Calvin Johnson played Dorchester Art Project – 10/15

Hero of the oddball indie-pop underground Calvin Johnson and his band headlined a Monday night show with Perennial, Frank Hurricane and Request Freebird in Dorchester. 

Rising to prominence in the early 80s as one-third of the legendary Beat Happening and founder of the influential K Records, Johnson is a veritable elder statesman of American DIY. And more than three decades into his career, he’s still committed to the cause. On a recent night at the independent, artist-run Dorchester Art Project, Johnson could be seen strolling the floor, a pair of industrial earmuffs on for hearing protection, while a diverse trio of openers conjured warped folk and wild garage-rock on and around the tiny stage that Johnson and band would eventually take.

Request Freebird, the alternately wryly funny and weirdly moving project of Boston singer/songwriter Noah Britton, kicked things off before a set from Frank Hurricane that spanned songs and stories about haunted graveyards, psychedelic gas stations, and Dunkin’ Donuts. “Off the chain,” as Hurricane repeatedly declared. Perennial‘s unhinged art-punk took the crown for the night’s most ear-splitting and head-spinning performance.

Johnson, who released the Patrick Carney-produced A Wonderful Beast last month, closed the show in charmingly enigmatic form. Backed by a three-piece band and focusing heavily on those new songs – which are exactly the sort of strange, funny and instantly catchy pop songs you’d come to him for – Johnson exhibited an exuberant cardio workout’s worth of dance moves. And that singular baritone sounded magnificent while he did so.

Check out photos from all four sets below.