Though I actually ended up seeing more of the Rumble than last time, I think I’ve ended up writing a bit less – first I found myself slacking a bit on the updates, and then of course recent events in the city of Boston made me think it’d be better to hold off a little while on writing about something as trivial as rock shows. So, instead of proper reviews of everything, this will be both a summary of what’s happened and a review of the finals.
Of the bands that didn’t make it to the semi-finals who I got to see, the one I enjoyed the most were probably Suicide Dolls. Their set had a lot of energy to it, and their style reminds me of 90’s Sonic Youth, with a bit more punk attitude. White Dynomite, who did get into semi-finals, were the most fun to watch – I wasn’t present for the pillow incident, but beyond that, they apply a lot of showmanship to their grungy garage rock performances, and generally seem to get the crowd excited.
The finalists were Twin Berlin, Glen Yoder And The Western States, and Eddie Japan, with The Dogmatics closing as a non-competing guest band. Twin Berlin was my personal favorites among the finalists. The most obvious point of comparison for their style would be The Strokes, particularly due to front-man Matt Lopez’s vocals, but with more of a raw, immediate sound. Glen Yoder And The Western States delivered well-crafted and performed folk rock. I particularly like their usual closing number “Pretty Little Girl”, an uptempo blues-rock song that showcases their harmonies and musicianship and tends to leave things on a high note. While this years winners Eddie Japan weren’t among my favorites in the rumble, I can tell where their appeal lies, and they have tight musicianship and a fairly unique sound.
The first time I saw 1985 Rumble participants The Dogmatics live was last December, as one of the openers for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ annual Hometown Throwdown at the House Of Blues – the Bosstones have covered their song “X-Mas Time” and released it as a single. While I enjoyed their set, I felt the need to see Dogmatics in a more intimate setting and this was my chance. While I didn’t get to see their full set, I definitely enjoyed what I did get, and they did play their best-known song “Gimme The Shakes” before I had to pack up.
If there were bands in the rumble that you happened to miss, a few of the participants will be playing Cambridge or Boston in the next couple of weeks. Most recent winners Eddie Japan will be playing TT The Bears on May 1st, opening for The Invisible Rays and The Weisstronauts. Also returning to TT’s is participant Ruby Rose Fox, who headlines a May 3rd show with Tan Vampires, Old Abram Brown, and Parks. And finally, on May 10th, semi-finalists White Dynomite will be playing at The Paradise in Boston, opening up for the legendary Mudhoney.
Mount Peru opened the night up with soulful alt-country, with a slight psychedelic twist. The frequent use of harmony vocals brought something of a gospel feel.
Whitcomb blended their stoner metal sound with more melodic moments, and definitely had their share of killer riffs – they also had a guest appearance from Kenny Irwin, vocalist of past Rumble finalists Motherboar. It was an especially impressive performance considering the band had nearly needed to pull out due to health issues – guitarist Andy Beavis had been in the hospital two days earlier and, as he demonstrated the audience, still had a hole in his leg from when doctors put a camera inside of it.
Twin Berlin played a very energetic set, with a sound that was both melodic and bracingly noisy. I’d describe them as playing indie rock with a garage rock spirit.
Lifestyle, whose name still makes me want to make Metallica jokes, performed last. Their synth-heavy new wave was theatrical, yet danceable. There’s something of a stereotype about synth-pop being cold and emotionless, which this band’s performance definitely put the lie to. Vocalist Sean T. Drinkwater is also known for Boston synth-pop band Freezepop, who played the rumble themselves back in 2001, while guitarist Ad Frank’s Fast Easy Women played it in 2004. Drinkwater received what was probably the rumble’s first live onstage haircut - The hair was then thrown into the audience, leading to audience members shouting that they were going to clone him or make a voodoo doll. If anyone did make a Sean T. Drinkwater voodoo doll, they didn’t put any bad mojo on it just yet, as Lifestyle are now moving on to semi-finals.
Coyote Kolb started things off with a heavily blues and folk influenced sound, showcasing their skilled musicianship and frontman Chadley Kolb’s Mark-Lanagan-esque baritone vocals.
Field Effect’s set balanced celebratory rock with more melancholy moments to very good results – at times they reminded me of Japandroids.
