2012 Rumble finalists: GARVY J.
For reasons even I think are a little silly (but might as well publish anyway, right?), I had mixed feelings walking away from Friday’s Rumble Semi-Finals. Don’t get me wrong – the bill was phenomenal. All four acts absolutely fucking crushed it. I felt a mighty swell of empathy for the poor bastards charged with selecting a winner. Although there's no way everyone agreed with the final decision, the right band probably won. I arrived as an unabashed SHERMAN BURNS cheerleader, but midway through the sexified sonic spaceship ride curtsey of the one-time provocateur of the Elevator Drops, even I was about inclined to rule in favor of Garvy J.
So what is there to bitch about? Hypothetical “big picture” implications. It’d be nice to see the Rumble, a 30-plus-year-old institution, continue with equal or increased communal enthusiasm until the inevitable zombie apocalypse. That might not happen if too many people get the wrong impression that a minimum of 10 years spent locally gigging and releasing albums is required to win this thing. Considering the victory of former Rudds helmsman John Powhida last year and the very probable ultimate triumph of Garvy J. in 2012, it might start to look that way. Though let’s not count MOTHERBOAR out quite yet. As legendary imaginary janitor Charlie Kelly once said, “Wildcard, bitches! Yeeeehaw!!!”
But again, this is a hypothetical problem, and one for which I can't think of a feasible solution apart from rigging the voting to give less-familiar musicians a boost. Of course, that would be totally counterproductive.
Anyway, speaking of youth and belly fire…
SHERMAN BURNS – According to the Allstonian quartet’s website, Sherman Burns play “progressive grunge” that entails a commixture of “metal, prog, post-punk, math rock, and grunge.” That might be the stupidest-sounding description of an amazing band I’ve ever read. It’s also mostly on base, although I’d abbreviate it to “Berklee kid metal with the usual pomposity replaced with pure evil.” Their preliminary set last week certainly wasn’t sloppy, but it was loose enough to be considered slightly unprofessional. Such was not the case for the anvil of aural bedlam they dropped on our heads Friday. Judging by the velocity and rigor of his plucking, bassist Andrew Mildenberg must've replaced the skin under his fingertips with silicone. Or, if he’s an economically-minded sort of dude, perhaps he used wood.
GHOSTS OF JUPITER – Then, the momentum at T.T.’s switched from blistering to glacial. It’s interesting that Sherman Burns and Ghosts of Jupiter traveled to the same destinations – symphonic structures and mountainous walls of sound - but Ghosts weren’t in quite such a hurry to arrive. That is to say, Sherman don't have any seven-minute songs whereas Ghosts have a bunch. Apparently on a mission to mold the future of classic rock, Ghosts are the band my ex-girlfriend’s weirdo stoner dad who lived in a van and always talked about getting back into playing music fantasized about starting. He never managed to actualize this dream, partly due to his crappy guitar playing. His was not a predicament Ghosts can sympathize with. At least not from any recent firsthand experience.
THE RATIONALES – To take nothing away from their musicianship – particularly Pete Zeigler’s lead guitar chops - the Rationales are very much a song-oriented band. It was a bit jarring to bounce from the instrumental adventurousness of Ghosts and Sherman to the utilitarian “here’s how pop-friendly country-rock should sound” declarations of the folksy five-some. The ‘Ales played quite a few of the same songs, possibly the same set, they dished out at the prelims last week. I didn't notice anyone complaining about that. Their single, “Radio” belongs in the annuals of great songs called “Radio” alongside “Radio” by Naked Aggression, “Radio” by Rancid, and “Radio” by Alkaline Trio. Three of the 'Ales wore loafers, opting to perform free from the shackles of shoelaces. Mad respect. Shoelaces are a plague on humanity.
GARVY J. – I don’t feel stupid about confusing Garvy J.’s galaxy-hoppin’ five-pronged rock assault with electronic music anymore. As it turns out, the sounds I assumed came from synthesizers emanate from expertly-applied guitar effects. Dudes don’t even need a keyboard player. You could almost get the impression Gary J. recruited the Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance based on their visual dynamic, as well as musical. One guitarist twitched like a happy-go-lucky Ian Curtis, and played an entire song slapping, as opposed to strumming or plucking, his guitar strings. I did not used to think that was possible. The bassist sports tastefully shaggy head and facial hair, and Tony Savarino seems to habitually dress like an alcoholic freelance short-range airplane pilot with a World War I fetish. They’d look goofy if they weren’t kicking so much ass.
My original draft of this recap was mostly a bitter, conspiracy theory mongering tirade lambasting Thursday’s elimination of the metal massacre machine Motherboar. Boy am I glad I waited until after they were announced as the wildcard finalists before I posted this. Otherwise, I would’ve looked stupid and crazy. Ooooh, and the Grownup Noise's Paul (NOT Pete, as I foolishly wrote earlier. Sorry about that.) Hansen's back isn't too fucked up for him to play anymore, so although they had to bow out of their originally scheduled preliminary round, they'll be performing at the Finals Friday at T.T.’s. It's gonna be a humdinger, for sure.