the boston globe - on the rise
on the acoustic side, a wealth of sounds
by david wildman, globe correspondent
goh may have only two members, but guitarist jay hagenbuch and drummer/trumpeter/harmonica player chris harris don't need anyone else to create a universe of strange sounds, sardonic lyrics, and loopy fun.
two former northeastern students who started playing open mikes around town in 1997, hagenbuch and harris have developed their act to headliner status at acoustic music clubs such as kendall cafe by taking an inclusive approach to live performing.
a typical show starts with hagenbuch laying down a vamp on guitar while harris runs around passing out maracas, bubble-blowing paraphernalia, and other toys to the crowd.
"that way we can break through that barrier between us and the crowd from the very beginning of the show," says hagenbuch, who writes most of the lyrics and melodies.
"sometimes, if people see a band they haven't heard before playing original music, it can be hard to get into. but if you give them a shaker to play, or a pez dispenser, they are part of it."
that feeling of inclusiveness seems to be a theme throughout goh's first self-released CD, "matt," with songs such as the camper van beethoven-esque "satellite" that observes: "there's a deadly gun aimed at everyone waiting to remove our every trace. that's why everyone's saying we hope we have some fun while in this place."
"the CD does have the theme of getting over your fears and going out and doing something useful and cool with your life," says harris. "as adults, we have all these layers around us. we're all worried about our appearance or what people think about us. we want to strip the layers away."
the lyrics to "g.i. joe" poke fun at the loss of childhood innocence: "g.i. joe, don't the kids in the neighborhood play with you? now that special hand has found its way around a beer can and you're just like all the other toys, like fisher price people and weebles."
the CD attempts to capture the flavor of the live show. harris stops playing drums when he toots out a melody on the trumpet as he has to do live.
in one song, in place of a solo is a recorded conversation, inspired by instances where the two bring audience members on stage to talk in the middle of a show.
always, the songs feature bright harmonies, a sound that invites comparisons to the well-known duo, they might be giants, whom hagenbuch cites as among their strongest influences.
goh is in residence every sunday at 9:30 p.m. throughout january at mama kin, 36 lansdowne st., boston. call 536-2100.