasn’t breaking anybody’s heart tonight. And yes, he played “Keep Your Distance.” Masked MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski has always been a man who’s open to persuasion.

Sunday Night Live: Echosmith, Weathers, Jayden Bartels, Philadelphia, PA, Feb. 15, 2020

We’re all stuck inside these days, watching bands play on our devices. So every Sunday night, we’re going to bring you images from actual shows in actual venues, captured by MAGNET photographers right before we all started to stay at home. Tonight: Echosmith, Weathers and Jayden Bartels at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, by Chris Sikich.

Jayden Bartels

Live Review: MSS FRNCE, Paris, France, April 28, 2020

Punk rock has always thrived in times of adversity. From stagflation and oil crises in the ’70s through soulless Reaganite commercialism in the ’80s to recession and an unstable world order in the ’90s, punk has flourished like mushrooms growing out of cow shit.

With Covid-19, millennials now have their very own global crisis, and the punks among their ranks are reacting to it with the unflappable adaptability that is their trademark.

Concert halls are closed, and at any rate, slam dancing is pointless while social distancing. So French hardcore quartet MSS FRNCE decided to play an online “concert de confinement.” More than 100 fans crammed into the tight confines of a YouTube channel to hear the band deliver nearly 20 songs in 25 minutes.

“Incivilisé.e.s” was proto-Bad Brains and “Papy pas peur” Land Speed Record–era Hüsker Dü. “Fais-le toi-même” could’ve been Career Suicide transplanted into one of Canada’s patches of Francophonie. 

No, MSS FRNCE’s brand of hardcore—lunkheaded, brutal, breakneck, all up in your gueule—forges few new paths. However, the band plays with sincerity and is refreshingly free of standoffish airs or annoying ‘tude. While there is no subtlety here, nor is there any malice. MSS FRNCE’s music can be angry and abrasive, but the band members exude positive energy.

As well as a great sense of fun. Rather than setting up a video camera in a basement or garage practice space, the group appeared in the concert as Sims avatars. The four Parisians performed in various virtual settings: a gym, night club, pool, public park, garden labyrinth, and more. 

The punk remains prehistoric, but the delivery system has gone futuristic. Such is our new abnormal. Puke into your elbow, people.

—Eric Bensel