All At ONCE: Six bands ready to make some noise at the 2017 Rock And Roll Rumble



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It is virtually impossible to predict in advance the winner of each year’s Rock And Roll Rumble.

And that’s part of the fun — of the 24 bands that take part in the annual World Series of Boston Rock, which begins its six-night preliminary week this Sunday (April 2) at ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, this year’s field in particular boasts no surefire, slam-dunk favorite. Sure, there are some intriguing entries, and yes, your friends’ band is straight fucking fire, but it’s clear that any of the two-dozen participants set to do battle next week can end up being crowned champion at the April 21 finale.

And that’s by design. This year’s Rumble has an exciting feel of “new discovery” to it. We’ve long argued that the best aspect of the Rumble, year in and year out, is the practice of taking a band and placing it on a preliminary night bill with three others it has likely never previously performed with; and that effect extends to those in attendance: Fans and friends of one band will possibly be exposed to three new acts not yet on their radar.


From the younger crop of bands taking part to the scene veterans who have carved a deeper niche within their own circles, this year’s Rumble gives the impression that there’s a lot to discover across the board.

“Each year that I do this, I feel a renewed sense of excitement and surprise in that there are so many bands — new and more established — that are stepping up to the Rumble plate,” says Rumble organizer Anngelle Wood. “There’s some tough competition here. Whether it’s a heavy metal band, singer/songwriter, or catchy pop rock band, I have no doubt that you will walk away having a few new favorite bands. There are some familiar faces this year — new bands featuring some Rumble vets, of course. What better way to teach the newbies? This year’s class is definitely an amalgamation of the music scene-at-large — brand new bands, younger players, established veterans. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

With that in mind, we’ve selected six bands we’re most excited to catch next week, a half-dozen acts that we feel will turn a fair share of heads at ONCE. We’re not saying these bands will win it all — or hell, let alone their respective nights — because anything can happen up there on stage, and who knows how judges will be feeling each night).

But could any of the below bands win it all? Sure thing.


Featured Hey Zeus photo by Jay Fortin.

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Carissa Johnson

When playing: Saturday, April 8 at 9:45 p.m.

As we noted in a post from last summer, Carissa Johnson is an old rock and roll soul. And her brand of bullshit-free rock is power charged enough to rip its way to Rumble glory. Johnson’s approach is fast, focused, and gritty, and is the exactly type of performer who seems to thrive each year at the Rumble. If you slept on her excellent 2016 LP Only Roses, you have only a few days to catch the fuck up.

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