The Suicide Dolls were one of my favorites of the night. They had a fierce performance with lots of stage presence, their music was hard rocking, yet fairly unpredictable, and the dynamic between co-vocalists Brian Albano and Michele Montavon worked very well.
White Dynomite took the night (hey, that rhymes) with a relentlessly energetic set of garage rock, and very much had the crowd with them throughout the night. I look forward to seeing them return for semi-finals, though I don’t envy the cleanup crew their task of removing the remnants of beer and feathers strewn across the stage – and you thought human hair was as bad as it’d get.
Eddie Japan opened things up with a fairly unique sound - their dramatic vocals and glam-rock-influenced guitar leads brought to mind brit-pop bands such as Suede, but member Chris Barrett alternates between keyboard and trumpet, and the latter often gave things more of a Latin feel. Though this is only my third rumble, I think this is the first time I’ve witnessed a band in the first slot who ultimately ended up taking the night.
Supermachine have a lineup featuring two members of New Hampshire metal mainstays Scissorfight, and definitely live up to that band’s heaviness. While their style was reminiscent of some nineties acts such as Kyuss and Corrosion Of Conformity, they had a pretty timeless, no-nonsense take on the stoner metal genre. In my book, they had the most entertaining set of the night.
Glenn Yoder & The Western States blended roots rock and power pop in an undeniably catchy, earnest manner. I found their style suitable to the warm spring weather we had that night.
Blackbutton, who closed the night, included a cover of Nirvana’s “Breed” in their set - the song was pulled off with aplomb, and suited Jordan Tavenner’s somewhat raspy vocal style perfectly, but this is not to give the impression that they’re any sort of “grunge” band - those sort of influences are there, but they’re approached in a more soulful, nuanced way.
I ran a little behind on blogging duties this time, so stay tuned for nights four and five in the next entry.
I’m probably not going to be quite as extensive in my coverage of this as I was last time - unlike then, I’ve got a day job to contend with. However, I plan on doing a writeup whenever I do attend, and keeping track of the standings when I don’t.
There was a pretty bustling turnout for a Sunday - it seemed everyone wanted to be there to kick things off even if they couldn’t stay the whole night.
Unfortunately, I arrived just as the first band of the night, The Okay Win, finished off their set, so I can’t offer much commentary on them. Going from what’s on their bandcamp page, they combine folk-rock influenced vocal melodies with energized indie rock arrangements. I’ll have to keep an eye out for their other shows.
Cancer Killing Gemini were the second band of the night. Notable for having released a new song online every month since 2011, this band have a heavy but danceable and melodic sound reminiscent of 90’s industrial rock. Since a half-hour set leaves little room for stage banter, the band adopted a method of introducing songs by holding up signs that gave brief synopses of what the lyrics were about: According to said signs, their songs ranged in topics from “Sad Stuff” to “Not Having Sex With Guns N Roses”.
The New Highway Hymnal played the most intense set of the night: Their aggressive, yet atmospheric sound manages to bring to mind both shoegaze and The Stooges’ Funhouse. They seemed to have the audience captivated, so it wasn’t too surprising when they ended up winning for the night.
Closing things out were Velah, whose lead vocalist Jen Johnson previously graced the Rumble stage in 2011, fronting Static Of The Gods. Though Velah retain the skillfully layered sound of her previous band, they take it in a different direction, alternating the dreamier moments with louder, more dramatic ones to often stunning effect. While Johnson was the sole vocalist in Static Of The Gods, here she’s frequently backed up by Nicholas Murphy (who also took the lead for one song), and their harmonizing is another important element of their sound.
This initially seems like it’s going to be a credit card plot episode, which of course, they’ve sort of already done… However, while some comparisons could still be made to “The ATM with the Heart of Gold”, this is much more of a satire of consumerism – and actually a fairly gutsy one for a network TV show. Slick businessman The Donald (not Trump, though clearly they’re parodying him to some extent) arrives in town and promises to make Mr. Radford rich if he allows him to take over promotions for the World O’ Stuff – soon subliminal-message-filled commercials are turning everyone in town into sleep-walking shopaholics putting everything on credit. To me, the main thing that makes this episode is the over-the-top sleaze Rene Auberjonois puts into The Donald… And actually, this is the first episode in a while where I’ve appreciated the character of Dash-X, as Dash naturally starts working with The Donald, and Auberjonois and James Marsden just get so deliciously hammy together.
