There’s been a little bit of everything at this year’s Rock And Roll Rumble: We’ve seen our fair share of breakout performances (Band Without Hands, Psychic Dog, Raw Blow, Le Roxy Pro), witnessed unexpected fisticuffs, and even experienced a rare Wallflowers cover that frantically leaped from the dense air of T.T. The Bear’s Place and into everyone’s social media feeds around 11:30 p.m. Friday night. Bold move, Eternals. Well played.
But now all six preliminary nights and the two semi-finals rounds are in the books, and scene’s sleepy eyes turn toward this Friday night’s final at TTs: wild card entry the Static Dynamic, as revealed last night on Boston Emissions with Anngelle Wood, take on the semi-final night winners Zip-Tie Handcuffs and Nemes.
It’s a nice mix of sounds duking it out for the crown.
The Static Dynamic’s explosive rock and roll should set the tone for a night that also features the dirty pop of Nemes and the grunge-like assault of Zip-Tie Handcuffs. Special guest headliners The Gravel Pit, a 1996 Rumble semifinalist, will perform a headlining set while the votes are being tallied in the TTs back room.
How They Got Here: Won preliminary Night 3, earned wild card in semis.
Frontwoman Jess Collins and guitarist Steph Curran are representing the ladies in the Rumble finals, and for good reason: The Static Dynamic live up to their moniker with a fiery progressive post-rock sound that shares some style with both Paramore and Fleetwood Mac. Collins is a Rumble veteran, as her former band Mellow Bravo played the 2011 edition (she joined Petty Morals after the synth-punk band’s finals appearance last year). In fact, Collins has an odd Rumble distinction to her name: In ’11, Mellow Bravo played perhaps the longest Rumble set in recent memory, going over their allotted time and clocking in at 37 minutes. In this year’s prelims, the Static Dynamic came closest to playing exactly 30 minutes in recent memory, finishing their winning set at exactly 30:00:51, according to the timekeeper.
How They Got Here: Won preliminary Night 1, won semi-final Night 2
After emerging from the preliminary round Group of Death and fending of spirited showings from Mister Vertigo, Band Without Hands, and the Rare Occasions, Nemes threw down another magnetic set at the semis. It’s no surprise that two of Boston’s most exciting young bands, Nemes and Grey Season, both play with a buskers tenacity; it’s the determination of catching the attention of the previously uninterested that has vaulted Nemes into the final. And once Nemes grab the attention, they don’t let go, shape-shifting genres on a dime, going from gritty Americana to polished folk-pop before you can wrap your head around it. Nemes are a musician’s band, and one that pour equal intensity whether playing the Paradise or an MBTA station. They’re the band most likely to take the party out into the Central Square streets after their set wraps up.
How They Got Here: Won preliminary Night 5, won semi-final Night 1
In our unofficial survey among writers, musicians, booking agents, and anyone else who walked into TTs during the Rumble, it was Zip-Tie Handcuffs who made the biggest impression. The rock trio’s used the Rumble as their coming out party, as the tracks from November’s Sundream LP sounded louder, heavier, faster, and fuller than on record. Zip-Tie’s sound aches and turns and spins in so many directions, marrying psych, punk, garage rock and grunge all under impeccable vocal harmonies. It’s a sound that’s heavy but mobile at the same time; and seeing them at Thursday’s semis made us feel like we were watching grunge for the first time back in the very early ’90s. Their cover of the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love” only confirms a pop core underneath all that noisy sludge and sonic brick-slingin’. We think they walk out of TTs on Friday with a crown atop their heads. Either that, or 300 new fans.