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The 2011 Rock N' Roll Rumble intermission report


Some observations, rants, and ramblings, as the 32nd annual Rock and Roll Rumble preliminary week heads into a much-needed day off.

-- Off the top, if you view the Rumble as a competition, you’re approaching it the wrong way. This is, at its root, a Boston music festival, where two-dozen bands get to take over a club for an entire week and play for new faces, different crowds, and not just a room full of friends. Among the bands I’ve seen for the first time include CULT 45, FULL BODY ANCHOR, and JOHN POWHIDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

-- 2011 looks like a good year for bands with long names and strong frontpeople. The “winners” through the first three nights were JENNY DEE & THE DEELINQUENTS, WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS, and last night’s victor, John Powhida and that tighter-than-Logan airport of his. All three will head back to Central Square for next week's semis.

-- Oddly, two bands with names on the short side, OLDJACK and SPIRIT KID, look like favorites for the wild card, which will be announced over the weekend after the prelims wrap up.

-- On Sunday's opening night festivities, MCALISTER DRIVE closed things out with a cover of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” Listen, fellas, that shit might be OK when you’re rocking Tommy Doyle’s or Copperfields, but this is the Rumble. 

-- TIJUANA SWEETHEART'S punk battlecry “Fuck The Kells” is truly a timeless classic. But now that the Kells is called Tavern In The Square, singing “Fuck the TITS” takes on a whole new meaning.

-- Check out our Night 1 photo gallery from correspondent Ken Marcou.

-- Anthony Mellace, drummer for A WISH FOR FIRE and formerly of the Model Sons, is an absolute beast behind the kit, and tends to scare the shit out of people in the front row. Regardless of whether or not A Wish For Fire ever escapes a fate as perpetual openers for whenever Ours is in town, Mellace remains a sight to be seen and destroyed on Monday's Night 2.

-- I feel like a true Bostonian now that I’ve finally seen the charismatic Powhida in action. I almost felt the Abbey Lounge rising from the ashes during his engaging and infectious set last night.

-- Art rock rules the Rumble, still. The carnival steamcrunk of Sickert and his Broken Toys could follow the Dresden Dolls (‘03) and Reverend Glasseye (‘05) as unlikely Rumble champions. Boston’s theatrical rock scene always has an impact on this thing, and with apologies to Tijuana Sweetheart, A Wish For Fire, and an undermanned-but-never-outgunned Full Body Anchor, Monday’s Night 2 seemed over before Sickert and his misfits even took the stage.

-- One band that got the biggest reaction from first-timers? OldJack on Sunday night. Love the Globe’s “pleasant dirt-road alt-country” tag, so I’ll just steal that.

-- Cult 45 singer Tai Heatley not only has one colorful tambourine, but the girl never, ever, flubs a note. Incredible vocal performance last night. 

-- There’s lots of talk and tweets at T.T. The Bear’s Place about the “secret bathroom” – but that’s just a new private facility for artists, performers, and employees in the back lounge area, which also features a new, extra room previously closed off. Yes, T.T.s is getting BIGGER.

-- It also should be noted that T.T.s might be the best-suited room in town to host the preliminary rounds and semis; the shape of the venue and separate bar/pool area is a perfect to mix both catch bands, uninterruped, and also mingle and socialize away from the action. Now, we just gotta get Boston riled up enough to get the Rumble Finals back at the Orpheum Theatre, like it was from 1985 to 1987 (back when Powhida made his Rumble debut).

-- Peep Andrew McFarland’s Night 2 photo gallery here.

-- Spirit Kid always lives up to their nomination as Best Live Act in our 2011 Best Music Poll, and Emeen Z’s jangly throwback power-pop is just the type of dark horse to crash the finals as a wild card success story. You can’t help but think a female backing singer would take their show -- and presence -- to the next level.

-- As one anonymous friend mentioned to me last night: “If Spirit Kid doesn’t win, I’m going to punch the door guy, only because I know he had nothing to do with it.” Spirit Kid “lost” to Powhida, but the door guy left the building unharmed.

-- Speaking of Spirit Kid (Part III), one lesson I learned last night -- never attempt to tell a bass player that his fantasy baseball team is up two points while he's busy playing music on stage. He'll interpret that is you wanting him to turn up his bass amp. Sorry, Matt Sisto.  

-- Rumble trash talk extended to the stage last night, as Powhida, before introducing a funk’d up cover of “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, quipped “This is our only cover song. Jenny Dee did 17 covers.” He also announced he, too, was preggers.

-- As is custom, the Rumble takes Wednesday off, giving Rumblers that those who cover them a much needed respite from the non-stop live rock and roll action. But in a strange twist, our favorite to win NEXT YEAR’s Rumble are playing T.T The Bear’s tonight – they’re called DIRTY DISHES, they’re opening for Mike Watt, and our smart money is on them in 2012.

-- Finally, to quote Ryan Spaulding of Ryan’s Smashing Life: “The Rumble should be every week.” Easy there, tiger.

See you Thursday night at T.T.'s for Night 4: Static of the Gods, Mellow Bravo, Triple Thick and the Acro-Brats. 

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