Live Reviews - Kooked Out at the Middle East


Material: A quirky quintet brimming with spirit, this recently hatched, Boston-based fireball describe themselves as a blend of rock, blues, surf, pop and punk. This diverse set of tags begins to approximate their sound, but more specifically they’re a tight jam band that employs blues and soul for their base and then infuses the zeitgeist of heavier, more modern genres into their electric potpourri, launching the entire ball of wax into the upper atmosphere.

Musicianship: The holy trinity of guitar, bass and drums is well-exploited by these idealistic newcomers, blending into an effortless stream of unapologetic, colorful beauty. Lead singer John Fiore’s axe shredding, in particular, sets the stage ablaze. On the other hand, the degree to which Bridget Curzi’s keyboards enhance their sound remains an open question. Fiore’s singing proves ample, but it’s when the ladies, Curzi along with Tasha Solomita, take the vocal lead that new dimensions are revealed.

Performance: Decked out in costumes along with the Halloween crowd, Kooked Out thrilled trick-or-treaters with original compositions. One solitary cover wormed itself into their 45-minute set—Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign,” nicely reflecting the band’s bluesy heritage. But while their technical abilities are noteworthy, what offers the most promise is how their playing reflects an honest passion. It’s a love of music for music’s sake that recalls the greats before they were discovered.

Summary: Actively carving a unique niche within the rock & roll genre, Kooked Out is a young band finding its voice within an industry that values revenue over originality. One hopes they’re able to develop their sound without being steamrolled by the corporate money machine, because that’s a distinct possibility if they allow themselves to be shaped by outside influences. Yet one gets the sense their vision isn’t for sale and once a few details are smoothed out, like discovering their vocal sweet spot and refining their stage banter, they’ll stop looking to outside influences and become an influence themselves. –Andy Kaufmann