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Intimate indie band tailor-made for the Mill

BY ALISSA ROSEN | NOVEMBER 12, 2009 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Ezra Furman and the Harpoons

"The Stakes Are High"

Singer Ezra Furman’s pink and white shirt is named “The Pigeon Brigade.”

Titling his band’s many songs could be a bother — but Furman titles just about everything in life. With more than 100 shows played, he has come up with a title for each specific one. The singer picks a name on the day of the show, based on what’s happening around him.

“It’s really naming the moment that never will be repeated,” he said. “Trying to hold onto it.”

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons will perform at 9 p.m. on Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Tickets are $10.

During its three years of existence, Ezra Furman and the Harpoons has never repeated a set list.

“All of our shows are different,” lead singer Furman said. “We don’t want it to be standardized like so many other things, prepackaged like so many things are.”

The band members met in Boston while attending Tufts University, and they signed with Chicago indie label Minty Fresh as students. Rather than using a studio to record its first album, Beat, Beat, Beat, the band used various dorm rooms at Tufts.

The band is on tour, making stops in more than 15 cities, but hotel rooms are not the group’s first choice of accommodation. Furman said he and his bandmates often stay with fans. The band even promises on its Facebook page, “We’re nice boys, honest.”

“We stay on people’s floors and stuff,” Furman said. “We got no money, dude.”

Staying in fans’ living quarters is not unusual, because the musicians aim to know their fans personally. Not repeating the same set list is almost like giving the crowd a personal present. Each performance is an intimate experience with the group, because it will never be duplicated.

“I try to make everyone really appreciate the moment and just being there together,” Furman said. “It’s like a communal experience. Our show will be like a little gift, only for the people who go to it and nobody else. There’s something kind of great about that.”

In addition to the “gift” of a unique set list, the group’s focus on intimacy is shown on the album Moon Face. The record contains one extra track personally written for the buyer, ranging from a song to spoken poems.

“It takes a lot of time. It’s a thank-you in the form of giving them something we made just for them,” Furman said. “It’s nice to give somebody something at the end of the album that makes it different from every other one, so it’s not so faceless.”

Playing at the Mill may not be as big as Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival, at which the band performed this summer, but the group prefers smaller, more intimate venues.

And the Mill provides that kind of atmosphere. Mill booking agent Sam Locke-Ward said the band members should feel at home when they play there.

“It’s a really good, intimate setting to see an indie-rock show,” he said.

But Furman said the quality of the show is not the main selling point for his concerts. He promises a more friendly environment than big, flashy festivals.

“Why should people come to our show just because it’s good?” he said. “Don’t spend … money on a stadium show; go see our little band in a little club where we’re going to talk right to you, and it’s going to be amazing.”


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