The Main Drag

Matt Boch took my videogames class at MIT the first semester I was here in the fall of 2006. But it’s not until over a year later that I discovered the real benefit of knowing Matt Boch (there are many, but this one is my favorite), which is that he and his friends make wicked good music. In fact, The Main Drag have been my soundtrack over the past five weeks. So this is a thank-you to Adam Arrigo, Jon Carter, Matt Levitt, and Dan Cardinal for making good stuff with my friend Matt.

For anyone who’s never done a full, formal academic job search, let me just say that it’s one of the most grueling and emotionally exhausting things I can think of. No doubt it pales in comparison to the stress of writing a book or preparing a tenure case, but at least in the ten years I’ve been in the academic world the job search was the toughest thing I went through. (I often think wistfully about how wonderful it was to be able to just do nothing other than teach and write my dissertation.)

The Main Drag’s music came with me as I waited for flights, trudged across unfamiliar campuses, and woke up early in cold hotel rooms. There were many times I didn’t want to hear anything but Yours As Fast As Mine. I was exhausted. I wanted something familiar but still fresh and interesting. I wanted something imperfect enough to hold my interest but predictable enough to keep me calm as I tried to remember boarding passes, faculty names, job talks, itineraries, receipts, thank-you-notes, dog-sitters, and phone numbers.

The day after I finished my last campus visit I couldn’t do anything but sleep. That night, The Main Drag played at T.T. the Bear’s, a great little bar up the street from me in Central Square here in Cambridge. I nearly missed the show because I was still sleeping at 10:30 when they were about to go on. Luckily Matt sent me a quick text reminding me to head over. I did, and it was one of those just totally comforting moments. Those guys are just good. Good, good, good. And of course they’re very white and ridiculously over-educated and funny and gracious and sensitive and all those things that college bands are. It’s everything you want in this genre. They are everything you’d want them to be.

So I write about them now to say that although I’m not traveling as much, I’m surprised that I’m still wanting to listen to my friend’s band. Ever since I was a teenager I’d had friends who played in terrific bands. A lot of them were actually great. But with The Main Drag I find myself asking over and over again why they’re still not signed to some great little indie label. They don’t play out as much as they should and they all have fairly decent day jobs (I think–could be wrong). So I suppose that’s part of it. But I noticed not too long ago that XM Satellite Radio started playing their song “Love During Wartime” with some regularity. Cokemachineglow gave their cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” a fantastic review, even saying that it’s better than the original. It is. Now if I could only get it some regular airplay on SOMAfm’s “Indie Pop Rocks!” then I’d be very, very happy.

If you read this and know someone who needs to hear something great and new and good, visit their MySpace or just download the MP3s from Amazon. And then go see them play next Friday night at the Middle East (downstairs) with Freezepop, another Cambridge band (and comprised of colleagues from Harmonix, where Matt and bandmate John Drake both work). Details here or on Facebook. It’s spring. Time to rock out. Here’s a preview.

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