RSL puts us Back on the Horse

“A Night of Independent Rock,”  I muttered to myself somewhere around exit 4 on the Pike, heading into Boston from Jiminy Peak in Western Massachusetts. Windows down, wife and kids safely tucked into April vacation and awaiting my return the next day, I contemplated the events of the past few weeks. Number one: no matter what they say, losing any kind of contest stings a little bit if you’re any kind of contestant, and we were delivering the goods at optimum capacity the night we were ousted from the semifinals of the 2009 WBCN Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble. Number two:  thanks to Ryan Spaulding, the brains of the Ryan’s Smashing Life operation, we had a chance to work out some of the disappointment in a healthy way. Number three: still about two hours to go before Boston slides into view around the soundwall just past exit 17. But I like solitude, so a couple hours in the car by myself is a pretty good deal.

Great Scott is one of my favorite rooms in the area to play. They work the checkerboard floor tiles and billiard room green walls to good effect, and the stage and sound system are top notch. There’s enough room to swing your guitar neck without knocking your mic stand over. The punched tin ceilings are a good fifteen feet up, and you walk out into the Allston night, into the very epicenter of white belt forward hair full bearded hipsterism. I hadn’t seen the guys in a couple days, and just loading in our gear together started to rouse my spirits. We get to PLAY tonight!

On top of that, the city’s finest independent music writers got behind the event, reading like a who’s who of Boston musicheads: The Boston Herald‘s “Hotline,” Boston Band Crush, zed equals zee, Enough Cowbell, Anti-Gravity Bunny, Vanyaland, Cheap Thrills – Boston and Bostonist. The wave of support for a showcase hosted by one of their own was a nice parallel to the positive, scene-building vibe put out by this year’s Rumble bands.

Hundred Years War kicked it off in proper indie fashion (in at least two senses of that word), rocking Western style button-downs, appropriately ratty jeans and endlessly fascinating shoes. And some very catchy songs as well, and their crowd was really into them. The singer, Trevor Wilcox, had really good energy throughout their set, and we all gave these guys the official TLO arcing lightbulb filament of approval. Then it was time for Fishhawk. To which all I have to say is holy crap! Holy CRAP! Two guitar/keyboardists and a singer with as much crazy-boy-about-to-melt-in-a-puddle as chest-puffing-Freddie-Mercury-channeling rock god. He kind of sounds like Geoff Tate from Queensryche, but only by way of genetic accident. The music was backing tracks and parts laid over them live.  Honestly, I wanted a drummer (which I hear might be in the works) to anchor things and give them that visual dynamism you get when there’s a guy pounding away behind everyone, but the strength of the singer Nick Nickerson’s stage presence completely nullified that point by halfway through their first song.

Logan 5 and the Runners are a band we like a lot, and this was our second time sharing a bill with them. Like the first time, they delivered the goods with professionalism, urgency, glamour (with a “u”) and a sleazy little hint of T-Rex, that cheeky bastard.

So, finally it’s our turn to work out the demons, or whatever, and happily a good bunch of the local crew came out to hear us again. Because remember, we just played twice in two weeks before for the Rumble, so this is the third time you gotta clap in all the right parts and whatnot, you know? Anyway, the thing I took away from the experience of our actual set was the realization that we were now a better band for having gone through the fire of the Rumble. We could turn it on at this level or better from now on, anytime we wanted. It was a liberating moment, because then immediately the next question is, why stop there?

For tonight anyway, it was enough to know that the trend for us is upward. I think people went home happy, and I know I certainly did. So thanks Ryan, for shoving our asses back into the saddle! It was like balm on a sunburn to remember that we’re really in the business of having adventures, meeting new people and telling war stories about the bad times to sprinkle the sugar of nostalgia over them. And beer, of course. Can’t forget about beer.


One Response to “RSL puts us Back on the Horse”

  1. I think that you underestimate your rebound ability – – it’s hard to keep The Lights Out down! Well glad you had a good time – certainly one of my favorite shows to put on this year. All of the bands had a great night and made new fans.

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