Thursday, July 18, 2024

Safety Meeting performs Saturday at The 4th Wall in Arlington (using some Pretty Rotten gear). (Photo: Michael Gutierrez)

Consider the following “Auld Lang Syne” for Dummies.

You know the classic New Year’s song by its signature melody, ripe with a mix of melancholy and hopefulness.

But the lyrics? Not so much. Here’s the first verse and the chorus. Commit these stanzas to heart and you can fake your way through the entire song.

Verse 1
“Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?”

“For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.”

If you want to practice, sing along with a good clip on YouTube, like the version provided by the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin. It’s as simple as that!

If you really want to impress your fellow revelers a little after midnight, throw in a few Scottish phrases. The original lyrics were penned in 1788 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who based his words on an old Scottish folk song.

It was around the time that England was spreading its imperial cloak across the country of Scotland. Burns, concerned by what he saw as a decline of native Scottish culture, offered “Auld Lang Syne” as a kind of counterpunch to the Anglo-centered power of Great Britain.

Hence the proliferation of Scottish phrases salted and peppered among the otherwise English lyrics, such as “pint-stoup” (pint cup), “We twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine” (We two have run about the hills, and picked the daisies fine), and “my trusty fiere” (my trusty friend).

Chief among the phrases is the title of the song itself, which translates literally to “Old Long Since” (Auld Lang Syne) and figuratively means something like “Old Times’ Sake.” A title that captures the joy and sadness of a new beginning in a new year.


Stuck for New Year’s plans or just looking for a good show? Check out the spots below and “tak’ a right gude-willie waught” (take a right goodwill draught) before the ball drops.

Saturday: Old Jack, D-Tension & The Secrets, When Particles Collide (Lizard Lounge, Cambridge)

Beat the Auld Lang Syne-ers to the punch. Celebrate one night early in the red light-drenched, reptilian-themed digs of the Lizard Lounge. Is the lizard pictured on the billboard out front the owner’s pet, or did they just rip that photo from the Internet? Old Jack headlines a lineup of alt rock foot stompers. If you stay past midnight, you’ll technically be celebrating the real New Year’s Eve.

Sunday: Pictureplane, Dev/Null, Xen Chron, Feardotcom and more (Middle East, Cambridge)

A tall bill of booming electronica beats to summarily dismiss 2023. What awaits us in 2024? A skull-pounding headache, likely. But getting there is all the fun with A-plus darkwave artist Pictureplane capping a lineup designed to get your mind, body and maybe your soul on the dance floor.

Jan. 5: Geskle, Paper Lady, Trophy Wife (Crystal Ballroom, Somerville) 

Is four or five days long enough to shake off the New Year’s hangover? Make good on a New Year’s resolution to see more music live. Start with Worcester’s Geskle. The musical project engineered by Jesse Golliher is easy-listening, guitar-driven indie pop with a few extra tricks to get it out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Don’t miss the hazy, gazey layers of Paper Lady. If you’re doing Dry January, the bartender will be happy to oblige with a top-notch mocktail.


Let’s check in on the new DIY venue The 4th Wall, whose inaugural show we previewed in November. Barely a month has passed since the opening, and the stage in Arlington’s Capitol Theatre has already hosted five shows, 17 bands and a boatload of visual wizardry by Digital Awareness. With the organizers Biff and Ethan already plugged into the local music scene, booking the venue was as simple as turning on the water faucet.

“But Mr. Cambridge Day, I’m an anxious shut-in who rarely leaves the house, never mind migrating beyond the Camberville border. Why should I care about a DIY music venue in Arlington?”

Here’s why. After a recent article in The Boston Globe (not linked – you can easily find it, if you like) profiled a number of DIY venues, a pall descended over the scene in general. Some locations went into “hibernation” following its publication, spooked by the attention. And some of those locations sent their shows to The 4th Wall. Due to its robust relationship with the ownership of the Capitol Theatre, the Arlington organizers were well-positioned to pick up shows for any DIY venue in Cambridge, or Somerville, or Boston that might be feeling the squeeze.

That’s a good thing. It shows the resilience of a special stratum of the local music community.

It also reminds us how hard it can be to pull off good reporting on the underground music scene. A light touch and sound judgment are needed to write stories about this community. Headlines in the Globe about venues operating outside the law is like poking the local law enforcement bear.

Until that bear falls back asleep and other DIY venues come out of “hibernation,” there’s still The 4th Wall. The next show arrives Jan. 13. Headliner Free Rock caps off a quadruple-stack of indie rock to enjoy with your popcorn at the Capitol Theatre. As always, don’t break the fourth wall.

Michael Gutierrez is an author, educator, activist and editor-in-chief at Hump Day News.

This post was updated Dec. 30 to correct the identity of the pictured band.