With the details of this year’s 18th annual Hometown Throwdown upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to shamelessly rehash our idea from last year and bring you up to speed on the bands playing with the BossTones this time around. Fake it til you make it, right?
This year’s Throwdown involves bands that played with the BossTones at The Rathskeller, a notorious Boston venue/bar that you may only know of through it’s well-documented mythology (especially if, like myself, you are a child, known for saying things like “uhh, no, dad, I don’t know what it’s like to see Rush back when they were in their prime, please let your infinite wisdom flow through me”). Between opening its doors in 1974 and the venue’s last show in November of 1997, The Rat (as it was more commonly known) hosted a who’s who of notable bands during their early days, including The Police, Talking Heads and The Cars in some of their earlier American performances. Mostly, though, the Kenmore Square venue is known as a landmark spot in Boston’s punk/hardcore scene, a vibrant community still growing strong due in part to The Rat’s influence.
The BossTones have been doing their part to keep the spirit of The Rat alive, including assisting The Dropkick Murphy’s Ken Kesey in designing a Rathskeller-inspired suite in Kenmore Square’s Hotel Commonwealth. This year’s Throwdown is an extension of that effort and a good reminder of just how potent the Boston music community is. For further reading, Dicky and Co. have been taking to the band’s Instagram account with posts that serve to help us understand the theme of this year’s three-night party.
Formed in 1978, The Neighborhoods quickly garnered communal acclaim with their brand of energetic punk, winning the following year’s Rock n’ Roll Rumble (hosted at The Rat, naturally). In addition to the success of their early hit “Prettiest Girl”, the band harnessed their gaining notoriety to release five full-length albums before a decade-long hiatus that began in 1992. Initial reviews of the band’s live shows noted the energy of frontman David Minehan, who is the only member to have been with the band since it’s inception. Since their return in 2003, The Neighborhoods have been gigging consistently, and were added to the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2005. Check out this extensive interview with David Minehan from 2012, where he discusses his band’s legacy and his activity at the local Wooly Mammoth Studios.
Watch The Neighborhoods play The Rat circa 1985:
The Upper Crust
Okay, hear us out on this one: Imagine if AC/DC got transported back to Victorian England and then acclimated to that time’s culture, including using words like “accouterments” unironically in regular conversation and verbally insulting the poor. Sound interesting? We certainly think so, and that’s why we’re excited to catch The Upper Crust‘s opening Saturday set. The band commits to their 18th century get-up wholeheartedly, dressing in time period appropriate garb and writing songs from the viewpoint of the characters they are playing. The band members, who have names like “Lord Bendover” and “Marquis Marque” (personal favorite), extend their personas to interviews as well, explaining their sound as having a “70’s hard rock vibe – 1770’s, that is”. With five albums under their belt, The Upper Crust have stayed continually active, recently appearing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Cartoon Network’s Codename: Kids Next Door. As with most of the bands on this list, The Rat served as a springboard for the band, playing there frequently during the venue’s final years. For more info, a documentary from 2004 called Let Them Eat Rock goes into the band’s history in great detail, and WBUR has a pretty great interview of the band from back in April.
If you still don’t believe us, check out the video for “Let Them Eat Rock”:
The Real Kids
Just as the first night mixes hard-rock and punk stylings, night 2 follows suit and shapes the tone of this year’s Throwdown. The Real Kids began in 1972, after band leader John Felice left the original line-up of Boston’s seminal The Modern Lovers to form his own project. The band was most active during the 1970s, playing all around the area before releasing their self-titled debut album in 1977. The band was praised locally as a “perfect blend of Eddie Cochran, early Stones and The Velvet Underground, with killer tunes, energy and feel” (Quote from this lengthy interview with Felice). After a break up in the early 80’s, the band reformed at least once a decade under various line-up changes spear-headed by Felice, while the members involved cycled through a myriad of other projects. The current incantation of The Real Kids began in 2014 and coincided with the release of the long awaited new album Shake… Outta Control, which the band has been touring in support of since.
Check out The Real Kids performing “Better Be Good” off the Live At The Rat compilation released in 1976:
Continuing the pattern of punk openers, Portsmouth NH’s The Queers will kick off the second night. Playing almost continually since 1981 (barring a break-up in the mid-eighties that resulted in a reformation a few years later), the band put out a slew of records on Lookout! Records before signing with Asian Man Records, where they remain today. Out of all the bands playing the Throwdown this year, The Queers are possibly the furthest into the “punk” camp, both in terms of ethos and sound. In punk as in literature, statements made by vocalist/bandleader Joe King throughout the band’s career have garnered controversy from the rest of the music community, which is maybe something that you should have seen coming from a band that chooses to call themselves “The Queers”. Nevertheless, these “wise-ass punks” will be sure to set night 2 off on the right path with energy to spare. Check out Joe King listing the ten songs that made him fall in love with punk for Dying Scene (featuring Night 2 line-up mates The Real Kids) and listen to 1996’s “Punk Rock Girls”:
As with the nights preceding it, the final night of the 2015 Hometown Throwdown will have support from both a punk and traditional rock act. In the rock corner, The Outlets are another band that rose to prominence within Boston in the mid 80’s. Lead primarily by brothers David and Rick Barton, the band gained a large following on the local level due to their acclaimed live act. After releasing 1985’s Whole New World, The Outlets supported the album for a few years before disbanding, reuniting in the late 90’s and then again in 2005 with new recorded material following each instance. The long periods of inactivity left members of the band to participate in other projects, including Rick Barton being a founding member of The Dropkick Murphys and drummer Walter Gustafson touring with notable Boston punks Gang Green and The Freeze. Check out this Boston Phoenix write-up that followed the release of 2006’s The Outlets Rock 1980, in which Dave Barton recollects opening for Mission of Burma at The Rat during The Outlet’s formative years. Then, check out the band’s infectiously catchy local hit “Knock Me Down”:
Opening the final night will be Stranglehold, a group of Boston punks whose initial stretch only lasted from 1982 to 1984. The band made a considerable impression in such a short time, however, putting out a 12″ and a 45 and touring with The F.U.’s, Suicidal Tendencies and The Circle Jerks, among others. Taking inspiration from Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones and The Clash, the band’s energy was certainly helped by the fact that the band’s members ranged from 17 to 20 years old at the band’s start. Stranglehold also hold the distinction of being one of the first bands on Taang Records, a label essential in releasing some of Boston’s best ska and punk records (case in point: Devil’s Night Out). Check out this informal but very enthusiastic review of the band, including a header photo that features Dicky Barrett dancing onstage with the band during one of their sets. And yes, this is the Stranglehold mentioned in “Toxic Toast“!
Check out “Doesn’t Get Any Better”, off the 1983 album Crash & Burn:
The Mighty Mighty BossTones
Watch the BossTones play “Rascal King” at their surprise last show at T.T. The Bear’s back in July:
The Mighty Mighty BossTones Hometown Throwdown 18:
Saturday, December 26
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
The Upper Crust
Sunday, December 27
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
The Real Kids
Monday, December 28
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS