June of 44 played the Middle East – 10/20

Reunited 90s rockers June of 44 finally brought their live show back to Boston, with support from Helms and Thalia Zedek Band.

Louisville four-piece June of 44 were one of many bands whose touring plans fell victim to, well, you know, in early 2020. Their first date back in greater Boston – among a handful of their first East Coast shows since the late 90s – was supposed to be at Somerville’s dearly-departed ONCE that spring. Two-plus years later, and across town lines, the band touched down at last for a Thursday night gig at the Mid East Downstairs in late October. You’re sick of hearing this about delayed COVID-era tours, but it was worth the wait.

Though perhaps more undersung than contemporaries like Slint or Polvo, June of 44’s math-y post-hardcore is quintessential 90s indie; spacious, cerebral guitar music hung in a precision balance between four exceptional players. Their original run records – through to 1999’s jazz-inflected Anahata – are each great, and they played a satisfying mix of all four to a psyched Cambridge crowd last month. They sounded pretty incredible doing it too, playing a super tight set anchored by the mesmerizing performance of drummer Doug Scharin. Every band who could conceivably be described as “math-y” needs someone talented behind the kit, but Scharin is really something else. The show fell short of perfect only for not including “Dexterity of Luck” – their signature tune for my money.

First openers Helm only just came out of retirement themselves, playing their first show in a good many years opening for the also-reunited Karate at The Sinclair over the summer. Their Bostonian spin on the post-rock/slowcore nexus sounded great here and there.

The show was rounded out by a set from local fixture Thalia Zedek, who just played upstairs at the Mid East complex in September with Come. It’d been a minute since I’d caught the TZ Band, and their new configuration featuring Karate drummer Gavin McCarthy and pedal steel player Karen Sarkisian (plus longtime bassist Winston Braman) sounded killer.

Scroll down for photos from the whole night.