Elcodrive celebrates the long way home at the Narrows
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
I got an excited call from a buddy about two months ago that launched me backwards from my early thirties into college, a time when I was preaching the genius of Johnny Marr and ordering gin and tonics at the bar in equal measure.
- “Elco got back together, man. They’re playing the Narrows after Thanksgiving.”
- “Holy shit, really?”
- “Oh yeah. We’re all going.”
To fill in the masses who weren’t lucky enough to be crawling the various venues just north of punk in South Shore Massachusetts 10 years ago, our conversation was centered on Elcodrive, a band in which we quietly invested a good amount of time and emotion, whose shows had grown to minor legend in our circle.
The night before Thanksgiving, 2003, the band played a blazing set at the late Bridge Street Station in Fairhaven, Mass. The place was packed far beyond capacity, and crammed into a front corner near a support beam and the guitar amps we watched them blow the crowd away for more than two hours. A few months earlier, we felt like were in on a incredible secret, and on this night, it felt like the word was out and these guys were just a few months away from touring bigger places with bigger bands. There was a definite pride in the fact that they weren’t from New York or Chicago or even Boston. They had these incredibly tight songs and played with passion, and they also happened to be from Freetown or New Bedford or wherever.
The train slowed some time after that. The band eventually dissolved and, in step, my friends and I moved on, never really forgetting how good they’d been and how close their seemingly inevitable success felt. The guys went on with their lives and with different musical projects. On a personal note, songs like “Black Flowers” were mainstays in my mix CDs for a couple of years, and they still found their way into playlists in the decade that followed.
Ten years later, Thanksgiving set the stage for another memorable night by the band. After taking most of that previous decade off, Elcodrive were back together, back on X-Off Records and on stage to celebrate the release of their newest album, The Long Way Home. The bar was traded for an artists space, and the crammed confines of a bar were swapped out for open spaces and the clinking of BYOB bottles and cans. The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River provided a familial atmosphere, with gallery hangings sitting behind the church pews and tables that make up most of the general admission floor. And that quaint setting helped a slow-burn vibe, where the band’s setlist gained momentum and pulled the energy out of the crowd as the night moved on.
“High” and “Overrated,” two gems from the band’s first era, kicked off the night before material from the band’s new record was introduced. “Holding On” and “Deadlove” had the same emotional wallop that the band’s best early songs carried, and adds an edge and maturity that could only have been fostered by the years. They threw the crowd a curveball with a blazing cover of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” that turned the ballad into a roaring rocker.
As the set went on, the band relaxed and all the best aspects of their music became obvious again. Our corner eventually eschewed the chairs and benches, stood up and started moving, and some friendly banter went back and forth between singer Mike Golarz and the rest of the crowd. The celebratory vibe that surrounded the band in 2003 blanketed them again in 2013, driven by the simple pleasure that the band clearly felt in being on stage and playing the songs, old and new.
So for now, they’re back, making music for music’s sake and working to play shows and build an audience. For a little while, we’re all in on a secret again.
Dec. 1, 2013
Email Nick Tavares at email@example.com