[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f England’s late-’80s/early-’90s shoegazing clique was infamously billed as “the scene that celebrates itself,” perhaps Boston’s current stock of rock and roll bands should be dubbed “the scene that simply celebrates.” At a very sold-out Rock And Roll Rumble finale last night at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge, the competition-slash-festival featured three remaining bands that were proactively and visibly rooting for each other: arena-ready wild cards Await Rescue, all-girl party punk brigade Petty Morals, and the razor-sharp rock veterans Goddamn Draculas.
In the end, it was the Goddamn Drax who won the goddamn Rumble, and we guess you can say the right band won but truthfully a case could have been made for the other two as well. If tireless Rumble organizer Anngelle Wood called out either of the other two bands’ names at the conclusion of last night’s party, we all would have been kicked out of T.T.’s around 1 a.m. (a bit drunk from the booze and over-intoxicated on the scene love) feeling just as satisfied.
Bar Rocked: The Goddamn Draculas
The Draculas guitar-swinging march to victory led the quintet to unusual places, quite literally. The band probably sealed the Rumble crown once frontman Chris Duggan leapt off the stage and onto the shoulders of a spectator, ending up atop the rock club’s main bar, guitar still in full effect. A bartender poured some Jack down Duggan’s throat; “There goes the liquor license,” I quipped, to which Dan Nicklin swiftly replied “It’s only a violation if she takes it back!” It was probably the Rumble’s greatest off-stage spectacle since Keith Pierce jumped on some cars outside T.T.’s on Brookline Street and extended Mellow Bravo’s 2011 preliminary-round set with an acoustic encore.
Please excuse our very shitty iPhone pic from across the room; you get the idea…
Roaring Thunder: Await Rescue
Speaking of the cars outside, Await Rescue singer/guitarist John Cutulle implored the early bird arrivals to flip some over in the name of rock and roll. And while no one did that — not even when the Draculas were named as winner of this year’s championship a few hours later — the tongue-in-cheek sentiment fit the band’s high-flying power rock.
As was the case in the semis, Await Rescue’s closing number “Forms of Flight” reached heights that would make the Prudential Building jealous, and though the band’s intent to play as loud as possible may have been a detriment, it was a strong showing from a band who perhaps came into their own over three Rumble gigs.
Last week, Await Rescue were propelled in part by a surprising cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Cashmere,” but last night they stuck to originals.
They Got The Beat: Petty Morals
Petty Morals, on the other hand, offered up a cover selection for the ages. Raising a musical glass to Amy Douglas of Feints, who had to bow out of the semi-finals after falling ill, the Morals ladies busted out “Make Love To Me,” a track from one of Douglas’ other projects, SPF 5000. It was a touching tribute, and one that embodied those “Friendship” badges all the bands were wearing throughout the night.
Of course, a few minutes of “Make Love To Me” gave way to Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark,” and by that point Petty Morals were in full liftoff mode with their party punk swagger and bravado. Our ears are still ringing with their chants of “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and their rendition of standout jam “Radio Action” was a dizzying display of disco-punk done by a band having a fucking blast.
The Information Are In The Rumble, Again
Special guest band the Information, themselves a Rumble semi-finalist 10 years ago, closed the night with their brand of synth-punk that still sounds futuristic, and Boston writer and occasional Vanyaland contributor Luke O’Neil took a timeout between tweets to join the band on-stage for a few songs.
My personal history with the Info is well-documented, as they were one of the first-ever Pill bands and I consider the singer one of the closest friends I’ve ever had, so I’ll just say I hope this showing was no one-and-done. If it was, it was great to hear songs like “A Simple Plan” and “I Lose Control” one last time.
It’s a bit of a bummer that there had to be a single winner after nine nights and 35 performances, but it was that 35th performance by the Goddamn Draculas that earned the crown, and while we’re all a bit hungover today, we can still hear the celebrations ringing in our ears.
We can’t wait for the 36th annual Rock and Roll Rumble to start up. Props to the organizers, T.T. The Bear’s Place, and all the bands.