Hello to all Rivals crews out there (and if you aren’t in a Rivals crew, you’re missing out on some big-time fun)!
Deep in the Rivals Challenge War Room, a cabal assembles to determine the theme and content for each of the weekly challenges. Our identities are hidden, even to each other (except for Derek, who acts a sort of scribe, recording the meeting’s minutes). My name is Denis, and I have decided to step forward out of the shadows (and my luchador mask) to tell you about the bands you’ll be playing in this week’s challenge.
When I saw that the music team was releasing a 6-pack of Aerosmith’s biggest hits, I got excited to see us once again support THE quintessential Boston rock band. By the time this pack is released, I realized Rivals players will have 12 songs available to them featuring some local bands featured in Rockudrama. One and one most certainly equaled three, and I jumped up out of my plush swivel chair and exclaimed, “A BOSTON ROCK CHALLENGE!!! That week must be a challenge focused on local bands!”
The rest of the cabal sensed a rejection of my brilliant idea might have led to permanent physical pain for them, so they agreed. I only had to determine which bands would qualify for the challenge. I’ve detailed the roster below, and also included an anecdote or two as well as some links to experience or purchase music.
So let me be the first to bring you a most-excellent holiday gift – “WELCOME TO BAHSTON!”
Terrific punk band featuring a certain Rock Band project manager named Daniel on guitar. (See also: Duck & Cover)
I would be remiss NOT putting Boston’s rock royalty on this list. Absolutely the biggest band that had their humble beginning in the Hub. Also, we happen to be releasing the third pack of their hits this week, including a certain ballad from a movie starring a young Ben Affleck. Affleck AND Aerosmith, I’m not sure it gets more Boston than that.
All That Remains
While compiling the list, it seemed a little light on metal. I decided a list NOT including this band seemed wrong, even if they are from Springfield, which is about 90 miles west of Boston. However, I also decided that if I included All That Remains, I’d have to include another rock band from Springfield, which we’ll get to in a bit…
For an authentic Bang Camaro experience, smash a dozen or so of your closest friends into your living room, and have everyone sing together.
Bearstronaut was kind enough to drop by our Twitch studio and give their spotlight song "Shadow" a play in Rock Band Rivals. Here’s how that went:
“Feed the Tree” got a lot of play on alternative radio and MTV when I was a teenager. It’s the kind of song I imagined you’d hear at the coffeehouse near a college campus in 1993. I don’t mean that in a disparaging manner, it just has that kind of low-key meandering energy.
Color me pleasantly surprised, as I was unaware we released an entire pack of this band’s music. Indie rock slightly ahead of its time, there’s a terrific anthology of their music out there worth tracking down.
Considering the time of year, I had to include the master of The Stroke so everyone can remember that Christmas Is The Time To Say “I Love You.”
No-brainer. In my mid-20s, I used to drive a Camaro convertible (I promise, I’m not a preppy villain with a popped collar from an ‘80s movie.) Driving a convertible in New England winters was terribly ill-advised, but the first day that the sun seemed to be shining a little more and the temperature rose to an acceptable level, I’d drop the top of that car and throw on Boston’s self-titled album. I’d drive up and down the Charles river separating Boston from Cambridge, and I’d listen to the dulcet tones of Brad Delp as they spread out into the spring air. I have an incredible love for this album and this band.
I’m cheating a bit here. First off: I’m a fan of Aimee Mann, and she did form the amazing ‘Til Tuesday here in Boston. Second, I’m a bigger fan of Ted Leo. 2003’s Hearts of Oak is a top 10 album for me, and one of my favorite tracks from that album is “Bridges, Squares.” Leo used to live in the city, and the song starts with a walk around Cambridge and Boston before ending in New Jersey. You think I’m stretching things? Get your own list.
The first of two complete albums to make the list, the eponymous debut by The Cars stands as a new-wave classic.
I also worked a movie that was released under the name “My Best Friend’s Girl,” but the less said about that the better. Moving on.
An incredibly influential noise rock band from the college town of Amherst, MA.
Terrific punk band featuring a certain Rock Band project manager named Daniel on guitar. (See also: The Acro-brats)
Easy to see how "Albert" became one of the sleeper songs from the Rock Band 4 disc.
I don’t feel like I need to explain this pick, my feelings for this band need more than words…
I was a teenager in the late 90’s. I listened to alt-rock radio. The lead singer’s name is Sully. So Boston. ‘Nuff said.
The J. Geils Band
My first exposure to the song “Centerfold” was playing it on the trumpet in my high school pep band. Yes, I was in pep band, what of it?
Former member of The Blake Babies, The Lemonheads, and Some Girls. Juliana Hatfield had a video on Beavis and Butthead and a song on the Reality Bites soundtrack, which to my teenage brain meant she made it in life.
I haven’t forgotten about the metalcore fans.
Trainor isn’t from Boston, but she did grow up on the island of Nantucket. I’m more of a Martha’s Vineyard guy, but there are two reasons I’m including her:
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
They were the first band to really break big from the modern ska wave that hit the U.S. in the mid-‘90s. Also of note, the band’s dedicated dancer used to walk the halls of Harmonix HQ.
Mission of Burma
They’re one of those bands that seems to grow in importance and popularity after they break up. Incredible post-punk sound that absolutely influenced your favorite rock band.
This band’s inclusion has nothing to do with the fact that two of the members share the name Rigopolus. Or that they have nice offices down the hall from me. Nope.
Simply, they’re one of my favorite bands of all-time. I discovered this band after their break-up in 1993. I voraciously consumed every album, every B-Side, every scrap of music I could find by this seminal band. They created the loud-soft-loud song progression that would influence Kurt Cobain. They were so different from most other college-rock of that era, and because of that they still stand out when you listen to them today.
I was also bummed I didn’t get an opportunity to see them perform live. I was only 14 when they disbanded, and I hadn’t discovered them until my early-20s. Then, in 2004, they reformed and hit the road on tour. The original band was back. I waited until they returned to Boston proper, turning down chances to see them in the ‘burbs. Finally, in December of 2004 they played the Avalon, a club near Fenway Park that was eventually consumed by a House of Blues. I remember every portion of that night with rich clarity, and one of my prized possessions is a double CD of the performance that night.
Zombie was born in Haverhill, MA, less than an hour drive north of Boston. Also, you don’t pronounce the second ‘h’ in Haverhill. Haver-ill. Fun Fact. (See Also, White Zombie)
Remember when I added All That Remains because they were from Springfield, MA? This is the other major act originating from the city to our west. So when you think of Springfield; think of:
Fronted by Rob Zombie- Haverhill, MA’s finest. (see also: Rob Zombie)
Eagle-eyed viewers of the latest Ghostbusters film may have noticed this band’s logo pasted all over the hallways in the concert scene. They’re the winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Metal Band two years running.
Boys Like Girls
And with that, we’ve come to the end of this list. Have a great holiday rocking out to some of the best music Boston and Rock Band can offer!
See you in 2017!