About a month ago, a friend reached out to me with an odd proposition. He had just seen the Australian alternative band Middle Kids live at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, but his proposition had nothing to do with the headliner. Opening for Middle Kids was Boston’s own Aubrey Haddard, and her unexpected brilliance on the live stage left my friend hungry for more. He signed up for Haddard’s personal newsletter, and not long after doing so he received an invitation to RSVP for the listening party celebrating her debut album Blue Part. According to my friend, we did not want to miss this local event.
The event was conveniently located about a mile down the road from the Brighton Music Hall at a venue stylishly named “The Backyard“. It wasn’t until we actually met at the front door of the venue however, that we realized that its name wasn’t as clever and chic as it initially sounded; this was literally someone’s backyard. Hate on the concept all you want, but aside from the awkward process of walking through a gate into an area seemingly shrouded by residential privacy, this was a beautiful patch of real estate. Weeping willow trees hung over a glistening pond hidden from the town’s familiar concrete profile. A semi-underground pool encased itself within stone walls and dangerously sharp cacti, neither barrier doing anything to stop band members and small children from taking a quick dip. A set of steps leading up to large out-swinging doors invited the few early-goers towards a diverse spread of finger foods, sangria, and assorted oven-baked goodies brought over by selfless neighbors. Although the entire scene was curiously welcoming, we still felt oddly out of place.
Among the aesthetic was a makeshift stage and a group 20-somethings breezing through a sound check. As the sound check ended, a taller woman hopped out of the pool and onto the stage, still dripping on the mic as she thanked everyone for coming. It took my naive and preoccupied mind a few seconds to realize that this woman was the evening’s star Aubrey Haddard. Haddard obviously was not yet ready to perform however, so she had a local friend of hers play a solo acoustic set to fill the time while The Backyard filled out. Despite that her friend’s ballads described a great deal of anger associated with her life as a gay woman, she received a fantastic reception from the crowd, thus setting the stage for a night of endless smiles.
Finally, a few hours after arriving, it was time for Haddard to perform. Almost immediately after she began, it was clear that my friend was right – this girl was impressive. Her agreeable indie rock style encouraged a mixed bag of reactions, all being a product of satisfaction and comfort. Young kids shimmied, older folks lounged, babies danced, and dogs wandered through the crowd and occasionally onstage in a symbolic act of unguided complacency that even the band couldn’t help but laugh at. Days later, the release of the studio recording of Blue Part surprised me as a much more lo-fi collection of indie slow jams in comparison to her rousing live set. Either way, Haddard’s music (as is the case with countless local acts) deserves added recognition. This summer, keep in mind that supporting local acts is not only paramount in livening a city’s music scene, but it can also be a grab-bag of unexpected excitement as well.
Stream Aubrey Haddard’s new album Blue Part here: