BIG TOP: Quidam, the latest production from the Montreal-based, Fellini-spirited acrobatic carnival Cirque du Soleil, hits Suffolk Downs in East Boston for a run July 25 through August 18. If you’re looking for plot you’ve come to the wrong place, but maybe this will put their arch spectacle in some sort of context: "A young girl fumes, she has already seen everything there is to see, and her world has lost all meaning." What is this, the Alanis Morissette story? Tickets are $45 to $65; call (800) 678-5440.
HIP-HOP: Once again, you are advised not to call it a comeback. The next L.L. Cool J album, Ten, is indeed his 10th; it was produced by the Midas-fingered team the Neptunes, who seem incapable of writing anything except hits; and it features a guest spot by novelty-song bird Tweet. But even if it accords the veteran rapper and actor a commercial success, the man has never been away. The most one could say is that he hasn’t toured in a while, and that’s about to change: L.L.’s on a jaunt that will bring him to Avalon, 15 Lansdowne Street, on August 15. It’s 18-plus and tickets are $26. Call (617) 423-NEXT.
One of the great overlooked Boston punk records of the mid ’90s was Mung’s Vow of Poverty EP, which at the time seemed to have everything going for it. Singer/guitarist Paul Delano formed the band in 1991, and though his songs could lay claim to the rampaging fury of the This Is Boston, Not L.A. school of shout-along hardcore (former Gang Green stalwart Walter Gustafson was the drummer), they were anthemic in a way that coincided with the sudden mainstream popularity of punk. There was also some muscle behind the disc: the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, then just signed to Mercury and still a priority at the label, released it on their vanity imprint, Big Rig Records. In the end, nothing much happened: though the band recorded enough material for an album, they released just one more single and a compilation track before calling it quits in 1998. Delano went on to join beloved local drunk-punks Darkbuster; he’s currently a part of Bosstones bassist Joe Gittleman’s Avoid One Thing. But since Gittleman is off promoting the new Bosstones album, Delano is getting Mung back together for a brief reunion to celebrate the recent release of Off the Mark (A 7 Year Boil), a 25-track CD on Toxic Narcotic’s Rodent Popsicle Records that collects almost everything the band ever recorded. They’ll play the Linwood Grill next Saturday.
The reunited line-up matches the band’s final incarnation: Delano, co-founding bassist Tom Carnali, Gustafson, and former Wrecking Crew guitarist Keith Bennett, who replaced former Last Stand guitarist Pete Mulford after the Vow of Poverty EP. "Some time last July, Tom called me up," says Delano. "Ever since we called it quits, we’ve been sitting on all these recordings we made over the years that never came out on anything. He said, ‘Well, I don’t wanna be 65 and kicking myself that we never released it,’ so we decided to put out the main body of what we’d recorded for a full-length album. And then going through everything I got ambitious and threw odds and ends on top of that."
In retrospect, the songs from the Poverty EP emerge as the missing link between the pre-alternative-rock years of Boston hardcore and the pop-inflected punk that followed — there are major-league hooks lurking on "Fatty," "Sarah," and "Eye for an Eye." But those songs are all leaner and more ferocious than anything that now passes for punk, and today’s hardcore kids are probably too metal-saturated to recognize the SSD references. Even more surprising, on second listen, is the way those same songs seem to offer a premonition of the Rodent Popsicle punk-rock-and-roll ¾sthetic as practiced by Crash and Burn and Fast Actin’ Fuses. And the songs from Off the Mark that would have made up Mung’s debut album are even better; anyone who has a soft spot for the classic-format all-ages punk of Social Distortion and Bad Religion will enjoy this disc immensely.
"The last stuff we recorded at Dave Minehan’s studio came out so good," Delano laments. "It was just a shame. In the last two years of the band, it just kinda wasn’t fun anymore. But that’s what’s been so great about getting back together with these guys: it’s just so much fun rehearsing, all the old crap isn’t there."
There are plans for two more shows after next weekend’s reunion: a gig opening for Anti-Nowhere League at the Pond on August 22 and perhaps another taste in September. But there probably won’t be more than that. Gustafson tours with the Freeze these days; Bennett plays in Deguelo (and former guitarist Mulford’s Last Stand have reunited); and Avoid One Thing will be regrouping in the fall. Which is fine for Delano, who’s happy just to get the disc out once and for all. "We have no desire to make it be something more than it is."
Mung play the Linwood Grill, 69 Kilmarnock Street in the Fenway, next Saturday, June 29. Call (617) 267-8644.
BY CARLY CARIOLI