Rumble Night #2 preliminary winners: Garvy J
After a pretty solid opening night on Sunday, the Rumble trudged on last night with perhaps the series’ most eclectic bill. Looking back on it, I guess you can say it was fairly predictable that the gravel-pit glam rock of rock of GARVY J would take home the honors (disclosure: I was a judge, and the end result was accurate), but the night offered three other glimpses into varying scenes that proved just as interesting as who was going to win.
PHOTOS: 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble Prelim Round #2
We’re two nights in, and so far we have a Rumble without controversy (the Grownup Noise had to bail on Night 1 due to a bandmember suffering from back injury, an ailment that never happened when they were The Teenage Noise) and one without any sort of pure “Did you fucking see that?!?!” highlight. Seven bands have performed, and all have brought pretty straight-laced, head-down, off-to-work efforts. Hopefully we won’t have to wait for Streight Angular’s closing set on Saturday to witness some sort of ruckus that’ll get everyone tweeting.
That said, the lack of “holy shit!” moments so far have been overcome by two nights of solid, well-played rock and roll, and last night saw four different worlds of the Boston music scene on one stage. Let’s open up this pit.
THICK SHAKES -- It was a weird feeling watching Thick Shakes walk onto the TTs stage while Animal Talk, a band that would go on right after them, had one of their songs blaring out as the pre-show house music. But Lindsay and her Cru(dele) were undeterred, playing one of the more spirited opening sets in recent memory (admission: I missed Endless Wave’s Sunday night commencement en route from the WFNX studios). Armed with an untamed Farfisa organ, some tight, fuzzy garage rock bangers, and vertical-smile plumber crack from the sweet cheeks of guitarist Tim Scholl, the Shakes put TTs in a noisy spin-cycle. Midway through their whirling-dervish-pop set you kinda knew that Thick Shakes aren’t the kind of band to win things like the Rumble (they aren’t the kind to woo a judge and certainly don’t give a shit about trying to), but their involvement alone is what makes the Rumble so awesome. Get in, get out, sod off, go home. See you back in the garage. Or at the Rosebud on Cinco de Mayo.
ANIMAL TALK -- There were two disappointing factors at play during Animal Talk’s double-sided set: one was the band’s insistence on playing their two best songs, “Can’t Dance With It” and “Into The Sun,” at the very end of their performance (livening up the crowd a bit too late), and their decision to abandon their fiery cover of Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover.” Something was slightly off about Animal Talk’s throwdown, lacking their usual passion early on and allowing their tracks to get lost in the sound, depending on where you were standing, almost entirely (I heard zero synths in “Can’t Dance,” which was a shame and would have allowed them to stand out from the pack a lot more). But it was a straight-ahead rock effort, and Animal Talk’s funk-laden indie slices, individually, are some of finest songs displayed in this year’s Rumble. Personally, I'm a huge fan of this band and I'm probably being a bit hard on them here because I thought they had a legit shot to win it all. But it just wasn’t their night.
GARVY J -- There’s a prevailing feeling that the Rumble, at least this current stretch of it, is tailor made for Boston rock scene veterans. And perhaps aside from BrownBoot (on tap for Friday), there’s no greater pedigree battling it out this year than Garvy J. With Tony Savarino on guitar and hat goggles, Garvy's biker squad looked the part and sounded heavy, tight, and polished as fuck. Spell-bent for leather, his Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance were a united blackened front of rock and roll, and while we tagged them as repping electro in yesterday’s Night 1 recap (a result of us listening to the studio cut of “Celebration” too much, methinks), the band injected a lethal dose of energy into the Mun-day night. Truthfully, and this is no slight to the first two bands, but it felt like a rock show only when Garvy J hit the stage and rolled out his band’s thunder. These fuckers even had intro music! Like that old New York Lottery slogan several years ago, “You gotta be in it to win it,” and they came to Rumble. There’s always a bit of on-stage showmanship at play in this so-called Battle of the Bands, and the relatively elder statesmen around town always go into these things determined to W-I-N. Garvy J delivered, and then some.
GREY VALLEY GHOST -- While Garvy took home the night’s honors in somewhat of a runaway fashion, the buzz backstage during the voting process was that the grunge assault of Grey Valley Ghost flashed perhaps the most promise. And that’s not just because we suspected the new guitarist, making GVG a quartet, was no older than 16 years old (he sat in a car outside the venue most of the night, according to reports). EDIT: Organizer Anngelle Wood has confirmed his age to be a ripe 19. “We’re a lot less grunge, and more pop,” bassist Rob Black informed us midway through their set. “We’re no longer grunge, we’re no longer alternative rock. We are evil pop.” That’s all well and good, and the “evil pop” tag should move some units, but we’re still keeping the grunge tag on GVG. The boys opened their set with a bit of cock rock flair, then settled into a nice 1994 groove that you just have to respect in 2012. Their second number, “The Way We Kill,” was one of Boston’s finest cuts of 2011, and still slays in every setting. While the band never seemed to lose gas, the crowd ultimately did, and by night’s close GVG were playing mostly for friends and fam. Which is a shame, because they deserved a larger collective ear.
The Rumble trudges on tonight for the third installment of the preliminary round, welcoming another anyone’s-game bill featuring the Susan Constant, the Tin Thistles, Ghosts of Jupiter, and Letterday.
READ MORE: Complete Rumble coverage