The Indie Rock Triathlon of Awesome

At one time or another, virtually every college student has been frustrated by a friend or acquaintance who lords over everyone else by naming all the “indie” bands that he or she listens to/has seen/has made out with.

But what does the term even mean? Rock and roll made by people with inward-facing bellybuttons? Whatever the definition, this weekend presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see three marathon nights of legendary so-called “indie” bands in the greater Boston/Cambridge area.

What’s even better is that all three of these bands are accessible enough for pretty much anybody to show up (even you, Maroon 5 lover!) and get blown away, no prior knowledge necessary. And heck, two of them cost less than ten bucks! Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to become rock champions.

Let nothing stop you on this journey through aural paradise. Snobbery is in the ear of the beholder.

Xiu Xiu

Saturday, March 19

The Cambridge YWCA

8 p.m. Doors, 17+ with ID

$9, Tickets available at the door

More info at

An indie snob would probably begin a description of California-based indie quartet Xiu Xiu by rattling off phrases like “constructive dissonance” or “post-punk a la Joy Division” or “they got their name from a Chinese art film.” But none of that is really important.

Do you like music that’s intensely cathartic, graphically personal, and full of sweet, sweet melody? If so, download “I Luv the Valley, Oh!” from Xiu Xiu’s 2004 album Fabulous Muscles, clear out your Friday night schedule, and come to the Cambridge YWCA in Central Square at 8 p.m.

The show’s run by a cheekily-named organization called “The Critique of Pure Reason,” and in typically Kantian fashion they aren’t selling any advance tickets, so you’d better show up right around 8. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, because the YWCA is about as big as your kindergarten gymnasium, and it’s rare that you get to be so intimate in such a setting.


Sunday, March 20

The Roxy

8:30 p.m. Doors, 18+ with ID

$20, Tickets available at or at the door

Our hypothetical snob is probably drooling with anticipation for this one, but it’s really hard to blame a person for feeling that way. Kentucky-based Slint were like the Emily Dickinson of indie rock—a band that recorded two albums in obscurity back in 1989 and 1991 and broke up before the public even had a chance to tap into their life-changing sound.

Listeners and musicians alike have almost universally come to regard their second album, Spiderland, as a landmark for rock and roll music and Western civilization in general. Full of atmospherically angular guitar riffs that bounce off of one another in ways you never thought possible (a veritable Kama Sutra of melody), everyone from Billy Corgan to Sonic Youth had to take notice.

Download “Good Morning, Captain,” (their musical reinterpretation of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) and you’ll see what everyone’s been buzzing about. In a completely out-of-this world decision, the band’s original lineup decided to reunite for a spring tour.

Even if you’ve never heard them before, you’re likely to be blown away by the band’s musical immediacy, lyrical simplicity, and kickass improvisation. This could be the concert you tell your grandkids about, folks.

Mt. Eerie w/ Woelv

Monday, March 21

La Sala De Puerto Rico @ MIT

8:30 P.M. Doors, all ages

$7, Tickets available at the door

If you go to only one of the shows in this marathon, make it Mt. Eerie. Frontman (only man, really) Phil Elvrum, who has previously recorded under the moniker The Microphones, is a singer-songwriter who performs concerts of completely brand-new music, much of it written just minutes before the beginning of the show.

The songs range from 30-second musical epiphanies to 10-minute meditations and are usually about the infinite majesty of natural forces like mountains, wolves, and plum blossoms or about his personal musical Vision Quests to find strength and tenderness.

He is a presence like no other—shy, charismatic, boyish, and shaman-like. He’ll talk to the audience, take requests, curtsy cutely after each song, and generally change your life. Download “The Moon” off of The Microphones’ The Glow, Pt. 2, if you need a taste. Woelv is also a solo singer-songwriter, but she sings in French and is far, far less penetrable than Elvrum, if such a thing is possible.