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Chris Marstall brings Tourfilter to life
By GEORGIANA COHEN  |  January 22, 2008

How do you take a Web site and make it come alive? Chris Marstall, the man behind the on-line concert aggregator Tourfilter, did just that last March when he started the monthly Tourfilter DJ night at Central Square’s River Gods, spinning songs, as he did a week ago Thursday, by bands playing Boston in the coming weeks. Actually, he was just looking for a reason to get out of the house. “Tourfilter is this thing I do in my bedroom. It’s totally solitary. I was trying to think of ways to make it into more of a social thing.”

Marstall, who launched Tourfilter in April 2006, got the idea when he created the “Tourfilter Mixtape,” coupling show dates on his site with music pulled from MP3 aggregator the Hype Machine. The result, he says begged to be done live.

What makes it more than a night full of random songs is the text-messaging element. Cards litter the tiny bar encouraging patrons to text a number to learn what song is playing just then. Although conversation seemed to trump thumb twiddling overall, the feature is addictive. What’s that pretty ditty? Why, it’s Keren Ann, who’s coming to the MFA on February 7. Mission of Burma? Great Scott, January 20. (“Can’t wait,” reads the text — a nice touch.)

Every other month, Brad Searles of Bradley’s Almanac blog fame shares laptop duties from the tiny River Gods turret. Searles takes great pride in his DJ craftsmanship — after starting a set with Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” for instance, he closed with the same song covered by Mary Lou Lord.

And though the event may have gotten Marstall out of the house, he still feels most at home between a set of headphones. “The best part is when all the promotional shit is over and I’m up in the booth, rocking out.”

Tourfilter takes over River Gods in Cambridge on the third Thursday of every month.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Mission of Burma, Richard Thompson, Keren Ann,  More more >
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