When Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck were announced as the 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble champions, I wondered what the judges were smoking, and where I could get some. I don't say that to disparage Thayer and his crunchy cohort. On its own, the intricate onslaught Jeff Berlin unleashes on his drum kit deserves an award. But anyone who felt like grumbling about the outcomes of any of this year's nine nights of Rumbling at T.T. the Bear's Place would have a sound, though subjective, argument for doing so. This signifies a gargantuan quantity and imposing degree of outstanding music gushing from our modest municipality. Let us allow that any whisperings of "so-and-so got robbed" reminds us that living here can be pretty rad.
>> SLIDESHOW: Rock 'n' Roll Rumble Finals <<
Living in Vermont also has its perks, according to the triumphant storm cloud of southern-infused, electric banjoyouness one observer aptly nicknamed "swamp-rock." Thayer earnestly tipped his hat to the recently departed Levon Helm, who in all probability smiled down from heaven with pride. Helm's new angel-buddy Dimebag Darrell might be a bigger fan of Motherboar, who concluded their extraordinary Rumble run with a gang-vocal bro-down of doom that left numerous puddles of beer and chucked plastic cups in its wake. In their ever-present leather jackets, Garvy J and the Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance doled out a dimension-hopping aura that sways, soars, and smashes as their whim allows.
A fluke back injury kept Paul Hansen and his band the Grownup Noise out of the Rumble preliminary round. As consolation, the quirky quartet was tapped to provide a grand finale for the finals, filling in a headliner slot that's usually reserved for a winner from yesteryear being dusted off for one last go-'round. The band's affinity for flannel, tattooed cellist Hansen's scruffy beard and aural similitude to Ben Gibbard, and an ironic cover of Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," were enough to make me comment, with unironic admiration, "Look at these fucking hipsters." It was the only whiff of "hipsterdom" evident all evening. But if Rumble judges awarded bonus points for hipsterdom, Bow Thayer never would've had a prayer.