Opening Day. Marathon Monday. The Rock ’n Roll Rumble.
All are welcome signs that Spring has finally arrived, but the Rumble is the only one that provides a soundtrack.
This year’s edition kicks off tonight at TT The Bear’s Place, and features the expected eclectic mix of styles and sounds in the 24 competing bands, ranging from punk to folk to experimental to post-everything. After the six nights of preliminary nights (tonight through Tuesday, then resuming Thursday through Saturday), things really start to get interesting with the semi-finals (April 23 & 24) and the final on May 1.
To help you make sense of who you’ll be crushing Tall Boys along to this week, here’s a breakdown of this year’s battle-ready roster, replete with a single track for the acts to get a sample of what’s to come.
NOTE: All shows are at TT The Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge.
There’s cheesy alt rock and then there’s catchy alt rock. The Rare Occasions make the latter. They fall somewhere between the hook-driven guitars of Arctic Monkeys and the raw riffs of 90s grunge, tossing up a wonderfully distinct blend.
If you need a break from the onslaught of guitar bands, the sweet harmonies and intense violins of Nemes will win you over. Don’t be mistaken, though. They aren’t afraid to whip their guitars out to make surefire rock with vigor. Ask them where they draw more influence (folk, rock, or grunge) and you’re bound to get an interesting answer — just make sure you pronounce their name correctly (knee-miss).
The Somerville-based hybrid electro-rock crew were finalists in last fall’s Full Scene Ahead Rompetition, meaning they’ll be eagerly gunning for the top spot here.
Expect the eclectic band to break out some tracks from their forthcoming new 11-song LP Dreaming on the Left Side.
Rising from the basements and bars where they cut their teeth, Raw Blow’s four members pooled their years of individual experience playing in various bands into a hard-driving new project that resulted in last year’s debut EP Slow Choke.
The noisy Boston-via-Northampton three-piece are reissuing a remastered version of their first LP next week, in case you need some research material ahead of their Rumble showing.
When you’re looking for pretty post-rock-meets-synth that everyone can agree on, put on Eternals. They let their songs unravel slowly, marking an emphasis on their natural storytelling ability, while keeping a steady groove that separates them from twee indie pop.
When done right, garage rock is satisfying in an under your skin, gritty and dirty, full volume while driving kind of way. Boston’s own Duck & Cover have carved their own spot out in that corner. Gutsy punk dropkicks the tempo at its center. If you don’t want to let loose, it’s time to learn how. Duck & Cover will give you a run for your money.
After an extended hiatus, the female-fronted prog-rock crew returned last last year with the appropriately defiant Relentless, and that mentality should be useful as the competition progresses.
A few important points from the band’s bio. “We are people who enjoy playing music.” Cool, got it. “We’re not that brave and we’re not that stupid.” Nobody said you were stupid, but OK. “We once stole our lunch from a Seagull.” OK, now we’re interested.
Usher in summer a few months early with Le Roxy Pro. The surf rock group do Pulp Fiction riffs with ease, keeping things loose but never losing their momentum. It lifts up your spirits with the same charred comfort of an American Spirit. Listen up, sit back, and take the sun in.
When you’re looking for your song of the year, turn towards Salita. The rock act throw out anthems like they come naturally to them. We know it’s not that easy. Salita’s music gets aggressive quickly, but they keep a friendly tone to welcome you in, and, of course, keep you around.
Punchy ’80s post-punk is still alive. Mercury On Mars employ the classic sound of power chords and half-yelled lines that revisit the likes of Hüsker Dü and Misson of Burma, all while dropping simple lines you would pen in your social studies spiral notebook.
Active since 2009, last year’s compilation album Now It Can Be Told compiled the band’s lengthy list of singles and b-sides into a comprehensive picture of their talents, followed by the LP Perfect Problem.
Change things up with dark, mysterious prog-rock that’s wise beyond its years. Protean Collective stir up a sound similar to Porcupine Tree, Mastodon, and King Crimson that’s just as decade-spanning and complex as their elders, but several speeds faster. It’s aggression merged with melody — and they don’t plan on simplifying their mix anytime soon (as it should be).
Dirty Bangs do bastardized soul with a burnt edge. Don’t confuse misunderstood angst for drunken rambling. It’s the kind of honesty you get after a single glass of whiskey in the evening to the tune of harsh pop and an undercurrent of do-wop. It’s charmingly original, to say the least.
Yes, that’s the same Nate Leavitt who also plays with Parlour Bells and Old Jack, now making a name for himself (literally) off the strength of last year’s gritty folk solo LP You, Me & the Silence.
The trio talked to us about their brand of “stoner-punk” last November. As their style, which “makes you zone out and think at the same time,” promises to help get your buzz going.
More than happy to play an away game, this Portland, Maine-based band brings down the heavy stoner riffs from up north.
Think this four-piece group are excited to be making their first Rumble appearance? Their Facebook status may contain a hint (“This is a huuuuggeee deal for us!”). After their intriguing debut EP Ossa Cava last year, the excitement feels justified.
A month after the release of the five-track set Volume 2, the five-piece punk outfit will be hoping the best comes last when they close out the final night of the preliminary round.
No one sloshes high speed punk with poppy melodies and hardcore phrasing like Yale, Massachusetts — plus they’ve got as much hometown pride as their name suggests. Don’t be fooled by their age. They’re not messing around when it comes to skill.
You don’t need to look farther than Soft Pyramids for light indie rock that’s perfect for those first few days of spring when nothing can get you down. They keep their guitar tones bright without getting in your face, aka the type of band that never goes out of style.