“I call it, jokingly, the Boston Rock Love Fest, but it really is!” exclaims Rumble organizer Anngelle Wood.
By Adam Ellsworth
Boston radio stations come and go, but the Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble is eternal.
The hub’s annual “battle of the bands,” which runs this year from April 6 to April 25 at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge, MA (see full schedule below), started in 1979 and was sponsored by WBCN until that pioneering radio station went off the air in 2009. The Rumble was too good to die with its founder though, so after a year off, it returned in 2011 with the backing of classic rock station WZLX.
“The music community carries on, whether ‘BCN is here or not,” Anngelle Wood explained in a recent phone interview. “Whether I continue to do this or not, people are still making great music in the city. So we should continue to spotlight it as much and as often as possible. And this is one way that we can do it.”
Wood, who is the host of WZLX’s local music showcase Boston Emissions, has organized the Rumble since it returned in 2011. It’s a lot of work and it takes up a good deal of her time, but in the end it’s always worth it.
“I call it, jokingly, the Boston Rock Love Fest, but it really is!” Wood said. “People come out, and they have a really good time, and I feel like everybody appreciates what the other people are doing. I feel like it really sets the tone for the year for everybody, because bands will make new alliances, they’ll make new friends, they’ll start booking shows together. It’s really fun.”
The Rumble itself consists of 24 bands from the Boston/New England area doing battle over the course of three weeks and only the best of the best are invited, as the honor roll of bands who have participated in the past — from ‘Til Tuesday, to Morphine, to the Del Fuegos, to Dresden Dolls, to Mission of Burma, and on and on — attests.
“I sort of look at this as a reward for the bands who have been working really hard all year long,” Wood said. There are far more worthy groups in the area than there are spots in the competition, so she has some tough decisions to make every year.
While bands are only allowed to compete once, past years have included non-competing guest acts and 2014 is no exception as 2004 Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble semifinalists the Information will take the stage during the finals on April 25.
“I’ve been trying to get those guys to do this for a while,” Wood said. The seminal mid-2000s Boston band, who released only one full length album, 2005’s Mistakes We Knew We Were Making, never actually broke up, but they also haven’t played a show since last decade so their appearance at the Rumble is sure to be a treat.
Wood’s efforts to pull the Information out of hibernation, along with all the work she puts into organizing the Rumble and hosting Boston Emissions, speak to her true dedication to Boston and its music.
“It’s my home,” Wood said. “I love the city more than anything. I’m proud to be from Boston and I’m proud to be able to celebrate what’s happening regionally here. And I’m proud to be able to share that with people. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
So what can people expect from this year’s Rumble and the 24 groups taking part?
“Prepare to be impressed, and surprised, and to find your next favorite band,” Wood said.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
The 2014 Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble Schedule
All shows at T.T. the Bear’s, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge, MA 02139
9:00 p.m. — Rebuilder
9:45 p.m. — Tigerman WOAH
10:30 p.m. — Sinnet
11:15 p.m. – Guillermo Sexo
9:00 p.m. — Doom Lover
9:45 p.m. — When Particles Collide
10:30 p.m. — Goddamn Draculas
11:15 p.m. — Emma Ate The Lion
9:00 p.m. — Barricades
9:45 p.m. — Airport
10:30 p.m. — Z*L
11:15 p.m. — The Life Electric
Off April 9 as the traditional day of rest and to fend off the #RumblePlague
9:30 p.m. — Butterknife
10:15 p.m. — Slowdim
11:00 p.m. — Gondoliers
11:45 p.m. — Western Education
9:30 p.m. — Feints
10:15 p.m. — Petty Morals
11:00 p.m. — Summoner
11:45 p.m. — Vary Lumar
9:30 p.m. — Harris Hawk
10:15 p.m. — Await Rescue
11:00 p.m. — The Color and Sound
11:45 p.m. — Yellabird
April 17 & 18
Competing Bands: TBD
Competing Bands: TBD
Special Guest Non-Competing Band: the Information
Adam Ellsworth is a writer, journalist, and amateur professional rock and roll historian. His writing on rock music has appeared on the websites YNE Magazine, KevChino.com, Online Music Reviews, and Metronome Review. His non-rock writing has appeared in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, on Wakefield Patch, and elsewhere. Adam has a MS in Journalism from Boston University and a BA in Literature from American University. He grew up in Western Massachusetts, and currently lives with his wife in a suburb of Boston. You can follow Adam on Twitter @adamlz24.