There is no one in, or remotely familiar with, the Boston music scene who has not heard of the WBCN Rock N Roll Rumble, and 2009 was our year to take our chances. So right off the bat, let me just say it was everything they say, and then some. What’s more, at the risk of repeating what many more erudite and sophisticated wordsmiths than I have already said, this year produced a bumper crop of excellence, even by the high standards of good old Beantown. Partly as a function of so many musicians being concentrated in a relatively small area, partly owing to the collective loser pysche being completely upended in this new golden age of Boston sport (three Superbowls, two World Series titles, one NBA championship. Dude, the Bruins are even looking really good again), and even partly because Berklee is out there keeping the hipsters honest with their chops, things are good for the local fan like they haven’t been in years. I should also say MOSTLY due to the infusion of enthusiasm brought by eager new stewards Anngelle Wood and Sean Clayton, both of whom look a lot more like rock stars than almost all the musicians in the show! Really, the whole vibe of the scene feels really good right now because we’ve all been rooting hard for each other.
The Lights Out had the signal honor of going last in the preliminary rounds, taking the stage at midnight on Saturday to wrap it up. Which meant we got to watch the whole thing unfold before our eyes over six nights. Now for me personally, I think the prelims were the best of what the Rumble had to offer. Everybody is excited to be there, everybody has a shot to advance, and therefore we saw 24 bands bring their absolute A games to the Middle East Up. Again, it’s all been recapped better elsewhere, but for me, The Luxury stuck out right away, as did Gravehaven, Gozu, The Motion Sick, Apple Betty, Sarah RabDAU, The Dirty Truckers, Gene Dante, The New Alibis, and…The Lights Out! Speaking purely as a contestant, I will say that we had a crazy good time on stage, felt the love from the crowd, and had the deep satisfaction of walking off knowing we delivered the goods at tip top efficiency. Then we took our night against stiff competition!
On to the semifinals: things get weird, because everyone’s got to pump it back up to do it all over again. After all the two months of build up for the first show, we had six days to get it going again. Which we did, in spades. I personally felt that we put together an even better show than our first night, which I couldn’t say about everyone, if I were being honest. Gravehaven definitely did it. The Luxury stayed at their usually elite level throughout. Gene Dante put on a killer show, and knocked us out of the competition with good songs, great showmanship, and top notch musicians. They made a new fan out of me for sure, and we’re looking forward to playing with them again this July in Provincetown, and hopefully beyond that as well. So we went home disappointed in the result, but really happy with the fact that we raised the bar on ourselves even over our preliminary night.
By now you all know The Luxury took it all, and god bless ’em they deserve it. I think the point is that there were a whole lot of bands where I could have said “yeah all right, they deserve it” if it went another way, which gets back to the strength of this year’s crop. Even though competition and music don’t usually go together (because how are you going to compare apples to pears to kiwis to grapes) in one way it really did us a lot of good. It made us raise our game, and now that we have some post Rumble shows under our belt, we realize that it elevated us permanently. We were all like, “well, there’s really no reason not to just do it at this level (at least) from now on.” Aside from the exposure, the screaming crowds, the new friends, the belonging to Boston rock lore, and two well payed gigs, that was the real gift of being involved with the whole affair. We’ve never been prouder to be from Boston!