The 35th annual Rock And Roll Rumble gets started this Sunday night, and though we’re a few days away from this weekend’s launch at the homebase of T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge, we’re already oh-so-tired of the following sentiments:
“Oh it’s really just a music festival.”
“It’s a friendly celebration of Boston music.”
“This circle-jerk for the community! #BostonStrong”
Blah, blah, fucking blah — ladies and gentlemen, this is a competition. There are nightly preliminary-round winners — six of them, by next Sunday morning — and by the end of the month, one band will wear the prestigious 2014 crown, like Eddie Japan last year and Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck in 2012.
The Red Sox don’t benefit the city just by playing in that sports festival known as Major League Baseball; they do it by winning god damn championships. So in that Boston tradition, we’re gonna get our real-talk game face on and predict who in this year’s Sweet 24 will take home the gold.
Remember — no one is gonna “win” Boston Calling or Together. Go big or go home. This is the Rumble. It wasn’t named after the Link Wray song for nuthin’.
GIVEAWAY: Want to win a Full Boat pass to this year’s Rock And Roll Rumble, good for all nine nights of sleazy-breezy Cambridge rock club competition action? Vanyaland has the hookup — just email firstname.lastname@example.org with RUMBLE in the subject line, and we’ll select one winner at random by Friday afternoon. Good luck!
9 p.m.: Rebuilder
9:45 p.m.: Tigerman WHOA
10:30 p.m.: Sinnet
11:15: Guillermo Sexo
Overview: Much is made, and rightfully so, of the spectacularly varied lineups the Rumble provides, and the kickoff starts with perhaps its most schizo. Rebuilder’s pop-punk is good enough for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who invited the Boston quartet to play a Throwdown show with them last year at the House of Blues. Noted bearded wildmen Tigerman WOAH have a fuck ton of momentum, and from destroying SXSW to being selected for Boston Calling, it feels like this is the dirty America act’s year. Sinnet’s smooth electronic pop compositions will add some much needed polish to the night, and Guillermo Sexo’s far-flung psych-pop could seduce the judges with the right kind of ‘gaze. This night is anyone’s to win — or lose.
Who should win Night 1: Tigerman WOAH
Who will win Night 1: Tigerman WOAH — This force of musical nature should woo the judges, even the ones who hate beard and banjos.
9 p.m.: Doom Lover
9:45 p.m.: When Particles Collide
10:30 p.m.: Goddamn Draculas
11:15 p.m.: Emma Ate The Lion
Overview: Every year a band made up of Boston music veterans (John Powhida, Garvy J., Eddie Japan) comes in and schools the kids on how it’s done. Harmonic punk misfits Goddamn Draculas could be that band; you can’t have Sam Black Church DNA and not throw down to win. Otherwise, this manic Monday could be had by the moody, temperamental science rock of Doom Lover, the muscle-rock duo When Particles Collide (repping Maine!) or the ADD weirdo prog-rock of the South Shore’s Emma At The Lion. Jesus this is like picking your favorite Bruin.
Who should win Night 2: Goddamn Draculas
Who will win Night 2: Goddamn Draculas — The Rumble is all about the “seasoned” dudes who’ve been playing forever. But showmanship is huge this week, so look for Doom Lover to possibly stage an upset.[hr]
9 p.m.: Barricades
9:45 p.m.: Airport
10:30 p.m.: Z*L
11:15 p.m.: The Life Electric
Overview: The night that most closely resembles a potential Saturday night rock show at the Middle East, this likely features the freshest faces in the competition. Barricades’ sharp pop-rock might be at a disadvantage opining the night, and Airport and Z*L will battle at opposite ends of the soft-loud rock spectrum, respectively. But we have a weird feeling about the Life Electric, and think their sparkling Calico EP will translate well and stick out just enough in a good ol’ fashioned Boston rock show.
Who should win Night 3: The Life Electric — Though we could make a case for Z*L, who should play hard for a wild card.
Who will win Night 3: The Life Electric[hr]
9:30 p.m.: Butterknife
10:15 p.m.: Slowdim
11 p.m.: Gondoliers
11:45 p.m.: Western Education
Overview: Pop roars back after a night off with one glaring exception — the pile-driving noise-rock of Gondoliers, who have the favorable third slot and are massively separated, musically, from the other three acts. But the greatest achievement of this week will be Paul Sentz of Slowdim getting to show off his songwriting brilliance to a new crowd of faces. It might not be enough to overcome the rapid radio-ready pop-punk of Butterknife or the alt-rock heights of Lowell’s Western Education, who with “Rivals” and “All I Am” have two of the 10 best songs you’ll hear in this year’s Rumble.
Who should win Night 4: Western Education
Who will win Night 4: Gondoliers — At this point in the competition, we think the spectacle will woo voters. Western Education is a close contender for the wild card, and expands their fan base more than any other participating act.[hr]
9:30 p.m.: Feints
10:15 p.m.: Petty Morals
11 p.m.: Vary Lumar
11:45 p.m.: Summoner
Overview: A Friday night fight capped off by the stoner metal might of Summoner, who if they don’t bring their own crowd, might be playing to a sea of raised eyebrows. The night kicks off with the bluesy, barroom stomp of Feints, led by powerhouse vocalist Amy Douglas, then gets sleazy-’70s with the dance rock of Petty Morals. The prog-rock of Vary Lumar could win any competition that was heard solely on headphones, but here the stage matters, and Feints and Petty Morals are destined for one hell of a throwdown.
Who should win Night 5: Feints
Who will win Night 5: Petty Morals — The girls’ got it all, from stage presence, veteran poise, and most of all, great, infectious songs that make you wanna punch someone and chew bubblegum at the same time.[hr]
9:30 p.m.: Harris Hawk
10:15 p.m.: Await Rescue
11 p.m.: The Color And Sound
11:45 p.m.: Yellabird
Overview: By Saturday, exhaustion sets in, but there’s one last round of rock to be had and heard. Possessing one of the most sports-minded twitter accounts in Boston rock, Await Rescue have turned on the pop-rock afterburners in their latest release, “Forms of Flight.” Harris Hawk will add some necessary classic rock sludge into the mix, but we’re looking towards high-octane duo Yellabird and the pitch-perfect indie-rock of the Color And Sound to bring the Saturday night fever. This one’s impossible to pick.
Who should win Night 6: The Color And The Sound
Who will win Night 6: The Color And The Sound — If the Spring Tour EP sounds half as good on stage as it does from the studio, this competition might be looking at its winner. No, they’re not an older band, but they are one about to explode onto the national level very soon.[hr]
So, to recap:
Night 1: Tigerman WOAH
Night 2: Goddamn Draculas
Night 3: The Life Electric
Night 4: Gondoliers
Night 5: Petty Morals
Night 6: The Color And Sound
Wild Cards: Doom Lover, Feints
Semi Finals Night 1 winner: The Color And Sound
Semi Finals Night 2 winner: Tigerman WHOA
Semi Finals Wild Card: Feints
Rock And Roll Rumble Winner: The Color And Sound
Good luck to all the bands. xx