Well, Necochea didn’t finish the Rumble, but Worshipper certainly did. And Friday night at ONCE Ballroom in Somerville the metal quartet — complete with fill-in guitarist Craig Small, who joined the band just last week for the semi-finals — took home the 2016 crown. It was Worshipper’s third straight Friday night appearance at ONCE, and they felt, looked, and sounded right at home from the very start of their melodically thunderous set, which began with a ferocious one-two punch of “Black Corridor” and “High Above The Clouds” as their band moniker flashed behind them and darkness enveloped the ballroom.
The Finals appearance was another solid turn from a machine of a band, with bassist Bob Maloney and singer/guitarist John Brookhouse delivering calm, collected metal madness. But the MVP of this night was drummer Dave Jarvis, who played so hard he tore through his bass drum (which led to a super fast changeover that didn’t rob Worshipper of any momentum), and after a few songs had the crowd chanting his nickname of “Chief! Chief Chief!” He was a man possessed (video below). For the second straight week, Small filled the pointy-toed boots of Necochea, and perhaps the greatest compliment we could give is that few in the house tonight seeing the ‘Ship for the first time likely realized he only joined the band earlier this month.
Wild card band and electronic pop trio usLights and grunge-pop powderkeg Weakened Friends did what they do best (they were both in the Finals for a reason), and continued their campaigns of exposure by continuing to convert new fans.
Here is video and some further thoughts on each Rumble performance…
usLights opened the show, and seemed to win over the initially unsure crowd as they went along, generating louder cheers after each song. We think they may have been the first ever band to use samples in a Rumble finals set (Campaign For Real Time in ’06 maybe?), and tracks like “Veiling Lights” and “Make It Louder” gave a chilling bottomless-floor depth to their songs. They were a dream-pop group in the Rumble Finals, and that’s pretty fucking cool all on its own.
But in the end, Worshipper may have had this locked in a few minutes into their set, which was propelled by two other aspects that fell in their favor: 1) They felt like they night’s “headliner” the moment the lights dimmed and “Black Corridor” swept through the ballroom, and 2) The heavy quartet leading into the special guest band, resurrected New Hampshire hardcore/metal dudes Scissorfight, gave Worshipper a distinct ally in sound — where usLights and Weakened Friends were more isolated in their style of music. The pairing of Worshipper and Scissorfight gave the Rumble Finals the feel of a “metal night”, and the first two bands to go on felt a bit like visitors coming into Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots (sounds familiar).
Call it home field advantage, call it a masterclass on veteran musician showmanship (Worshipper’s dudes had played in at least 10 previous Rumbles combined), call it whatever you want.