The reunited Boss Hog – headed by husband and wife duo Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez – returned to Boston for the first time in many years last Friday for a show at The Sinclair. Projects led by Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller and D.C. punk elder Ian Svenonius opened the night.
Boss Hog was one of a number of ongoing concerns for Jon Spencer in the late 80s and 90s, alongside Pussy Galore and the eponymous Blues Explosion, and likely the lesser known among them. But Friday’s show, supporting the band’s first new LP in 17 years, offered no acknowledgment of that. For the duration of their frenzied set, a blaze of scuzzy punk-blues riffage and expert showmanship, Boss Hog were the only rock band that mattered. Martinez, in particular, distinguished herself as a rare breed of lead vocalist. Spencer may be the biggest name involved in the band, but his role was that of secondary foil to Martinez’s electric command of stage and audience on this night.
Support for the evening came from a particularly impressive punk pedigree. Trinary System, a power trio led by Roger Miller, was on first with an excellent set of jams that fell somewhere between Marquee Moon and a more experimentally-minded deconstruction of Miller’s work in the venerable Boston art-punk unit Mission of Burma.
Ian Svenonius, prolific former frontman for Nation of Ulysses, played next as Escape-Ism. Clad in a full suit and tie, Svenonius took the stage alone with his guitar and tape deck to deliver a more raw-nerve take on the wry commentary of his recent work with Chain and The Gang. His tone skewed a bit more urgent and less playful without a band behind him, but that worked to his advantage. There’s never a dull set from Svenonius, and this was no exception.
Marinez, in her efforts to get up close with the crowd, knocked my beer directly into my bag toward the end of Boss Hog’s set, which is a first for me. No gear was harmed, but it was an extended drying out process. Otherwise, this was an absolute blast to shoot. Svenonius, Martinez and Spencer (when he ventured from his rear-stage mic) were all exceptionally good subjects. A lengthy gallery below.