[rumble night 1 recap + video] The Rationales triumph @ T.T. The Bear's Place

Rumble Night #1 preliminary winners: The Rationales

A few things I didn’t expect happened after WBCN went under a few years ago: The ROCK 'N' ROLL RUMBLE continued unabated by the demise of its corporate overlords, and because its administration fell under the auspicious of flesh-and-blood humans instead of a radio station that plays Sublime and Dave Matthews every 20 minutes, it was no longer fashionable to affect a snarky, jaded, bitchy attitude about the venerable battle of the bands.

PHOTOS: 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble Prelim Round Night #1

There’s sound logic behind that philosophy. The bands competing this year are almost all too good at what they’re doing to trash in good conscience. Practically everyone who comes out to this thing has a blast. Cheap whiskey and pickle juice are the tits. It’s wonderful that we have this lovely little community of rock bands to enjoy and not all towns have that so let’s appreciate the situation and sing "Kumbaya" and blah blah blah.

But I realized something last night. For as long as I’ve known the Rumble existed, bitching about it has been part of the tradition. No matter who wins or what happens, it’s not really the Rumble unless somebody cries “fix” or “bias” or “there should’ve been more accordion in the monitors” or something.

With that in mind, there is a seemingly disproportionate presence of straight-ahead rock bands this year. Out of the 24 outfits tapped for the preliminary rounds, I see (and sorry to anyone I'm missing) only two punk bands (THE TIN THISTLES and THE GRINDS), one metal band (MOTHERBOAR), one arguable metal band (SHERMAN BURNS), one general weirdo contingent (STRAIGHT ANGULR), and GARVY J left to represent electro all alone. I’ll be happy if any of them take home the Rumble championship, but to disclose my own bias, I shall root hardest for THE FAGETTES, unquestionably the most evil of the entire lot of participants.

Quick recap of Night #1 -

An apparently nasty back injury sidelined guitarist Paul Hansen, forcing THE GROWNUP NOISE to bow out of their spot at the last minute. Let’s wish him a speedy recovery, and hope the rules are bent next year so the Grownup Noise get still their chance at Rumble glory.

The sexified, stratosphere-soaring licks and downright menacing bass hooks of ENDLESS WAVE melded into what would’ve been my personal choice to advance to the semis. They’re among the best of a recent contingency of Boston bands who have introduced shoegaze to an audience who had no idea who My Bloody Valentine was until six months ago. Guitarist Tim Ryan treated us to a spastic bunny-hop dance while slamming down chords.

THE RATIONALES are not a country band. I’m not even sure if they could be called “country influenced.” Still, they made me wish I was driving an 18-wheeler across the Midwest, or perhaps engaged in a Thelma & Louise style road trip where I'd stop at every liquor store I passed, have all my money stolen by Brad Pitt, then explode after driving off a cliff. Though they’ve unquestionably penned a few great songs, particularly set-closer, “Radio,” their easy-accessibility makes them the exact kind of band I don’t want to win. They’re not dangerous enough to offend my parents. I need some legit EVIL in my rock ‘n roll.

I’ve got to dock points from COOLING TOWERS for a cosmetic reason. Their guitarist had a Joe-Perry-thing happening. He could’ve easily had a far-preferable Slash-thing-happening if he’d only worn a big hat. Then again, I also have to award them cosmetic points for their kickass drummer’s apparent hatred of haircuts. Though he wobbled around and gazed at the ceiling throughout the set, vocalist Commodore Vic didn’t seem to miss a note. It was hard to tell if he was legitimately intoxicated, or just wanted us to think he was. But there was nothing to knock about Cooling Towers' smoky, loungey spin on post-punk.

To my lack of surprise and mild-disappointment, the judges gave the semi-final nod to the Rationales. On the upside, we’ve overheard whispers that Endless Wave and Cooling Towers could be serious contenders for a wildcard slot, so it’s possible the 2012 Rumble hasn’t heard the last of them. And by the way, thanks to whoever brought the cupcakes. I snagged peanut butter and coconut flavored cakey deserts on my way out, and they were delicious.

READ MORE: Complete Rumble coverage

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