Wow. Tunng was incredible. I had never been to the Middle East Upstairs before tonight, but it is much different than downstairs. It is very small, has barely any lighting, and great acoustics. The overall feel is very warm and intimate.
The opening band I had never heard before: Brown Bird. The trio played the most devastatingly sorrowful music I have ever heard. The frontman played guitar, as well as a floor tom converted to a kick drum with one foot and a tamborine/cowbell attached to a kick pedal with the other. The second member switched on and off between a ukelele, accordion, and glockenspiel (all authentic; no keyboards here), often in the same song. Finally, a girl on cello picked and strummed away beautiful basslines and lead melodies alike. Suffice to say, I highly suggest Brown Bird to everyone; at least check out their MySpace.
I can't remember the name of the man who followed them. He was an acoustic singer/songwriter, but I enjoyed him a lot more than I thought I would, especially considering I generally don't care for that style of music. He played some covers of old songs which I didn't recognize, but I really liked this song that started out something like, "I eat breakfast, and then dinner in Tennessee," some old blues/rock song.
Finally, Tunng was up. Words don't do them justice. Three guitarists played melodies and counter-melodies, weaving in and out of each other and yet maintaining a togetherness not found in many bands. A woman played some instrument I'd never seen before, like a mini-piano you blow into like a harmonica. She also held up a toy birdcage that sang during one song. They had another guy on laptop/keyboards in the back, providing all the glitch effects and the occasional drumbeats. What really impressed me, though, was their percussionist, whose setup consisted of bones and shells and beads and bark hung from a string. He played these with his feet and hands, as well as a tamborine and xylophone. "Soup" in particular was especially awesome, with its dancefloor-worthy beat and shredding electronic guitar lead. All in all, it was such a surreal experience. The experimental-neo-folktronica-pop they have created is truly original, and if any of you ever have a chance to see them, don't pass it up.
To top it off, I met this awesome kid named Dan Cho. He's a pharmacy major at Northeastern; he goes to a lot of shows at the Middle East Upstairs. We started off talking about Mono--who was playing on the system before the show started--and that led us into a great discussion about post-rock.
Boston is fucking awesome; and now for four hours of sleep. Totally worth it.