This is the first episode in a while to feature the World O’ Stuff so heavily, and I always enjoy checking out all the odd set dressing in there. One item is the exact Elvis bust lamp that’s currently sitting in the office at TT The Bear’s Place, and it actually ends up factoring into the plot, as it’s what Simon ends up buying…. So they get a fun continuity nod in with the line “This is very cool… But why did they make a ramp just for some guy on your paper route?”
Once again, the show has some fun with using one-off characters as extras – Bertram and Ernest, the twins from Foreverware are back, as is the hippie-ish mother from the same episode. More surprisingly, there’s the basketball-playing triplets, who were in the voiceover introductions from earlier in the season, but haven’t seemed to appear in any actual episodes until now; I enjoy that they wear their uniforms to bed, but with bathrobes over them, and that they still dribble in unison while sleepwalking.
It’s a great detail that Dash-X not only starts dressing exactly like The Donald, he also somehow grows a similar ponytail in the course of a day.
I always knew that hell was a shopping mall.
I’ve decided that as a kid I must have stopped regularly watching this series about halfway through it’s run, then picked back up again for the last few episodes - this was the first one I’ve watched in a while that I can say I remember seeing before.
I’m actually kind of surprised the show didn’t have an episode revolving around a moose-lodge-esque organization sooner - such a thing is sort of the male equivalent of the tupperware parties that the very first episode dealt with, after all. This particular group of adults turn out to have much less sinister goals though - sure, everyone in the order is being brainwashed to do it’s true leader’s bidding, but said leader is just temporarily using them so he can get to his home planet.
Even though Dash-X has been a prominent part of the cast ever since his introduction, they’ve only been doling out development of his character pretty slowly, and this is the episode where we get at least the slightest bit closer to finding out about his origins: It turns out Dash’s distinctive hand-markings allow him to open up a secret compartment within the lodge, and more importantly, that Ned, the unassuming old bartender who secretly runs the lodge, has the same markings. Both of these sort of turn out to be dead ends, because Ned doesn’t really know why he or Dash have the markings either, but it’s clearly the set-up for something.
It’s sort of silly that they attempted to make a commercial-break-cliffhanger-worthy twist of the fact that Dash-X is doing security for the Loyal Order Of Corn - we hear his voice before we see him, but few if any other people on this show could sound so much like Jack Nicholson with a sore throat.
On the other hand (no pun intended), it’s actually fairly clever that Ned has a bellboy-like uniform, and therefor his hands are concealed without it seeming too suspicious.
In the “hey it’s that guy” department, Ned is played by Ray Walston - the obvious gag is that we have the star of My Favorite Martian playing an interplanetary traveler…. But now I’m wondering if it was also intentional that his character’s hands are a plot point and his other most famous role was Mr. Hand.
hazeykatie2 submitted: The record shop down the hall got in three TMBG cassettes, so naturally I HAD to buy them. Yes, I do own a cassette player.
Flood was one of the very first albums I owned, and it was on cassette, so seeing this definitely takes me back.
I didn’t mean to be away from this blogging enterprise, or blogterprise, for so long - in the meantime, Eerie disappeared from netflix, but thankfully it’s still streaming for free on hulu, so I’ll be able to finish off the series after all.
The science-fiction/supernatural element here is just slightly less inventive than normal Eerie standards: a mind-transferring device is definitely an idea that’s been done before. However, the way it’s executed here leads to some pretty funny moments - for one, the device itself deliberately appears to be made out of various junk, which makes a certain amount of sense because it’s inventor, Charles Furnell, managed to rebuild it despite being homeless and having had his brain removed by his own invention. Part of it’s workings is a modified 8-track player, and everyone it’s used on has the indignity of having their mind being stored on a copy of The Knack’s greatest hits - in a great, absurd touch, a recurring leitmotif in the score is a variation on the main riff of “My Sharona”.
Another fun element of this episode is the inevitable mind-switching itself - Charles Furnell’s brain is transferred into Simon’s body after having spent years on that Knack tape, and in the climax Charles and Simon have swapped bodies, and Charles’ wife, who’s the villain here, has similarly swapped with Marshall - leading to a hilarious brief gag where “Marshall” looks down and is baffled by his new found cleavage.
