BostonSka.net’s Guide To The 2018 Hometown Throwdown Lineup

Better late than never, right? Ever since The Bosstones announced the dates for this year’s Throwdown, we’ve been clamoring for any info on openers, which to us are one of the key perks of the annual tradition. This year’s lineup announcement came later than in years past, which could have been the result of anything from scheduling conflicts to the band actively wanting to make us sweat over the details. Without further ado:

Night 1:

The Aggrolites

Let’s start with the one that made everyone in the group chat guffaw and start salivating: Natives of California, The Aggrolites have been touring their self-dubbed “dirty reggae” since 2002, and to our knowledge haven’t played in Boston since 2012. Originally started as a backing band for an unreleased Derrick Morgan project, the band has put out five full lengths and served as the backing band for a number of musicians, including Prince Buster and Tim Armstrong of Rancid. During the period they were signed to Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records, their tracks were always the standouts of the label’s great Give Em The Boot compilations. Earlier this year, the band shared that they were recording a new album, the first since 2011’s Rugged Road, which happens to have been recorded in Allston. This band puts rhythm above all else, which in itself should make Night 1 attendance a no-brainer.

Where To Start With The Aggrolites: Honestly, any of the first three albums are a great entry point for this band, as all are jam-packed with top-tier rhythms expected from a backing band with as much name recognition as these guys. Normally, I would make an effort to link one of their more well-known tracks, but the back half of this track gets inexplicably stuck in my head at least once a month, and I’m writing this thing so this is the song you’re getting:

Stray Bullets

Injecting the Throwdown with local muscle, the Bosstones have invited Boston’s own Stray Bullets to open up the festival’s first night. Sharing members with the Have Nots/The Pomps/Big D and The Kids Table, Stray Bullets have been playing their self-described version of “streetpunk reggae” since the mid-90’s. The band took an informal hiatus around the time the Have Nots started up, and began re-releasing older albums and writing new material when that band also went on hiatus around 2012. Following their comeback album Ghost Town Rockers, the band has teased the release of new music via a collection of one-off singles on their Bandcamp page over the past few years. If you like fast-paced, politically motivated ska-punk a la Rancid or The Suicide Machines, this band is for you.

Where To Start With Stray Bullets: To get a good feel for the band’s current sound, I would take a listen to Ghost Town Rockers via Dying Scene’s Bandcamp page. Then head to the band’s personal Bandcamp page to check out the singles they’ve released since then. Also included in that second link is The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune, the pre-hiatus record the band reissued in 2012. Is this helpful, or is it just listing off the band’s discography? Who’s to say!

Night 2:

Bedouin Soundclash

Compared to the fast and aggro rhythms of night one, night two of the Throwdown has a significantly chiller vibe. Case in point: Canada’s Bedouin Soundclash. Releasing their first few records on Montreal’s always great Stomp Records, the band gained a wide amount of fame in their home country, playing numerous festivals and getting significant radio play, by which I mean early-to-mid 2000’s Nickelback levels (small but important tidbit: The band’s third record was nominated for a Juno Award for pop album of the year, alongside Celine Dion, Feist, and Celine Dion. Seeing a Celine Dion-adjacent band the last week of the year should be a rite of passage.) As a trio, the band puts out records full of hook-laden pop-reggae grooves with experimentation into genres like Jungle and lounge pop. Following a brief hiatus in the early 2010’s, the band has been steadily playing shows with a new lineup and are in the midst of recording an album with the Preservation Jazz Hall Band (!!), releasing a new single in anticipation.

Where To Start With Bedouin Soundclash: I think the correct answer here is 2004’s Sounding A Mosaic, the band’s second and most critically resonant record. The record was produced by Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains, and has a feature from Vernon Maytone of The Maytones. Plus, lead-off track “When The Night Feels My Song” (linked below) reached #1 on the Canadian Singles Charts (the only charts that matter), and though I hadn’t heard it in several years, while writing this the insanely catchy hook of that thing immediately came back to me as though it had never left. SideOneDummy Records recently reissued this guy, which coincided with the band playing shows again.

Reggae Workers of The World (Vic Ruggiero & Jesse Wagner)

Two heavyweights of the California ska/reggae scene, Vic Ruggiero of The Slackers and Jesse Wagner of The Aggrolites (see above) inevitably ended up touring together, then playing live sets together, then fully tying the knot and releasing two full length records with Nico Leonard of the Moon Invaders/Badasonics. Recorded in Belgium, the records contains their own unique voice compared to each member’s respective discography. The best songs on the records are the ones where the two share writing duties, where Vic’s Soul and Motown influences mix with Jesse’s rhythmic complexities to make something really worth sinking into. The group also plays a wealth of covers live, which you can check out via seemingly random Youtube clips.

Where To Start With Reggae Workers of The World: Reggae Workers of The World’s first record was put out in 2015, followed by a follow-up that was released in May of this year.  Read what we thought of the first one here. Both Vic and Jesse have solo records out, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them break out a few tunes from either discography.

Night 3 (Matinee @ 4pm):

Color Killer

With the matinee show idea already an outlier for the Throwdown, The BossToneS throw us another curveball by only having one opener for the show, a first since we started writing these annual posts (this show having the same ticket price as the other two despite having one less opener is something I imagine the band will get some push-back for.) The coveted Lone Opener spot goes to Marlborough, MA-based punk band Color Killer, notably comprised of members aged 8-12. When asked about their influences, the band uniformly lists Green Day, The Prozacs, and Blink-182, and it shows in their propulsive style of power-chord punk with hooks. Despite being literal children, they’ve already amassed quite a list of career accolades, having played this year’s Crankin and Skankin Fest, being the youngest band to ever played Warped Tour (R.I.P. in peace), and heading to California to play at 924 Gilman, the non-profit venue where a lot of the band’s influences got their start. Down the pipeline, a Kickstarter for a documentary about the band was recently fully funded, and the doc should become available at some point next year.

The obvious joke here is that this date is a matinee because these kids have a bedtime that must be strictly adhered to; Two things: 1. It’ll probably be winter break by then, right? And 2. This matinee show is a gift from The Bosstones directly to me, “The Rube Who Works Early The Next Morning And Can’t Stay Up Past Ten Anymore”.

Where To Start With Color Killer: The band released their fittingly-titled debut album Generation Z earlier this year, which you can listen to in full via their Bandcamp. Here’s a track off that record played live in the band’s practice space:

All Nights:

The Mighty Mighty BosstoneS

Guys I did an Ask Jeeves search of this band and it looks like they put out a new record this year, they had at least one other large Massachusetts festival this summer, a day in Boston is named for them, and they predictably hate Nazis. Never heard them though, are they any good?

The Mighty Mighty BossToneS Hometown Throwdown 21:

Friday, December 28th
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
The Aggrolites
Stray Bullets
Tickets

Saturday, December 29th
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
Bedouin Soundclash
Reggae Workers of The World (Vic Ruggiero & Jesse Wagner)
Tickets

Sunday, December 30th (4pm Matinee)
The Mighty Mighty BossToneS
Color Killer
Tickets

Check out our Boston Ska Event Calendar for more local upcoming shows.

Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson is a writer for Boston Ska (dot) net. Alex's first experience with ska involved referring to it as "that music with the horns, right?" He's gotten better with categorization, but he also has this weird thing about staying humble. You can see Alex perform with The New Limits.

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