Rumble Night #4 preliminary round winners: Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck
For a Rock N' Roll Rumble novice like myself, the event witnessed Friday night was an absolute affirmation of not just the strength of Boston music, but the supportiveness that the bands have for one another -- despite the ridiculous contrast in styles and personalities. Sure, everyone had to hang out until the end of the night to find out who would advance to the semis, but it’s not like those who played were sitting down post-set at the bar immersed in a pint of something hoping that time would pass more quickly than it already was; mingling and cheering one another on was on the agenda.
All that said, the lovefest has to be an eventual aside, because there was to be a winner to be named for the evening, and none of the acts were about get caught slacking musically or in performance leading into a pastel-heavy weekend.
Let’s get at it…
PRAY FOR POLANSKI -- They had the dubious slot of opening the show while people were still milling about exchanging greetings at best, or at worst figuring out if T.T. The Bear’s was the place to be or if the Middle East was more jumping. It was obvz the former, as PFP made abundantly clear. The funky rock and roll hillbilly leanings rapidly drew those in attendance to the stage as guitarist Aviv Rubinstien, looking and sounding like a bushy Les Claypool at times, traded vocals with the hyper-impassioned Anne Warnock. Personally, I couldn’t take my eyes off guitarist Jordan Johnston. If there is a winner for best outfit of the Rumble, he owned it; pressed white Oxford, candy-striped bowtie, skinny jeans and black wingtips? Dude should have his own fashion-based reality show. By the time the five-piece broke from the swaying lament of “Desperation, CA” into the frenzied “9191991” the tone for the rest of the night was set: bring it or lose.
BROWNBOOT – Hey, it’s a rock and roll rumble right? Just checking. Because if there was any doubt, BrownBoot made sure to remind folks that this wasn’t some singer/songwriter open-mic at the Cantab. Boston’s go-to gun for hire guitarist Matt Sullivan brought the sickness on the six-string, frequenting the lip of the stage with his 70s influenced histrionics, making more than a few doe-eyed girls weak in the knees. There was the always risky move of braking out a few new numbers, but when you debut something as energetic as “Sweet Gasoline,” with its ridic bass work courtesy Randy Knight, there’s no worries. Rodrigo Van Stoli had enough attitude to fill a room, imploring the audience to help out on the last note of “Mae Stay,” adding a bit of encouragement with “It’s a high one, but I think you can do it.” Buoyed by the enthusiasm onstage – yeah they could.
BOW THAYER AND PERFECT TRAINWRECK – And this is when the atmosphere completely changed. Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck set up their gear, got comfortable, and proceeded to raise hell. Suddenly, T.T.’s was packed, like, uncomfortably chock-a-block, and if it were winter, I get the feeling that it would have been populated by a lot of dudes in dusters. This is what Southern Rock is supposed to sound like; lots of people in cowboy boots, using them to stomp in time to the music on an old wooden floor. Hard. It doesn’t hurt to have Chris McCandy on pedal steel looking like the twin of Skynyrd’s Rickey Medlocke either. Together, these guys have such a groove that it’s barely contained. Bassist Jeremy Curtis spins in place and is so clearly moved by his own sounds that it’s infectious. The last song was completed, but there was no way it was over. A hastily arranged encore went off, which in itself is a rarity at the Rumble, making it clear: here are your winners.
THE BYNARS – The victor of the night may have been decided, but nobody thought to inform the Bynars. Looking like they wandered out of MIT and decided, “Hey – we should start a band,” this trio brought Rentals meets Mylo noise replete with laptops, jangly guitar and synthesized sound. The set was tinted with a few covers, highlighted by Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” whereupon a few willing lasses vied for the Courtney Cox crown, jumping up on the stage to shake out some moves. Frontman Matt Jatkola looks like Smallville-era Michael Rosenbaum’s double, and he was all too happy to turn the evening into Dance Party USA, even if that meant chicks from Mattapan tried to infringe on the spotlight. And major props for turning the hideously overplayed Sheryl Crow suckshow “All I Wanna Do” into a fucking swatch of boppability that would turn even the most jaded music fan into a blubbering mess of attempted ass-shaking swagger. Lex Luthor would have been proud.