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The Good, the Bad, and the Goddamn: The official Rock And Roll Rumble Halftime Report

 
 

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’re at the midway point of the 35th annual Rock And Roll Rumble’s preliminary round, and in honor of today’s traditional day of rest, we figured it was high time for us to roll out our annual Halftime Report, which began way back when we were just a lil’ ol’ blogspot trying to make sense of a post-Phoenix world.

There have been many heroes, villains, and drunken spectators in the first three preliminary nights at T.T. The Bear’s Place, and after things going fairly according to plan Sunday and Monday, we had our first real upset of the tourney last night.

Here’s what went down so far at #RUMBLE35:

Winner: Barricades take Night 3

Braintree-based indie quintet Barricades brought a bubble gun to a rock fight last night and came away winners of Night 3. It was a bit of an upset, as the smooth Tom Petty-ish rock know-how of the un-Googlable Airport, the arena-loud blitz of the Life Electric, and the back alley mugger’s pop of Z*L all could have won with few raised eyebrows in the crowd. Interestingly enough, Z*L were at their best when noisy, and Airport shined when at their softest.

But when the bubbles finally faded — no really, they shot bubbles out into the crowd from a multi-colored rave gun — it were Barricades who were advancing to next Friday’s semis. Sometimes all you need is one killer song to woo the judges in this competition, and for Barricades — the first band to participate in our city’s Converse Rubber Tracks series — it was “Have One On Me,” which has a bit of an early-2000s retro guitar-rock vibe.

This song was made for Radio 92.9. They should get on this. [Thanks to Sooz TV for the video recaps.]

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Rumble MVP: Kevin Patey

While many at home were watching HBO on Sunday night, the T.T.’s general manager engaged in his own Game of Thrones over the weekend, replacing the toilet in the rock club’s ladies’ room and saving us all a world of trouble. He even came through with some TP reinforcements on Monday night, and we swear the applause from the line waiting to use the bathroom was louder than some for that night’s bands. Call it Patey’s own Dame of Thrones.
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Rumble Non-MVP: The guy who mistook the breathalyzer for a change machine

The pool room at T.T.’s is a tricky mistress. Sometimes it provides a necessary respite from the bands playing in the other room; other times it’s a wretched hive of snooker and villainy. Last night, a rather normal gentleman wanted to rack up a nice game of pool, and needed some quarters. It took him a few minutes — and a few swipes under the box — to realize the change machine up against the wall in the corner was actually a breathalyzer. Let’s hope he got a ride home.
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Rumble advice: Don’t drink the Mystery Shot

Don’t go chasing mystery shots, please stick to the liquor and picklebacks that you’re used to. Unlike last year, we’ve avoided that boozy bottle in the brown paper bag, and our mornings have thanked us for it.
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Unsung Hero: Dan Nicklin’s grinning face

The OldJack ringleader’s grill will likely show up on every Rumble photo from last night onward. We won’t tell you how or why, we’ll just warn you in advance. Witnessing him strategically and stealthily maneuver last night was like accidentally watching a mob hit. You don’t want to see it, but once you do, there’s no turning back.
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Winner: Can I get a Goddamn Draculas in Night 2?

Monday’s night 2 was jam-packed — Doom Lover exceeded expectations with a soulful, genre-bending opening set; Maine’s When Particles Collide proved again that a duo can make the same racket as sextet; and Emma Ate The Lion somehow managed to play six different songs every few minutes, and their herky-jerky Berklee-ish weirdo-pop was certainly a unique entry in this year’s Rumble field.

But it was those Goddamn Draculas that cast a spell and blew the roof off T.T.’s. After advancing to Friday’s semis, they are the band to beat the rest of the way through. The Cambridge rock club could barely hold their loud-as-fuck energy and raw melodic power (at times kinky, at other times full-on beer-guzzling rock and roll), and on Monday we witnessed two things we never saw before at ye olde Rumble:

— The smoothest mover EVER: Frontman Chris Duggan was holding up a drum stick midway through one of the Drax’s tunes, and suddenly tossed it over his shoulder like a pop-punk Larry Bird. Drummer JR Roach proved a capable recipient, catching the wood and then slamming it down in stride, never missing a beat. People in the crowd let out an audible “Oh shit!” When the song concluded, Duggan asked “He caught it?!?!”

— Sometimes in this city you can’t even get Allston people to go to a show in Cambridge. But for the Draculas’ set, people tuned in all the way from Austin, Texas. Thanks, iPhone Face Time, you keep us all connected. Even Julie Two Times.

Face Time Rumble 2

Anyway, this whole jim-jam might be the Goddamn Draculas’ to lose. They got the hooks, they got the moves (love the guitar-in-the-air salute), and they got the Boston Rock Pedigree (can’t front on that BRP when it comes to Rumblin’, just ask John Powhida, Jake Brennan, and countless others).

Oh, and one day we’ll be casting ballots to elect Roach as Mayor of Boston.

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Disco Shirts: A Rumble legend dies before its time

Either Sunday or Monday night, a Rumble t-shirt thrown from the stage got stuck up on T.T.’s disco-ball. At the risk of it finding a home up there on the ceiling and eventually ruining the next Heroes dance party, T.T.’s sheriff Andrew “Panda” Galante took it down yesterday afternoon, effectively destroying any sort of new Rumble meme about a shirt being stuck on a disco ball for the entire week. Galante, dream killer.
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Winner: Whoa, Tigerman WOAH take Night 1

Covers are usually frowned-upon in Rumbleland, because hell, if you only got 30 minutes, you should make ’em count. But two of the finer Rumble covers ever were rolled out among the first two bands during Sunday’s Night 1. First, Rebuilder’s pop-punk smarts made taking on Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio” a nice choice, then Tigerman WOAH proved once again you can never, ever go wrong with some Misfits, closing out with some “Last Caress” and even getting the crowd to demand “ONE!” last, cahh-ress.

Sinnet’s skillful indie-pop and Guillermo Sexo’s psych-gaze certainly attracted new fans (Sexo frontwoman Noell Dorsey seems to be getting deeper into her own hypnotic trance with each live show, and it’s incredible to watch), but it was the bearded and bombarding Americana growl of Tigerman that got the crowd dancing — like they were stomping in a barrel of berries with a Narragansett in one hand and a pitchfork in another.

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Bonus Round: Assessing the Wild Card

One non-winning band from the past three nights will advance and play next Thursday in the semis. Our bet is that the ticket comes from last night’s showing, with either Airport or the Life Electric moving on (after what we assume was a very close vote). We wouldn’t be surprised to see Doom Lover move on as well, but hey, only an idiot makes predictions.
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Coming Up: Nights 4, 5 and 6

Things pick back up tomorrow night, Thursday, with Preliminary Night number 4 — the radio rock of Butterknife, the jangly sounds of Slowdim, the piledriver-pop of Gondoliers, and the synth-rock of Western Education. All four bands should benefit from playing in front of the others’ fans and friends. And we all benefit from hearing the songwriting of Slowdim’s Paul Sentz, maybe our city’s most underrated creative musical mind.

Should be another good one. See you at the bar.

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