I’ve noticed in every episode he’s been in so far, Dash-X has played a pretty formulaic “jerk with a heart of gold” sort of role - he’ll always start off doing something out of self-interest that either helps the villains or just endangers Marshall and/or Simon, then reluctantly end up saving the day. However, this one is sort of notable, because until now he’s always seemed to have another motivation in helping other than doing the right thing.
It makes sense that there would eventually be a werewolf episode, what with this show’s love of classic horror movie nods - here the title character’s name is of course a nod to Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man, and there’s also mention of The Howling (Joe Dante has directed a few episodes, but not this one). I also detect just the tiniest bit of The Wicker Man in the plot as well: Every 13 years, Eerie sends a Harvest King out to the woods to find the “Eerie wolf”, which will bring the town plentiful crops and “lower taxes”, and this Harvest King has a tendency to disappear. Marshall is chosen as the new Harvest King (Dash-X overhears a plot to fix it so he’d win the raffle, so he fixes it so Marshall will win instead). Marshall is sent with Mr. Chaney to find the wolf, and of course, Mr. Chaney is the wolf. Apparently they’ve just been sacrificing people to Chaney so he doesn’t run rampant on the town instead.
While the episode still keeps with the show’s largely tongue-in-cheek tone, it also doesn’t ignore the unsavory fact that the town is letting a kid get eaten every 13 years just because it’s the easiest, most discreet way to deal with the problem. So surprisingly, this is the first episode with a “message” of sorts in a while.
Dash-X isn’t constantly Nicholsoning it up, but it’s still there… Enough so that I fully support this theory. Oh, and this is the first episode where we get a good look at his hand markings, though you can also see them in The Hole In The Head Gang if you know what you’re looking for.
Mr. Chaney himself is none other than Stephen Root, which I didn’t realize until I looked it up. I enjoy his mannerism of always stuttering when saying the word “wolf”.
Twin Peaks comparisons must have been made while the show was still on the air too, hence Dash getting the line “Well, it sure ain’t the log lady”.
This is the first episode to feature Dash-X, who’s going to become an important recurring character for the remaining five episodes. We don’t learn a lot about him just yet, just that he’s a young homeless amnesiac with a mysterious past. The plus and minus symbols on his hands that he named himself for aren’t even brought up, therefor the audience doesn’t actually know what to call him yet.
The plot actually starts out tricking the audience into thinking it’s going to be an episode about Dash-X, and therefor that he’s probably just going to be another antagonist of the week: Marshall and Simon go out to investigate a supposedly haunted abandoned mill, only to find that he’s been living there and faking the paranormal occurrences Scooby Doo style. But of course, because this is Eerie, the place does turn out to be haunted anyway - The rest of the episode gets decidedly more comical as Marshall finds himself forced to assist the ghost of an incompetent bank robber (played by Claude Akins, best known as Sheriff Lobo from B.J. and the Bear). Eventually Dash returns, helps resolve the plot, and quickly vanishes to return another day.
The silliness of the rest of the plot could be considered a little anti-climactic after the initial and still unexplained Dash-X hook, but this is actually quite a funny episode. Claude Akins is naturally perfect for this sort of role, and it does lead to some memorable gags.
The other notable change this episode brings is John Astin replacing Archie Hahn as Mr. Radford, owner of the World O’ Stuff. Mr. Radford is a minor enough character that they could have gotten away with switching actors with no explanation, but they make an amusing gag out of this: It turns out that the “Mr. Radford” we’ve known up to this point is a compulsive impersonator, who tied the real Radford up in the basement and took over the store. The impersonator is dragged out of the store, but the real Radford won’t press charges because the impersonator was a great salesman and drove up business. Even better, Hahn then shows up as a teller at the Eerie bank, which only Marshall notices.
I didn’t remember Dash-X having such Jack Nicholson-esque mannerisms. Maybe it’s something they toned down for the rest of his appearances, maybe it was something I just plain didn’t get as a 12 year old (though I’m pretty certain I had seen Nicholson play The Joker by that point).
As a big fan of this show’s continuity nods, I love that one of the creepy moms from Foreverware shows up as a bank customer.