For the second straight night, a female-fronted rock band has won its night at the Rock and Roll Rumble.
Following a victorious turn Sunday night by Weakened Friends, alt-rock quartet Analog Heart — led by a charismatic performance by frontwoman and former American Idol contestant Liz Bills — won Monday’s preliminary night number 2.
Analog Heart, like Weakened Friends, will move on to next week’s semi-finals.
The night began with young schitzo-rock band Jack Romanov, who added traces of punk-cabaret and after-school theatrics to more underlying traditional rock and pop influences. The ambitious group was carried by the vocals of Nick Aikens, though perhaps the night’s highlight arrived when drummer Nico Renzulli received a plate of tacos up on stage near the end of their set. Renzulli heard the tacos at Once were good, he told us afterwards, so he placed an order in advance and had them delivered directly to the band before they were done performing. That is likely a Rumble first, and we decided to just not ask the judges what they thought of the stunt.
If Jack Romanov’s quirky set zigged and zagged and at times showed a few frayed nerves, The Black Cheers countered that with bullet-like precision. Of course, that precision targeted a bull’s-eye in the rusty center of a coarse-vocaled street punk, so you knew within 30 seconds of the Black Cheers set whether or not you’d enjoy the remaining 29:30. Notably, aside from their songs about people they hate, the band features DanO on guitars and vocals, who was in Darkbuster when the Boston punk legends won the Rumble in 2000. After their set, we asked DanO if he thought he had a chance to win another Rumble title, and he didn’t really seem concerned with his odds.
Night 2 took another sharp turn on genre highway when Analog Heart took the stage. Super-polished and well-rehearsed, the Westborough/Littleton/Haverhill band touched on big-room alt-rock early on, then eased into a gritty, alt-country and blues jam session towards the end without losing any sense of sincerity or tenderness. A few photographers in the crowd remarked that they were the most fun to shoot because they were the most animated, and we agree they put on the best “show”. You get the sense the best is yet to come for Analog Heart, and while they were not lacking any bit of confidence on this night, you get the sense they’ll rise to the challenge of the semi-finals next week and feed off the energy of a more lubed-up weekend crowd. They’re an intriguing band that have yet to really scratch at their potential.
Closing the night were the jangly guitar-pop of Eric Salt & The Electric City, who have one of the more bizarre curveball singles in recent years with “Excellent”. The majority of their songs were slickly polished pop that touched on several decades of influences, and the veteran band holding it down behind Sir behind Salt didn’t miss a note. Towards the end of the night, with midnight approaching, the crew brought friends up on stage for one big sing-along and dance-off, and you get the sense that the judges’ debate between Salt and Analog Heart was responsible for the delay in the winner being announced. But that’s just our own guess.