Drop Nineteens played Paradise Rock Club – 4/19

The reunited Boston shoegazers played their third show in 30 years at their old stomping grounds, with support from Philly’s Greg Mendez.


Experience tells us that no matter how unlikely it seems at a given moment, just about any broken-up band can reunite if the stars align. Still, it seems especially unlikely that many folks had the triumphant return of Drop Nineteens on their 2020s bingo card. The Boston-bred project led a brief but eventful life in the early ’90s, forming as one of the first stateside answers to the burgeoning U.K. shoegaze scene and garnering international buzz around their debut record Delaware before burning out amid lineup changes and sonic re-tooling just a few years later. Frontman Greg Ackell left the music business (to sell flowers), and for the next three decades the band existed only in the hearts and minds of genre connoisseurs – intermediate-level listening once you’d conquered big names like Slowdive and MBV.

But last weekend at the Paradise, the storied rock club just a stone’s throw from where the band initially formed way back when, Drop Nineteens were very much back in action. Sparked by Ackell’s desire to explore what a modern version of his past might sound like, he and bassist Steve Zimmerman, singer/guitarist Paula Kelley, guitarist Motohiro Yasue and drummer Pete Koeplin reconvened to release their unlikely third record Hard Light last year, and were finally able to bring it on the road this Spring.

We all hope to say that a long-since-dissolved band hasn’t lost a step when they return to the stage, and truly that was the case for a Nineteens set that mixed plenty of their classic songs with their solid new material and left-field-but-effective Lana Del Rey cover. Bolstered by a sixth member filling in additional flourishes of keys and guitar, the band soared and roared with all the fervor and volume you’d hope for. The whole show was excellent, but an encore comprising a jammed-out rendition of Delaware epic “Kick the Tragedy” marked the high point of a thrilling homecoming for a band long thought lost to time.

Singer/songwriter Greg Mendez, alone with an acoustic and a keyboard (or joined, quietly, on bass), countered bombast with his compelling, intimate songs and balanced out the evening nicely with his opening set. Check out photos from both below.