It’s Go Time: The Movielife Ready for Reunion with Boston Acoustic Set
The Movielife Acoustic Tour
The Tower and the Fool
Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA
April 8th 2011
It would be safe to say that Vinnie Caruana and Brandon Reilly are both on the comeback trail. After their previous band the Movielife split at the height of their popularity in 2003, the two strayed down very different musical paths. Caruana formed the Movielife-esque I Am the Avalanche, while Reilly went on to front indie-pop band Nightmare of You. Both projects were met with at least some amount of enthusiasm by fans and critics alike. When they released their debut LPs within weeks of each other in 2005, it seemed both bands had the potential of living up to the high standard set by their previous act.
Fast forward to 2011, and I Am the Avalanche has yet to release a follow-up to their 2005 debut album. Nightmare of You, on the other hand, released their sophomore album in 2009, and it flopped horribly. This is at least part of the reason why the two were back sharing a stage together for an early evening show at the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. The two agreed to a Movielife reunion at New Jersey’s Bamboozle festival later in the month, but before they could cash in on the thousands of tickets they would help sell, they would shake the rust off in front of 100 or so diehard fans by playing acoustic shows across the country.
The night started at about 6:30, which was before the sun had set on one of the first real days of spring. The first band to take the stage was Providence’s The Tower and the Fool. While few, if any, in the crowd were familiar with the sextet, their performance definitely won me over. I later learned that their lineup included former members of Therefore I am and Hot Rod Circuit, which will help further cement their status as a band to look out for.
Next up was Reilly, whose set could best be described as “quiet.” Those in the crowd seemed surprisingly unfamiliar with his work,
which consisted mainly of cuts from the first Nightmare of You record, along with a few originals he said wanted to put out on a seven inch sometime in the near future.
While Reilly looked like he hadn’t slept in days and didn’t interact much with the crowd, his songs translate very well from a full band to an acoustic format, making for an enjoyable but short set.
Next up was an acoustic set from Vinnie Caruana, which was better received by the crowd. Like Reilly, Caruana mixed I Am the Avalanche tracks with newer material that may or may not make the next Avalanche record, which Vinnie said was “being recorded right now.”
Caruana’s songs don’t work quite as well acoustically as Reilly’s, but slower tracks like “Green Eyes” somehow seemed just as exciting on
this night as they did five years ago. A new song titled “Brooklyn Dodgers” will fit perfectly on the next Avalanche cd and had the crowd helping with the chorus and chanting “What happened to the Brooklyn Dodgers? What happened to me?”
After a very short break, Reilly and Caruana were ready to share the stage as the Movielife, with Reilly strumming the guitar and Caruana handling vocals.
“Kelly Song” served as the opener and began a forty minute set that provided a trip down memory lane for both the band and the crowd. Throughout the set, Canuana interacted with the crowd, telling jokes and thanking everyone for showing up, while Reilly remained mostly silent.
Caruana mentioned the upcoming Movielife appearance at Bamboozle on a number of occasions, and he also made it apparent he would love to return to Boston for a show with the full band (probably to the chagrin of Reilly, who is expecting his first child in a month).
The pair focused on songsfrom their final release “Forty Hour Train Back to Penn,” as well as “The Movielife Has a Gambling Problem” EP. “Walking on Glass,” along with ”
Hey” and “This Time Next Year” were among the highlights of the set.
Racing a strict 8:30 curfew, the band squeezed in “I Hope You Die Soon” to send the fans home happy, although they probably weren’t heading home considering the time. It didn’t take long before many fans began wondering if this was the final time they would hear Movielife songs in Boston, or if there would be a return engagement.
Will the band’s Bamboozle return inspire them to reform and begin touring again? It certainly seemed Caruana would jump at the chance. However, the Movielife was more than just Caruana and Reilly. In the 8 years since the split, the remaining Movielife members have likely found new careers and lifestyles away from the spotlight . Jumping back in the van with little assurance of success doesn’t seem like a great move professionally, but crazier things have happened. Few would have imagined Caruana and Reilly sharing a stage together again, but here they were on a nationwide Movielife acoustic tour. While the future of the band will remain murky for at some time, at least one thing is for sure: if they return to Boston as a full band, they certainly won’t be stuck playing the matinee slot.